wrestling / TV Reports

411’s WWE Rivals Episode Five Report: WWE vs. WCW

August 7, 2022 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Hollywood Hulk Hogan Image Credit: WWE

-Yes, it’s another retelling of the Monday Night Wars, but it was an amazing time to be a fan and I can listen to these stories until the end of time. Let’s get to it!

-As a reminder Freddie Prinze Jr is behind this show and hosts a roundtable that discusses things in between the talking heads that discuss things. This week he is joined by Kofi Kingston, Kevin Nash, JBL, and Tamina.

-I mean it opens with Eric Bischoff challenging Vince McMahon. That’s the crazy stuff we got and it was awesome! Scott Hall: “you want a war? You’re going to get one.” Still makes me happy!

-Kofi was one of the kids who watched one show live and taped the other so he didn’t miss anything. I didn’t have a VCR of my own until Christmas 1996, so I got used to just flipping back and forth. I also remember Nitro airing a repeat on West Coast feed, but I could be wrong.

-JBL goes over the history of the WWF and then JCP becoming WCW. HHH talks about the launch of RAW and how it changed the business. We see classic early moments like 1-2-3 Kid upsetting Razor Ramon.

-Hulk Hogan tells us Vince was going to a youth movement so it was a perfect time to part ways. Hogan went to do Thunder in Paradise (yes, I watched it) and next door WCW was doing their taped shows from Disney MGM (now Disney Hollywood Studios). I love Hollywood Studios! Twilight Zone Tower of Terror! Bischoff wanted Hogan in WCW and Hogan said he was done, but eventually made the move. Prichard puts over WCW signing Hogan and how it made them take notice. Hogan puts over his first night on PPV in WCW and he is right in that it did a monster number for WCW.

-Randy Savage soon joined and all of a sudden WCW had the two biggest stars from Vince’s WWE. JBL says they were out Vincing Vince and points out Vince poached people and used celebrities. WCW was just doing the same thing.

-In 1995 WCW announces Nitro on Monday Nights in direct competition with RAW. Prichard felt they were crazy and wondered why they didn’t pick a different night. Stephanie McMahon calls it an act of war.

-Bischoff talks about doing six months of research and sitting in on focus groups. He learned people loved the element of surprise. That leads to Lex Luger showing up on the debut edition of Nitro. The story is Lex was done with WWE and it seemed they would work something out, but instead he gets a low ball offer from WCW and wanted to be back with his friends so he took it. He worked shows for WWE only a few days before he walked out on Nitro.

-Nitro Debut: Sept 4, 1995: Nitro has a show in the middle of The Mall of America and hit a homerun with Luger’s shocking defection. The Miz freaks out as does AJ Styles when he retells the story. Booker says everyone knew things would never be the same again. Bischoff is just beaming as he says “It worked great. Didn’t it Bruce Prichard?” Cut to Bruce: “Damn, how did that happen?” Awesome! The tone was set on night one of Nitro!

-Commercials!

-Bischoff says the Luger moment set the tone and was a key to the early success of Nitro. Stephanie mentions RAW was live every other week while Nitro was live every week. That let Bischoff spoil taped episodes of RAW. Bischoff on Nitro: “In case you are tempted to grab the remote control, check out the competition, don’t bother. Shawn Michaels beat the big guy with a superkick he couldn’t earn a green belt with at the local YMCA.” I loved this time in wrestling so much!

-Next up Alundra Blayze has her contract with WWF when she was still WWF Woman’s Champion. She shows up on Nitro and dumps the Title in a trash can. Bruce talks about how competition can bring out the best and worst. Their philosophy was to never mention their competition on TV. That changed and lead to Billionaire Ted’s Wrasslin War Room.

-Prichard says they had to do the skits. DDP says it wasn’t the smartest move as it turned off some old WWF fans who still loved Hogan and Savage. Ted Turner (old footage) says he wasn’t hurt by it and saw it as they were getting to Vince.

-WWF talking heads discuss how bad business was and how WCW was starting to steamroll them. HHH remembers working a half full building in Pittsburgh and Austin asking him if wrestling will ever be as big as it was in the 80s. Kane remembers doing shows with 500 fans. Taker goes over that WCW was paying out more money for less dates.

