The Monday Night Wars Week 21: January 22nd 1996

According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the flat go home show that RAW produced a week ago earned them the biggest loss in the ratings war to date (3.5 to 2.4). Bischoff was so tickled by this win that he actually called Vince’s office and left a message telling Vince to keep up the Billionaire Ted skits.

A week later WCW presented 2 title matches and main event stars across the board to compete with a live post-Royal Rumble RAW. The result? A narrow win for the WWF. The ebb and flow of the “war” was in full swing.


We are LIVE 24 hours after the big Royal Rumble PPV! Now we have truly began the Road to Wrestlemania!

Vince promises a new era has dawned in the WWF.

Savio Vega vs. The Man they call VADER

Vega tempts fate by mocking Vader’s war dance. Vader mauls Savio with clubbing left and rights. He then holds Vega’s head and pops him in the mouth several times. Vader misses a corner charge and Savio sends him over the top rope with a super kick. Vader is nonplussed by that and he drops Vega face first onto the railing. A corner splash hits and a Vader bomb ends the massacre.

Vader keeps abusing Savio after the match and Vader bombs him again. Then the ref is headbutted and tossed to the floor. Jim Cornette tries to calm Vader but another ref gets in the ring and Vader DRILLS him with a stiff power bomb. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon has seen enough and he enters the ring to stop this melee. Monsoon and Vader scream at one another and Gorilla announces that Vader is suspended indefinitely. This causes another screaming fit between the two giants of different eras. Monsoon goes back to tend to the maimed ref and Vader, feeling ignored and disrespected gives the President a rough slap on the back to draw his attention. Monsoon has had enough of this mastodon’s attitude and he lays 3 hard chops across Vader’s chest! Monsoon then makes a fatal mistake of turning his back on Vader. The massive former champion charges the WWF’s highest ranking official and squashes him in the corner. Vader drops an elbow and Vader bombs Gorilla. Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels run in and make Vader bail. Vince and Vader then scream at each other on the floor. FANTASTIC ANGLE!!

If I remember correctly, this is Monsoon’s first in ring appearance since the Monday night wars began – prior to this he has been simply a character who made pronouncements from his office. So the rarity of Monsoon’s appearances, combined with his age, combined with his status as a beloved legend and the fact that this may have been the first physicality used against Monsoon since early 1989 when the Brooklyn Brawler of all people laid him out, made this a noteworthy storyline. Vader, as I stated in my last Raw report, was scheduled for shoulder surgery and this was a brilliant way to write him out.

We see a clip of Monsoon being carried out on a stretcher as we return from commercial. Vader declares war on every WWF superstar and official and he smashes a trash can for emphasis.

Razor Ramon vs. HHH

HHH is accompanied to the ring by former Playboy playmate Shae Marks. Razor downs HHH with some big shots as The 1-2-3 Kid cuts an insert promo with a diaper and baby bottle which he uses to mock Razor’s whining. Razor works on HHH’s arm and keeps control until he misses a charge and ends up splattered on the concrete. HHH drops Razor on the ropes crotch first and Razor bumps all over the place for his Kliq buddy.

The Kid wanders down and sticks a giant baby bottle in Razor’s mouth. Razor takes HHH down and chases The Kid around the ring. Razor is counted out as he makes the rounds around the ring. Match was fine as both guys worked hard to put the other over. HHH is nearly given the Razor’s Edge after the match.

Billionaire Ted’s Wrasslin War room sees Ted talking about buying old movies, old cartoons and old wrestlers. He wants fresh ideas but Mean Scheme won’t offer any unless you call his hotline. The Huckster falls asleep. Vince says this is the last edition of the War room. If only.

Shawn Michaels is interviewed by his boyfriend Vince McMahon. Vince cackles at everything Shawn says. Shawn promises to find and avenge himself against all 9 “thugs” who concussed him.

He calls out Owen Hart and that brings out Jim Cornette. Shawn leans on Vince as McMahon cuts a promo on Camp Cornette for Shawn. Jim says Owen Hart has nothing to prove anymore against Shawn. HBK wants Owen badly and offers money or anything else to get a chance to wrestle him.

Corny demands Owen get a chance to win Shawn’s Wrestlemania title shot. HBK is taken aback for a moment but then accepts, tosses Cornette out of the ring and begins his striptease routine.

World Champion Bret Hart vs. IC Champion Goldust

Neither title is on the line. Goldust rubs himself down and Marlena mimics him. Bret has a dinged knee from a bad landing during last night’s title defense at the Rumble. We go to commercial before the men can barely lock up.

Bret and Goldust trade armlocks as Vince and Lawler screw up the time zones for the PPV replays and we get another commercial before we can get into the match.

More armlocks by Goldust as they try to give the fans more reasons to tune to Nitro. Bret kicks Goldust to the floor and he tries to flee. Razor stops him, gets some licks in (with the ref watching) and then tosses Goldust back in the ring. And that takes us to another commercial!

Bret hits a flying clothesline, Russian leg sweep and a sharpshooter to end Goldust’s win streak for no real good reason. Huh. The little we saw between commercials was dull.

Bret cuts a fairly generic promo on Diesel to close out the show.


Going up against a live post PPV RAW and being 24 hours before their big “Clash of the Champions” show should make for a fun show.

Konnan shows up with his (fictional) Mexican Heavyweight title and plugs his debut at the Clash.

