One of the most iconic moments in wrestling history came 25 years ago.
Then-WWF Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze made her return to Monday Nitro, dropping her World Wrestling Federation championship in a trash can on WCW programming. Going forward, Blayze would begin going by her original ring name, Madusa, once again. Madusa’s trashed title incident blacklisted her from the WWE for nearly two decades, until she returned to the promotion in 2015 as an inductee into that year’s WWE Hall of Fame.
Speaking on Something to Wrestle, WWE writer Bruce Prichard spoke about Madusa’s jump to WCW. Prichard says the move stung, but the trashed title gesture was especially hard to deal with.
“It’s definitely a blow and you’re watching, you’re seeing one of your championship belts on your competitor’s show, a former champion dumping it in the trash can,” Prichard said. “Yeah, that was a blow. It sucked. That hurt and I think that when you go back and you look at moments in the history of Monday Night Wars, it’s going to be one of the top five. It’s not number one.”
The Monday Night Wars saw a lot of memorable stars jump from Vince McMahon’s promotion to Ted Turner’s network. While losing their women’s champion hurt, Prichard mentioned a few other big names that jumped ship as potential top moments in the WWE/WCW conflict.
“I think that number one is probably more than any, I give it to Razor [Ramon] showing up, Lex [Luger] showing up, and Hogan’s turn,” Prichard said. “When you look at all of that, this was a big move. This was a big move and it was a slap in the face. It was a kick in the balls because didn’t see that one coming. Should have, but didn’t.”
The WWE went through a difficult period in the mid-90s. Ratings were down, the competition was thriving, and top stars were departing the company. While WWE let some wrestlers jump to WCW, there were a number of names that they made strong re-negotiation efforts with. One of those names was the Ultimate Warrior, who returned to the promotion after a brief retirement. Prichard spoke about how difficult Warrior was to control, referencing Warrior’s tendencies to drop expletives on live TV.
“That happened in ’96 when he actually went out there, but it was during this time, we knew we were negotiating with Warrior,” Prichard said. “Looking at Warrior to come back and trying to figure out what that was going to look like and it wasn’t from the standpoint of limited dates, but kind of looking at Warrior as an attraction and not overusing him.
“And trying to see, ‘Okay, if he is going to come back and you’re going to utilize him, what’s the best way to do it?’ The best way in our opinion was not to use this guy every single night in the live events and maybe not every pay-per-view, but use him judiciously.
“It was unique thinking and how we thought about the business in the past, because normally you sign someone, it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s go to work.’ If they’re a draw, you get them out there in every show. This was looking at an Andre the Giant type of attraction with Warrior and you utilize him when you needed him.”
In Warrior’s brief return to WWE, he unsuccessfully challenged then-Intercontinental Champion Goldust on two occasions. While Goldust was able to escape Warrior due to those matches ending in count out, his reign would not last much longer. Goldust would fall to Ahmed Johnson one month later at King of the Ring 1996. Johnson reigned as Intercontinental Champion for just 58 days, until he was forced to vacate the title due to kidney issues.
While Johnson never evolved into main event status, Prichard revealed Vince McMahon had major ideas in store for the former Intercontinental Champion.
“Yeah, there were big plans for Ahmed Johnson and with him coming in,” Prichard said. “That son of a b–ch just ooze charisma when he came out and looked like he would kill you. So, very athletic. Could do some s–t. Did not know his own strength. Was not the greatest worker in the world by any stretch of the imagination.
“However, he was exciting and he was unpredictable. So, those were things that you could harness. We were hopefully going to be able to mold some of the unpredictability about him at least in the ring. Ahmed had the look.
“Ahmed was one of those guys that were on the shortlist of ‘I could see him as WWE Champion’, and no, he was never promised that. But he was one of those guys that internally, we looked at and down the line, could you get Ahmed as WWE Champion? Yes.”
Beyond McMahon, Prichard also says road agent Michael “P.S.” Hayes played a big role in getting Johnson signed.
“Michael was a big fan. Michael had [experience] with Ahmed in Dallas,” Prichard said. “Michael had worked with a very green and raw Ahmed and saw a lot of potential in him as well. Michael was singing his praises as he came in.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Something to Wrestle With Bruce Prichard, with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.