WWE: The Monday Night War Review

Hey folks, its review time yet again here at Wrestling 101, and I’m back to review one of the latest offerings from the WWE; The Monday War DVD. When people talk about the greatest feuds throughout the 1990’s they often look at feuds such Austin vs. McMahon, Flair vs. Sting, but the one feud that dominated the 1990’s was WCW vs. WWF, and to be more exact RAW vs. Nitro. This feud singled handily changed the wrestling world forever, and this DVD gives us an insight into that great feud.

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Cert: 15

Length: (VHS) 95 mins (DVD)181 mins

Over the period from 1995 right up until the end of WCW in 2001, the Monday Night War provided wrestling fans with some of the most exciting and compelling wrestling TV in history. From the interception of the WWF’s “Attitude” era, to the rise and fall of the New World Order, RAW and Nitro respectively held the showcase for these events. The Monday Night War with out a doubt was the most entertaining time to be a wrestling fan; this DVD looks at the historical feud which generated a new breed of wrestling television.

The show charts the whole story of the Monday Night War, from the first RAW to the last Nitro, with footage from both promotions, interviews with the people who were part of the “war” and matches and moments that defined the Monday Night War, so without a further a do, let get on with the review.

Chapters

Intro

The DVD starts off with a summary look at the Monday Night Wars, basically a quick brief about the story, pretty much an intro for any fan who doesn’t really know what the Monday Night War was about. Some superstars such as Bischoff, Foley, Jim Cornette, Benoit and Big Show chip in comments about how the “war” defined the industry and that it was probably the highest point for wrestling fans, because the competition made each brand excel. Nice little summary which probably dictates the pace of the rest of the DVD.

Early Days of WCW and WWE

Mean Gene starts this chapter off talking about the old syndication of wrestling television broadcasts on the various networks throughout the US, and also mentioning the WWF All American Show on the USA network. Then Vince McMahon talks about his and Ted Turner’s previous working relationship in the early 80’s when McMahon broadcast his wrestling on Turner’s WTBS Super Station.

Jim Cornette mentions that fact that in his opinion the NWA was still going strong before Turner bought Jim Crockett out, which is an interesting fact about the popularity of the NWA at this point, but I think there is two key points here, as I’m aware Crockett promotions was in financial difficulty, and secondly the WWF was becoming bigger and on a nation level, which was hurting the NWA, which was making it extremely hard for the NWA to compete.

Bischoff talks about WCW and how it was a miss managed company since Turner took over it in the late 80’s, he mentions that WCW were looking for an Executive Producer to effectively turn the company around , and as they say, the rest is history. Jim Ross talks about his departure from WCW, at the time he was Vice President of Broadcasting for WCW, and he believe that it was time for a change, so he left a 3 year WCW contract and went over to pastures new at the WWF, for a lot less money as he states.

RAW arrives, Talent leaves

Bruce Pritchard talks about the original concept of Monday Night Raw being a new type of live venture for the WWF, broadcasting out of New York’s Manhattan Centre, a venue which was considerably smaller than the arena events the WWF had done for years. Mean Gene comment about the Manhattan Centre as he states “Nothing against the building, but it was a toilet”, which could only come from Mean Gene.

Moving across to WCW, Bischoff comments about how he wanted to take WCW out of the typical WCW venue which was dark and dingy and take it to the ultra fantastic MGM studios in Florida, which had better audio and visual quality and made the WCW product look better. Bischoff also mentions that it was at the MGM studio were he first met Hulk Hogan, and thus eventually persuaded him to join with WCW. Bischoff also talks about Randy Savage joining up with WCW, he goes on to talk about Savage being unhappy in the WWF as an announcer, so he wanted to come to WCW, and Hulk Hogan helped him get there.

Particularly interesting chapter, its exciting to see the original concept of RAW, and then think how the show has evolved so much over the years., but its still managed to keep at least some of its original concept in being the flagship show for the WWE.

