WCW Monday Nitro was a weekly professional wrestling telecast produced by World Championship Wrestling, created by Ted Turner and Eric Bischoff. The show aired Monday nights on TNT, going head-to-head with the World Wrestling Federation's (WWF) Monday Night Raw from September 4, 1995 to March 26, 2001. Production ceased shortly after WCW was purchased by the WWF, now known as WWE.
The debut of Nitro began the Monday Night Wars, a ratings battle between the WWF and WCW that lasted for almost six years and saw each company resort to cutthroat tactics to try to one-up the competition. In mid-1996, Nitro began to draw better ratings than Raw based on the strength of the nWo storyline, a metafiction event built around the idea of former WWF wrestlers forming their own anarchist organization in order to take over WCW. Nitro continued to beat Raw for 84 consecutive weeks; as the nWo storyline grew stagnant, with wrestlers in the nWo consistently beating non-members, fan interest in the storyline waned, and Raw began to edge out Nitro in the ratings.
The turning point for the organizations came during the January 4, 1999 broadcast of Nitro, during which lead commentator Tony Schiavone gave away the results of matches for that night's Raw broadcast, as it had been taped the night before; Bischoff believed that knowing the outcome would dissuade viewers from watching the program. Excited by the prospect of seeing perennial WWF underdog Mick Foley win the WWF Championship, a dramatic number of Nitro viewers changed channels to watch Raw. From that week forward, Raw consistently beat out Nitro in the ratings by a significant amount, and Nitro was never able to regain the success it had once enjoyed.
Besides broadcasting from various arenas and locations across the country (such as the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, from which the very first episode of Nitro was broadcast), Nitro also did special broadcasts from the Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando in 1996, and did annual Spring Break-Out episodes from Panama City Beach, Florida starting in March 1997. The rights to WCW Monday Nitro now belong to WWE.
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