March 13, 2011
Steve Riddle

The Monday Night Wars (2/24/04)

The Documentary:

“Television changed the business of sports entertainment. Risks and rewards increased dramatically. In 1995, two companies squared off on Monday night television to compete head-to-head in an unprecedented confrontation. On one side, was Vince McMahon, a third generation promoter who created WWE. On the other, WCW, a company owned by media baron Ted Turner, and run by an ambitious man named Eric Bischoff.”

Eric Bischoff says he took the the WWE audience, made a big loud noise on the side, and the audience went, “I like that. I’ll stay here.”

Jim Cornette says that WCW’s goal was to destroy WWE, cause if you beat the top dog, you become top dog and get bragging rights forever.

Chris Benoit mentions it was a great time to be a wrestler and a fan because the business was so popular.

Big Show adds you had two distinct companies with different talent, bringing the best they had to the table.

Gerald Brisco says it was life or death, for their jobs, lives, and families. It wasn’t about ratings, but survival.

Mick Foley adds that it was extremely personal between Vince and Bischoff, and also between Vince and Turner. He also says it brought out the best in the companies and says it was the highlight of wrestling.

Gene Okerlund says it was the most competitive environment he’s ever worked in.

“As each side fought to destroy the other, the popularity of the business exploded. Fans were drawn to a new generation of performers who rejected the industry’s respected traditions. Real life betrayals were a fact of life in a ratings war that would be fought to the death. And even after the last shot was fired, questions remained unanswered to this day.”

“This is the story of entertainment and reality. This is the story of the Monday Night War.”

1. Early Days of WCW and WWE

Gene says back in the early 80s, cable television wasn’t a factor, but you had to have syndication. He says Vince had that, and brings up the All-American Wrestling Show Vince had on USA. He says then primetime came in to play, and thus Monday Night RAW was created in 1993.

“Vince McMahon and Ted Turner were not strangers. In the early 1980s, as both men were growing their businesses, McMahon’s programming appeared on Turner’s fledging WTBS cable network.”

Vince McMahon says he and Ted have done business, but had a parting of the ways. Vince then sold what became WCW to Jim Crockett, who had to sell to Turner. Ted then called Vince and told him he was in the “wrasslin” business.

Cornette mentions a month before Turner came in, the NWA sold out the Richmond Colesium with 10,000 people. Years after Turner bought the company, they ran live events that only drew about 400 people.

Eric says WCW was mismanaged since Ted bought it, and he was looking for an executive producer. He threw his name out there, and he got the position.

Jim Ross say he was VP of Broadcasting when Bischoff came in and knew it was time to make a move. He turned down a three year contract he just signed, and took a job at WWE for a lot less money.

2. RAW Arrives, Talent Leaves

We see the opening for the first RAW on 1/11/93.

Bruce Prichard talks about the concept of RAW to do it from the Manhattan Center. He says the different vibe and energy made it fun to do.

Steve Lombardi chimes in saying the Center was a great place to wrestle. The NYC audience appreciated the product. He remembers the first time working there, and says the atmosphere was unlike anywhere else.

Gene mentions Superstars being held at the big arenas, and RAW at the Manhattan Center, which he described as a “toilet”. He also said the crowd was a tough crowd and it was a tough venue, but they could do more on cable TV.

“As RAW tried new things in sports entertainment, WCW changed its approach to the industry as well.”

Eric says he wanted to take WCW out of the small arenas and move it to Disney-MGM Studios. This would provide a better place to produce television and Hulk Hogan happened to be there. He mentions Hulk was down in Orlando to film “Thunder in Paradise” and Eric approached him about a return, which Hogan accepted.

We see highlights of Hulk Hogan’s WCW contract signing in Orlando.

Eric says Randy Savage came to WCW in large part due to Hogan. He says Savage wasn’ happy with just being a commentator, and they made a deal in a matter of weeks.

We see Randy Savage’s WCW debut on the 12/3/94 edition of WCW Saturday Night.

3. Birth of Nitro

Eric says by 1995, he had control of the company and wanted to make in profitable. He did everything he could to improve WCW, including doing more PPVs, which lead to both companies doing PPVs once a month.

“WCW was working to increase its audience with former WWE performers. In a meeting with Ted Turner, Eric Bischoff was posed with a question that would change the futures of both companies.”

Eric says Ted asked him how they can compete with WWE. Eric replies with giving him primetime, which Ted says yes to, giving Eric two hours on TNT every Monday night.

Cornette says he thought they were insane, because how could you put a wrestling show on a network that never ran a wrestling show, and put it up against an experienced show in the same timeslot and succeed.

