In Honor Of Tonight's RAW 1000, The Definitive Timeline Of WWE's Victory In The Monday Night Wars (w/ VIDEO)
May 19, 1997 - Mick Foley interveiws w/ JR
Attempts to make the make the key players less cartoonish were a staple of the WWF beginning around 1997. Character development became centered more around taking a superstar's actual personality and "turning the volume up," adding a second and third dimension to what had previously just been various one dimensional "colorful" versions of guys hitting each other. The biggest beneficiary of this trend might have been Mick Foley, who hardcore fans loved during his time in ECW and WCW as Cactus Jack, but many new fans didn't know his background. This sequence of interviews with Jim Ross really moved Foley up a notch in the eyes of many, and -- BONUS! -- introduced the world to Dude Love!
June 1997 - Shawn Michaels hates Bret Hart
The wresting genre is at its most compelling when it delicately straddles the line between realism and show. Weaving the actual into the theater that is pro wrestling is not easy, and when done poorly it can be promotion killing (see: WCW, Vince Russo Era). When done well, it can be promotion saving. WWF didn't pass WCW in the TV ratings until April 1998, but they were putting on consistently better shows for about a year before that, and much of that was jumpstarted by the real life animosity between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels playing out so well on television. To wit...
August 18, 1997 - Rocky Maivia joins the Nation of Domination
Dwayne Johnson was introduced to the WWF audience at Survivor Series in November 1996, and to say that the audience hated him is putting it lightly. They despised him with the white hot fury of a thousand suns. He was a scruffy headed, third generation star, smiling and pandering to the crowd. Oh, he also won his Survivor Series debut that night. It was the WWF equivalent of force feeding their fans spinach. And nobody likes spinach, even if it is good for you. Well, this promo fixed all that. The Rock told everyone what they could do with their "Die, Rocky, die" chants, and a star was born.
September 22, 1997 - Steve Austin stuns Vince McMahon
There may be no bigger historical event for the United States than the Revolutionary War, and we always hear about the "shot heard 'round the world" that started the revolution. Well, there was no bigger angle in WWF history than "Austin vs McMahon." This was the WWF's equivalent of the "shot heard 'round the world." And it would be far from the last shot fired.