On March 26th 2001, WCW Monday Nitro took the airwaves one last time. The Monday Night Wars were over, and with Shane McMahon standing in the WCW locker room, the wrestling industry had changed forever. Shane Helms, who was in the WCW locker room that night, has shared his memories of that landmark moment in the history of professional wrestling.
Speaking to the WWE Network, Shane Helms, who would go on to be The Hurricane in WWE, recalled a talent meeting before the show began.
“There was a talent meeting earlier in the day… 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.”
Helms noted that going into the show, no one really knew the full picture around the buyout, with management attempting to keep up morale by concealing many of the details.
“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.”
Going into the final Nitro, Helms was the reigning WCW Champion having defeated Chavo Guerrero at ‘Greed,’ which would turn out to be the company’s last pay-per-view. While there was no word on who would be heading to WWE following the buyout, as champion, Helms remembers feeling fairly confident.
“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.”
After WCW closed it’s doors for the final time, many of it’s wrestlers did find their way to WWE. This meant that with ECW also closing down, by Spring 2001 WWE were the last remaining major wrestling company in North America. Which in turn meant that WWE now had access to the deepest roster in their history.
However, the company were also criticised at the time, for what people saw as a monopolisation of the wrestling industry.
Reflecting on the situation 20 years later, Helms acknowledged the strength of WWE’s roster, but also said that he has wondered what would have happened had WCW survived.
“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?”
Following the closure of WCW Shane Helms was picked up by WWE where he would eventually become The Hurricane.
Helms was released by WWE in 2010, before returning to the company in 2018. Since coming back into the fold, Helms has worked backstage as a producer, as well as occasionally appearing in the ring.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.