When it comes to Labor Day and pro wrestling, one historic memory stands above the rest – WCW holding the first-ever Monday Nitro in 1995.
If you lived through that era as a pro wrestling fan, you know that live shows were pretty much limited to PPVs, a few specials like Clash of the Champions, and sometimes Monday Night RAW which had just debuted 2 years prior. Here was WCW claiming they were debuting a new live WEEKLY show every Monday night in direction competition to RAW – just unheard of at the time.
Not only would this new show be live, but the first episode would feature marquee matches and be held at The Mall of America in Minnesota – a unique environment for pro wrestling if there ever was one. The card would see Brian Pillman take on Jushin Liger- a revisiting of the duo’s iconic feud from 1991. Also, the WCW standard bearers battled as Ric Flair took on Sting. Finally, the WCW World Champion would defend his title against Big Bubba Rogers. The card felt big even if it had to be squeezed into one hour, but it was another moment on the show that put the entire idea of WCW Monday Nitro on the map.
During the Sting vs. Flair match, none other than Lex Luger walked down the aisle and shocked the wrestling world by doing so. Keep in mind, Luger had wrestled just days earlier at WWF shows, and there was no indication that he’d be leaving the company. It’s hard to imagine there was a time in wrestling when contracts weren’t as iron-clad as they are now and talent could sometimes slip through the cracks to pull something like this off.
Suddenly we had WCW’s biggest stars in Sting, Hulk Hogan, and Randy Savage in the ring for a chaotic scene with one of the WWF’s top stars in Lex Luger. Before Scott Hall’s legendary Nitro debut, it was Lex Luger who felt like the outsider that felt like showing up in the other company and did just that.
Lex Luger’s WCW Monday Nitro appearance made it clear that Nitro was must-see TV where literally anything could happen, and set the tone for the following few years when WCW became the dominant wrestling company in the country: