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Monday Night War: January ’96

Monday Night War: January 1996

January 1st:
WCW Nitro: 2.5
WWF RAW: 2.6

Nitro Notes: WCW put on a pretty big Nitro start off the first full year of the Monday Night War. Randy Savage defeated Arn Anderson, while Hulk Hogan defeated WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair by disqualification.

RAW Notes: The show had a special theme to it. With the Super Bowl right around the corner, WWF put on a “RAW Bowl” competition. The Smoking Gunns retained the WWF World Tag Team Championships in an elimination match by defeating Sid/1-2-3 Kid, Ramon/Vega and Owen Hart/Yokozuna. Also on the broadcast, former WWF World Champion Diesel defeated Mabel in eight seconds.

January 8th:
WCW Nitro: 2.8
WWF RAW: 3.0

Nitro Notes: A well rounded show saw a huge tag team match where Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage defeated WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Lex Luger continued to try and prove to Sting that he was “on his side” and they formed a tag team.

RAW Notes: From a wrestling standpoint, the show was very lackluster. The featured bout saw Jeff Jarrett defeat Hakushi. Steve Austin made his debut associating himself with Ted DiBiase and becoming the Million Dollar Champion. The addition of Austin would serve to greatly benefit the WWF in the years to come as you will read.

January 15th:
WCW Nitro: 3.5

WWF RAW: 2.4

Nitro Notes:
Lex Luger got yet another win over Randy Savage. WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair retained the championship by pinning Sting after Luger accidentally caused Sting to hit his head on Jimmy Hart’s megaphone on a Stinger Splash attempt. Hulk Hogan pinned Meng in the main event.

RAW Notes:
Owen Hart defeated Marty Jannetty in the featured bout. Also, the Undertaker pinned Isaac Yankeem. Razor Ramon and Goldust were involved in a brawl that saw them fight outside into the snow. Steve Austin made his in-ring debut by beating Matt Hardy.

January 22nd:

WCW Nitro: 2.7
WWF RAW: 2.9

Nitro Notes: There were two major title changes on the show. First, Randy Savage won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship by pinning Ric Flair. Secondly, Sting and Lex Luger won the WCW World Tag Team Championships by defeating Harlem Heat. Hulk Hogan defeated WCW United States Champion One Man Gang in the main event.

RAW Notes:
Vader made his RAW debut by destroying Savio Vega in his first match. Vader continued to make an impact by attacking WWF President Gorilla Monsoon for suspending him. Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Razor Ramon by count-out after the 1-2-3 Kid got involved. WWF World Champion handed WWF Intercontinental Goldust his first televised lost in the main event, winning by submission.

January 29th:
WCW Nitro: 2.8

WWF RAW: 2.4

Nitro Notes:
Ric Flair picked up a rare pin fall win over Hulk Hogan after hitting Hogan with a high heel shoe. The Road Warriors returned to WCW by defeating the Faces of Fear. The Giant got a disqualification victory over WCW World Heavyweight Champion Randy Savage as well. The match only lasted thirty seconds.

RAW Notes:
Roddy Piper made his return to WWF television and was announced as the WWF President due to Gorilla Monsoon’s injuries he suffered from Vader’s attack earlier in the month. Diesel defeated Davey Boy Smith in a featured bout. Also, Shawn Michaels overcame the larger Yokozuna in the main event.

Bob’s Breakdown: In the long run, this month was a pretty big one. It marked the debut of Steve Austin who would eventually bite WCW in the ass by becoming a household name and generating an incredible amount of money for the WWF. It’s safe to say he was a big reason to WWF’s eventual domination of WCW as we will soon document.

Also, having Vader debut for WWF was pretty big. Vader was a dominate force in WCW who had classic bouts with Sting and Flair and upon his arrival in the WWF, he was greeted with great reactions for being a heel. I can honestly say that the way Vader came in and destroyed Gorilla Monsoon was great television.

WCW continued to put on really strong shows to compete against RAW. I thought it was interesting that despite having two title switches on Nitro, they still lost out to RAW. From a quality perspective, RAW was way behind Nitro with the star studded matches. It shouldn’t be a surprised that Nitro got a high rating of 3.5 as a result of putting on pay per view matches on free television.

At this point, WCW was hanging with WWF and soon enough they would pull ahead and not look back. Well, at least that was the case for two years. But, for now, the wars are heating up and the WWF is battling to retain their audience.

Thanks for reading.

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