Over the years, the WWE has produced a ton of content. We have more content than ever today, thanks to WWE having their own platform to produce so much with the WWE Network. We have everything from reality shows, prank shows, talk shows and extra wrestling content on the network. It wasn't always that easy for WWE, though.
Before the expansion to moving to Thursday nights with Smackdown and even before the weekly fixture of Monday Night RAW, the WWE had to have some content on television throughout the year to keep people invested in the product and to be persuaded to buy the pay-per-views when they came around. They had a ton of stuff from Superstars, to Saturday Night's Main Event, to Prime Time Wrestling, a precursor to Monday Night Raw.
The WWE also had no website to plug all their products, so getting extra television time was their way of advertising any products they had. Fans could then purchase products... over the phone! Remember those days?
Finally, not having so many multimedia platforms and limited promo time gave wrestlers very little opportunity to interact with fans, which is also what these shows were designed to do.
With the network around, it's very unlikely we're going to forget about new shows that pop up, as they'll be stored there forever. What about the ones that are only in our memories? Maybe repeats of these programs will pop up eventually, but for now, they're lost shows.
I watched a lot of wrestling as a kid, but even I forgot about some of these. Here are some many fans may have forgotten about.
15 Action Zone
The Action Zone was a show that came around the WWE's cartoony period of the mid 90s. The show had some promise at the beginning, as on its inaugural broadcast, Bret Hart defended his WWE Championship against his brother Owen. The next week had another good main event, as Diesel and Shawn Michaels defended their tag titles against the 1-2-3 Kid and Razor Ramon. Vince McMahon and Todd Pettingill called the first few episodes, but were replaced by Jim Ross. The show was eventually tossed to the side and became a highlight show for RAW and Superstars. It was cancelled in 1996.
Excess was a talk show originally hosted by Jonathan Coachman and Trish Stratus, who was eventually replaced by Terri Runnels. It popped up in 2001, originally as a call-in show, where fans could discuss current storylines in WWE. The show also featured many highlights from that week's programming. Eventually the show was spread to two hours, with one hour featuring RAW highlights and the other half being SmackDown highlights. The show was cancelled after nine months.
13 Sunday Night Slam
We all remember WWE's recent 'Slam' program, as they introduced Saturday Morning Slam in 2012, a show that was specifically meant to appeal to kids, because what kid wouldn't like watching wrestling with a bowl of cereal on a Saturday morning?
This edition of Sunday Night Slam wasn't a weekly fixture. In fact, only three episodes aired between August of 1994 and March of 1995. The show was basically meant to be a countdown show to a big pay-per-view. It was eventually replaced by Free for All, which ran for a long time, before being replaced by WWE Kickoff.
LiveWire actually lasted a long time by these shows' standards. It ended after a five year run, running from 1996 to 2001. The show was originally hosted by Todd Pettingill and Sunny (later Michael Cole, then Coach) and it allowed viewers to call in and participate. The show discussed the week's news in WWE and also had interviews with WWE Superstars on the air. Eventually the show was strictly a highlight show. The show became infamous for Paul Heyman calling in using the alias of "Bruce from Connecticut" to complain about the boring product WWE was producing.
11 Friday Night's Main Event
Every wrestling fan remembers, or at least has heard of Saturday Night's Main Event, heck the show was even brought back for a brief run in 2006. However, it's very easy to forget there was a Friday Night's Main Event program. Unlike other shows, this was specifically meant to be a temporary show. It aired on the USA Network just twice, on August 29 and September 5, 1997 when RAW was preempted by coverage of the U.S. Open. The show wasn't a complete throwaway though, as the first episode actually saw Bret Hart defend his WWE Championship against Vader.
10 Shotgun Saturday Night
Shotgun Saturday Night was a very bizarre show at times. It aired from early 1997 into the summer of 1999, essentially in the meaty part of the Attitude Era. It was pushed as an edgier product which would run from different locations around New York City. The first show saw Marlena flashing The Sultan, causing him to lose to Goldust. In a way, you can say it was WWE testing the waters for shifting to an edgier product. The show had many wrestlers serving as guest commentators and battles were waged from the Mirage Nightclub, All-Star Cafe and New York Penn Station.
