Saturday, June 28, 2014

Remembering Saturday Night's When It Was THE MAIN EVENT

One of the things that is missing in wrestling today is the big event feel that we had back in the 1980’s there are lots of reasons it is gone. It begins with the amount of television time dedicated to wrestling today. When I was a kid wrestling consisted of basically two hours a week that both happened on a Saturday. It was WWE Superstars in the afternoon and at 7pm we had WWE Wrestling on CHCH a local broadcaster here in Hamilton that would feature one of the matches from Maple Leaf Gardens or Copps Coliseum.

Every once in awhile there was a special Saturday that I could stay up late and watch this show called Saturday Night’s Main Event. It was used by NBC as a fill in instead of airing a re-run of Saturday Night Live every couple of months. It began back in May of 1985 and ran through 1992. It also produced The Main Event which was broadcast a couple of times on Friday that served as the lead up to both Wrestle Mania 4 and 5. Wrestling in prime time on broadcast television not cable was unheard of and really had not happened since the 1950’s.

What made Saturday Night’s Main Event so great was it featured matches that we had never seen and often feature World Title matches that back in those days were rarely if every on T.V. You needed to go to your local house show if you wanted to see Hulk Hogan as the WWE Champion. Any time he appeared on T.V it was a massively big deal. This is a big change from modern times, where the Champion can be seen every Monday and most of the time is wrestling in a match but is definitely featured on the show.

There was not the access of information like today either so even if these matches had happened at house shows most of the time if we saw a match on Saturday Night’s Main Event it was something that for the majority of the audience was a fresh and new match they had never seen. It had some strange matches like the time Randy “Macho Man” Savage would defend his intercontinental title against Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Both at the time were considered heels and it made for something unique and bizarre for that time in wrestling. In reality it was the WWE floating the idea of making Jake “the Snake” Roberts a good guy. WWE would go back to this feud with Savage as a face and Roberts as a heel years later.

It was a show that in the early years was built around Hulk Hogan and he would have his title defenses against the guys he current would have feuds with or be the starts to feuds for him. Matches against guys like Volkoff, Hercules, Mr. Wonderful, Sika and insert the next bad guy for Hulk Hogan to defeat here. The show as time moved on became a vehicle to set up things for big pay-per-view events or closed circuit events prior to the days of PPV.

It set up Bundy against Hogan in Wrestlemania 2 as Bundy came out and with the help of Don Muraco laid waste to the Champion. Wrestlemania 3 was built on having Hogan and Andre in a Battle Royal and having the Giant easily eliminate Hogan. The Main Event shows I mentioned earlier saw Hogan lose to Andre in the re-match of their Wrestlemania 3 match as their were two refs (The Hebner Brothers) that looked like twins and the evil thinner one counted Hogan out after he had clearly kicked out. Andre would surrender the title to Ted Dibiase how back in December the year prior had tried to buy the WWF Title from Hogan unsuccessfully. This was his plan B to have Andre win the belt for him and give him the title. It would be ruled that you could not in fact buy the title (News to fans these days with replica belts) and Jack Tunney created the tournament that would headline Wrestlemania 4. The next year the show would feature the break-up of the Mega-Powers leading to the Savage vs. Hogan Wrestlemania 5 main event.

To my knowledge it has yet to appear on the WWE Network of yet. If I am guessing it is because some deal would need to be worked out with NBC perhaps. It may just be content they are holding back that they have the full rights too. When it does pop up and if you’re younger and going back to check it out I am not sure if you’ll understand just how big every match on those shows felt in the present time period they occurred. It was something that once Monday Night Raw came around took away from what was unique and special about the show. It was rare back in those days to see any featured performers face off in a match against on another. It was mostly Randy Savage against some generic jobber. Some of the job guys in WWE stood out but for the most part it was some star you knew against so guy you had never heard of. The result was obvious but it was still entertaining. Saturday Night’s Main Event sometimes it would be obvious too but not as much when you had top guys squaring off with perhaps the exception of Hogan. He was always going to win and it is why Andre winning the Belt on that Main Event show, was more or as shocking back than for fans, as it was to see the Streak of the Undertaker being beaten in modern times was.

The WWE attempted to recreate the magic in 2005 and bring back Saturday Night’s Main Event but it just wasn’t the same as we get to see these types of matches every week on Raw. To an extent it is the same issue the WWE has trying to make pay-per-views seem special when they really can’t avoid having wrestlers in feuds interacting with each other in a physical way before the big money matches.

I miss what it felt like to get ready for a Saturday Night’s Main Event. Staying up way past my bedtime eating things that no one should be at that late hour it made it feel special. It was a unique piece of my childhood that I will never forget.

NXT is supposed to be this window to the future for the WWE and it is in some senses. In others it is a throwback to the old 80’s style of pro wrestling with just one hour of T.V a week and the ability to keep guys away from each other prior to a big match. Great example comes from this past NXT with Tyler Breeze being on commentary during Adrian Neville’s match with RVD. They also have started having big shows every few months that are treated as Special Events. They have a feel much like a cross between a traditional pay-per-view and a Saturday Night’s Main Event. It goes two hours which is 30 minutes longer than the old Saturday Night’s Main Events and has no commercials. It does however fall just about hour shy of the traditional WWE pay-per-view.

It is the closest thing I will get to do short of  remembering fondly my childhood memories until the WWE Network gets to Canada and they get Saturday Night’s Main Event on the WWE Network.

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