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Thread: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

  1. #1

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    Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk



    Why yes it IS another member of this forum indulging in a vintage wrestling binge during these trying times. I guess the difference is, several months ago I began this task, wasting my time on wrestling shows before it was trendy. Unlike my last few dumb threads about wrestling, I've already been watching this crap for a while now and have four months of shows in the tank to talk about. As if that weren't enough, I'm also happy to encourage people watch along at home, or at least the high-and-low lights as recommended by yours truly. Will this flame out eventually? Probably, but I have a bunch of notes on the first four months of the Monday Night Wars and it's time for someone other than Jim to be barraged by my thoughts.

    So what am I doing here?

    Glad you asked. Watching WCW Monday Nitro and WWF Monday Night Raw respectively, back-to-back so as to simulate watching the shows concurrently as they occurred. I'm far from an expert on 95 WWE (most of my knowledge of the product comes from 97 onward) and I've never watched a lick of WCW outside of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho collections. Though I have the benefit of knowing many of history's biggest events (don't expect me to be shocked by Hogan's heel turn or the formation of D-X) a lot of the minutiae of each show is lost on me, so these are fresh gut reactions to most of what I'm watching.

    Will you be actually reviewing things?

    Hey, no. Who do I look like, Shock? I'll be here mostly critiquing various booking and presentation elements of this show while also adding in my brief thoughts of particular matches. Instead of reviews I've been grading the shows against each other, simply awarding a "Winner" each week based on which show I enjoyed more, no further criteria than that. I have also been indulging in PPVs and while I won't grade them against each other since they rarely run on the same day, I have been assigning them letter grades and will note each company's yearly average in that department to see who's more consistently giving you the bang for your mid-90's buck.

    Silk you're not that interesting of a reviewer, why should I follow this?

    Well, mysterious rude person, because I'm chronicling one of the most interesting times in wrestling history! Whether you care about my thoughts or not, as mentioned before, I will be keeping you in the loop of where I am as I go along and certainly encouraging a dialogue with other people in the thread. Whether these events are fresh in your head or if you're encouraged to watch a few shows along with me, don't tune in just to hear me ramble about how bad Halloween Havoc was! Watch the show for yourself, maybe tag along for a few Nitros, go on a journey with me.

    Sounds lame, let's get started.

    I agree. My first real post will be up in a bit chronicling the first two months of the War, September and October respectively. After that will be another post for November/December, and then you'll be caught up to where I am now and updates will be more sporadic. Hooray, let's do it.



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    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    Looking forward to this. Subscribed

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    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    Here's an idea I've wanted to try: 2 screens and watch simultaneously. I may actually do this because I've been going through the Attitude Era (started Survivor Series '97) and I'm in July 1999. I've only watched Raw, but have wondered how Nitro was at the time as well.

    Could provide the feel of flipping "back and forth" to tell us which moments you'd wanna be tuned in for!

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    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    I'm here for the wrestlecrap

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    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    Here's my September ramblings. Figure I might as well dole out the first four months one at a time.

    September 1995

    What's Going On?
    WCW Monday Nitro premieres on the first Monday of the month but there was no Raw that night so this experiment actually begins one week later on September 11th.

    (If you must know about the premiere episode of Nitro, go look it up, you're not missing a lot)

    WCW puts on one edition of Nitro before their Fall Brawl PPV, which featured Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson and a god's honest WarGames match. Quite a way to get one's first exposure to WCW. The Nitro before the show teased some tension between WCW champ Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger, teammates for the WarGames match along with Randy Savage and Sting, against the Dungeon of Doom. Team Hogan ultimately goes over but it's the Dungeon who has the last laugh when a fresh The "Big Show" Giant arrives and breaks Hogan's neck, killing him instantly. That same night, Arn Anderson gets the leg up on Flair in their rivalry with a W. These two storylines consume most of WCW TV in the month of September, with a surprise American Males tag team title win being about the only thing of note on Nitro otherwise.

    In the WWF tensions are bubbling between long-time friends Razor Ramon and The 1-2-3 Kid. Raw is of course not a new show so it seems to spend less energy trying to impress at this stage, and is still just mid storyline with most of the year's booking. While they tease a break-up of Razor and Kid's friendship, Intercontinental Champ Shawn Michaels and WWF World Champ Diesel are running the show without a care with some light resistance from Jim Cornette's ragtag Owen Hart and Yokozuna team (also the tag champs). The two teams would collide at In Your House 3 with all three belts on the line, and the Two Dudes With Attitude would emerge on top minus the tag belts. These storylines aside, there's a bit of service paid to Bret Hart's long-running feud with Jerry Lawler and Isaac "Kane" Yankem, and on the last Raw of the month the team of the Smoking Gunns picks up the tag titles from YokOwen instead of the Two Dudes.

