Monday Night War: December 1996
WCW Nitro is riding high as WWF RAW dips below 2.0.
RAW started the month of December with a rather stinker of a show. The main event saw WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley team with Billy Gunn to take on Marc Mero and Jake Roberts. Shawn Michaels also appeared on the program advancing his rivalry with WWF World Champion Psycho Sid via satellite.
There was a lot of filler on Nitro this week, but there were a few feature matches. Lord Steven Regal and Chris Benoit competed in WCW United States Championship tournament. The ending segment was a brawl between Sting and the Steiner Brothers, which didn’t solve much of anything and Sting taunted the New World Order at the commentary table to end the program. A lot of squash matches on the show, but it’s Nitro and it can do no wrong at this point.
A significantly stronger show on paper for RAW this week, but it gets the same rating as the previous week. WWF World Champion Psycho Sid competed in singles action against WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a champion vs. champion match. The long running feud between the Undertaker and Mankind continued with their first RAW match, which was a no holds barred match in the main event. Bart Gunn attacked Billy Gunn after losing a match and getting insulted by his brother.
Roddy Piper wanted a confrontation with Hulk Hogan at the start, but didn’t get it just yet. The Nasty Boys competed in tag action against the Faces of Fear. Jeff Jarrett and Diamond Dallas Page competed in a WCW United States Championship tournament match.
A lot of RAW this week was focused on the issues regarding the WWF World Championship between Bret Hart, Psycho Sid and Shawn Michaels as all three men were interviewed. The main feature match on the show saw Vader compete in singles action against Steve Austin. The breakup between Billy and Bart Gunn continued as there was an injury angle involving Billy suffering a neck injury. The show also features the baby face turn for Goldust as he decked Jerry Lawler, who asked if he was queer during the Karate Fighters Finals. Sable beat Jerry Lawler in the finals, by the way.
A fun WCW Television Championship match between Lord Steven Regal and Psychosis kicked off the program. Sting officially makes his intentions known that he is WCW by attacking the NWO Sting on the show. There was to be a tag team match between the Outsiders and Faces of Fear, but it didn’t happen. Nitro continues to not have many high profile matches.
I believe this would be the lowest point in WWF RAW history. The feature bout saw Marc Mero get a rematch against WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Bret Hart competed in singles action against the New Razor Ramon, which wasn’t anything like the battles years prior.
Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit competed in the WCW United States Championship tournament, which as expected it is a good way to start the show. WCW Television Champion Lord Steven Regal defended against Dean Malenko. The show comes to an end with the NWO attacking Roddy Piper six days prior to Starrcade.
A dreadful rating to have at the end of ’96 for the WWF as their product continues to suffer against WCW. Bret Hart teamed with Savio Vega to take on Steve Austin and Faarooq in tag team action. A memorable segment involving Bret, Michaels and Sid regarding the WWF World Champion took place, as well. There was a lot of focus on the new feud between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Goldust on the program, with the fans seemingly behind Goldust in his new role.
Nitro finishes on a strong note following Starrcade. WCW Cruiserweight Champion Ultimo Dragon defended against Jushin Liger. Konnan competed against Mr. Wallstreet in a strap match. Harlem Heat competed in tag action against the Faces of Fear. A four minute match between Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho is a highlight on the program. Rey Mysterio Jr. and Dean Malenko competed one more time to finish out ’96. Roddy Piper is destroyed by the New World Order to end the program and The Giant is kicked out of the group to end ’96 for WCW.
What are your memories of the Monday Night Wars?
Thanks for reading.