The Monday Night Wars between WWE and WCW were largely dominated by WCW. That all changed on April 13, 1998, the day RAW beat Monday Nitro in ratings for the first time in 83 weeks. On an episode of his Something To Wrestle podcast, former WWE producer Bruce Prichard recalled what it was like for WWE to end WCW's substantial streak of winning the ratings.
"You won't believe it, but it was great, we were happy, but Vince McMahon was more concerned with just taking care of business and we have to worry about what we are going to do next," Prichard said.
That episode of RAW was headlined by an advertised match between McMahon and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. The storyline leading up to the match was something previously unseen in the wrestling business, so the audience was captivated throughout the entire buildup. Prichard said the WWE was happy to win the ratings battle that night, but everyone in the company knew that had a lot of work ahead of them if they wanted to keep the momentum going.
"It's funny because, yes, everybody was happy. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like we weren't happy about it. There is a realization too that we promoted a match all night long with the owner of the company--a non-wrestler, somebody that has never been in the ring before, and 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin," Prichard said. "We didn't give them the match but it was something they never thought they would have seen before. It was Vince McMahon, an unproven commodity that had never been in that role before, that won the ratings. That story is what really drove that audience all night."
The win was short-lived, however, as WCW took the lead in the ratings the very next week. Still, that wasn't enough to deflate the morale in the WWE because they believed they would be able to keep attracting viewers through innovative storytelling.
"I don't know if it was what we expected. Again, it was another day at the office. Business was good, houses were up, so we were moving forward," Prichard said. "We saw the needle move and felt confident that when it was all said and done we were going to be back on top."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Something To Wrestle with Bruce Prichard with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.