Birth of Nitro

Bischoff talks about how he started to make WCW profitable, buy cutting costs everywhere possible and he also mention that he started to introduce more WCW PPV events, culminating in having a PPV every month, something which the WWF copied.

Bischoff discusses a meeting in which he had with Ted Turner, where Bischoff was poised with the question by Turner on how WCW could compete with the WWF, in return Bischoff stated that if WCW was given a prime time TV slot then that would help, surprisingly Turner agreed and give WCW a 2 hour TV slot on TNT every Monday Night which would go head to head with the WWF’s Monday Night Raw.

Jim Cornette talks about how everyone thought Nitro would fail miserably, it was on a TV station that hadn’t broadcast wrestling before, and it was going up against the WWF, the number 1 wrestling company in the world at the time. We also hear some words of wisdom from Gerry Brisco, on how the WWF would leave WCW to die, which effectively did happen, but many, yeas later than planned.

McMahon goes onto talk about how WCW could have been broadcast on any day and any time, and the only possible reasons for Nitro to be broadcast the same time as RAW would be to potentially hurt the WWF.

The whole Lex Luger incident is talked about, Bischoff talks about how he didn’t actually like Luger and had no interest in signing him back to WCW, but Sting was Luger’s friend, and Sting kept asking Bischoff, so Bischoff eventually gave him and met with Luger. Bischoff offered Luger 20% off what he was making in the WWF, thinking that Luger would turn it down, however Luger agreed and signed with WCW. Bischoff also goes onto talk about how Luger’s WWF contract would expire on the Sunday before the inaugural Nitro, and Luger hadn’t renewed the contract. So Luger wrestler for the WWF on the Sunday, and then on the Monday he appeared on Nitro. Jim Cornette add some comments in regarding the fact the only mistake he has knew Vince McMahon to make are regarding he trusts people too much.

Let’s hope Vince has learnt his lesson, and we don’t see Luger back in the WWE today. This chapter is pretty good, WCW Nitro was a historical land mark in wrestling, and the chapter could have looked at the inaugural Nitro a little more in depth in my opinion.

The War begins

Bischoff talks about how he would give away RAW’s results on WCW Nitro, and he then went a step further and he asked for Nitro to be broadcast 3 minutes earlier so he could give away RAW’s results even before the show went on air…a tact which Bischoff says he enjoyed doing because it outraged so many people. Some comments from Foley, Vince and Brisco commenting on the fact that it wasn’t just business it was personal to them.

Alundra Blaze’s move to WCW is now looked at, and Bischoff says that against her will he persuaded her to throw the WWF Women’s championship in the bin on WCW Nitro, and in one of the best lines from this DVD he goes onto say “I’m sure now she wishes she hadn’t”, you don’t say Eric.

Now a look at the “Wrasslin’ Warroom” skits, in which Foley comments that until these skits Ted Turner probably never had his full heart into WCW, but after these skits, Foley says Turner had a fire set a light under him which caused him to take WCW seriously.

WCW takes the lead

We now got to the beginning on 1996, and the DVD looks at the main stars of each federation, with WCW having Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, Ric Flair and Sting, and the WWF’s top stars were Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and The Undertaker, the DVD goes on to look at the departure of Hall and Nash from the WWF.

Jim Cornette talks about how Hall and Nash both had given Vince either verbal indication that they would stay with the WWF, or at least gave Vince the impression that they would stay with the WWF. However, the pair never stayed with the WWF and Bischoff mentions that WCW needed new talent as Nitro was starting to pick up, so Hall and Nash signed up.

We are then shown the historic night when Hall invaded WCW Nitro portraying himself as an “invader” from the WWF. Then we go to another Nitro and see Nash debuting. Bruce Pritchard goes on to talk about the concept of the “Outsiders” and how WCW took two WWF superstars, and made them look like they were invading WCW from the WWF.

We skip to the Bash at the Beach 1996, with Hall and Nash promising a third man to join them, everyone knows the story as we see Hogan joining Hall and Nash and dropping the leg drop onto Savage.

