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Monday Night War Flashbacks: The Most Influential People During Monday Night War (WWF) Part 1 of 2

Jun 2, 2005 - 10:57:00 AM
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By Octavio Fierros

Who made the biggest impact in the wrestling industry during the Monday Night War era? Who was the wrestler who drew ratings, buyrates, and house show attendance? Who made the fans keep tuning in to Raw and Nitro? I have ten of the most influential people who made an impact for their company during the WWF vs. WCW war. I have ten from each company who were instrumental in the success of the WWF and WCW during that competition. Wrestling will never be the same again due to this Monday Night War so we want to remember 20 people who were responsible for the success of the WWF and WCW at the time. If you agree or disagree with one or more influential people listed here and you want to discuss it, feel free to drop me a line at octaviofierros@yahoo.com I will post some feedback next week as I’m doing a special edition of Monday Night War Flashbacks this month. Also, feel free to send your list of most influential for WCW. That’s next week here on a special edition of Monday Night War Flashbacks.


Monday Night War Fact: September 11, 1995 – The first Monday Night War battle actually started the week after Monday Nitro debuted on TNT. On Raw, Shawn Michaels vs. Sid tried to counter the main event of Nitro between Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger. Raw barely won the first ever ratings battle, 2.5 to 2.4.



WWF Top 10 Influential People During Monday Night War
It’s very hard to select the top player who made an impact for the WWF during the Monday Night War. It’s a close match-up between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, but I have to go with “Stone Cold”. Austin changed the face of professional wrestling and sports entertainment. He was the one who made the WWF Attitude and started the raunchy style of the company starting in 1997. Who made Steve Austin who he is today? The answer is simple. Austin made himself and not every wrestler can say that. When Raw finally defeated Nitro in the ratings in April 1998, it was his main event match against Vince McMahon that defeated WCW that night. Austin was the first wrestler since Hulk Hogan in the 80s and part of 90s to draw ratings, high PPV buyrates, house show attendance, and merchandise sales. We really don’t know if we are going to have another “Stone Cold”, but for now, he gets the top pick for most influential during the Monday Night War.

Vince McMahon gets the second pick for numerous reasons. Believe it or not, Vince took Bret Hart’s place in this position. Bret was involved in the Monday Night War for three years (I’m not counting 1996, since he was playing the free agent role). If it wasn’t for the infamous screwjob in Montreal, Vince would be sitting on his ass during commentary to this day. The Montreal Screwjob actually helped Vince and the WWF with the war with WCW. After that, Vince took advantage of the heat he received for what he did to Bret and took it on Austin. Also, Vince came out with some great ideas (with help from Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara, of course) and changed wrestling as well. Vince also became one of the best heels in wrestling history. That really says something because he was not a full-time wrestler. A lot of credit goes to the boss for the success of Raw on Monday nights.
austinstevewk2_005_001.jpg
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin reinvented sports entertainment.


Another hard decision was to place The Rock over Russo in terms of most influential. I’ll explain Russo’s case below, but The Rock did a great job for three years. Someone decided to give The Rock the ball and roll with it for almost five years. The Rock was not a technical wrestler, but he was a great talker and entertainer. He was the right man for the right job at the time because the WWF was changing. The term “entertainment” was being thrown around and The Rock was perfect in his role. It was his microphone skills and entertaining skits that made him popular, not his in-ring style. The Rock is a very smart person who had connections with the right people. That’s why he took his great acting skills from the WWE to Hollywood. His feud with Steve Austin is what made him even more powerful.


Monday Night War Fact: May 27, 1996 – It was actually nine years ago this week that Scott Hall invaded Nitro. With the Internet growing at the time and wrestling websites were at a minimal, fans thought that the WWF sent Hall to WCW to declare war. It was WCW that came up with that hot angle. Raw still beat Nitro that night, but things would change three weeks later.



Vince Russo gets ranked next for numerous reasons. There’s a reason why he is not above The Rock and that’s because of his fallout in WCW. I understand that Russo was not allowed to do certain things that he did for the WWF during the Attitude era. In the WWF, he had more creative ideas and basically he was running McMahon’s ship at one point. He was responsible for Sable revealing her bare breasts on pay-per-view. Russo came out with some great ideas, but he didn’t receive full credit for some great storylines that made mid-carders look good. He gave several mid-carders an opportunity to shine on Raw.

