June 19-25 -- The WWF presents one of its worst PPVs of all-time, King of the Ring ‘95. The main event of Diesel & Bam Bam Bigelow over Sid & Tatanka falls flat, while Mabel’s victory in the KOTR tournament falls even flatter -- to crepe-like levels, in fact. Shawn Michaels, the favorite to win the tournament and arguably the company’s best worker, is inexplicably eliminated in the first round. The show draws a rather poor 0.65 buy rate.
June 26-July 2 -- WCW announces the resignation of Ric Flair as head booker. His successor is named as Kevin Sullivan, who has already been acting as a creative contributor for the past several months and also served with Flair on the company’s booking committee in 1989.
July 3-9 -- Long-time WWF front office staffer and figurehead “president” Jack Tunney resigns from the company.
July 10-16 -- WCW continues its streak of critical disasters with the “Bash at the Beach,” which draws a strong buy rate of 0.82, along with a freebie crowd of 6,000 to a beach in Hunington Beach, California. The announcers claim an attendance figure of “100,000” numerous times during and after the show. In the main event, Hulk Hogan downs Vader in a steel cage match, with assistance from Dennis Rodman, while Randy Savage beats Ric Flair in a “Lifeguard Match.”
- On WCW “Main Event” on TBS prior to the PPV, a hulking man who has been caught on camera in the crowd at a handful of prior events confronts Hulk Hogan during an interview segment. The unnamed man hands Hogan a poofy white shirt, then walks off, causing a stunned Hulkster to stammer, “Oh my God, Jimmy, this was Andre’s!”
July 17-23 -- Though largely unsuccessful, the second “In Your House” PPV boasts a near-five-star match: Shawn Michaels beats Jeff Jarrett to win the Intercontinental title for the third time, after a miscommunication spot between Jarrett and his second, Brian “The Roadie” Armstrong. In a poorly-received main event, Diesel pins Sid cleanly to retain the WWF Hvt. title.
- Jarrett and the Roadie (a/k/a Road Dogg) walk out on the WWF during In Your House after a disagreement with Vince McMahon regarding character direction. The two had been scheduled to film an on-air break-up at the PPV, to which they strongly object, feeling that it’s too soon for such a denouement to their on-air relationship. Among their grievances also include low payoffs and a drug test the Roadie was forced to take prior to the card.
July 24-30 -- Smoky Mountain Wrestling and the WWF fire Ricky Morton of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express for a pattern of unprofessional conduct, including tardiness and showing up “in no condition to perform.”
- The Giant -- Andre’s “son” and the man who presented Hulk Hogan with the pirate shirt before Bash at the Beach -- debuts on WCW Saturday Night in a Dungeon of Doom segment, choking out Hogan.
July 31-August 6 -- Using Jim Ross as an intermediary, Vince McMahon shockingly hires on former UWF/Mid-South and WCW front-man “Cowboy” Bill Watts to assume the reigns of the WWF’s booking. Remarkably, Watts is promised full autonomy over the Fed’s creative direction, a clear indication of McMahon’s wavering confidence in his own creative acumen. Management does not immediately acknowledge “Cowboy” Bill’s arrival to the wrestlers, although it is tacitly recognized by everyone in the promotion.
Ross, a former Watts understudy, and Bruce Britchard remain on the booking staff as assistants.
August 7-13 -- In a decision he would live to regret, Eric Bischoff releases the injured “Stunning” Steve Austin from his WCW contract. Bischoff’s rationale is that Austin has been injury-prone and uncooperative for the better part of the past year. - On the last -- and, arguably, one of the poorest -- “Clash of the Champions” special before Nitro debuts, the newly-babyface Vader beats Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in a handicap match.
- Gorilla Monsoon is named the new figurehead “president” of the WWF, replacing Jack Tunney.
Aug. 14-20 -- Following several weeks of negotiations, ECW wrestlers Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko finally commit to entering WCW, to coincide with the debut of the next month’s “Monday Nitro.” The trio had initially been reticent to accept Eric Bischoff’s offers due to his poor track record for handling wrestlers whose appeal is workrate-based; they agree to sign, though, after New Japan’s Masa Saito intimated to them that NJ -- their primary source of income at the time -- would release them should they not sign with its Western business partner. The main behind-the-scenes proponent of hiring the three is Kevin Sullivan, whose latest concept is for WCW to differentiate itself from the WWF by featuring a flank of world-class workers.
- At the Raw tapings, “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith turns heel for the first time in his WWF career, betraying Diesel in a tag match.
Aug. 21-27 -- The WWF earns at least some critical marks for its Summer Slam PPV, largely due to the classic Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon ladder match, during which Michaels retains the Intercontinental title. In the main event, Diesel beats Mabel to retain the WWF title, which is largely blamed for its disappointing-for-a-Summer-Slam 0.9 buy rate.
- Despite concerns over how his character will be portrayed in the company, Sabu comes to terms with WCW, setting him up to join Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko in Nitro’s nucleus of innovative workers. The ex-ECW star’s debut match against Alex Wright is set for the September 11 Nitro.
- Meanwhile, WCW makes a play for ECW’s Taz, but he refuses Bischoff and company’s offer.
Aug. 28-September 3 Friction between Shawn Michaels and Lex Luger comes to a head stemming from Michaels’ commentary to the effect that Luger “punches like a girl.” Meanwhile, Luger continues to wrestle for the WWF without a contract, which came due several weeks earlier.
Sept. 4-10 -- The unopposed debut of Monday Nitro caps off one of the most eventful weeks in the modern history of pro wrestling. On the show, Brian Pillman defeats Jushin Liger in a fast-paced match, Sting beats Ric Flair by DQ, and Hogan pins Big Bubba Rogers. In one of the most memorable moments of the decade, Lex Luger makes a shocking, unadvertised appearance during the Sting-Flair match, watching from the aisle for several moments before returning to the back, setting the unpredictable tone that would characterize the show for years to come. At the end of the broadcast, Luger helps Hogan fend off an attack from the Dungeon of Doom, before the two have a confrontation setting up a singles match the next week. The show is a veritable success on all fronts, drawing a 2.9 -- slightly below Raw’s recent average. Meanwhile, during Raw’s timeslot on the USA Network, Andre Agassi is en route to his first U.S. Open championship.
- Over the previous two weeks, Luger had convinced Vince McMahon that he had no intention of signing with WCW even though, which convinced Vince to allow him to work without a contract. However, Luger had been secretly negotiating with Eric Bischoff -- with Sting as the intermediary between the two -- the entire time; in fact, Luger had come to terms on a contract just three days before his appearance in Minneapolis. “The Total Package” actually wrestled on all of the WWF’s house shows the previous weekend, then flew to Minneapolis, where he was spotted at a backstage party by sidelined Federation wrestler Sean Waltman (aka the 1-2-3 Kid/X-Pac). Only one hour before Nitro was set to take the air, Waltman phoned a consternated Vince McMahon to inform him of Luger’s impending appearance for the competition that night.
