-Nitro launched 20 years ago tonight. I attended the first Nitro in person without much of an idea what to expect. I remember being skeptical that WCW could compete with the WWF Raw program, but that was based on what WCW had been doing with their poorly lit and produced syndicated show with sometimes sparse crowds and the WCW Saturday Night program at the Centre Stage studio. The Mall of America setting was only done once, but it was a strong launch site because it was so different from what anyone had seen before. The coup of having Lex Luger walk out in a surprise, blindsiding Vince McMahon who was working with Lex on a handshake agreement as they renegotiated his new contract, symbolized the ruthless war Vince McMahon was about to engage in with Eric Bischoff. Another underrated aspect of Nitro’s initial success was the brash commentary of Eric Bischoff, verbally taking it to WCW in a way that resembles how Donald Trump these days is taking it to the other Republican presidential candidates.
-I talked to WCW booker Kevin Sullivan at the Marriott Hotel bar after Nitro that evening. He set expectations low for the ratings, which was wise, telling me that he thought it would take months for the TBS viewership to find Nitro on TNT. Of course WCW was in for a pleasant surprise when ratings came in the next afternoon. It didn’t take long for it to be clear to Vince McMahon he was in for a war. Another image I remember distinctly is Eric Bischoff watching the replay of Nitro on the hotel bar monitor. He was announcing the show and thus hadn’t yet had a chance to see the finished product as a viewer. He was glued to the screen like a parent watching their child perform in a high school sport or play, admiring the finished product, but surely critiquing it in his mind, too.
-There are times watching pro wrestling feels like a total circus and other times it feels like a intense simulated combat sporting event. The “circus” aspect was captured in a 10 second stretch on Smackdown last night when they went from Xavier Woods playing a trombone with his New Day partners backstage during a celebratory march during a Renee Young interview followed by Stardust’s ring entrance.
-I do have to say the kiss Dolph Ziggler had with Summer Rae in June 2014 that Summer aired on Miz TV last night on Smackdown was much more convincing than any Ziggler-Lana make-out session.
-If you haven’t yet, check out my appearances on Steve Austin’s podcasts this week discussing Summerslam in-depth. I was on both the Steve Austin Podcast family-friendly version talking about the first half of the event, and then the Steve Austin Unleashed version talking about the second half of the event. It’s available at Steve Austin Unleashed.
-I’m interested to see the live “Stone Cold Podcast” on WWE Network this Monday night after Raw featuring Edge & Christian. Those are two really smart, level-headed wrestlers who were part of the Attitude Era through the John Cena Era, but had their careers ended prematurely due to injuries exacerbated by the hard-hitting, bit-bump-taking style that put them on the tag team map early in their careers. There’s a lot of directions Austin’s interview can go with them, and I look forward to a mix of their reminiscing about fun memories from their careers to more introspective subjects about how the ring style changed during their careers and how fan reactions to wrestling changed over the years to how social media has changed how wrestlers perceive their relationship with their fanbase.
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-Keep visiting www.PWTorch.com for the very latest news, results, flashbacks, and special features. Today includes two reports of last night’s Global Force Wrestling event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa plus details on the TNA & ROH TV ratings this week. And UFC fans, check out the latest MMA news and a preview of this weekend’s UFC event at www.MMATorch.com.
-Bruce Mitchell & Travis Bryant will be hosting tonight’s PWTorch Livecast streaming live at 7 ET taking your calls. Join them live by streaming it or listen on demand later at www.PWTorchLivecast.com.
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