On this day in wrestling history, March 10, 1997, the WWE would take the next step in the Monday Night Wars but renaming their flagship weekly show RAW is WAR. Done in response to the launch of WCW’s Monday Nitro, it followed Raw going to a two hour format to match Nitro just over a month earlier on February 3, 1997.
We’ve talked about the Monday Night Wars at length, and most of us remember that time fondly. It was a time when wrestling was cool and it took the world by storm bigger and better than ever before.
The 200th episode
In many ways, the 200th episode of Raw was perfect for the name change, but that wasn’t everything as the show got a full makeover. On top of a new name, it also got a new logo, pyrotechnics to open the show, and Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” as an intro song.
While Manson’s theme had to be changed due to copyright issues a month after debuting, and was replaced by “Thorn in Your Eye” for hour one, and “We’re All Together Now” for hour two, which was now called the War Zone. It gave the show a distinctive feel of two shows as the second hour tended to be more exciting and edgy.
There’s no explaining the rush we felt when the second hour began after a commercial break. It was an awesome experience that livened it up as we went into a new show instead of continuing with the same one.
Vince Russo’s first episode
While this is disputed by some, it is believed to be Vince Russo’s first episode as RAW’s head writer. He introduced a few things we recognize today like less priority matches and more on storytelling through promos, vignettes, etc. It also marked the rise of edgier content on WWE programming as the older, geared toward children style faded into the rearview mirror.
It was the creation to a style of programming called Crash TV, and it helped save Raw before they eventually overtook Nitro in the Monday Night War ratings and became the most watched weekly show on cable television in 1999.
Though RAW lost to Nitro in the ratings, the show had a solid card with names that are recognizable to this day, and others that have drifted into memories.
Some of the names that many of us remember are a young Rocky Maivia, Ahmed Johnson, Hector Garza, The New Blackjacks (Windham and Bradshaw), Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Billy Gunn, Goldust, Vader, Mankind, the Undertaker, and Sycho Sid.
After the show ended, the fans in attendance were treated to a pair of dark matches.
The first saw the Undertaker (in his second match of the night) beat Faarooq (Ron Simmons) by DQ, and Sycho Sid (also in his second match) beat Bret Hart in a steel cage match to retain the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
History can happen in the blink of an eye, and we often forget when something important or one of our favorite moments happened. It’s natural, but that’s why we sometimes need reminders like this day in wrestling history and other. It shows how much professional wrestling has grown and, in many cases, faltered.
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