A Look Back at the WWF vs WCW Monday Night Wars

Updated on April 9, 2018
Jan Michael Ong profile image

I like writing about sports, personal finance, reality tv, cartoons, comics and video games.

WCW took the first step in overtaking the WWF by signing its biggest star - Hulk Hogan.
WCW took the first step in overtaking the WWF by signing its biggest star - Hulk Hogan.

WCW Signs Hulk Hogan

World Championship Wrestling had a decent in-ring product but did not have the star power, production value and entertainment value of the WWF.

This was about to change when WCW signed the WWF's biggest star Hulk Hogan. Hogan headlined seven of the first eight Wrestlemanias. He also brought the WWF to worldwide prominence.

Hogan was the most successful crossover star at the time as he frequently made appearances on television, in magazines and in cinema. He had a lot of product endorsements and was a household name.

WCW signing Hogan was as big a free agent signing as the Miami Heat signing LeBron James, the Francisco Giants signing Barry Bonds and the Green Bay Packers signing Reggie White.

WCW starts raiding WWF talent and acquired one of its biggest stars in Randy Savage.
WCW starts raiding WWF talent and acquired one of its biggest stars in Randy Savage.

WCW Acquires Randy Savage

1994 was a big year for WCW. They not only signed Hulk Hogan, but they also acquired his friend/enemy Randy "Macho Man" Savage.

Savage was past his prime but still had many good matches in him. He still wanted to wrestle and even pitched a program with Shawn Michaels. Vince McMahon wanted to go with younger stars like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart as he felt Savage was too old. He assigned Savage to an announcer role instead and Savage was not happy about it.

Joining WCW gave Savage the chance to wrestle again and be part of the main event scene.The very night Savage debuted, he was already serving notice to WCW Champion Hulk Hogan that he was gunning for the title.

WCW signed any 1980's Golden Era wrestler they could get their hands on.
WCW signed any 1980's Golden Era wrestler they could get their hands on.

WCW Signs the 1980s WWF Roster

Vince McMahon became the only show in town through devious tactics such as paying stations to not air competitors, buying off territories and raiding their talent.

WCW flipped the switch on Vince and raided his talent pool. With the financial backing of Ted Turner, World Championship Wrestling would become the biggest rival Vince has ever faced in his entire life. Sure, the WWF can make new stars but it will take time and resources to do so.

Names such as Mr. Perfect, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Ted DiBiase, Ravishing Rick Rude, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The Barbarian, King Haku, Earthquake, Typhoon and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake were only some of the 1980's WWF superstars who WCW signed away.

While the more known WWF stars jumped ship to WCW, the WWF went downhill and started promoting wrestlers who had a day job aside from wrestling such as Duke "The Dumpster" Droese - a garbage man, Henry O. Godwinn - a hog farmer and T.L. Hopper - a plumber.

WCW had a lot of talent even without the WWF imports.
WCW had a lot of talent even without the WWF imports.

WCW's Roster Was Already Loaded

WCW had some good talent in the form of Sting, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Booker T, Stevie Ray, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr., Chris Jericho, Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner. Despite this however, the show did not have the same production value as the World Wrestling Federation. It also lacked edgy story-lines. The marketing aspect of the product did not do so well either.

WCW even had wrestlers who would become to become big names in WWF but were severely underutilized such as "Stonecold" Steve Austin, Triple H, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Big Show.

Lex Luger was supposed to be Hulk Hogan's replacement in the WWF but is snagged away by WCW.
Lex Luger was supposed to be Hulk Hogan's replacement in the WWF but is snagged away by WCW.

WCW Steals Away New Generation Stars

Billionaire Ted Turner gave Eric Bishoff the checkbook and the green light to sign virtually anyone he wants.

WCW was already able to sign the biggest 80's stars the WWF had such as Hulk Hogan, Macho Man and Roddy Piper.

They were not content and started going after WWF's "New Generation Stars" such as Lex Luger, Razor Ramon and Diesel.

With guaranteed contracts, a lighter schedule and a bigger paycheck, WCW easily stole the WWF's top talent.

WWF Monday Night Raw and WCW Nitro were engaged in a war.
WWF Monday Night Raw and WCW Nitro were engaged in a war.

A Look Back at the Monday Night Wars

At its peak, WCW has one of the most talented rosters in wrestling history. It had the likes Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Beill Goldberg, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Lex Luger, The Giant, Rey Mysterio Jr., Syxx, Curt Hennig, Chris Jericho, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, Scott Steiner, Rick Steiner, Booker T, Stevie Ray, Dean Malenko, Raven and Sid Vicious.

The company also came out with one of the best angles in wrestling history with the New World Order, a faction who was composed initially of ex WWF wrestlers who were supposedly sent by Vince McMahon to invade WCW.

To add to that was the success of the 173-0 win streak of Bill Goldberg. They also had a high flying cruiser weight division. To top it off, WCW was backed up by Ted Turner in terms of television network support and funding.

WCW really took the fight to the WWF. They raided the talent. They announced the results of the Raw shows minutes before the shows air so it would be pointless to watch them. They also were able to get prime television spots on TNT because they were sister companies. They also revolutionized the industry by going live weekly, making all matches marquee name versus marquee name instead of the usual marquee name squashing the jobbers.

