In 1993, WWE launched a weekly episodic television showóMonday Night Rawódominating the airwaves when it comes to wrestling exposure and popularity. This was also the year that Eric Bischoff became executive producer of the WCW.
With the backing of Ted Turner, and a promotion to Executive Vice President in 1994, Bischoff was able to revolutionize WCW. It went from the previous style presented by former management, to a much edgier brand that was not afraid to go head-to-head with WWE. During this year, Bischoff acquired Hulk Hogan, and the stage was set for full-on competition mode.
WCW made this purpose clear on September 4, 1995 by debuting their own weekly episodic television program, Monday Nitro. To the surprise of many, another superstar jumped ship from WWE to WCW, being Lex Luger. This started a trend, as both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash jumped less than a year later. As a result, WCW started to be the premier wrestling show on Mondays, while Vince McMahon and WWE were finding ways to stop this freight train.
To make matters worse, WCW Nitro began to trample on WWE Raw, winning the ratings war for 84 consecutive weeks from the summer of 1996 to the spring of 1998. During this time, Nitro featured the nWo faction, while Raw tried to create innovative angles that just were not good enough to surpass WCW (namely, the Austin/Pillman "He's got a gun!" angle). However, the momentum started to shift after the Austin vs. McMahon feud, and from October of 1998 onward, Nitro only defeated Raw one time head to head.
Due to the nWo hype dissipating, Raw regained full momentum after the February 15, 1999 episode, never to trail Nitro again. In fact, the damage reached as far as an 8.1 to 3.3 rating totals on May 10, 1999. With over nine million viewers, that episode is the highest rated Raw to date.
It is sometimes hard to believe that Nitro made such an impression while being aired for just under six years. It gave WWE the competition needed to do whatever it took to make a better product, not affording to slack during any week of the ratings war. Regardless of the ratings, it was must-see TV in the pro wrestling world from September 4, 1995 to March 26, 2001.
Just in case you were wondering about the results for the first Monday Nitro, they were:
*Flyin' Brian Pillman d. Jushin "Thunder" Liger
*Sting (c) d. Ric Flair by DQ (US Championship)
*Hulk Hogan (c) d. Big Bubba Rogers (WCW World Heavyweight Championship)
What can be done to ever generate another ratings war? Sound off below.