The Monday Night Wars was pro wrestling at its peak. Chances are that most people who grew up in the mid to late 90s are familiar with at least one of the names from that period, even if they weren’t wrestling fans.
It was WCW vs WWE. It was a time when NWO and Austin 3:16 shirts being spotted in public was quite a common occurrence. A time where flipping between channels was the standard. A time when both titans were forced to stay on their toes or risk losing the war for rating supremacy. Here are 10 iconic photos that defined the Monday Night War!
10 Steve Austin Gives Vince McMahon A Beer Bath
WrestleMania build-ups don’t get any more exciting and iconic than this one. As if entering into the arena with a Coors Light beer truck wasn’t ridiculous enough to start with, you had Stone Cold Steve Austin cut a no-nonsense promo on The Rock, Mr. McMahon, and his son Shane, only to follow it with a legitimate beer bath for the ages.
Add to it the ultimate selling from all three people involved, especially the iconic selling of Mr. McMahon, who took it to the extent of swimming for his life in one of the beer's extremely shallow puddles with his damp suit.
9 Alundra Blayze Trashes The WWE Women's Championship
“That’s what I think of the WWE Women’s Championship belt.” Those were Alundra Blayze’s words after she interrupted the commentators and proceeded to dump her WWE woman championship belt into a trash can. This move was quite symbolic and foretelling of jabs and exchanges to come.
Not to mention, it was embarrassing for Vince McMahon, as his company allowed a title holder to walk out with a valued property of theirs. To further showcase the damage that Bischoff’s brainchild had on Vince’s ego, we got to remember what happened on one fateful night in Montreal with a certain Mr. Bret Hart.
8 Chris Jericho Makes His WWE Debut
An iconic debut with iconic imagery. From the countdown to the lights to the outlandish Jericho hairdo and shiny silver vest, it is fair to say that Jericho made his mark really quick on RAW. It doesn’t hurt that he interrupted The Rock in his prime.
Jericho’s debut is important in the course of the Monday Night Wars because it showcased how WCW couldn’t take notice of its rising stars and give them the proper pushes they deserved. This led to a lot of them jumping ship away from WCW, which was sinking further into a sea of recycled material and ego stroking.
7 Montreal Screwjob
Due to fears of history repeating itself, Vince McMahon wanted Bret Hart to drop his title before he goes to WCW. Bret refused to do it because he didn’t want to lose in Canada to his main rival Shawn Michael, of all people.
The whole imagery of Shawn having Bret in the sharpshooter to the surprised look on Bret’s face is engraved in any wrestling fan’s mind. It’s a shame that WCW didn’t know how to bank on this huge turn of events. But WWE surely did know with the creation of the Mr. McMahon character in the aftermath.
6 D-Generation X Invades WCW
This one takes the word war to an almost literal level, as Triple H led his stablemates to a WCW event atop a military-style Jeep, shouting through a speaker, taunting WCW, and having fun with the fans outside of the building. Granted, the DX troops didn’t manage to make it inside.
However, Eric Bischoff claims that that was one of his biggest regrets. DX being allowed in would have been peak controversy. And everyone knows that “controversy creates cash.” Moreover, Triple H has mentioned that they had zero plans in the event that they were allowed in. This is the kind of energy that made Monday nights such a cultural phenomenon.
5 The Infamous Fingerpoke Of Doom
This is one of the first images that comes to mind whenever one thinks of WCW’s downfall. The overly-anticipated match between Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash, the respective leaders of their own estranged nWo factions, nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac, ended with Hogan poking Nash to capture the WCW World title in one of the most insulting displays in wrestling history.
It didn’t help that this was the same night that had WCW spoiling Mick Foley’s win above. Nor did the fact that it came at the heels of severely botched and badly booked angles like Sting vs Hogan or Nash ending Goldberg’s streak.
4 Kane Makes His Startling Debut
This started with Paul Bearer building up this monstrous (pun semi-intended) debut, followed by the fact that it actually happened at the first Hell In A Cell match. Add to it the chill-inducing entrance, the sinister iconic theme song, and his ripping of the cell’s door to cost his kayfabe brother The Undertaker a WWE title number-one contender opportunity. Don't forget JR’s legendary commentary with that "It’s gotta be Kane."
It’s safe to say you got yourself one of the most iconic debuts in pro-wrestling history. Regardless of how Kane’s career fared eventually, this is something no one can ever take away from him.
3 Mankind Crowned As WWE Champion
"Yeah, that will put a lot of butts in seats!" This was the infamous Tony Schiavone line that had a massive number of people watching WCW looking for the remote control to flip channels and witness this historic moment. It alluded to Foley pinning The Rock for his first world title with some help from Stone Cold Steve Austin, whose shattered glass theme song tore the roof off the place.
The snarky line that was supposed to spoil what was going on behind enemy lines ended up heavily backfiring and was one of the many missteps that led to WWE winning the war at the end.
2 Scott Hall & Kevin Nash Take Their Talents To WCW
This was a different type of war. It wasn’t a WWE vs WCW war. But it also was, at least to many fans who didn’t know how to react to this masterful promo by Scott Hall, who playfully assumed his position as a WWE guy trying to invade the WCW as an “outsider.”
His entrance from the crowd, his effortless cool, his convincing words, and his bad boy image all helped the former Razor Ramon set up the first act of the hottest angle in WCW history. It was one that helped propel them into a whole different level. He would be joined by Kevin Nash to form The Outsiders, and the rest is history.
1 Goldberg Wins The WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Even though this came off as a desperate rating booster on behalf of WCW, considering that it’s as big of a pay-per-view match as it can get, fans got themselves an iconic Monday Night Wars moment for free on live TV. The unstoppable Goldberg with his undefeated streak versus the head honcho of the most dominant group in wrestling history in Hulk Hogan going one-on-one.
Thankfully, Hogan’s creative control didn’t stand in the way of the right decision being made, leading to Goldberg going over and continuing his ascension as one of the biggest fan favorites in the Monday Night Wars era.