- Luger’s debut is made possible for WCW by the payroll space created by Eric Bischoff’s firing Vader in connection with a backstage tussle between the 400-pound and wrestler/agent/booker Paul Orndorff. One well-sourced version of what transpired is as follows: Just days before the first Nitro, at a WCW Saturday Night taping at Atlanta’s Center Stage Theater, Vader was putting on his ring gear in the dressing room. Orndorff approached him and got on his case about taking too much time to get ready to go tape promos in the facility’s interview area. The words between the two men were especially harsh, due to some sort of pre-existing tension from one or more incidents over the previous few months. Orndorff’s attempts to hasten Vader along only prompted the wrestler to become even more deliberate in his preparations, which in turn prompted “Mr. Wonderful” to hurl insults at him, like “fat prima-donna” and “fat ass.” Vader took exception, natch, and shoved Orndorff with enough force to send him to the ground. In response, Orndorff rose to his feet and floored Vader with a punch, mounted the prostate Vader, punched him some more, laid in a series of kicks for good measure, and left his opposition bruised and bloodied, before some other wrestlers stepped in to break up the fray. Several minutes later, Vader went into a flight of rage and scoured the halls of Center Stage looking for Orndorff. When the two met up again, Orndorff didn’t fare nearly as well as the first go-round but, by all accounts, still held his own until it was broken up. Because Vader commanded such a hefty salary (reportedly upwards of $600,000 a year through 1998) and Orndorff was in a position of power, Eric Bischoff fired Vader shortly before the first Nitro.
One of the most notable aspects of the fracas is that Orndorff had had only limited use of his right arm since 1986, due to a nerve injury exacerbated by a botched suplex from Hulk Hogan that year.
- Shawn Michaels grants an interview to Mark Madden of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette -- who, incidentally, is also a member of the WCW Hotline troupe by this point -- and delves into a number of behind-the-scenes topics. He claims that Vince McMahon has requested that he “tone down his act” on a number of different occasions, so as not to upstage all the other wrestlers. He further says that Ric Flair was overrated in his prime; ‘Naitch did almost the exact same match every week, so sayeth, Michaels, which is why he, HBK, is better than Flair ever was.
- According to rumors, Hulk Hogan kvetches to WCW management that the “new guys” (Sabu, Chris Benoit, Dean malenko, Eddie Guerrero) are “too small.”
- Monday Night Wars, Sept. 4: Nitro - 2.9 (Flair vs. Sting)
September 11-17 -- The WWF’s established RAW goes head-to-head with WCW’s upstart “Monday Nitro” for the first time, and Nitro ekes out a surprise win, 2.6-2.5. Nitro offers a first-time Hulk Hogan vs. Lex Luger “dream match” for the WCW Hvt. title, while the Federation counters with a taped Shawn Michaels vs. Sid main event. Perhaps the most notable aspect of either program is that Eric Bischoff uses his broadcast booth bully pulpit to heap pejorative statements on the WWF. Not only does he claim on two different occasions that Lex Luger walked out on the WWF (even mentioning the company by name) to wrestle “where the big boys play,” but he also attempts to sabotage Raw by reminding viewers that it’s a taped show: “About the competition -- don’t bother watching. It’s three weeks old. Shawn Michaels beat the big guy with a superkick.”
Elsewhere on the show, Sabu makes his long-awaited debut, beating Alex Wright and putting him through a table -- a first in WCW.
- WCW holds a decent “Fall Brawl” PPV, drawing a poor 0.48 buy rate for Hulk Hogan & Sting & Randy Savage & Lex Luger beat the Dungeon of Doom in WarGames when Hogan makes The Zodiac submit, Arn Anderson beats Ric Flair (****), and Johnny B. Badd beats Brian Pillman (****).
- MNW, Sept. 11: Nitro - 2.6 (Luger vs. Hogan), Raw - 2.5 (Shawn Michaels vs. Sid)
September 18-24 -- - The WWF’s September 24 “In Your House” PPV is a strong show headlined by Bret Hart over Jean Pierre LaFitte and Shawn Michaels & Diesel over Davey Boy Smith & Yokozuna. Bill Watts’ booking fingerprints (heels gaining relatively clean wins, matches telling a story with one wrestler honing his focus on a single part of another’s body, numerous ref. bumps, and logical booking) mark the booking of the card. It draws a 0.7 buy rate, the exact same as the previous IYH two months prior.
