I really enjoyed reading about the beginning of the Monday Night War. I have heard plenty of references to the event (especially now that the WWE has a documentary-esque show dedicated to chronicling the War), but I never really knew more than the basics of the conflict (that it was a fight for viewers between WCW and WWF). I was surprised that WCW posed a legitimate threat to WWF, just because I know how the story ends. Though Vince initially tried to say that WWF shows were "cleaner" or more child/family friendly than WCW's, he eventually began fighting the ratings war by going darker and more sadistic. He went from an almost believable sporting event to a real life horror show. His reasoning—that his wrestling had to compete not only with Turner's wrestling, but also with popular prime time television shows—seems valid, although I don't think I would have been a fan during that time. Whereas pre-taped dramas can use CGI and animation to provide (fake) realistic gore, wrestling is live, with no way to edit in some fake injuries. Knowing that people were actually getting hurt would make it painful for me to watch. We watched the Undertaker-Mankind Hell in a Cell match last week, and it was legitimately hard for me to watch. If wrestling looked like that every week, I don't think I would continue to tune in.
On November 7, 1996, the WWF aired a disturbing event that was planned between Brian Pillman and Stone Cold Steve Austin that implied that Pillman shot Austin in the chest with a 9mm gun. Vince would later argue that the show was no different from "police shows and cable movies," and that it was for an adult audience (why was a child's toy advertised after the clip?), and his content would continue to be dark, despite being continuously reprimanded by the network. He was, after all, competing with the likes of <i>NYPD Blue, Homicide, Cops</i>, and <i>Law & Order</i>. The path that wrestling was on would either bring it to the forefront of mainstream entertainment or condemn it as too violent and vulgar for television. I look forward to reading more about how this "war" played out and how McMahon managed to come out on top.