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Cageside Countdown: The Top 20 Moments of the Monday Night War (Part 2)

Here they are: the top ten moments of the Monday Night War.

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So... the Monday Night Wars, you guys. Books have been written about itdocumentaries have been made about it, and more than a decade after it ended, we still continue to analyze it. And we continue to enjoy the manymanymanymanymanymanymanymanymanymany moments (seriously, click on the manys there. Those are some of the moments that didn't make the countdown and you should probably look.) that came from the era.

ManyMany, many segments.

Many.

Let's be honest, there will never be another period like that in the wrestling business ever again. Ever. You know I'm right on this, don't fight me.

But what was the greatest moment Monday Night War moment ever?

The week began with asking you, the Cagesiders, that very question. Two days ago, I posted moments 20 to 11, which included Goldberg winning the world title on Nitro, the infamous Fingerpoke of Doom, and "IT'S ME, AUSTIN!" (aww, son of a bitch!) (WHAT?!??!!!!?)

Now we get into the heart of the matter with..

The top 10 moments of the Monday Night War.

(as voted by you, the Cagesiders)

Let's do this thing.

10. Steve Austin takes it from here, nurse.

So safe to say Steve Austin and Vince McMahon didn't like each other a whole lot. In late September 1998, McMahon in conjunction with Kane and the Undertaker screwed Steve Austin out of the WWF title. No way Chilly McFreeze was gonna stand for it, and the next night on RAW, Austin got in the building with a zamboni and got a few free shots on McMahon while Kane and Undertaker watched. McMahon didn't like that so much, called the Brothers of Destruction retarded (or handicapped, it was definitely one of the two), and the BOD crippled the BO-double S.

The next week on RAW, McMahon convalesced in a hospital with his ankle in a cast. Mankind, ever the ass kisser, stopped by with well wishes and a clown (and a sock puppet—which would go on to WWF lore of its own). That was nothing compared to what Steve Austin had for the boss. See, Austin sets his mind on getting someone, he will do it, even if he has to travel to get it.

Or in this case, even if he has to sneak into the very hospital McMahon stayed in to do it. Austin, in full uniform, performed his own exam. And of course, the bedpan shot heard around the world. It ended in an impromptu rectal exam, because what attack on the boss in a hospital doesn't end with having something turned sideways and shoved up their candy ass, amirite? The moment is forever immortalized in two little words: Bedpan McMahon.

9. This is your life!

The Rock ‘n Sock Connection were one of the great superteams in WWF history. In their one month together, they had won—and lost—the tag team titles. Twice. They also happened to share a hell of a comedic chemistry.

September 27, 1999. Four days after losing the tag titles to the Outlaws, it was safe to say the team was on shaky ground. But Mankind had a solution for getting the team back on track:  celebrate The Rock's life. His "sixth grade home economics teacher", his "high school football coach", even The Rock's "high school sweetheart" all showed up. And Yurple the Clown. Because why not? She leads a singing of "Happy Birthday", there's cake, and wait... it's not The Rock's birthday. Not even close. It's May 2, meaning Mick Foley was nearly five months late with the party. Triple H crashes the party with a sledgehammer, and that's the cue for everybody to empty the pool because remember, this is a professional wrestling show.

Not that it mattered: the quarter-hour where the bulk of the segment aired got an 8.4 rating. Nitro during that same quarter-hour: 1.6. That means four out of five televisions watching wrestling in those 15 minutes were on RAW.  That also means at the time about one in twelve homes with cable had RAW on. One in twelve. Pretty much the only things on cable that get that kind of number these days are Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and NFL football.

How, you ask? Well, Nitro around that time aired Rick Steiner versus Van Hammer. And the Arizona Cardinals were on Monday Night Football (ironically, in what ended up being Steve Young's final NFL game as the San Francisco 49ers quarterback suffered what would be a career-ending concussion), and nobody really paid attention to the Cardinals back then. So yeah, the circumstances around them may have had much to do with the record quarter-hour as The Rock ‘n Sock Connection. Doesn't matter: no way they'll even get close to this number again.

8. The nWo/WCW brawl at Disneyworld.

The summer of 1996 saw the mood of WCW drastically change with the storm clouds of the New World Order rolling in. And it became very clear that this threesome was taking no prisoners, only a pile of bodies in their wake.

July 29, 1996. The end of the Nitro main event is interrupted when Jimmy Hart informs a cameraman he has to get help like right now. He informs the wrestlers that they have to get to the back like right now. The next thing we see is Scott Hall and Kevin Nash brandishing baseball bats and the American Males and Arn Anderson all lying in the fetal position. And in a moment that will be remembered for all eternity, Rey Mysterio launches himself into the waiting arms of Kevin Nash, who introduces him lawn dart-style into the broad side of a trailer. Ouch. Suddenly, a swarm of WCW guys come in, and though Macho Man Randy Savage tried, the nWo drove off into the night, damage done and point made.

Suddenly, you knew exactly just how real shit had gotten in WCW... a little too real, as people nearby called the cops thinking this was a real gang assault happening in friendly little Orlando. Face and heel alignments didn't matter as suddenly it was made very clear to anyone watching that if the wrestlers didn't unite against this trio, eventually everyone in WCW would suffer the same fate. And wouldn't you know it, they did.

7. D-Generation X invades WCW.

Eric Bischoff often bragged about how they were going to take it to WWF. You know, like the bully that talks smack from afar. You know, the bully that talks smack from afar, only to cower when the fight comes to their doorstep.

April 27, 1998 was the day that WCW cowered because on that day, the Monday Night War literally came to their door. D-Generation X, in a tank no less, made the 40-minute drive from Norfolk to Hampton and promised they were going to take the war to them and you do not disgrace the good name of the WWF. Or something.

In addition to trying to get in via tank, jeep, and whatever armored vehicle they could find, they outed WCW for papering their attendance (a practice still pretty much used to this day by many wrestling companies to make sure buildings are full) and had fun with their fans and demanded WCW to free Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Oh, and they really nearly did get in. Until the garage door shut on them a few feet from entry.

What would have happened had they gotten remains one of wrestling's biggest unsolved mysteries. My guess: whatever it was wouldn't have been pretty.

6. D-Generation X "apologizes" to USA Network.

In early 1998, the WWF was embarking on its newer creative direction (something was discussed in the first part of this countdown), while the nation as a whole was gripped in a national scandal with the President getting some nookie on the job by someone other than the First Lady.

Enough of that. The WWF, in particular D-Generation X, were playing fast and loose with Standards and Practices and USA Network, seeing as their "family friendly" show was getting a little bit crass, probably wrote a sterly-worded letter telling them to cool it and apologize. DX did that in the most DX way.

Triple H: "Between the hours of 10 & 11 pm, we will only use the words ass, damn, hell and bitch. We will never, however, use the words shit, fuck, goddamn, Jesus Christ, faggot, or any other racial or sexual slurs. Now then, as it pertains to video, we promise there will be less dick references."

Shawn Michaels: "Awww, shit!"

Triple H: "Watch your fuckin' mouth!"

Shawn Michaels: "Woah, fuck me..."

Triple H: "Goddammit... fuck!... Anyway, there will be less penis references."

Shawn Michaels: "Oh, and one last thing. Even though many of you believe that currently the favorite pastime in the oral office is swallow the leader. I did not, I repeat, I did not sleep with that young intern. As a matter of fact, I was UP, ALL, NIGHT! Ha ha ha ha ha."

Pretty sure this did not make USA Network executives sleep better at night. But hey, TIMELY! TOPICAL! RATINGS! Amirite?

5. Stone Cold beer bath.

On the Monday before Wrestlemania XV, Steve Austin wanted to toast The Rock and the McMahons to an awesome main event (which I'm pretty sure they did after the main event because it was the best match on the show by a wide margin). Not with hoity-toity wine, with beer. And not beer in cans or beer in bottles.

No, this is Steve Austin we're talking about, so Stevie's going big. With a beer truck. And beer straight out of the hose. And everybody is getting hosed. Vince and his nice suit. Shane and his nice suit. The Rock with his nice track pants and $20 shirt. And the WWF Championship belt. Probably a few people in the front row. And Vince trying to swim in it is priceless. Seriously, look at Vince here. Is that not the most Vince McMahon thing ever? It certainly was a comedic sidebar to one of the most heated feuds in WWF history.

4. Scott Halls wants a war.

In a trend that started even before WCW thought of a Monday night show, many WWF stars were leaving for the greener pastures and bigger money for Turner's company. More money for less dates, where do I sign? Usually it was the guys that were big in the WWF in the 1980s, like Hulk Hogan or Randy Savage or the Big Boss Man.

But then Nitro happened, and suddenly WWF's then-current big names were leaving too, and in May 1996, that list included on Scott Hall. Last seen on television as Razor Ramon, the former Diamond Studd hopped a guardrail during a nothing match on Nitro and demands a microphone because all ex-WWF  wrestlers get a microphone when debuting on the competition's show, right?

