The rating war was part of a larger overall struggle between the two companies, originating in personal animosity between WWF owner Vince McMahon and then-owner of WCW, Ted Turner. The rivalry between the companies steadily escalated throughout the 1990s to include the use of cutthroat tactics and the defections of employees between the two companies. While WCW was the dominant company for much of the mid-1990s, a variety of factors coalesced to turn the tide in the WWF's favor at the end of the decade, including a radical rebranding of their formerly family-friendly product to highly sexualized and violent shows geared toward older teens and adults. WCW ultimately ran into financial difficulties as a result of the amount of money they had promised wrestlers during a hiring binge in the early and middle part of the decade, which had been aimed at acquiring large portions of the WWF's talent roster. Despite efforts to salvage itself, it was ultimately sold to Vince McMahon on March 23rd, 2001, ending the Monday Night Wars in the favor of WWF.
With the end of the feud between the two companies, no other company has ever emerged as a viable competitor to WWE dominance in the market, and the buying of WCW would change the course of the entire industry of professional wrestling.
Yet what if Ted Turner’s WCW was the winner of the Monday Night Wars? Instead of WrestleMania being the biggest event of the Wrestling Year, it’s Starrcade. Where wrestling fans in the United States turn their TVs on Monday Nights to TNT to watch Nitro instead of USA to watch Raw. Where Eric Bischoff, is considered the Master Mind who decided the course of professional wrestling heading into the New Millennium.
And What happens to ECW, TNA, Ring of Honor, and the men and women who would make wrestling their career?
Points of Difference
1. Shawn Michaels Goes into business for Himself
OTL WrestleMania XIV was the WWF biggest pay-per-view event of the year, which took place on March 29, 1998 at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts.The PPV is remembered for the involvement of boxer Mike Tyson, who acted as a ring enforcer for the main event title match between Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the WWF World Heavyweight Champion Shawn Michaels. This would begin Steve Austin's first WWF Championship Title reign after his victory, against Shawn Michaels (who performed despite a severe injury). This is often cited as the "official" beginning of the Attitude Era. Which would help WWF win the Monday Night Wars, buy out WCW, and become the standard of wrestling today.
POD Shawn Michaels suffering back pains, disliking Steve Austin, and believing this will be his final wrestling match, decides he will not go out on his back and lose in front of the world. Halfway through the match Michaels low blows Steve Austin, runs out the ring to grabs his title, and exits the arena through the crowd. With Mike Tyson, looking completely confused by the sense before him.
Comments made later on from people who were backstage during the event claim that Vince McMahon, the Undertaker (Mark Calaway), and the majority of WWE Management were "ready to kill Michaels".
The next night on Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon would announce that he was stripping the WWF title from Michaels, and would hold a tournament to crown the new WWF World Heavyweight champion. Steve Austin would win the championship at Unforgiven (April 26, 1998) in the main event against the Undertaker, but by that time Austin had lost all his momentum he had made with the viewers. During the following months many fans would turn their back on WWF feeling that the company was trying to force them to like Austin, who didn't really earn the Title. With fans turning from the WWF WCW would continue its dominance in the Monday Night Wrestling rating wars.
In late 1998 WWF would continue to suffer loses in its ratings, ticket buys, merchandising, and stocks. This would lead to many of the young up and coming wrestlers to head to Atlanta for WCW, instead of New York for WWF.
2. Goldberg says "No!"
OTL Monday January 4, 1999 is considered by many to be the night that WCW died. The company made two separate mistakes. WCW Nitro commentator Tony Schiavone would often spoil the WWF episodes to the television audience because Monday Night Raw was taped beforehand, while Monday Night Nitro was a live broadcast. This night Tony would tell the audience that Mankind (Mick Foley) would beat the Rock for the WWF Championship on their rival’s broadcast. This would lead to reportedly 600,000 viewers to change channels in order to see Foley's victory, with most viewers only tuning back in to Nitro when there were five minutes left in the broadcast.
Also, later during the night, WCW would have the infamous “Fingrpoke of Doom”. The incident occurred during the main event, featuring WCW World Heavyweight Champion Kevin Nash, who was the leader of the Wolfpac faction of the New World Order, defending the world title against Hollywood Hulk Hogan, the leader of the Hollywood faction of the nWo, with whom Nash and his group had been feuding since April 1998. The match saw Nash shoving Hogan in the corner, then Hogan would poke Nash in the chest with his finger, prompting Nash to theatrically throw himself onto the mat and allow Hogan to pin him; the victory marked the reunion of both nWo factions. This would lead to fans feeling burned out by WCW and many of them would turn their back on the company.
