Monday Night Wars Documentary Review Episode 9: Flight of the Cruiser Weights.

This episode focuses on the Cruiser Weights primarily in WCW. It starts out effectively explaining the Lucha Libra/Mexican style wrestling as well as the Japanese style wrestling. WCW programming used Japanese and Mexican wrestlers on their WCW Saturday Night and WCW Pro television shows before the Monday Night Wars began. They were brought in to make WCW stand out from the WWF. This episode makes the point that on the very first episode of Monday Nitro, the very first match of the Monday Night Wars was a cruiser weight match. It was Japanese star Jushin Thunder Liger vs. the Brian Pillman. Having a Japanese wrestler in the first match of the Monday Night Wars drove the point home that WCW was something very different from WWF. While there was obviously a language barrier that prevented most of them from working on the mic, their acrobatic in ring performance more than made up for it. Eventually the defunct WCW Lightweight championship was brought back as the Cruiser weight belt. This episode, however, takes the opinion that the term Cruiser weight hurt the wrestlers in the long run, making them seem appear to be less than the heavyweights. Later a match between Scott Hall and Billy Kidman where Kidman is getting beat up while the announcer says “Well he is a cruiser weight in a heavy weight match up.”

As Nitro moved to two hours more cruiser weights were hired, and WWF responded with their own Light Heavy Weight division. It was not as successful, perhaps because, as Jerry Lawler explained, the higher ups in WWF were skeptical of the move. During this segment Taka from Japan is shown, and Scott Putskie is mentioned. When talking about these wrestlers you can sense a doubt that some of them were even really lightweights to begin with.

As successful as the cruiser weights might have been in WCW, frustration mounted as the NWO was still leading the show. Arn Anderson says Eric Bischoff wouldn’t listen to suggestions to move them up the card. Tensions between Eddie Guerrero and Bischoff are highlighted, as on 8/17/98 Eddie quit on the air. A clip is shown of them arguing backstage over who really made Eddie a star.

This frustration led to defections to the WWF, a reversal from the early days of the Monday Night War. On 8/9/99 Jericho debuted on Raw with much fanfare. The 1/31/2000 edition of Raw showed Dean Malenko, Eddie, Perry Saturn, and Chris Benoit sitting at ringside and later getting involved in the show.

According to this episode WCW never found cruiser weights that could capture the audience’s attention the way the originals did. Kenny Kaos from the WCW Power Plant and the West Hollywood Blondes are shown to emphasize this point.

A more general point is made about an overall lack of direction in WCW. Booker T explains how it seemed they were flying by the seat of their pants. Announcer Tony Schivanne is shown on air saying “What are we going to do now?” after he thought they were going to a match.

The end of the episode showcases the cruiser weight’s success in WWF after the the Monday Night Wars were over in 2001. Hurricane Helms had a victory over the Rock, Eddie Guerrero pinned Brock Lesnar for the World title, and they paved the way for the next generation of superstars that were not heavyweights like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Tyson Kidd. The episode ends on a high note with Rey Mysterio winning the WWF title at Wrestlemania.

WCW Monday Nitro 1995 Part 2

One of the many ways the WCW differentiated themselves from the WWF was by acknowledging other wrestling organizations. One of the WCW angles leading into Starrcade was a “World Cup” between WCW and New Japan pro wrestling. Bischoff had arranged a talent exchange between the two organizations. Talent from WCW would wrestle in Japan, and Japanese wrestlers would appear on WCW programming. (One side effect of this was the One Man gang winning the US title in a match not on WCW TV). Sonny Onnoo, a personal friend of Eric Bischoff, would appear on Nitro managing Japanese wrestlers. It was announced on Nitro that the December PPV Starrcade would have a world cup event between the two organizations, but the details were vague until the actual PPV aired.

The world cup was 7 matches between WCW and New Japan talent, all of whom managed by Sonny Onoo. Whichever team won the most of the 7 matches would “win.” In the first match Chris Benoit lost to Jushin Thunder Liger after interference from Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan, who later fueded with Benoit. It was noted during the event that Liger had a Saturday morning cartoon.

In the second match Koji Kanemoto, the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, beat Alex Wright, putting New Japan up 2-0.

