Exclusivity and accountability. That's what I was looking for when picking up "Nitro: The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse of Ted Turner's WCW," and I got it in spades.
I'd heard of the book for what seemed like nearly a year prior. I would occasionally tune in to former WCW Producer Neal Pruitt's podcasts or publish articles based on the show. The co-host of the podcast, Guy Evans, penned the book. While always interested in retro content, it would be difficult to find the time to read it.
Secrets of WCW Nitro, the aforementioned podcast, constantly reveals information about the goings-on behind the scenes in WCW. Prior to Eric Bischoff's new retrospect podcast, there was a bit of a void in such, as WCW announcer Tony Schiovane's podcast focuses more on his colorful personality.
"My co-host Guy Evans spent two years interviewing over 120 people connected with TBS and WCW"
This was a line from a Pruitt Reddit Ask Me Anything earlier this year hyping his show and the book. This was what I was looking for, well, at least half of it -- exclusivity.
Needless to say, Evans' effort has plenty of that. Right out of the gate, the reader hears from several TBS, TNT, Turner employees that are relevant only in their job title, which is actually integral to a book like this. We've heard for years from people within the wrestling business how Turner employees felt about the World Championship Wrestling product, but now we hear it from the employees themselves. Lots of them.
Evans isn't caught up in his own exclusivity on his way to attempt to tell a complete story. He sourced and cited dozens of other interviews along the way that helped paint a fuller picture than the one he garnered during his personal chats. When an interview subject points out something that is a pretty clear fallacy, Evans is quick to point out that the person in question has contradicted their own statements in other interviews (well, if they've done so).
Nitro doesn't overwhelm you with numbers, attendance figures, ratings and gates. While important and documented, sometimes retrospects can rely on those too much in order to signify the collapse and failure of a company, especially WCW. Any statistics are delivered are pretty well spaced out and you aren't hit with "The 7/2 Nitro did a 3.1, up .3 points, while the 7/9 Nitro was a 3.3 rating, up .2 points." By the way, those aren't real stats, don't look them up.
The wide array of names associated with this book stood out to me. Kevin Nash, Eric Bischoff, Diamond Dallas Page, Kevin Sullivan, Vince Russo, Jerry Jarrett, Jamie Kellner, Harvey Schiller, Bill DeMott, Buff Bagwell -- that's not the type of cast to have if you're telling one side of the turmoil story in WCW. This is a fair, historical look at how WCW hit highs and lows. So often when interviewing or speaking to any number of these names, each individual has their own theories, blames, and credits to the successes and failures of a brand. Guy Evans' book avoided that often frustrating tunnel vision.