The nWo

The chapter kick off with clips from Hogan’s infamous speech at Bash at the Beach, and Mean Gene commenting about the fans throwing the rubbish into the ring when Hogan joined Hall and Nash. Bruce Pritchard talks about when Hogan joined the nWo and the fact that it was probably the highest point of Nitro, and we see Hogan’s first appearance in his black “heel” wrestling attire.

Eric Bischoff explains the original concept of the nWo in which he wanted it to be a separate entity from the WCW and the he wanted their to be conflict between the two groups, but he never thought of it as a wrestling storyline .Big Show also talks about his experience with the nWo and we see the footage from Nitro the first time Big Show a.k.a. The Giant joined the nWo in 1996.

Bischoff goes onto talk about an incident when the nWo went backstage into a production truck and took it over. Bischoff mention that this was groundbreaking at the time, because TV cameras hadn’t particularly acknowledged backstage production of wrestling events. Bischoff also mention that during the Nitro broadcasts the MGM studios, the surrounding residents would telephone the police department, thinking that there was actually gang fights going on in the studios, but in reality it was the backstage antics on the nWo. Bischoff mention why he thought it was necessary for him to join the nWo, and we see various clips of him with the nWo. The chapter closes with a fact that RAW beat Nitro in the ratings on June 10th 1996, the last time for 2 years.

The chapter probably should have picked upon the fact that it was the nWo’s success that would go onto kill them, as the group got bigger and less effective.

WCW and Austin

Next chapter starts with Vince talking about his philosophy in wrestling being “To help yourself, and not hurt the other guy”, and he states that Turner’s was obviously completely different than that. Bischoff talks about the research TNT would do, and how this helped WCW Nitro, he mentions that fans liked unpredictability and spontaneous confrontation, and that’s why Nitro had to be live.

The DVD looks at the fact the Sean Waltman and Ted Dibiase joined WCW in 1996, and due to Dibiase’s departure from the WWF this led to Steve Austin’s career change. Jim Cornette talks about Austin’s treatment in WCW, and then mention that when Dibiase left for WCW, the WWF creative team didn’t have any ideas for Austin, so they just let him be himself, and this led to the evolution from The Ringmaster to Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cornette mentions that most major wrestling superstars characters are just themselves with the “volume” turned right up, which is very true. Jim Ross also mentions that Austin was the Anti hero, and no matter what the WWF would do, the fans would just cheer him.

Jim Cornette talks about King of the Ring 1996, the tournament in which Austin won, and where “Austin 3:16 was born”. Mick Foley mentions that the match with Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13 was probably the match that helped Austin the most, something which I have to agree with, I think without this match, and more importantly the feud with Bret, Austin might not have been as successful as he was.

Chris Jericho brings up the fact the while the nWo was important to Nitro’s success, so was the influx of people like Benoit , Guerrero and Rey Jr., something which again, is probably very true, and is key to WCW success.

WWE Evolves

Shawn Michaels talks about the RAW when he stuffed something down his shorts and Vince fined him $10,000, however the fans reacted to this well, and thus it kicked off a new type of WWF TV. We see various clips from D-X, including the “Special D-X” report. Foley and Vince talks about how close the WWE was to going bust.

The chapter then moves on to look at Austin’s injury at Summerslam 1997 at the hands of Owen Hart, Cornette mentions that although Austin was still injured he was able to appear on TV and still be just as affective if not more affective. The chapter goes onto look at The Rock; the “heel” turn is shown from September 1997 as he pulls a promo on the fans for chanting “Die, Rocky Die!” Cornette talks about how the fans resented the original Rock persona of the smiling, happy superstar. Cornette says that this brought more out in the Rock, and this was able to change his character for the better.

