Originally published at ON THIS DATE: Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara's first episode of WCW Nitro
On this date in 1999, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara presented their first edition of Monday Nitro after leaving the World Wrestling Federation earlier that month.
After an initial plan to begin after the Halloween Havoc pay-per-view, WCW moved up their start date as Russo and Ferrara produced the October 18th, 1999, edition of Nitro from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The go-home episode of the pay-per-view was a stark departure with the show featuring new angles, new characters, and new directions on the three-hour program.
According to the October 25th edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Nitro did a 3.30 rating based on hourly ratings of 3.77 (unopposed from 8-9 p.m. ET before the start of Raw) and 3.11 and 3.05 head-to-head from 9-11.
Raw drew a 5.39 rating off hours of 5.53 and 5.27.
As outlined in the book NITRO by Guy Evans, Nitro had averaged a 3.24 over the previous 13 editions of Nitro and would average 3.21 over the 13 episodes under Russo and Ferrara, which ended with Russo being sent home in January 2000 while remaining under contract to WCW.
While the tone was clear right off the bat that the new version of WCW was to emulate the success of its counterpart, the show was hampered by way too many angles, the “crash TV” concept that left you dizzy after a three-hour program each Monday with stipulations galore.
One night after dropping the WWF Intercontinental Championship to Chyna at the No Mercy event, Jarrett made his return to WCW by attacking Buff Bagwell after his match with La Parka. The “story” was that Bagwell was booked to lose by Russo, so he wrestled the match without cooperating and then got on the headset and asked Russo, did I do a good job?
The first set of major angles were shot that Sunday at Halloween Havoc including Hulk Hogan laying down in the ring to be pinned by WCW Champion Sting, who turned around and lost the title to Bill Goldberg in an unannounced match that night. This led to the championship being stripped from Goldberg and a 32-person tournament was crafted to climax at the November pay-per-view in Toronto with Bret Hart winning the title.
The new regime’s big climactic reveal was the latest incarnation of the New World Order that was revealed at the Starrcade event after another attempt to capitalize on the Montreal Screwjob with Roddy Piper playing the role of crooked referee to assist Hart in retaining the championship from Goldberg.
In January, the wheels fell off days before the Souled Out pay-per-view with the company losing the services of Hart and Jeff Jarrett due to injuries and Bill Busch invoking a committee that Russo refused to participate in and was sent home.
Through the efforts of executive Brad Siegel, Russo would be brought back along with Eric Bischoff in April 2000 for another “restart” of the company.