- Former member of the tag team “Quebecers” tag team Jean Pierre LaFitte (aka “Pierre Ouelette,” among other aliases), the WWF’s top ethnic French-Canadian draw in Quebec, puts up a stink over doing a job to WWF champion Diesel at a card in Montreal. In a phone conversation with a road agent prompted by LaFitte’s complaints, Vince McMahon agrees to change the finish to a double-countout, which raises the ire of both Diesel and fellow Shawn Michaels. As a result, LaFitte develops heat with the two Clique members. Naturally, during a rematch the following night in Quebec City, LaFitte catches Diesel with a “potato shot,” and the champ retaliates with two hard shoot punches to the head. Remarkably, the two men cooperate for the remainder of the match without further incident. LaFitte is de-pushed in the wake of these histrionics.
MNW, Sept. 18: Raw - 2.5 (Razor Ramon vs. Sean "1-2-3 Kid" Waltman), Nitro - 2.4 (Ric Flair vs. Brian Pillman)
September 25-October 1 -- The WWF releases Womens champion Alundra Blayze, without first having the foresight to have her return the physical championship belt.
- Now a free agent, Steve Austin debuts in ECW, making an unannounced appearance at a card in Middletown, New York. He vows to win Mikey Whipwreck’s ECW Hvt. Title. In his first television interview, he does a raucous parody of Hulk Hogan which eventually makes it onto his first WWF home video release.
- The WWF airs a “WrestleMania” special on FOX, featuring the Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel and Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow matches in their entirety, drawing a strong 3.8 rating. The Fed attempts to parlay this success into a greater presence on the network but is unsuccessful.
- MNW, Sept. 25: Raw - 2.7 (British Bulldog vs. Undertaker), Nitro - 1.8 (Randy Savage vs. Kevin Sullivan)
October 2-8 -- Vince McMahon conducts a meeting with all WWF personnel to announce his resignation as head booker -- ostensibly to focus more on his role as a corporate executive -- and officially usher in Bill Watts, whom he describes as “the brightest mind in wrestling.” Watts, who was ousted as WCW Executive Vice President in 1992, broadcasts several of his booking philosophies at the meeting. He decries the WWF’s lack of a top African-American babyface and announces that recent Texas independent signee Tony Norris (a/k/a “Ahmed Johnson”) will be enjoying a big push; he hints that Bret Hart is a strong candidate to become the next Hvt. champion; he asserts that the company will be toning down its excessive gimmickry; and he announces his new brainchild of each Raw’s featuring clips of the following week’s (taped) edition, to facilitate a “soap-opera-type atmosphere.”
In other moments, both Watts and McMahon have harsh words for WCW’s promotional methods and roster, though McMahon professes that he would like to work with Sting, Brian Pillman, Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero), and Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) in the future.
- New Japan reaffirms its status as the unrivaled top promotion in the world, drawing 67,000 fans, a $6.2 million gate, and $2 million in merchandising sales (the latter two figures being all-time wrestling records which stand until the company breaks them again) for an “inter-promotional” at the Tokyo Dome. In the main event, IWGP champ Keiji Mutoh downs Nobuhiko Takada, champion of the UWFI shootfighting group. UWFI had achieved a great deal of success the previous year and very briefly challenged NJ’s hold as the top promotion in the world, before on hard times prior to this event. Hence, most of its wrestlers do jobs to NJ’s performers on the show.
- MNW, Oct. 2: Nitro - 2.5 (Luger vs. Savage), Raw - 2.5
October 9-15 -- -- Not two weeks after Vince McMahon officially announces the arrival of Bill Watts as his head booker, “Cowboy” Bill is already gone. Watts quits the promotion in a huff, feeling that McMahon had gone back on his promise to cede full booking authority. Watts’ beef stems from several run-ins, but the main one surrounds the future course of the WWF Hvt. title: Watts feels strongly that Bret Hart should be the long-term champion, while McMahon overrules him and deems that Shawn Michaels will emerge as the Federation’s newest front-man come WrestleMania. In addition, Watts is dead-set on pushing “Psycho” Sid as the promotion’s new top heel; establishing several monster heels, as opposed to letting the babyface dominate virtually every encounter, as per McMahon’s convention; and instituting several archaic policies governing out-of-the-ring activities (babyfaces and heels shouldn’t associate with one another away from the ring; tardy wrestlers should be fined steeply; etc.). McMahon, though, chafes at all of these notions.
