Induction: Shotgun Saturday Night from NYC – It put the “sex” back in, “This show only lasted sex weeks.”

51 Submitted by on Thu, 11 June 2015, 20:15

WWF, 1997

It’s rare for WWE to create a television program that stands out from all its other content. ECW on Sci-Fi was basically just Smackdown filmed from a different angle, Smackdown these days is simply Raw: The Director’s Cut, and the fifth season of NXT played out like episodes of Raw, with the roster of Superstars, written as if never intended in a million years to air.

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Of course, you can point to the current NXT show on WWE Network as an alternative to Titan Towers’ standard fare, but before that, when was the last time WWE put on a truly different weekly television show?

The answer to that question just might be Shotgun Saturday Night, which launched in 1997.

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As the first Monday Night Raws had pushed the envelope with live broadcasts and the word, “ass,” so too would Shotgun Saturday Night boldly push boundaries with its night club setting and furry fetish skits.

The idea of hosting a gritty live wrestling show in tiny night clubs sounds cool on paper…

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…unless that paper is the month of January from a 1997 calendar, in which case, said wrestling show gets pumped full of unbearably bad humor by the same people who brought you the Slammy Awards specials on USA.

The debut edition of Shotgun Saturday Night aired on January 4th, 1997, to the dismay of Mr. Bob Backlund, who cut a promo on the need to ban everything from Shotgun Saturday Night to New York City to Saturday night itself. Would that mean expanding Sunday morning to 18 hours, or just shortening the week by six? shotgun03 
shotgun04  The point was, this program was dangerous, risqué, and daring, suited to the mature viewer. So what was the best way to kick off this new, edgy, adult-oriented broadcast? Was it with:

  1. Hillbillies,
  2. The Headbangers,
  3. Men in drag, or
  4. Nuns?
If you picked any one of those letters, you don’t have a quarter of the creative mind of Vince McMahon, who set the tone for the new show with all four groundbreaking concepts, pitting the Godwinns against the Headbangers dressed as nuns. shotgun05
shotgun06  The “holy” chants directed towards the wrestling nuns were easy enough for Vince to laugh off; not so for the “Go to Hell” chants that started once fans hoping for hardcore ECW-style action realized this garbage would go on for another fifteen minutes.
Somehow, the fans stuck around long enough to see the midget main event… shotgun07
shotgun08  …and this undercard match that ended when Marlena flashed The Sultan, whose manager Bob Backlund shielded his virgin eyes and forced him to flee the ring.
(As Rikishi, Sultan would return the favor to Terri years later) shotgun09
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The guy’s pretty uptight for a guy who lost his virginity in a funeral home to the Undertaker’s mother.

Guarding one’s sexually repressed proteges was apparently the biggest problem for heel managers on Shotgun. Just ask Paul Bearer, who pitched a fit whenever Mankind stalked the various skanks working the New York night clubs.
You’ve heard of pole-dancing before, but have you ever heard of rope-dancing? It’s like a sexy gym class. shotgun11
shotgun12 Make no mistake: there was certainly a lot of sexual content to be found on Shotgun — almost none of it good…
…from the standard Shawn Michaels butt shot in the opening sequence… shotgun13
shotgun14  …to the Flying Nuns (re-named the Sisters of Love) getting arrested for solicitation…
…to Sunny’s much-hyped sex tape. Yes, a sex tape! Want to know who with? Was it Shawn? Skip? Maybe Davey Boy? Try Fondle-Me-Elmo, a giant, thong-wearing version of the popular children’s toy. The punchline to all this was that Elmo’s penis fell off. shotgun15
shotgun16 Perhaps the Nation of Domination would know where it went, if we are to believe this very specific chant from the crowd at New York’s Penn Station.
Speaking of anatomical mysteries, Goldust’s unexplained pregnancy failed to captivate Shotgun viewers, few of whom complained when the advertised live broadcast of the Bizarre One giving birth was scrapped the following week with no explanation. shotgun17 
shotgun18  Think the prospect of seeing Goldust’s cervix is scary? Once, The Undertaker opened the show from a locomotive, declaring it “Amtrak’s Night Train to Hell.” I can go one of three ways with this joke:

  1. This would have been a lot more terrifying without the mention of “Amtrak” by name. It’s a bit like Taker standing in a post office and saying, “Welcome to the United States Postal Service’s dead letter office!”
  2. Was “Night Train to Hell” an actual Amtrak service? And did it include discounted fare?
  3. This was all done to the strains of “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osborne. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with Ozzy, he was sort of like the Marilyn Manson of his day, in that the WWF used both of their songs on air without permission.

