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Monday Night War: May 1996



A major star jumps from the WWF to WCW, and the war shifts heavily in favor of the Ted Turner owned company, WCW.

May 6th:
WWF RAW: 4.1

WCW Nitro: 1.9

RAW started the month strong by crushing Nitro in the ratings with a 4.1. RAW featured Marc Mero competing in singles action against 1-2-3 Kid in one of his final appearances for the company. The main event saw The Undertaker defeat Owen Hart.

Nitro struggled this week despite a rather strong card. Dean Malenko wrestled Japanese icon Jushin Liger. The ever popular Sting wrestled Lord Steven Regal. WCW World Champion The Giant defended the title against Jim Duggan, which isn’t nearly as strong as their main events had been in recent weeks.

WWF World Champion HBK retaining the title over HHH.

WWF World Champion HBK retaining the title over HHH.

May 13th:
WWF RAW: 3.5

WCW Nitro: 2.3

RAW continued to have a big lead over Nitro, but viewers shifted over to Nitro following last weeks episode. The Mankind/Undertaker feud advanced as Mankind put the Mandible Claw on Taker to allow Goldust to seductively crawl over the Undertaker, whom was scheduled to wrestle the Phenom on pay per view. The main event saw WWF World Champion pin Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

Over on Nitro, Steiner Brothers battled former ECW tag team Public Enemy. Dave Finlay continued to compete against the very best in the company when he lost to Chris Benoit. Ric Flair was in action against V.K. Wallstreet (the former IRS). The main event saw WCW World Champion defend the title in singles action against Lex Luger. A stronger main event that provided a slight jump in the ratings for Nitro.

May 20th:
WWF RAW: 2.3
WCW Nitro: 3.1

A rather steep decline for RAW this week as it wasn’t a strong show on any level. Austin continued his long feud with Marc Mero (the former Johnny B. Badd in WCW). Savio Vega sent the 1-2-3 Kid packing to WCW as this would be Kid’s last appearance for two years. Mankind viciously attacked The Undertaker, who was trapped in a casket. The main event saw Jake Roberts continue his comeback campaign against the British Bulldog, the number one contender for the WWF World Championship.

Nitro takes over the number one spot with a couple of big matches taking place. Ric Flair wrestled Eddie Guerrero, Sting and Lex Luger defended the WCW World Tag Team Championships against the Faces of Fear. WCW World Champion The Giant continued to defend the belt on a regular basis when he pinned Arn Anderson in the main event.

May 27th:
WWF RAW: 2.3
WCW Nitro: 2.8

The night after the Beware of Dog pay per view which had some technical difficulties. RAW saw the Ultimate Warrior compete against Goldust. The main event put the undefeated Ahmed Johnson against Big Van Vader, who had been on a role since debuting in the company back in January.

Action wise, Nitro didn’t have anything of interest aside from the main event of Sting taking on Scott Steiner. I mean, WCW World Champion The Giant defended against Shark, just to give you an idea of what was going on for matches. However, the biggest addition to WCW in recent memory, including the Lex Luger arrival, saw Scott Hall (Razor Ramon in the WWF) jump ship and reveal to the crowd that they know who he is but they don’t know why he is in the company. He was there to declare war on WCW. The debut would cause a huge amount of interest to be shifted to WCW.

"You want a war?"

“You want a war?”

The title WCW World Championship reign by The Giant certainly didn’t provide a spark to the ratings for Nitro, but the return of Scott Hall sure did. On paper, RAW provided some strong main events, but more often than not, the action didn’t reach the anticipated level.

Plus, relying on the Ultimate Warrior to get them viewers didn’t exactly work. The one show she wrestled it was tied for the worst rating for the company during the month. Clearly, Warrior was not going to be game-changer in the Monday Night War.

What were your memories of the Monday Night War at this time? Were you pro WWF or pro WCW?

Leave your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I was a longtime WWF fan when the Monday Night Wars began to heat up. I had dabbled in WCW shows from time to time but they had just seemed amateurish by comparison and like any soap opera, you have to really stick with the stories for a while before you get into it. You know what I mean – try sitting through the odd show from a fed you don’t normally follow and you’ll have minimal appreciation for it if you don’t understand the characters and the backstories. The Wars really changed that though, as it began the concept (continued by WWF’s later absorption of WCW and ECW) that you could have a storyline – the WWF invasion/NWO – that actually encompasses characters from (in theory) multiple federations. Regardless of winning the Wars, WWE obvioussly knew this was a winning concept, and they continued to use it for years, like with the artificial separation of their Raw and Smackdown ‘brands’ into warring factions. Getting back to your point though, I loved the MNW and considered it the highlight of all the years I watched wrestling. WCW’s approach was slightly insane – throwing Ted Turner’s money at the problem by signing up every WWF defector they could get their hands on and pushing them onto TV and into feuds in a haphazard but still very exciting way. WWF’s approach was more of a steamroller – we’ll just keep rolling and we’ll be powerful enough to crush you. You literally had no idea what would happen or who you would see when you turned on Nitro on a Monday night, and RAW put on solid, pretty spectacular shows most of the time too. Competition can be good for business and good for the customer, and I think we all benefitted from this period of conflict. After the Wars were over….well, obviously that was different. I’d stopped watching by then anyway (for personal reasons) but I have to assume that whatever came next was slightly anti-climactic. I’m looking forward to reading more excerpts from the ‘wartime’ period, and when you’re done with that, maybe you can tell us about what happened when Ted Turner’s money tap was finally turned off, WCW was sold, and Vince re-established his company as a major monopoly (at least at the larger end of the market).

    January 31, 2015

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