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LOOKING AT THE WWE NETWORK'S MONDAY NIGHT WAR PREVIEW

By Mike Johnson on 2014-07-08 11:49:23
The WWE Network ran a sneak preview episode of The Monday Night War documentary series last night.

Looking at it from the perspective of someone who really loves a good documentary and wrestling history, I'd say the episode was extremely well put together. They used talking heads from both sides, utilizing archived interviews as well as new material filmed for the series.

In a slight surprise, they had footage of Ted Turner discussing the competition between WCW and WWE from a 1998 interview I've never seen before, which allowed him to be the face of that side of the conflict. Former WCW names who were brought in for new interviews including Dr. Harvey Schiller and Tony Schivaone.

Linda McMahon, Vince Russo and a slew of current and former WWE talents are also interviewed while archived material allows Shane McMahon to also take part.

From a historial perspective, history is always written by the victors, so there were a few things that were ignored (the backlash of WWF programming on TBS when they took over the Georgia Championship Wrestling timeslot and the fact that WWF sold the aforementioned timeslot to Jim Crockett Promotions). I don't feel like they presented Crockett Promotions as anything more than just a regional, Southern deal that died, which isn't really fair to that promotion, since it was on fire in the mid-1980s.

Once the episode made it's way to the Eric Bischoff era of WCW, they did a fair job of showing what he brought to the table. The reality is that there were a lot of times that the NWA/WCW in-ring product was far superior to what WWF was presenting, but WWF had the connections and the machine to present themselves as the hotter product and eventually overtake the industry as what people think about when you say pro wrestling. That aspect was completely overlooked, although I wouldn't say this is WWE propaganda stomping the memory of WCW into the ground as they did admit that the WWF product at the time was stagnant and lacking with Bret Hart even admitting that at the time, he thought wrestling had hit it's zenith and that was it.

The episode gave a lot of time to Bischoff's strategies (sometimes called dirty tricks on the show) such as Lex Luger's secret jump for the first episode of Nitro and giving away results of taped Raw matches. They used archival material with Bischoff to allow him to express his side of the war. Luger even admits that he felt bad about leaving with no notice and it's revealed he was only paid $100,000 a year, guaranteed, to leave WWF in 1995.

I did think it was funny that Vince McMahon, who did more to encroach on other wrestling promotions in the 1980s, made a comment about the old line, "It's not personal, it's just business" by remarking, "Well, my business is personal." The irony there is that the other territories' businesses were just as personal for the promoters that ended up out of business as the WWF rose bloomed, including the aforementioned Crockett family.

Overall, it was a strong effort that was fair to both sides of the conflict (except perhaps Jim Crockett). I think that if you lived through the era or wanted to see what the legendary feud was truly about, this was a good way to do that.

Monday Night War was easily one of the best things produced per date by the company for the Network and it's the type of programming I hope WWE does more of in the future. In fact, I hope they even go a little deeper than this episode did, because while it was very good, they can be even greater. It was a legitimate war and war causes strife and loss and if WWE truly hopes to remember the good and the bad, I hope they go deeper into what those losses meant for not just WCW, but the business.

That said, this was a thumbs up for sure.

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