Well, TNA, congratulations. Dixie Carter, come on up and claim your prize. It took eight years to finally snag it, but you did it.
The Gooker is finally yours.
In a lot of ways, this day was inevitable. I mean, for how many years have folks been lambasting this company for putting on horrible shows, nonsensical angles, and flat out wasting everyone’s time? They’ve given us barbed wire Christmas trees, fights in fish markets, baffling love triangles, and and Pac-Man Jones: Pro Wrestler.
Looking at that list, it somehow seems wrong that they finally broke through to the Gooker by way of trying to reinvigorate the business.
But as I write that, I want you to know that I am not arguing with your decision, fellow Crappers. In a lot of ways, I look at it the same as the infamous InVasion angle of 2001 – this was a chance for wrestling to come alive, to make us fall in love with it all over again.
And just like the InVasion, it fell flat on its big, ugly, stupid face.
It all started out promising enough. The Carters had decided to go for broke and started bringing in big name talent. Hogan. Flair. Hardy. Van Dam. Knobbs.
Yes, not only was TNA going out and getting the biggest current names they could find (Mr. Kennedy), they were picking up those who were big names fifteen years ago (Scott Hall); those who were kinda big names ten years ago (Val Venis); those who were really never big names (Orlando Jordan); and finally, those who were never in wrestling at all but were pals with Hulk Hogan (Bubba the Love Sponge).
And yes, we got both Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs showing up as well.
Apparently, this is how TNA thought they would not only wage war with WWE, but how they would win said war. While I could rant and rave about the stupidity of such a plan, let’s instead take a look at the highlights of each week in the war. We’ll do so by giving a breakdown of what TNA presented, how WWE countered, the ratings, and finally and most importantly, Dixie Carter’s reaction.
Please note I am NOT going to go through every week in step by step detail. If I did, I’d be writing this induction until 2047. And I’d go completely insane over those next 36 years. I wouldn’t want that, and I’d like to think you wouldn’t want that either.
Without any further adieu…
Week one of the war was basically TNA’s warning shot to WWE, a one-off program to see how they’d do in the timeslot against their much larger and more well-known foe. Spike had promised the company that if they did well, they could get a live Monday night time slot moving forward, so they threw everything they possibly could against the wall to keep their viewership.
And thus, in the span of three hours, they either debuted or brought back the following wrestlers: Ric Flair, Val Venis, Sean Waltman, the Nasty Boys, Jeff Hardy, Orlando Jordan, and yes, Bubba the Love Sponge.
In fact, Bubba was the absolute first new name they showcased, as he was going to be the new backstage interviewer, and he hit the ground running by interviewing, yes, you guessed it…
GEEKY FANS DRESSED UP AS THE HULKSTER!
You want a war, Vince?
YOU GOT IT!
We then got action…X-Division action. Now that stuff, that stuff I love.
Too bad it took place in what appeared to be the world’s largest red bird cage, which made it impossible to see what was even happening in the ring.
Remember the big blue monstrosities the WWF used to use for cage matches?
This was just like that, but red.
And with approximately 47,283 more bars to block your view.
Which didn’t really matter, as the match ended in a DQ.
Yes, in a cage match.
And then Homicide, who apparently thought that you could win the match by climbing through a hole in the roof (I believe this was the case?), got stuck on the top of the cage.
Yes, quite a war this is!
Plus we got Sting…in the RAFTERS!
Hey, remember when that was a big hit for WCW back in 1997?
You know, THIRTEEN YEARS AGO?
Let’s see, what else…Scott Hall’s very greasy grandfather appeared…
…and Jeff Hardy gave out self-portraits to the only three kids who seemed happy to see him.
There was some other stuff on the show too, but really, do you need more information than this?
All the while, Dixie looked on very pleased.
And how did WWE counter?
With a guy named “Bret Hart.”
Who hadn’t been on WWE television in 12 years.
Since, you know, Montreal.
And the result? Impact pulled a 1.5 rating, their best rating ever. Sure, they got pummelled by Raw’s 3.6, but it was an encouraging start, one strong enough to convince Spike to give them that weekly Monday night show.
Indeed, come March 8, the war was to be well and truly back on.
And so we fast forward about two months and we get…
Rob Van Dam making his debut, pinning Sting in seconds.
And then being pummelled for no joke, ten minutes straight.
You’d think that would set up a RVD-Sting feud, but instead Hulk Hogan got in the ring and I think they were building to Hogan vs. Sting.
Because, you know, that worked back in 1997!
And speaking of Hogan, we got him in the main event of the evening, taking on Ric Flair for the first time in many, many years.
And it was really sad.
It was sad to watch these two incredible legends, two men that meant more to the business than all but a handful of people ever had, moving about in slow motion and bleeding like stuck pigs.
All the while, Dixie looked on very pleased.
And how did WWE counter?
Cris Angel doing magic tricks with Santino Marella.
So yeah, if Vince was concerned back in January, he didn’t appear to be now.
But should he have been?
No, not really. Final tally of the first official night of the new wars saw Raw with a 3.4 and Impact with a 0.98.
Well, there’s always next week, right?
Why yes there is next week, and here it is! I bet TNA has figured out that if they put on some ***** action, people will tune in in droves!
And…then again, maybe not, as we get Scott Hall in a sweatshirt he HAD to have gotten at Goodwill. Just that shirt would have been ghetto enough, but that he had the bright idea to scribble “WOLF PAC” on it with a Sharpie almost has me speechless.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, he’s out there for a “Five-Minute Challenge” with Kevin Nash.
That lasts about two minutes.
Not that I’m complaining!