Prichard adds they were getting good numbers, and to put another show against it would divide the audience.

Vince asks why put a show against your competition if you can put it on any night you wish. He surmises it was done to hurt them, and Ted would be on top.

Brisco says his reaction was we’ll beat the crap out of you, and watch you die.

“As Bischoff prepared for the premiere of Nitro, he was presented with some information about a former WCW performer who was a top superstar in WWE.”

Eric says Lex’s contract was coming up, but he wasn’t interested because he didn’t like him. He says Sting, who was Luger’s friend, kept insisting on talking to Luger, and Eric accepted. In their meeting, Eric says Luger did a good job selling himself. Eric offered him 20% of what he was making, hoping he would turn him down, and Luger took the deal. Luger mentioned his contract ended on Sunday before Nitro, and Eric figured this would provide a pivotal moment for the debut of Nitro, and set the stage for what he wanted Nitro to be.

Gene says Luger wrestled in Nova Scotia on Sunday night, and then…

We see the debut of Nitro on 9/4/95 and Lex Luger’s surprise appearance before a match with Ric Flair and Sting.

Gene says that was a bombshell appearing on the inaugural Nitro after being a top WWE star.

Cornette says Vince’s mistake was taking Luger’s word. Lex would keep stringing Vince along to delay the signing of the contract. Jim says in all the years he’s known Vince, Vince’s biggest flaw is taking people at their word.

4. The War Begins

“Nitro garnered a 2.9 rating for their premiere episode, a strong showing even though they were unopposed by RAW. Nitro and RAW would trade ratings victories for the rest of the year, as Bischoff continued to find new ways to get more viewers.”

Eric says since their live and RAW’s taped, what better way to have viewers stop channel surfing by telling them what they’re going to see on the other show.

We see a clip from the 2/26/96 Nitro. As Big Bubba comes out for a match, Bischoff on commentary gives away the results of that night’s RAW.

Eric says he called Turner and wanted to go on at 7:57pm, in order to give away RAW’s results 3 minutes before they go on air.

Vince says Bischoff began to play tricks, like coming on earlier and staying later, stuff that he didn’t appreciate. He had reservations as to how dirty the tactics got.

Gene says Eric had the “all’s fair in love and war” mentality. He says he doesn’t see giving away results as ethical, but to hell with ethics.

Eric says he didn’t have a problem with it, as it was business. He says he loved doing it because it pissed many people off.

Mick says that Eric took the “Godfather” route, with the whole “it’s nothing personal, it’s business”. Mick says if you try to kill my career and put my family at risk, it is personal.

Brisco says if he had seen Eric at the time, he’d slap the hell out of him.

“When WWE Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze defected to WCW in December, and debuted as the character Madusa, Nitro viewers were in for another of Bischoff’s surprises.”

Eric says Madusa called him about the belt, and he said bring it with her. He says it was a good idea to drop it in the trash on TV, which she did, although he says she probably wishes she wouldn’t have.

Vince says when you go this far with the dirt, to the point where he might do something stupid, he will. He says he didn’t get that far, but it was close.

We see a clip from the Billionaire Ted skits.

Gene says they now had the Huckster, the Nacho Man, and Scheme Gene, which insulted him personally, jokingly saying his hotline may have been too much.

Eric says it was a low blow, but considering he was giving away results, it didn’t bother him too much. He said he thought they were funny, and so did Ted.

Mick said Turner had a love for the business, but never felt he had to push it 100% until the Billionaire Ted skits came out. Mick says in retrospect it may have not been the best idea.

5. WCW Takes the Lead

“ As 1996 unfolded, WCW had Hogan, Savage, Sting, Luger, Ric Flair, and others. WWE was lead by Diesel, the Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and Bret Hart. WWE was staying ahead in the ratings, but was soon to lose two of its biggest superstars.”

Cornette says both guys gave Vince some commitment that they were staying, until Vince got a fax from Scott saying he was leaving. Jim says Nash called saying he was staying, but then said WCW was offering him a lot of money.

Eric said they need more talent with WCW growing, so he talked to Scott knowing he was available and they made a deal.

We see a clip from the 5/27 Nitro. During a match between the Mauler and Steve Doll, Scott Hall comes out of the crowd and addresses the crowd.

The next clip is from the 6/10 Nitro, where Kevin Nash makes his WCW return.

“WCW now had Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. The quesiton was, what were they going to do with them? Hall and Nash posed as invaders from WWE looking to take over. Viewers were confused, yet interested.”

