Monday Night Wars is the common term describing the period of mainstream televised American professional wrestling from September 4, 1995, to March 26, 2001. During this time the World Wrestling Federation's Monday Night Raw went head-to-head with World Championship Wrestling's Monday Nitro in a battle for Nielsen ratings each week.
The ratings war was part of a larger overall struggle between the two companies, which included the use of cutthroat tactics and the legitimate defections of several wrestlers and writers between the two companies. Extreme Championship Wrestling, while not a party to the ratings battle, was also involved as a tertiary player. It ended with the sale of WCW by its parent company, AOL Time Warner, to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc.
By the early 1980s, cable television was rising and one genre of programming responsible for this was professional wrestling, which was relatively cheap to produce and scored high ratings. When Atlanta TV station WTCG (now WTBS) became a superstation by the late 1970s, its Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) program reached a national audience. Though based in Atlanta, the company also ran live wrestling shows throughout its geographic "territory" of Georgia (the American professional wrestling industry was a patchwork of self-contained, regional and sub-regional companies – there was no single, nation-wide promotion at the time). GCW was affiliated with what had been the world's top sanctioning body of championship titles for decades before, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
The company's TV show, hosted by Gordon Solie, was recorded in one of WTBS' studios at 1050 Techwood Drive, in downtown Atlanta. Shows were taped before a small (yet enthusiastic), live, in-studio audience, as were most professional wrestling TV shows of that era. They featured wrestling matches, plus melodramatic monologues and inter-character confrontations, similar to the programming offered by other territories, including the Northeast-based WWF. GCW's show, which aired on Saturday evenings, was complemented by a Sunday evening edition. Jack and Gerald Brisco had major stakes in the organization, while Ole Anderson was head booker and was basically in charge of operations.
In 1983, the WWF started its own cable show called WWF All American Wrestling, airing Sunday mornings on the USA Network. Later that year, the WWF debuted a second cable show, also on USA, called Tuesday Night Titans (TNT), a talk show spoof hosted by Vince McMahon (also the WWF owner) and Lord Alfred Hayes.
While still running steadily, both Briscos sold their entire stock in GCW (including the TV deal) to Vince McMahon, and on July 14, 1984 (otherwise known as "Black Saturday"), the WWF took over the GCW slot (by this time, GCW's TV show was entitled World Championship Wrestling). With this move, McMahon controlled all nationally-televised wrestling in the United States. However, the WWF show on TBS was a ratings disaster as GCW fans, disliking the cartoonish characters and storylines of the WWF, simply turned off their television sets. Two weeks after Black Saturday, GCW returned to TBS, albeit in an early-morning time slot.
Moreover, despite originally promising to produce original programming for the TBS time slot in Atlanta, McMahon chose instead to provide only a clip show for TBS, featuring highlights from other WWF programming as well as matches from house shows at Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, and other major arenas. This format would eventually be the cornerstone of the WWF Prime Time Wrestling (PTW) program. In May 1985, McMahon sold the TBS time slot to Jim Crockett Promotions, under heavy pressure from Ted Turner. This set up a rivalry between McMahon and Turner that would continue for 16 years.
That same year, PTW replaced TNT on USA Network, which expanded to two hours the format of the WWF's WTBS program. The most-remembered Prime Time format featured Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon introducing taped matches and analyzing them afterward, with Monsoon taking a neutral/babyface position and Heenan unashamedly cheering on the heels. The chemistry between Monsoon and Heenan made this show popular with fans for many years despite the fact it was not considered one of the WWF's "primary" shows for most of its history, and many other wrestling programs attempted to copy this formula, with varying degrees of success.
During a span of five months between November 1987 and March 1988, a bitter event-scheduling war broke out between Vince McMahon and another rival promoter, Jim Crockett, Jr. On Thanksgiving night 1987, McMahon's WWF aired Survivor Series on pay-per-view (PPV) against the National Wrestling Alliance's Starrcade, which Crockett marketed as NWA's answer to WrestleMania, despite Starrcade premiering two years prior to WrestleMania. However, many cable companies could only offer one live PPV event at a time. The WWF then threatened that any cable company that chose not to carry Survivor Series would not carry any WWF pay-per-views sixty days before and twenty-one days after the show. Therefore, the WWF PPV was cleared 10-1 over Starrcade, as only three cable companies opted to remain loyal to their contract with Crockett.
After this incident, the PPV industry warned McMahon not to schedule PPV events simultaneously with the NWA again. However, he was still not willing to fully cooperate with Crockett. On January 24, 1988, another scheduling conflict took place between the WWF and NWA: the NWA presented the Bunkhouse Stampede on PPV, while the WWF aired the Royal Rumble for free on the USA Network. Later that year, with the WWF's WrestleMania IV around the corner, Crockett decided to use McMahon's own tactics against him, developing his own PPV-caliber event and airing it for free on TBS opposite WrestleMania. The result was the Clash of Champions, which was later renamed Clash of the Champions. On March 27, 1988 – the same night as WrestleMania IV – the first Clash of Champions aired. This show made Sting a star after he wrestled NWA World Champion Ric Flair to a 45-minute draw. The NWA repeated the practice again the following year, with a Clash coinciding with the WWF's WrestleMania V. Although the main event saw NWA Champion Ricky Steamboat defeat Ric Flair in a best-of-three-falls match that lasted for almost an hour, ratings and attendance for the event fell well below expectations compared to WrestleMania V. Thus, the practice of conflicting major events would cease for six years.
Throughout the 1980s, Crockett had steadily bought out other NWA-affiliated promotions in an attempt to make his organization a national one similar to the WWF. As a result, the term "NWA" became virtually synonymous with Crockett's company, Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP), based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. By 1988, however, Crockett's acquisition spree had severely drained his coffers, and he was forced to sell the company to Ted Turner, whose TBS aired JCP television programs. Turner renamed the company World Championship Wrestling (WCW) after the popular former GCW show; it remained affiliated with the NWA until it seceded in 1993.