Comment now, leaving a number from 1-3 to vote for your choice of punchline.

As if the endless parade of freaks couldn’t get any longer (technically, an endless anything cannot get any longer), it turned out that opening the premiere episode with the Godwinns was no accident: Vince seemed to love putting the hillbillies on his Saturday night show. After all: two country boys from Bitters, Arkansas carrying slop buckets? Only in New York, baby! (And Bitters, Arkansas). In between ogling the dancers, the hog farmers were featured nearly every week, sometimes wrestling twice in one night. shotgun19ashotgun19b
shotgun20  Phineas Godwinn once even “accidentally” emptied his slop bucket on Pat Patterson as he sat backstage, looking to have had zero clue as to what was going to happen. The bewildered Pat looked about as amused by the rib as when Superstar Graham went on Donahue and accused him of touching kids.
Hillbilly antics aside, don’t ever accuse the WWF of failure to exploit the quirks of their Shotgun venues. The unique environments led to a number of odd happenings, such as the Undertaker’s least-intimidating entrance ever, wherein he took the escalator. shotgun21
shotgun22 At least he knew how to get to the ring; Marc Mero got lost on the way to his match.
For the first time in Federation history, the real-life Superstars duked it out in a ring made by Hasbro. shotgun23
shotgun24  The limited space in the venues meant that fans were often allowed close enough to touch the wrestlers’ butts. So there was something for the ladies at least, although, like today, most wrestling fans were male, as are most Wrestlecrap readers, if I had to guess. To help us better understand our audience demographics, leave a number in the comments section below indicating how many testicles you have.
It wouldn’t be an adult show without adult humor, and Kevin Dunn’s crack production team sure slipped in some howlers in the pre-match graphics… shotgun25a
shotgun25b …most of which were about OJ.
You know what else is funny? Bodily functions! Good thing we were well-supplied in that comedic area, whether it be Mini-Vader having to go pee-pee…
shotgun26
shotgun27 …or Mosh vomiting on Thrasher. 
As if anyone needed further disincentive to stay up till 1 am to watch wrestling, Todd Pettengill was a ubiquitous presence on the broadcast…
shotgun99
shotgun28 …serving not only as the Honky Tonk Man’s karaoke partner…
…and as MC for Sunny and Mascarita Sagrada doing the Macarena
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“He comes from a place where you shouldn’t drink the water/ Not much taller than my two-year-old daughter/ He’ll bite later/ like a gator/ when he steps into the ring with Mini-Vader/ He’s no idiot/ He’s a midget/ And his favorite TV show is Gidget/ He’s got the prowess and the quickness of a cheetah/ Small enough to swallow like human pocket-pita/ He’s getting more attention than Madonna in Evita/ He’s Mascarita! His only preparation is to drink a margarita/ He’s Mascarita!”

 

shotgun30 …but also as an interviewer. Here he is, stumbling upon a homeless Nikolai Volkoff.
Speaking of the Toddster, the live nature of the show backfired spectacularly when Terry Funk  called Pettengill’s mother a whore, among other colorful insults. On the plus side, the incident did lead to a confrontation between Funk and Steve Austin, who engaged in a showdown of the Texas SOBs that was never brought up again, as Terry was only with the WWF for Royal Rumble weekend. shotgun31 
 

After only six weeks of the show’s live format, the Federation aired a “Best-of” episode, then switched to taping the show at an arena before Raw. Just be thankful it ditched the night club format before Mr. Backlund got the chance to ban Saturday nights —

— and before Sunny could film a sequel with Furby. Let’s just hope no one from Vivid Entertainment reads this site.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
51 Responses to "Induction: Shotgun Saturday Night from NYC – It put the “sex” back in, “This show only lasted sex weeks.”"
  1. Scrooge McSuck says:

    50 points to WWE for trying something drastically different.

    Minus 1,000,000 points for executing it as poorly as possible.

  2. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    I think I speak for everybody when I say that I could have lived my entire life not seeing HBK’s ass.