Prichard says that WCW took WWE talents and gave the crowd the impression they were invading, and when the WWE crowd saw this, they were interested.

“Viewers of WCW Pay Per View Bash at the Beach tuned in to learn the identity of the third man who would aid Hall and Nash. They weren’t disappointed.”

We see the ending of the main event of Bash at the Beach, where Hulk Hogan turned heel and joined Hall and Nash, forming the New World Order.

6. The nWo

Gene mentions he was on the nose by debris, and the fans were irate that Hogan turned on them.

Pritchard says WCW’s high point was when Hogan turned heel and formed the nWo.

We see a clip from the 7/15 Nitro, where Gene interviews Hogan, who claims he wished he did this two years ago and the New World Order will rule WCW.

Prichard adds it was the first time Hogan was a heel and it was a great moment for WCW.

Eric says his idea was to have WCW and nWo, and for the two to feud. He thought if this was to work, the nWo had to be everyting anti-WCW.

We see a clip from the 9/2 Nitro, where the Giant joins the nWo.

Show says the nWo was a great concept, with three great starting players in Hogan, Hall, and Nash and could do what they wanted when they wanted. He says they were so bad they became cool.

Bischoff says Nitro had enough unique elements that jaded fans would say that something shouldn’t have happen. He brings up the night the nWo invaded the production truck and tossed Rey Mysterio into a truck head first. It all looked real and Eric mentions that local residents called 911 because they thought a gang war was going on.

We see a clip from Nitro of Eric Bischoff joining the nWo.

Eric says in order to solidify the nWo, he had to be involved in the storyline.

“On June 10th, 1996, RAW beat Nitro in the ratings. They wouldn’t win again for nearly two years.”

7. WCW and Austin

Vince says his philosphy is to help yourself, while he feels Turner’s was win anyway you can, even at the expense of hurting someone else. Vince says they didn’t pay much attention at all to WCW.

Shawn Michaels says that even though they had TV shows prior to RAW, he never knew about the ratings or what they did.

Gene says WCW wanting to beat WWE at everything, even going as far as to beat RAW to commercial breaks to win the quarter hours.

Eric says TNT did surveys and the results were that fans liked unpredictability, which confirmed to him why Nitro had to be live.

“Ex-WWE talent Sean Waltman and Ted Dibiase both joined WCW in the fall of 1996. Dibiase’s departure from WWE created an opportunity for one of its performers.”

Cornette mentions Steve Austin was suffering in WCW because he couldn’t climb the ladder, so he came to WWE with no track record. He became the Ringmaster with Dibiase as a manager, and he Dibiase left, the creative team said let Austin be himself. Cornette says that’s how talent gets over by being themselves.

JR says the WWE was trying to make Austin their top heel, but the fans kept cheering and made the decision on Austin, and JR says they made the right decision, as they always do.

We see a clip from the 1996 King of the Ring, where Austin is interviewed after becoming King, and first coins the phrase, “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.”

Cornette says KOTR was the start, and knew Austin would be a big deal when the fans produced the Austin 3:16 signs.

Mick says Austin really got over thanks to his feud with Bret Hart, which culiminated in their submission match at WM 13.

“As Austin’s popularity grew at WWE, Nitro continued to beat RAW in the ratings by a large margin, as entertaining storylines and new wrestlers were featured.”

Chris Jericho says the reason WCW started dominating was due to the nWo, and the introduction of real wrestlers, like himself, Benoit, Guerrero, and Malenko, and the cruiserweights like Mysterio and Guerrera. He says WWE didn’t stand a chance against that and the marquee value of the nWo.

Benoit says it was fresh and that contributed to WCW’s success.

Gene gies Bischoff credit for introducing the cruiserweights to the wrestling fans.

8. WWE Evolves

Shawn says he and Vince got into an argument after Shawn came out on TV with guaze down his pants. He was fined $10,000 for it. He tries to defend it saying all the boys found it funny and Vince eventually decided it was time to get edgy.

We see a clip of DX doing a mock press conference making fun of USA Network.

Vince says you have to find ways to compete, and you can’t go toe to toe with a giant or else you’ll get knocked down, which they did.

Mick thought it was selfish of Bischoff to have no remorse for trying to put WWE out of business, and he says he wasn’t fully aware how close to going under WWE was.

We see highlights from the Austin/Owen match from Summerslam 1997 where Austin hurts his neck.

“The WWE’s most exciting superstar was seriously injured. It couldn’t have come at a worst time for WWE. But Austin continued coming to television tapings to contribute everything he had.”