As 1993 began, Prime Time Wrestling was struggling in the ratings and was canceled. The show that succeeded Prime Time Wrestling changed how wrestling on cable TV would be presented when Monday Night Raw was launched on the USA Network in January 1993. The WWF decided that it should use its cable time as a showcase for original matches and storylines that would serve as the major build-up to the quarterly pay-per-view broadcasts. The original Raw broke new ground in televised professional wrestling. Traditionally, wrestling shows were taped on sound stages with small audiences or at large arena shows. The Raw formula was very different than that of its predecessor, Prime Time Wrestling: instead of taped matches, with studio voice-overs and taped chat, Raw was a show shot to a live audience, with storylines unfolding as they happened. The first episode featured Yokozuna defeating Koko B. Ware, The Steiner Brothers defeating The Executioners; WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels defeating Max Moon; and The Undertaker defeating Damien Demento. The show also featured an interview with Razor Ramon.
Raw originated from the The Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center Studios, a small New York City theater, and aired live each week. The combination of an intimate venue and live action proved highly successful. However, the weekly live schedule proved to be a financial drain on the WWF, and the company began taping shows. Sometimes up to a month's worth of shows were taped at a time.
In the same year as the premiere of Monday Night Raw, WCW promoted former commentator and American Wrestling Association (AWA) announcer/sales associate Eric Bischoff to the position of Executive Vice-President (essentially the head of the organization). Bischoff's first year at the top was mostly a disaster. Bookers Ole Anderson and Dusty Rhodes concocted cartoonish, unbelievable, and poorly built-up storylines (such as the "Lost in Cleveland" amnesia storyline involving Cactus Jack and the B-style "White Castle of Fear" and beach mini-movies used to build up the SuperBrawl III and Beach Blast PPV events respectively). The summer of 1993 saw Ric Flair return to WCW after his WWF tenure, but since Flair was constrained by a no-compete clause from his WWF contract, WCW gave him a talk show segment on its television shows called A Flair for the Gold. At Slamboree 1993, WCW promised a Four Horsemen reunion, but former WWF jobber Paul Roma replaced Tully Blanchard, who was rumored to have failed a drug test prior to leaving the WWF. Ole Anderson was on hand as the adviser but made only one appearance on A Flair for the Gold.
In another infamous incident that took place during A Flair For the Gold on a live Clash of the Champions building up the Fall Brawl pay-per-view, WCW decided to introduce a "mystery partner" for the babyfaces, a masked man known as The Shockmaster. The Shockmaster (Fred Ottman, previously known as Typhoon and Tugboat in the WWF) was supposed to crash through a fake wall and intimidate the heels. Instead, he tripped through the wall and fell on live television and briefly knocking off his helmet, rendering himself as a joke character (despite winning some matches).
Also that same year, WCW began taping matches months in advance for syndicated programming like WCW WorldWide from the Disney/MGM Studios in what would become known as the "Disney Tapings". Because the footage recorded would often be shown on television months later, the tapings often exposed bookings and storylines well in advance. WCW was usually forced to have wrestlers appear with title belts before they had won them in regards to the current storyline. This was regarded as a major breach of kayfabe at the time, and ultimately led to WCW's departure from the National Wrestling Alliance in September 1993.
By the end of the year, WCW decided to once again base the promotion around Ric Flair. This was seen as more or less a necessity, as prospective top babyface Sid Vicious was involved in a legitimate altercation with fellow wrestler Arn Anderson which saw Vicious attack Anderson with a pair of scissors (both wrestlers involved were injured in the end) four weeks before Starrcade while on tour in England, and was fired. In fact, before the Sid/Arn incident, several weeks of syndicated programming was taped with Sid Vicious as WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Sid was scheduled to defeat Vader at Starrcade 1993, and the material taped would have begun airing in early 1994, but the program was scrapped after Sid's attack on the popular veteran Anderson. Flair won the title at Starrcade and was once again made booker.
In 1994, Bischoff declared open war on McMahon's WWF and aggressively recruited high-profile former WWF wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. Using Turner's monetary resources, Bischoff placed his faith in the established stars with proven track records. Because of their high profiles, however, Hogan and Savage were able to demand and get several concessions not usually allowed to wrestlers at the time, such as multi-year, multi-million dollar guaranteed contracts and significant creative control over their characters. This would later become a problem during subsequent years of competition with the WWF, as other wrestlers were able to make similar demands, and contract values soared out of control. Hogan, in particular, was able to gain considerable influence through a friendship with Bischoff. Another thing Bischoff may have failed to consider was the fact that many WCW fans (especially those who had followed the company since its NWA days) watched it as an alternative to the product of WWF in the early 1990s that focused on in-ring action as opposed to cartoonish characters and storylines. As such, these fans viewed Bischoff's signing of former WWF talent as an attempt to copy its success instead of remaining true to the idea of WCW being an alternative to the WWF. Nevertheless, WCW's first major pay-per-view event since Hogan's hiring, Bash at the Beach, saw the former WWF mainstay cleanly defeat Ric Flair for the WCW Championship. The two had worked for the WWF at the same time from 1991 to 1992, and a feud was teased between them, but the big-money match originally planned for WrestleMania VIII was changed to Flair/Savage and Hogan/Sid. When WCW delivered the match, the PPV drew a high buy rate by WCW standards due to mainstream intrigue and hype. Despite being a critical and financial success, the glory would not last long as the Hogan/Flair feud was only a one-off match and the hoped for long term effects on PPV buy rates and ratings did not materialize.
Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) had its origins in 1991 under the banner Tri-State Wrestling Alliance owned by Joel Goodhart. In 1992, Goodhart sold his share of the company to his partner, Tod Gordon, who in return renamed the promotion Eastern Championship Wrestling. When Eastern Championship Wrestling was founded, it was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). At the time, "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert was the lead booker of Eastern Championship Wrestling. Gilbert (after a falling out with Tod Gordon) was replaced in September 1993 by Paul Heyman (known on television as Paul E. Dangerously), who had just left World Championship Wrestling and was looking for a new challenge. Eastern Championship Wrestling contrasted contemporary professional wrestling, which was marketed more towards families. What would become its successor, Extreme Championship Wrestling aimed at males between 18 to 35, breaking few taboos in professional wrestling such as blading. Heyman saw ECW as the professional wrestling equivalent to the grunge music movement of the early 1990s and focused on taking the company in a new direction.
