WWF Prime Time Wrestling
|WWF Prime Time Wrestling|
Logo used on WWE Network
|Created by||Vince McMahon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Camera setup||Multi-camera setup|
|Running time||2 hours|
|Original network||USA Network (1985–1993)|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original release||January 1, 1985 – January 4, 1993|
|Followed by||Monday Night Raw (Jan 1993-Present)|
WWF Prime Time Wrestling was a professional wrestling television program produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It aired on the USA Network from 1985–1993. A precursor to Monday Night Raw, Prime Time Wrestling was a two-hour long, weekly program that featured stars of the World Wrestling Federation. The program featured wrestling matches (most of which were compiled from WWF "house show" matches from venues such as Madison Square Garden), interviews, promos featuring WWF wrestlers, updates of current feuds and announcements of upcoming local and pay-per-view events. In addition, Prime Time Wrestling would also air wrestling matches and interviews from other WWF programming such as Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge
Some episodes of Prime Time Wrestling have been available for streaming on the WWE Network since December 2014.
Despite the format changes in its last years, the main focus of Prime Time Wrestling remained unchanged—recapping the highlights of the WWF's flagship syndicated programs and presenting occasional exclusive matches taped from the house show circuit. Selected matches from the past and present from WWF's flagship arenas of the time — Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, the Philadelphia Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, and the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts — that had aired on various regional sports networks were also aired on Prime Time Wrestling.
Premiering on January 1, 1985, the original hosts of Prime Time Wrestling were Jesse Ventura and Jack Reynolds. Later, Gorilla Monsoon replaced Reynolds as Ventura's co-host, and Bobby Heenan would replace Ventura in 1986.
The Monsoon/Heenan era
The best-remembered Prime Time format featured Heenan and Monsoon introducing taped matches and analyzing them afterward, with Monsoon taking a neutral/babyface position and Heenan unashamedly cheering on the heels, especially members of The Heenan Family. The chemistry between Monsoon and Heenan made this show popular with fans for many years, despite the fact it was not considered one of the WWF's "primary" shows for most of its history. Many other wrestling programs—both produced by the WWF and by other companies—would attempt to copy this formula, with varying degrees of success.
Although primarily a studio-based program, Prime Time would occasionally go on the road and tape its segments from various outside locations. Examples included Busch Gardens, Trump Plaza, the CN Tower, and Churchill Downs, among others. These segments rarely had much to do with the actual wrestling content of the program, and were played primarily for the comic interaction between Monsoon and Heenan.
Heenan and Monsoon co-hosted Prime Time from 1986–1991. Roddy Piper replaced Heenan briefly in the summer of 1989, during the period Heenan "took over" the last half-hour of the Prime Time program for his own talk show; after Heenan returned to the main program, Piper was retained for the remainder of 1989 as a second co-host. Piper's final episode was the Christmas 1989 episode, where he attacked Heenan for dressing like Santa and badmouthing the Christmas season and insulting kids. The Rosetti Sisters, a group of overweight Sisters who were fans of the WWF were frequent co-hosts from 1989–90, also serving as assistants to Heenan on his show.
At times, guests have appeared on the studio set for cameo appearances or to sub-host for someone. Gene Okerlund was the most frequent guest, sometimes stopping by on the set for no reason other than to antagonize Heenan. Okerlund also was a substitute host for the series whenever Monsoon or Heenan were away. Tony Schiavone also guest hosted an episode of the series along with Sean Mooney, with the explanation being that Monsoon and Heenan were at the Trump Plaza for Wrestlemania V. Also notably, Freddie Blassie made an appearance in late-1989, antagonizing Heenan for owing him money and turning face in the process. For the rest of the episode, he remained as a special guest co-host alongside Piper in Piper's studio. The Red Rooster and The Brooklyn Brawler also appeared as guests in 1989 for the purpose of an angle where Lombardi knocked out Monsoon with a chair and beat up The Rooster, who had just fired Heenan as his manager. Rick Rude also guested in the Summer of 1989 mostly to further his feud with Piper. Arnold Skaaland, Hillbilly Jim, and Harley Race also stopped in the studio as guests during the run of the series.
February 1991–November 1991
On February 18, 1991, Prime Time changed formats to something vaguely resembling a talk/variety show, with an in-studio audience. Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan hosted this version of Prime Time, with Lord Alfred Hayes serving as an announcer. WWF wrestlers were frequent guests during this particular incarnation of Prime Time, which was similar to the WWF's old Tuesday Night Titans program. Sean Mooney replaced McMahon during the pre-SummerSlam weeks until this format was discontinued in November of that year.
November 1991–January 1993
Prime Time's final format debuted in November 1991, and featured a panel of WWF personalities (including, at various points, Bobby Heenan, Gorilla Monsoon, Jim Duggan, Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect, Jerry Lawler, Slick, Sgt. Slaughter, and Hillbilly Jim) participating in a roundtable discussion about the goings-on in the WWF. Vince McMahon served as host and moderator for the panel. This format appears to have been inspired by the PBS series The McLaughlin Group, which was growing in popularity at this time.
The final episode of Prime Time Wrestling aired on January 4, 1993. Monday Night Raw replaced the show in its timeslot the following week.