    The Scorecard
    The night of the 11th, the first night the shows went head to head, I gave a slight edge to Nitro mostly on the back of presentation and feeling like a big damn deal. Nitro gets this in their favor a lot, but especially on this one being the go-home show to Fall Brawl. A Luger/Hogan no contest highlights the show but it's mostly the storyline progression that gives Nitro the point and not match quality, since Raw had more passable stuff like Razor vs. Bulldog. The next week Raw had their go-home for IYH3 and I threw them a point for an entertaining 1-2-3 vs. Razor match that progressed their fun storyline. The final battle of the month also went to Raw, as their show on the 25th featured a fairly exciting tag team title change, while Nitro languished with bad Luger/Ming and Savage/Taskmaster matches. Thankfully the midcard will develop in WCW soon, but right now it's a 2-1 edge for WWF.

    For PPV scoring I had Fall Brawl '95 as a C show with match of the night being Arn Anderson vs. Ric Flair. Johnny B. Badd and Brian Pillman also tore the house down in the opener, but most of the card failed to impress and the WarGames match was a dud. In Your House 3: Triple Header, also scored a C, with BreJean-Pierre "PCO" Lafitte getting a surprise MOTN (if you count Bret getting it a surprise). This was a mostly inoffensive card and the main event tag match was fun, but ultimately a bit overbooked and they chickened out on the title change, costing it any shot at a higher grade. PPVs for September '95 are a DRAW.

    General Ups and Downs
    WCW's main event scene is already dominating every show and their undercard is completely underrepresented. Talents like DDP and Johnny B. Badd can't buy a ticket to Raw while they do decent stuff on the PPV showing, and instead we get repeated clashes of Hogan, Savage, Sting, and Luger against various crappy Dungeon of Doom members. When midcard matches do happen they don't get much buzz the next week, where stuff like the American Males winning the tag titles isn't mentioned more than five minutes later and isn't addressed on Nitro for MONTHS. That said I give the show a credit for its big fight feels and its hard to argue with a show having star power like Hogan, Savage, Flair, and Sting on a nightly basis. It's a shame the matches aren't more fun.

    The WWF in September feels like its largely in a holding pattern, buying time with Summerslam just in the rear view and saving some of the goods for the upcoming Survivor Series. Diesel's world title reign already seems exhaustingly boring and I haven't even watched much of it, but Michaels brings an energy to everything he does that makes him a fun watch, and the teasing of a dissolution between Razor Ramon and the 1-2-3 Kid turns out to be the standout storyline in either company at the time. It's early days, but the war is close so far.

    Final Highlights (Recommended Segments and Matches, Good or Bad)
    Lex Luger vs. Hulk Hogan - WCW Championship and Aftermath - Nitro 9/11/95
    Johnny B. Badd vs. Brian Pillman - Fall Brawl
    Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson - Fall Brawl
    Ric Flair vs. Brian Pillman - Nitro 9/18/95
    1-2-3 Kid vs. Razor Ramon - Raw 9/18/95
    Bret Hart vs. Jean-Pierre Lafitte - In Your House 3
    The Smoking Gunns vs. Owen Hart/Yokozuna - WWF Tag Team Championship - Raw 9/25/95



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  6. #6

    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    How the fuck is this the first time I've heard someone refer to Owen Hart and Yokozuna as "YokOwen" in the twenty-five years since they were a thing? It's so obvious and yet it never occurred to me.

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    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    October 1995

    What's Going On?
    With the first month of the War in the books, both shows can focus a little more on the long-term direction of their program and presumably build toward big events like Survivor Series and Starrcade. WCW is a known commodity now and WWF can probably see that they aren't going anywhere. We're in it for the long haul now, I presume, and both companies have other PPVs they need to build to before they get to their biggest guns, including one particularly ominous one for WCW.