Cornette says nobody knew how bad Austin was hurt because he was always on the program, and actually got more popular because of this.

Mick says the fans wanted to see Austin, but couldn’t because Vince didn’t allow it, and it in turn turned Vince heel.

We see the famous clip from the 9/22 RAW where Austin stuns Vince.

Mick says he has never felt tension anywhere like he felt that night.

We see a clip from the 9/1 RAW where Rocky Miavia explains why he joined the Nation.

Cornette says the fans resented Rock when he was a face, and he was able to channel that and became the Rock, which was himself.

9. Mr. McMahon and Austin

We see the infamous Montreal Screwjob from the 1997 Survivor Series.

“In November of 1997, WWE Champion Bret Hart decided to go to WCW. Although Bret’s decision was made with McMahon’s blessing, a controversy arose over the championship which would erupt at Survivor Series in Montreal.”

“McMahon’s decision to end the championship match early was to earn him the hatred of wrestling fans around the world. Fans he was working hard to attain and win over.”

Vince says he knew after what he did that he would become hated, and decided to run with it.

We see a clip from the 11/17 RAW where Vince gives his “Bret screwed Bret” speech.

Mick thinks that Vince gave a great speech, but deep down knows Vince screwed Bret, not Bret screwed Bret, but Mick says by playing it that way Vince became a heel.

“In the aftermath of Bret Hart’s departure, McMahon was to make an announcement that would galvanize the sports entertainment industry.”

We see the famous clip from the 1/19/98 RAW of the Tyson/Austin confrontation.

Eric says he got a phone call from a friend telling him what WWE was doing to compete, and Eric dismissed it. He then about Mike Tyson with WWE and thought that was good.

Lombardi says a guy like Tyson was perfect for WWE at the time.

JR says DX and Tyson fit like a glove.

Mick says Tyson couldn’t have been happier to be involved.

We see Austin winning the WWE Championship at WM XIV.

“When Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania, he took his place as the most popular superstar on RAW. The next night, he set the course of the weeks to come.”

We see the clip from the 3/30 RAW of Vince telling Austin it’s the easy way or hard way and Austin responds with a Stunner.

Cornette says Austin, Vince/Bret, and the Rock got people interested in WWE, and WWE saw this and ran with it.

Mick says it was frustrating losing so long, especially since he feels RAW was better than Nitro during 1997, though it didn’t show in the ratings.

Jericho says all WCW cared about were the ratings, and after Bischoff came out proclaiming himself to be king of wrestling, WWE beat WCW the next week.

10. WWE Wins A Round

Mick talks about the week WWE finally won the ratings after 83 weeks, which was the first match between Austin and McMahon, which Mick said was built well until he ruined it as Dude Love.

We see highlights from the 4/13 RAW, which featured the first match between Austin and McMahon.

Gene says once WWE regained the edge, he knew WCW was in trouble.

We see a clip of HHH taking over DX and the return of Sean Waltman as X-Pac. We then see clips of DX taking over NYC and invading WCW’s office.

11. WWE Takes The Lead

Eric says after DX invaded, he tried to shift the focus off of them onto him.

We see a promo of Bischoff challenging Vince to a match.

Eric says Hogan told him this wasn’t a good idea, cause Vince would show up and kick Eric’s ass.

“Vince McMahon elected not to accept Bischoff’s challenge. He was busy.”

JR says WWE was smart enough to enhance Undertaker’s character, elevate HHH and Rock, and made new stars, which WCW didn’t do. JR says one guy in that run of WCW got a break, Goldberg.

Eric says Goldberg came at a perfect time, and his persona won the crowd over. After winning over 100 straight matches, they put him in a World Title match.

We see Goldberg winning the WCW Title on the 7/6 Nitro.

Eric says after Goldberg won the title, he was a made man.

Jericho says Goldberg winning the title in his home was a huge moment and the peak of WCW.

“After losing for 11 weeks straight, Nitro beat RAW in the ratings and they had to face an issue. The nWo had grown from a trio of rebellious outsiders to a huge group that threatened to swallow WCW whole.”

Show says it became a problem in the locker room when the nWo grew, and he says at one point 30 guys were part of the group.

Eddie Guerrero says it got boring because it was the same, and you didn’t know what month it was at WCW since the same guys were on top.

12. Ric Flair

“WWE continued to win the ratings war week after week. But in September of 1998, Nitro was victorious with a show that featured Ric Flair’s return with the legendary group, the Four Horsemen.”

We see highlights of Ric Flair’s return on the 9/14 Nitro.