Well, this ex-WWFer wanted to see someone about WCW claiming "this is where the big boys play" and calls out WCW's veterans and basically says that the WWF wasn't gonna take it anymore and the WWF was ready to throw hands and go to war. Never mind that Hall actually worked for WCW, but remember this was 1996 and not nearly as many people had access to the Internet as they do now.

So this might as well have been a WWF guy on a WCW show looking to start a fight. And it was mental as all hell. Most people didn't know what to make of it. With the addition of another former WWFer Kevin Nash added two weeks later, and Hulk Hogan's shocking heel turn a month after that, you had the genesis of the most dominant faction in many people's lifetimes, the New World Order.

3. Chris Jericho is the millennium man.

So WWF programming in the summer of 1999 featured this countdown to the millennium clock. You know, with the millennium closing in and what not. Except the clock was set to expire on August 9, more than four months before the actual start of the new millennium.

So the big day comes and the clock hits zero... in of all places, the middle of a Rock promo (an odd place to end a countdown), and the millennium man himself is revealed: former WCW cruiserweight and television champion Chris Jericho.

Wait... what?

And then you stop wait...whating when the man now known as Y2J talks.

"Welcome to RAW IS JERICHO!

And I am the new millennium for the World Wrestling Federation! Now for those of you who don't know me: I am Chris Jericho, your... your new hero, your party host and most importantly, the most charismatic showman to ever enter your living rooms via a television screen. And for those of you who do know me: Well, all hail the Ayatollah of Rock-N-Rollah!

Now, when you think of the new millennium, you think of an event so gigantic that it changes the course of history. You think of a dawning of a new era. In this case the dawning of a new era in the WWF. And a new era is what this once proud and profitable company sorely needs. What was once a captivating, trend-setting program has now deteriorated into a clichéd, - let's be honest - boring snooze fest that is in dire need of a knight in shining armor. And that's why I'm here. Chris Jericho has come to save the WWF.

Now, let's go over the facts. Television ratings: downward spiral. Pay-Per-View buyrates: plummeted. Mainstream acceptance: non-existent. And reactions of the live crowd: complete and utter silence. And I know why you're silent. You're silent because you're embarrassed to be here. And quite honestly I'm embarrassed for you. And the reason why you're embarrassed is because of the steady stream of uninteresting, untalented, mediocre "Sports-Entertainers", for who you're forced to cheer for and care for. No wonder you're not cheering. You can care less about every single idiot in that dressing room. And especially this idiot in the centre of the ring...

You people have been lead to believe that mediocrity is excellence. Uh-uh, Jericho is excellence! And now for the first time in WWF history, you have a man who can entertain you. You have a man who is good enough for you. You have a man who can make you jump off your chairs, raise your filthy fat little hands in the air and scream: "Go Jericho Go! Go Jericho Go! Go Jericho Go!"

Thank you.

The new millennium has arrived in the WWF and now that the Y2J problem is here, this company, from the front office idiots to all the amateurs in the dressing room, including this one, to everybody watching tonight will never E-E-EVER be the same again!"

And then it hits you...well, not exactly at that moment, but after The Rock puts the new employee in his place, that (1) holy shit, WCW actually let this guy walk?, (2) this guy can talk and is pretty damn charismatic, and (3) wait... he really can't be talking about the WWF like that, can he?

As it turned out, (1) yes, WCW let this guy walk after he was left to rot in the midcard, (2) this guy can talk and is pretty damn charismatic, and (3) he may have been foreshadowing on his new employer while shooting on his former one. You take that very promo and put it in a 2015 show, and he would be spot on. Maybe Chris Jericho was the millennium man after all. After all, he pretty much predicted the future. And after struggling in his rookie year, he went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history.

2. Chris Jericho's 1004 holds.

So the March 30, 1998 episode of RAW is WAR is pretty much one of the more eventful episodes of that show in its history. Austin's first night as WWF Champion, The Rock hostily takes over the Nation of Domination, and D-Generation X reboots with the New Age Outlaws and the returning Sean Waltman.

So you can't be blamed if you missed this moment in its original airing because this happened on the same night. Chris Jericho, embroiled in a damn near blood feud with Dean Malenko (who had been off television since Uncensored), claimed that the "Man of 1000 Holds" has about 60 holds at best. But the "Lionheart"? He doesn't have a thousand holds. He has a thousand and four. Even made a list of them and everything, which he presented on an unsuspecting audience at the United Center in Chicago.