Jakked was the successor to Shotgun as it aired on Saturday nights following the cancellation of Shotgun. Jakked was meant to be an edgier show, as you can gather from its airtime. The show was essentially the same as the next entry on our countdown, but it had its own commentary team in Michael Hayes and Jonathan Coachman. The show was essentially for lower-card wrestlers who couldn't get a lot of airtime on WWE's star studded shows of RAW and SmackDown.
Metal was essentially the same show as Jakked, as it would air on Saturday afternoons with the same matches, but Kevin Kelly and Tom Pritchard. It was meant to be a more kid friendly show, and like Jakked, it aired from September of 1999 to May of 2002, getting cancelled shortly after the WWE's brand extension. A notable highlight from Jakked and Metal was Perry Saturn snapping at jobber Mike Bell and hurting him for real, which resulted in punishment, by getting the Moppy gimmick.
7 WWE Confidential
I was actually really into this show as a teenager, as it felt different from everything WWE had done before. By this time, I was well aware that wrestling was scripted and was getting more eager to learn behind the scenes gossip, which is what this show brought to light. It gave us a closer look at wrestlers behind the scenes and ongoing news. It ran from 2002 to 2004 before it was replaced by yet another highlight show. This was the show infamous for calling out Stone Cold Steve Austin following his abrupt departure from WWE, with Vince uttering the words "he took his ball and went home."
When the WWE implemented the brand extension, the WWE needed an compliment to Sunday Night Heat, which was essentially a weekly show for lower-card wrestlers and would recap the week's action and preview an upcoming PPV. Velocity began to be used exclusively for SmackDown wrestlers and followed the cancellation of Jakked/Metal. Velocity eventually was pulled from Spike and streamed on WWE.com. Perhaps the show's all-time highlight in hindsight is John Cena wrestling Bryan Danielson on the August 2nd, 2003 episode.
5 WCW Main Event
I'm sure many of us can rember The Main Event, which was one of WWE's many shows, but WCW actually had their own Main Event show, which aired between 1988 and 1998. It was a weekly one hour show airing on Sunday evenings on TBS. Remember, it was very easy for Ted Turner to put a 'rasslin show whatever slot he wanted. Eventually the show, would add to their main event caliber match, by re-airing matches from various programs throughout that week. On PPV Sundays, the show would air live from the venue and feature stars who were left off the main card.
What are you talking about? Everybody's heard of 'Mania! Well, no, we're not talking about WrestleMania, but simply, "WWF Mania". Mania was basically a run-of-the-mill Saturday morning wrestling program, which would recap the week's results. It ran between 1993 and 1996, so the show would feature various highlights from RAW. In the earlier years, it featured an exclusive match, but would dwindle. It was eventually replaced by WWF Blast-Off.
3 WCW Prime
WCW had many shows before Nitro ever started. As WCW hit that Monday night slot on TNT, they added WCW Prime, which was a part of the tapings at Disney's MGM Studios in Orlando. This show basically featured matches with mid-carders that may not have been featured on the main show of Nitro. There was little to no storyline advancement on Prime. It was hosted by Dusty Rhodes, who would often take on a more comedic approach to the commentary.
2 Tuesday Night Titans
Tuesday Night Titans was a show that aired briefly in the mid-80s. The show was unique in a wrestling sense, as it essentially was meant to poke fun at other late-night talk shows. It was hosted by Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes and they would perform interviews with wrestlers in full character while also performing some skits. This was a great way of displaying the larger than life characters the WWE had back in the 80s. The WWE has brought some of these episodes to the WWE Network. Here's to hoping they add more.
1 Championship Wrestling
WWWF (later WWF) Championship Wrestling was the show that paved the way for future shows to pop up. It deserves to be the no.1 entry because of the way it opened the door for so many weekly shows to eventually pop up. The show ran from 1978 to 1986 and had everything from championship matches, to interviews, to building storylines. It was the first WWE program run on national broadcast television and was taped in small arenas, like the Allentown Agricultural Hall in Allentown PA and the Mid Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepie, NY. The show's opening theme was none other than Michael Jackson's Thriller. Many historical moments happened on this show, including Bruno Sammartino announcing his retirement and Hulk Hogan returning to the company after a stint in AWA.