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DAR TV: 11 Pivotal Wrestling TV Shows

By @TrueGodImmortal


At one time, wrestling was quite possibly the biggest thing in the world. The Attitude Era and the WCW vs WWF era proved to be integral in the growth of the business and during this period of time, wrestling would reach an ultimate peak that it will likely never see again. Over the years, wrestling has seen so many different television programs, some good, some bad, some iconic, and today, we wanted to take a minute and show some love to the wrestling world and the television shows that made an impact. Let's take a look at 11 pivotal wrestling shows that made their mark.

*WWE RAW




-25 years. Countless episodes. WWF Monday Night RAW, WWF RAW Is War, WWE RAW, whatever you want to call it, it has been the flagship program in the entire world of wrestling for a long time and is one of the longest running shows in television history. While RAW isn't that great now and I'm not an avid watcher, I do believe that RAW is the single most important program in wrestling history. In the Attitude Era, RAW was everything to wrestling fans and over the years, it has remained the one constant that fans gravitate to when they come back to watch. A casual fan knows Smackdown to an extent, but most casual fans know and can remember moments from RAW. Stone Cold, The Rock, Chris Jericho's debut, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and so many more were vital pieces of RAW and for that, there is no show in wrestling history that meant more.

*WWE Smackdown




-So, Smackdown has become the other flagship program in wrestling and with 19 years of being on television, it shows little sign of slowing up. The 1000th episode is on the way and there is the chance that this show gets to make it to 1500 or 2000 episodes. The fact that Smackdown exists next to RAW as an equal in stature almost and has been virtually better than RAW for the last 15 years says more than enough about the quality of the show. 2002-2004, Smackdown was clearly the better show. 2008-2010, Smackdown was clearly the better show, and since 2016, it has clearly been the better show. For that alone, Smackdown is iconic and has so many classic matches in its history.

*WCW Monday Nitro



-I loved WCW at one point. I mean I really loved the company. I would watch Nitro faithfully from the first show in Minneapolis with Lex Luger making a huge appearance to the very last episode of the program that featured both past their prime wrestlers Ric Flair and Sting doing battle one last time. In between the beginning and end, the show would give us countless moments, heel turns, championship changes, classic matches, iconic debuts, and of course, the most important of them all, the NWO. Nitro would win the ratings war for two years straight almost showcasing how powerful their programming was before dropping the ball themselves. There are so many moments for WCW Nitro that remain great but my favorite is either Sting and his random appearances to fight the NWO or Goldberg beating Hulk Hogan. Regardless, Nitro was the essential WCW TV program and the one that really mattered.

*Lucha Underground



-There aren't many wrestling shows that would treat itself like an actual TV show or fictional film. Lucha Underground makes sure that it does just that and to perfection almost. The usage of dynamic storytelling and even more engaging characters and personalities to draw wrestling fans in and non-wrestling fans in works well enough, but make no mistake about it, the wrestling is the most important part of the show. From the high flying theatrics to the violent segments that make the crowds go wild, Lucha Underground has something special that has done wonders not only for the Lucha style of wrestling, but for wrestling in general, as the show would end up on Netflix, marking a huge moment for the business in any event.

*TNA IMPACT



-So, IMPACT Wrestling has made a turn for the better in recent memory, and they've started to get their footing again, but there was once a time where TNA couldn't get it right. When they originally announced their TV deal years ago, it seemed to work well enough. Decent ratings considering, a nice roster of legends and some good talent all around, IMPACT gave fans an alternative and seemed poised to be around for a while even. After the weekly PPV model wore off for TNA, IMPACT carried the torch and only saw a fall off when they began to try and compete with WWE directly. Regardless, IMPACT has sustained over the years through Dixie Carter, Jay Lethal impersonating Flair, Jeff Jarrett, Main Event Mafia, the most epic Scott Steiner moments, and somehow it is still here. For that, IMPACT is without a doubt a pivotal program in wrestling TV history.