Benoit says his experience as a Horseman was great, and was privilaged to be one of the few to live it.

Ric Flair says the impact of his return was great, although the Horsemen were beaten down shortly after, as was Flair when the angle with him and Bischoff died down.

Eric says he was creating two cultures, a traditional WCW led by Flair, and counter-culture with the new stuff he was doing.

Cornette says Flair was the last remaining star from the NWA and that there was a natural dislike between Flair and Bischoff.

We see more highlights from the 9/14 Nitro.

Cornette says that anytime a new guy failed, Bischoff went back to Flair since he could still draw. Cornette puts Flair over as someone to be respected.

Flair says in his opinion, Bischoff didn’t see him as a legend because if he did, he wouldn’t have treated him like he did.

Cornette then adds Flair made a living out of making young guys stars.

13. WCW Struggles

Rey Mysterio believes WCW’s problem was the lack to push new talent, as the same guys were on top. He questions why WCW wasn’t doing what WWE was in pushing young talent.

“RAW continued to dominate Nitro week after week. In late December, Nitro and RAW were to have an extremely competitive Monday on the night Mick Foley won the championship.”

We see Mick Foley winning the WWE Championship on the 1/4/99 RAW.

Mick says he watched the show and was very proud of being champion, and then he watched Nitro and didn’t like how they were showcasing Goldberg, then he heard Tony Schiavone spoil his title win.

We see a clip from the 1/4 Nitro, where Tony Schiavone spoils Mick Foley winning the World Title. Then he sarcastically says that’ll put butts in the seats.

Mick felt that ruined his moment and couldn’t understand how they could bury him like that. He waited for the ratings, and they saw that WCW was winning the night until Schiavone made the comment, and that’s when 300,000 households turned to RAW to watch the change, then switched back to Nitro. Mick believes that move meant that had WCW not taken the low road, they would have won the night, and instead it was a huge victory for both him and the WWE.

Eric says by then, the biggest issue was himself because he was impossible to deal with.

Benoit believes that the corporate structure hurt WCW, and that if you asked a question, you got three different answers, and had no solution.

Flair says nobody, not even someone like Sting, knew what was going on.

Gene says there were times Nitro was five minutes from airing and there was no run sheet. He then says the biggest mistake was letting talent have complete creative control.

14. Talent Goes To WWE

Show says he saw what was going down, and knew it was only a matter of time and had to make a move.

Vince says WCW had a number of talent he was interested in, one of them being the Big Show.

Show says it was a good coup for WWE, as they were now taking the young stars WCW wasn’t pushing. Show then puts over Rock and Austin, calling them the two best entertainers of all time.

Jericho says he had an argument with Bischoff, and decided it was time to go to WWE a year before his contract with WCW expired.

We see highlights of Chris Jericho’s WWE debut on the 8/9 RAW.

Jericho compared WCW to the Wizard of Oz, being all black and white, and once he got to WWE, it was color. He says he couldn’t imagine what is was like for the WWE guys to move to WCW.

Bischoff says that even though many thought he was blowing money away, he says he wasn’t because he took a company that was losing money and turned it into one that was profitable. He felt he had to fight the higher-ups because he mistakenly thought he could rely on Turner.

15. More Changes At WCW

“Ratings began to drop. Many at the company were unhappy. Finally at WCW, a change was made.”

Eric says he got a call from Harvey Schiller, who he had and has a good relationship, and that he was sent home. Eric says he went home, had a cup of coffee, flew to Wyoming, and went fly-fishing for a month and a half.

“With Triple H as champion, RAW continued to dominate the ratings. Some thought that an upcoming IPO of WWE stock and the introduction of Smackdown on UPN would distract WWE from the Monday Night Wars. WCW tried to capitalize with a bold move.”

Gene says JJ Dillon had a contact in WWE he felt could turn the product around.

“Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara attempted to change the course of the Wars and bring WCW and Nitro back on top.”

Benoit says he thought the idea was good to bring that success over to WCW.

“Some of their efforts came under criticism.”

We see a clip from the 11/15 Nitro which has Ed Ferrara as Oklahoma, a parody of Jim Ross.

JR says his children were upset that their dad was made fun of, but he knew from being in the business this long not to grind axes.

Benoit says he realized that what they claimed to bring was not what they brought.

Gene says that Vince and Ed had to have a Vince McMahon to control the creative process.

Flair laughs at the notion that Russo came in and claimed sole responsibility for WWE’s success with the Attitude Era.

“New talent at WWE was making an impact. Edge, Christian, the Hardy Boyz. As RAW continued to dominate the ratings, WWE took a serious look at the WCW talent pool.”