But I will complain about this: the seemingly never-ending storyline of Abyss and the MAGIC RING!
What? Don’t remember this spectacular storyline? Then let me try to explain it to you1
See, Hulk Hogan and Abyss were pals, and the Hulkster thought so much of him that he gave his masked pal his WWE Hall of Fame ring. Pretty cool, right?
Well, get this: this ring had MAGICAL POWERS, and it turned Abyss INTO Hulk Hogan!
You know, as slow as that guy was moving last week, I think I’d want to flush that thing down the Crapper.
I could go on for a long time about this angle, but suffice to say it was quite horrible and will be inducted at a future date.
Oh, and yes, all the while, Dixie looked on very pleased.
I’m not sure, her expression never seems to change.
It’s like she just has one expression ever on her face, and honestly, I’m somewhat perplexed as to what it is.
So anyway, how did WWE tackle such a mammoth show?
With the return of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but I’m not liking Impact’s chances this week.
Nor should I have. Scoreboard reads: Raw 3.7, Impact 0.8.
Hey, those TNA numbers are going down. That’s no good!
So with things falling off a cliff, I bet the crew down in Orlando came up with a humdinger of an opening segment to grab viewers by the short and curlies.
Well, we got Eric Bischoff playing an accoustic guitar.
Does that count?
And just in case you hadn’t figured out that Ric Flair was old, he showed up in a wheel chair.
You know, I’m pretty certain they’ve given up at this point.
Dixie, though, remained wild-eyed and optimistic.
Shawn Michaels in the final build to his final match ever.
That’s just not fair.
Survey says: Raw 3.2, Impact 0.9.
The TNA number is UP! Maybe that Magic Ring angle will do the trick!
Momentum is key in the wrestling business, and with a 10% upswing in the ratings, no doubt TNA was ready to pounce.
And pounce they did, by lowering Orlando Jordan from the ceiling with what appeared to be toilet paper.
And then he just kinda moseyed to the back with a guy that could not have appeared more queeny.
Look, you want to do a bi-sexual gimmick, that’s fine.
Can you just not do it horribly?
How on earth could WWE counter program Orlando Jordan?
With a Shawn Michaels’ retirement speech?
Eh, maybe no one will buy that it’s a real retirement, since every other retirement in wrestling in the last 20 years has ended in like 2 weeks.
Raw 3.7, Impact 0.6.
That 0.6 had to have scared TNA. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going (anybody else remember that Saturday Night’s Main Event with that music video?)
It’s a TNA Knockouts LOCK BOX CHALLENGE!
Oh no you don’t TNA…that thing was way too stupid for me to try to cram it into a tiny square here.
So there’s TWO inductions already we need to do from this stupid “war”.
But fret not, kids: Dixie had a plan to get folks to watch her show, as they did an email blitz telling everyone “8 Reasons to Watch Impact Tonight!”
Sadly, she sent this out on a Thursday.
You may recall that Impact was now on Mondays.
That’s right out of the WCW playbook!
Good job, kid!
WWE, your response please!
Jack Swagger, World Champion.
It’s like they were thinking, “Eh, if TNA isn’t trying, why should we?”
Raw 3.0, Impact 0.85.
Isn’t this thing over yet?
In a scene right out of Jeff Cohen’s Championship Wrestling of America (with color commentator “Real Deal” Randy Bear!), Abyss gets run over by a car going 5 miles per hour.
I never thought it was possible, but that was so much better when the Barroom Brawler and Mike Samples did it.
Hey Dixie, did I ever mention that Samples was “The World’s Most Popular Wrestler?”
And I bet you could get him on the cheap!
Better get him before Vince does!
That 3.0 last week must have really scared ’em!
Raw 3.2, Impact 0.79.
If we could have just combined these two shows and had KITT run over Abyss, I bet the combined rating would have been a 14.7!
Hang in there, RD…just three more weeks to go!
So Bischoff knew there had to be changes, and he came up with, and I am quoting here, “a revolutionary new ranking system.”
This system consisted of fan voting which they promptly ignored after one week.
Seriously, what is this woman thinking right there?
Someone must tell me.
Sigh…I bet it’s going to take an act of God for this war to somehow turn around.
And luckily for TNA, that’s exactly what happened, as a volcanic eruption caused over half the WWE crew to be stranded in Europe!
Vince’s solution to the issue? Have Triple H go out on stage and start Raw with a 20-minute dialogue.
Just like the bad old days!
Eh, whatever, Impact still got creamed in the ratings.
Hey, remember that stupid bit where Abyss got Hogan’s magical ring? In this episode, we got him taking on Ric Flair for HIS ring.
And he won, so I guess he’d get to have all the Nature Boy’s special powers now too.
Dixie, you could have had “Macho Warrior” Ric Hogan for a fraction of the price.
Steph, whatcha got for us?
Hey, remember when back when you didn’t have everybody on every show and this actually meant something?
Raw 3.06. Told you that it USED to mean something, doesn’t now.
ZERO POINT FIVE.
This is the end…my only friend, the end…
And how exactly did TNA reply to that 0.5?
Why with more Orlando Jordan, of course!
Here he is on his new segment interviewing Rob Terry.
Not sure, but I am almost positive Dixie is sad here.
I would be too – I bet that O-Zone had potential to really stroke the ratings.
Vince, what nail you gonna use for this here coffin?
Man, you are a jerk.
Impact did a 0.8 in its final chance on Monday night.
That was the end of the new Monday Night Wars, and the end of any chance that there will ever be another one.
And when I write the Death of TNA, rest assured, that thought will keep plenty of poison in my pen.