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WCW Monday Nitro
WCW Monday Nitro
was a weekly professional wrestling program produced by [[World Championship Wrestling]. The show aired Monday nights on TNT, going head-to-head with the
World Wrestling Federation's
Monday Night Raw
from September 4, 1995 to March 26, 2001. Production ceased after WCW was purchased by the WWF.
was created by
In mid-1996, Nitro went on to draw better ratings than the WWF for 84 continuous weeks. This lasted until April 13, 1998, when the WWF's "Attitude Era" saw a heated rivalry between the villainous WWF Chairman
and fan favorite
Stone Cold Steve Austin
dominating WWF programming, as well as characters such as
and a new incarnation of the popular faction D-Generation X shifting momentum in the WWF's favor.
Besides broadcasting from various arenas and locations across the country (such as the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, from which the very first episode of
also did special broadcasts from the Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando in 1996, and did annual
episodes from Panama City Beach, Florida starting in March 1997.
The very first episode of
was broadcast from the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The featured matches on the one-hour broadcast were
WCW World Champion
Big Bubba Rodgers
. The show was also highlighted by the return of Lex Luger. Luger had previously been
with the World Wrestling Federation without a contract, but signed with WCW that morning following an appearance with WWF just the night before.
Monday Night Wars
The advent of
WCW Monday Nitro
brought with it an intense rivalry between WCW's Monday night program and the WWF's
Monday Night RAW
program. This rivalry is known to wrestling fans as the "Monday Night Wars." Throughout the Monday Night Wars between Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon,
was gaining on its WWF counterpart popularity-wise. Soon
in the TV ratings.
in the ratings for 84 consecutive weeks until
finally regained ground in the ratings war. At its peak, the rivalry resulted in performers on either show
verbal insults and challenges. At one point, Eric Bischoff challenged Vince McMahon to face him in a match to be held at
. McMahon never formally recognized the challenge and did not appear. Bischoff was declared the winner via countout
became popular as result of WCW's extensive roster of stars.
were some of the few stars signed with WCW and appearing on the
program at this time. WCW's lineup of cruiserweights - smaller wrestlers known for their crowd-pleasing high-flying wrestling maneuvers provided a strong set of setup matches for their main events. With the introduction of the nWo,
started its unprecedented run of ratings domination. With former WWF wrestlers
and Hogan (who was now calling himself Hollywood Hogan) as rebellious heels, the company seemed to have a winning story and a great future. Wrestling fans watched the show every week to see what the nWo would do
was live and
was often taped,
was seen as far less predictable and thus more entertaining than its WWE counterpart.
WCW Monday Nitro
also pulled in strong ratings in the UK. It was once the third most watched show on
and cable TV only beaten by
and certain football matches, but unlike in the USA, it never beat
Monday Night RAW
in the then head-to-head "Friday Night Wars" in the UK. This was despite the fact that
aired on a subscription channel whereas
aired on TNT , a basic Sky and cable channel. TNT in the UK would only start at 9pm after the end of Cartoon Network in the late 90s. Nitro was its flagship show and was the only actual TV show on the network. The network showed classic movies like TCM in North America rather than standard broadcast TV shows. TNT in the UK is now named TCM. From 2000 until its end in March 2001 Nitro in the UK moved to Bravo where it moved to 10pm directly head to head with Raw instead of the usual hour head start. It Should Also Be Noted That UK Coverage Of WCW Nitro Was Always 11 Days Behind The Live U.S Coverage.
Eric Bischoff's on-camera role
Eric Bischoff soon became the voice of
(in perhaps, a subtle knock on Vince McMahon, who often appeared on camera as a commentator) and began to air
a couple of minutes before
so he could give away the results of the WWF program so fans had no point to see the competition.
would be expanded to a three-hour show, unprecedented for live, weekly wrestling program.
was taking a new approach to programming with its "WWF Attitude",
would start producing lackluster shows with the same storylines. Older stars such as Hogan and Nash frequented the main events, while younger talent such as
Rey Mysterio Jr.
were not given
to advance in the company. Hogan and the rest of the nWo almost never lost and the once elite group was now bloated in size and recruiting midcard wrestlers. The only newcomers elevated to main event status at this time were
Diamond Dallas Page
. Goldberg's main event match with Hogan on the July 6, 1998 edition of
from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta won the ratings battle from WWF for the week, but some observers felt that WCW could have made millions if they saved the Goldberg/Hogan match for an eventual pay-per-view event.
The D-X/Norfolk, Virginia incident
, fans were immersed in the feud between WWF owner Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin. New talent such as
and his D-Generation X faction,
were elevated to main event status on WWF's program. Things got so heated between the two programs that D-X was sent to Atlanta to film a segment near Turner's headquarters for a "war" storyline that was done when both shows were in the same area on the same night (
in Hampton, Virginia and
in nearby Norfolk), sending D-X to the Norfolk Scope arena
was broadcasting from and interacting with WCW fans.
starting to beat
in the ratings on a consistent basis, Bischoff and WCW officials attempted to use a series of "quick fixes" to regain ground in the ratings war. All these attempts would win them short-term ratings victories, but the WWF continued its steady climb to ratings dominance. Signings of wrestlers such as
and several top
stars did nothing to stop their ratings slide. Nitro's inability to create new stars was its ultimate undoing, while the WWF had invested in younger talent like
, the Hardy Boyz,
, WCW continued to rely on established stars like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and The Outsiders to support ratings, causing much unease among the younger and less well known members of the roster. This was illustrated most clearly in 1999, when former WCW mid-carder Chris Jericho signed with the WWF and immediately started a feud with The Rock, when months earlier he had been told he was too small to sell tickets in WCW.