Vince realizes it was important to see who on WCW’s roster could help WWE.

We see a clip from the 8/17/98 Nitro of Eddie Guerrero demanding his release.

Eddie says he asked for his release for several years, but was denied. He says he started to dislike everything about wrestling except the actual wrestling.

We see a clip from the 8/23/99 Nitro of Chris Beniot venting his frustrations of the politics.

Benoit says he was so fed up and hated coming to work, and he feels if you hate what you’re passionate about, something’s wrong.

Eddie says even though they were not top guys, they were the workhorses. He also says that when they left, WCW lost their backbone.

Cornette says the WCW guys coming to WWE brought a fresh, but familiar feel and the fans loved it.

We see a clip from Bash at the Beach 2000 where Vince Russo says he’s tired of dealing with the politics.

16. The Last Chapter

Gene says after Russo and Ferrara were fired and they realized Bischoff had to come back, it was too late.

Eric says that he knew he couldn’t fix WCW, so he offered to buy it. He was on the beach when he got a call saying the deal was off, because they wouldn’t get the TV time, which made WCW worthless.

We see the intro to the last Nitro on 3/26/01.

Brisco says this was WWE’s defining moment, when they conquered Turner.

Benoit says it brought a lot of emotions knowing how he felt about WCW.

Eddie says they made the right move, but he was concerned for Chavo and the boys.

Show says he was exhilirated because he made a decision that the future was with WWE.

Prichard says there was uncertainty, but also that of excitement.

Rey says that before the show they wer freaking out, but by the end didn’t care what happened.

Flair says he was thrilled when the company closed, but was sad to see many lose their jobs.

JR says he was glad the war was over, but not glad to see many lose their jobs as well.

Gene says it was an important part of history, one that could happen again.

Flair says WCW should have focused on itself instead of WWE, which he believes caused WCW’s demise.

Brisco says the war helped the WWE regain its focus.

Mick says that comparing the original RAWs to ones during the mid-90s, you’ll see the competition brought out the best of WWE.

Vince says that not one thing stands out, other than Austin, as it was many little things that helped.

Shawn says he won’t say they knew all along they would win, because they didn’t as it was touch-and-go. He gives Bischoff credit for taking a bad situation and making a positive out of it.

Brisco adds that the most important lesson out of this is not to mess with Vince McMahon.

Eric concludes that the highs were worth the lows, and that the wars are the reason everyone is enjoying their success today.

“The Monday Night War was over. One might say there was only one winner, but there were millions of winners. All the fans who came to watch and cheer their favorites in the Monday Night War.”

Extras:

1. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels defeat Owen Hart and the British Bulldog when Austin pins Bulldog at 13:25 to win the WWE Tag Team Championships. (WWE Monday Night RAW – 5/26/97, Roberts Memorial Stadium)

Fun Fact: If the challengers won, they would face the LOD the next week on RAW, as LOD were scheduled to face the current champs at KOTR.

Analysis: A pretty wild match. The champs were on a roll, Austin was continuing to grow in popularity, and Michaels wrestles in his first match since February, which raised questions about whether his knee injury was legit, and I’m surprised Bret, who was on the ramp with the Foundation, didn’t run down and try to hurt him. It was no surprise by this point Bret and Shawn couldn’t stand each other, and it would boil over soon. Austin and Shawn are unlikely partners, as they were set to face off at KOTR. The challengers start off hot, until the champs wear down HBK, as he tried to get back in a groove after the layoff. Austin gets the tag and chaos ensues, with HBK hitting the SCM on Bulldog, leading to Austin getting the pin and they win the straps. Post-match, the Harts attack HBK, while Austin gets a shot in on Bret. In a post match interview, Austin and HBK argue, as Austin claims to have won the straps on his own, building their story. Overall, a good title match as the crowd was all over it. Grade: 3

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin Stuns Mr. McMahon (WWE Monday Night Raw – 9/22/97, Madison Square Garden)

Owen Hart dedicates his win in the semi-finals of the IC title tournament to Bret, until Austin attacks him from behind, violating a restraining order and shoving a police officer. Vince gets in the ring and tries to calm things down. He tells Austin that he can’t compete due to his neck and he has to work within the system. Austin says this is his living and Vince shouldn’t speak for him. He says he will work in the system and appreciates that Vince cares. He then tells him he can kiss his ass and stuns Vince. Austin would then be taken away in handcuffs.