    Fresh off being assaulted by the Giant at Fall Brawl, Hogan and Taskmaster's Dungeon of Doom continue to feud for the entirety of this month, building to (and I shit you not) a battle of men and machines to take place at Halloween Havoc. If you'd like clarification, just know that Nitro never elaborated further on this except to say that Hogan and Giant would fight first in monster trucks and then in the ring, and god help you if you wanted to unpeel that orange anymore. This feud unironically becomes my favorite program in either company at this time in part because it is absolutely awful. The DoD attacks Hogan in the build to Halloween Havoc and shaves off his iconic mustache, leading Hulk down a road of darkness where he starts dressing in all black and cutting even stupider promos than usual. This doesn't come to a head just yet, but boy is the payoff great for it. While that feud threatens to swallow the entire company, the Nitro undercard continues to work on the Ric Flair and Arn Anderson feud with a few decent TV rematches building to a PPV match where Flair will team with Sting against Arn and Brian Pillman. Also of note that Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit begin to make regular Nitro appearances at this point and both are booked to look good if unremarkable, with their matches generally being the best part of the given shows.

    While Nitro steers into a ship of monster truck insanity, Monday Night Raw is struggling to do anything particularly interesting but does manage to at least put on a better show every week even if the long-term cohesion is less strong. The 1-2-3 Kid and Razor Ramon dissension continues to be the best program on the show, culminating in Razor finally getting turned on at In Your House 4 at the midway point of the month. Razor rebounds nicely by capturing the IC title later in the show, but we'll be watching these two for a bit. British Bulldog and Diesel have a fairly unremarkable title feud and match that is what you'd expect of Nash's title reign at this juncture, and it does bye and large feel like a filler program to get us to Diesel vs. Bret next month, with the latter still spending his time scrapping with Isaac Yankem. Dean Douglas is getting a decent push, but his feud with Shawn Michaels is disrupted by Shawn's real-life jobbing to a gang of Marines, and their match ultimately gets canned.

    The Scorecard
    WWF scores a win in the first Monday of the month, with a solid show highlighted by Razor vs. Kid and a Hart vs. Lafitte rematch, the corresponding Nitro not having much to respond with except Hogan losing his stache. Nitro snatches the next show, as despite an entertaining six man tag on Raw, WCW rolls out another Flair/Arn match and that's about enough to do it on it's own. The next week is back to Raw, though neither show had a ton to brag about despite a decent Guerrero/Benoit match on the competition. Back to Nitro the next week on their go-home to Halloween Havoc, and then Halloween Eve swings back to Raw, though again, neither show particularly impressed. It's 3-2 WWF in October, and a 5-3 lead overall.

    The PPVs this month, much like the weeklies, were varying degrees of disappointment. Halfway through the month, WWF ran In Your House 4 (Great White North) and this is just a mostly boring PPV. A debuting Goldust has a stinker against Marty Jannetty, the World Title match underwhelms, and there is honestly a Mabel vs. Yokozuna match here. Razor pulls double duty and has the MOTN with Kid against the Smoking Gunns, then goes on to take the Intercontinental title from Dean Douglas, who was hilariously just awarded the belt before the match. IYH4 gets a D, which is pretty bad, but Halloween Havoc managed to be worse. I gave MOTN to Sting/Flair vs. Anderson/Pillman, half on the strength of the terrific Flair heel turn that takes place during it. Nothing else here is remotely worth a cursory glance except for the opener, a decent but underwhelming display from Johnny B. Badd and DDP. The main event is some terrific wrestlecrap, as Hogan ends up winning the monster truck bullshit and the Giant fucking dies when he falls off the side of the building. Of course, he returns five minutes later and the two have an awful match that ends when Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart betray Hulk and cost him the belt, but who cares they're gonna reverse it tomorrow night. Garbage show, and I gave it an F, so improbably, WWF wins the PPV battle this month.

    General Ups and Downs
    WCW's Hogan/Giant feud is a mishmash of complete nonsense and wrestlecrap and it's almost worth watching just for the train wreck appeal. If that doesn't do it for you, the Four Horsemen re-formation is a generally entertaining storyline, and Nitro is worth peeping for the emergence of Guererro and Benoit, but don't expect the company to pretend to care about anything except the same four dudes. Honestly even Randy Savage struggles to get anything meaningful this month.

    On the WWF side, as I mentioned before, the shows feel good moment-to-moment but the booking does feel kind of wayward and unimportant. Very few programs are exciting at all but at least the matches end up being decent when they're supposed to be and WWF doesn't mind building up fresh faces like Hunter Hearst-Helmsley and Fatu with some jobber matches. They do seem generally more interested in making their roster deeper unlike the competition, which probably feels necessary considering WCW obviously has the bigger stars.

