The Monday Night War, a period of intense rivalry between the World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) "Raw" and World Championship Wrestling's (WCW) "Nitro," marked a significant shift in the landscape of professional wrestling.
Eric Bischoff, the former WCW executive, was a key figure during this era. One of his most significant actions occurred on January 4, 1999, when he ordered commentator Tony Schiavone to reveal the pre-recorded ending of "Raw" on live television.
The aim was to sabotage the WWE's ratings, but the plan backfired as fans tuned in to watch Mankind defeat The Rock for the WWE Championship, and "Raw" gained a strong upper hand in ratings from that point on. During a recent episode of the "What Happened When" podcast, renowned wrestling announcer Schiavone provided insights into the atmosphere.
He disliked the extended three-hour "Nitro" broadcasts, a sentiment many of his colleagues shared. Schiavone believes that the longer format likely hurt their ratings, although he admits he is not an expert in the field.
Bischoff's Vow to Defeat McMahon
One major drawback of the three-hour shows was their toll on Schiavone's voice.
He nostalgically remarked, "God, I wish my voice was as good as it was back then." In addition to the physical strain, the longer broadcasts led to heated discussions during talent meetings. Schiavone vividly recalled when Bischoff passionately declared his intentions to destroy Vince McMahon, WWE's Chairman and CEO.
Schiavone recounted, "I remember it like it was yesterday. Eric had a meeting in catering with everybody and said these words: 'I will not rest until I've driven a stake through the heart of Vince McMahon.' I don't know if he remembers that or even acknowledges that he said that, but there's no doubt in my mind he said it." The Monday Night War was a period of fierce competition that ultimately benefited the wrestling industry.
It pushed both WWE and WCW to innovate and produce captivating content for their audiences. Bischoff's aggressive tactics, such as the infamous January 4 incident and the expansion of "Nitro" to three hours, may have contributed to WCW's eventual demise.
However, they also played a significant role in shaping the wrestling landscape during that era. In retrospect, the animosity between Bischoff and McMahon drove the entertainment value and success of the Monday Night War. Today, both wrestling icons have made their peace and moved on from the past, but their rivalry remains an indelible part of professional wrestling history.
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