Lex Luger got WCW on the board, beating Masahiro Chono. Johnny B Bad tied it up beating Masa Saito. In a rare moment victory was achieved via the over the top rope disqualification rule. During the match commentator Bobby Heenan mentioned that he managed Masa in the AWA.


Shinjiro Ootai defeated Eddie Guerrero putting New Japan on top. Then Macho Man Randy Savage defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Sting defeated Kensuko Sasaki, resulting in WCW winning the “World Cup.” This was an interesting and different idea that acknowledged another wrestling organization. The stakes were pretty much just bragging rights and it was not built up as well as it could have been. The world cup angle was never used again.

Around this same time the famous Madusa incident took place. Right at the opening of Nitro on 12/18/1995, wrestler Debra Micelei walked onto the announcers booth. Bobby Heenan can be heard saying “What the hell are you doing here.” Debra in years past had wrestled in WCW as Madusa, but has just did a run in WWF as Alundra Blayze where she was the WWF women’s champion. In fact when she left the WWF they never took the belt off her, and she was now appearing on live WCW TV with the WWF belt.

Madusa had a mic and said  “I am Madusa, always have been Madusa, and always will be Madusa. This is the WWF Woman’s championship belt. (She picks up a trash can, and with the camera focused front and center on her,drops WWF belt in the trash). And that’s what I think of the WWF Woman’s Championship belt. This is the WCW. I am now in the WCW, and they used to call me Alundra Blaze, but not anymore, because this is where the big boys play, and now, this is where the big girls play.” She then walks off, and Eric Bischoff refers to her as Madusa, the name she would wrestle under in WCW.


Immediately after this Steve “Mongo” McMichael, the former NFL player and now WCW announcer, brings up a special guest. William “Refrigerator” Perry, the legendary defensive linemen for the Chicago Bears, walks up to announcer’s booth. Mongo said he was tired of wrestlers always coming up to the announcers booth and Perry was going to take care of that. Perry was never involved in any story lines with WCW, but his appearance surely appealed to the older demographic the WCW was targeting.

The Madusa incident is one of the most shocking events of the Monday Night Wars, however, it could be argued that it was indicative of the problems that would later plague WCW. While it was a shocking moment, there was little to no follow through. WCW did not establish a women’s title until almost a full year later. A whole storyline could have been set up around Madusa finding her way (and losing matches) to WCW female talent, and eventually turning things around and getting into the title chase.

Of course hindsight is twenty twenty. Either way, the Madusa incident, along with the feud with New Japan put WCW on the map as a place that offered innovative story lines that were fresh for American audiences.

Monday Night Wars: The Video Game!

A few years ago I blogged about an idea I’d obsessed over for a while. What if they made a Monday Night Wars video game? Here I’ll discuss an updated version of my idea.

I should say up front that I’m a completist. In my mind this game would have every wrestler, gimmick, TV show, Pay Per View, match type, title belt, and announcer that ever appeared on WWF, WCW, and ECW programming from September of 1995 to March of 2001. Realistically that’s impossible, as there must have been literally hundreds of wrestlers that appeared on TV during those 5 and a half years. Also a good portion of those wrestlers had short lived careers, hence there wouldn’t be as much of a demand from fans to see those wrestlers in a video game. Some of this could be amended with an initial roster followed by downloadable content packs of various wrestlers like they do these days anyway.

If they ever actualy made a game like this, for the announcers they’d likely just have the current RAW announcing team do the in game commentary. Again in my mind I’d love to have all the announcers, Eric Bischoff, Bobby Heenan, Joey Styles, Paul Heyman, Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, etc. It would also be amusing if you could mix and match the announcers during exhibition mode and unlock some unique exchanges and humorous dialogue. For example have Lawler and Heyman, or Bischoff and McMahon, or a three man announcing team of McMahon, Bischoff, and Heyman. At the very least they could do Shivanoe and Bischoff for WCW, Lawler and J.R. for WWF, and Joey Styles for ECW. For simplicity sake they’d probably just have one ring announcer, but it would be cool to mix those up as well. For big name WCW matches it would be awesome to have Michael Buffer on the mic with his famous line “Let’s get ready to rumble!”