    Final Highlights (Recommended Segments and Matches, Good or Bad)
    Jean-Pierre Lafitte vs. Bret Hart - Raw 10/2
    Hulk Hogan gets attacked and shaved - Nitro 10/2
    Arn Anderson vs. Ric Flair - Nitro 10/9
    Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero - Nitro 10/16
    Razor Ramon & The 1-2-3 Kid vs. The Smoking Gunns - WWF Tag Team Championship - In Your House 4
    Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko vs. Mr. J.L. & Eddie Guerrero - Nitro 10/23
    Sting & Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson & Brian Pillman - Halloween Havoc
    Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant - Monster Truck Match - Halloween Havoc



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  8. #8

    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    I think In Your House 4 is one of the most underrated WWE PPVs. It's not great, but the tag team match is pretty good and the Diesel/Bulldog match was good for me. Yet, it's a PPV that McMahon felt bombed badly enough that he immediately changed everything behind the scenes. Bill Watts was removed from creative, new people were brought in, and the proto-Attitude Era officially began with characters like Goldust and Diesel leading the way.

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    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    Fresh off being assaulted by the Giant at Fall Brawl, Hogan and Taskmaster's Dungeon of Doom continue to feud for the entirety of this month, building to (and I shit you not) a battle of men and machines to take place at Halloween Havoc. If you'd like clarification, just know that Nitro never elaborated further on this except to say that Hogan and Giant would fight first in monster trucks and then in the ring, and god help you if you wanted to unpeel that orange anymore. This feud unironically becomes my favorite program in either company at this time in part because it is absolutely awful. The DoD attacks Hogan in the build to Halloween Havoc and shaves off his iconic mustache, leading Hulk down a road of darkness where he starts dressing in all black and cutting even stupider promos than usual.
    DO NOT let Bray Wyatt read this thread. Though it sounds like he was getting his ideas from somewhere...

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    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    November 1995

    What's Going On?
    One of these companies is building to a Big Four PPV, back when such a thing mattered, while the other theoretically has its eye on the big year-ender Starrcade. WCW and WWF are both kicking things into next gear after an underwhelming October, and with four shows a piece, each has plenty of time to get back on track.

    WCW is working towards World War 3, a novel new PPV idea clearly meant to ape the success of the WWF's Royal Rumble. The first three weeks of the month are spent building to and going all in on the idea of a massive three ring battle royale, an idea that admittedly piques my interest, but only insofar as how they could possibly do a sixty man, three ring match and make it entertaining.

    Spoiler:

    They didn't.


    Improbably the rest of the World War 3 card receives very little build, in what continues to be a big WCW tradition. Granted sixty of your talent are all in one match but we all know it's a four or five man show at best, so anyone who isn't Hogan, Luger, Sting, Savage, the Horsemen, or the Dungeon of Doom (specifically The Giant) are afterthoughts not only on the PPV itself but in the build to it. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero are showing up reliably on the midcard every night but neither one ever speaks or is treated like anything other than a competent wrestler. Most other TV matches are enhancement gigs for the main talent, and the last two main events of the month will be no contests, a harbinger of things to come.

    In the WWF things are a bit more focused. The Survivor Series card has four, count 'em four, elimination matches to build to, plus a title feud, and they do about the best they can with one primetime hour a week to get there. The headliner is a "Wildcard" four on four match, in which rivals have to team with each other. This results in teams of Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, Bulldog and Sid against YokOwen, Razor, and Dean Douglas. This match is tough to build with all the dynamics in it anyway and when you include the fact that Michaels has been off TV it gets a little trickier, but they do enough segments and promos with Michael Hayes yelling at you to get the point across. Bret Hart challenges Diesel for the title at Survivor Series and they do a sound job keeping the long-time rivals away from each other, mostly building this through promos too. Raw is rarely as boisterous and exciting as Nitro, but it makes up for it with a more concise vision and meaningful development for more of the card.

    The Scorecard
    Week one is a clear cut Nitro victory. WCW puts on Benoit vs. Guerrero and Sting vs. Flair back to back to end the show and both matches more or less deliver, particularly for TV affairs. On the Raw side you get two squashes matches and Isaac Yankem in the main event. This one wasn't close. The next week Raw tugs back on their go-home show, and wins with a great Diesel vs. Hart promo and a reasonably fun Razor vs. Sid main event. Nitro counters with a pretty unremarkable card headlined by Sting more or less easily defeating Dean Malenko. The week after, in WCW's go-home show, they get outdone anyway. The famous Owen/Michaels main event in which HBK fakes a concussion is the headline event and it's hard to deny the hook this provides for future shows, easily the most intriguing angle of the week, and beating out a no-contest Sting/Hogan main event. The next week though WCW scored a close victory, beating a mediocre Raw with a bad Brother Love segment and Undertaker/Moe main event with a great women's tag match. More on that in a moment, but for TV in October it's a 2-2 draw with WWF still holding an overall 7-5 lead.

