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HOW TO WATCH THE WWE IN A FOCUSED, FUN MANNER, WHETHER YOU'RE NEW OR A LONG TIME FAN, 4:MONDAY NIGHT WARS
This is, hopefully, the most complicated season I'll have to cobble together. WWE and WCW start this season at their creative peaks. The Attitude Era is in full swing at The Fed, and NWO is printing money for the former NWA. The heroes of the 80s and early 90s become the villains, the anti-heroes rise to the top of each company. Their weekly soap operas go from One Hour Superstar vs Enhancement Talent With Occasional Interview Segments to Two Hour Chaos Machines Where Superstars Are Frequently Arrested, Assaulted, And Who Knows What Else.
This was a terrible era to be female identified in the industry. The WWE frequently put on pillow fights, stripteases, and bikini matches. Those will not show up in this condensed history. We DO see the slow build rise of Chyna, who will be a huge influence on the eventual Women's Revolution, fifteen years later. We will also continue to see Alundra Blayze/Madusa be as massively underused in the WCW as she was in the WWE. Miss Elizabeth, an absolute delight in the WWE, will also be hugely miscast and misused in WCW.
Some of the highlights of this season are MMA star Ken Shamrock's time in the WWE, the Montreal Screwjob, the creation of the Mr. McMahon character and The Corporation, Stone Cold's ascendance, the formation of Degeneration X (though we will be skipping their problematic anti-Nation Of Domination and much of their phallus-obsessed nonsense, and focus on their war with WCW and then The Corporation), the dominance of Kane, and Goldberg's WCW undefeated streak. We'll also say goodbye to ECW with just one episode this season, as it became a self-parody due to Paul Heyman's bouncing checks. Oh, and we'll also say goodbye to WCW by the end of the season. Yeup, both of them will reappear next season as properties of WWE, as Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff, and Paul Heyman all take massive losses, establishing the WWE as THE main wrestling organization in the US (but stay tuned for the rise of TNA Impact and Ring Of Honor in Season Six).
The Monday Night Wars
Starring Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley (as Mankind and Dude Love), Goldberg, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Raven, Taz, Sabu, Vader, DDP, The Rock, Farooq, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Rob Van Dam, Triple H, Eric Bishoff, Bobby Heenan, Paul Heyman, Dusty Rhodes, Jim Ross, Jerry The King Lawler, and Vince McMahon.
1. New World Order, 1996
Hulk Hogan shocked the wrestling world at the end of last season, and now begins his Reign Of Terror as the biggest villain in wrestling, not just in the ring but behind the scenes as he continues to squash the potential stars of the industry under his big, black boots.
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, Eric Bischoff, Gene Okerlund, Mike Tenay, David Penzer, Michael Buffer
1. Chris Benoit vs Chris Jericho
2. Big Show (as The Giant) vs Randy Savage
3. NWO vs WCW War Games
Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, NWO Sting vs Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Sting
4. Harlem Heat (WCW Tag Team Champs) vs Outsiders
5. Hulk Hogan (WCW Champ) vs Randy Savage
2. Cold Day In Hell, 1996
To counter the shock of WCW's Hulk Hogan surprise heel turn, WWE executes an amazing slow burn heel turn as Bret The Hitman Hart becomes a villain for complaining about the way the industry is treating him while Stone Cold Steve Austin becomes a hero for doing pretty much the same thing.
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Todd Pettingill, Dok Hendrix, Howard Finkel
1. Bret Hart vs Steve Austin in a Submission Match
2. Undertaker (WWE Champ) vs Mick Foley (as Mankind)
3. Bret Hart Goes Full Canadian
4. Ken Shamrock vs Vader in a No Disqualification Match
5. Undertaker (WWE Champ) vs Steve Austin
3. Filling Vacancies, 1996
Some undercard fun in WCW here as the Radicalz get some time to shine and Chris Jericho wrestles a referee. Plus, the first appearance of spooky Sting, and then it's Antique vs Antique as Hogan and Piper renew their feud from the early 80s.