In 1994, Jim Crockett's non-compete agreement with Ted Turner, who purchased World Championship Wrestling from Crockett in 1988, was up and he decided to start promoting with the NWA again. Crockett went to Tod Gordon and asked him to hold a tournament for the NWA's top prize, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, in ECW's home area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 27, 1994. NWA President Dennis Coralluzzo alleged that Crockett and Gordon were going to try to monopolize the title (akin to Crockett's actions in the 1980s) and stated Crockett did not have the NWA board's approval, which resulted in Coralluzzo personally overseeing the tournament. Gordon took offense at Coralluzzo for his power plays and began contemplating a plan to secede ECW from the NWA through a controversial and public manner that would attract attention to ECW and insult the NWA organization. Gordon planned to have Shane Douglas, who was scheduled to face 2 Cold Scorpio in the tournament finals, throw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship upon winning as an act of defiance.
The idea of throwing down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship was originally planned by Tod Gordon and Paul Heyman. Heyman persuaded Douglas by noting that the negative would only be that NWA traditionalists would just see them as traitors to tradition. Adding to Douglas' decision was the animosity between Douglas and NWA President Dennis Carluzzo, who at the time publicly criticized Douglas and told NWA affiliated bookers not to book Douglas for shows as Carluzzo believed he was a "bad risk" and had the tendency to not appear at events when he was scheduled to. Douglas ulitmately decided to go through with Gordon and Heyman's plan, inspired by his father's motto of "doing right by the people that do right by you." Douglas threw down the NWA World Heavyweight Championship stating that he did not want to be champion of a "dead promotion." He then raised the Eastern Championship Wrestling title and declared it to be a World Heavyweight Championship—calling it the only real world title left in professional wrestling. When recalling this event years later, Paul Heyman stated the following:
|“||The National Wrestling Alliance was old-school when old-school wasn't hip anymore. We wanted to set our mark, we wanted to breakaway from the pack, we wanted to let the world know that we weren't just some independent promotion.||”|
With this event, Eastern Championship Wrestling seceded from the National Wrestling Alliance and became Extreme Championship Wrestling. This new ECW's unorthodox style and controversial storylines made it popular among fans in the 18- to 35-year-old male demographic. The promotion showcased many different styles of professional wrestling, popularizing hardcore wrestling matches as well as lucha libre and Japanese wrestling styles. It became known for providing an alternative to North American wrestling with more technical styles that were common in Europe and Asia. ECW was promoted as counterculture and a grittier alternative to multi-million dollar organizations such as the WWF and WCW.
WCW Monday Nitro premiered on September 4, 1995 as an hour-long weekly show, and Bischoff was instrumental in the launching of the show. During their mid-1995 meeting, Turner asked Bischoff how WCW could conceivably compete with McMahon's WWF. Bischoff, not expecting Turner to comply, said that the only way would be a prime-time slot on a weekday night, possibly up against WWF's flagship show, Monday Night Raw. Surprisingly for Bischoff, Turner granted him two live hours on TNT every Monday night, which specifically overlapped with Raw. This format quickly expanded to two live hours in May 1996 and later three. Bischoff himself was initially the host; he handled the first hour along with Bobby Heenan and former football player Steve "Mongo" McMichael, with Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbyszko hosting the second. Other co-hosts included Mike Tenay (usually for matches involving cruiserweights or international stars), Scott Hudson, and Mark Madden.
The initial broadcast of Nitro also featured the return of Lex Luger to WCW; Luger had worked for the company from 1987 to 1992, when it was still affiliated with the NWA, before joining the WWF the following year. WCW's coup of obtaining Luger was significant for several reasons. Because Nitro was live at the time, premiering major stars on the show would signal to the fans the amount of excitement the broadcasts would contain. Secondly, Luger had just come off a successful run in the WWF and was one of the company's top stars at one point. In fact, he had been in line to get the WWF World Title (he had had several previous title matches), and worked a WWF house show the night before. Since nobody but Bischoff and Luger's good friend Sting knew that Luger would return to WCW, the shock value generated by his appearance was enormous. Third, Luger's defection created speculation among the fans as to which other big-name stars would "jump ship".
McMahon later admitted to being bitter about Turner's decision to air Nitro live on Monday nights, saying that Turner and Bischoff's only reason for doing this could be to hurt and damage the WWF.
Raw and Nitro shared wins in the "Monday Night Wars" early on, and the rivalry quickly heated up. WCW aired segments entitled "WCW: Where the Big Boys Play!" showing current WWF wrestlers who had formerly wrestled in WCW, including Steve Austin, Triple H, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog and The Undertaker, losing matches. Eric Bischoff also began giving away the results of some of the matches on Monday Night Raw during Nitro (as some of them had been taped weeks before). WWF Women's Champion Madusa (known as Alundra Blayze in the WWF) threw her WWF Women's Championship into a trash can live on the air after jumping to WCW.
WWF had previously taken shots at WCW with a series of weekly sketches featuring parodies of several WCW figures "Billionaire Ted" (Ted Turner), "The Nacho Man" (Randy Savage), "The Hukster" (Hulk Hogan), and "Scheme Gene" (Gene Okerlund). While some skits were mostly parodies, others, particularly those focusing on Ted Turner were quite hostile. The series culminated with a match between the Hukster and the Nacho Man on the "Free For All" show before WrestleMania XII. After WrestleMania XII, the WWF would also gain the advantage over Nitro as well.
However, WCW was about to gain the upper hand again and retain it for an extended period of time thanks in part to two former WWF stars. On the Memorial Day 1996 edition of Nitro the first of those stars, Scott Hall, who had competed as Razor Ramon and who had just signed with WCW, interrupted a match and delivered a statement that if "WCW wanted a war, they are going to get one" and challenged the best WCW wrestlers to stand up and defend the company against the onslaught of Hall and his companions, beginning the nWo (New World Order) storyline.
The following week, Hall promised a "big surprise" the next week in Wheeling, West Virginia. That surprise was revealed to be the second WWF defector, former WWF Champion Kevin Nash (who had wrestled as Diesel). The two were dubbed "The Outsiders."
Both men took to showing up unexpectedly during Nitro broadcasts, usually jumping wrestlers backstage, distracting wrestlers by standing in the entranceways of arenas, or walking around in the audience. Within a couple of weeks, they announced the forthcoming appearance of a mysterious third member.
