March 26, 2001 saw WCW Monday Nitro air for the final time.
20 years after WCW closed its doors for good, “Hurricane” Shane Helms spoke on a SmackDown Exclusive about what the atmosphere was like in the Nitro locker room ahead of that infamous night.
“There was a talent meeting earlier in the day,” Helms recalled. “Shane McMahon walked in the room, and you could’ve heard the proverbial pin drop in there. That was the paradigm shift in the business. The war was over. My team had lost. There were a lot of mixed emotions.”
Ahead of the takeover by WWE, Helms noted that higher-ups ensured that plans were kept secretive.
“Leading up to that we had heard different rumors,” Helms said. “Some of that was WCW trying to keep things close to the vest. Some of it was WCW just trying to keep morale up. They wanted us to not know the situation that we were in, and I get that, but we heard so many rumors that I didn’t know what to believe. Nobody did, no matter what they say.”
While many talents worried about their futures, Hurricane was hopeful that he would be apart of the wave of wrestlers joining WWE due to his status in WCW at the time.
“Well selfishly, I was the Cruiserweight champ,” Helms said. “So I was like, if I can get out of here with this championship tonight, they at least got to bring the champions. That was my hope. I was confident in my career at the time, my trajectory at the time, but I was only in WCW just over a year. It wasn’t like I had a lot of longevity. There was a lot of superstars above me on the ladder that had a lot more longevity, a lot more star power, a lot more name value.”
Over the decades, people have criticized the monopolization WWE created on the wrestling industry when WCW and ECW folded. Helms acknowledged how being the “only show in town” created problems, but it also made WWE’s locker room the strongest it’s ever been.
“It did create a vacuum, but it also created the most stacked roster that there’s ever been,” Helms stated. “ECW’s gone. WCW’s gone. All the major stars are under one roof now. And I had to come along as the Hurricane and compete against that. It was very interesting. I do sometimes ponder, not a lot, but what would’ve happened if WCW had stayed alive?”
You can see his full comments in the video below:
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.