-Hall notes that if there are more wrestling companies that can only be good for him. DDP is friends with Hall and as his contract is coming up he gets him a meeting with Bischoff. They offer Hall 3 times what he is making in WWE for half the dates. Nash says he heard this and told Hall, “see what they can get me.” Don’t even let it be unsaid that Nash isn’t a businessman first (as he should be). Prinze is blow away by what Nash just said.

-Nash says the stars were aligned as Hall walked out on WCW Nitro. WOOOO! May 27, 1996. I always have to tell the story as it was my 15th birthday. My parents gave me a card with $50 in it and then Hall walked out causing me to run around my house. I peaked at 15 apparently! Nash says he came out the next week (2 weeks later actually, but the points the same) and again, I lost my mind. They weren’t saying they were Razor and Diesel, but they were leaning into those personas. It was genius as people bought that WCW and WWF were working together.

-Great American Bash 1996: INJECT ALL THIS IN MY VEINS! Oh wait, they don’t show Nash destroys Bischoff with a powerbomb off the stage. You bastards!

-Bash at The Beach 1996: Here is my review on the 25th anniversary last year. Hulk Hogan comes and shocks the world.

-Commercials!

-Back with Hogan dropping the leg on Savage to go heel and kick off the nWo angle which made all the money. It still makes me so happy and I want to run around my house again. Hogan knew they had heat as the garbage piled up in the ring. Hogan cuts the promo of his life and I can recite that thing word for word which is sad, but I don’t care. I love all this!

-nWo ads: TAKE ME BACK TO THIS TIME IN MY LIFE! The nWo becomes the greatest thing of all time. DDP says they were so hot in redefined wrestling. AJ Styles says they were too cool to be bad. NASH TOSSING REY INTO A TRAILER LIKE A DART. REY WAS A BEAST FOR TAKING THAT BUMP!

-Back to the roundtable as Nash talks about taking things from Gangta Rap and mentions getting 4 Life from Mack 10. Hogan says society had an edge and nWo just fell in with what was cool and accepted.

-WCW beat WWF for 83 straight weeks in the ratings. Taker says WCW was catering to the 18-34 male demographic. Kane says the WWF was a cartoon in the mid 90s aimed at young people (wrestling dentists, I mean who would pay to see a wrestling dentist?). Nash remembers flying back from Nitro with Eric, Hall, Hogan, and Savage. They were drinking and laughing until Eric said he was going to put McMahon out of business. Everyone else had worked for Vince and their eyes got huge. Hogan spoke up first and said “you will never put that man out of business.”

-HHH says WWE had to recreate from what they had left after some of their top stars left. We get behind the scenes footage of Vince talking to a camera crew as they are filming Sunny shooting pool (you know the photo shoot) and he tells them they are going to put more sex appeal in the product.

-Prichard says when they dove in to the Attitude Era there was no turning back. Of course credit goes to Shawn and HHH first with DX. Apparently if you saw yourself hanging out with the nWo you also saw yourself hanging out with DX. Vince’s famous speech about no more black and white and shades of gray is played. Taker was all in as he was done with the kids stuff. The Rock calls the Attitude Era a seismic shift and gives all the credit to Stone Cold Steve Austin. As he should!

-Austin was different than anything wrestling had seen from their top babyface. Rock calls Steve unique and special. Austin knew they were in competition with WCW and he was like “fuck these guys.”

-Bischoff wasn’t concerned about WWF going edgier until Mike Tyson showed up. It can’t be overstated how huge Tyson showing up on RAW as at the time. WCW had celebrities, but this was Mile Tyson.

-Commercials!

-Mike Tyson shows up on RAW and of course Steve Austin is there to confront him. Austin tells Tyson off and flips him the double bird triggering a brawl. That is when Bischoff knew they were in for a real fight.

-Nash says Vince knew fans weren’t watching RAW like they used to. He took Tyson and put him in the Main Event of WrestleMania. Tyson is the special enforcer for Austin/Michaels and as JR said it perfectly “The Austin Era has begun!”

