Recently, Jeff and I along with the help of Jason from The 80s Weekly newsletter recorded and published a new episode of the Gnarly 90s podcast with a look at the year 1993. We touched on all the major news events, sports stories, television and movies, and the new technology that debuted in 1993. One subject we didn’t touch on was the events in pro wrestling in 1993.
1993 has long been shunned by pro wrestling fans as a “down” year. While it’s true that attendance and ratings were down that year, and a lot of hokiness ensued that year, I really enjoyed it. Back then, I was just as glued to the weekly shows as I was in 1986 or 1989, two very fondly remembered years in wrestling.
In the WWF, while they were in a rebuilding era where talent was concerned, 1993 saw the launch of Monday Night Raw. The first half of the year featured the show coming from the Manhattan Center in NYC and provided a unique experience for a wrestling fan. One that few have been able to capture since. It was an intimate setting with a very enthusiastic crowd and combined with the focus on putting forth top matches, it resulted in a tremendously fun show to watch every week.
Who can forget the angle where Money Inc. smashed Brutus Beefcake with a briefcase that lured Hulk Hogan back into action on behalf of this friend, or the night that the 1-2-3 Kid scored the amazing upset victor over Razor Ramon? The environment was perfect for wrestling even if it wasn’t at the heights Vince McMahon wanted it to be at.
Over in WCW, they too were in a bit of a rebuilding era with their talent, bringing in and promoting new, young acts for the fans. Their WCW Saturday Night show also had a great feel to it as it emanated from the re-vamped Center Stage Theater in Atlanta. The small crowd was on top of the action, which was pretty good. Along with what ended up being great action on their PPV events, and the every-couple-of-months Clash of the Champions TBS specials, WCW was a lot of fun to watch and keep up with on a weekly basis.
1993 was also the year ECW got on television. While Eastern Championship Wrestling wasn’t quite what Extreme Championship Wrestling would be later on, it was still a fun show at a minor league level. It was a place to see some older stars like Terry Funk, Eddie Gilbert, Jimmy Snuka, and others, while at the same time building the foundation of stars that would define ECW for the rest of its tenure like Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, Taz, Sabu, and Public Enemy.
And possibly my favorite wrestling promotion of 1993, Smoky Mountain Wrestling enjoyed the most entertaining year of its short existence. SMW was hitting on all cylinders in 1993 with The Rock & Roll Express enjoying a tremendous revival and feuding with longtime nemesis Jim Cornette and his tag team of The Heavenly Bodies. We even got to see Bobby Eaton join the mix with the Bodies against the R&Rs who were joined by Arn Anderson. Ron Wright as the elderly manager of The Dirty White Boy was a great act and a highlight of the weekly TV shows. But SMW also brought great action in the year all year long, maybe capped off by their Bluegrass Brawl event in the spring. It had a great old-school territory-type vibe to the promotion that made it different, yet complimented the other major offerings in the wrestling world that year.
All in all, even though most fans look down on 1993, I put it in the Top 5 wrestling eras of my lifetime. And the best part is, thanks to modern technology, you can re-experience it all today. With the WWE Network offering every episode of Raw from that year as well as their PPVs, all of the WCW Saturday Night episodes, the PPV events, and the Clash of the Champions are all available as well. And under their ECW banner, you can watch all the episodes of their TV from that year as well. You have to turn over to YouTube to watch SMW, but every episode of their TV is there too. So in theory, you can go back and relive all of 1993 today. As a matter of fact, I believe I’ll do just that.