MONDAY NIGHT WAR CLASSICS – Week 3: Which Route Should Lex Express Take? (09/18/95)
WWE Monday Night Raw Highlight of the Night
It was difficult selecting the highlight of the night for Monday Night Raw because the show was taped. (I’m going to go more in-detail next week with how WCW has the upper hand when airing live shows.) If I had to pick a highlight for the September 18, 1995 edition of Raw it would be the hype to the first ever triple threat match. Since this was the last Raw leading to their two-hour In Your House pay-per-view, Diesel and Shawn Michaels vowed to win the tag team titles from Owen Hart and Yokozuna. What makes this match interesting is that all four major titles are on the line. What makes it even more interesting is that Owen or Yokozuna might fight each other to see who gets the pinfall victory over WWE Champion Diesel or IC Champion Michaels. In other words, Owen might want to stay in the ring to get the pinfall victory to win one of the singles titles. It would make more sense if the wrestler who gets the pinfall wins the WWE Title and the partner gets the IC Title. Still, the hype was good, but it’s bound to be a one-match show on a two-hour event.
WCW Monday Nitro Highlight of the Night
The highlight of the night was the “Total Package” Lex Luger’s role at the War Games pay-per-view. Luger decided to side with Hogan’s team at War Games and Hogan accepted. Randy Savage did not like Hogan’s decision because Luger was not trusted after not helping Hogan from the Dungeon of Doom attack last week on Nitro. In this episode of Nitro, Luger’s role is still not clear. Is he on Hogan’s side or the Dungeon of Doom? Luger did clear some air, stating that he came to WCW to win the World Title. Savage and Luger are ready to feud with each other in coming weeks. I like where they are heading with Luger’s character, but its looks like that is the only way Hogan will avoid losing the title to the “Total Package”.
WWE Raw won the ratings in the second week of head-to-head battle with a 2.5 rating compared to Nitro’s 2.4 rating. It was close due to WWE leading to a pay-per-view in contrast to WCW coming off a PPV. The big storyline/feud leading to the PPV is Shawn Michaels & Diesel vs. Owen Hart & Yokozuna, as that match will headline the In Your House PPV. That tag team match will have a lot at stake as all three major titles will be on the line. That’s the first time in WWE history that all three titles will be on the line in one match. The match might have a lot at stake, but the undercard doesn’t look that good. It’s going to be interesting how the main event will save the pay-per-view from a disaster.
The main storyline in WCW was if Luger can be trusted heading into War Games. Hogan teamed up with Randy Savage, Sting, and Luger to face The Dungeon of Doom. Sting wanted Luger in the team, but Savage didn’t trust Luger. Hogan was the middleman and was still undecided leading to the match. Luger didn’t turn heel during the event, but the most newsworthy event from that match was The Giant appearing to attack Hogan. The Giant would go on to become one of the top stars in WCW. On Monday Nitro, The Giant cut a promo on Hogan, bragging that he was the true immortal in wrestling. The Giant had flashbacks on how his “father” (supposedly Andre the Giant) put his hands on Hogan during their early days. Hogan didn’t appear on this edition of Nitro and Bischoff announced that there was an update on Hogan’s condition. The update was never given.
Editorial: Luger’s Departure Makes British Bulldog Top Heel in Fall Season
Lex Luger’s departure did make favors for the WWE and their management as the British Bulldog became one of the top heels in the business in just weeks playing that role. Bulldog had turned on WWE Champion Diesel in a tag team match against Men on a Mission. Bulldog’s heel turn was going to lead to a match against Luger if he didn’t depart. Instead, Luger left and that leads to a title shot for Bulldog against Diesel.
The Bulldog has wrestled as a babyface for his entire WWE career, dating back to his tag team days in 1986 when he captured gold with partner Dynamite Kid. The British Bulldogs wrestled together for almost three years. After the separation, Bulldog returned to the WWE and joined the singles ranks. He won the IC Title from Bret Hart at SummerSlam ’92 in what was Bulldog’s best match of his wrestling career. His IC Title reign was cut short by Shawn Michaels. Bulldog left the WWE and joined WCW to feud with Vader and align with Sting. Bulldog worked for WCW for a year until he returned to the WWE in 1994 when he joined forces with Bret Hart in his feud with his brother Owen. Since then, Bulldog has been off and on in the ring and never received a push until his heel turn in August 1995.
