July 11, 2011
Octavio Fierros

MONDAY NIGHT WAR CLASSICS – Week 12 Part 1: Collapse Angle (11/20/95)
By Octavio Fierros, ofierros@sbcglobal.net

[Note: One of the greatest things about Monday Night War Classics is when the head-to-head battles get intense. This edition is too big to be in one single column. As a result, you will read about the WWE Monday Night Raw version in one column and the other part will be about WCW Monday Nitro. I hope you enjoy the first multi-part series ever of Monday Night War Classics.]

Shawn Michaels Collapse Angle on Raw
“Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels wrestled an excellent match on November 20, 1995 edition of Raw against Owen Hart. While Owen was outside the ring trying to recover, Michaels celebrated and showed off to the crowd, then collapsed in the middle of the ring. Michaels was down as the crowd was in complete silence and the announcers (Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler) ran to the ring to help out. When we did not hear anything from there, fans watching on television and in the live crowd were stunned.

A couple of weeks before this angle, Michaels was attacked by nine thugs outside a Syracuse nightclub at 2am. Michaels was immediately hospitalized with several cuts to the eye and also had post-concussion syndrome. Due to the attack, Michaels was unable to compete at the In Your House pay-per-view event and was forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Title to Dean Douglas. Michaels returned to the ring a month later, participating in the “wild card” match at Survivor Series. He survived the match and wrestled the next night against Owen Hart.

Not everyone backstage was aware of this angle, which is why it was played out perfectly. Days after the storyline, it was known that only Diesel and McMahon (or perhaps Lawler and Owen) knew that this was going to happen. Paramedics surrounded the ring as they were helping Michaels to the hospital. Also, it was known that Michaels got a ride in the ambulance in order to make this as real can be. Keep in mind that at in 1995, the internet was almost non-existent so all the fans were worried about Michaels’ condition. On the weekend WWE shows, they showed great concern for Michaels’ health, but did not reveal a lot of information. They just said that Michaels got post-concussion syndrome and was not going to compete for a period of time.

As weeks progress, fans started realizing that Michaels was part of a well-played out collapse angle. Fans realized that this was part of the show and he did not really collapse in the middle of the ring. To keep fans believing it was real, Michaels was going to announce whether is time to retire after suffering post-concussion syndrome or return to the ring. Michaels was shown in a press conference in early January 1996, announcing that he will not retire and will return to the ring to participate in the 30-man Royal Rumble match. Owen Hart took advantage of being a better heel than he ever was because he vowed to put Michaels out of wrestling for good.

Michaels returned to the ring at the Royal Rumble and won his second consecutive Rumble match after eliminating his best friend Diesel at the end. He also got even with Owen at the following PPV when he put his WrestleMania title shot on the line. Two months later, Michaels won the WWE Title for the first time by defeating Bret Hart in a 60-minute Iron Man match.

The collapse angle was the first major angle during the Monday Night War. The angle was featured on a live version of Monday Night Raw, which was important. WWE still lost the ratings battle that week (see “Ratings War” below for details) against WCW. The WWE cannot pull this off 15 years later, since the Internet has become the top source of wrestling information on and behind the scenes. Give credit to Shawn Michaels for his actions in this angle and the fact that it was top secret.

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Ratings War
To be brief, WCW Monday Nitro won the ratings battle on November 20, 1995, defeating WWE Raw 2.5 to 2.3. Since this is a two-part series, I will go more in-depth below with the Raw highlights of the night and in the other part, I will go in detail with Nitro. For those keeping score at home, Nitro is catching up to Raw. Raw is leading 5-4 with 2 ties and one no-contest. This is the first time that WWE loses the ratings battle against WCW after coming off a pay-per-view event.

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Monday Night Raw Highlight of the Night
Bret Hart defeated Diesel to capture the WWE Title for the third time in his career at Survivor Series ’95. After the match, Diesel snapped and did his jackknife powerbomb three times on Bret. Diesel said, “I’m back!” signifying that the old Diesel is back and the new one is gone. On Raw, Diesel came out and told the fans that Vince McMahon wanted Diesel to be a “corporate puppet” instead of being himself. Diesel vowed to stop kissing babies and now he’s going to high-five those fans who are only wearing Diesel’s black gloves. Diesel is now a tweener (a good guy and bad guy) with a greater edge. After Diesel’s promo, he left the arena, which explains why he wasn’t there during Michaels’ collapse.

Shawn Michaels collapsed in the middle of the ring during a match against Owen Hart. (See top story above for details)

The 123 Kid is now a heel and is currently feuding with Razor Ramon and Marty Jannetty. I give WWE credit for putting Ted DiBiase with The Kid. Even though it was hard to imagine The Kid as a heel, DiBiase is there to make sure he’s getting booed in arenas.

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This Week in Monday Night War History
(June 5-11, 2011)

June 7, 1999 – Days before a big angle would play out on Raw, there were rumors that The Undertaker or Mike Tyson was going to be the “higher power”. Instead, Vince McMahon turned heel and revealed himself as the “higher power”, in order to continue to feud with Steve Austin.

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Monday Night Raw Flashbacks
(This section is debuting this week and features a special moment or match from the first 33 months of WWE Monday Night Raw, the pre-Monday Night Wars)

Forced to Sell Out
April 25, 1994 – Utica, NY @ Memorial Auditorium
Nikolai Volkoff has been around the wrestling business almost his entire life. Vince McMahon Sr. brought him in the 70s and wrestled for Vince Jr. in the 80s and 90s. Volkoff is known for winning the tag titles with Iron Sheik and also teaming up with Boris Zhukov as the Bolsheviks. One of the most forgettable moments of his career was back in 1994 when he returned to join The Million Dollar Corporation. Ted DiBiase was forming his stable of men who decided to sell out for more money. Volkoff was the first member to join, but he really didn’t want to join.

On the April 25, 1994 edition of Monday Night Raw, Volkoff announced to his fans that he was homeless and didn’t have any money. DiBiase came to Volkoff and wanted to help him financially. There was a problem, though. DiBiase wanted Volkoff to play the slave role by doing everything he says. Volkoff would refuse to do what DiBiase wants, but he remembered he needed a roof over his head. DiBiase embarrassed him and told him to wear a fake tuxedo with a cent sign in the back, instead of a dollar sign. Volkoff was forced to sell out to DiBiase and the worse part is: He was sold for a penny.

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Monday Night War Key Players
The following wrestlers wrestled on WWE Monday Night Raw and WCW Monday Nitro this particular week (November 20, 1995). Somehow, these wrestlers made an impact on the Monday Night Wars: (They signed with the rival company during this era)

Actually, the wrestlers that performed on Raw and Nitro this week were already discussed in previous editions of Monday Night War Classics or they were not impact players on both shows.

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Monday Night War Scoreboard
WCW Monday Nitro 4, WWE Monday Night Raw 5 (2 ties and 1 no contest)

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Make sure to check out the second part of this column: MONDAY NIGHT WAR CLASSICS – Week 12: Dream Match (11/20/95) Part 2 of 2

E-mail me here:

ofierros@sbcglobal.net

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