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, Larry Zybysko, Lee Marshall, Gene Okerlund, Mike Tenay, David Penzer, Michael Buffer
1. Ultimo Dragon vs Rey Mysterio for the J Crown
2. Chris Jericho with one hand tied behind his back vs Referee Nick Patrick
3. Dean Malenko (WCW Cruserweight Champ) vs Ultimo Dragon (J-Crown Champ)
4. Alundra Blayze (as Madusa) vs Akira Hokotu for WCW Womens Championship
5. Jushin Thunder Liger vs Rey Mysterio
6.William Regal vs Juventud Guerrera
8. Hulk Hogan (WCW Champ) vs Roddy Piper
4. Have A Nice Day, 1997
Mick Foley as Mankind was already a massive favorite in WWE, moreso than his WCW/ECW character, Cactus Jack. But his three part interview with Jim Ross turned him into a superstar. We also get to see our first WWE Light Heavyweight match as Taka Michinoku joins the party.
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, Dok Hendrix, Howard Finkel
1. Owen Hart vs British Bulldog
2. Steve Austin vs Shawn Michaels
3. Jim Ross Interviews Mick Foley
4. Taka Michinoku vs Great Sasuke
5. The Undertaker (WWE Champ) vs Vader
5. Ultimate Jeopardy 1996, 1997
ECW had devolved into a pale imitation of itself. The Monday Night Wars left the company in the dust, and this is the last time we'll see the ECW proper. WWE will snatch it up next season, and some of these stars will be a part of that, but this is Paul Heyman's company's swan song, and it's....ok.
1. Sandman vs Konnan
2. The Dudley Boys (ECW Tag Team Champs) vs The Eliminators
3. RVD vs Lance Storm
4. Taz vs Sabu
5. Tajiri vs Super Crazy
6. RVD vs Tommy Dreamer
7. Sandman vs Sabu in a TLC Match
6. Radical Ascendence, 1997
The next generation of WCW stars steal the spotlight from the egomaniacs, apart from a spectacular Macho Man/DDP match.
Announcers: Tony Shiavone, Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, Eric Bischoff, Ted Dibiase, Mike Tenay, Gene Okerlund, Lee Marshall, Jeff Katz, David Penzer, Michael Buffer, Neil Pruitt
1. Eddie Guerrero (WCW US Champ) vs XPac (as Syxx) in a Ladder Match
2. Dean Malenko (WCW Cruserweight Champ) vs XPac (as Syxx)
3. Eddie Guerrero (WCW US Champ) vs Chris Jericho
4. The Outsiders (WCW Tag Team Champs) vs Lex Luger & The Giant
5. DDP vs Squire Dave Taylor
5. Rey Mysterio vs Ultimo Dragon
6. Akira Hokuto (WCW Womans Champ) vs Alundra Blayze (as Madusa)
7. DDP vs Randy Savage
7. Canadian Stampede, 1997
The Harts as Canadian diehards were the most fun group in an era of too many stables (The Nation Of Domination, Los Boricuas, and Disciples Of Apocalypse spring to mind). It's a pity how it all ended but their war with The Undertaker and Stone Cold was the highlight of this era of the WWE.
Announcers: VInce McMahon, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Todd Pettengill, Howard Finkel
1. Mick Foley (as Mankind) vs Triple H in a Steel Cage
2. The Hart Foundation (WWE Tag Team Champs) vs Steve Austin & Mick Foley (as Dude Love)
3. British Bulldog (WWE European Champ) vs Ken Shamrock
4. Owen Hart (WWE Intercontinental Champ) vs Steve Austin
5. Undertaker (WWE Champ) vs Bret Hart
8. Nitro, 1997
The WCW vs NWO angle stayed fresher a bit longer than I remembered, but still not that long, we begin to get a little long in the tooth here as more and more people defect from WCW, making NWO a little too big to take seriously.
