Last time I wrote one of these was three months ago. I felt like I was writing about the same tiresome squash matches over and over again. So I took a break from writing, but not from watching. Since then, I’ve made it through all of 1994 and into September of 1995. Raw and the WWF in general has been getting marginally better, but it’s still not great. So why start the blog back up then? Well that’s because on September 4th, 1995, WCW Monday Nitro premiered. Both Nitro and Raw aired at the same time, the former on TNT and the latter on USA. This would spark a wrestling arms race leading to arguably the greatest and most entertaining period in wrestling history: the Monday Night Wars.
Therefore, I’m ready to bring back my blog, but this time with an eye towards comparing the two shows on a week-by-week basis and determining who had the better overall product. Interestingly, for Nitro’s debut episode, Raw had the week off. They will have their first head-to-head showdown next time, but for now Nitro kicks things off unopposed. And frankly after seeing this first episode, I have no idea how WWF ended up winning the War (spoiler alert).
Let’s get to the breakdown!
Monday Nitro Episode 1
Nitro’s intro, logo, and general look seem much more modern and cool than Raw. I’m curious to see how long it takes Raw to revamp their look.
This episode takes place at the Mall of America, which is apparently home to Hulk Hogan’s restaurant, Pastamania. For real.
The announcers are Eric Bischoff, somebody named Steve McMichael who was maybe a football player before this?, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. I’m jazzed to see Bobby the Brain back after his sad departure from WWF, but at the same time I’m surprised to see him. This will continue to be a theme of the night as we get appearances by several other former WWF mainstays who have either jumped ship or been fired, including Mean Gene Okerlund, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, and many others.
The first match is Jushin Thunder Liger, a man who it’s worth mentioning is STILL competing to this day, against Flyin’ Brian who I believe was at one point tag team partners with Stunning Steve Austin. This match is already better than nearly every other Raw match to date. Just a few of the moves these guys do include moonsaults, frankensteiners, superplexes, and a tornado DDT. It’s clear that the catchphrase that gets repeated throughout the night (“WCW: where the big boys play”) is not an idle statement. It’s also clearly a dig at the WWF.
The crowd starts a short-lived “USA” chant during the first match. Get over yourselves.
The next match is Ric Flair VS Sting. Raw has NOTHING like this. These are two top guys in a match on a regular episode of Nitro. That is basically just not done in Raw and bodes well for WCW.
The match ends when Arn Anderson jumps in the ring and beats the tar out of Flair. I guess the Four Horsemen aren’t exactly a thing anymore.
Some wrestler I’m not familiar with named Scott Norton gets in Bischoff’s face. Not really sure why. Randy Savage jumps in and challenges him to a match which I assume we’ll be seeing next week. Nitro seems very good at having actual storylines, which has been one of Raw's weak points so far.
IRS, now calling himself Mr. Wallstreet, delivers a pre-taped promo, which is basically just him burying the WWF. I suspect this will be a continuing theme on both sides as the feud heats up.
The main event of the night is the Hulkster VS Big Bubba Rogers, who is really just the Big Boss Man without his cop outfit on. I guess it’s his day off. Hogan wins, but is then attacked by a bunch of spooky looking weirdos called the “Dungeon of Doom” (which includes our old friend Kamala for whatever reason). Lex Luger of all people jumps in to help Hogan, but afterwards they get in each other’s faces, having to be kept apart by Sting and Savage. Hogan tells Luger to “go back where you came from” but Luger says he’s tired of playing with kids and wants to challenge Hogan for the WCW title. This might be a cool moment, but it’s sort of undercut both by Luger’s stumbling over his words and calling it the “dubba you sebeddy Belt” and Hogan telling Lex to “stick that stinky palm of yours out” to shake hands and agree to a match next week.
Lex Luger VS Hulk Hogan: I can’t think of two actual wrestlers I want to watch less.
Winner this week (by default): Nitro.
Starting next episode we’ll start keeping track of which program had the better episode and hopefully we’ll eventually determine who should have won the Monday Night Wars.
(Television Ratings: Raw - N/A; Nitro - 2.5)