3. Jim Cornette Commentary (WWE Monday Night RAW – 10/27/97 (taped 10/21/97), Tulsa Convention Center)

Jim Cornette talks about his shoots which he started doing on Byte This!, and that he was asked to do it on RAW. He says in hindsight he probably wouldn’t have been done, but people latched on because he just said what he thought of the wrestling business.

Jim Cornette talks about how he’s sick and tired of people claiming to be the “icon” of wrestling. He mentions Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and Randy Savage as the main ones. He knocks the Hogan/Piper cage match from Halloween Havoc and slams WCW for running it. He then says his idea of an icon is someone with talent in the ring and maturity outside the ring. He cites Undertaker, Ric Flair, and Steve Austin as the ones that fit the bill. He then closes by comparing Hogan to garbage, saying both stink as they get old.

4. Vince McMahon Interview “Bret Screwed Bret” (WWE Monday Night RAW – 11/17/97 (tape 11/11/97), Cornwell Civic Complex)

Jim Ross interviews Vince McMahon about the Montreal Screwjob and asks him did he screw Bret Hart. Vince says some would say that, but he believe that neither the referee, Shawn Michaels, nor Vince screwed Bret. He believes Bret screwed Bret. JR says many fans won’t know what he means by that. Vince says he would take responsibility for his actions, right or wrong. He hopes he’s made more good decisions than bad. Regarding Bret, he talks about a time honored tradition when someone is leaving, that they show respect for the business that made them a star, which he feels Bret didn’t do.

5. The Legion of Doom defeat DX (w/ Chyna) by disqualification at 10:15. (WWE Monday Night RAW – 12/15/97 (taped 12/9/97), Durham, NH)

Analysis: Our main event for RAW is a interesting tag match. LOD is fresh off being upset for the straps by the New Age Outlaws, and DX were rolling, as HHH was on the rise while HBK was screwing around as he felt he owned the company. The LOD use their power to wear down HBK until DX gain advantage over Hawk and work him over. Hawk tags Animal and he cleans house, until Billy Gunn comes out to distract Hawk. Road Dogg comes through the crowd and smothers Hawk with a ether-soaked rag while Animal handles DX until Chyna hits a low blow, drawing the DQ. The factions then dissect LOD, with Hawk having half his mohawk shaved by the NAO, and Animal powerbombed through the announce table. The heels leave strong and this is where the downfall of the LOD begins. A decent, yet sloppy match best remember for the post-match antics as the future DX teammates stand tall. Grade: 2

6. DX Invades Nitro (WWE Monday Night RAW – 4/27/98, outside the Norfolk Scope)

Fun Fact: This segment is from WWE Confidential

DX invades the Norfolk Scope where WCW Monday Nitro was being held. They would have fun with the fans and attempt to get in the building, but were unable to. The clips are intertwinned with interviews by Triple H, Billy Gunn, X-Pac, Bruce Prichard, Kevin Nash, and Eric Bischoff.

7. The Last Nitro (WCW Monday Nitro – 3/26/01, Boardwalk Beach Resort)

Fun Fact: This segment is from WWE Confidential

This is a compliation of the last Monday Nitro with highlights being Booker T winning the WCW Title, Shane Helms winning the Cruiserweight title, and the main event between Sting and Ric Flair. It also had the simulcast of RAW and Nitro with Vince and Shane, with Shane announcing he has bought WCW. The clips included interviews with Shane Helms, Lance Storm, Eric Bischoff, Billy Kidman, Scott Steiner, Booker T, and Ric Flair.

8. nWo In The Production Truck (WCW Monday Nitro – 7/22/96, Disney-MGM Studios)

During a match featuring the Renegade, Alex Wright, Jim Powers, and Joe Gomez against the Dungeon of Doom, the cameras head to the back where a disturbance was happening. The cameras then show the Outsiders in the production truck, forcing the producers to pan the crowd, as they claimed they were looking for someone. Security eventually throws them out and we get back to the match.

9. Eric Bischoff Challenges Vince McMahon (WCW Monday Nitro – 5/11/98, Kemper Arena)

Eric Bischoff cuts a promo saying he wonders what Vince is thinking for sending his “wannabes” around to places he knows Bischoff isn’t going to be. He acknowledges Sean Waltman wanting an apology, who tells Sean to “bite me”. He then tells Vince he’ll be in Massachusetts for Slamboree, and offers Vince a chance to come and get in the ring with him.

10. Chris Benoit forces Booker T to submit to the Crippler Crossface at 8:18. (WCW Monday Nitro – 6/1/98, MCI Center)

Fun Fact: This is match 4 in the best of seven series between the two. Benoit leads 2-1 going in.

