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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer
Not going to post the whole issue. Just a part:
June 19 1995 Observer Newsletter: WCW ANNOUNCED NEW MONDAY NIGHT WRESTLING SHOW OPPOSITE RAW
In a stunning move stemming from the meeting between Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner on 6/5, WCW will be adding a new television show every Monday night going head-up with Monday Night Raw on the TNT cable network starting 8/7.
The show, as yet unnamed, will air live probably in a similar pattern as Raw, with a live show every third week and tapes from that taping in between. The shows will supposedly originate from major arenas and supposedly contain main event calibre matches. Bischoff will host the show, which will go head-to-head against Raw, the top rated national wrestling show in the country, in most of the United States. Because TNT doesn't send out a separate West Coast feed like USA network, the show's original airing will not go head-to-head on the West Coast. However, the show will be replayed at Midnight Eastern that night which means on the West Coast the second showing would go head-up with Raw. Raw on USA has been drawing its best ratings since the inception of the show over the past quarter including setting two recent records.
The idea for the show stemmed from the Bischoff/Turner meeting and was released to the WCW front office on 6/8 at an employees meeting headed by Harvey Schiller. Reports we received is that obviously the time slot is no coincidence and stemmed from Turner being personally miffed by the letters Vince McMahon was sending him earlier this year urging him to fold the company claiming the wrestling company was an embarrassment to Turner's name.
Bischoff, since his ascension to the WCW hierarchy, has always used the excuse for the Monday Night Raw ratings beating WCW Saturday Night for Raw being on in Prime-Time while Saturday Night is on during a time period when there is less television viewership. That logic sounds good on the surface, particularly when talking among television people, but is faulty upon examination. WWF had Prime Time Wrestling in the Raw time slot dating back to the mid-80s and frequently during that period, the WCW Saturday show was doing better ratings on cable. During the heyday of Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1981, its ratings doubled the current ratings of Raw although in many ways due to the changing make-up of cable television over the past 14 years, that isn't a fair comparison. Even when Raw first started and consistently was the highest rated wrestling show on cable, the gap wasn't like it is now, where Raw's television audience at times has actually doubled that of WCW's most-watched weekly show. Bischoff apparently made that excuse for Raw's ratings being so much higher to Turner, who responded by giving Bischoff a show in the same time slot. While the show amounts to the start of another avenue of a wrestling war, it also, if WCW can't draw in that time slot, may be Bischoff giving himself enough rope to hang himself.
Schiller did almost a 180 degree about-face during the meeting from his introduction to the wrestling company. When Schiller was first named as President of WCW, replacing Bill Shaw, he said that companies that spend time worrying about their competition aren't spending enough time worrying about their own product. This was a counter to Bischoff, whom nearly everyone around him claims is obsessed with the idea of running McMahon out of business. At the meeting, Schiller supposedly talked of how important it is to put the World Wrestling Federation down and out and other company officials afterwards were saying this move amounts to the declaration of an all-out war.
There have already been reports floating around that the new show will be titled, "Head-to-head," but I'm told a decision on the title of the new show won't be made until later this week. WCW has a Clash of Champions scheduled on TBS on 8/6, the day before the debut of this new show, from Daytona Beach. WCW attempted to cancel the Clash and move the debut of the new show with the planned Clash line-up to 8/7, with the show originating from Sarasota, FL. The Daytona Beach show is the final Clash special on the books. TBS still wanted to run the Clash in August since the Clash special the previous August (the first Hogan-Flair television match) set the all-time TBS wrestling viewership record and Clashes during that time period when networks are showing reruns have traditionally drawn strong numbers. WCW had already canceled two of the three remaining scheduled Clash shows for 1995 when the company added PPV dates leaving this as the only Clash special left still on the books.
The pressure in this situation is on WCW, not WWF. They will have to put on hot shows from the start in order to gain an audience since WWF has the built-in audience. In addition, because so much has been built on Hogan, they may be pressured into a situation where Hogan may have to be used regularly on the shows, particularly if ratings don't get off to a strong start. The best thing to keep Hogan as something special is for him to be underexposed. We've already seen Hogan's affect on ratings is only noticeable in a special situation such as the first match with Flair, but it's not consistent for simply putting him on television every week in that WCW's ratings since Hogan joined the company are no higher on a weekly basis than before, even with a Hogan interview on almost every show and occasional matches that don't seem to move the numbers. If WCW does start to gather some momentum, the result will be WWF being forced to heat up its Monday Night shows. In addition, a few weeks into this battle both groups will have to buck Monday Night Football which traditionally does a number on WWF Monday night ratings and with another wrestling show in the slot, will split the wrestling already fragmented wrestling audience even more. Either way, because both groups will probably be feeling some heat, the competition in the short-run will be great for wrestling fans this fall.
The long run is another story. If WCW, which isn't planning on dropping any of its three current TBS shows while adding the TNT show, the overexposure of both the product and of Hogan (who is the product), won't help PPV, which is the major revenue stream for both companies. Those numbers probably will already decline from the addition of so many PPV shows. Declining even more will add up to major red ink from a company that needs to do in the 0.85 range for every PPV show that Hogan appears on. If WWF rises to the bait and starts pushing Raw even harder, the hype for Raw could get in the way of the hype for the PPV. Some say that's already happened since the increase in Raw ratings hasn't translated into the company making more money, and in fact, revenue coming in for house shows and PPVs is declining. It's the PPV shows today that make the companies the real money. Television ad rates bring in money, but not on the level of PPV revenue so television's primary function still needs to be to hook viewers and then sell them the PPV show. If the former works without the latter, the television, now matter how high the ratings are, isn't going to make enough to make companies profitable.