WWE Turning Point: Analyzing Historical Impact of First Episode of WCW Nitro

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVAugust 30, 2014

Credit: WWE.com

For those who subscribe to the WWE Network, you can now watch the "Monday Night Wars" on the service, featuring the battle for supremacy between Monday Night Raw and WCW Monday Nitro.

All $9.99 jokes aside, this could actually be a good show for the network. That is, if you haven't watched the Rise and Fall of WCW or the Monday Night Wars DVDs that WWE has put out in the past.

There's a good chance that you'll see some of the same material again.

Raw aired its first broadcast in January of 1993. Nearly three years later, TNT unveiled its new wrestling show, Nitro.

In this edition of Turning Point, we'll take a closer look at the maiden voyage of WCW Nitro.

It was September 4, 1995. WCW had heavily hyped their new show after being televised solely on the TBS station for years.

WWE aired the show Prime Time Wrestling on Monday nights from 1985-1993 before transitioning into Raw. WCW had never had a Monday night show. This would be completely new territory for them.

The show was held at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The broadcast team, Eric Bischoff, Steve "Mongo" McMichael and Bobby Heenan opened the show.

And yes, you read that right. The show didn't debut in an arena, but rather a shopping mall. In his autobiography, Controversy Creates Cash, Bischoff said they chose the mall as the venue because they weren't confident they could fill an arena at the time.

WCW would often tout the fact that Nitro was a live show, an early edge they held over Raw, which was taped in advance. Though running a show on prime time on Monday night was unfamiliar to WCW, they were clearly prepared for the challenge.

The first match in the history of Nitro was between Flyin' Brian Pillman and Jushin Thunder Liger. At the time, these two men put on better matches together than perhaps any two wrestlers in the world.

Credit: WWE.com

Though it wasn't their best match, it was still a solid start to the new show.

Next up was a match between rivals Sting and Ric Flair for the WCW United States title, and this is when the real fireworks went off on that fateful Monday night.

Just before Sting and Flair were set to lock up, Lex Luger made an appearance to the shock and surprise of everyone. How could this be, wasn't he a WWE Superstar?

It sure seemed that way, as he had appeared at WWE SummerSlam just over a week earlier. In fact, he even competed at a WWE house show the night before Nitro made its premiere.

In the days before the internet became a huge factor in pro wrestling, seeing something like this was a really big deal.

WCW may have been new to the Monday night wrestling game, but they made it very clear that they were going to not only try to eclipse Raw but perhaps erase it.

In addition to Luger, WCW had Hulk Hogan take on Big Bubba Rogers in the main event. They introduced Michael Wallstreet, formerly known as Irwin R. Schyster in WWE, as a new Superstar to their roster. Randy Savage and Gene Okerlund also appeared on the show.

Slowly, it was looking more like a WWE show than the WWE shows did. But the story on this night was Luger.

The night ended with Luger coming to the aid of Hogan as he was attacked by the Dungeon of Doom. However, it would lead to a face off between Luger and Hogan in which Hogan agreed to put the WCW World Heavyweight title on the line.

It was an amazing turn of events and a huge victory for WCW.

Long before Scott Hall and Kevin Nash appeared on Nitro as the Outsiders and long before Rick Rude appeared on both Raw and Nitro on the same night (due to Raw being taped), there was the night Luger showed up at the Mall of America.

This showed fans who regularly watched both programs that WCW meant business. This showed fans that anything truly could happen on Nitro, and it made them want to tune in every Monday night.

This was a momentous move by WCW, even if it doesn't get the historical recognition that the night Hall showed up on Nitro for the first time does.

It would lead to multiple wrestlers "jumping ship" from WWE to WCW, eventually crippling Vince McMahon and his empire.

In their first attempt at running a Monday night wrestling show, WCW hit a home run, even if it was shot at a shopping mall. It wouldn't be long before WCW found even more success.

Nitro was given a second hour of programming after the formation of the New World Order in 1996. WWE remained at just 60 minutes for nearly a year. With all of the talent they had acquired from WWE, WCW had found a recipe for success and, soon, domination.

While WCW's run as the No. 1 wrestling program in the world was somewhat short-lived, it is a time in history that no long-term fan will forget. The Monday night wars were must-watch television.

Luger's appearance on the debut of Nitro should be remembered as the incident that lit the match for that battle.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.