The B show in Wrestling – youngsters, squash matches and recaps (spring4of9)

Today we take a look back at the B show. Most major promotions have had a B show or even a C show. There have been few successes and many failure’s in finding that weekend recap ready audience. In the US market these B shows have all but disappeared (beyond a webcast anyway)


So it’s time to recap Raw, talk about what happened on Nitro, and finally to ask whatever happened to the B show.


Building a head of steam


Of course no show goes out to be a B show. TBS had big ideas for WCW Thunder but for once their budget wasn’t up to scratch (eric bishoff reports). WWF Sunday night heat began as one of the WWF’s main shows but was sidelined by the début of Smackdown.

Others like WWF Superstars of Wrestling had a run leading back to the eighties. A morbid reminder perhaps to Monday night raw that no show is beyond replacement in the WWE machine.

Generally B shows fall into three types.


Type A – The failed A Show


These are shows that were either a failed concept or that were replaced by a new timeslot, fancier set and better “buzz word”


Fitting comfortably in this category we have WWE NXT. The problem here is that the concept of half wrestling show and half reality TV failed. The result was that the show was dropped in the USA. The good news here is that in it’s later series Redeption NXT has found it’s pace as a C show to feature new upcoming talent. What makes it different to most the B shows in this blog is that it has it’s own storyline. If you live in the US this is a webcast well worth your time.


There are other failed concept shows such as WWF Shotgun Saturday Night. The idea of a wrestling ring in public places like the shopping mall’s.


The original WWF Superstars was the company’s main show for a while. But it began to trail behind the Live Monday Night Raw. Diesel defeated Razor for the intercontinental title back in April 1994 marking the last major title change for Superstars. From 1995 onwards it was strictly up and comers, squash matches and recaps.


We had television before RAW. I never remember anybody worrying about the ratings”

Shawn Michaels


WCW Thunder was perhaps the ultimate failed A shows. According to reports to surface late there was anxiety in WCW of including a second show. TBS didn’t help too much budget wise so in result WCW main event stars appeared in promos for Thunder but very rarely were actually on the show.

Then when they began to tape Thunder well Take a look at type B


Type B – We already have a crowd here.


Heat, Velocity, Metal, Shotgun Saturday Night, The Action Zone, WCW Saturday Night, WCW Main Event, WCW Power Hour, WCW Wordwide.


So so many B shows that were filmed when the audience had paid to see a different show entirely. The crowd watching NXT and Superstars today have paid to see RAW and Smackdown respectively. But as they are there already and WWE have international broadcast time to fill they may as well. Both parties win here. The crowd get a longer show and WWE fill their commitments. This has been the case through Wrestling history. Because taping shows together is cheaper.

Newer promotions like TNA tape 2 or more episodes of their flagship show this way to keep the costs low. Although WWE don’t like to publicise it much they have done the same taping Smackdown straight after RAW when pushed (usually by a big international tour)


Type C – Were playing for a different audience


WWE bottom line, Afterburn, Experience, Livewire, Mania,

All these shows have one purpose. To repeat what happened on the flagship shows. WHY?


The best example is here in the UK. Sunday Night Heat was picked up by channel 4. A terrestrial channel with no access to Raw or Smackdown. It’s purpose was to open the product to a new market. WWE still play this card. In Europe the week in WWE is a recap show specifically produced for Eurosport.


We are in on Channel 4 in the UK at two in the morning. Who is watching at this time?”

Michael Cole (or was it Coachman) on a UK Heat


Across the world this happens. Usually a recap show is on basic pay or free TV and the main shows are on pay tv. It’s a good business model as it keeps the product accessible.


Long live the B Show


So whether it’s watching two up and coming stars on NXT or catching up with a show you missed on a recap we here at BTSM love the B shows.


During 1996 wrestlers on the WWF B shows included HHH, and Stone Cold both went on to become bigger than anybody then could imagine.

If your lucky enough to still have access to them beyond webcast the B shows are well worth your time.