At Bash at the Beach, Hall and Nash were scheduled to team with their mystery partner against Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Sting. At the onset of the match, Hall and Nash came out without a third man, telling announcer "Mean" Gene Okerlund that he was "in the building," but that they did not need him yet. Shortly into the match, a Stinger Splash resulted in Luger being crushed behind Nash, and being taken away on a stretcher, turning the match into The Outsiders vs. Sting and Savage and teasing the possibility of Luger, a former WWF wrestler like Hall and Nash, as the mystery partner.
Hall and Nash took control of the match when Hulk Hogan came to the ring. After standing off with The Outsiders for a moment, he suddenly attacked Savage, showing himself to be the Outsiders' mysterious third man and thus turning heel. Giving an interview with Okerlund directly after the match, Hogan claimed the reason for the turn was that he was tired of fans that had turned on him. Hogan labeled the new faction a "new world order of wrestling," beginning a feud between wrestlers loyal to WCW and the nWo.
The fans in attendance were so outraged at Hogan's betrayal that they pelted the ring with debris, such as paper cups and plastic bottles, for the duration of his interview. One fan even jumped the security railing and tried to attack Hogan in the ring, but was swiftly subdued by Hall, Nash, and arena security. Even "Mean" Gene Okerlund claimed on the E! True Hollywood Story about Hulk Hogan that he suffered a broken nose when he was hit by a full beer can thrown by a fan.
Shortly after, the WWF filed a lawsuit, alleging that the nWo storyline implied that Hall and Nash were invaders sent by Vince McMahon to destroy WCW. However, at the Great American Bash, one month before Bash at the Beach, Bischoff asked Hall and Nash point blank on camera, "Are you employed by the WWF?" to which both emphatically replied "No." Another reason for the lawsuit was WWF claimed Scott Hall acted in a manner too similar to the character Razor Ramon which was owned by WWF, despite the fact that the Razor Ramon character shared numerous similarities to Hall's previous WCW character, The Diamond Studd. The lawsuit would drag out for several years before being settled out of court. One of the settlement's terms was the right for the WWF to bid on WCW's properties, should they ever be up for liquidation, a settlement which would prove to be invaluable in 2001.
Because of all of this, WCW Nitro would defeat WWF Raw for 84 consecutive weeks. During this time, WCW would, though infrequently, "give away" the endings to pre-taped matches on Raw during its live Nitro broadcasts, adding fuel to the fiery feud between the two companies.
Raw, and the WWF in general, was considered to be at a creative nadir before Nitro started thus helping WCW's meteoric rise. The June 10, 1996 episode of RAW would be the last ratings victory in nearly two years.
On the November 4, 1996 episode of Raw, the WWF aired the infamous "Pillman's Got a Gun" angle with the feuding Steve Austin and Brian Pillman, where Austin visited an injured Pillman at home. Austin was attacked by Pillman's friends as soon as he arrived, but easily subdued them. He then proceeded to break into Pillman's home, but Pillman responded by producing a 9mm Glock and pointing it at a hesitant Austin. The camera feed was then disrupted, with the scene fading to black. The on-scene director contacted commentator Vince McMahon and reported that he had heard "a couple explosions".
The transmission was restored later showing Pillman's friends dragging Austin from the house in a scene where Pillman screamed "That son of a bitch has got this coming! Let him go! I'm going to kill that son of a bitch! Get out of the fucking way!" The word "fucking" was not censored and was clearly noticeable. The following week, the WWF had to apologize for the incident in order to remain on the USA Network. Pillman also had to apologize for the comment, saying that it was not usual for him to say that.
On February 3, 1997, Monday Night Raw changed to a two-hour format, as "The Attitude Era" was starting to take shape. In an attempt to break the momentum of what had turned into ratings domination by WCW's competing Monday Nitro, Extreme Championship Wrestling was brought in as Jerry Lawler "challenged" ECW on February 17. In an episode where Raw returned to the Manhattan Center, the "challenge" was answered on the following week's show with ECW stars Taz, Mikey Whipwreck, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, D-Von Dudley, and The Sandman participating in WWF's Raw. ECW owner Paul Heyman did a call-in interview on Raw the week after that, followed by an in-ring confrontation between Lawler and the ECW wrestlers, including Heyman, on March 10, 1997; the first edition of the newly renamed Raw is War (an in-reference to the war that now existed between the WWF and WCW).
Throughout 1997, there were more and more controversial elements on Raw and WWF programming such as Bret Hart shoving McMahon to the mat and engaging in a profanity-laden tirade and the Nation of Domination and D-Generation X (DX) "racial graffiti" storyline designed to "implicate The Hart Foundation." In spite of those controversial elements, WCW's winning streak continued. In addition, Steve Austin would suffer a serious neck injury at the SummerSlam pay-per-view that would keep him from participating in matches for three months, a major blow to the WWF considering that Austin had become the promotion's top star following WrestleMania 13. Come WrestleMania XIV in 1998, however, WWF would have one last chance to beat WCW.
At the 1997 Survivor Series pay-per-view, Bret Hart, the then-WWF champion who had signed a contract with WCW, was double crossed by McMahon during Hart's championship defense against Shawn Michaels. An idea of Vince McMahon, the plan was executed when the match referee, Earl Hebner, under orders from Vince McMahon, called for the bell to ring and ended the match as Michaels held Hart in the Sharpshooter submission hold, even though Hart had not submitted. Michaels was declared the victor by submission and the new WWF Champion, even as Hart and the audience were outraged.
The screwjob would ultimately turn the tide of the "Monday Night Wars." Hart left for WCW after the incident, and it seemed that WCW was in position to push the WWF into perpetual ratings ruin. WCW had big stars people wanted to see: Hart, Hogan, Nash, Hall, Flair, Sting, Savage, Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, etc. In addition, WCW had credible midcard stars such as Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Raven, along with an exciting cruiserweight division featuring high-flying competitors from Mexico (the luchadores) and Japan, as well as the United States and Canada. The popular opinion at the time was that the "Montreal Screwjob" was too much of a blow for the WWF's image to overcome, since the screwing over of a popular wrestler like Hart would anger many fans and give WCW a great amount of hype to work with. After the "Montreal Screwjob", several WWF employees threatened to leave the WWF. Hart's brother Owen (claiming a knee injury) left out of loyalty to his brother only to return a month later when he was unable to get out of his contract. Rick Rude, then acting as the manager for D-Generation X and working on a pay-per-appearance basis, left a week later after appearing on Nitro the same night as a pre-taped Raw.
