Wrestling: WCW Monday Nitro

"Three letters say it all: WCW! Where the Big Boys Play presents... Monday Nitro!"
Tony Schiavone

In 1995, World Championship Wrestling was looking for a way to compete with the World Wrestling Federation. The method they went with was to start a weekly show on TNT designed to go head to head with their rival's flagship program. Thus, Monday Nitro was born.

Nitro was a highly unconventional wrestling show from day one. Plot twists happened nearly every episode, and every match was designed to be on the quality level its competitors reserved for pay-per-view. Since Nitro was live, unlike Raw, which was taped at the time, the show's commentators would sometimes reveal the results of matches. This uniqueness was further compounded by the New World Order storyline, as it blurred the line between kayfabe and reality.

All of this made for a winning formula for success. Nitro outdid Raw in the ratings for 84 weeks straight, and at one time was the most watched show on cable.

However, it wouldn't last. The nWo storyline ran well beyond its welcome, and the Fingerpoke of Doom didn't help. The PPV-quality matches, while able to draw ratings, left nothing notable on PPV. The last few years were a shadow of what the show once was. Shocking swerves and a heel face revolving door that just wouldn't stop made for a confusing show.

Eventually, the WWF bought WCW. The last episode of Nitro aired on March 26, 2001, and the end of that episode served as a lead-in for the Invasion angle.

WCW Monday Nitro- 1995-2001

This show contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Bad Guy Wins: Part of the reason the nWo storyline ran out of steam was because the writers forgot that the heels are eventually supposed to lose. The nWo, on the other hand, kept dominating without anyone to stop them.
  • Book Ends: The first and last Nitro both had Flair vs. Sting.
  • Continuity Reboot: In 2000, there was one to try and shake off the badness that had accumulated in the last few storylines. It didn't work.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Many a main event match was like this.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door
  • Fingerpoke of Doom: The trope namer happened on Nitro.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: Subverted. In WCW's later years, the creative staff went back to the well a half dozen too many times by reviving the nWo seemingly every six months and booking matches and feuds between the same cast of characters over and over again. As The Death of WCW put it, as great a match as Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Juventud Guerrera could be, you can only watch so many variations week after week before it gets old. One of the main reasons why WCW fell in the ratings was because the writers were dead set on running with a pat hand, keeping entire segments of the roster firmly segregated from each other in competition and not giving them the chance to compete against different opponents.
  • Squash Match: Averted. The great appeal in Nitro's early years when compared to the product being put out on Raw was that, with the notable exception of matches featuring Goldberg, there were almost no squash matches. Nearly every match on the card was set as being between two more-or-less equal sides that were seen as having a respectable chance of winning. Compare this to the cards being put out on Raw circa 1995, where almost all matches except the main event featured dedicated jobbers to some degree.
  • Take That: Nearly every episode would have at least one directed at the WWF.