By Chris Slater
One thing that has really irked me about WWE over the years has been their revisionist version of history that they present. Since WWE owns pretty much all of the major American wrestling footage from the last 30 years, they have released several DVD documentary sets incorporating that footage.
This acquisition of footage really began at the turn of the century, as they acquired World Championship Wrestling and all of their tape history. Marketing documentaries wasn’t really a strong aspect of WWE until 2003 or so. Since then, though, that has become a major revenue stream for WWE and a lot of hardcore fans favorite aspect of WWE.
WCW has never been given enough credit for what they accomplished during the famous “Monday Night Wars” that they waged against WWE. Starting in 1993, WWE presented “Monday Night Raw” on the USA Network. In 1995, WCW President Eric Bischoff launched “Monday Nitro” at the same time over on TNT. The rest, to borrow a cliché, was history.
WCW really didn’t get the recognition it deserved until 2010, honestly. Chris Jericho was the first WWE star who had really made a name for himself in WCW to get a retrospective documentary of his career. You don’t want to make Jericho look like a minor-league talent, so they told the truth about how good WCW was for a while.
Obviously, WCW did get pretty bad by the end there. That’s why WCW doesn’t exist anymore. But, for a brief window of time, WCW was the top wrestling promotion in the world. WWE is finally starting to recognize that, as they have released two recent WCW titles that were very good – The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro and The Best of WCW Clash of the Champions 3-disc sets. Both are worlds better than the two previous WCW titles, The Rise and Fall of WCW, and what I’m going to look at right now, The Monday Night War.
Released in 2003, The Monday Night War was one of the first documentaries that WWE released. It covered the feud between WWE and WCW that was waged every Monday night from 1995 until WWE purchased WCW in 2001.
I had heard about the documentary for years and finally watched it recently. I had not heard good things about it and went in hoping for the best. I came out of it with some confusion. Mostly, I was wondering to myself, “What was the point of this?”
I feel like this was made just to have documented proof that WWE won the war against WCW. Honestly, this DVD was pointless. It started with the rise of Nitro. Then it showed some clips of Raw gaining momentum. Then it talked about how WCW sucked by the end. Then it showed WWE on top. As Gerald Brisco said in one of the disk’s final moments, in his Oklahoma drawl, “What did we learn from the Monday Night Wars? That you don’t mess with Mr. Mack-Man.”
And it seems like that was the only reason they made this documentary, to prove that point. If you’re a hardcore fan, watch it. If you’re not, don’t let WWE brainwash you into believing that this was really what happened.
Listening to Vince McMahon play the victim is one of the worst aspects of this set – “I can’t believe Eric Bischoff would do this. Woe is me. He tried to put me out of business. Blah blah blah.” Watch the AWA documentary, which admittedly WWE did a great job with, and listen to Greg Gagne talk about the shit Vince McMahon pulled that led to them going out of business. You won’t feel bad for Bischoff giving Vince a taste of his own medicine.
There are some interesting comments from Mick Foley and Jim Ross, but the star of this documentary is Jim Cornette, who was a WWE employee back then. He is one of the best talkers in the wrestling business, and his insight and mind for the business are in top form here. Watch it for those guys alone.
I would really like to see WWE do another Monday Night Wars set now that it has been over a decade since the war was over. They’ve gotten less biased over the years and that is good for their future DVD releases. I’d like to see them rectify the past and make this the great DVD set that it should be.