    First on the PPV slate is WWF Survivor Series and it's the best PPV I've gotten to watch yet for this project. The opening 4-on-4 match was a ton of fun even with all the no-names in the mix, and frankly I went on to enjoy every elimination match on the card, even the closer-to-abysmal Undertaker-centric one which really just involves everyone pissing around until Taker tags in and squashes the other team. It was too long but I like watching Taker murder folks, even today. The main event was an absolute banger between Hart and Diesel ending with an iconic Bret Hart roll-up for the W, and a Diesel tween turn after the match. It was going to be a tough act to follow but thankfully WCW didn't even try. World War 3 was almost a complete disaster, save for a decent opener between Johnny B. Badd and DDP (who have been feuding all month but not on Nitro!) and an actually legitimate great women's tag match with Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto defeating Mayumi Ozaki and Cutie Suzuki. Both of these matches would get rematches on Raw the next night to help secure a W in the weeklies, but the rest of the PPV card is pretty rough, with a Sting/Flair rematch underwhelming and the WW3 match predictably being a total disaster with Randy Savage winning the title in a terribly overbooked fashion. Survivor Series gets a B, WW3 a D, and WWF wins the PPV battle.

    General Ups and Downs
    WCW had nowhere to go but up after a very rough October and they didn't do much to work up some more goodwill. The best part of the show is Hogan's continued descent into madness, with a climax at WW3 that has to be seen to be believed. And no, it's not *actually good* but from a Wrestlecrap standpoint it blew me away. As in the previous month the Nitro midcard has promise but there's just no development and meaningless good matches are still meaningless.

    The WWF has a nice sense of cohesion in the month of November and they bring it all together for a PPV that surely was one of the better events of 1995. Diesel's tweener turn during and after Survivor Series is a high point for his character and makes him immediately more compelling, HBK's injury woes may have been a bit tasteless at the time but with hindsight it's an interesting story, and Bret Hart as champ can't be a bad thing. They're in a good place right now, but there is a feel on the show that there aren't a lot of great world title opponents for Bret, even though they finish the month building to a quickie program with Bulldog that can't disappoint.

    Final Highlights (Recommended Segments and Matches, Good or Bad)
    Eddie Guerrero v. Chris Benoit - Nitro 11/6
    Ric Flair v. Sting - Nitro 11/6
    Survivor Series (Especially Bret Hart v. Diesel)
    Eddie Guerrero v. Brian Pillman - Nitro 11/20
    Owen Hart v. Shawn Michaels - Raw 11/20
    Hulk Hogan Goes Fucking Crazy - World War 3
    Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto v. Mayumi Ozaki & Cutie Suzuki - World War 3
    Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto v. Mayumi Ozaki & Cutie Suzuki - Nitro 11/27



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  11. #11

    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    I think it's easy to forget what a huge push Ahmed Johnson had when he entered the WWE. He literally worked his first TV match on the go home edition of Raw before working a PPV in a match with a load of stars.

    In Your House 4 bombing as hard as it did really caused McMahon to take some risks and shake things up in November.

  12. #12

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    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    I think it's easy to forget what a huge push Ahmed Johnson had when he entered the WWE. He literally worked his first TV match on the go home edition of Raw before working a PPV in a match with a load of stars.

    In Your House 4 bombing as hard as it did really caused McMahon to take some risks and shake things up in November.
    Yeah I did kind of gloss over his sudden appearance but will definitely touch on him a bit more in December as he gets a prominent spotlight. Big time push and you can tell WWF knew they needed to get some more star power from somewhere.



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  13. #13

    Re: Stay Inside and Watch The Monday Night Wars with Silk

    Quote Originally Posted by Silk View Post
    Yeah I did kind of gloss over his sudden appearance but will definitely touch on him a bit more in December as he gets a prominent spotlight. Big time push and you can tell WWF knew they needed to get some more star power from somewhere.
    It goes well with what happened in reality. I guess I missed his body slam debut because I can remember 10 year old Jim being really confused as to who he was once all of the Survivor Series talk began. The lack of coming soon vignettes makes it feel like it was a last minute decision to rush Ahmed onto TV. I assume the original plans for Survivor Series would have included The Smoking Gunns, but they somehow got lost in the shuffle with everything suddenly changing.

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