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Saturday Night's Main Event is a professional wrestling television program that aired occasionally from 1985 to 1991, under the World Wrestling Federation banner on NBC in place of Saturday Night Live. It returned to the air on March 18, 2006, in an 8:00 p.m. EST time slot. It was also on ESPN Radio with a start time of 7:35 EST.
At the time of the original airing it was a rare example of professional wrestling being broadcast on an over-the-air commercial television network after the 1950s. It coincided with and contributed to, the apogee of the " 1980s wrestling golden age " of professional wrestling in the United States. After leaving NBC in 1991 it aired twice on Fox Broadcasting Company in 1992 before disappearing for over a decade.
When WWE's flagship show, WWE Monday Night RAW returned to the USA Network in 2005, Saturday Night's Main Event was revived in 2006 as a "special series" to air on occasion on NBC as part of a deal between WWE and NBC Universal. The RAW, SmackDown!, and ECW brand rosters are now featured on the show.
Original run (1985-1992)
Saturday Night's Main Event debuted on May 11, 1985 in the late-night time slot normally assigned to reruns of the NBC sketch comedy Saturday Night Live. Then-SNL executive producer Dick Ebersol had made a deal with WWF owner Vince McMahon to produce the show, after Ebersol had seen the high ratings that two WWF specials drew on MTV in 1984-85.
Although the show aired infrequently, it did, starting in 1986, settle into a predictable pattern of airdates: New Year's weekend, an episode in March, an episode in late April/early May, an episode in late September/early October, and Thanksgiving weekend. 1989 & 1990 both offered episodes in July promoted as "Summertime Bonus Editions."
Saturday Night's Main Event was a tremendous ratings success for NBC during its heyday, most notably on the March 14, 1987 show, which drew an 11.6 rating, which to this day remains the highest rating any show has ever done in that time slot. That show was headlined by a battle royal featuring Hulk Hogan and André the Giant, who were slated to face each other two weeks later at WrestleMania III. As Hogan rarely wrestled on the WWF syndicated and cable television shows, Saturday Night's Main Event was the program on free television where most viewers were able to see him in action.
The success of Saturday Night's Main Event led to several Friday night prime time specials, known as The Main Event. The first of these, on February 5, 1988 featured a WrestleMania III rematch between Hogan and André and drew 33 million viewers and a 15.2 rating, which is still the highest-rated television show in professional wrestling history.
While ratings remained strong through 1990, they began to fall shortly thereafter; one factor was that Los Angeles NBC O&O KNBC opted to air a news bulletin over the February 1, 1991 episode of The Main Event as well. With Ebersol having been promoted to head of NBC Sports and NBC losing interest in wrestling, Saturday Night's Main Event was dropped, its final NBC airing being on April 27, 1991.
For much of its history, Saturday Night's Main Event was hosted by McMahon and Jesse "The Body" Ventura with the occasional use of Bobby Heenan in 1986 and 1987. In 1990, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper replaced Ventura as McMahon's broadcast partner when Ventura left the WWF. On the two episodes that aired on FOX, Heenan served as McMahon's partner.
The opening theme song for the original version was "Obsession" by Animotion with the closing theme being "Take Me Home" by Phil Collins, and also the beginning of "Take on Me" from a-ha was used for show bumpers. In 1992, both songs were replaced by original theme music for the two episodes that aired on FOX.
Revived run (2006 - 2008)
Saturday Night's Main Event returned to NBC on March 18, 2006, in a prime-time slot. The opening theme song for the revived run was Boom by P.O.D.. The announce team for the first show of the 2006 return consisted of Jim Ross on play-by-play, with Jerry "the King" Lawler, and Tazz as color commentators. Although the show took place in Detroit, it did not air on the local NBC affiliate WDIV-TV due to obligations to air a Detroit Pistons road game. The episode aired on WMYD (then known as WDWB) at the scheduled time slot. The July 15, 2006 show had Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross (from RAW), Michael Cole and JBL (from SmackDown!), and Joey Styles and Tazz (from ECW), commentating on their respective brand's matches. For the June 2, 2007 episode, the commentary team consisted of Cole and Lawler. The third edition to the revived SNME, however, was taped on May 28, 2007 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario (the first Saturday Night's Main Event to be taped in Canada) alongside a RAW broadcast and aired on June 2 at 11:30pm EST. An audio feed was carried on ESPN Radio, beginning at 11 p.m. The 4th edition of SNME since the revival took place on August 18, 2007 in New York City at Madison Square Garden. It was taped alongside RAW (on August 13, 2007).Due to time differences it aired in the United Kingdom before it aired in the United States. The commentary team consisted of Jim Ross, Michael Cole, JBL and later Tazz.
Saturday Night's Main Event dates and venues
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