- A bar altercation between a gaggle of Marines and Shawn Michaels, the 1-2-3 Kid, and Davey Boy Smith in Syracuse, NY, devolves into violence. Several conflicting versions of the story exist, but this one appears to follow the most plausibly: Following a quarrel within the bar’s confines, the wrestlers decamp and attempt to leave in a car. The Marines follow them, heckle them, and prompt Michaels to get out of the car and confront them. A few of the Marines brutally attack him, slam his head into the hood of the car, rip his earrings from his ears, and kick and punch him numerous times as he lies on the ground. Meanwhile, the other Marines try to hold the car’s doors shut to prevent the Kid and Smith from coming to Michaels’ aid. Once the two wrestlers finally pry a door open, the Kid bests one of the Marines in a brawl, while Smith batters several others. At this point, a police officer hits the scene with his gun drawn, sending the Marines limping away from the scene. Michaels winds up with both eyes swollen shut, his eyelid and ears partially torn, and his eardrum ruptured. A few months later, a Douglas Griffith, 23, is arrested and convicted on Assault charges in connection with the incident.
- The beating outside of the bar isn’t the only lowlight of Michaels’ week. A day prior, the ever-controversial HBK is assaulted backstage by Jacob and Eli Blu (a/k/a Ron and Don Harris) during a house show at Madison Square Garden. The twin brothers corner him when the dressing room is empty, give him a mild roughing up, and throw him face-first into a wall, before locking the door so that no nearby wrestlers can rush the scene. No actual blows are exchanged, and the Blus eventually allow Michaels free without inflicting much further physical harm. The team had given notice to Vince McMahon only days before, so the WWF is not in a position to discipline them for the incident. It’s not the last time they will work for the company, either.
- Mabel legitimately breaks the Undertaker’s orbital bone during a match, so the ‘Taker takes to wearing a protective mask for several months.
- The Ultimate Warrior rips off Las Vegas independent promoter T.C. Martin.
- MNW, Oct. 9: Nitro - 2.6 (AA vs. Ric Flair), Raw - 2.6 (Diesel, Michaels, Undertaker vs. Bulldog, Owen, Yokozuna)
Oct. 16-22 -- The WWF holds its October “In Your House,” which draws an abysmal 0.4 buy rate and is the least profitable PPV in the history of the company up to this point. A disgusted Vince McMahon, who announces the show with Jim Ross, throws down his headset immediately after the show goes off the air and complained that it was “terrible.” He also expresses confusion over how the crowd so readily turned on Diesel in favor of Hart; the card emanated from Canada, but McMahon had spent the last year building up Diesel as his top ‘face.
- Hulk Hogan teases a heel turn on Nitro, wearing all black during a vignette and drawing on themes from the OJ Simpson double-murder case: "My concerns this week have been a lot of things -- about what to do with the black gloves, the black bandanna, about what to do with the Giant's carcass... Everyone knows what a man with a pair of black gloves on and a black rag on his head is capable of doing, dude!"
