April 27, 1998, Norfolk, Virginia
World Champion Wrestling (WCW) had thrown down the gauntlet at the feet of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on September 4, 1995 with the debut of WCW Monday Nitro, a one hour television broadcast run directly as competition to the WWF’s Monday Night Raw. From there, over the next year, WCW became more and more daring as it took aim at its competition. When the New World Order emerged, WCW took over the ratings lead, winning the Monday Night Wars for 83 straight weeks, The WWF, which had previously won all of the vanquished most of the major competitors in the business beside WCW, was teetering on the brink of failure. Instead, Vince McMahon’s promotion changed course, veering away from its long-standing approach aimed at young audiences, and replaced it with an edgier product aimed at teens and more mature viewers. Establishing Mick Foley, the Undertaker, Steve Austin and the Rock as stars, the WWF made a comeback and began gathering momentum. At the same time, WCW had become unfocused and began stumbling. The WWF decided to create their own irreverent, edgy faction, which it called D-Generation X (DX). DX was led by Hunter Hearst Helmsley (HHH) after Shawn Michaels stepped away from wrestling and the behaviour of the group was outlandish, in your face and ballsy. No incident was more brazen than the decision to have the group “invade” the Nitro show being held at the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia on April 27, 1998.
WCW had routinely been booking it’s Nitro shows in the same vicinity in which Raw was being held and McMahon had grown tired of it. HHH approached McMahon and WWF head writer Vince Russo about invading Nitro. Thinking aggressively, McMahon approved the stunt. Raw was being held 19 miles away from the Scope in Hampton, Virginia and HHH, Billy Gunn, Chyna and Road Dogg road through the streets between the two venues calling out WCW, challenging them to come out and meet them and asking for the release of the “POWCW’s”(presumably their friend Kevin Nash and Scott Hall). They greeted fans along the route asking “Do you think Eric Bischoff sucks? Do you think WCW sucks?” Many in the crowd roared with approval. HHH then approached the doors at the Scope and asked if any of the fans had any of the free tickets that WCW was handing out to paper the crowd. Dressed in military fatigues, carrying replica assault rifles, a bazooka, and riding in a military assault vehicle outfitted with a rocket launcher, the group then began driving down the ramp that would allow access to the backstage in the Scope, but the doors to the venue were seen closing, preventing their entrance, and insinuating that WCW was afraid to do battle.
Had DX been allowed in, television history could have been made and if WCW had thought fast on their feet, the whole stunt could have been shifted in WCW’s favor. By ignoring DX, it just made WCW look benign and made Monday Night Raw appear to be the show where you never knew what might happen next. In fact, what did happen next was that DX made another invasion, this time at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia where they called out Eric Bischoff and Turner Broadcasting head Ted Turner to come down and talk to them. HHH claims that security from CNN called the police and that 100 police cars arrived with riot squads.
In the end, the stunt was a stroke of genius for the WWF, showing that the company was willing to do anything in the Monday Night Wars and it was one of the turning points that led to the WWF prevailing and purchasing WCW’s assets just two years later.