WWF Prime Time Wrestling (also known to fans as simply Prime Time or PTW) was a TV wrestling program that aired on the USA Network from 1985 in 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 the WWF's syndicated programs of the era, combined with "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.
Past episodes of Prime Time Wrestling have been re-aired on WWE Classics On Demand since November 2004.
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, 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. 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. During Piper's tenure on the show, an angle began where Piper was told to refrain from becoming physical with Heenan, all to help build interest in Piper's ongoing feud with one of Heenan's protégés, Rick Rude, and to also create an avenue for Heenan to use his talents to provoke Piper. The angle culminated on the December 25, 1989, episode, where an enraged Piper attacked Heenan for claiming that Santa Claus was not real and otherwise making derogatory comments about children and Christmas. Piper was removed as co-host and Heenan was restored to his co-hosting position.
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 Vince McMahon and 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 at the time.
One of the few instances where PTW was used in a significant storyline development was shortly before Survivor Series 1992. An insinuation early in the show by Heenan (then "financial consultant" to Ric Flair) over the inferior status of Mr. Perfect within the Flair team (who was "executive consultant" to Flair at the time), was taken advantage of over the course of the episode. This culminated in Mr. Perfect turning babyface, abandoning the Flair team and teaming up with Randy Savage against Flair and Razor Ramon in the main event. Such rapid plot developments were extremely rare at that time in the WWF but was necessitated by the departure from the WWF of Savage's scheduled partner, the Ultimate Warrior, mere weeks before the Survivor Series.
PTW was also used to introduce the Brooklyn Brawler (Steve Lombardi) to the Bobby Heenan Family when the Brawler attacked Terry Taylor a.k.a. the Red Rooster (who had left the Heenan Family after a falling out with The Brain) and Gorilla Monsoon. Heenan first gave Lombardi the Brooklyn Brawler name on this program.
PTW was also used to further the Roddy Piper/Rick Rude feud.
|List of WWF Prime Time Wrestling results|
|1/1 • 1/8 • 1/22 • 2/5 • 2/19 • 2/26 • 3/5 • 3/12 • 5/8 • 6/11 • 8/6 • 9/24 • 10/1 • 10/8 • 10/22 • 11/19 • 11/26|
|1/26 • 8/17 • 8/24 • 10/29 • 11/12|
|1/12 • 5/20 • 6/13|