Announcers: Tony Shiavone, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zybysko, Mike Tenay, Eric Bischoff, Dusty Rhodes, Gene Okerlund, Michael Buffer, David Penzer
1. Dean Malenko (WCW US Champ) vs Jeff Jarret
2. Akira Hakuto (WCW Womans Champ) vs Alundra Blayze (as Madusa) Title vs Career Match
3. Chris Benoit vs Ultimo Dragon
4. THe Outsiders vs DDP & Mr. Perfect
5. Roddy Piper vs Ric Flair
6. NWO vs Four Hoursemen WarGames
Kevin Nash, Buff Bagwell, XPac, Konnan vs Ric Flair, Mr Perfect, Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael
9. Road Wild, 1997
GOLDBERG! GOLDBERG! GOLDBERG! And also Sting in the rafters and The Radicalz in the ring. Truly, this is Golden Age WCW.
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Boby Heenan, Mike Tenay, Larry Zybysko, Eric Bischoff, Dusty Rhodes, Gene Okerlund, David Penzer, Michael Buffer
1. Goldberg vs Hugh Morris
2. Eddie Guerrero (WCW Cruserweight Champ) vs Rey Mysterio
3. Goldberg vs The Barbarian
4. DDP vs Randy Savage
5. Goldberg vs Haku
6. Yuji Nagata vs Ultimo Dragon
7. Eddie Guerrero (WCW Cruiserweight Champ) vs Rey Mysterio
8. Mr. Perfect (WCW US Champ) vs Ric Flair with no DQs
10. The Montreal Screwjob, 1997
Y'all heard about this match, right? Easily the most important match in turning the tide from WCW to WWE in the Monday Night Wars.
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Kevin Kelly, Albert DeFrusia
1. Steve Austin banned from Raw
2. Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker Hell In A Cell
3. Kane vs. Hardy Boys
4. Classic Survivor Series Match
Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Legion Of Doom vs Nation Of Domination
6. Owen Hart (WWE Intercontinental Champ) vs Steve Austin
7. Bret Hart (WWE Champ) vs Shawn Michaels
11. Souled Out, 1997 1998
Fallout from WWE spills over into WCW in what should have been the momentum swinger to WCW. Instead, they completely botch the arrival of Bret Hart and continue the dinosaur stampede of 1980s stars, even beginning to phase out The Radicalz. The slow plod to WCW's collapse begins at this time, but we'll focus on the great matches that still managed to take place during this decay.
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay, Eric Bischoff, Dusty Rhodes, Mike Tenay, Gene Okerlund, David Penzer, Michael Buffer
1. Chavo Guerrero Jr., Juventud Guerrera, Lizmark Jr. & Super Calo vs El Dandy, La Parka, Psychosis & Silver King in a Lucha Libre Rules Match
2. Goldberg vs Steve McMichael
3.Raven vs Chris Benoit in Ravens Rules Match
4. Scott Hall vs Lex Luger
5. Rey Mysterio (WCW Cruserweight Champ) vs Chris Jericho
6. Booker T (WCW TV Champ) vs Rick Martel
7. Chris Jericho (WCW Cruserweight Champ) vs Juventud Guerrera Title vs Mask
8. Bret Hart vs Ric Flair
12. D-Generation X
The crux of this episode is one of the greatest Royal Rumbles of all time. Like a couple of the rumbles that I've cut, there are a lot of filler characters in this who don't need to be remembered (The Godwinns, 8-Ball and Chains, the Headbangers ... I don't even know who Tom Brandi is, and I've seen this rumble dozens of times). But the pacing and storytelling of this match is superb. Plus, THREE MICK FOLEY CHARACTERS IN ONE MATCH!
