For much of the mid- to late-1990s, WWE was in the middle of a very heated rivalry with World Championship Wrestling.
While the two companies always put their best foot forward to try to have the best product, the rivalry was made much more personal on May 27, 1996.
On that night, Scott Hall, who was known to WWE viewers as Razor Ramon, made a shocking appearance on WCW Monday Nitro. Two weeks later, Kevin Nash, who won the WWE title as Diesel, appeared on Nitro with Hall.
This would, of course, lead to one of the biggest angles in wrestling history—the formation of the New World Order.
This would help WCW overtake WWE as the primary wrestling company in the world. Vince McMahon watched helplessly as Nitro smacked Monday Night Raw around in the television ratings for well over a year.
WWE pushed stars such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock to the forefront, and by the middle of 1998, wrestling fans had a real debate on their hands as to which product they wanted to watch and support.
Long before the days of DVR systems, many of those fans likely watched one of the shows at its regular time and popped a tape into their VCR to record the other.
There was a time when you just had to see what each show was doing. The competition was very heated, and McMahon and the man in charge of WCW, Eric Bischoff, both had huge egos and refused to let the other win.
Once the year 2000 rolled around, WCW was clearly on the decline, and WWE had easily taken over as the better program. Slowly, WCW began to crumble.
March 26, 2001
This is a day that will live in the history of professional wrestling forever.
Though Bischoff made a last-ditch effort to acquire WCW, it was decided that TBS and TNT would no longer broadcast any pro wrestling shows. That was the final nail for WCW.
With a major opportunity now right in front of him, McMahon swooped in and purchased WCW.
On March 26, 2001, Nitro would be telecast for the final time. The show would take place in Panama City, Florida, and it would have a "Night of Champions" theme in which every title in the company would be defended.
But what made the night so memorable was the fact that Raw and Nitro would be a unique simulcast that night in which some segments were aired on both shows.
The simulcast started with McMahon confirming his recent purchase of WCW, something many fans who watched the NWO take over professional wrestling thought they'd never see.
McMahon had gained a final victory in the infamous Monday night wars, but what were his plans with WCW? Fans were left with many questions.
As the night wore on, WCW said farewell to its faithful audience by giving them a new WCW World Heavyweight champion in Booker T, who took the belt from Scott Steiner.
In the final match in Nitro's history, longtime rivals Ric Flair and Sting had a clash that was more about respect that most matches you will see. It was a fitting end for Nitro.
But it wasn't the end of the simulcast.
McMahon came out one final time, and in an attempt to pour salt in WCW's wounds, he began to brag about his purchase. But WWE had one more surprise.
McMahon's son, Shane, came out. But he didn't come out in Cleveland, the site of Raw. Instead, he appeared in Panama City and explained to the world that a McMahon did indeed purchase WCW, but it wasn't his father.
Shane then dropped the bombshell that he was actually the new owner of WCW, which was part of the storyline.
To this day, it remains one of the most surprising moments in Raw history, and as that show concluded, it appeared WWE had a gold mine of creative ideas in store. But did they?
Though WWE now had all of the power in the mainstream wrestling world, the approach it took with its new possession was strange at best.
WWE decided to introduce the Superstars they had obtained from WCW at a very slow rate.
They had acquired wrestlers like Lance Storm, Booker T, Mike Awesome and Billy Kidman. But more of the talk was centered around the people they didn't get.
There was no Flair, no Sting, no Scott Steiner and no Goldberg. Hall and Nash, who helped form the NWO, were also not in the picture. WWE's decision not to go all out to get bigger names into the fold was one of its biggest downfalls.
Instead, they came up with an invasion angle that even led to a pay-per-view event called Invasion. That event had so much potential and should have been so much better than it was.
Instead, WWE decided to bury WCW, and before the end of 2001, it was already dead and gone. In the process, WWE had done themselves some inadvertent harm.
In the days of Raw and Nitro going head-to-head for top ratings, each company put on its best work. They came out with guns blazing every Monday night.
Without competition, WWE became very stagnant. It was almost as if the company decided it could be lackadaisical now that it had won the war. Most fans probably didn't appreciate that.
McMahon got what he wanted—a monopoly over the wrestling industry. But that isn't necessarily a good thing.
It can be argued that if WCW were still around, it would be best for all involved.
Talents could choose where they wanted to work. If they didn't like the direction they were going, they could wait for their contract to expire and try to reinvent themselves on the other show.
And before anyone mentions TNA, they simply aren't on that level.
For fans, they would still be able to watch one show and record the other, having the ability to decide which show was better that particular Monday.
Instead, there is only one show in town, and you either love it...or you deal with it.
The height of the rivalry between WWE and WCW was truly the best time to be a wrestling fan, and if you missed the Monday night wars, you missed the opportunity to have that all-important choice.
Next week, Turning Point takes an even closer look at the invasion angle.
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