On November 17, 1997, a clean-shaven Rude appeared live on Nitro and criticized the WWF (in response to the "Montreal Screwjob"), calling the company the "Titanic" (a reference to Titan Sports, as the WWF's parent company was then known, as a sinking ship), even mentioning Michaels by name at one point. An hour later on Raw (which aired on a six-day tape delay), Rude appeared unshaven. Brian "Crush" Adams left two weeks after Survivor Series, citing the screwjob as his reason. In reality, he felt he would fare better in WCW than in the apparently failing WWF. Mick Foley walked out of the WWF, but returned after realizing he would have been in breach of contract; he stated in his autobiography that it was Jim Ross who persuaded him to stay. Barry Windham also no-showed WWF programming initially as a way of demonstrating how angry he was, though he returned to the WWF a week later, believing he had made his point.
Meanwhile, WCW's Starrcade pay-per-view in Washington, D.C. drew WCW's highest buyrate to that date, largely because of Eric Bischoff building up the main-event of Hulk Hogan vs. Sting. Although Bischoff was praised for not "hotshooting" Hogan vs. Sting, the main event ended in controversy as Hogan was heavily criticized for not doing a clean finish to the match. This confused and irritated fans who had waited over a year to see Sting take down the nWo. Hart, in his WCW pay-per-view debut, claimed that referee Nick Patrick made a fast three count in order to prevent Sting from being screwed. Although, according to Bischoff, in his book Controversy Creates Ca$h the count looked like a normal speed count. Hart then restarted the match with himself as referee. Sting won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, but the title was stripped from him and declared vacant until SuperBrawl VIII, where Sting recaptured the championship. Many fans were confused and disappointed with this finish, partly because of the seemingly anticlimactic finish and partly were confused of how Hart would have the power in WCW to be able to reverse a decision and restart a match.
Despite losing to Nitro week after week, Raw, however, would regain ratings dominance by booking Stone Cold Steve Austin as the WWF Champion. By the spring of 1998, the war would begin to turn in the WWF's favor. The WWF then went into what is now referred to as "The Attitude Era" (referred to as such because "WWF Attitude" had become the company's tagline).
This era was spear-headed by Vince McMahon and then head writer Vince Russo, who drastically changed the way wrestling television was written and constructed. Russo's booking style was often referred to as "Crash TV" - short matches, backstage vignettes, and shocking television. McMahon also took advantage of wrestling fans' widespread hatred for him after the "Montreal Screwjob" by recasting himself as "Mr. McMahon", an evil-owner caricature who would routinely "screw" faces in order to ensure the dominance of his hand-picked heels.
The night after WrestleMania XIV, McMahon also began an epic feud with Austin. The feud was enormously successful due to fans universal love of Austin and universal hatred of McMahon, and it would be a major factor in the WWF finally snapping WCW's ratings winning streak with its new Attitude branding. The night after WrestleMania XIV, where Austin won his first WWF Championship, Raw defeated Nitro for the first hour but could not maintain in the second hour. WCW won the night after WrestleMania XIV ratings battle. On April 6, however, WCW would win the first hour and the evening battle, but the WWF would also win the ratings for the second hour as well.
Finally, on April 13, 1998, Raw beat Nitro for the first time since June 10, 1996, and the evening was headlined by a teased Austin/McMahon match; the match, however, did not take place as Mick Foley came down to the ring, in his Dude Love persona, and attacked Austin. Meanwhile, several popular characters emerged on Monday Night Raw that would establish consistently high viewing from fans: Foley, at the time a WCW castoff, was being cheered for playing the heel Mankind, and The Rock, after flopping as the babyface Rocky Maivia, was making a new name for himself as a catch phrase-spewing member of the Nation of Domination, long-time veteran The Undertaker was still highly popular and embroiled in a feud with his fearsome (kayfabe) brother Kane (Glenn Jacobs's first bankable gimmick), and Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna had also formed the rebellious, rule breaking wrestling stable D-Generation X.
After WrestleMania XIV, however, Michaels would take a four year hiatus from wrestling, due to back injuries, and Triple H became the sole leader of D-X, and recruited The New Age Outlaws and Sean Waltman (X-Pac), who had just returned to the WWF after wrestling for two years in WCW as nWo member Syxx, into his new "D-X Army." One famous angle the "D-X Army" also participated in during the "Monday Night Wars" was also an "invasion" of Nitro on April 27, 1998.
On this evening, Nitro was being filmed at the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, while Raw is War was being filmed nearby at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia, and D-X, earlier in the day before the shows began, went from the Hampton Coliseum to the Norfolk Scope and stood outside the arena and challenged Eric Bischoff to come out and face them; D-X then persuaded some people to say that D-X rules and then made attempts to enter the arena and "invade" the Nitro broadcast as well, but were denied entry and then made their way back to Hampton.
WWF programming also made a successful attempt to feature edgier characters and storylines that were adult-oriented. Raw's ratings began to rise steadily and consistently, bringing the newly-christened "Attitude Era" to its highest point.
Hoping to counter the McMahon/Austin feud, WCW divided the nWo into the Hulk Hogan-led heel "nWo Hollywood" faction and the Kevin Nash-led face "nWo Wolfpac" faction. However, many felt that it was a poor rehash of the original WCW vs. nWo storyline. At the same time, it cannot be denied that during mid-1998, the Wolfpac was popular with the crowd. Nevertheless, WCW launched a brand new Thursday night show on TBS called WCW Thunder in January 1998. Eric Bischoff stated in his autobiography that he was against the creation of the show because he felt it would bloat the product and take the emphasis away from concentrating on Nitro; the creation of the show was Ted Turner's idea.
WCW's next big attempt to regain ratings supremacy was by marketing ex-NFL player Bill Goldberg as an invincible monster with a record-breaking winning streak of 174 consecutive wins. Goldberg was incredibly popular from the outset, with chants of his name heralding his approach to the ring. However, business still continued to plummet for WCW, despite the immense popularity of Goldberg that continued to maintain and grow until the demise of WCW in 2001.
On July 6, 1998, airing from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, Nitro defeated Raw in the ratings when Goldberg pinned Hulk Hogan cleanly to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The match drew a 6.91 rating for the quarter-hour, the highest rating recorded in the ratings war up to that time. It was widely speculated, however, that the match would have made millions of dollars had it taken place on pay-per-view instead of Nitro. After this episode, Raw immediately took back the lead.
On August 10, 1998, WCW regained the lead for 6 weeks. During this time WCW brought in The Ultimate Warrior, who was now known as The Warrior, and then later reformed the Four Horsemen for Ric Flair's television return. WCW's final victory was on October 26, following the previous night's Halloween Havoc pay-per-view. The episode included a repeat airing of the Halloween Havoc World Title match between Diamond Dallas Page and Goldberg, which some PPV viewers had not seen the night before due to a loss of the feed at 11pm Eastern Time.
During this time, Kevin Nash was in charge of booking the shows. After winning the World War 3 battle royal in November 1998, he ended Goldberg's winning streak and won the World Title at Starrcade 1998 the following month. In his defense, Nash claims that he did not take up the booking position until February 1999, two months after his victory over Goldberg. Nash's booking was heavily criticized by fellow wrestlers and fans, including Eddie Guerrero in his autobiography Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story. This booking decision would also set the stage for the beginning of 1999 and what is widely viewed as the beginning of WCW's long-term decline, from which it would never recover.
As 1999 began, both shows were consistently getting 5.0 or higher Nielsen ratings and over ten million people tuned in to watch Raw and Nitro every week. Wrestling gained newfound appreciation, as wrestlers made the mainstream media, appearing on magazine covers like Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide. By November 1998, however, the momentum would be in the WWF's favor for the remainder of the war. On January 4, Nitro broadcasted live once again from the Georgia Dome. In the second of three hours (the show had expanded to two hours in 1996 and three in 1998), Eric Bischoff, who had learned of the results of the taped Raw that was set to air that night, ordered announcer Tony Schiavone to make the following statement:
|“||Fans, if you're even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here at one time as Cactus Jack, is gonna win their World title. Ha! That's gonna put some butts in the seats, heh.||”|
Ratings indicated that immediately after Schiavone made those comments, 600,000 people switched channels to Raw to see Mankind win the WWF Championship, many of whom wished to see a guaranteed title change and/or a title victory by Foley. After Mankind won the title, many fans then switched back to Nitro (which still had five minutes of air time left), suggesting that WCW had a show that the fans wanted to see and might have emerged the victor that night had they not given away the Raw main event results. The final ratings for the night were 5.7 for Raw and 5.0 for Nitro. During the year following the incident, many WWF fans brought signs to the shows saying "Mick Foley put my ass in this seat".
This Nitro's main event was originally scheduled to be Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and was going to be their anticipated rematch. Goldberg was arrested (kayfabe) mid-show, however, and accused of "aggravated stalking" by Miss Elizabeth. He was released when Elizabeth couldn't keep her story straight. Meanwhile, Hollywood Hulk Hogan returned to WCW after a hiatus and challenged Nash to a match, which Nash accepted. This led to the infamous "Fingerpoke of Doom" which saw Hogan merely poking Nash in the chest with his finger, causing Nash to lie down for Hogan to win the belt. It led to another heel turn for Hogan and the reformation of the nWo. The credibility of the company, which did not present the match that had been advertised, was damaged severely (a Goldberg vs. Nash rematch from Starrcade 1998), as well as what was perceived to be an underhanded way of selling out the arena for that night's telecast. Despite the incident, WCW would continue this bait and switch tactic of booking until their demise in 2001. This "match" may very well have started the permanent ratings slide that was to follow for WCW, as Nitro only got a 5.0 rating twice afterwards; its 5.8 rating on February 8 (on a night when Raw was pre-empted by the Westminster Dog Show) was the last time it would get such a number.
Raw was dominating Nitro to the point where WCW was making "quick fixes" to stem the tide, including hiring rapper Master P, as well as bringing in Megadeth, Chad Brock, and KISS for concerts (all of which flopped in the ratings). In September 1999, Bischoff was removed from power. He states in his autobiography that he intended to resign on the day and when word leaked, they decided to remove him before he could resign. Meanwhile, Raw's numbers continued to rise; a 25-minute long This Is Your Life themed skit between The Rock and Mick Foley drew an 8.4 quarter-hour rating on September 27, 1999.
On October 5, 1999, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara, the head writers of WWF television programs, were lured away by WCW, and were immediately replaced in the WWF by Chris Kreski. Russo and Ferrara failed to capture the magic of their WWF days, however, when they turned Nitro into more of a Raw clone, and they became known on-screen as unseen management known as "The Powers That Be". Ferrara even became a parody of Jim Ross, named Oklahoma. In December 1999, Bret Hart suffered a serious career-ending concussion during a match with Goldberg at Starrcade. The WCW promotion was entering severe financial and creative depressions, both of which would only get worse in the months to come. Nitro's ratings failed to increase, and in January 2000, both Russo and Ferrara were suspended from the company after they considered putting the world title on Tank Abbott. The subsequent promotion of Kevin Sullivan to head booker caused an uproar among WCW's wrestlers. In spite of winning the WCW title at Souled Out 2000, Chris Benoit quit in protest, along with Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko. All four of them entered the WWF as The Radicalz, premiering on Raw's January 31 episode—15 days after Benoit's title win. Nitro was cut to two hours in January 2000 in an effort to bolster the aggregate ratings score, but the elimination of the third hour didn't mean higher ratings for Nitro, which by April averaged around a 2.5 (while Raw drew double, or sometimes triple that amount).