The Bulldog’s heel turn also help a roster that doesn’t have consistent heels in 1995. The top heel in the WWE during this time was King Mabel and he is not a top draw. Jeff Jarrett was one of the best heels (gimmick and in-ring), but quit the WWE in July when he walked out of the business. Psycho Sid was a good heel, but that’s thanks to Ted DiBiase who guided him to mid-card feuds with Marty Jannetty and Bam Bam Bigelow. The Bulldog’s feud with Diesel was cut very short because he was used to revive the Diesel-Bret match at Survivor Series 1995 (Diesel and Bret had wrestled to a no-contest at the Royal Rumble ’95) and also led to a bloodbath of a match against Bret for the WWE Title. Bret settled the score against Bulldog to retain the WWE Title. As for Bulldog, he joined brother-in-law Owen Hart to become one of the most successful tag teams in 1996, capturing tag team titles twice.
Monday Night Wars Key Players
The following wrestlers wrestled on WWE Monday Night Raw and WCW Monday Nitro this particular week (September 18, 1995). Somehow, these wrestlers made an impact on the Monday Night Wars: (They signed with the rival company during this era)
The 123 Kid (real name: Sean Waltman) was part of WCW during the beginning stages of ratings domination over the WWE. The Kid (who became Syxx in WCW) came in as a more mature heel rather than an underdog babyface like his beginning days in the WWE. Syxx quickly joined Scott Hall and Kevin Nash (they were best friends in the WWE behind the scenes) as the New World Order. He was part of the cruiserweight division and also captured the title. Waltman’s contract was terminated when he was injured. He left WCW in a controversial way when Eric Bischoff sent his termination letter via Fed Ex. Syxx didn’t like the way he was terminated and quickly ended up with the WWE. Upon his WWE return, X-Pac (his WWE name) ripped on Bischoff live on Raw. He also had something to say to Hulk Hogan. X-Pac never liked Hogan because he was always hogging the spotlight, which was true. X-Pac wrestled for the WWE in his second stint for four more years.
Shane Douglas played the “dean” character in the WWE. He would give low grades to wrestlers, specifically babyfaces. At one point, Dean Douglas decided to give Razor Ramon a bad grade and that’s how this feud started. Douglas was not himself, though. In ECW, Douglas had a mean streak and was one of the best talkers in the business. Once he jumped to the WWE, his character was stale and ran its course fast. By the end of 1995, Douglas was gone from the WWE and went back to ECW. Shane went to WCW during their last months with the company and was also underutilized there.
Jean Pierre Lafitte (played Pierre as part of the Quebecers with Jacques Rougeau) wrestled for the WWE for two years. He captured the WWE tag team titles on several occasions. After Jacques departed, Pierre stayed with the company and joined the singles ranks. His singles career was cut short when he played a “thief” gimmick in a feud with Bret Hart. He left in late-1995 and signed with WCW with partner Jacques. The Quebecers came back in 1998 and had a brief run there. Jacques was also remembered for defeating Hulk Hogan in Montreal. One of the rare times Hogan has ever put someone over in their home crowd.
Johnny B. Badd was one of the most underrated performers in WCW. Along with Kimberly Page (Diamond Dallas Page’s wife), he captured the TV title. Badd went to the WWE and made his debut with his wife Rena Mero (Sable) at WrestleMania XII when he attacked Triple H. Triple H blamed Sable for losing to the Ultimate Warrior and Mero interfered to save Sable, who later became his manager. Mero is one of the few wrestlers to promise he will retire if he loses a match. On the November 30, 1998 Raw, Mero vowed to retire if he loses to Duane Gill. He lost and never was seen in the WWE again.
This Week in Monday Night War History
(April 3-9, 2011)
Monday Night War Scoreboard
WCW Monday Nitro 1, WWE Monday Night Raw 1
That’s it for this week in Monday Night War Classics. Tune in next week for Monday Night War Classics Week 4 – Triple Header Leads to Double Wins (09/25/95)