- MNW, Oct. 16: Nitro - 2.2 (Sting & Lex Luger vs. Harlem Heat), Raw - 2.5 (Owen Hart eliminates Marty Jannetty to win battle royal)
Oct. 23-29 -- WCW holds its ludicrous-but-morbidly-entertaining Halloween Havoc PPV, which draws a tepid 0.6. The show is best characterized by the proceedings involving Hulk Hogan and The Giant: The two men first do battle in a monster truck showdown on the top of Cobo Hall in Detroit, where the PPV is held. After Hogan emerges victorious, they enter into a brawl, whereupon Hogan pushes his foe off of the roof of the ten-story building, presumably causing him to plunge to his death. Moments later, a dismayed Hogan makes his way to the ring and starts to apologize for what happened when, much to everyone’s bewilderment, none other than The Giant inexplicably follows him to the squared circle, somehow entirely unscathed. The two men once again battle, this time in a surprisingly acceptable match, with Hogan on the verge of winning when Jimmy Hart turns heel by beating up the referee and pickling his charge with the World title belt. Next, Lex Luger and Randy Savage do a run-in, and Luger turns heel on both Savage and Hogan. Finally, The Yeti -- a “mummy” who appears to be wrapped head-to-toe in toilet paper -- then emerges from the back and helps the Dungeon of Doom put the boots to Hogan and Savage. The match is ruled a DQ win for The Giant, since Hogan’s manager, Hart, had assaulted the referee, though it is revealed the next night on Nitro that the contract for the match stipulated that the title would change hands on a DQ, thanks to Hart’s clandestine tactics.
- The infamous “fire incident” occurs at ECW Arena in Philadelphia, as Cactus Jack attempts to hit Terry Funk with a chair contain a burning towel on it. The towel flies off and lands on Funk, and the flames engulf his entire body for several seconds. Jack immediately breaks kayfabe and tries to extinguish the flame but is unable to corral the frenzied Funk, who eventually averts further disaster by disrobing himself of the towel. To make the incident even more bizarre, the lights go out in the building during the height of the panic so that Raven can “crucify” Tommy Dreamer at the “Eagle’s Nest” above the Arena. Ultimately, Funk and two fans are hospitalized and treated for second-degree burns, while ECW earns itself a new antagonist in the form of the local fire marshall.
- MNW, Oct. 23: Nitro, 2.2, Raw 2.6
Oct. 30-Nov. 5 -- The WWF turfs its “B” shows, consolidating its heretofore-two-tiered house show touring troupe into 18 monthly A-shows.
- Chris Benoit joins the Four Horsemen, joining Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Brian Pillman in the stable.
- The WWF announces its plans to sponsor Olympic power lifter Mark Henry in the 1996 games.
- MNW, Oct. 30: Nitro 2.5 (Havoc fall-out, Luger & Meng vs. American Males), Raw 2.2 (Owen Hart vs. Razor Ramon)
Nov. 6-12 -- Amid nightmarish locker room morale in the WWF, Vince McMahon conducts no less than three emergency meetings with his crew at house shows, in New Jersey, Columbus (Ohio), and Cincinnati, respectively. The primary reason for the poor esprit de corps is McMahon’s decision to do away with “B” shows, which the crew figures will lead to a drop in the amount of house show-generated income to go around. Another source of friction is the group of wrestlers that has come to be known as the “Clique” -- Shawn Michaels, Kevin “Diesel” Nash, Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall, Sean “1-2-3 Kid” Waltman, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. The Clique is unpopular due to their inordinate level of political influence and for their general behavior, which many of their peers consider childish.
- Lex Luger complains loudly to WCW management about having turned heel and expresses general dissatisfaction with his current push. He’s also upset about being passed over in favor of Chris Benoit for a position in the Four Horsemen. As an outgrowth of his discontent, Luger intentionally ignores a cue to do a run-in during a live Nitro, leaving Eric Bischoff dangling and making spurious claims like “Here comes Luger!” for the next several moments.
- Similar to Luger, Sid gripes to WWF management.
- The WCW Hvt. title is held up due to the controversial Halloween Havoc finish.
- Kensuke Sasaki beats Sting to capture the US Title as part of a combined New Japan-WCW card at Sumo Hall in Japan. The show draws only 7,500, the smallest crowd for an NJ show in that building since 1980 -- a clear indication that WCW’s wrestlers lack drawing power in the Orient. The most notable aspect of the tour is that The Giant displays incredible agility when allowed to wrestle an unfettered style against the NJ contingent, prompting rumblings that the company will groom him to be Hulk Hogan’s successor as its top star.
