On March 26, 2001, Shane McMahon arrived at Panama City Beach to announce to the world that WWE had purchased WCW. On screen, this brewed the infamous invasion storyline, but behind the scenes, the locker room was left in a state of uncertainty.
Speaking with Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on the Wrestling Inc. Daily, former WCW Tag Team Champion Chuck Palumbo detailed his mindset the night Shane arrived backstage.
“[I was] very unsure,” Palumbo said. “I wasn’t sure if Eric [Bischoff] was going to buy it. I wasn’t sure if Vince [McMahon] was going to buy it. I wasn’t sure about anything until the night Shane McMahon showed up in our locker room.”
Even with the finality that WWE was taking over, Palumbo and the rest of the locker room had no grasp on what their respective futures held.
“Now I know they’re definitely buying us because Shane showed up. I know that, but I have no idea what’s in store for us,” Palumbo said. “I told other people, ‘Am I going to have a job? If they do retain me, what are they going to do with me?’ Now you have double the roster, and there’s still only three hours of TV, let’s do the math. Luckily, again, I was very fortunate that they brought me in right away and started using me.”
Palumbo was one of the many that WWE brought in after the purchase, but the move was not all that pleasant. The former WWE Tag Team Champion noted that the WWE locker room were hostile to the new roster members.
“Lots of tension,” Palumbo said. “WCW guys came in and made an attempt to befriend these guys, but a majority of them made it tough for us. They almost made it like we were coming into their house, and that this is their home. They took it personal. I think that if they had bonded with us and we had worked together, the business would not have went into the downfall it went into a few years later, because that buyout didn’t work.
“For Vince to acquire that company, kudos to him, but the product they started putting out? The ideas of new blood and… (sighs). It could’ve been so much more. They had a great opportunity to do huge things, and it didn’t work.”
The walking on eggshells vibe for the WCW guys carried on beyond the locker room, according to Palumbo. He says that the connectivity between the office and the roster was not as fluid compared to World Championship Wrestling.
“We knew less with WWF,” Palumbo said. “Personally, now I can’t speak for everybody, but the connection wasn’t there. We call it ‘the office’ when referencing the corporate side or what have you. We felt disconnected, like we didn’t really know what was going on. There was more of a separation there. In WCW I felt like we had a better connection with the office and a better idea of what was going on. I can only speak for myself.
“To go back to the people that were there and the connection, when I say those guys were standoffish, [it wasn’t] everybody. There were some guys who were great. But at the beginning, a lot of the guys were doing the, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’ It’s business, man. Let’s work together. It was a great experience though. That’ll never happen again, and I was happy to be a part of it.”
You can find more from Chuck Palumbo by visiting his new YouTube channel Chuck Of All Trades! You can find the full audio and video from Chuck’s interview below: