Back in early 1995, Eric Bischoff was riding high as the top executive at World Championship Wrestling (WCW). The promotion, which had been a money loser, was extremely close to being a money winner, able to finish the year in the black if a few "key moves" were made.
In his book, Controversy Creates Cash, Bischoff describes the scenario as his becoming obsessed with winning a $1 bet that he could ensure WCW turned a profit by doing a deal with StarTV in China. The issue was StarTV was owned by Rupert Murdoch, an arch enemy of Ted Turner's and a guy Turner would never let him do business with. But Bischoff felt he needed to at least ask so he managed to get a meeting with Turner himself to make his pitch.
Except he never even got the chance, not really. Shortly into his spiel, Turner cut him off and outright asked, "What do we have to do to compete with Vince?" Bischoff, thinking on his feet, asked for a prime time show. So Turner gave him one on the spot, two hours on Monday nights on TNT opposite the World Wrestling Federation's (WWF) flagship show, Monday Night Raw.
And the Monday Night Wars were born.
The debut episode of Nitro, as it would be called, occurred on this date in history (Sept. 4, 1995) at the Mall of America in Minnesota. It featured Hulk Hogan in the main event, of course, but Bischoff also wanted to ensure the company did something major to catch the public's eye and set the tone of unpredictability it would sustain over the next few years.
He signed Lex Luger and had him make his return during the show.
This accomplished exactly what Bischoff hoped it would and immediately, the WWF had legitimate competition. Ultimately, WCW would make so many right moves like this, it would easily overtake its rival and dominate the war for almost two years straight before falling off and eventually losing in an epic rise and fall.
After the jump, watch highlights from the first episode of Monday Nitro.