Sunday, December 16, 2012

Feeding my fandom with SO MUCH WWF TV in 1986

By the end of September 1986, I was fully into my wrestling obsession. I was watching all the TV I could, renting videos, reading magazines, collecting the LJN WWF Superstars wrestling figures, and on and on. But in this era, Toronto Wrestling TV meant WWF TV.

At the end of Summer 1986, the World Wrestling Federation revamped its TV show lineup.

CHCH Channel 11 out of Hamilton added a third hour of programming. Saturdays still offered the afternoon hour, Maple Leaf Wrestling, only it was hardly Canadian. It was a re-cut of the syndicated WWF Superstars of Wrestling. That show in the USA was eventually renamed WWF Superstars after someone came forward proving an existing trademark for the show title "Superstars of Wrestling." Thus, Maple Leaf Wrestling had nothing to do with Toronto Wrestling, other than being a weekly TV platform to roll out the angles and hustle Promoter Jack Tunney's next action-packed card at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens.

At 7pm, CHCH ran a highlight show simply called WWF Wrestling. You'd still get to see a match from Maple Leaf Gardens in the last 15 minutes much of the time.

Some guy's external occipital protuberance is blocking the view of Gorilla Monsoon recording another stand-up intro-extro for CHCH-TV's WWF Wrestling at Maple Leaf Gardens. This is from around 1987 or 88, as the Tunneys have had the old NWA ring painted with red, white and blue posts.
Some guy's external occipital protuberance is blocking the view of Gorilla Monsoon recording another stand-up intro-extro for CHCH-TV's WWF Wrestling at Maple Leaf Gardens. This is from around 1987 or 88, as the Tunneys have had the old NWA ring painted with red, white and blue posts.
Sunday brought a new show, WWF Cavalcade, at 1pm. This was again a re-cut one of the new syndicated shows, WWF Wrestling Challenge. Not strictly Toronto wrestling again.

Across the border on WUTV Buffalo 29, wrestling started at noon with one of the syndicated shows. Sunday, I think, had another hour, which I think was Wrestling Challenge. Thus, one of the two hours of shows repeated one of the hours of CHCH programming, aside from the special intro/extro shot for the Canadian market.

And by special intro, I don't mean it was particularly special. It was nothing more than Vince McMahon, Jesse Ventura and Bruno Sammartino or Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan doing an intro from their "broadcast position."



For the WWF Wrestling intro, Gorilla would shoot a few stand-ups at ringside from time to time, exhorting viewers to get their popcorn, settle in, get set, get ready, because the superstars of the World Wreslting Federation are coming right atcha!

Gorilla Monsoon tapes a stand-up at ringside at Maple Leaf Gardens for CHCH-TV's WWF Wrestling programming.
Gorilla Monsoon tapes a stand-up at ringside at Maple Leaf Gardens for CHCH-TV's WWF Wrestling programming.
I'm not sure if WUTV 29 still ran All-American Wrestling late Friday nights.

The most exciting shows of all, of course, were Saturday Night's Main Event. I had to wait until about this time to see one -- October 4, 1986, taped September 13, 1986 at Richfield, Ohio. It ran during the Saturday Night Live time slot was a seriously hug event. It was the only place to see Name vs Name matches on TV instead of Name vs. Loser stuff.

I was so hungry for wrestling, I'd watch the comparably atrocious material coming from Al Tomko's All Star Wrestling in Vancouver BC on CKVR in Barrie. Finding International Wrestling from Quebec on CityTV was hit or miss. One of the Buffalo network affiliates eventually picked up AWA wrestling.

I know I could've seen more -- AWA, Stampede and perhaps others -- on TSN, but specialty channels like TSN and MuchMusic were pay TV in 1986.

So, if you haven't figured it out already -- I'd have to go back to Maple Leaf Gardens again. It was an itch that had to be scratched.

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