Hulk Hogan and Macho Man cut a brief promo with a bunch of ladies in evening gowns. Linda Hogan appears to be one of them. The infamous valet Woman is another. The announcers acknowledge her. Why would the Mega Powers (oh Monster Maniacs, sorry Jerry Mcdevitt) trust a lifelong heel like her? It appears Debra McMichael may be another of the random ladies.

Hogan wishes Savage luck and challenges him to a title match if he beats Ric Flair tonight. Bischoff spoils Hogan and Savage’s “secret weapon” they had been promising for the Clash and informs us Miss Elizabeth will return for the first time in 4 years to join the babyfaces.

World Champion Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage

Flair hits on his old flame Woman and is slapped for his troubles. Savage jumps him and drives Ric into the railing. Macho is whipped into the railing in response. Savage takes charge in the ring until he eats an elbow. Flair chops away.

Eric reveals The Road Warriors will be at the Clash!

Savage is chucked to the floor and then over the railing. Randy fights back but misses a flying double axe handle from the top rope to the floor.

We come back from commercial and see Macho back in control as he unloads with punches. Flair nails a knee breaker and locks in the figure four. Flair is caught using the ropes and is forced to release the hold. Macho eats a knee drop but Flair gets caught on the top rope and slammed off. Savage hits a pair of flying axehandles and Arn Anderson runs down and tries to hit Randy with the brass knux but he accidentally nails Flair instead. Hulk Hogan runs down to neutralize Arn and Savage hits the big elbow. The bell rings before the elbow can land but the ref counts to 3 anyway.

Macho Man and the Hulkster celebrate briefly before Savage cuts a promo on Hogan about trying to steal Randy’s spotlight. Randy tells Hulk he won’t grant him a title shot unless WCW’s executive committee names him number one contender. What a heel move. Macho wants to end their match with a handshake regardless of who wins.

The Observer states Flair was livid for real when he was told to drop the strap, and Ric went as far as declaring his intention to quit WCW.

Dean Malenko vs. Brian Pillman

Pillman uses aggressive moves like punches and chops but Malenko out wrestles him and raises Pillman’s ire. Brian slugs away some more and sends Dean crashing to the mat with a suplex. Pillman slaps Malenko and that causes the “Iceman” to trip Pillman up and unload with his own punches.

Pillman is driven into the mat with a snap suplex and a neckbreaker. Brian catches Dean charging in and hits a tornado DDT. Dean rebounds with a power bomb. Pillman claws at Dean’s face but is chucked on his face for that. Malenko nails a gutbuster and a leg lock. Dean accidentally gets his foot wrapped in the ropes and Pillman gets the pin. Fire the ref! Solid hard hitting match.

This Saturday Night…The American Males vs. Harlem Heat…Alex Wright vs. Ric Flair…Johnny B. Badd vs. Meng and the Sting and Luger team will be in action.

World Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat vs. Lex Luger and Sting

Stevie Ray clubs away on Luger. Heat attempt a double team move but Lex clotheslines both men. Sting tags in and hits both heels with multiple Stinger splashes. Sting locks on a Scorpion Death Lock but Booker T hits him with a scissor kick to break that up. Sting is locked in some rest holds in between clubbing moves. Sting fights his way out of the heels corner but a poke to the eye ends his rally. Back to the restholds.

The Heat nail a double front face suplex but Booker T misses the Harlem Hangover. Luger is handed a foreign object by Jimmy Hart who runs to ringside and then back to the locker room. Lex busts a roll of silver dollars over Booker T’s face and snags the pin. Sting seems confused by Luger’s method of victory. He missed the kill shot. Match was abysmally dull.

Hulk Hogan vs. US Champion The One Man Gang

Hulk drops bombs on Gang but OMG escapes the big boot and they take the brawl to the floor. Hogan unloads with more punches, an eye poke and then gnaws on OMG’s head. Gang bumps around for Hogan until Gang hits one forearm, a slam and the 747 splash. Hogan no sells the move before a pin can even be attempted. Can you guess the rest? Hogan slams OMG, hits the legdrop and gets the pin. Another Hogan formula match minus the 5-8 minutes where the heel actually gets to beat on Hogan before the triumphant comeback. Yawn.

Zodiac charges the ring with Chris Benoit, Arn Anderson, Kevin Sullivan, Pillman and others and of course Hogan fends them all off before Savage can come in and help. The Giant is held back by Zodiac again as the heels flee, with only Pillman suggesting that they use their number advantage to go beat on the faces.

According to the Observer, the reason Brutus Beefcake (Zodiac) has been getting a renewed push wasn’t just because he was Hogan’s buddy, but Hogan told Bischoff that if Eric can push his friend DDP, then Hogan can push his friend Brutus.

Final thoughts:

RAW wins this week on the strength of that awesome Vader angle. Even two title changes on Nitro could not overcome that segment, especially when one of them featured the usually insomnia curing Harlem Heat. WCW continues to over expose their top guys, a trend that would only worsen for both companies as the war would go on. Hulk Hogan’s complete disregard for anybody else’s finisher is becoming tiresome. Bret Hart delivered back to back DUDs on consecutive nights and suddenly Shawn Michaels as the top man doesn’t seem so hard to swallow. Hope Hart finds his way.

The WWF has a battle plan for where they are going (Wrestlemania) and most of the top matches are already being built to, meanwhile WCW is in month three or four of building towards a Hogan vs. Savage match and hindsight tells me they never get there until much later after WCW is turned upside down.

All complaints aside, I’m looking forward to reviewing the Clash and many many more editions of the Monday Night Wars.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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