Mr. Mahon and Austin

It couldn’t be missed, the Montreal “Screw job”. We are shown the events of Survivor Series ‘97 and how this led to the evolution of the Mr. Mahon character. Moving onto January 1998, McMahon unveils that Mike Tyson will be at Wrestlemania 14, thus leading to the memorable confrontation with Stone Cold. Bischoff talks about how he was told the WWF was going to try and compete with the WCW by using the “Jerry Springer” style TV, Bischoff mention that he dismissed the idea until he saw Mike Tyson had signed with WWF. We skip to Wrestlemania 14 where Austin won the title from Shawn Michaels. Another memorable Austin and McMahon segment is shown from the night after Wrestlemania 14 where Austin refuses to co-operate with McMahon.

WWE wins a round

This chapter starts off with Foley talking about the first RAW that beat Nitro in the ratings war, we are then shown the highlights from that Raw in which Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon first fought each other, with the ending culminating in Dude Love coming down to the ring and attacking Austin.

The chapter then look at the formation of the new DX, with the return of Sean Waltman to the WWF. We are shown clips from various DX segments which include DX in New York City and also some footage of when DX invaded the WCW offices.

WWE takes the lead

The chapter kicks off with Eric Bischof talking about how he wanted to counter the invasion by DX, we are shown a vignette which Bischoff challenged Vince McMahon to appear at a WCW PPV to fight him. Obviously McMahon never showed up, which was probably a good move by McMahon.

Jim Ross the goes on to talk about the evolution of WWF superstars such as Triple H, The Rock and The Undertaker, and also how they were able to create new stars. Jim Ross comments that this was WCW biggest mistake that no new guys could move up the ladder, well apart from one, Goldberg. Eric Bischoff comments that Goldberg was one of them things that just worked, he showed up at the peak of Nitro, went out to the ring, did his moves and the crowd loved it. The ending of the match from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta is shown, in which Goldberg beat Hogan for the WCW World Championship. This was the first Nitro in 11 weeks which beat RAW in the ratings, however I believe it cost WCW in the long run as this match was scheduled for a PPV, and they ended up giving the match away on TV.

Both Big Show and Eddie Guerrero discuss how the nWo was becoming boring and causing trouble of WCW.

For me personally what would have added nicely to this chapter is the way that WCW misused Goldberg and effectively killed his character when he was beaten by Nash at Starrcade 1998, something which would highlight WCW political problems.

Ric Flair

After a number of months away from WCW TV, Ric Flair makes his triumphant return to WCW and reforms the Four Horsemen. Ric talks about how the Horsemen were used for a few weeks and then just put to the side once again, and Flair soon followed. Bischoff talks about how he used Flair to keep the old NWA fans watching the WWF, and the nWo was there to attract new fans. Both Flair and Cornette talks about Bischoff mistreating Flair, and about Bischoff not recognising Flair as a legend.

Flair’s return to WCW was a ratings winner for WCW and was a very emotional moment in WCW, might have been nice to look at this chapter in more detail.

WCW Struggles

Rey Jr. talks about how WCW were struggling because they weren’t pushing any of the new talent, while the WWF were pushing the likes of The Hardy Boys, Dudleyz and Edge and Christian. This takes us to the RAW that finally fished WCW Nitro forever, the night Mick Foley won the WWF Championship from The Rock. We are shown highlights of the match and Mick comments about how the results was given away on Nitro, however it backfired on WCW as RAW ended up winning the ratings that night.

Bischoff says that his biggest problem was himself , and Mean Gene, Flair and Chris Benoit comment on how the corporate structure of WCW was dragging the company down, as Flair mentions nobody knew what they were doing until the show went to air. Mean Gene comments on how talent should have never been given creative control.

Talent goes to WWE

Big Show kicks this chapter off talking about his move to WWF from WCW; he mentions that WCW at this stage was already a sinking ship. Big Show also brings up the fact that his move to the WWF shifted the momentum, because he was the first big WCW star that the WWF had signed, Show also notes that the WWF were signing the younger guys, appose to the WCW who signed the older guys, i.e. Hogan and Savage. Chris Jericho then goes onto talk about his departure from WCW and we see his debut on WWF Raw in August 1999.

More changes to WCW

Then Bischoff goes onto talk about how he was forced out of WCW by the executives, even though he made millions and million and millions and millions of dollars, and obviously forgetting about all the mistakes he had made.