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Howard Finkel
1. The Rock (WWE Intercontinental Champ) vs Ken Shamrock
2. Royal Rumble
Mick Foley (as Cactus Jack), Terry Funk (as Chainsaw Charlie), Tom Brandi, The Rock , Mosh, Phineas I. Godwinn, 8-Ball, JBL (as Blackjack Bradshaw), Owen Hart, Steve Blackman, D'Lo Brown, Kurrgan, Marc Mero, Ken Shamrock, Thrasher, Mick Foley again (as Mankind), (The Artist Formerly Known as) Goldust, Jeff Jarrett, The Honky Tonk Man, Ahmed Johnson, Mark Henry, The Godfather (as Kama Mustafa), Steve Austin, Henry O. Godwinn, Savio Vega, Faarooq , Mick Foley (as Dude Love), Chainz , Vader
13. War Of Attrition, 1998
Sure, WWE was already returning to their status as Top Empire In Wrestling but in order to pull in a record number of previous non-wrestling fans, they brought in one of the biggest names in the history of combat sports, Mike Tyson to play a part in the Shawn Michaels/Steve Austin fued. We also get a fun gimmick tag team match, and finally, Finally, Undertaker vs Kane (part 1 of roughly 1,000).
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, Michael Cole, Doc Hendrix, Kevin Kelly, Howard Finkel
1. Mike Tyson on Raw
2. War Of Attrition
Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Chainz, 8-Ball, Skull vs The Rock, Farooq, Mark Henry, D-Lo Brown, The Godfather
3. Taka Michinoku vs Essa Rios
4. Mick Foley (as Cactus Jack) and Terry Funk (as Chainsaw Charlie) vs New Age Outlaws in a Dumpster Match
5. Undertaker vs Kane
6. Shawn Michaels (WWE Champ) vs Steve Austin
14. The Streak (1998)
WCW begins to circle the drain. And we can't even blame Vince Russo, yet. The Goldberg Streak and the WCW Undercard were putting on spectacular matches while Hulk Hogan, Sting, Kevin Nash, Roddy Piper, Scott Hall, and the rest of the main eventers involved in the NWO storyline put on some of the most unwatchably dull matches in wrestling history. SO we're not going to watch the NWO split into the Black and White and The Wolfpac, we're not going to focus on the washed up WWE stars trying to relive their glory years, instead, we're going to watch the future WWE stars put on the matches that would make them famous.
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay, Gene Okerlund, Michael Buffer, David Penzer
1. DDP (WCW US Champ) vs Raven vs Chris Benoit
2. Goldberg vs Perry Saturn
3. Chavo Guerrero vs Ultimo Dragon
4. Booker T (WCW TV Champ) vs Chris Benoit
5. DDP (WCW US Champ) vs Raven in a Raven's Rules Match
6. Raven (WCW US Champ) vs Goldberg
7. Finlay (WCW TV Champ) vs Chris Benoit
8. Goldberg (WCW Us Champ) vs Hugh Morris
15. The War Zone, 1998
The Austin/McMahon feud is one of the surprisingly greatest feuds in the history of sports entertainment. And it really gets going here. The Rock also begins to properly ascend as the company's greatese heel, and the Mick Foley/McMahon relationship turns all sorts of weird. It's almost glorious.
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Dok Hendrix, Howard Finkel
1. Steve Austin (WWE Champ) vs Vince McMahon
2. The Rock (WWE Intercontinental Champ) vs Farooq
3. Triple H (WWE European Champ) vs Owen Hart
4. Undertaker vs Kane in an Inferno Match
5. Steve Austin (WWE Champ) vs Mick Foley (as Dude Love)
16. The Bottom Line, 1998
DX was a silly, profane, controversial group in WWE history. They were characterised as misognyist, homophobic, racist, but also supposed to be funny good guys. It aged Very Poorly. I've tried not to include their problematic material, and instead focus on their fun, such as their "attack" on WCW, and their feud with the McMahon family. We also see Dan Severn start to show up. I'd completely forgotten about him but he was an interesting counterbalance to Ken Shamrock for a few months in 1998, and his matches are worth the watches. Also, we don't get to hear it but while Triple H calls a match as a commentator, Chyna is commentating the match with the Spanish Announce Team.
