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WCW Nitro: The Show That Revolutionised Professional Wrestling

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On September 4, 1995, WCW Nitro aired on TNT and changed the landscape of professional wrestling forever. With its innovative format, memorable matches, and impact on the industry, Nitro revolutionized the business and redefined what it meant to be a professional wrestler.

Nitro was the brainchild of Ted Turner, who wanted to create a wrestling show that was different from WWE’s Raw. Turner felt that Raw was too predictable and wanted to create a show that would surprise and entertain fans week after week.

To achieve this, Turner hired Eric Bischoff, who came up with the idea of going live every single Monday night. Bischoff’s goal was to create a show that was faster-paced and more exciting than Raw. He also wanted to make it more interactive by giving fans the chance to see their favourite wrestlers backstage and in the audience.

Table of Contents

  1. Format
  2. Iconic Moments and Storylines
  3. Impact On The Industry

WCW Nitro: Format

New Rules of the Game

WCW Nitro brought a fresh approach to professional wrestling with its introduction of new rules and innovative features. Here are some of the key elements that revolutionized the game:

Time-Limited Matches

WCW Nitro set a new standard by implementing time-limited matches. This added a sense of urgency and excitement to each bout, pushing wrestlers to perform at their best within a specified timeframe. It created a dynamic atmosphere where anything could happen in a limited amount of time.

Non-Stop Action:

WCW Nitro broke away from the traditional wrestling format by minimizing downtime between matches.

The show featured a continuous flow of action, with one match seamlessly transitioning into the next. This kept fans on the edge of their seats and made for a more engaging viewing experience.

Interactive Elements

WCW Nitro incorporated interactive elements that allowed fans to actively participate in the show. One notable feature was the innovative “Nitro Party” concept, where viewers could host their own wrestling parties and send in videos of their celebrations.

This level of interactivity helped to foster a sense of community and connection between the fans and the wrestlers.

“Live” Feel

WCW Nitro aimed to create an atmosphere of unpredictability and spontaneity by broadcasting the show live. This gave viewers a sense of immediacy and made them feel like they were part of the action as it unfolded.

The live element added an element of excitement, as anything could happen at any given moment.

💡 Key Takeaway: WCW Nitro introduced new rules and innovative features that transformed the professional wrestling landscape. The show's time-limited matches, non-stop action, interactive elements, and "live" feel created an engaging and unpredictable viewing experience for fans worldwide.

Innovative Features

Two-Hour Live Broadcast

One of the standout features of WCW Nitro was its two-hour live broadcast format. This allowed for a dynamic and unpredictable viewing experience, with matches, storylines, and surprises unfolding in real time. Fans would tune in eagerly every week, knowing that anything could happen.

Nitro Girls

Another unique aspect of WCW Nitro was the introduction of the Nitro Girls, a troupe of dancers who entertained the crowd with their energetic performances during commercial breaks and intermissions. This added a touch of glamour and entertainment value to the show, making it a complete package for viewers.

Outdoor Venues

WCW Nitro broke the mould of traditional wrestling arenas by occasionally hosting events in outdoor locations. This gave the show a fresh and vibrant feel, with matches taking place under the stars and in unique settings. It created a sense of spectacle and excitement that contributed to the overall appeal of the show.

Cruiserweight Division

WCW Nitro put a spotlight on the smaller, high-flying wrestlers by introducing the Cruiserweight Division. This division allowed these athletes to showcase their agility, technical skills, and acrobatics, bringing a fast-paced and exhilarating style of wrestling to the forefront. It gave the show a unique flavour and drew in a new fanbase.

Unpredictable Plot Twists

WCW Nitro was known for its shocking plot twists and surprise appearances. This kept viewers on the edge of their seats, never knowing what to expect next.

From unexpected title changes to surprise debuts and intense rivalries, the show consistently delivered engaging storylines that captivated audiences.