Mean Gene and Chris Benoit then talk about the introduction of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera to WCW. The DVD touches on the whole Oklahoma gimmick with some comments from Jim Ross. Flair comments about Russo, I probably don’t need to tell you what he said.

The move of Benoit, Saturn, Guerrero and Malenko from WCW to the WWF is now looked at. Eddie comments on how he baldy wanted to get out of WCW and we see some clip of Benoit doing what looks to be a semi shoot on the cliques in WCW. Cornette mention about how the influx of WCW stars created new possibilities for the WWF. We see some clips of Russo’s shoot at WCW Bash at the Beach 2000, sadly not the full shoot.

This chapter is slightly all over the place, it does cover Russo’s arrival in WCW, but doesn’t look at it in detail. I think considering this was probably the single biggest cause of WCW downfall, I would have liked to see a little more details about it.

The Last Chapter

This chapter stars off with Eric Bischoff commenting on how he wanted to buy WCW and the fact that he was very close to purchasing the company, however the deal fell through when he found out that WCW Nitro was to be cancelled and WCW would no longer have any TV time. We then move to the final Nitro, comments are made by Flair, Rey Jr., Jim Ross and the likes of how they were pleased that WCW was closing, but sad that so many people would be out of a job.

The DVD finished off with some good comments and in particularly Shawn Michaels makes some very good comments on how WCW did achieve a great deal of success, and Gerry Brisco makes a stupid comment on the lesson to be learnt from the Monday Night War was that no one should mess with Vince McMahon.

What would have been if Bischoff had bought WCW? Maybe we would have seen resurgence in WCW, rather than just see it fade away, which eventually happened. As for Gerry Brisco, he is the only one in this whole DVD that has not given WCW its due, his comments were dim-witted and arrogant, they could have been left out of the DVD.

DVD Extras

  • Stone Cold Steve Austin & Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart & British Bulldog
  • Stone Cold Stuns Vince McMahon
  • Jim Cornette Commentary
  • Vince McMahon Interview “Bret Screwed Bret”
  • Shawn Michaels & Triple H vs. The Legion of Doom
  • DX Invade WCW
  • The Last Nitro
  • nWo in the production truck
  • Eric Bischoff challenges Vince McMahon
  • Chris Benoit vs. Booker T
  • Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan
  • Ric Flair returns to WCW
  • Rick Rude appears on Nitro and RAW on the same night

Overall

Well, it was fair to a point. The DVD looked at the failures of WCW but missed out a lot of its great achievements and great events from over the Monday Night War, but in saying that, the DVD misses a lot of the WWF great moment from the Monday Night War as well. The DVD had some candid comments from Vince on how close the WWF was to going under, something which I wasn’t aware off. As for the DVD being bias to the WWF, it was, but it could have been a lot worse. Overall the DVD was hugely insightful, with some memorable matches and footage from both the WWF and WCW, any fan would find it interesting for sure, whether you were a fan of wrestling during the WWF vs. WCW days or whether you are a new fan, this DVD should be a must.

As for the DVD extras, there is a lot of stuff there, but not as half as much as they should be. I would have liked to see more footage from the inaugural WCW Nitro, as well as RAW, plus more footage of the final Nitro, which is looked at, but not in any great detail. The offerings in which we are given are quite good, with the highlight has to be Jim Cornette’s classic commentary on WCW, as well as the WWF. Other notable extras are the Goldberg vs. Hogan match, which as a match is pretty bad, but is a historical moment because it marks Goldberg’s rise to the top of WCW. Ric Flair’s full return to WCW is shown, and it’ s an emotional night with a great promo cut by Flair in which he shoots on Bischoff which leads to a feud between the pair. All in all, not a great set of extras, but a good set.

Points 9/10

Buy it:

UK: £10.99 (VHS) / £14.99 (DVD) / £14.99 (UMD)

USA: $14.95 (VHS) / $22.46 (DVD)

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