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, Triple H, Michael Cole, Howard Finkel
1. DX vs WCW
2. Kane vs Vader
3. The Nation vs DX
D-Lo Brown, Owen Hart, Kama Mustafa vs Triple H, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn
4. Steve Austin (WWE Champ) vs Mick Foley (as Dude Love) in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
5. Ken Shamrock vs Jeff Jarrett
6. The Rock vs Dan Severen
7. Ken Shamrock vs The Rock
17. Last Gasps, 1998 1999
Here endeth The Last Great Thing in WCW history. These are all title matches with very little storyline developement because the stories were bad, but many of the matches were worse. There is an entire year's worth of Pay-Per-Views used as the basis of this episode. It's bleak.
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay, Gene Okerlund, Michael Buffer, David Penzer
1. Goldberg (WCW US Champ) vs Scott Hall
2. Booker T (WCW TV Champ) vs Bret Hart
3. Hulk Hogan (WCW Heavyweight Champ) vs Goldberg
4. Kidman (WCW Cruserweight Champ) vs Juventud Guererra vs Rey Mysterio
5. Goldberg (WCW Heavyweight Champ) vs Sting
6. Bam Bam Bigelow vs Sandman in a Hardcore Match
7. Goldberg (WCW Champ) vs DDP
8. Goldberg (WCW Heavyweight Champ) vs Kevin Nash
18. Gimmickmania B'Gawd, 1998
There are some great gimmick matches in here, including The Greatest Hell In A Cell Of All Time, B'gawd!
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Howard Finkel
1. D-Lo Brown vs X-Pac
2. Owen Hart vs Ken Shamrock in a Dungeon Match
3. X-Pac vs Jeff Jarrett
4. Ken Shamrock vs Owen Hart in a Lion's Den Match
5. The Undertaker vs Mankind in Hell In A Cell B'Gawd
6. Steve Austin (WWE Champ) vs Kane in a First Blood Match
7. Kane (WWE Champ) vs Steve Austin
19. Socko Zamboni, 1998
Delightful shenanigans abound in this mostly fun Attitude Era classic.
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Kevin Kelly, Dok Hendix, Tony Chimel, Howard Finkel
1. The Rock vs Mick Foley (as Mankind) vs Ken Shamrock
2. Taka Michinoku (WWE Lightweight Champ) vs Christian
3. Ken Shamrock (WWE Intercontinental Champ) vs Mick Foley (as Mankind)
4. Mick Foley (as Mankind) vs Steve Austin
5. The Rock vs Undertaker
6. Mick Foley (as Mankind) vs The Rock for the WWE Championship
20. The Fingerpoke Of Doom & Butts In Seats, 1999
On January 4th, 1999, WCW signs their own death warrant in The Monday Night Wars. Their younger stars start to shift over to WWE while their geriatric headliners continue to put on the same boring shows over and over and over. At the beginning of the show that lost the war, host Tony Schiavone decides to roast the WWE by announcing that their show is taped and he spoils the new winner of the WWE title. As a result, millions of viewers switched over to Raw to see the title change. Those that stuck with WCW for that night were rewarded with what is widely regarded as The Worst Main Event in wrestling history.
Announcers: Tony Shiavone, Eric Bischoff, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Gene Okerlund, Michael Cole, Dok Hendix, Michael Buffer, Howard Finkel
1. The Rock (WWE Champ) vs X-Pac
2. Triple H vs Mick Foley (as Mankind)
3. Goldberg vs Miss Elizabeth & The Detroit PD
4. The Rock (WWE Champ) vs Mick Foley (as Mankind)
5. Kevin Nash (WCW Champ) vs Hulk Hogan
6. The Corporate Rumble
7. Mick Foley (as Mankind) (WWE Champ) vs The Rock
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