-Austin/McMahon sets the world on fire though skipping over Montreal and what led to Mr. McMahon is kind of dumb. “MCMAHON 3:16 SAYS I JUST PISSED MY PANTS.” WWE finally wins a ratings battle as they build an episode of RAW around Vince and Austin having a match.

-Both shows were doing monster numbers and the fans were the real winners while the boys were making tons of money. Wrestling was it’s hottest period and was part of pop culture.

-WCW still had a bullet left in the chamber with Goldberg. He came out of seemingly nowhere, got over like crazy and steamrolled everyone on his way to beating Hogan for The WCW Title.

-They touch on Bischoff challenging Vince McMahon. Which leads to DX Invading WCW because we can’t forget that. Lets see how many people call it a tank instead of a jeep. Nash says he and Hall were trying to get out the door to greet them. Kofi, was a fan like all of us, and wanted the door opened. Prichard asked HHH and Vince what the plan was if WCW tried the same thing and Vince said set to let them in the building and drive to the ring. His reasoning, “which show would you watch? The one with all the wrestlers or none of them?” Man has a point and HHH knew that kind of thinking from Vince was the reason WWF was going to win.

-Commercials!

-Jan 4, 1999: The final nail in the coffin as Eric Bischoff has Tony Schiavone spoil and then bury Mick Foley winning the WWF Title from The Rock. Eric said he always spoiled RAW and it worked very well, until he did it with The Rock and Mick Foley. At least he can laugh about it now. He admits a lot of his audience quickly switched over to RAW. Mick lets us know about 500,000 to 600,000 switched instantly.

-Nash says he watched both shows as they would have a monitor with RAW on it in the back. He puts over Austin and Rock as megastars. He notes that everyone else started becoming stars and was happy he had guaranteed money.

-Kevin Owens brings up how WCW guys started jumping ship. JERICHO’S WWE DEBUT! KO freaked out as his dad thought something was wrong. I was there with you KO! Bischoff said the loss of Jericho stung and now he was playing catchup with people leaving his show.

-Roberts brings up that in WWE Vince was in charge while WCW was part of a larger company. AOL and Time Warner merge which wasn’t good for WCW. Ted loved WCW but nobody else in charge did. They weren’t wrestling fans and looked down on pro-wrestling.

-Time Warner is looking to sell and a deal came together quickly as Vince wanted the tape library and took on some of the talent contracts.

-Commercials!

-JBL at the roundtable talks about how euphoric they were to beat WCW. They had no heat with the boys in WCW because they were all just trying to make a living. Nash jokes that he was a double agent for Vince the entire time.

-March 26, 2001: The final Nitro as Vince has bought his competition. Prichard puts over how big of a deal it was that there was a simulcast on both networks. Passion won out and that was the difference according to Prichard. Vince loved WWE and AOL Time Warner had no use for wrestling. Shane shows up and in storyline he becomes the owner of WCW, but as Steph puts it: WCW was done.

-Paul Heyman informs us that WWE didn’t buy WCW in as much as they bought the assets of WCW. They bought the tape library and intellectual property. That tape library has paid itself off so many times over I assume with the DVD releases and Network subs and now Peacock deal.

-Booker T told everyone he was going to WWE. Now Hogan, Flair, Sting, and the nWo had guaranteed contracts so they sat at home. That killed the excitement of The Invasion. Sting didn’t show up for on WWE TV for well over 13 years. They discuss his Mania match with HHH just to get in the DX vs. nWo battle everyone wanted 15 years earlier. Syxx bumping like a madman for Hogan is still great. Got to feed the big man! HHH said when the match was over they all took it in as it was something 15 years in the making.

-Talking heads go over the greatness of the war and how we will never get anything like it again. Yeah, I mean I know there is tribalism with WWE vs AEW, but it will never reach what we had in the mid to late 90s.

-This topic has been covered to death so nothing new here, but as I said, I could listen to people talk about this time in wrestling until the sun explodes. Thanks for reading!

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WWE Rivals, Robert Leighty Jr.