January 4, 1999 broadcast
Bischoff's "tried & true" tactic of giving away the results from taped
shows backfired on January 4, 1999.
, who had wrestled for WCW during the early 1990s as Cactus Jack, won the
WWF Title as Mankind on //Raw//. //Nitro// announcer [[Tony Schiavone
sarcastically mentioned "
that'll sure put some butts in the seats.
" The comment, however, backfired and Nitro would lose the ratings battle that night. The next week, and for months after, many fans in the
audience brought signs which read,
"Mick Foley put my ass in this seat!"
In the meantime, while Foley's title win was airing,
was highlighted by the now-infamous "Fingerpoke of Doom", a WCW Title match in which Nash, who had won the championship belt from Goldberg at the
PPV event (WCW's equivalent to
) two weeks before, blatantly laid down for Hogan after he poked him in the chest. The incident damaged the credibility of the WCW Title almost beyond repair, and the damage done to WCW was, in the mind of some, exacerbated when Hogan and Nash immediately announced the reformation of the nWo, which by that time was widely perceived as a stale storyline.
Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara
Former WWF writers
were also hired to fix the company but may have increased the gap between the two Monday night programs. They attempted to make
with edgier storylines, lengthier non-wrestling segments and an increased amount of sexuality on the show. Through this,
would become a two-hour program, with the second hour competing with
. Fans had a negative reaction to the direction Russo was bringing the show in and it was reflected in the low ratings for the program. The 2-hour format also hurt the program as an entire hour of advertising revenue was lost. Bischoff would be brought back to WCW and attempted to team with Russo to fix the ills of
and WCW - taking
off the air for one week to reboot the program, but all this was to no avail. The once highly rated
became deprived of wrestlers, with its most capable young stars signing with the WWF and its current roster of talent being constantly misused. WCW's sharp decline in revenue and ratings would lead to Time Warner's sale of the company to the rival World Wrestling Federation.
The Night of Champions
To attract adolescent viewers,
was telecast every year during Spring Break from Panama City Beach, Florida, because students on universities was a high-value demographic audience group for WCW. There, WCW originated from a well-known nightclub, "Club La Vela" to get in touch with those viewers.
The final edition of
WCW Monday Nitro
which aired on March 26, 2001 from Panama City Beach, Florida, was dubbed "The Night of Champions". The show began with
in Cleveland, Ohio (the site of that nights edition of Monday Night Raw) making a short statement about his recent purchase of WCW. The show was unique in that all of WCW's major championships were defended that night and in almost all of the matches on the show, the faces won (traditionally WCW was seen as the promotion where heels were often the top stars as opposed to the WWF, where faces were often the top stars). In addition, various WCW wrestlers were interviewed giving their honest, out-of-character responses to the selling of WCW.
Just as it had been on the initial
, the final match of the final
was between long-time WCW rivals
, a match that was more informal than their usual encounters (Sting and Flair were seen smiling and nodding respectfully towards each other through out the match). Sting won using his finishing move, the Scorpion Deathlock. After the match, the two competitors stood in the middle of the ring and embraced to show respect for one another.
The show ended with a simulcast on
on TNN with an appearance by Vince's son
. Shane would interrupt his father's gloating over the WCW purchase to explain that Shane was the one who actually owned WCW (this was just part of the storyline, as the WWF as a whole was the true owner of WCW), as part of the set up of their match at
X-Seven and of what would later become WWF's "Invasion" storyline. In addition to the tape library and other intellectual properties, WWF would also buy a few selected contracts of the WCW talent, keeping many of the younger stars but passing on many key players, who had more expensive contracts. Some key players, like
, would eventually accept contract buy-outs to take the smaller contracts offered by the WWF/E. The main event included WCW Champion,
vs. WCW United States Champion Booker T. The '
Night of Champions
' name and concept is now used as an annual pay-per-view by WWE.
Other notable moments
WWF Women's Champion
signed with WCW in 1995 (going back to her old name of "Madusa"), she brought the title with her and threw it in the trash on
WCW Monday Nitro
(the first week that Nitro started before the top of the hour), and the title itself would become inactive for the next three years. This infamous event would be parodied by WCW on a 2000 edition of
WCW Television Championship
in the trash and "Hacksaw"
found it and claimed it.
The only wrestler to appear on both
WCW Monday Nitro
WWF Monday Night RAW
on the same day was
. He appeared at the
taping the previous Tuesday despite not having a WWF contract and signed with WCW in time to appear at
on Monday. Rude was able to appear on WCW because he was not under a contract to the WWF at the time, appearing on a handshake deal with McMahon.
WWE 24/7 Classics On Demand / WWE Home Video
Since Buying The WCW Video Library, WWE Home Video Has Included Many WCW Nitro Matches And Segments On Some Of Their Superstar Biography DVD Sets. Full Episodes Are Also Streamed On WWE 24/7 Classics On Demand, As Part Of The Monday Night Wars Feature. Matches
(Interviewer - 1995-2001)
WCW Nitro Results
World Championship Wrestling
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