    Oh, and in regards to that Undertaker bit, I’ll go with #3, as from what I’ve heard (keep in mind I’m not American), Amtrak doesn’t exactly have the best safety record.

    • Max Hathaway says:

      Hey, his ass shows up in a lot of WWE history!

      WM X ladder match, his ass was there!

      • Down With OPC says:

        WrestleMania XIV title match too!

        • Paul is Dead says:

          HBK’s ass has always been there as a prehistoric cave painting in the south of France clearly demonstrates. His ass was a gladiator in 216 BC, a knight of the round table, a cowboy from Tucson Arizona, and most recently the inventor of the internet. It has also appeared in the famous Nazca lines in southern Peru and actually served its country valiantly in the Battle of the Marne and was the first ass to hit the beach at Normandy. Some even believe that Owald had absolutely nothing to do with killing Kennedy but was in the wrong place and wrong time as the ass made that famous shot. Some people believe in Bigfoot or that we have been visited by aliens but for me HBK’s ass has always been enough. It has led me to believe that we are not alone in the universe.

    • Crem says:

      We see a lot of female derrière in wrestling, I think I can tolerate the occasional glimpse of a man’s cheeks. Besides, Rikishi and others have showed their fat flabby butts in nearly every match, and the likes of Vince seem determined to whip their sagging bottoms out as well. At least Shawn’s posterior was in good physical condition.

  3. s1mon86 says:

    I have to with punchline number 3 and I have 2 testicles… there that is my survey taking done for the week

  4. Mister Forth says:

    Taker on an escalator is actually like Jason on one. You don’t want to be in front of either.

  5. Casey says:

    I’m not voting for punchlines or counting testicles online that’s so 2015.

    I submitted the answers by calling the official Wrestlecrap hotline 1-900-909-crap

    $100000 for the first minute $100000 each additional minute. Adults over 18 please get your children’s permission before calling.

  6. E-Squared says:

    I have heard about this show, but was it a syndicated special or something? Kind of like an edgier take on Saturday Night’s Main Event if it were held in clubs and aired late at night like SNME was?

    I know later on, Shotgun became a mid-carder and jobber show that was taped during a Raw taping.

  7. John C says:

    “Sweet Jesus, Elmo you’ve got a penis!!!”
    Sunny dropped a Space Mountain remark during that Elmo clip, shouldn’t there have been a gimmick infringement lawsuit by the Nature Boy about this. Elmo was probably only a 60 Second Plushie so I guess he couldn’t get to worked up about it. Could Todd Massengill looked any more like someone attempting to flee the cameras on To Catch a Predator than in those still shots? Maybe if Vince would have done the shows from a bingo hall he could have come up with something original.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This looks like it might have legitimately been the low point of the WWF.

  9. Down With OPC says:

    Macarena jokes were already old by mid 1996!

  10. Sean Bateman says:

    the old Womens Extreme Wrestling company, now defunct, did shows like this in bars a whole lot better and had a pineapple in the form of Mickie James for the Midnight Rose and Blade Braxton to enjoy.

    • Steve says:

      I only saw that show once. They had a blind referee who used it as an excuse to grope women. I can’t believe Russo didn’t do that for Knockouts matches.

  11. CP says:

    So I’m guessing this was an identity crisis time for the WWF, if Backlund’s still in his preachy phase he was and Pettengill’s still with the company.

    And did they really do a wrestling show smack in the middle of Penn Station?

  12. Anthony says:

    I gotta give it credit for the Austin/Funk showdown, its a shame they didn’t have at least one feud as the promos would have been awesome.

  13. The Doctor of Style says:

    Re: the old Rob Bartlett audio clip — I guess getting fired from Raw didn’t hold down his career, as this week I found out he did a Broadway musical with the Harry Potter kid a few years ago!

  14. J says:

    When it comes to a fight between Stone Cold and Terry my money is on Terry

    • Jed Shaffer says:

      Terry Funk makes me think of something said about Teddy Roosevelt and how he passed;

      “Death had to take him sleeping, for if he were awake, there would’ve been a fight.”

      And Funk vs. The Grim Reaper, I’m taking Funker.

      • Cameron A. says:

        ABC’s Forever would have lasted a lot longer had the show starred Terry Funk. Every time Funk retires, he’s found bleeding in a wrestling ring soon afterwards.