Behind the scenes, The Undertaker was a very good leader in the locker room. During the Monday Night War, Taker needed a gimmick change in order to keep a fresh character. Taker’s “dead man” gimmick was stale and returned as a biker in 2000. At the time, Taker didn’t have anything to lose. He knew that he was aging, but still had fresh feuds to work with younger stars. The WWF didn’t have anything to lose because at the time of the gimmick change, the WWF was already dominating on Monday nights. Taker does take some credit for the success of the WWF and his behind the scenes actions is what made the WWF look good today.
taker.jpg
The Undertaker brought high morale to the locker room during Monday Night War era.


Shawn Michaels was mostly injured during the Monday Night War era, but did a lot for the business when he was around. At first, Michaels was placed as the Raw MVP when he had an eight-month title reign in 1996. Michaels didn’t have a great year in 1997 (compared to 1996) because at the time, he was getting a lot of heat backstage. He had problems with Bret Hart at the time and was nursing injuries. Michaels also started something that would make a great impact for the rest of the Monday Night War. Michaels formed Degeneration X and did their backstage antics in the ring. That’s when the real “Attitude” began and Michaels was responsible for it. Michaels wrestled his last match of the Monday Night era at WrestleMania XIV. After that, he made several appearances as referee and commissioner. Do you think Michaels would be in this stage of his career if it weren’t for his injuries that put him out for four years?


Monday Night War Fact: Eric Bischoff and WCW outsmarted the WWF on October 26, 1998. WCW decided to feature the entire match between Dallas Page and Goldberg from Halloween Havoc during Nitro. Most fans tuned in to see the match and decided not to flip back to Raw. That was the last time that Nitro won a ratings battle against Raw in the history of this Monday Night War.



Jim Ross is the most underrated in this list due to the fact that he was the head of talent relations. JR was not only on commentary every Monday night, but also made sure that everything clicked backstage. JR was basically Vince’s right hand and did a very good job with it. Yes, we know they had their differences at some point, but JR was there to pick up the pieces. Ross was the reason why Jeff Jarrett left to WCW. He was also the reason why some wrestlers signed and left the WWF during a hot period. So, it was not about “slobber knocker” or “hellfire and brimstone”, it was about his character backstage.

Mick Foley was mostly in the WWF during the Monday Night Wars. He didn’t compete against them because he was wrestling for ECW. During the first year of the Monday Night War, Foley’s character was not taking off as planned. Then, the following year, Jim Ross sat down with Foley in a very good interview that will change his character for the rest of his career. Foley did a lot for the WWF after that. The hardcore style of the WWF was at its peak and Foley took some bumps to attract viewers. Not only was he the king of hardcore, but also he was entertaining. He delivered some great promos and did some great skits with Al Snow, The Rock, and Vince McMahon. Foley deserves to be on this list.

Triple H was always the “player of the game” like they say, but he was emerging when the WWF was already kicking ass against WCW. The success of Triple H from late-1999 until present time was mainly due to his lovely wife Stephanie and father-in-law Vince McMahon. If not for Stephanie, Hunter may still be in mid-card status. You can also say that Michaels helped Hunter reach to superstardom, but he doesn’t deserve full credit. Hunter also did his part by taking the MSG incident as a punishment and worked his way up again to prove that he is a player of the game. Is he the ranked higher today? Of course he is. But today is a different era. You might call it, The Triple H era.

Bret Hart deserves great mention as #10 because of the Montreal Screwjob. Yes, he was a great technical wrestler and took part of one of the greatest angles in the WWF with the Hart Foundation. The controversial finish is what changed both parties in this situation. McMahon received heat for such action and Bret was never the same when he went to WCW. Don’t know where would he stand if he didn’t have beef with Vince.


Monday Night War Fact: July 6, 1998 – WWF Raw always had a huge disadvantage when they were taped going head-to-head with a live Nitro. On Nitro, you had Bill Goldberg hitting the spear on WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan, and then winning the WCW Title. On Raw, you had The Undertaker dressed as Kane. You knew that most of the people read the ***spoilers*** that night about Taker, but there was no ***spoiler*** in Goldberg shocking the world by defeating Hogan.



***

Who do you think are the Top 10 Most Influential People from WCW? – Send them in here: octaviofierros@yahoo,com

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