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Thread: Old School Saturday Night

  1. #1
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    Old School Saturday Night

    Continuing my thoughts on historic wrestling in my lifetime and how it relates to the current product I want to go back to my younger days and the programing on the lively ones KTVT Channel 11. For those not familiar with KTVT it was the local independent channel when there were four channels to chose from. Therefore it had many reruns and a lot of local programing. One of their local shows was an afternoon children's show called Slam Bang Theater. A future post will focus on this show and its relation to wrestling. But today I want to focus on Saturday nights.

    Saturdays began with country music after the local news. There were local shows like the Cowtown Jamboree and one starring Cowboy Weaver along with the syndicated Porter Wagoner Show and the Grand Ole Opry along with others that rotated through. Then at ten o'clock came Saturday Night Wrestling. And the order and hilarity of the country shows with their musicians and comics gave way to chaos. Early memories were sketchy as I was too young to remember all clearly. The program seemed to be dominated by a brute known as Fritz von Erich. He was brutal. I watched intently and my memories grow more clear as my age inched up. By the time my memories get somewhat clear of all that was happening Fritz was joined by his son David. I am not sure in what order that David, Kerry and Kevin debuted on the show. But I remember the battles. Heroes and villains. The Great Kubuki spraying green mist in the eyes of our heroes to get an unfair advantage. Gary Hart in his corner to make sure the good guys never got a fair chance. Killer Tim Brooks and a number of other bad guys were unpopular with the crowd. More wrestlers came and went with Jose Lothario, Al Madril, Frank Dusek and Iceman King Parsons being some of the early standouts in my memories.

    At least in my mind and that of several local fans the promotion pioneered several concepts. The Fabulous Freebirds brought music to the ring intros. My first memory of a female manager was Sunshine. A major crush in my teen years. I would not have thought of it in those terms but sports entertainment type segments of Sunshine having to work on the von Erich farm after a match stipulation were on this program. Not having a way of seeing other promotions I do not know if others had tried this at the time but it was entertaining. As a side note I met Sunny at a show in Milwaukee a few years back. Starstruck I asked her if she was aware of Sunshine and forgot my follow up question. I wanted to ask if the Sunny character was a Vince rip off of Sunshine in some way. I am guessing it was not in hindsight because Sunshine was never the cheerleader character. But it seems more than a coincident that the name was Sunny which seemed so close to Sunshine.

    Something that I really liked about the Saturday night show was that it often ended in the middle of a match. In an era where the fans believed to the point that the police were obliged to question Gentleman Chris Adams over Gino Hernandez's death this added realism to the product. After all how can a match just end at the required time? By having the program end with a match in progress the thought that the ending was unpredictable was upheld. The end of the match would be on next week's show. Another great local concept.

    Watching WCW one night and seeing a match pushing the limits of time and then the program continuing was refreshing. It helped break down that scripted finish thing a little. How refreshing. Fans of all sorts of sports and all sorts of programing want something new. And going overtime was new and unique at the time. But as with everything good it has become overused. Now Monday Night Raw always runs over. Wrestlers hit finisher after finisher but the match continues. Then at just the right moment for the program to end a sometimes weaker looking finisher ends the match. Is it just me or has the end of the show become passe?

    A good show will allow one to suspend disbelief. When Vince told the New Jersey Senate in so many words that wrestling was scripted I wondered if fans would ever be able to watch the show the same again. And I find myself suspending the disbelief in good feuds. So that question can be answered in the affirmative. But the end of a show shatters that suspension of disbelief. Many have questioned the ending of the December 19th Smackdown as the winning participants spent quite a bit of time posing for the fans after the ending of the match. To me it was quite refreshing as it seemed to be saying this was not scripted. The winners did what they should and brought a quick end to the match. As commentators have said the wrestlers are not paid by the hour. I would actually like to see more endings like this. Or a Monday when the USA network did not have to have the ten minute overtime. Imagine if the Smackdown tonight had ended with Sami taking the pin with five or so minutes left. Then AJ could have talked about the triple threat. Or the cameras could have gone backstage and had Daniel questioning Shane about restarting the match twice. Maybe that would allow a different start to next weeks Smackdown as the subject would have already been broached.

