The Monday Night Wars: Week 1

September 4th 1995

 We’ll start with RAW this week.  Since Vince knows WCW is going to be putting on a show head to head with his “A” show, I’m sure we’ll get an exciting night full of action and maybe a promo from Lex Luger explaining how he feels about his partner The British Bulldog turning to the dark side….

 

 TENNIS?!?!?  WTF… So there’s no RAW on this week!  Augh…. Simona Halep isn’t playing here so I have zero reason to watch this.  I guess it’s on to Nitro. 

 Brilliant move from Bischoff to make sure Nitro would be unopposed to enable maximum impact and viewership potential.

Live from The Mall of America in Minnesota.

Steve McMichael is introduced as the new color commentator   “What an apropos place to be for tonight…and that don’t mean your digging around in the dirt with farm implements”.  I have no idea what that means. (Ed. note: I think he was going for a “hoe” joke in 1995 for no apparent reason.)  I can only assume Steve was training to be a wrestler from the start right?  I still have no idea what relevance he had that was suppose to make him a good fit on WCW TV. 

Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. “Flyin” Brian Pillman

The crowd gives Liger a good pop, partly out of respect and partly out of being jacked up for this event I assume.  This was a pretty sound choice to kick the first show off as it made it clear that WCW was going to offer international stars and workrate friendly matches to the masses.  It was also a rematch to some already legendary matches between the two men from 3 years earlier and thus this had a special feel to it from that vantage point as well.

McMichael makes a racist joke about Liger using Ginsu knives. They trade high spots and Liger botches a frankensteiner. McMichael spends most of the match getting in jabs at Heenan. It’s already annoying and we are only 10 minutes into the show. Pillman wins via roll up after 7 minutes or so.  Pro Wrestling Illustrated poked fun at Liger for flying so far to wrestle such a short match in their review of this show. Pillman was about to finally get a big push after being wasted during most of Hogan’s era in WCW.

Hulk Hogan (surrounded by kids) pushes his PASTAMANIA restaurant that is located in the mall. His new training method is lots and lots of carbs.  This promo was cheesy.  (Mac and Cheesy?)  At least it wasn’t a RAGUlar Hogan interview. Boy(ardee) am I glad this segment was short. Oh well just another Classico Nitro moment.

Sting vs. Ric Flair

Mongo makes the first RAW reference by suggesting that if you don’t understand how awesome this match is you might as well be watching…and Eric cuts him off.  Lex Luger wanders down (with a camera man immediately on him before he is even out of the shadows) and they play it up like Luger is “invading” essentially.  This is every Sting vs. Flair match ever, slightly condensed. Arn Anderson wanders out and eventually comes in and trades blows with Flair – Ric quickly bails. Flair looked good for being 46 here.

To show how blind sided Vince was over Luger showing up, here’s the Superstars show from the weekend prior to Nitro’s debut pushing a Luger promo for the following week.  It was edited off the show after Nitro…obviously. 

Scott Norton charges down and harasses Eric Bischoff about wanting a shot in WCW. McMichael and Norton do a stand off until Randy Savage comes down and he and Norton scream in each other’s faces.  The road agents pull the men apart.  Good segment.

SABU vignette pushing his WCW debut.  This was another fantastic signing for WCW as far as perception goes since there was a lot of buzz about Sabu in the Apter magazines for the past several years and in 1995 not many of us had access to ECW to see what the “suicidal” maniac really brought to the table. In the long run it wasn’t meant to be, but I can’t fault them for trying.

VK Wallstreet makes his return to WCW and rips the WWF’s “The New Generation” as the “Few Generation” and makes an IRS reference.  Shots fired!  That makes 4 new faces in WCW on one show – that’s one way to add energy to your show.

Big Bubba vs. Hulk Hogan

Big Bubba was better known as the Big Boss Man, for those not familiar with this one of Traylor’s many WCW gimmick names during the mid-90s. Hogan is in full self parody mode here. McMichael feels Hogan’s technical skills will over come Bubba’s brawling skills. Huh.  Bubba whiffs on a big boot kick, so they REPEAT THE SPOT. Wrestling school day one no-no. Bubba’s over selling like crazy here trying to put Hogan over.  Bubba sideslam, kick out, arms shake, point, big boot, leg drop. Good night.  Match was perfectly acceptable. The Dungeon of Doom pour into the ring and Hogan and Luger clear the ring. Savage and Sting come in the ring and try and make peace as Hogan and Luger go nose to nose.

Luger buries the WWF World title and the WWF roster. Lex’s mullet is just ghastly. Hogan knows Luger’s history and says Luger has already proved himself enough to earn a title shot next week on Nitro!

That was just about as perfect of a first show as you could have asked for.  While Vince was experimenting with a push for Barry Horowitz, WCW was bringing in guys like Sabu. Bret Hart is fighting with a pirate over ownership rights to a jacket while WCW has just added gasoline to dynamite with Lex Luger showing up to challenge Hulk Hogan.  Maybe pushing King Mabel harder will be able to counteract the arrival of the cruiserweights?  Truthfully Hulk’s angle with the Dungeon of Doom was Wrestlecrap as well but there was definitely a lot more going on in WCW than the WWF and hopefully Vince doesn’t choke on the exhaust from Diesel power before he finds something to Kliq with his audience.

 Next week: The real start of the Monday Night Wars as RAW returns from a one week hiatus.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin’ and true crimes.

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