POD January 3, 1999. Goldberg reads the script for Monday’s episode of Nitro and sees the planned storyline of him being accused of stalking Miss Elizabeth and being arrested. Goldberg felt that this was in “Bad Taste” and believed the Hogan/Nash match was going to be seen as nothing more than a joke, and so he refused to play ball. He would be quoted telling Eric Bischoff “The fans want to see me get my rematch, not playing a damn cop drama.” Nash would soon drop the finger poke idea and the writing staff would begin doing rewrites. This would lead to the entire angle being cut from the episode.
Instead Goldberg would get his scheduled rematch with Kevin Nash for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Time was now needed to have room for the new main event, Among the cuts for the match, was a Nitro Girl segment and the Bam Bam Bigelow vs Wrath match. The episode would have Ric Flair who had Kayfabe control of the company, had banned Nash’s nWo Wolfpac from ringside during the title match. Goldberg vs Nash was going well, and the crowd was firmly invested. Even though it was certainly not going to be remembered as a “classic” it was considered better than their Starrcade match they had two weeks before. Goldberg seemed like he was going to win back his title after he lifted Nash for his Jackhammer finishing move, but before he could deliver it, Hulk Hogan would hit him in the back with a chair, and then the entire nWo Hollywood would attack Goldberg getting Nash disqualified, but allowing him to keep his title. Goldberg would fight back, but the numbers were too great, and he was soon outmatched. The nWo Wolfpac would come to the ring to join in on the beat down of Goldberg, and the episode would end with Hogan raising Nash’s hand showing the nWo was back together again.
With Nitro dominating the ratings throughout 1998 as Raw’s rating continued to sink, WCW management felt that Mick Foley title win was unimportant and decided not to have Tony Schiavone bring up the WWF title change.
WCW News and Headlines
- November 5th, 2018 Nitro
Buff Bagwell announces that at Starrcade he'll be facing either Samoa Joe or AJ Styles for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
- October 28th, 2018 WCW Halloween Havoc
Tonight, at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota was WCW Halloween Havoc pay-per-view, main event by the Shooter Tournament’s semi-final and finals. Bo Rotundo would defeat Cody Rhodes in the qualify opening match to enter the finals to face Buff Bagwell who had defeated former WCW North American Champion Braun Strowman in an upset victory. Buff Bagwell would beat Bo Rotundo following Alex Rotundo’s surprise betrayal of his younger brother Bo. Rontundo would lay out both Bo, and Bagwell as the show closed out.
Other Matches of the night includes Bobby Lashley retaining his WCW North American Heavyweight Championship against nWo member Cody Hall by referee stoppage, Samoa Joe would retain his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles by disqualification, Thunder's GM Daffney announced on Twitter a No DQ rematch for the world title at the Survival PPV in November. Austin Creed retained his Cruiserweight Championship against Shane Helms, Tessa Blanchard retaining her WCW Women's Championship against Ashley Flair, Karl Anderson beating Antonio Cesaro for the WCW European Championship, and Curt Hennig Jr. vs. Big E ending in a double count out.
- September 16th, 2018 WCW Fall Brawl
This evening at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX was the much anticipated WCW Fall Brawl pay-per-view. It was main evented by the traditional WarGames Match between Team nWo represented by Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks (Matthew and Nicholas Massie), and Cody Hall facing The Rotundo Brothers (Alex, and Bo Rotundo) along with Big E, and Curtis Hennig Jr. It seemed that The Brothers+ were going to pick up the victory, until WCW President Jeff Jarrett interfered, ordered Big E to take out his teammates. This betrayal and abuse of power would allow Rhodes to pick up the victory for nWo by pinning Hennig.
Other Matches of the night were Antonio Cesaro beating Cedric Alexander in the opening match of WCW's Shooter Tournament, Randy Orton retaining his United States Championship against Jeff Hardy, Austin Creed retains the Cruiserweight Championship against former champion TJP, Tessa Blanchard winning the WCW Women's Title from champion Ashley Flair, Bobby Lashley retaining the North American Heavyweight Championship against Braun Strowman, and Samoa Joe win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from AJ Styles for his fourth reign as champion.
This and other missteps would lead to dropping ticket sales, and low TV ratings which would lead to Vince McMahon selling the WWF to Ted Turner on July 2, 2000.
- August 19th, 2018 WCW's SummerSlaughter
Tonight at the Georgia Dome, Bobby Lashley ends Braun Strowman's historic longest title reign in the company history when he won the North American Heavyweight Championship. Strowman's reign ended at 476 days. Other matches include AJ Styles retrain the World Heavyweight Championship against Samoa Joe, Ashley Flair retain the Women's Title against Tessa Blanchard, and Austin Creed winning the Cruiserweight Championship from TJP in a fatal four-way. (also included Cedric Alexander and Brain Kendrick.)