WCW Nitro, the company's flagship show beat Monday Night Raw eighty four weeks in a row. This forced Vince McMahon to enact The Attitude Era with younger stars such as Steve Austin, Triple H and The Rock and edgier story-lines.

WCW was taking the fight to the WWF and Vince McMahon was very close to going out of business.

The New World Order consisted on WWF defectors such as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall as well as WCW originals such as Konnan and Buff Bagwell.
The New World Order consisted on WWF defectors such as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall as well as WCW originals such as Konnan and Buff Bagwell. | Source

The NWO - The Faction that Revolutionized Pro Wrestling

The New World Order story-line was an idea picked up by Eric Biscoff from New Japan Pro Wrestling where a rival faction would invade a company.

The angle starts innocently enough as Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) shows up in WCW. He then proceeds to interrupt a match and cuts a promo about going to war with WCW. He then proceeds to go to the announcing booth and then tells Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan that they are taking over.

The next week, Scott Hall bring a friend of his. He brings Kevin Nash (Diesel) and then proceed to mock how old the WCW stars were. He compared them to dinosaurs and senior citizens. Nash told Eric to bring anyone Hulk Hogan, Sting or Macho Man. They didn't care. Eric promised that they would come up with a team at Bash at the Beach to fight them.

At Bash at the Beach, WCW was represented by Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage. The invading faction (The Outsiders) was represented by Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and a mystery partner. The Outsiders were on the verge of winning the match when Hulk Hogan comes to the rescue. The Outsiders quickly scatter on the sight of the Hulkster. He then does the ultimate betrayal and leg drops Randy Savage repeatedly. Hogan then goes on to cut a promo about the fans betraying him and that this was the New World Order of professional wrestling.

The three man band of Hogan, Hall and Nash proceeded to terrorize WCW. They threatened and beat up WCW talent. They also aired a series of vignettes which was used as anti-WCW propaganda.

The group got larger through time. They were soon joined by Ted DiBiase, Syxx and The Giant. This core was not so bad as DiBiase was good in a managerial role, Syxx was athletic and was their cruiser weight representative and The Giant was a force of nature.

The group however became so large that it included lower mid-carders such as Horace Hogan, Buff Bagwell and Konnan.

The faction has become so expansive that WCW decided to split the faction into NWO Hogan and NWO Wolfpac. The Hogan faction was headed by Hogan , Steiner, The Giant and Hall and the Wolfppac had Nash, Macho Man, Sting and Luger.

Scott Hall Shows Up in WCW

Kevin Nash Joins Scott Hall

The NWO - The Faction that Revolutionized Pro Wrestling

Shane McMahon buys WCW from underneath his father.
Shane McMahon buys WCW from underneath his father.

The End of WCW

Raw slowly beat Nitro in the ratings as the New World Order storyline was getting stale and WCW was not able to push its younger talent.

Young talent slowly left WCW and headed for the WWF. These were Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, Eddie Guerrero and Paul Wight. They left WCW to get a better push. This exodus of young talent would ultimately contribute to the company's demise.

The Monday Night Wars was a war in every sense of the word. On an episode of Nitro, Madusa threw away the WWF women's title in the garbage can. Eric Bischoff also challenged Vince McMahon to a match in a WCW ring in Slamboree 1998. Vince McMahon retaliated with Billionaire Ted skits and sending DX to invade WCW headquarters and WCW shows.

The level of competition during this war very much benefited the wrestling fan.. The storylines were edgier. Matches which were reserved for pay per views could now be seen on free television. Production values greatly improved.

As Nitro began losing ratings, several things were tried in order to revive the company. This included bring back Eric Bischoff. This also included hiring Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara who were working for rival WWF. They also tried to reboot the show and promote younger talent with the New blood Storyline where the younger talent banded together to fight the older more established talent.

Several factors contributed to the demise of WCW. Guaranteed contracts demotivated talent from performing the best because they got a big fat pay checks whether were performed well or not. Creative control clauses in contracts of established stars limited what could be done with them and gave them the option to bury younger talent.

Speaking of this, the younger talent was not at all promoted. Many of their younger performers such Jean Paul Lévesque (Triple H), Damon Striker (Edge), Steve Austin and Chris Jericho were just jobbers and midcarders but became superstars in the WWF. WCW also greatly misused Bret Hart. He was basically the uncrowned champion as he never lost the belt to Shawn Michaels. Had they properly used him, this might have been the nail in the coffin for the WWF.

The AOL merger shut down the company by removing its time slot and interfering with the program's direction. Other incidents in the show itself such as "The Finger poke of Doom,” and David Arquette winning the WCW championship hastened the company's downfall.

When the dust settled, WWF was left standing due to the WCW closing down due to the AOL-Time Warner merger and the company losing money. The Monday Night Wars has ended. Vince McMahon has won the day but the fans lose big time since it was competition that led the wrestling industry to greater heights. Without competition, wrestling has simply become a stale form of entertainment with rehashed storylines and the same guys main eventing all the time. Only another Monday Night Wars could reignite the industry.

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    © 2016 Jan Michael Ong

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