April 27, 1998—Outside the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk Virginia, Degeneration-X, led by Triple H, were attempting an invasion, a full out assault, on the front door of the building. Dressed in camouflage and riding a jeep, the members of D-X were ready for a war in one of the most outlandish, most daring spots in the history of professional wrestling.
Their target? WCW Monday Nitro.
I remember watching that edition of Monday Night RAW, and as it happened, everyone in the room looked at each other in disbelief. Was this really happening?
Were we actually witnessing D-X, one of the biggest draws in WWE, walking right up to the front door of WCW, daring them to open up?
It was a great moment in the business, one of those moments that fans will never forget. It was a gutsy move; done by a fearless company whose rival had knocked it on its heels. No one saw it coming, and no one understood the ramifications of what was happening in front of them.
D-X and the nWo were at the same place, at the same time, separated only by a few walls, and corporate attorneys who would not allow Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and the gang to appear on the competition’s programming. Chances are, Triple H and crew knew that going in but it didn’t matter.
The only thing that mattered was that, for the first time, the war of words and shocking spots that had been raging between the two companies was now becoming very real very quickly. Eric Bischoff and WCW had a fight on their hands, and though it was right outside their door, they would not let them in.
Once upon a time, it was unheard of for two wrestling promotions this size to breathe the same air at the same time. After all, historically speaking, a promotion would publicly never acknowledge another company on TV, and that included any of its contracted wrestlers.
Thanks to Eric Bischoff and his breaking of the fourth wall between the business and the fans, now it was no holds barred.
Mentioning WWE and Vince McMahon on the air had become a regular occurrence on WCW programming. In fact, there was hardly ever a moment when “Easy E” and company weren’t talking about the other Monday night program and everyone on it.
While Bischoff and WCW broke new ground and shattered old traditions, WWE was taking the bull by the horns, and taking the fight straight to them.
The Attitude Era was all about swagger, style and reckless abandon. WWE pursued every angle, every spot, every match, with all the subtlety of a bloodthirsty predator tearing into its prey. They may have been on the ropes, but they were ready for round two, and they were itching to prove that they were the best in the world.
WCW was not only unprepared for what WWE were doing in this new era, they had no idea how far that company would go to get back on top.
When D-X showed up at Norfolk that night, WCW’s first reaction was “whoa, what?”
Of course, WCW security closed the door. Of course they didn’t want WWE on the property. Again, it’s a legal issue. They didn’t want their top talent, namely Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, to appear on WWE’s flagship program. It would not have been good for them. Doing that would be admitting that Vince McMahon had gotten the best of them, had manipulated them into a game of chicken that they were not prepared for.
The problem? WCW blinked.
After spending so much time on television, trying to convince fans all over the world that they wanted this fight, that they were in it to win, when the opportunity finally came to have an epic showdown, they said no thank you.
Did it make a difference that logistically speaking they could not have allowed D-X to just walk into their territory? No, not to fans. Not at all.
There are two perspectives when it comes to the business, the backstage reality and the image that is presented to fans. As fans, we deal with what’s right in front of us, because it’s all we have. When fans saw that roll-up door close, they saw the company that had become Goliath suddenly shrink smaller than David. Once again, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what the fans see, and how they react to it. On that day, WCW, in the fans’ eyes, threw in the towel.
April 27, 1998 was a memorable moment in professional wrestling history, and one that we will never forget. Those are the moments that we as fans love to see, and the moments that keep us coming back for more.