Monday Night War: January 1997
Monday Night Wars kickoff the new year with plenty of entertaining programming. Nitro continues to have a huge lead in the ratings, but WWF programming is slowly but surely improving.
RAW starts the new year with a big show with two top matches taking place. First, Owen Hart squared off against Mankind and in the main event Bret Hart wrestled Vader. The show also had a focus on Sid and Shawn Michaels leading into their WWF World Championship match at Royal Rumble featuring Sid power bombing Jose Lothario’s son onto a table backstage.
The demise of the Four Horsemen is evident on the show as Jeff Jarrett competed in singles action against Arn Anderson. WCW Television Champion Lord Steven Regal defends against Jim Duggan. Psychosis wrestled Rey Mysterio Jr. in singles action to produce their usual fun. WCW United States Champion Eddie Guerrero squared off against Alex Wright. The final segment featured The Giant getting attacked by the New World Order but is saved by Sting.
The baby face turn of Goldust is in full effect as he teamed with Marc Mero to take on Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Jerry Lawler. The rookie Rocky Maivia tested his luck with the British Bulldog in singles action. The show features a weak main event between Crush and the Undertaker.
Diamond Dallas Page nearly joins the New World Order but swerves Scott Hall and Kevin Nash by instead hitting a diamond cutter on Hall. Dean Malenko earned a victory over WCW United States Champion Eddie Guerrero in a non-title match. A Starrcade rematch between Jeff Jarrett and Chris Benoit takes place, as well. The Giant competed in singles action against WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan.
Bret Hart complaining about what had been going on in the WWF started to appear and he “quit” the company at the start of the show. WWF World Tag Team Champions Owen Hart and the British Bulldog fought Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon in a non-title match. It’s announced that Steve Austin will not get a WWF World Championship match at WrestleMania and instead will wrestle Bret, Taker and Vader at the next pay per view. The main event didn’t help the rating despite it being between Steve Austin and the Undertaker.
Randy Savage returned to WCW at the start the show and refused to leave the ring until he met with someone with major stroke. Savage attacked a few wrestlers to prevent a match from happening. Savage would eventually leave the ring with Sting. Steve McMichael and Arn Anderson teamed up for a tag match against Jeff Jarrett and Eddie Guerrero. WCW Cruiserweight Champion Ultimo Dragon defended against Dean Malenko. The feud between Kevin Sullivan and Chris Benoit continued on the show with a singles match. The ending of the program had a showdown between the Giant and Hogan leading into the Souled Out pay per view.
RAW is unable to get any kind of traction and finishes the month with a subpar show. Ahmed Johnson continued his feud with the Nation when he wrestled against Crush. WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels promotes his match with Psycho Sid to take place on February 13th. Bret Hart, the Undertaker, Steve Austin and Vader also got involved in the segment. The main event this week was between the Godwinns and the team of Vader and Mankind.
Eric Bischoff displays his power in the company by stripping the Steiner Brothers of their newly won WCW World Tag Team Championships. He also fired referee Randy Anderson. An upset victory for Hugh Morrus against Chris Benoit as Benoit continues to feud with the Dungeon. WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan had a brief match with the Giant that ended thanks to the Outsiders involvement. It is announced on this show that Hogan will defend the championship against Roddy Piper at Superbrawl.
At this point WCW was relying more on angles to maintain their strong ratings while the WWF seemingly attempted to have more high profile matches on some weeks. In early 1997 the WWF product begins to improve and WCW continues to get hotter making for a great time in professional wrestling.
What are your memories of the Monday Night Wars at this point?
Thanks for reading.