DX tells all on their invasion of WCW Monday Nitro
On April 27, 1998, Triple H, X-Pac, Chyna and The New Age Outlaws of D-Generation X hopped onto a tank and drove from Hampton, Va., where Raw was taking place, to nearby Norfolk, where WCW’s Monday Nitro was being broadcast.
While the image of DX riding an assault vehicle through the otherwise normal Virginia streets was entertaining television in its own right, the fact that they stormed into WCW’s backyard and trashed them at their own arena was a game changer. There was no love lost between WWE and WCW in the infamous Monday Night War. From WWE titles being dumped in the garbage on Nitro to Eric Bischoff giving away the results of taped Raw matches on the air, WCW did all it could to undermine WWE in the eyes of fans.
But with one act of brazen defiance, DX made itself the focus of the wrestling world. Triple H and his crew had, almost literally, fired back at WCW. But how did this historic tank ride come to be? To get the true story behind DX’s invasion of Monday Nitro, WWEClassics.com went to the rebels themselves, along with the production crew who helped make it happen and the WCW stars whose turf they rode onto. Are you ready?
Triple H: WCW had this mentality, where they wanted to attack us, but it wasn’t about them doing well, it was about us doing bad. If we booked Hampton, they’d be 20 minutes down the road at the Scope [in Norfolk]. Mr. McMahon was pissed. This was the fifth time it happened.
Vince Russo (former WWE producer): We were getting killed at the time.
Triple H: I said, “I want to drive a tank down there.” We kept talking and there was this pause. Vince Russo said, “Is that something we could do?” That’s how it started.
Russo: I’ll never forget it. I’m sitting at my desk and I’m thinking to myself, “You know what, I’m just going to write down, for the hell of it, ‘DX drives a rocket launcher right up to the building.’ ”
Things picked up quickly from there as the “invasion” came closer and closer. To prevent their cover from being blown, only a select few knew about it. Not even Triple H’s DX cohorts had any idea what they were doing until they got to the arena in Hampton. Once they were clued in, the creativity started to flow.
Russo: We had a guy at WWE, his name was Richie, he was the prop guy. Whatever you asked Richie to get, he would get. No matter what it was, it always looked great and it always worked. Sure enough, I put down in the format, “DX drives a rocket launcher,” never thinking in my wildest dreams that this lunatic is going to find a rocket launcher. Less than 24 hours later, I get a call from Richie. “Vince, we got you a rocket launcher.”
Triple H: Nobody knew, just me, Mr. McMahon and Russo. [X-Pac and The New Age Outlaws] came up to me and said, “There’s a bunch of military stuff outside, like a tank. Is that for us? What are we doing?” I said, “I can’t tell you yet, but it’s going to be awesome. Trust me.”
Road Dogg: I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe they were actually going to let us do that. It was so out of bounds and something that was so groundbreaking that I just didn’t believe them.
Russo: The most enjoyable thing to me was DX themselves saying, “We’re going to do what? Really? We have a rocket launcher?” Once we told them, they were fully on board. It was a lot of fun.
Billy Gunn: I was the one that came up with the sticks in our hats.
Road Dogg: I actually had props cut a hole in the Kevlar helmet so my braids could come through [the top]. What the hell were we thinking?
Russo: That’s the thing about working for WWE. No matter what idea you came up with, it always turned out right. It always turned out to perfection and that was because of the people in those spots, the people that you depended on. If they didn’t deliver, you wouldn’t have gotten half the stuff you saw on TV. They just delivered every time.
After the ideas had all been thrown around, it was the moment of truth. Clad in customized DX camouflage gear, the band of rebels hopped on a tank and headed east on I-64. As the Scope got closer and closer, the absurdity of the situation began to set in on DX.
Triple H: Just to be clear, we went down there with no clue what we were doing.
Gunn: [All I could think was] how cool it was. You’re riding down the street in a tank to the competition’s building, hoping to get arrested because it would be funnier.
Road Dogg: The tank ride was really cool, but that’s really what I was waiting for. When were we going to get arrested?
Russo: You’ve got to understand, WCW has a live show going on at the time. We have no idea what’s going to happen. We don’t know if Eric Bischoff is going to send 10 guys out there to beat the crap out of them. We don’t know if he’s going to call the cops and they’re going to get arrested. But that was the appeal of it, the unpredictability. How in God’s name can you turn that off?
Gunn: [The fans at Nitro] went crazy. I think they were just as shocked as we were that we would actually do that. They were chanting “DX” and chanting for WWE, anything other than what they were there to see.
