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Turned up, in this case, is probably the most accurate turn of phrase. A week prior Luger was wrestling pre-tape matches for WWF Superstars, losing by disqualification in the main event to King Mabel. A week prior at Summerslam he ran in during the main event, running off Sir Mo during Mabel's match against Diesel. This all, however, came at the backdrop of Luger's contract running down with the company. He was essentially working without a contract. The night before the first Nitro he was working a WWF house show, that's how close it got.
On the flip side of all this was Bischoff probably not being massively desperate to sign Luger. While the company was quite happy to hoover up all of the WWF 80's talent at the behest of Hulk Hogan, Luger as a WWF failure and former WCW talent wasn't massively high on the priority list. But while Bischoff wasn't necessarily all that keen, Luger had an ally in close friend Sting. The friendship got Luger as far as talks with Bischoff. Bischoff, knowing what WCW had been paying him a few years earlier, offered Luger a contract so low he largely expected him to turn it down. While it probably wasn't at the level of his WWF deal, any new deal Luger would get in the WWF would no doubt reflect his lower position in the middle of the roster.
The other moving part in all of this was Vader. Vader got into a fight with Paul Orndorff, five days before the first Nitro. For all the faults of WCW after Hogan arrived, Vader was always there or there abouts in the main event, and despite a recent face turn was still in a program with Hogan. The hook on the first Nitro was set to be to setup Vader vs Hogan for the second Nitro for the WCW World Title – crucially that second show would be the first that went head to head with Monday Night Raw. But after fight with Orndorff, Vader was sent home and suspended (before ultimately being let go). WCW needed a replacement.
READ MORE: Before The Monday Night War
So fast forward to September 4th and Luger arrived in Minneapolis having worked a WWF house show the day before. Very few people knew he was coming, and he literally just walked out in the first half of the show, during a match between Sting and Ric Flair. In many ways it was the perfect act for the opening night of WCW Monday Nitro – showing the audience that anything could happen and big names might appear. The fact that Luger had been a part of WWF storylines just days earlier made it all the sweeter.
Luger reappeared at the end of the program as Hulk Hogan was fighting off an attack from the Dungeon Of Doom. Not for the first time, Hogan actually didn't need any help fighting off the faction – but help he still got. Luger ran them off before "accidentally" bumping into Hogan. They squared off and Mean Gene Okerlund got into the ring. Luger, showing more fire on a microphone than he had in two years, told Hogan he was tired of wrestling nobodies and wanted to be "Where The Big Boys Play" - a line WCW had been pushing hard leading up to Nitro's debut. Hogan offered Luger a world title match the following week, Luger accepted.
It was a great strike by WCW. Luger and Hogan had barely crossed paths – both featured on the King Of The Ring 1993 show, but Hogan was wrestling his final show for the company, Luger still on his debut – still as a heel. It’d be just weeks later that the Luger character pivoted into the all American babyface. For WCW, there was something quite symbolic about bringing Luger in and facing Hogan. It was a far bigger matchup that the WWF were capable of or willing to put Lex in, and it showed. The touch paper for the Monday Night War had just been lit.