Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting

I decided that I needed to watch some wrestling that had an audience, but didn't want to watch anything that was of the current product. So I fired up the WWE network, and went to the WCW section.

I am a bigger fan of NWA/WCW than WWE, so wanted to pick a Nitro or a PPV to reminisce about the old days, but instead found WCW Saturday Night. I've never seen any of these episodes, as I didn't have cable as a youngster, so I made the decision I'm going to start binge watching the two years worth of Saturday Night, as I thought it would be a great topic for future posts, and maybe to see some up and coming stars, while watching what they will become later in life.

So I started the first episode back in April 4th, 1992, and to my surprise, it starts off with Jesse "The Body" Ventura. 10 seconds in, and I'm already hooked.

To me, Jesse is the 2nd best color commentator of all time, with Bobby Heenan being the first. Eric Bischoff is in the stands with a microphone, and Jim Ross is introduced as the host of Saturday Night. WCW probably didn't think much of these 3 names back then, and what their futures were to become.

Great to see the Z-Man, Tom Zenk, in the first promo about his main event match against Stunning Steve, but it's been a long time since I remember watching the Dangerous Alliance, and the next promo is with Paul Heyman and Steve Austin. What a great history lesson to witness. We're now up to 5 pretty big names in 3 minutes.  WCW is killing it with all this talent, right?

Now they're talking about Flyin' Brian Pillman, and showing highlights from a match against Jushin Thunder Liger, before he goes off to fight Brad Armstrong. If you've heard of any of these wrestlers, I implore you to check out any of their matches. All three could put on a clinic. The Pillman vs. Armstrong match is definitely a fun match for TV, as they went back and forth the whole time. Brad Armstrong comes from a great wrestling family, but never got the real push he deserved. Brian Pillman is just phenomenal.  Speaking of great wrestling families, Brian Pillman fun fact, he was a member of the Hart Foundation, and was the only member not related to anyone in the family.

Ron Simmons is on the show too. This dude comes out for an interview with Ross and Ventura. Ron looks like a jacked up Billy Dee Williams. We all know Ron as the wrestler who screams "DAMN!" in the microphone, but he can talk, and could have been a much bigger career in wrestling, just on his impressive football career before wrestling. Best part of this interview, Jesse brings up to Ron that WCW has never had a black world champion before, and what his motivation is to be the first one, but then goes on to provoke Ron about football, and how great Rick Rude is. Classic Jesse.

Next match was Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin vs. Cactus Jack and Diamond Dallas Page. Watching the entrances alone, Freebirds got the loudest pop, and never would you think that Foley and DDP were going to become stars in the business. Not a great match, but watching Foley with a mediocre pop was different.

Next match was Ravishing Rick Rude vs. some unannounced enhancement talent. Rude puts on a show, Jesse talks about how great Rude is, then Rude drops the Rude Awakening on the jobber, and then lays his head on him for the pin. Watching Rick Rude matches are the best. Men hate him and boo him, because their women want the sweat dropped on them. 

Now Eric Bischoff comes on the screen, talking about WCW magazine. Never would have guessed this guy to run WCW. This segment includes promos with Big Van Vader, Harley Race, and Sting. Then they show a spot with Ricky Steamboat slapping Madusa, and a fan question to Rick Rude about hating New Yorkers. More great WCW history right here.

Then comes the main event. Z-Man vs. Stunning Steve. Looks like on Saturday Night, all main events will be 2 out of 3 falls. This was fun to watch. Z-Man is a good wrestler, and Austin is a good wrestler. This was back when Austin was a wrestler, and not the brawler he would later become as Stone Cold.

I enjoyed episode 1 tremendously. Lots of nostalgia for me. Rick Rude is my 3rd favorite wrestler of all time, so watching him in action again was great. For 1992, this was great TV. I would definitely recommend watching it, just so you can see some of the greats you know, and where they came from. Almost like an origin story.

But, there is a flip side to watching Saturday Night. How on Earth did WCW have all this great talent, put on a great show, but were doomed for failure by the end of the decade?

We know Jesse isn't staying around, as his career aspirations went another direction. But knowing now, what we didn't know then, Jim Ross goes on to become one of the greatest announcers of all time. Steve Austin goes on to become one of the biggest stars in the industry. Eric Bischoff goes from pushing magazine articles, to feuding with Vince McMahon in the Monday Night Wars. Paul Heyman brings the world a new federation in ECW, which according to Bully Ray, is where all current ideas in wrestling are taken from. Mick Foley goes from being a lunatic, to one of WWE's biggest stars. All this great talent, owned by WCW, castoff by WCW, only for Vince McMahon to dust them off, and give them the recognition they deserve, as only Vince knows how.

WCW Saturday Night is going to be my binge watch for the summer, and depending what's on the show, more posts will come, but not to worry, won't be every show. Going to enhance my wrestling history, and share what I learn. Until then, we are desperately out of time. See you next time.

Follow Pete on Twitter @peteopolis and visit his baseball and wrestling Wordpress page


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