- Into the trash can - In 1995, wrestling fans of yesteryear gasped as the tradition and pageantry of the WWF women’s title was liquidated by Debbie Miceli, a.k.a. Alundra Blaze. To the shock of Vince McMahon, Miceli showed up live on WCW Monday Nitro with the WWF Women’s Championship and threw it in a trash basket.
She then announced that she was reverting back to her original stage name of Madusa and tossed aside a valued belt that graced the waists of legends like Wendi Richter and the Fabulous Moolah. McMahon never wanted something like that to happen again. Just ask Bret Hart.
Two Rick Rudes - The late great ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude will go down as the first man in wrestling history to appear on both RAW and Nitro on the same night. The November 1997 was taped in advance the week before. The very night RAW went to air, Rick showed up for a live Nitro and told the world what he thought of the WWF and what he thought of Vince McMahon’s recent treatment of Bret Hart.
And I’m taking the belt with me - In 1991, the relationship Ric Flair had with WCW was faltering. He was entering uneasy contract negotiations, while WCW President Jim Herd wanted him to drop his title to Lex Luger and cut his hair to be re-defined at ‘Spartacus.’ Flair left WCW, and headed to the WWF.
WCW stripped him of the World Championship, but he still had his old NWA belt from the Crockett days when superstars put a deposit down on them. Flair took the championship to the WWF and named himself ‘The Real World’s Champion.’
- “He took his ball and went home” - What was first considered as an in-ring gimmick became a harsh reality when Steve Williams, also known as Stone Cold Steve Austin, walked out on a live broadcast of RAW in June of 2002.
Austin, who helped usher in a new age of Attitude, was simply unsatisfied with his place in the company and where it was headed. He would return to the company eight months later in a comeback match against Eric Bischoff.
- From Hulk to Hollywood - In 1993, the WWF was thrown into the national spotlight as federal prosecutors convinced a grand jury to indict owner Vince McMahon and accuse him of conspiring to dispense steroids to wrestlers between 1985 and 1991. They subpoenaed a parade of wrestlers, including Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) to answer the inquiries before a federal grand jury. It culminated in 1994, when the jury found McMahon and Titan Sports not guilty of the charges. Hogan’s testimony damaged his relationship with the WWF, and he later signed with WCW on June 11, 1994.
The Hulkster was the first of many WWF talents that looked for greener pastures in WCW. Hogan’s initial impression was so impressive that later on in the same year, another star from the WWF signed on, Randy Savage.
WWE on Sunday, WCW on Monday - On Sept. 4, 1995 history was made in the Mall of America in Minnesota as WCW Nitro hit the airwaves for the first time. The most notable segment included a surprise appearance from Lex Luger who returned to WCW after a 3 1/2 year stint with the WWF. Luger showed up just one night after wrestling his last match for the WWF in Canada, and spoke negatively about his former employer.
1-2-3…Syxx…X-Pac - It was the night after WrestleMania XIV. With former WWF Champion Shawn Michaels out with a back injury, Hunter Hearst Helmsley named himself the leader and recruited one of his own - an old Kliq member by the name of Sean Waltman. The former 1-2-3 Kid/Syxx walked down the ramp crotch-slapping away. The ovation was thunderous, as it turned out to be the first of many WCW-to-WWF defections.
Radical Changes - WCW had a great run locking up one WWF talent after another, but how about four at once?
On January 2000, WCW removed Vince Russo as head writer and rehired Kevin Sullivan. Those vocal about Russo’s removal included Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn, who all demanded their releases. After WCW Souled Out went off the air, Benoit - who was WCW champion - dropped his belt and asked for his release. Benoit, Saturn, Guerrero, and Malenko then made contact with WWE about possibly coming into the company. Six nights later in Pittsburgh, Saturn, Benoit, Malenko, and Guerrero appeared ringside on RAW.
Screwjob 1997 - The only thing that stopped this from becoming No. 1 was the simple fact that everyone knew in the days going into the 1997 Survivor Series that Bret Hart was leaving. Rumours had been rampant for weeks prior that Bret was going to WCW, as Vince McMahon had let Bret out of his contract due to financial reasons. Most fans expected Hart to lose the title to Michaels, but Vince McMahon wasn’t so sure. Fearing Hart would eave the WWF with the title belt in hand, he took matters into his own hands. When Michaels locked Hart into a sharpshooter, McMahon ordered Earl Hebner to end the match and award Michaels the title. Hart’s intentions were then made true, as the disgruntled superstar tore through the set and spelled ‘WCW’ in the air.
The Outsiders - Little did the average fan know, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash made their final WWF appearances on May 19, 1996 at Madison Square Garden.
The Kliq were truly notorious and influential. ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels, Nash (Diesel), Hall (Razor Ramon), Triple H, and the 1-2-3 Kid. (X-Pac) made up The Kliq during the mid-90’s. This group was/is famous for causing havoc behind the scenes in the WWF. The now infamous ‘Kliq Hug’ took place in May 1996, as Nash and Hall made their last appearance with the WWF during a house show in Madison Square Garden. At the end of the night, Michaels, HHH, and the two departing members participated in the infamous hug in the centre of the ring.
The hug was momentous because it was a complete break of character (or Kayfabe) and thoroughly embarrassed WWF officials, including Vince McMahon. Somebody had to take the fall, but Nash and Hall were leaving for WCW and could not be punished. HBK was the champion and money ticket, so he was untouchable. This left Triple H as the fall guy. He had been scheduled to win King of the Ring that year, but instead it went to a midcarder named Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Just a week later, Hall made a huge surprise appearance on WCW TV, crashing a live episode of Nitro without actually saying he left the WWF. Just a couple of weeks later, Hall brought in Kevin Nash, and the two were known as the Outsiders. It was a cornerstone moment for WCW and the NWO. Every fan at the time really thought that WWF Superstars were invading WCW, and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that they both revealed that they were not sent in by Vince McMahon.
They fooled us good. Real good.