Nitro, Raw, and the ECW arena would all be playable settings, along with all the PPVs. Other arenas could be included along with some unlockables, like Sunday Night Heat, Thunder, and Smackdown.

Wrestling video games usually have the different match types, like singles, tag team, triple threat, survivor series, royal rumble, etc. This game would have to have the WCW specialty matches like War Games, World War Three, and the triple steel cage. I’d want to see all the belts, like the different hardcore titles, women’s belts, TV championships, etc. Some of these belts could be unlocked by playing championship modes. Games in the past had a championship mode where you play through a series of matches to win one of the secondary or tag team belts.

In the last few years the WWE games have had features where you play through a timeline of different matches from different periods of wrestling history. I envision a similar mode for this game. I see it broken down by different eras for each company. For example, WCW would start with the pre-NWO era, from 9/95 to 96’s Bash at the Beach. The next era would be NWO, then NWO Wolfpac, then New Blood/Millionaires, etc.

Career mode could be pretty sophisticated. You pick one wrestler, and choose a company to start in, WCW, WWE, or ECW. Your goal is to win the world titles in all three companies. Secondary goals are to win at all the PPV and match types of each company, and finally to simply survive the Monday Night Wars. This could also be like a role playing game where you have to train your character, develop different skills, avoid injury, and make money to buy other unlocked characters, PPVs, match types, outfits, etc.

For this mode each company would have advantages and disadvantages. ECW would earn you the least money, but would make you the most popular. Their training would be average. WWE would have the best training, average money, but not make you as popular. WCW would pay the most, give average popularity, but the lowest training.

There’d be lots of unlockables, like different wrestlers or old gimmicks, (Like Austin’s ring master gimmick, etc.) The look of each years PPV would be unlockable as well. (Example, Wresltemania XVI, XVII, XVIII etc)

One feature they tried a few times in the Smackdown vs Raw series that always sounded interesting never seemed to turn out right was the general manager mode. I don’t know how to make that interesting, but there has to be a fun mode where you actually run WCW, WWE, and ECW. You have to fight off invasions from other brands, deal with network and locker room politics, etc. One idea is for WCW you invade the WWE taped shows to steal there results. If you win a backstage brawl, then you get the results back to WCW for a ratings bonus. For WWE, you’d defend against the same thing. This opens up possibilities to see different outcomes of the era. Like what if WCW ended up buying WWE, or what if by some miracle ECW emerged victorious?

Other “what if” scenarios could be played out, such as what if the Montreal Screwjob turned out differently? After the wars, what if the NWO lasted longer in the WWE? What if ECW kept all it’s big stars? The possibilities are many.

The final mode would be Fantasy Match, where you get to play big matches that never occurred. Hogan/Austin, DX/NWO, Sting/Undertaker, etc.

A game like this, and wrestling games in general could use a trivia game.

Celebrity involvement was a huge part of the Monday Night Wars. Jay Leno, the Insane Clown Posse, and NBA stars Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone actually had matches on WCW PPVs. Other celebrities that made appearances include Mike Tyson, Pete Rose, and rapper Master P. There was also the KISS wrestler, and WWF’s Gangrel was liscenced from a vampire role playing game published by White Wolf. Realistically I imagine these people would not appear in a video game due to liscence fees, however Mike Tyson was once included in a WWE game.

Regarding a game about this era, the two elephants in the room are Owen Hart and Chris Benoit. It would be nice to have Owen Hart in the game, just exclude his Blue Blazer gimmick and the Over the Edge Pay Per View. Benoit has been erased from history, so he’ll never appear in a wrestling video game again.

Unfortunately I’m afraid the ship has sailed on this game anyway. If they would have done it I think it would have been done a few years ago. ECW had appeared in the last few Smackdown vs Raw games. WWE 2K13 was a nostalgia trip on the WWF Attitude Era. 2K14 showcased 30 years of Wrestelmania (and finally made beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania a thing in video games). 2K15 was pretty much just the current roster. It would have been nice to at least have seen a WCW video game that would have covered it’s existence from 1988 to the end. That could have been followed by an ECW game covering 1993 to the end. Those two games plus an Attitude Era game could have led into a Monday Night Wars game that you could have uploaded the rosters too. Oh well, here’s to dreaming.