Not trying to nitpick but WCW never edged ahead WWE after Goldberg won the title on Nitro. In fact, RAW won the next 4 ratings battles. WCW did win 3 battles in August, but this can be attributed to the aftermath of RAW being pre-empted by the US Open tennis on the USA network.Austin definitely started the boom on WWF's behalf and WWF's fightback against WCW. This is a historical fact. He also helped WWF draw level against WCW.
But WCW was his still alive and kicking in 1998, even when WWF was winning most of the ratings. When Goldberg won the belt WCW once again edged ahead, even if slightly.
Post Survivor Series 1998, once Rock started to become a mega star, the tide changed with his ascension to the top. And Rock vs Foley rivalry was outdrawing Austin's segments in early 1999 more often than not.
If Austin started the boom on WWF's behalf, Rock took it to another level higher. If Austin did help them draw level to WCW, then Rock's rise as mega star along with WCW's bad decisions, put them out of business for ever.
Nothing can change this fact as well.
For 3 months before Austin took time off, Nitro only managed to defeat RAW twice IIRC, and that was on Sept 14 (the return of Ric Flair) and the Nitro where they showed the Halloween Havoc main event between Goldberg and DDP free of charge.
RAW started to run away with the ratings war in February 99, after the nWo Wolfpack began to.lose steam, combined with Austin's return, and The Rock battling Mankind.
From the beginning of April 98 to the Survivor Series 98 RAW had a head-to-head record of 18-11-2, after losing for 82 consecutive weeks (Nitro would win the first Monday of April, before RAW ended the streak at 83). After Goldberg won the WCW title, RAW would still go 10-6 head to head with Nitro until Austin left due to his neck injury.
*An interesting tidbit of history the nWo angle did not increase combined Viewersip for Monday night wrestling. Leading up to WM12 in early 1996, the combined ratings on Monday nights averaged just over6.0. The WCW simply stole the WWF audience for the first year of the nWo. It was not until around August 97 where wrestling started getting white hot, and drawing new viewers.
By Survivor Series 97, pro wrestling was averaging 7.0+ and by WM14 ratings started eclipsing 8.0. By January 99 it was not uncommon to see the combined wrestling audience surpass 10.0. This occurred until WCW ratings started plummeting in the spring of 99.
Wrestling had become so hot 🔥 in late 98, that there was talk in the NFL about moving Monday Night Football to a different date, as Wrestling was stealing away viewers. If this trend had continued for a couple of years, it could have conceivably happened.