The Ballad of Shotgun Saturday Night

Coming from the presentation style of WWF programming in the late-1980s and early-to-mid-1990s, WWF Shotgun Saturday Night was a very interesting, welcome, and diverse change to the companies television product.  For the uninitiated, Shotgun Saturday Night was a WWF pro wrestling television program that aired from 1997 through 1999, and later became a syndicated broadcast show featuring matches with lower card wrestlers when Shotgun Saturday Night was replaced by WWE Jakked/Metal in late-1999. At the time, show’s original concept was unusual and different, as it aired on late Saturday nights from various New York City nightspots, and was promoted as an “edgier” product than WWF’s normal weekly offerings.

Shotgun Saturday Night debuted on from the Mirage Nightclub in New York (and would later be broadcast from the All-Star Cafe in Times Square, the Mirage nightclub and New York Penn Station), and instantly differentiated itself from regular WWF programming at the time.  Quite possibly the most memorable moment of the debut episode happened when Marlena (Terri Runnels) climbed on the ring apron during a match between Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and The Sultan (Rikishi Fatu) to remove her top, distract The Sultan, and caused him to lose the match. Even though she was wearing pasties, her back was facing the camera and the incident set the tone for Shotgun Saturday Night (and later the Attitude Era) over the next several years.

A few more unique elements of Shotgun Saturday Night that distinguished itself from other WWF programming at the time. For example, due to the confining nature of the locations the show was initially broadcasted from, Shotgun Saturday Night used a smaller ring instead of the standard twenty-foot by twenty-foot WWF ring. Plus, all ring ropes were taped yellow (which has yet to be replicated since), and the on-screen bug (featured in the above image of Triple H) that normally featured the WWF’s “New Generation” logo, was replaced by an police badge with the WWF logo inside it.

As time went on, Shotgun Saturday Night lost its unique feel as it was no longer being broadcast live from New York City. Plus, an expletive-filled promo by Terry Funk on the January 18, 1997 episode forced the WWF to drastically alter the program’s format. The result of the repackaging had the show become an undercard taping (similar to Sunday Night Heat), while retaining its edgy broadcast look and style, but it never really was the same again…


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