💡 Key Takeaway: WCW Nitro introduced several innovative features that set it apart from other wrestling shows of its time. The combination of live broadcasts, the Nitro Girls, outdoor venues, the Cruiserweight Division, and unexpected plot twists made it a must-watch for wrestling fans and revolutionized the industry.

Iconic Moments and Storylines

During its run, WCW Nitro produced several iconic moments that left a lasting impact on professional wrestling. These moments captivated audiences and contributed to the show’s popularity and influence. Here are some of the most memorable moments from WCW Nitro:

Hulk Hogan’s Heel Turn

One of the most shocking moments in wrestling history occurred on WCW Nitro when Hulk Hogan, the ultimate hero, turned into the villainous Hollywood Hogan and officially became part of the nWo.

This unexpected twist created a seismic shift in the wrestling landscape and generated immense buzz among fans.

The NWO Invasion

WCW Nitro introduced the New World Order (NWO), a rebel faction led by Hogan and other former WWE stars. The NWO’s invasion storyline brought a fresh and edgy element to professional wrestling, blurring the lines between reality and fiction and setting the stage for intense rivalries.

Goldberg’s Undefeated Streak

Bill Goldberg’s undefeated streak became a central storyline on WCW Nitro. The dominant powerhouse delivered quick and decisive victories, capturing the imagination of fans and solidifying his status as one of WCW’s biggest stars.

The Fingerpoke of Doom

In a controversial moment, WCW Nitro saw Hollywood Hogan and Kevin Nash collude in a memorable incident known as the Fingerpoke of Doom. This storyline decision sparked debates and fueled speculation, highlighting the unpredictable nature of WCW Nitro.

💡 Key Takeaway: WCW Nitro produced numerous iconic moments that revolutionized professional wrestling, including Hulk Hogan's heel turn, the NWO invasion, the introduction of the cruiserweight division, Goldberg's undefeated streak, and the Fingerpoke of Doom incident. These moments not only entertained fans but also had a profound impact on the industry, shaping the future of professional wrestling.

Impact On The Industry

The influence of WCW Nitro on the professional wrestling industry cannot be overstated. With its bold and innovative approach, Nitro revolutionized the way wrestling was presented and consumed. Here are some key ways in which WCW Nitro left a lasting impact:

Increased Competition for WWF

WCW Nitro’s launch in 1995 marked the beginning of the Monday Night Wars, a heated rivalry between WCW and WWE (then called WWF). This fierce competition pushed both promotions to constantly innovate and push the boundaries of entertainment, resulting in a golden era for professional wrestling.

The Birth of the Cruiserweight Division in America

WCW Nitro introduced a revolution in the wrestling world by showcasing the high-flying and fast-paced action of the Cruiserweight Division. This division provided a platform for talented wrestlers from around the world to showcase their skills, often stealing the show with their innovative and breathtaking moves.

The success of the Cruiserweights on Nitro led to the increased popularity and mainstream acceptance of the lighter weight class in professional wrestling.

Popularising the nWo

One of the most memorable and impactful storylines in wrestling history, the New World Order (nWo) was born on WCW Nitro. This villainous faction, led by Hollywood Hogan, brought a new level of intrigue, controversy, and edginess to the industry.

Their rebellious nature and anti-establishment message resonated with fans, leading to skyrocketing ratings for Nitro and cementing the nWo as one of the most iconic factions in wrestling history.

Changing Broadcast Practices

WCW Nitro pushed the boundaries of live broadcasting, with innovative production techniques and a fresh presentation style that gave the show a unique feel. Quick cuts, backstage segments, and live commentary added a sense of urgency and realism to the broadcasts, putting viewers right in the middle of the action.

These changes not only influenced wrestling programming but also had a wider impact on the television industry as a whole.

Jake Skudder
Written by
Jake Skudder
Jake is an SEO-minded Combat Sports, Gaming and Pro Wrestling writer and successful Editor in Chief. He has more than ten years of experience covering mixed martial arts, pro wrestling and gaming across a number of publications, starting at SEScoops in 2012 under the name Jake Jeremy.