Road Dogg: That was the cool part. It was the Monday Night War. Everybody who was a fan of our industry was watching both shows. It wasn’t like we were strangers pulling up. It was a really cool energy.
Gunn: We kept asking them if they got free tickets. They said, “Yes, but we’re glad you guys came, because you’re awesome.”
Inside the arena, WCW’s wrestlers and staff were in the middle of getting ready for a live, three-hour broadcast. Most of the crew had no idea that the competition was wreaking havoc right outside their front door. As word spread that DX’s tank had been rolling around and was attempting to get inside the building, however, many of the wrestlers were curious to see what was going to happen. Outside the arena, DX was wondering the same thing.
Kevin Nash: I drove right by them on my way to the building. In our minds, it was just some crazy fans out there in army gear. We weren’t paying any attention to them.
Booker T: I didn’t hear about it until it actually happened.
Scott Armstrong (WWE referee/former WCW wrestler): I remember being backstage at Nitro and overhearing a couple of the guys saying they heard WWE was going to do something at the show. No one seemed to know what that might be.
Nash: Somebody came up to me and said, “Your buddies are right outside the door.”
Armstrong: Since my brother, Road Dogg, was a major player with WWE at the time, I instantly thought he might be part of it.
X-Pac: I wanted to [go to the arena door] first. I didn’t want to tip everyone off that we were there. [The producer] had different ideas.
Triple H: We should have tried to go in the building first. They shut the door because we’d been there for a little bit. They knew we were there. If we’d gone right away, we probably would have got in, which would have been phenomenal.
Sean Sellman (Director of Production Logistics): We figured, let’s go for it. If we make it, we make it.
Nash: There was this 30-foot door. I’m trying to get this old man to open it up. Me and Scott [Hall] are there and we’re thinking, “This is going to be amazing.” We were going to go off Nitro and onto Raw. Nobody’s going to get in trouble, we were just going to walk out there and be their buddies for a second. But the old man wouldn’t lift the thing up.
Armstrong: It’s funny thinking back on how WCW security was scrambling around, like it was a military strike. I guess in the Monday Night War, it was.
Sellman: The door was coming down as we were going down the ramp. We figured that they were probably in there going, “Shut the door, don’t let ’em in.” If we had gotten in, we would have taken it from there and hopefully not gotten our tapes confiscated.
Road Dogg: I actually was not hoping they would keep it open, because I didn’t know what would happen. I knew there were four or five of us and 100 of them. I think it’s wise they shut the door for everybody’s benefit. We planned on going all the way in there. If we had gotten in, this is a rough and tumble industry, it might have gotten physical. That’s just me being honest.
Booker T: I didn’t think they were going to get in. I think they were outnumbered. I think we could have taken those four guys if we had to. They made their point, coming to our town, our building on our night.
Road Dogg: Booker’s right about that, it could have gotten physical. We would have been screwed, but it would have been great TV, even greater than it was already.
When DX returned to Raw, the wrestling world was buzzing over their outlandish actions. They had gone into enemy territory and lived to tell the tale. To this day, the invasion of Monday Nitro is talked about as one of the major turning points in WWE’s resurgence and eventual victory in The Monday Night War.
Road Dogg: [Me and my brothers, who worked for WCW] talked not long after that. They were popping just like we were. I think 98 percent of their roster wished they would have come up with that. It was cool and innovative, groundbreaking stuff that nobody had ever done. I give credit to Vince Russo and Mr. McMahon for OK’ing that kind of stuff. That was thinking outside the box. We rode a tank to the competition’s building and tried to get in there. The audacity, how dare us!
Booker T: Maybe from a company standpoint, [WCW] hated it. They realized the war had heat. But for me, it was funny. I thought it was a pretty good idea. It would have been something cool if we would have thought of it first. It let everyone know that WWE wasn’t going away anytime soon.
Armstrong: And there was my baby brother in the middle of it. I didn’t feel my job was in jeopardy, but I did wonder if I’d be bailing my brother out of jail later that night.
Gunn: I heard some other guys talking, they thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened in wrestling. It was just [WCW] management not coming up with it. I think they were the ones upset, not the boys.
Triple H: A week later, we went to WCW’s offices. They called the police and told them they were under attack by a militia group. I’m not kidding, 100 cop cars came with riot squads.
Russo: All I wanted was for the fans at home to be able to say, “Holy crap, I can’t believe they’re doing that.” Once they did that, now all of a sudden it was, “What are they going to do next?” We created DX and this all-out assault on WCW, where you didn’t know what they were going to do the next week, but you knew you weren’t going to miss it.