In April 2000, the WCW hired the reigning ECW World Heavyweight Champion, Mike Awesome, who left ECW over a contract dispute. His appearance on WCW television led to legal threats from ECW owner Paul Heyman. A compromise was reached which resulted in Awesome losing the title at an ECW event to Tazz, who was formerly of ECW and at the time contracted to the WWF. Tazz would later appear on WWF programming with the title. The WWF used this as a symbolic demonstration of superiority over WCW. On April 10, 2000, Bischoff (now a creative consultant) and Russo, returned with equal power to work as a team and attempted to reboot WCW. Bischoff was allowed back with booking powers, but no longer had control of the company finances like he did in his previous reign. The premise of the WCW revival was that a changing of the guard was in order. The Millionaire's Club, consisting of WCW's veteran stars such as Hogan, Flair and Diamond Dallas Page, were accused of preventing the younger talent from ascending to main event status and feuded with The New Blood, consisting of WCW's younger stars such as Billy Kidman, Booker T and Buff Bagwell. In theory, the younger stars would finally get an even playing field to break out as big stars in wrestling. A lot of the newer stars were seen as being relatively green or lacking the charisma and/or ability to truly get over with fans, however, and while the new storyline sparked initial interest, it ultimately failed to turn around the ratings, as fans begin to see the storyline as a ripoff of the WCW vs. nWo storyline from 1996–97 and WCW continued its downward spiral. WCW became even more desperate, even going as far as placing the WCW World Heavyweight Championship upon actor David Arquette, who was making promotional appearances for WCW's feature film Ready to Rumble (a critical failure itself).
By now, Ted Turner was no longer running the company, which had been purchased by Time Warner in 1996 and AOL in 2000. That year WCW lost $62 million, due to the guaranteed contracts of their older performers, plummeting advertising revenues, dropping house show attendance, controversial booking decisions (like Arquette winning the WCW title and Russo booking himself to win the title in September 2000), expensive stunts to boost the dismal ratings and abysmal pay-per-view buyrates. Goldberg, arguably the biggest star of the promotion at the time, suffered a self-sustained arm injury during a backstage vignette taping that kept him on the shelf for half the year. Upon his return, his momentum was derailed, after turning heel at The Great American Bash, despite being the most popular performer in the company.
In July, Bischoff left again, shortly after Russo had Jeff Jarrett lie down for Hulk Hogan in a WCW Championship match at Bash at the Beach due to an inability to come to terms with Hogan's "creative control" contract clause. Subsequently, Russo publicly fired Hogan during the live pay-per-view broadcast; Bischoff and Hogan had a strong working relationship, and Bischoff left in support of him. Russo then vanished due to a concussion suffered in September and shows were left to be written by Ferrara, Bill Banks, Jeremy Borash, Glenn "Disco Inferno" Gilbertti, and various other wrestlers and staff. Rumors that WCW would be put up for sale or downright out of business began to circulate towards the end of 2000.
In January 2001, Fusient Media Ventures, led by Eric Bischoff, announced they had bought WCW. The deal was contingent on the Turner networks keeping Nitro on Monday and Thunder on TBS on Wednesday. When Jamie Kellner took over as CEO of Turner Broadcasting, he removed all WCW programming from the network.
With no national television outlet to air the shows, Fusient dropped their offer to purchase the promotion. The WWF, the only company who would not need the television time slots Kellner had cancelled, then made their offer. On March 23, 2001, all of WCW's trademarks and archived video library, as well as a select twenty-five contracts, were sold to Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. WCW was purchased for a mere $3,000,000. Most of the main event-level stars including Flair, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, and Sting were contracted directly to parent company AOL Time Warner instead of WCW, and thus AOL Time Warner was forced to continue to pay many of the wrestlers for years.
TNT did allow a final Nitro show to air from Panama City Beach, Florida which had been scheduled for the following Monday on March 26. McMahon opened the last-ever episode of WCW Monday Nitro simulcast with Raw, which aired from Cleveland, Ohio, with a self-praising speech. The final WCW World Heavyweight Championship match for the show and the company saw WCW United States Champion Booker T defeat Scott Steiner to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The main event featured Sting defeating Ric Flair with the Scorpion Deathlock as a culmination of their trademark feud, then both men embraced one another at the match's conclusion. This was a direct parallel to the very first Nitro, where Sting vs. Flair was also the main event. After the Sting/Flair match, Vince appeared on Raw to close Nitro and to declare victory over WCW. Vince's son Shane McMahon then appeared on Nitro, declaring that it was actually he who had bought WCW. This, however, initiated "The Invasion" storyline that would have Shane leading the WCW invasion of the WWF, which lasted from March to November 2001 and marked the end of WCW. The last Nitro drew a 3.0 rating. The final ratings tally in 253 head-to-head showdowns was: 158 wins for Raw (including 122 straight from November 1998 until the war ended), 110 for Nitro, and three ties.
Earlier that month, ECW owner Paul Heyman had begun an announcing contract with WWF as ECW had also fallen to financial problems and was forced to shutdown. Thus, the World Wrestling Federation became the sole prominent professional wrestling promotion in the United States.
WWE business steadily declined in North America after the end of the wars, with a noticeable drop in buyrates and ratings. To compensate for the decrease in domestic revenue, WWE expanded their business overseas. By 2002, the WWF roster had doubled in size due to the overabundance of contracted workers. As a result of the increase, the WWF was divided into franchises through its two main television programs, Raw and SmackDown!, assigning the now divided roster to either franchise while also designating championships and appointing figureheads to each franchise. This expansion became known as the Brand Extension. The franchises or "brands" act as complementing promotions under WWE. The institution of concepts like separate rosters, "General Managers" and talent drafts was intended to emulate the rivalry that had ended with WCW.
In May 2002, the WWF was renamed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, and Goldberg eventually signed contracts with WWE only after the conclusion of "The Invasion" though it is generally thought that their participation in the storyline would have benefited the promotion. WWE later purchased ECW's assets and by 2005 began reintroducing ECW through content from the ECW video library and a series books. With heightened and rejuvenated interest in the ECW franchise, WWE organized ECW One Night Stand in June, an ECW reunion event With the financial and critical success of the production, WWE produced the second ECW One Night Stand in June 2006 and relaunched the ECW franchise as a WWE brand, complementary to Raw and SmackDown. The brand would continue to operate until 2010.
In 2004, WWE produced a DVD called The Monday Night Wars. Two hours in length, the DVD left out a large portion of the "wars," breaking off around 1997 before jumping straight to the post-WCW era of WWE. The objectivity of the DVD's content was questioned, as some believed the documentary was simply telling the WWE side of the story. On August 25, 2009, WWE released The Rise and Fall of WCW on DVD. The DVD looks back at the roots of WCW during the days of GCW and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, to the glory days of Monday Nitro and the nWo, and to its demise and sale to WWE.