- Sabu makes a dramatic return to ECW as part of the November 18 ECW Arena card. Tommy Dreamer and Terry Funk beat Cactus Jack and Raven in the main event.
- On Raw, the WWF does its first-ever ECW-style “shoot angle,” as Shawn Michaels “collapses” after receiving an enziguiri from Owen Hart, with the announcers speculating that his career might be over. In storyline, Michaels has been experiencing “concussion problems” in connection with the nightclub beating in New York. Notably, the angle had been suggested by WWF Magazine editor and ECW fan Vince Russo. It is arguably the most successful storyline run by either of the Big Two in 1995, as it effectively establishes Michaels as a mega-star upon his return to the ring two months later.
- MNW, Nov. 6: Nitro - 2.3 (Sting vs. Ric Flair), Raw - 2.1 (Bret Hart & Hakushi vs. Jerry Lawler & Isaac Yankem)
Nov. 13-19 -- The WWF’s Clique-related internal squabbles continue. This time, the source of said tension is that Vince McMahon charters a flight for the five men to meet with him privately at Titan Towers in Stamford. In addition to granting them free reign to use the facility’s gym, he caves into their demands that they receive higher payoffs for the frequent public appearances they make on off days.
- On a related note, Bret Hart and Diesel develop heat with one another. Diesel accuses Bret, who invariably receives bigger pops than the more-heavily-pushed Hvt. champ, of trying to undermine his babyface heat in their feud.
- MNW, Nov. 13: Raw - 2.6, Nitro - 2.0
Nov. 20-26 -- The WWF’s “Survivor Series” PPV in Washington, DC, draws a record-low 0.57 buy rate, grossing less than $1.5 million. In the main event, Bret Hart regains the WWF Hvt. title from Diesel, after which the latter turns heel and powerbombs Bret multiple times. Remarkably, the announcing team (Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Mr. Perfect) fail to acknowledge the title change one single time, instead focusing on Diesel’s sudden change of heart.
- Prior to Survivor Series, McMahon has yet another personnel meeting and announces that the group will be gearing its product more toward adults, with more raunchy storylines and a greater level of violence. This direction had originally been encouraged by Bill Watts during his brief booking tenure with the company. McMahon also consents to give all contracted wrestlers a $400-a-week base salary on weeks they aren’t working, to quell the concerns of those performers most affected by the company’s cut-back in house shows.
- WCW hot-shots a Sting vs. Hulk Hogan main event on Nitro, which wins them the day in the ratings war but fails to pop its numbers as hoped. The live crowd roundly boos Hogan throughout the bout, which is not an uncommon occurrence at this point.
- MNW, Nov. 20: Nitro - 2.5 (Sting vs. Hogan), Raw - 2.3
Nov. 27-Dec. 3 -- Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling folds up shop after four years of existence. Cornette founded the promotion in October 1991 to fulfill his lifelong dream of running a traditional-style Southern wrestling territory, and it quickly garnered a devoted following in its Tennessee-Kentucky homebase -- which allowed it to draw crowds ranging from 1,000-5,000 in its top two monthly towns, Knoxville and Johnson City. However, it failed to attract enough interest to emerge as a viable entity, drawing average crowds of 200-300 in its dying days. The latest and most critical of the group’s recent string of hardships came when its main financial backer, Rick Rubin of Def American Records, pulled his funding from the promotion in August, after losing over $40,000 on the venture.
Ultimately, Smoky Mountain’s most enduring legacy has been for breaking Chris Candido, Tammy Fytch (Sunny), Brian Lee (Chainz), Unabom (Kane), the Gangstas, and the Heavenly Bodies into the wrestling mainstream and providing Al Snow, Chris Jericho, and Lance Storm with their greatest U.S. exposure to this point in their careers. Cornette’s savvy booking also revitalized the long-dormant careers of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, who were arguably the top drawing tag team in the business at one point but were almost completely burnt out at the the time SMW formed.
