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Monday Night War: June 1996



Another WWF star jumps ship to WCW. Austin 3:16 is born, but it doesn’t translate into the ratings… yet.

June 3rd
WWF RAW: 2.3
WCW Nitro: 3

RAW started the month focusing on King of the Ring hype as Steve Austin advanced over Bob Holly and the main event saw Jake Roberts pinned Hunter Hearst Helmsley. It should be noted that Vince McMahon made it clear on commentary that Razor Ramon and Diesel no longer worked for the company.

Meanwhile, Nitro wasn’t all that better. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson wrestled a sixteen minute match with the Rock N Roll Express to give fans a taste of the 1980s. The most interesting thing to happen all week saw Scott Hall come out after a main event between the Steiner Brothers and the team of Sting & Lex Luger to let Sting know that he had a big surprise for him next week.

June 10th
WCW Nitro: 2.6

This is the last time the WWF would win in the ratings until April of 1998. So, it will be interesting to see how bad the show gets rating wise. Anyway, the program saw Marc Mero advance in the KOTR tournament over Skip. Owen Hart advanced over Yokozuna, who revealed that he was going to leave and find himself. The main event was a lackluster match between the Undertaker and Mankind. There was a segment where Jerry Lawler attacked the Ultimate Warrior during an in-ring talking segment hitting Warrior with a picture frame.

The promise of a big surprise didn’t help Nitro winning the ratings this week. The show saw the Nasty Boys and Public Enemy have one of their brawling train wrecks. Scott Steiner won an opening match against Booker T in a preview of a singles feud that would happen often in later years. The main event saw Sting and Lex Luger wrestle Ric Flair and Arn Anderson to a no contest. However, the big surprise that Scott Hall promised was none other than Kevin Nash, better known as Diesel in the WWF. At the end of the show, the duo challenged WCW to find three guys and to wrestle them.

Kevin Nash debuts as the "big surprise."

Kevin Nash debuts as the “big surprise.”

June 17th
WWF RAW: 2.3
WCW Nitro: 3.4

The final RAW before the King of the Ring saw the WWF put forth a stronger show on paper than in recent weeks, but got a worse rating due to the momentum Nitro has been getting. The Steve Austin/Savio Vega feud continued with Austin winning to advance in the KOTR tournament. Marc Mero also advanced by defeating Owen Hart. The main event saw WWF Intercontinental Champion Goldust lose to Jake Roberts by a reverse decision in a non-title match. Mr. Perfect is revealed as the special referee for the Michaels/Bulldog main event at KOTR.

A huge win in the ratings for Nitro as they put on a big show right after the Great American Bash. The ever entertaining feud between Ric Flair and Randy Savage continued with a singles match that saw Flair win after Mongo McMichael whacked Savage with a briefcase. A rematch from the Great American Bash that saw WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko pin Rey Mysterio Jr, which was Rey’s Nitro debut. The main event saw WCW World Champion the Giant pin Scott Steiner after not being affected by a wooden chair shot. It was also announced that Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage will be the three men to represent WCW at the Bash at the Beach pay per view.

June 24th
WWF RAW: 2.7
WCW Nitro: 3.3

The night after King of the Ring saw a little increase in viewership for RAW. The new WWF Intercontinental Champion, Ahmed Johnson defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a non-title match. The main event would be a huge money draw a couple of years later as the Undertaker got a DQ victory over the 1996 King of the Ring winner due to Goldust interfering in the match.

Over on Nitro, the Horsemen had another match against the Rock N’ Roll Express that saw the team of Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit walk out with a win. The main event saw Scott Hall and Kevin Nash distract the participants from the floor. The distraction allowed Harlem Heat to win the WCW World Tag Team Championships when Booker T pinned Lex Luger. The Steiner Brothers were also involved in the contest.

The summer of ’96 saw WCW reach a point of popularity that just blew WWF out of the water. Kevin Nash being brought into the company along with Scott Hall depleted the WWF of two of its stars and it damaged their television product as they didn’t have anyone to replace the interest and popularity that Nash and Hall had going for themselves here.

For this month, it wasn’t even close that WCW had the superior show each and every week of the month. The Nitro show after their Great American Bash pay per view was probably the best offering as well.

What were your memories of the Monday Night War in June of 1996? Leave your thoughts below.

Thanks for reading.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. A nice taste of life during wartime. In retrospect it looks kind of odd that the WWF eventually won the wars, but having been there at the time I remember that Bischoff and the WCW were like a kid in a candy store with a credit card – mindlessly spending on anything and everything that took their fancy, with little thought for the consequences. It *was* much more fun watching WCW back then, but they just kept throwing old WWF superstars at their problems and rarely managed to build solid, interesting feuds and storylines for them….which is the most maddening and saddening thing of all. They had legends like Hogan and Flair still going at it, an influx of ex-WWF stars ready to wrestle anyone and everyone, and their own stable who could be pushed further into the spotlight by being set up in matches with anyone from either group. Somehow they failed to sufficiently capitalize on any of it. Maybe they should have thrown some buckets of money at behind-the-scenes story development as well. I know Russo came on board but, let’s be honest, he’d obviously passed his prime at that point….either that or he doesn’t deserve the credit so many give him for the stories that had lit up the WWF in recent (at this point) years.

    February 10, 2015

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