Thursday, May 13, 1999
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
Bring on The Wrestling Channel!
So it looks like the WWF will bring out a new show in Smackdown! on UPN. So, is this good news for us Canadian wrestling fans? Not likely. UPN is a broadcast network and capable of generating larger ratings than a cable station. (See Eric Benner's column: Smackdown! was a breakthrough) In fact, Smackdown! will be expected to draw bigger ratings than Raw since it will have a larger potential viewer base. Which means that it will probably replace Raw as the WWF's flagship program just as Raw did to Superstars so many years ago. All the main action will take place on Smackdown! and Raw will be relegated to recaps and mid carder matches. (Like every other WWF show out there.)
So, what's the problem for Canadian fans? The problem is are we going to get to see Smackdown!? As it stands now TSN airs more wrestling than it can handle. It won't pick up Sunday Night Heat and has problems running Raw as it is, what with all their censoring, pre-emptions and schedule hopping. Same with WCW Nitro. So what are the chances they'll pick up yet another wrestling show for their already too busy schedule? As for getting it direct from the source, UPN, I didn't even know the station existed. We certainly don't get it in this part of the country. Do you get it in yours?
So what's the solution, you ask? What with the flood of specialty channels out there, what we need is a wrestling channel. Think about it, with WWF bringing out Raw, Heat, Smackdown!, Superstars, Astros, Livewire, Shotgun, there's 10 hours of programming. Add WCW's Nitro, Thunder, Saturday Night, there's another 7. That's already more original programming than the MASH/Murder She Wrote channel known as Prime. There'd even be room on the schedule to bring ECW to Canada for a couple of hours a week or more. Hell, with a national audience, it would give ECW more ratings and visibility than what they get in the states. They may have to sign up some new Canadian talent to appeal to their new fans.
And let's not forget about the indies. Fifteen Canadian feds listed on the SLAM! Wrestling site. There'd be plenty of airtime for all of them. And that's not even counting the indies down south. How many feds are involved with the NWA? I'd like to see Stampede Wrestling, but the drive from Halifax to Calgary is a little too long. But with a national channel, I'd still be able to see the stars of tomorrow, today. You could even have a scouting report show where industry scouts discuss and showcase up and comers from the indies. That way they would have already started a following by the time they hit the big leagues. How does international wrestling compare with North American? Let's take a look. How about a show on Japanese and Mexican feds.
A weekly news program wouldn't be out of the question. Just look at how many people are doing it on the internet. Look at how many wrestling magazines are out there. Plenty of action to talk about. And now that the mask has been lifted off of professional wrestling, a behind the scenes show wouldn't be out of the question either. How about a biography series? There have certainly been enough pro wrestlers through out the years to keep a series like that going for a while.
Tired of people talking about Ric Flair being so great, but you watch last week's Nitro and just can't see it? How about a classic matches program showcasing all the great wrestlers of yesteryear?
And if that's not enough programming, you could even air movies with wrestlers in them. There's plenty of them around. (Although many would argue over the quality.) Or how about an original sit-com based on wrestling and featuring a new cameo each week by a celebrity wrestler? How about a Celebrity Death Match with wrestlers? Goldberg Vs Austin? Sure, it's only claymation, but what the hell.
I mean if we can be subjected to a golf or cooking channel, why not a wrestling channel. The above shows I mentioned would cover many more hours of programming before repeating itself than most cable channels out there. And as for Canadian Content, how many Canadians would be showcased in all the indies and the big two? Tons.
For the fans it would mean being able to see all the wrestling shows, even as they are repeated several times throughout the week. Censored editions could air during the afternoon and full versions at night. It short, it would give the wrestling fan a one-stop shop for all their wrestling needs.
Scott Moran is from Dartmouth, NS, and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. He's written a couple of other columns for SLAM!: