It’s 25 years since the birth of WCW Monday Nitro. A weekly show that indelibly changed pro wrestling’s presentation, characters and storylines forever.
But just how timeless is Nitro? Have their top storylines stood the test of time?
Come with me, as we take a trip down a misshapen memory lane. Fantasy booking with a twist.
An alternate universe where I take a modern superstar and transplant them into a classic Nitro moment. Seven “what if?” scenarios designed to showcase the best of Nitro to a contemporary audience.
Like a classic film or album influencing modern talent and providing a foundation to build upon, the gravitas of these angles may be wasted on those discovering them for the first time today.
It’s impossible to convey the impact that Scott Hall turning up on Nitro had. Jumping the guardrail in the most casual of double denim; interrupting a match; cutting a promo in character; firmly implying he was still a WWF talent and that he was here to start the war that would eventually define the clash of wrestling titans.
With the Wednesday Night War being the closest contemporary equivalent, it didn’t take me long to transport Jon Moxley, former WWE champion turned AEW champion, to this monumental Nitro event.
Of course, it’s not much of stretch imagining this, as AEW had Moxley debut at the end of Double or Nothing in homage to the Bad Guy. Coming through the crowd, interrupting the match, in that wonderful double denim which transcends generations. But remember, we’re not transplanting Nitro storylines to the modern day. We’re teleporting modern wrestlers into the past.
“What if Jon Moxley invaded Nitro?”
Picture this, in 1996 much like in 2019, it is reported that former WWF champion Dean Ambrose has not re-signed with the company. He is unceremoniously yet unsurprisingly buried on the way out. Suddenly, the company pivots and gives him a more honourable send off, in a series of nostalgic matches with former fan favourite stable mates.
So is he staying or is he going? Is he being written off TV, only to return months later? Is he taking time out of the ring completely or is he in fact heading to the competition down south?
One month later, May 27th 1996, at the Macon Coliseum in Georgia, during the forgettable match up of Steve Doll vs The Mauler, we get the unforgettable moment of the newly named Moxley appearing in the crowd. He jumps the fence and grabs a mic, as the commentators trip over their words in a dumbfounded attempt to rationalise what they’re seeing.
“You know who I am but you don’t know why I’m here”
“I go wherever I want, whenever I want”
“You want a war? You’re gonna get one”
Where does Moxley go from here? Maybe he is joined by another high profile WWF talent and they form “The Outsiders”. Maybe they tease a third man, another former New Yorker who’s dramatic heel turn will lead to the formation of the NWO and cause a paradigm shift that would give birth to cool heels, grounded, reality based storylines and astronomical merch sales.
Some say Lex Luger’s defection to WCW was the birth of the Monday Night Wars but in contrast, Hall’s appearance was shocking, exciting and must-see. It felt real.
In this reality, if we’re only transplanting Moxley into the narrative, he would inevitably join Hogan and Nash in the NWO but you have to assume, given Moxley’s domineering presence and hard hitting ring style, he would be far more prominent as a main event competitor than Hall ever was in WCW.
My reason for picking Moxley and not a midcarder, besides the obvious echoes of his switch from WWE to AEW today, is the star power.
Although Razor Ramon was never the top guy, he was consistently competing for the Intercontinental title at a time when it was seen as the “workers belt”.
Savage, Steamboat, Rude, Hennig, Hart, Piper, Bulldog, Michaels, all champions in the preceding years.
As well as the infamous Wrestlemania X ladder match against HBK, he became the first ever 3x and 4x Intercontinental champion.
It’s exactly why Luger’s earlier switch never hit as hard as Hall’s. Hall was the perfect man to be the initial Outsider and it’s my belief that Moxley is one of the few that could rival him.
But what do you think? Who would you transport from 2020 to replace Scott Hall in this classic Nitro storyline?