  15. Foreign Object says:

    “leave a number in the comments section below indicating how many testicles you have.”

    One. Testicular cancer survivor. True story!

  16. Jimbolian says:

    WWF Saturday Night Shotgun being held at Penn Station and WCW Monday Nitro being held at Mall of America is like saying WWF hosted a show in somebody’s backyard in the slums of Los Angeles and WCW hosted a show at Buckingham Palace.

  17. Doc 902714 says:

    With this show it was like WWE (then WWF) was caught in a WILD FUNK between the transition of the New Generation and Attitude Era. So what we got on Shotgun Saturday Night was a mixture of both and we got PURE WRESTLECRAP as a result

  18. That Lucha Guy says:

    Choice or punchline: 3

    No. of testicles: 2

    BTW, you do can drink the wáter in Mexico.

    I thought there couldn’t be any sexual angle worse than the Katie Vick necrophilic thing until I heard that audio from Fondle-me-Elmo.

  19. Deathedge says:

    What really surprises me is the number of people who want this on the WWE Network. The shows that had the unique feel to them sound pretty “blah” and it becomes just another show after a short whike. Not quite as mind boggling as people wanting every episode of Jakked or Metal on the Network, but still…

  20. Geoff says:

    Define irony: a testicular cancer survivor story as told by a person with the handle of “foreign object”

    • Crem says:

      1) That isn’t a definition, it’s an example. Making the example itself another example.
      2) I don’t even get it.

  21. Geoff says:

    Oh and I think Vivid Entertainment already got in on the Elmo act. Just ask Charmange Star and Miko Lee

  22. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    Another awesome induction, Art! Made my day!

  23. Conquistador #3 says:

    Say what? Shotgun Saturday Night and Action Zone were two of the best wrestling programs of that era. I infinitely preferred WWF’s secondary shows to Raw.

    • Steve says:

      But by mid-1995, Action Zone stopped running matches and basically turned into Mania with Dok Hendrix added as a co-host and Jim Ross doing a segment at the end. That lasted around a year, then they moved Superstars to USA on Sunday.

  24. AdamX says:

    I didn’t catch Shotgun till the raw tapings so I was kind of bummed about missing out on all this…not the Godwinns.

  25. DarthPitch says:

    It took a bit for Vince to figure out how to rip off ECW semi-properly, as this attempt showed all too well.

  26. Bone White says:

    Reading this the “shotgun” of the title was needed to keep the audience in front of a TV. But why didn’t anyone think an actual match/feud between Stone Cold and Terry wasn’t worth pursuing even for a short time? Shesh

  27. Saint Stryfe says:

    I think we know one of your fans now, Art – After writing about the Undertaker entering on an escalator, look what Donald Trump did in his presidential announcement.

  28. Jerichoholic Ninja says:

    Theory: The show was cancelled by a jealous Stephanie McMahon who was enraged when that woman touched Hunter’s ass.

    Yes, this was before they were together, but she could have access to a time machine. You never know.

  29. Jingus says:

    The show wasn’t really THAT bad. It was clearly trying to rip off ECW and failing; but for anyone who’s seen the WWF’s other TV shows from that same period, in comparison Shotgun Saturday Night practically looked like Lucha Underground in terms of freshening up a beyond-stale product. This was the WWF’s nadir in terms of having WCW kicking their ass, and with good reason; aside from the Austin/Bret feud, there wasn’t much reason to watch the nothing-happening shows that they were listlessly airing. At least Shotgun felt like it was alive, even if it did come off like the creepy handsy uncle whom all the kids are told to avoid at family reunions.

    I’m saddened that Art mentioned Taker on the escalator, but neglected to admit how that was just setting up for the single most awesome moment of Shotgun’s entire run: he ended his match with Triple H by tombstoning Trips ON TOP OF THE ESCALATOR, and then Hunter’s motionless corpse rode all the way down to the bottom.

    Also: you think the Elmo skit was disturbing? (Ledger-Joker laugh.) Yes, it was, but you have no idea why. You know who was actually inside that Elmo suit? TODD PETTENGILL. Happy nightmares!

  30. theMOESIAH says:

    I’m surprised you guys didn’t mention Brian Pillman getting into a fight with a fight with a fan while he was doing commentary with Vince.

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