One of the biggest reasons for WCW's success was their incredible amount of television coverage.
Sure, one can point to WCW Monday Nitro, which was fortunate enough to have a prime-time spot on the TNT Network. But even in the years before that, the company's flagship WCW Saturday Night program aired every Saturday at 6:05 p.m. on TBS. TBS also aired WCW Main Event on Sunday evenings and live Clash of the Champions specials a few times a year in prime time during the week. On top of that, there were a variety of syndicated programs such as WCW Pro, WCW Power Hour and WCW Worldwide (the first WCW show that regularly aired in Canada, by the way) to compete with WWF's various syndicated shows.
On top of that, WCW twice ran an all-night marathon as part of TBS's "Nite Flix" lineup, which is today's topic of conversation.
The WCW All-Nighters aired in 1994 and 1995, beginning at 12:05 a.m. (I recall most TBS/TNT programs began at five minutes after the hour, for some strange reason). Before we get too deep into the content of these shows, here are a few things you should know:
WCW hadn't yet become the ratings juggernaut they would towards the latter half of the 1990s. Sure, they had signed Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and a few other big stars, but they were a very distant number two to the WWF at this point in time.
As a result, WCW's home videos weren't exactly Coliseum Home Video in terms of overall popularity. Sure, they would publish videos here and there on Sting or what have you, but these weren't nearly as likely to be found at your local Blockbuster as, say, WWF Supertape '92.
As a result, fans had very, very little opportunity to watch classic NWA/WCW matches, so these marathons were a great opportunity to catch fans up on some of the best matches the promotion aired over the years.
As a result, the WCW All Nighters are fondly remembered by many fans to this day.... even if there were only two of them.
In between classic WCW matches featuring the likes of Ric Flair, Sting, Hulk Hogan, The Road Warriors and many others, the WCW announcing crew were holed up in some sort of green room, making casual comments about the matches we were being treated to. While the segments were quite obviously pre-taped, they made it feel like you were at a slumber party with Tony Schiavone and CBW spokesman Mean Gene Okerlund.
As you can see in the clip above, the late, great Bobby The Brain Heenan (insert sad face emoji here) was the first to fall asleep and had his face painted by the other jokers as a result. Of course, if this were REALLY a group of wrestlers and they weren't on camera, they probably would have put The Brain's hand in a bowl of warm water -- or something far, far worse.
By the way, can we talk about something in the video above? I find the visual of Gordon Solie in his "casual" safari wear INCREDIBLY DISTURBING, and I couldn't tell you why for the life of me. He just should always be wearing a suit and tie. You want to put Mean Gene in a cashmere sweater and Dusty Rhodes in a baseball cap? No problem. But let's not relax the dress code for the Dean of wrestling announcers, thank you very much.
Kids... you don't know how good you've got it today. Want to watch an electrified steel cage match featuring Ric Flair and Sting against Terry Funk and The Great Muta (with Bruno Sammartino as special guest referee)? This took me three seconds to find on YouTube and although it's not the entire match, you can track that down easily enough on WWE Network or elsewhere.
But back in 1994, if you missed the actual pay-per-view match (Hallowe'en Havoc 1989, in case you're curious), you had to stay up until like 3:15 in the morning to watch it on TBS. Don't get me wrong, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT to have a pajama-clad Larry Zbyszko add his two cents to the match beforehand.... but it was just a different experience.
You know what would have been really cool? WCW should have kept the All Nighters going, even if it was just a once- or twice-a-year phenomenon. By the late-1990s, you could have had the nWo show up in the wee hours of the night and "take over" the special. You could have included clips of guys who had jumped back and forth to the WWF during the Monday Night Wars. And more importantly, you could have shown a whole crapton of classic matches that most WCW fans didn't have regular access to.
Go figure - the WCW All Nighters are something WCW totally did right, and Vince McMahon never replicated it!