Analysis: A pretty solid match in the series. Booker was really starting to come around as a singles star and putting him with Benoit was a smart move. The current TV champ Fit Finlay comes out to scout both men, and say they don’t know him. Booker maintains control for most of the match, with Benoit making his comebacks. It was by this point that these two would try to top their previous matches and set the bar for the future matches. Booker looks to deliver a suplex, but Benoit counters it with the Crossface, and Booker taps. Benoit is now one win away from a TV title shot, but Booker is not done yet. A good match, but they would have better ones. Grade: 2.5

11. Bill Goldberg pins “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan with the Jackhammer at 8:11 to win the WCW Championship. (WCW Monday Nitro – 7/6/98, Georgia Dome)

The Buildup: On Thunder five days ago, JJ Dillon announced Hogan would defend the WCW title against Goldberg here. The nWo forced Goldberg to compete against Scott Hall first before facing Hogan, and Goldberg easily defeated Hall.

Analysis: The heat for this match was as high as it could be. Goldberg, just about a year into his career, has skyrocketed to the top, and Hogan as ruled WCW since turning heel, but now knows he has to put over the newcomer. The match is pretty slow and methodical, as Goldberg was not completely refined and Hogan is just getting older. Hogan uses dirty tactics, but Goldberg keeps overpowering him. Towards the end, Hogan hits the legdrop three times, but Goldberg kicks out convincingly. Curt Hennig comes out to help Hogan, but DDP and Karl Malone come out and Malone gives Hennig a Diamond Cutter. This distracts Hogan long enough for Goldberg to do the Spear and Jackhammer, winning the WCW Title, garnering a HUGE pop from the hometown crowd. Of course, in hindsight this should have been held off for a PPV blowoff, and WCW just blew a big chance because all they cared about was ratings. As for the match, it was painfully average, but the pops and Goldberg’s win more than made up for it. Grade: 3 (1 for the match, 5 for the pops).

12. Ric Flair Returns To WCW (WCW Monday Nitro – 9/14/98, BiLo Center)

This is the famous Four Horsemen reunion. Arn Anderson addresses Chris Benoit, Mongo McMichael, and Dean Malenko for being what the Horsemen are all about. He says to the fans they wanted the Horsemen back, so he says be careful what you wish for, because you have it. He then realizes, which he accuses to Alheizmer’s, that he almost forgot the fourth Horseman, Ric Flair. Flair comes out to a MASSIVE, blowing the roof off the arena pop. He embraces all the Horsemen and takes the mic. He says he’s embarrased by this response, but he knows that the time spent in the business was worth it. He says he heard there was a party in Greenville and that the Horsemen, despite what Eric Bischoff says, is alive. Ric tells Bischoff that this is not scripted for TV, this is real. Bischoff comes out to tell Flair he’s done, and when Flair sees him, he claims abuse of power. He calls Bischoff a liar, cheat, scam, and a no-good son of a bitch, and tells him to fire him, because he’s already fired.

13. Rick Rude Appears On Nitro And RAW On The Same Night (WWE Monday Night RAW and WCW Monday Nitro – (11/17/97 (RAW taped on 11/11/97), Cornwall Civic Complex and The Crown)

JR talks about Rick Rude appearing on both RAW and Nitro on 11/17, which he says surprised WWE. He says Rick was under a short term contract and it seemed he was going to stay long term, as he appeared on a taped RAW (w/ a full beard) and then appeared on Nitro (clean shaven). It wasn’t mentioned that Rude left partly due to the Montreal Screwjob. The way it happened was Rude appeared on the first hour of Nitro then appeared on the second hour of RAW. We see Rude’s return to WCW and he talks about the “wrongs of wrestling”, which include Shawn Michaels claiming to be champion having never beaten Bret Hart, and for Vince to instruct the ref to ring the bell early to rob Bret of the title. He then says what’s right is for Bret the abandon the Titantic and swim to the refugee of the nWo.

Final Analysis: Overall, this was a pretty good DVD. The documentary was pretty solid with great insight from the big players, although many are still missing.. It seems that they tried to give both sides an equal share, though it clearly shows WWE in a more favorable light than WCW. The four matches are pretty good, but it’s a shame there weren’t more, but I guessed they were crunched for time and couldn’t had anymore. That said, there have been many great matches on RAW and Nitro, that they picked these four was an interesting choice. The extras were also good with them showcasing some of RAW and Nitro’s best moments, though I saw more RAW than Nitro. In the end, it was a good DVD and is mildly recommended, although it is probably harder to find now. Final Grade: C+

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