Holds such as the Saskatchewan Spinning Nerve Hold, The Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenzo (a move that would later be stolen by one Perry Saturn), The Super Blizzard, the Shooting Star Staple Superpress, and his signature maneuver, the ARMBAR. He never got to finish that list thanks to Prince Iaukea (such a heel he is). But the Internet didGood looking out, Internet.

1. Mankind wins the WWF Championship.

Or as many people call it, the moment that forever altered the Monday Night War. It was January 4, 1999. No, actually it wasn't. It aired on January 4, 1999, but it went down six nights earlier. Dateline Worcester, Massachusetts. Mankind, who had been duped out of the WWF Championship at Rock Bottom on a technicality after being duped out of the WWF Championship at Survivor Series on a screwjob finish, had just been duped out of competing in the Royal Rumble match thanks to Shane McMahon fast counting in favor of Triple H. Hunter, always the grateful competitor, Pedigrees Shane McMahon. Thanks Hunter.

Anyways, Mankind is tired of being duped. He's mad as hell, and he's not gonna take it anymore, so he takes a dazed Shane McMahon hostage and demands Vince to book a WWF title match, not for the Royal Rumble, but for this every episode of RAW or Shane's gonna lose use of his arms for a while. After getting what he wanted, he thought, hey, I got the owner's son hostage, I probably should up the ante. So he gets a no disqualification stipulation added. And Vince, seeing his son in excruciating pain, agrees.

The match is your standard television main event title match. Not terrible, but not exactly an all-time classic. Until the anarchy begins. Ken Shamrock hits Mankind, Billy Gunn hits Shamrock, and it's chaos. Then the glass breaks. That means it's somebody's ass. And Steve Austin brains The Rock stone cold dead (see, what I did there?). He pulls Mankind on top, 1, 2, 3, Mick Foley's your new WWF Champion.

So... what's the big deal? Well, a number of things:

  • About 45 minutes before the match went down, Tony Schiavone on Nitro spoiled the ending (something that WCW at this point had done for YEARS as RAW was taped some weeks to save money) with this flippant quote: "Fans, if you're even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, fans, do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here one time as Cactus Jack, is going to win their world title. Ha! That's gonna put some butts in the seats, heh." Mind you, this wasn't Tony's call to say it; that was on Eric Bischoff. But nonetheless, WCW greatly underestimated the appeal of Mick Foley. So much so that for the next year, WWF fans took every opportunity to rub WCW's proverbial face in it, with "Mick Foley put my ass in this seat" signs popping up on virtually every show.
  • WWF teased a title win for Mick Foley the entire night and delivered the goods, which brings me to what WCW did...
  • they teased a Kevin Nash-Goldberg rematch, then a Kevin Nash-Hollywood Hogan match. Those fans essentially got neither.
  • Instead, they got the FINGERPOKE OF DOOM, mocking WCW, its fans, and its championship...
  • ...in a "match" that ran right after RAW went off the air.

WCW went back with its tired trope known as the New World Order while burying its biggest star, while the WWF, who six weeks earlier crowned a world champion who would not turn 30 until well into the new century, just put their world title belt on a man who grinded for fifteen years and didn't exactly have the typical "WWF Champion" body. WCW screwed themselves a lot of times with main events going to a non-finish or a screwy finish. January 4, 1999 was the wrong night to do it. Even with everything surrounding the moment aside, Mick Foley being rewarded for his contributions to the wrestling business is pretty fucking cool. Even Michael Cole made this moment sound cool. And he can't make anything sound cool.

That's why you've decided that Mankind's WWF title win on RAW #253 is the best moment in the Monday Night War.

So... agree with the list? What did we miss? Give out about it in the comments.

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And when you're done arguing with your fellow Cagesiders, check out these past Cageside Countdowns.

  • Best of Wrestlemania 31
  • Best PPV Themes
  • Worst Acts In Kayfabe
  • Most Extreme Moments
  • Best Wrestling Cities
  • Best Rock Moments
  • Things Missing on WWE Network
  • Why You Hate Vince McMahon
  • Best Things In Wrestling Right Now
  • Most Disappointing Storylines
  • Most Iconic Wrestling Photos
  • Best RAW Guest Stars
  • Best Wrestling T-Shirts
  • Best TNA Moments
  • Worst PPVs Ever
  • Things We Miss Most in Wrestling (part 1) (part 2)
  • Best Roddy Piper Moments
  • Best of Summerslam 2015
  • Best Shawn Michaels Moments
  • Best Smackdown Moments