If you’re anything like me, Mondays outside of NFL season feel a little empty ever since WCW Monday Nitro went off the air. At least from September until January if Monday Night Raw stinks, you can flip over to the game or vice versa, but the rest of the year, it’s Raw or Antiques Roadshow … at least that’s what I’ve been told by people.
Nitro was on fire for a relatively short time in the late 90s but it’s still remembered fondly by fans of professional wrestling nearly 20 years later. The WWE Network has made getting your Nitro fix much easier and has dedicated a series to the ratings battle between the two companies. Might you be tempted to flip over to the Network next week if they ran an old episode of Nitro against a live episode of Raw?
Nitro, as Kevin Nash once said, was where the big boys played and they were the place to be for 84 consecutive weeks. But nothing lasts forever and it seemed as soon as WCW reached the mountain top, it all went to their heads and they began putting out complete garbage. There were massive changes and also storylines that would never die, but watching the company fall apart was also entertaining in a way.
I was a teenager in those years, just the the type of person the WCW and WWE were hoping to appeal to. They did and whether it’s the nostalgia factor or the belief that things were truly better back then, it’s no wonder I find myself checking out old episodes from the Monday night war. Here are some more reasons why you and I, and probably many of you, miss Monday Nitro.
15 Crazy Locations
The very first episode took place in the middle of the Mall of America, because pro wrestling goes hand-in-hand with the Gap and Auntie Anne’s pretzels. But it made sense as there was a built in audience and they didn’t even have to provide much seating. People just watched from the concourses. WCW also took the show to spring break in Florida, which one year saw Kevin Nash jump in the pool around the ring. They even took the show to Australia in October 2000.
14 Mike Tenay
12 Nitro Girls
11 Larry Zbyszko
10 Celebrity Guests
8 When It Started To Get Bad
What a nosedive WCW took after the nWo ran its course and Goldberg eventually won the title. The company was throwing any and everything at the wall hoping something would stick.
Nitro became the senior league for wrestlers after a while. WWE stars like the Macho Man and Hulk Hogan joined WCW veterans like Ric Flair, Lex Luger and Sting and had some of the matches that people only had dreamed of a few years earlier. WCW had its share of younger talent but it was the old guard that dominated the main event scene. For a while it was cool but started to get stale and couldn’t compete with the WWF’s fresh Attitude Era talent.
6 Raw’s Lousy Booking
5 Mean Gene Okerlund
Goldberg’s run to the title was unreal. There was nothing quite like it as he was undefeated from September 1997 to December 1998. Didn’t it always seem to be a lot longer than that? It felt like it ran over the course of two years. He blew through everybody and won the United States Heavyweight Championship in the process. His name only grew when he defeated Hulk Hogan for the world title. But when he lost the title and his streak at the 1998 Starrcade event, it was all over.
Hogan’s turn at the 1996 Bash at the Beach is one of the best moments in pro wrestling history. For a while, the group was the best thing going in the industry. You had to tune in to see what they were doing every week. There would be a sea of nWo t-shirts on Nitro and Raw every Monday night.
Eventually, the group ballooned to more than two dozen members. And then they split. And then they got back together. And then nobody cared. No matter how many times they tried, the magic of the first run was never recaptured.
Monday nights were awesome for wrestling fans in the mid to late 90s. I remember flipping back and forth between USA and TNT because you didn’t want to miss anything that was happening on either show. Success for WCW was the whole reason for WWE’s Attitude Era, but once Vince McMahon bought his competition, it all changed. Nowadays the WWE can put out whatever they want because there’s no other wrestling show to watch. Ratings have dropped and that golden age seems further and further in the rearview mirror.
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