Pro Wrestling Takes Bite Out Of ABC

Ocala Star-Banner – January 17, 1999
By Richard Burton

For those of you who need more proof of how well pro wrestling has caught on, just look at the bite it took into Monday Night Football’s viewership this past year.

Thanks to the 9.2 million viewers who watched Nitro and Raw on Monday nights during the fourth quarter of 1998, Monday Night Football had to endure the lowest ratings in its 29-year history.

Monday Night Football averaged 13.9 million viewers, which was an 8 percent dropoff from last year.  Overall, Raw earned a 4.9 rating over the final quarter of the year while Nitro garnered 4.3.

ECW PPV: Here are the results of the “Guilty as Charged” pay-per-view, which took place on Ja. 10 at Kissimmee’s Millennium Theater: Taz (Peter Snerka) defeated Shane Douglas by submission to win the ECW World Title; Justin Credible (P.J. Walker) defeated Tommy Dreamer (Tom Laughlin) after Terry Funk interfered in Extreme Ladder Match; Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatowski) pinned Lance Storm (Lance Evers) to retain the ECW TV Title; The Dudley Boys (Devon Hughes and Mark Lamonic) defeated New Jack (Jerome Young) and Spike Dudley (Matt Hyson); Sid Vicious (Sid Eudy) pinned John Kronus; Yoshihiro Tajiri pinned Super Crazy; Mahoney (John Richner) and Axl Rotten (Brian Knighton) defeated the F.B.I. and Danny Doring and Roadkill; the One Man Gang (George Gray) and Rod Price defeated Nova and Chris Chetti.

NOTES FROM THE PPV: Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch (formerly Sunny in WWF) showed up at PPV and turned on one-time Triple Threat partner Douglas.  Look for the trio to have a confrontation at the Jan. 16 ECW Arena show, which will air on Sunshine Network on Jan. 22.  …Sid’s return to wrestling’s mainstream drew a huge pop from the sellout crowd of 2,500.  Don’t look for Sid to stay with manager Jeff Jones too long, as ECW boss Paul Heyman has big plans for him…  Prior to the show, Heyman came out and made off-color remarks about WWF boss Vince McMahon and WCW leader Eric Bischoff…  The Public Enemy will be at the Jan. 16 ECW Arena show to respond to the challenge from the Dudley Boys.  …New Jack planned to do a jump off of the 30 foot catwalk atop the ring, but decided against it.  …Atlas Security members roughed up people in the crowd during the Taz/Douglas match, which went all over the venue.  One security member punched a young fan after the show.  After the show went off the air, Douglas returned to the locker room to chants of “ECW” and a standing ovation.  The show came off great live as the wrestlers worked hard to give the fans a great show, which is more than I can say for WCW.

RAW/HEAT SPOILER: If you don’t want to know what will happen on next week’s editions of Sunday Night Heat and Monday Night Raw, ignore the following section.  But if you do, read on for some interesting happenings

  • Heat’s Happenings include: Tiger Ali Singh (Matt Hays) over Gillberg (Duane Gill); Scorpio over Mark Henry; Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart over Edge (Adam Copeland) and Gangrel (David Heath); Godfather (Charles Martin) over Goldust (Dustin Runnels); Chyna over Vince McMahon in an arm-wrestling match thanks to a goof-up by Jerry Brisco.
  • Raw Results include: Road Dog (Brian James) over Gangrel; Billy Gunn (Kip Sopp) over Test (Andrew Martin); Steve Blackman over Dan Severn by DQ; WWF champion Mankind (Mick Foley) over the Big Bossman (Ray Traylor) by DQ; Chyna over Brisco and Pat Patterson; Kane (Glen Jacobs) over the Rock (Duane Johnson) by DQ.

NOTES FROM RAW: The Undertaker (Mark Calloway) does his “Lord of Pain” angle with Dennis Knight once again on Raw.  …An angle with Henry/Chyna and “Sammy” (who is a man and not Nicole Bass) will air.  …Kane is attacked by the Corporation and saved by Mankind.  …”Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Steve Williams) stuns both Shane McMahon and the Rock at the end of the show.  …”Dr. Death” Steve Williams wrestled in a dark match at the tapings and pinned Bob Holly.

PAY-PER-VIEW UPDATE: The WWF won the PPV battle over WCW as it achieved a 1.04 buy rate compared to their rivals at 0.94.

Wrestlemania 14 had the highest buy rate at 2.2 while WCW’s Bash at the Beach was second at 1.59.  Summerslam, which featured a match between Austin and the Undertaker, was third at 1.44.