*ECW Hardcore TV



-There weren't always programs that truly garnered the attention of wrestling fans, but one local promotion that would create a show that brought in viewers is ECW, with their seven year run in syndication for their Hardcore TV program. The show would run in various cities, with mostly New York and Philly being the two biggest markets for it. The show would eventually hit other markets as well, notably in the Midwest and a little in the South (minimally in the West Coast too), but the East Coast was still the major domain for all things extreme. They used to sell VHS tapes of Hardcore TV and allowed you to keep all of the outrageous occurrences and matches in your collection. Truth be told, Hardcore TV was way more relevant and prevalent than the watered down joke that ECW on TNN would become. If you want to experience the real ECW, check the WWE Network today and enjoy some of those episodes and moments.

*WWE Velocity



-A show that was essentially a jobber program, WWE Velocity was like the Shotgun Saturday Night or the WWF Superstars of the Ruthless Aggression Era. The show would feature a number of wrestlers who would grow to become legends like Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, but also featured some wrestlers who were less than legendary like Paul London, Bob Holly, Shannon Moore, Nunzio, Rene Dupree, and more. Velocity was quite as bad as Shotgun Saturday Night or Sunday Night Heat, but it was pivotal in showcasing wrestlers that might not get the popular time on the two main programs from the company.

*Ring Of Honor Wrestling



-9 seasons and over 360 episodes later, ROH TV has become something special, utilizing the Sinclair Broadcasting Network to keep itself afloat for quite sometime. After arriving in 2009, the show would take on a life of its own, pushing some of the best wrestlers in the world to the forefront and trying to push the show to the next level. As an avid watcher, I would find Kevin Steen, Jay Lethal, and The Briscoes to be huge reasons for the success of ROH and their television programming. One could also credit Tyler Black and other names that pushed ROH in the post Samoa Joe, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan era, and one could only wonder what a TV deal for ROH could have meant for that Joe/Punk/Bryan era. ROH TV is necessary and despite a few budgeting and presentation issues here and there, it has remained a consistently good show for years.

*WCW Worldwide



-Taped at the Disney MGM  Studios in Orlando, this show essentially set a tone for how the smaller programs in WWE would become later on and how TNA does their IMPACT tapings. It was not your traditional wrestling show and as a result, it caught some flack, mainly for having short matches and a lack of big time talent regularly. Regardless, Worldwide looked interesting with a cool arena setup and from 1992-1996, the show managed to showcase some good talent and some not so good in the WCW pool. I always remember the rotating ring and how phony the crowd seemed, as this was comedic and interesting all the same. WCW Worldwide was not a classic show, but it was important and pivotal in its own way for sure.

*WWE Saturday Night's Main Event



-So, WCW Thunder and WWE Saturday Night's Main Event are the final two choices on the list. Why? Because they represented something that could not be duplicated: wrestling on television on different nights of the week than expected. While Saturday Night's Main Event might have seemed like it was featured on a smart night, Saturday has always been seen as a bad night for television. Back in the late 80's however, people would flock to their TV to watch whatever Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan were up to on a regular basis. The show wasn't anything special necessarily, but it did serve as the primary television programming for WWF before RAW took over that slot some years later. The show would get rebooted sometime later as the WWE wanted to see if wrestling on a Saturday could really work. They now employ that strategy with the once every two months NXT big Takeover shows that they do, but I would not be against a possible redo of this program now on the Network as well.

*WCW Thunder



-In essence, this show sucked. It represents the beginning of the end and the greed that WCW had after taking over the ratings war with WWF. They got overzealous and decided they needed more programming. That was not the right move and they would pay dearly for it in the long run, however, without WCW Thunder, I'm a big believer that WWE Smackdown would have never existed. Thunder took over Thursdays and pulled in decent ratings, but once Smackdown arrived on Thursdays in 1999, it was pretty much a wrap. Still, Thunder had a ton of top talent on the show, some title changes, and some cool moments, earning it the right to make this list. None of these wrestling shows are perfect, but they are all pivotal in one way or another to the business for sure.

-True

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