Monday Night War: July 1996
A departure in the WWF marks the return of one psycho superstar. Over in WCW, the world is shocked when a hero becomes a villain and he did it all for money, brother.
RAW started the month with two featured bouts as the company tried to close the growing gap between themselves and WCW. On the show, WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels rekindled his feud with former friend and tag partner Marty Jannetty. Also on the show, Goldust competed in singles action against Marc Mero.
Nitro featured a tag team title match between Harlem Heat and the Steiner Brothers as the main featured bout. WCW World Champion The Giant defended against John Tenta. The Four Horsemen competed in the main event against the likes of the Rock N’ Roll Express, Joe Gomez and The Renegade.
It was to be a big episode of RAW this week as the Ultimate Warrior was set to wrestle Owen Hart, which he did. However, prior to the match, Monsoon announced that Warrior had been suspended and wouldn’t be back in the company until he put up an appearance bond. Suffice to say, the Warrior experiment lasted three months and didn’t exactly help in the ratings war. At the end of the program, Sid was revealed as Warrior’s replacement at the pay per view.
The Nitro after Bash at the Beach which featured the heel turn of Hulk Hogan and the formation of the New World Order. A great WCW Cruiserweight Championship between Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko is featured on the program. The Nitro debut of Psychosis as he took on Eddy Guerrero. The Steiner Brothers wrestled the Nasty Boys in tag team action. The main event saw Sting wrestle Arn Anderson and cut a heated promo on Hulk Hogan for turning on the fans and WCW. A strong show for WCW Nitro.
The focus this week on RAW was the WWF World Tag Team Champions the Smoking Gunns competing in singles action against WWF Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson and WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels. Johnson wrestled Bart while Michaels was in the main event with Billy.
With many of their top stars off to Japan to work a few shows for NJPW, WCW still managed to have a commanding lead in the ratings. Nitro featured the demise of Fire & Ice after losing to the Steiner Brothers. A young Billy Kidman working a good match with Dean Malenko. Chris Benoit and Eddy Guerrero continued their trend of fantastic television matches and the end of the program saw Hulk Hogan challenge WCW World Champion the Giant to a title match at Hog Wild.
Michaels and Ahmed teamed up to take on the Smoking Gunns for the WWF World Tag Team Championships in the main event. Also featured the announcement that Vader would challenge for the WWF World Championship at SummerSlam. Ahmed Johnson would suffer a serious kidney injury thanks to the debut of Faarooq, as well.
Not every show can be filled with great memories, so is the case with this edition of Nitro. The show does feature the debut of Chavo Guerrero Jr, as he lost to Dean Malenko in singles action. A rematch between Eddy Guerrero and Psychosis takes place as well. A strong main event saw the Horsemen meet the team of Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger in a six man tag match.
A stronger show than in recent weeks for RAW but the lowest rating of the month as the show featured the in-ring return of Psycho Sid, a decent Vader/Mero singles match and a main event that saw Steve Austin square off against the Undertaker. Interestingly enough, the Austin/Taker match would be a highly popular bout some two years later for the company.
This edition of Nitro features one of the most memorable moments in Nitro history when the New World Order beats up the entire WCW roster backstage and featured Kevin Nash tossing Rey Mysterio Jr. face first into a trailer. Prior to that segment, we had gotten a rematch of the six man tag from the previous week, which stopped once the beating backstage took place. The main event saw WCW World Champion The Giant in singles action against Greg Valentine.
WCW continues to ride the popularity of the New World Order as the WWF is trying to find an answer but can’t find a solution to their issues. It’s a still a long time away before the WWF figures out what they have to do to be competitive with WCW.
What are your memories of the Monday Night War at this time?
Thanks for reading.