Monday Night War: February 1997
A young up and comer wins WWF gold. Eric Bischoff continues to be drunk with power. A smile is lost and a psycho regains the top prize in the WWF.
WWF started the month by having a big RAW at the SkyDome in Toronto. The show featured Vader taking on Steve Austin, WWF World Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & British Bulldog defending against the new team of Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon, WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley against Marc Mero and a rather big main event that saw the Undertaker team with Ahmed Johnson to take on Mankind and Faarooq in a no holds barred match. As you can see, this is the highest rated RAW for the month and might be an indication of just how big the WWF could be at this point even with a strong lineup. The show also features a heated segment involving WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.
Despite the show literally not having a big marquee match on it, Nitro continues to roll along with the ratings. The show focused a lot on advancing various angles with interviews and was heavy with mid card bouts. Which, is just hilarious considering the WWF put out a strong show in comparison and still didn’t prevail in the ratings. The main event this week for Nitro saw Jeff Jarrett battle Steve McMichael. The ending of Nitro saw Hogan confront Roddy Piper who just “wanted to go home” with his son. Hogan went too far and Piper cleaned house on Hogan and Bischoff, leading to Piper accepting a title shot at Superbrawl.
February 10th: (RAW was aired on Thursday the 13th.)
So, despite being unopposed RAW goes down in the ratings likely due to the show taking place on Thursday and the audience may have not been completely aware of that. Action wise, Rocky Maivia won his first WWF Intercontinental Championship by pinning Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Psycho Side competed in singles action against Steve Austin. The main event saw Vader battle Bret Hart. This show features the “I lost my smile” promo by Shawn Michaels who vacated the WWF World Championship.
By comparison, Nitro took complete advantage of going unopposed and scored a monster rating while maintaining its Monday time slot. The show featured Dean Malenko taking on Eddie Guerrero. It also featured the infamous angle involving Randy Anderson begging for his job back as a referee, which involved his kids, as well. WCW Television Champion Lord Steven Regal defended against Rey Mysterio Jr. Hogan and Piper continued their war of words despite Hogan only appearing via satellite.
The night after the Final Four pay per view has a big main event with new WWF World Champion Bret Hart losing the belt just twenty-four hours after winning to Psycho Sid. There was a segment between HHH and Goldust which saw the debut of a muscular woman attacking Marlena (Chyna’s debut).
In a major upset, Prince Iaukea won the WCW Television Championship pinning Lord Steven Regal. Randy Anderson won his job back with help from another referee by pinning Nick Patrick, but was fired again by Eric Bischoff. The angle of the Outsiders driving the Steiner Brothers off the road causing an accident was aired to advance that long running feud. There was a segment where Roddy Piper was interviewed live from Alcatraz to hype up his title match with Hogan at Superbrawl.
The ECW invades WWF episode of RAW gets a decent rating for TV but can’t overcome Nitro, yet again. Ken Shamrock also made his debut on WWF television by being interviewed about submission matches and whatnot. Aside from the ECW involvement, the main event of the show was the Undertaker taking on Faarooq.
The night after Superbrawl saw the continuation of mid card matches and the lack of high profile matches for Nitro. It doesn’t appear to hurt the ratings and might good for the long run to hold off on providing too many top matches for free. On the show, Steve McMichael turned on Jeff Jarrett and got a huge reaction for doing so. We got another Rey Mysterio vs. Juventud Guerrera match, not that I’m complaining about that. Diamond Dallas Page was attacked by Randy Savage, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall following his match. We were supposed to get a tag title match featuring Lex Luger and the Giant taking on Harlem Heat, but that never happened and instead setup all or nothing tag match for UnCensored.
What are your memories of the Monday Night Wars to this point?
Thanks for reading.