    The finish of Raw last night was better than most. Having the Miz come out and hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Roman was a good touch. But it also was too well timed out. A little "dead air" because the action ended early would make the product more realistic. Not each show ending that way. But a variety so that sometimes the match lasts into the closing credits and other times it ends with a couple or more minutes remaining. I cringe every time a competitive match with each combatant hitting their very best and the other kicking out only to keep their shoulders down with a weaker move just because the referee got the instruction to take it home.
    Last edited by von wrestler; 01-10-2018 at 03:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member JacobWrestledGod's Avatar
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    This is an interesting read, will get a lot more eyeballs on it if you post it in the column forum section.
    And Jacob wrestled with God.






  3. #3
    The Brain
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    I've taken the liberty of moving this over to the columns forum, VW, as I do think it's a better fit here. Let me know if you'd prefer I move it back.

    I really enjoy your unique take on the product of today, as compared to lost tropes of the past. I'm torn on the idea of shows ending with matches still in progress, as you say it's a great way to make things less predictable and more "realistic", but I'm not sure I like the idea of matches being broken up like that. Feels like it loses a certain momentum, especially (sadly) as we are in an era where fans will just look online to see who won the match, and won't have any suspense waiting for them next week. That's an advantage that independent wrestling has, things can go as long or as short as they need to.

    Great memories of WCCW too, I'd love to hear more about that. I didn't even know about Sunshine, I would be shocked if there was not some influence on WWF with Sunny somewhere in there!

  4. #4
    Senior Member SirSam's Avatar
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    One of the reasons I can go ppv only and still not feel like I'm missing anything is because everything is so formulaic in the weekly shows. It has to be formulaic so they can write the giant amounts of air they have to fill but it comes at the cost of having everything be a little too 'well timed' as you put it. There is not a whole lot of spontenaity or stakes which I think is one of the things that made the WWE such must watch TV in the past.

    Good call moving this Mizfan, I think it is a really great fit for the cf. Von, you have a really great voice and I'm loving your take on things.

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    Thanks for moving the post mizfan. I am beyond flattered that you think that much of my words. I realize that most of us humans look back on our youth as the best times. What I am trying to convey is that WCCW was unpredictable. I should have placed more emphasis on the matches ending at awkward times and it seeming that the commentators or wrestlers have to fill time. If modern wrestling did this it would seem more realistic. As it is it seems to me that everything is too well timed and therefore shows it is a written product. This is probably something I or someone my age would notice more as the format has been the same since that fateful overrun of time by WCW back in the 1990's. So the newer fan probably does not think, "Gee what a coincidence that all the matches take up the television time allowed." Another way old time shows worked around this was to have the match run for "the television time remaining." That sometimes led to a match being a draw as the television time ran out. It was a good way of continuing the feud as the issue was not resolved. A commentator whose name I cannot remember at this time said it was like "kissing your sister."

    Another way WCCW and its predecessor shows used this was to tout that if one were at the live event they would already know the ending. So some would say it was a blatant marketing ploy. Yes time has made the art of ending the show mid match unusable. But having matches end a few minutes before the end of the show is my suggestion of making it look more realistic in modern times.

  6. #6
    Senior Member SirSam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by von wrestler View Post
    A commentator whose name I cannot remember at this time said it was like "kissing your sister."
    That for sure feels like a Jim Cornette line.

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  7. #7
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    Jim Cornette and the original Midnight Express did spend quite a bit of time in the Dallas area. I remember being surprised at this Stan Lane guy teaming with Bobby Eaton when I had a chance to view cable channels and WCW. Loverboy Denis Condrey was a great partner for Bobby Eaton in the WCCW.

  8. #8
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    I love both versions of the Midnight Express. One of the best acts ever.

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