||Basic properties of rewriting systems can be stated in the framework of abstract reduction systems (ARS). Properties like confluence (or Church-Rosser, CR) and weak confluence (or weak Church-Rosser, WCR) and their relationships can be studied in this setting: as a matter of fact, well-known counterexamples to the implication WCR CR have been formulated as ARS. In this paper, starting from the observation that such counterexamples are structurally similar, we set out a graph-theoretic characterization of WCR ARS that is not CR in terms of a suitable class of reduction graphs, such that in every WCR not CR ARS, we can embed at least one element of this class. Moreover, we give a tighter characterization for a restricted class of ARS enjoying a suitable regularity condition. Finally, as a consequence of our approach, we prove some interesting results about ARS using the mathematical tools developed. In particular, we prove an extension of the NewmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lemma and we find out conditions that, once assumed together with WCR property, ensure the unique normal form property. The Appendix treats two interesting examples, both generated by graph-rewriting rules, with specific combinatorial properties.