In hindsight, one of Cornette’s greatest miscalculations was inking a talent exchange agreement with the WWF, which made his promotion seem comparatively inferior and lost him the loyalty of a large portion of his patronage.
- Randy Savage wins the “World War III” PPV battle royal to capture the vacated WCW Hvt. championship in controversial fashion. The originally-planned finish was for Sting to win the belt, but immediately prior to the match, Hulk Hogan exercised his booking autonomy within the company and changed the outcome. What’s more, Hogan personally calls out the order of elimination of the final ten wrestlers in the ring while the match is in progress. It draws a very poor 0.43 buy rate.
- MNW, Nov. 27: Raw - 2.5, Nitro - 2.3
Dec. 4-10 -- The WWF signs Steve Austin and opens court with Cactus Jack, nee Mick Foley.
- Bam Bam Bigelow gives notice to the WWF and starts accepting regular bookings in Japan once again.
- ECW/AAA’s Konnan agrees to terms with WCW and is set to start wrestling there in January.
- MNW, Dec. 4: Nitro - 2.6, Raw - 2.4
Dec. 11-17 -- The WWF holds its December “In Your House” PPV, which draws the lowest buy rate in company history -- a 0.33. In the main event, Bret Hart successfully defends the WWF Hvt. title against Davey Boy Smith in a match given ****3/4 by the Wrestling Observer. Hart goes against standard Federation protocol during the match and blades a gusher; later, when confronted by management, he avows that the juice resulted from a Smith “potato shot.”
Also noteworthy on the show: Vince McMahon makes the ground-breaking decree that security not confiscate any signs, unless their content is too crude for television, as a way to facilitate fan loyalty and “freedom of expression.” Controversial signs that read “ECW,” “Diesel Sucks,” “Hogan,” “Hello ECW Fans,” “Mikey Rules,” “We’re Hardcore,” and “911” make the air, among others. In keeping with the theme established by the arrestingly large ECW contingent on hand, several different “E-C-Dub’” chants are audible during the course of the show.
Elsewhere, Jeff Jarrett makes his unannounced return to the company on the card via an in-ring interview conducted by Jerry Lawler.
- Alundra Blayze jumps ship to WCW, under her former sobriquet of Madusa Micelli, and throws the WWF Womens title in the trashcan live on Nitro. The incident will stick in Vince McMahon's craw for at least the next seven years.
- The WWF attempts to woo the Ultimate Warrior in time for the “Royal Rumble.” This news meets with the disapproval of the Federation locker room, the morale of which is still at an ebb.
- On the heels of Bill Watts’ abrupt departure from the promotion, Vince McMahon offers Jim Cornette a position as the WWF’s head booker. Cornette accepts the post, leading to a large influx of former Smoky Mountain wrestlers into the promotion, including Buddy Landel, Tom Pritchard, the Headbangers, and Boo Bradley (a/k/a Ballz Mahoney).
- ECW holds its first-ever card at Lost Battalion Hall in Queens, New York, and draws a sell-out crowd of 1,100, paying a then-company-record of $28,000. The critically-acclaimed card is highlighted by the ECW debut of Missy Hyatt and a wild Sabu vs. Cactus Jack main event. Early in the card, Paul Heyman gets on the house microphone and runs down Steve Austin and Tom Pritchard for no-showing the card because of their recent signings with the WWF.
- MNW, Dec. 11: Nitro - 2.6, Raw - 2.5
Dec. 18-24 -- MNW, Dec. 18: Nitro - 2.7, Raw - 2.3
Dec. 25-31 -- “Starrcade” takes a novel approach to PPV supercards, providing a best-of-seven series between WCW’s top wrestlers and an insurgent group of New Japan stars, but fails to generate much interest (0.36 buy rate). The WCW flank wins 4-3, naturally, after Sting downs Kensuki Sasaki.