Monday Night Wars Documentary Review Episode 4: A New D-Generation

This episode starts with examining the pre-DX gimmicks of Billy Gunn and HHH along with other cartoonish gimmicks like the Honky Tonk Man. HHH became friends with Shawn Michaels, who was battling a lot of personal demons at the time (but this episode doesn’t say what they were).

Chyna is not interviewed for this series at all but her, HHH, Shawn Michaels, and the late Rick Rude were the original members of DX. On a WWF TV segment Bret Hart referred to the group as degenerates, and from there Shawn Michaels christened his group D-generation X. This episode compares DX to the NWO and how Bischoff thought DX was a NWO ripoff.

WCW eventually signed Rick Rude, leading to one of the more peculiar incidents of the Monday Night Wars. Raw still taped some of its episodes, and Nitro was always live. On 11/17/97, Rick Rude became the only person to ever appear on Monday Night Raw and on Monday Nitro in the same night. Both segments were at the opening of the show, with Nitro pulling a 4.1 rating and Raw doing a 3.1.

The following year, on 2/2/98, DX responded on air to a letter the USA network sent to WWF about the content of their show. USA threatened to suspend the show over it’s racy content. DX read the letter on air, saying all the specific vulgar words they were not supposed to say (bleeped out of course). Apparently the USA network loved this bit, and from there Vince gave the group more creative freedom.

Shawn Michael’s departure from wrestling is covered as he left due to a back injury. From here HHH took charge of DX and took in a returning Sean Waltman/Xpac/Syxx Pac from the WCW. The night after Wrestlemania XIV X-Pac goes off on Hogan and Bischoff. Hogan is shown on WCW programming saying Sean “couldn’t cut the mustard.”

The incident where DX tried to invade a WCW show is profiled. They were in a tank that came right up to a WCW arena but couldn’t get through the door. Nash says he was on the other side of that door but some old man wouldn’t open it. HHH said he had no plan if they actually got in, and said to Vince what if WCW sends guys to a Raw show. Vince, always forward thinking, figured let them in. What show would you watch?

As a response Eric Bischoff issued an open challenge to Vince McMahon at a PPV, but of course McMahon never accepted. The DX imitation of the Nation is shown before wrapping up. It doesn’t really cover how DX eventually split up, but it shows a lot of great highlights and effectively shows how they fit into the story of the Monday Night Wars.

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Monday Night Wars Documentary Review Episode 3: Embracing Attitude

The Attitude Era is considered by many fans to be the WWF’s greatest era, featuring the height of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s popularity, along with the Rock, Mankind, and DX.

This episode opens with the more cartoon-ish gimmicks of the pre-Attitude WWF, such as the Sultan, Steve Austin’s Ring Master gimmick, and Ron Simmons in that goofy looking helmet.

Eric Bischoff was riding high with Monday Nitro and the NWO story line. At the time he believed WWF would never recover. Someone warned him that WWF was about to try Howard Stern/Shock Jock type programming, but he dismissed that thinking it would never work.

The Austin/Pillman gun incident is covered, where they filmed a segment at Brian Pillman’s home during which he fired a gun at Austin. Hugely controversial at the time, Vince apologized on air the next week. However, announcer Jim Ross said they got a 75% positive response from their audience to that segment.

Sports journalist Bill Apter is interviewed for this documentary. He supplies a few quotes as it is explained that from here the WWF roster became more edgy. Acts like the black militant group the Nation of Domination formed, as well as De-generation X.

Vince McMahon’s opening speech on the 12/15/97 edition of Raw is shown, where he explains how his programming will now be more contemporary, and away from the older formula of good guys vs bad guys.

By January of 1998 Raw was still losing the ratings battle to Nitro but was on the rise with its new edgier gimmicks like Val Venis (basically a porn star), sexual chocolate Mark Henry, Mr. Ass (Billy Gunn), and the pimp character the Godfather.

Meanwhile, Eric Bischoff still wasn’t impressed. Jericho says that Bischoff was telling people in six months McMahon will lose his TV sponsors and go out of business. Meanwhile Sable (who is not interviewed here) is shown on TV guide, and Nash says that she beat any segment Nitro had at that point.

Just as WWF was embracing the Attitude Era, the corporate structure of Turner Broadcasting was becoming more restrictive on WCW. Standards and Practice representatives were in the WCW creative rooms while porn star Jenna Jameson did a segment with Val Venis on Raw, and WWF introduced their hardcore title.

WCW embarrassingly tried to compete with the Attitude Era while wearing the Standards and Practices handcuffs. They tried their own hardcore title, and we see that clip where Terry Funk almost legitimately almost got kicked in the head by a horse. We also see the infamous junkyard invitational, the viagra on a pole match, and Judy Bagwell on a forklift match. WCW Stunt Coordinator Ellis Edwards is interviewed here and says “I would tell them the things I would do in the stunt business and they would write it into the storyline.” This is the one part of the episode I would have liked to have seen more elaborated. I would have like to have seen who thought of trying to have a WCW Hardcore title and how they balanced that with standards and practices, etc.

This episode layed out the interesting parallels of the shifting creative direction of WWF that mirrored the more restrictive environment of WCW, but I would have like to have seen more of the struggles that came with the latter.