Since the launch of the Video On Demand service WWE 24/7 (now WWE Classics On Demand), a show called The Monday Night War (hosted by Michael Cole) shows both shows sequentially for a given date (for instance, a Raw followed by a Nitro from the first official week of the Monday Night War). The sequence of which show would be shown first alternated between episodes, and at times, a short segment called "War Stories" would show following a key moment in the Monday Night Wars would follow a particular segment with interviews by the people involved. Soon, the new episodes were split, with the Nitro and the Raw from each week having their own War show (though they would be on the VOD library selection during the same time). This was to be replaced by new episodes once every two weeks. However, recently, a new feature called Monday Night War: The Beginning has been debuting. It has been claimed to bring viewers back to the "genesis" of the Monday Night War, showing the old episodes of the actual MNW show (more than likely for those customers who were not able to see the episodes due to cable carriage deals being worked out). Since then, new episode would debut for two weeks, then be replaced by two "The Beginning" episodes, then the process would repeat. The length of time in which "The Beginning" shows would air have not been announced.
As a result of the Monday Night Wars, professional wrestling became a prime time tradition on Monday nights in America. It also lessened the prevalence of squash matches (where star wrestlers would defeat jobbers) on television, as both companies were compelled to show competitive, pay-per-view quality matches on a weekly basis in an effort to increase ratings.
The Monday Night Wars resulted in millions of new viewers. Consequently, the late 1990s are commonly referred to as professional wrestling's last boom period. Stars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Bill Goldberg and Sting became household names, and some attempted to parlay their newfound fame into other mediums and found success in them, much like Hulk Hogan of the 1980s and early 1990s: notable examples being Mick Foley, who became a New York Times best selling author with his autobiography, Have a Nice Day, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who branched out to become a successful film actor.
WCW's closure left a gap in the market which several companies attempted to fill. In 2001, X Wrestling Federation and World Wrestling All-Stars opened, but both folded by 2004. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and Ring of Honor (ROH) both emerged in early 2002 and have enjoyed moderate success since that time. At first running weekly pay-per-views, TNA has since switched to monthly supercard pay-per-views supported by a weekly show on cable television entitled TNA Impact!. In late 2007 ROH also started airing bi-monthly, pre-taped pay-per-views, and in 2009, ROH began airing a weekly wrestling program on HDNet.
On October 27, 2009, Hulk Hogan announced that he and Eric Bischoff had signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in a press conference held at Madison Square Garden, the place considered to be the home of WWE. TNA President Dixie Carter stated "Our goal is to become the world's biggest professional wrestling company. Hulk defines professional wrestling and we look forward to partnering with him in a variety of ways as we continue to grow TNA globally."
In signing with TNA, they would be rejoining controversial former WCW booker Vince Russo who they had vowed to never work with again after butting heads in WCW. However, they stated that Russo would not be fired, and the three would attempt to work together.  A short time after on December 5, 2009, Hogan made an announcement during The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale that TNA Impact!, which normally airs on Thursdays would go head to head with WWE Raw on Monday January 4 in a three-hour live broadcast. This would be the first time since March 2001 that two wrestling promotions would go head-to-head in a Monday night ratings competition. It was also confirmed to be the live debut of Hogan. The WWE countered by announcing the return of Bret Hart, who hadn’t appeared in WWE since the Montreal Screwjob in 1997. Leading up to the show, TNA President Dixie Carter stated that while MTV (which owns Spike) was not expecting Impact! to beat Raw in the ratings, it would be considered a success if they managed to at least maintain their usual Thursday night Impact! rating. Spike president Kevin Kay also announced there were plans to air Impact! on Mondays quarterly through 2010 and added that if the ratings proved successful on January 4, it could be moved to Monday nights permanently.
The Monday night Impact! featured the debuts and returns of Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Eric Bischoff, The Nasty Boys, Sting, Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy, Ric Flair, Sean Morley, Orlando Jordan, Shannon Moore and Bubba the Love Sponge in addition to Hogan. WWE Raw featured the return of Bret Hart, who confronted Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels for the first time in twelve years.The ratings showed that, much alike the first Monday Night War, Raw came out on top, averaging 5.6 million viewers while Impact! averaged 2.2 million viewers. However, despite not beating Raw in the ratings, TNA managed to set a new record for Impact!, beating the previous one of 1.97 million viewers, and thus gaining the confidence of Spike representatives.
On March 8, 2010, Impact! moved to Monday nights at 9pm EST to compete head-to-head with Raw. Eric Bischoff will once again be competing on the opposite side of Vince McMahon's WWE and in an interview with Bubba the Love Sponge, he said that he believed "history is repeating itself". This has proved to be true since the new war is beginning the same way as the original did; TNA have hired the same ex-WWE talent that WCW did, they have recreated the "outsiders" storyline from when Kevin Nash and Scott Hall joined WCW and most importantly, they are being led by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Ironically, Spike had carried Raw from 2000 until 2005, when Raw returned back to USA. WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman responded to TNA's move by saying "We're not too concerned. We're in good shape." Bischoff later stated that TNA aren't focused on beating WWE in the ratings straight away, but rather gaining a significant share of their audience and growing TNA's own audience.
On the March 8, 2010, Raw beat Impact! with a 3.4 rating which equated to approximately 5.1 million viewers, while Impact! did a 0.98 with 1.4 million viewers. The following week on the March 15 edition, Impact! scored its lowest rating since November 2006 with a .84 rating. No quarter hour segment of Impact! reached past the previous week's overall rating. The broadcast lost 15% of the audience it opened with, going from a .87 opening quarter hour to a .72 in the AJ Styles versus Jeff Hardy main event. Impact! averaged 1.1 million viewers, an overall decrease of 21.4% in viewership from the previous week. Raw scored a 3.71 rating and averaged 5.60 million viewers, an overall increase of 10% in viewership from the previous week. The broadcast's first hour was the most viewed first hour since August 24, 2009, while the second was the most viewed second hour since the January 4, 2010.