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1) Luger Arrives
Lex Luger worked a WWF house show on September 3rd 1995. The next night he walked out on the debut of WCW Monday Nitro. Having tread water in the WWF for the better part of the year, he instantly became a big deal in WCW and was the perfect first barrel for WCW in the war.
2) Luger vs Hogan
The WWF guy vs the guy WWF tried to replace him with. For a match of potentially such magnitude and intrigue for WCW to do it on one week’s notice might be seen as folly. But with Luger a man of seemingly ever diminishing returns, and WCW wanting a blockbuster main event for their first head to head show. It set a tone.
3) Big Matches Everywhere
For the two years prior to starting this project, both the WWF (even with Raw) and WCW presented what to one degree or another would be seen as quite old school television – dominated by squash matches. The debut of Nitro saw WCW rip apart that idea, and WWF quickly followed suit. The opening Raw ended with Shawn Michaels vs Sid, the final Raw of the month ended with Undertaker vs Bulldog. Not surprisingly, more big matches did not = more clean finishes. But you may have already seen that coming…
4) “If You’re Thinking Of Turning The Channel…”
The second WCW Monday Nitro was the first that went head to head with Monday Night Raw. With Raw in the can long before September 11th, results of the matches were already know. Eric Bischoff, wanting to set the tone, said this: “In case you’re tempted to grab the remote control and check out the competition, don’t bother, it’s three weeks old. Shawn Michaels beat the big guy with the superkick”.
5) $100,000 For A New Intro?
The WWF didn’t arrive to this gunfight unarmed, however. Oh no. They filmed a rather expensive new intro video for Raw. It did cost them a small fortune, at the time they were losing money, and it was edited together so poorly that the effects of the helicopter shots aimed at the top of Titan tower (where it was filmed) was lost. Should it also be said the word “intro” is the word “Nitro” with the letters re-arranged?
6) Bait And Switch
Headed into WWF In Your House 3, WWF promised that a title “must” change hands in the main event that featured the tag champions Yokozuna and Owen Hart against WWF Champion Diesel and Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels. Owen was removed from the match, then pinned anyway – but we saw a title change hands, right? 24 hours later on Raw the show opened, reversing the decision. Owen and Yokozuna were reinstated as tag champions.
7) Make A Splash? New Tag Champions
Owen and Yokozuna lost the titles 24 hours after “losing” them at In Your House, being defeated by The Smoking Gunns on Raw. Over in WCW, Harlem Heat, having won the titles at Fall Brawl (you may be noticing a pattern here) walked out on the opening of Monday Nitro and randomly offered The American Males a title shot. Did the newly formed Males win? Of course they did. Title changes = ratings, right?
8) A Giant Impression
WCW up until this stage had done an indifferent job building The Giant as part of the Dungeon of Doom, but in September things we up a few gears. An impressive night at Fall Brawl, The Giant interfered in the match on Nitro between Randy Savage and Dungeon Of Doom co-hort The Taskmaster. Giant interfered and chokeslammed everything in sight, including Lex Luger. The dye had been cast.
9) Some TV Time For Brian Pillman
It would be an odd coincidence of timing, but in the same month where Steve Austin was released it’s almost like WCW remembered that Brian Pillman existed. Pillman wrestled in the first ever Nitro match against Jushin Thunder Liger, then had a stellar outing at Fall Brawl, Pillman interfered in the match siding with Arn Anderson. Come to the following Nitro, and Pillman’s leading an in-ring promo segment alongside Anderson.
10) Some Hope For The Dean?
Shane Douglas’ time in the WWF was brief, but September offered a glimmer of hope as part of a (relatively) complex triangle program alongside The 123 Kid and Razor Ramon. Douglas interfered, causing friction between the two friends. It was only onwards and upwards for The Dean, right?
There was little sign of let-ups headed into October. WCW had taken two sure fire Halloween Havoc matches in Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson and Lex Luger vs Randy Savage – and added them to the first Nitro in October. How could the WWF possibly keep up?