The two worst buy rates were for the WWF’s “No Way Out” (0.45) in February and the WCW’s “Spring Stampede” (0.74).

The main events of ‘No Way Out’ were Kane against Vader (Leon White) and an eight-man tag team battle featuring Terry Funk, Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), Owen Hart and Austin against the New Age Outlaws (Kip Sopp and Brian James), Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Paul Laveque) and Savio Vega.  Vega took an injured Shawn Michaels’ (Michael Hickenbottem) place in the match.

As far as Spring Stampede went, Sting (Steve Borden) made one of his few title defenses against Scott Hall.

ECW, which is tough to follow for most fans because of its lack of prime-time television coverage, had buy rates 0.2 and 0.25 percent for its four PPV events in 1998.

RATINGS WAR: Once again the WWF defeated Nitro in the ratings this past Monday.

Raw earned a rating of 5.5 overall compared to WCW’s 5.0 for Nitro.

The previous week WWF’s Raw gained a 5.8 rating while WCW’s Nitro finished with a 5.0 rating.  The Florida State/Tennessee football game had a 17.2 rating.

SKIP SOULED OUT: WCW is holding its third annual “Souled Out” pay-per-view tonight.

The main event is Goldberg against Scott Hall in a tazer/ladder gimmick match (yawn).  Goldberg will win and will face Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) for the WCW Title at SuperBrawl in February.  Also Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) and his punk kid will take on the chubby NOW duo of Curt Hennig and Barry Windham while Chris Jerhico (the only one worth watching on WCW of late) will face Perry Saturn.

Saturn will win the match because WCW is upset with Jerhico for not wanting to resign with them right away.

Until Jerhico resigns, it has been said he will not be on Nitro nor will he be given a push.

The PPV will probably feature the likes of Brian Adams, Jerry Flynn, Norman Smiley and Chavo Guerrero.  So if you want to get gypped out of $29.95, go ahead and buy it.  But don’t complain when another incident like the one with Hogan and Kevin Nash occurs.

EXTRA STUFF: Shawn Michaels had his fourth and fifth vertebrae in his back fused on Jan. 12 and could possibly retire from the sport.  …Raven (Scott Levy) met with five-year old Jessica Jett, who has neurofibromatosis, through the Make A Wish Foundation last weekend.  …Bam Bam Bigelow (Scott Bigelow) missed a Dec. 30 house show in Philadelphia to be with his wife who was having the couple’s third child.  …Eddy Guerrero suffered a break in his hip in a New Year’s Eve car accident.  …Marcus Bagwell will actually wrestle on Nitro on Feb. 1.  …Sting returned to action in Columbus (Ga.) on Jan. 3 and defeated Wrath (Bryan Clark).  Dean Malenko (Dean Simon) injured his ankle at the same house show in Columbus.  …For those of you who’ve asked, the Warrior (Jim Hellwig) and the Disciple (Ed Leslie) have been dropped by WCW.  The Warrior only had to make 10 of the 40 appearances he was slated for.  …Former WCW head booker Terry Taylor has also been let go.

SEVERN/SAUER I: Former Ultimate Fighting Champion and current WWF superstar Dan “The Beast” Severn will take on Ocala’s own Tom Sauer in a shoot fight in either March or April at Williston High School.

Sauer, a graduate of Lake Weir High School, won the heavyweight title at the Extreme Championship Fighting Tournament in Orlando last week.

The show is being promoted by Robert VanKavelaar, who brought Severn to Williston in November.  It will be the third show VanKavelaar has put on in Williston.

RAW IS GONE: Rural American Wrestling, the promotion which was supposed to become a fixture up and down the I-75 corridor, is not coming back to Ocala.

Several phone calls to RAW’s office were not returned and sources say the company decided against returning to the Central Florida Community College.

The show which took place last Nov. 29, was hurt by the no-shows of Sid (Sid Eudy), Dusty Rhodes (Virgil Riley Runnels), Brian Knobbs and the “real” Doink the Clown (Matt Osborne).

The main event at the Ocala RAW show between Tatanka and the Navy SEAL was good, but the rest of the card drew little “pop” (cheers) and “heat” (boos).

Richard Burton is a syndicated pro wrestling columnist as well as the editor of the Wrestling Leader newsletter.  News from personal contacts was used in this report.

One response to “Pro Wrestling Takes Bite Out Of ABC

  1. Classic Wrestling Articles

    I just love how smarky this article is. The author just loves to prove how much he knows about wrestling by proving he knows the real names of all the wrestlers he mentions (whether he gets the spelling right or not), revealing taping results and predicting upcoming event results (whether he gets them right or not). To top it off he spells Chris Jericho’s name wrong. I love it!

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