The SmarK Rant for The MONDAY NIGHT WAR – Episode 2
“The Rise of the nWo”
I know I should just stop watching this show before it REALLY makes me all angry, but my whole deal is that I’m a glutton for punishment, so I feel like I have little choice here but to continue on with it until the bitter end.
Plus it’s still better than Smackdown.
So let us take you back to the early 90s, as WCW signed up a bunch of big names. WWE superstar Cody Rhodes drops in to note that “it’s almost like it was cheating!” Oh there’s some irony for you right in the first minute.
Ted Turner was a competitive guy, so Vince had to come up with a new series of even better superstars and top guys to compete, in this case Diesel and Razor Ramon. Really, Razor was a “new guy”? He was pretty much on the way out of the promotion by the time Nitro launched. Anyway, apparently Diesel and Ramon helped RAW maintain ratings momentum in early 1996, but everyone else was failing. This gives us a montage of Mantaur, Doink, Jeff Jarrett and the pig farmers.
Shockingly, WCW was not perfect, either! I’m gonna need some balm to soothe the burn from this scorching hot take. This gives us a series of highlights of Kevin Nash failing to get over in WCW previously as the Master Blaster and Oz and Vinnie Vegas. Big Kev says he was happy in the WWF and had no desire to leave, but Bischoff was just throwing around too much money to say no. In particular Hall was offered $1.2 million for 120 dates. Nash got a similar offer and took it to Vince, offering to stay if Vince would match, but Vince was just unable to guarantee a contract at that point.
Memorial Day 1996 sees Hall jump the railing on Nitro and vaguely inferring that he was part of a WWF invasion. We get a bunch of soundbites from WWE guys pointing out that the internet wasn’t a thing back in 1996 and no one knew that their contracts were up. Could this show BE any more full of shit? Everyone knew full well what was going on, they did a fucking CURTAIN CALL before they left and talked about them leaving the promotion on WWF TV! The angle worked because it was awesomely done, not because fans were stupid rubes who didn’t know better about complex concepts like “contracts”. I mean, yeah, a lot of the fans WERE stupid rubes, if we’re being honest here, but that wasn’t the primary driving force.
Bischoff talks about doing everything different from the WWF as much as he could, not having stupid cartoon characters like the garbage man and stuff. Again, Big Bubba and his allergy to the invisible rabbit says BULLSHIT. Speaking of bullshit, Nash talks about how “two WWE guys” held off the entire WCW promotion with a baseball bat and thus that made WCW look like chumps because it was basically showing how superior the WWE was.
So Vince drops by in a soundbite talking about how his lawyers sued Turner over perceived trademark infringement with Hall’s vaguely Razor-like accent and mannerisms. To be fair, WCW did try to trademark “The Bad Guy” for Hall so they could get as close to his old name as legally possible, but couldn’t pull it off.
The Outsiders continued getting over while Hulk Hogan got less and less cool by the week. Bischoff went to Hogan’s house and tried to talk him into turning, but Hulk SHOWED HIM THE DOOR, brother! But then Kevin Sullivan pointed out that the WWF was built on anti-heroes, including “the dead guy” as the top babyface. Bischoff planned on Sting being the third guy, but then Hogan finally changed his mind and he was on board. Nash’s take: “Whoa, brother, that money train ain’t leaving without me on it!” OK, that made me laugh pretty hard.
Bash at the Beach goes down and Hulk Hogan comes out to save Macho Man and then turns on him and the business explodes. Vince notes this was “pretty clever”. Hall was pretty impressed with being in the ring during a rain of garbage for the first time. Nash: “I had to clip a guy, some fat drunk who ran into the ring. I think Hall kicked him in the head.” At this point Hogan figured out they had some HEAT and he was glad to be in that role.
This of course revitalized the career of Hulk Hogan and turned him into the biggest heel in the business and one of the biggest ever. And of course the group was now the New World Order, ratings juggernaut and merchandise machine. The WWF’s counterattack: Tease that Razor Ramon and Diesel are coming back to the WWF. Nash points out that WCW execs were so stupid that they actually thought that this was a real thing. They just put bigger contracts with more money in front of Hall and Nash and demanded that they sign them immediately. Nash of course was like “Well OK then…” and did so. And then “Razor” and “Diesel” debuted and Jim Ross admits that this was probably a mistake. Apparently this showed that the WWF was still stuck on formulas of the past. But just 10 minutes ago they said that it was all about new stars and making anti-heroes like Undertaker! I’m very confused.
Bischoff talks about how the Outsiders would do dangerous shit in the backstage trucks like the lawn dart spot and it came off as “this isn’t supposed to be happening”, but all this stuff is before the Hogan turn so the timeline is all over the place. Shocking I know. Dean Malenko points out that the nWo storyline was lifted from New Japan and that’s the only thing we hear about it.
Next up, we get some classic black and white nWo vignettes to look and feel different and stress that they were their own deal. And we talk about SOCIETY, as the nWo were the bad guys getting cheered, which apparently mirrored society. Nash: “I wouldn’t say were the Beatles, but we were at least Zeppelin”. He’s basically saving the show here. And then the nWo keeps adding members, leading up to Eric Bischoff revealing himself as the secret leader of the group.
Chris Jericho points out that the announcers never shut up about the nWo and pissed off all the midcarders who had to go out and get beat up by them. So then a bunch of geeks start joining the group until “there’s 30 guys popping out of a limo” according to DDP. This leads to nWo Souled Out, which they gloss over completely. This leads to the WWF changing their creative direction as we skip an entire year and move into 1998 with the rise of DX, basically leaving the story unfinished at this point.
God I feel like my head is gonna explode when we get to the DX episode. This episode was 40 pounds of bullshit stuffed into a 5 pound bag as it is and was just a series of picking and choosing points and timelines to put together whatever narrative they were going for in that segment. Also, Daniel Bryan’s hair and beard were ALL OVER THE PLACE here as they spliced together about 5 different interviews with him and it was driving me nuts by the end. Anyway, this show is hot garbage that will make you feel dumber for even bothering to watch it and you know I’m gonna have to finish getting through all 15 episodes or however many it is now.