80s Wrestling TV Production


Hi Scott, hope you are well.

I've been watching a lot of old TV/pop culture from the early 80s as of late, wrestling and otherwise, and it has really struck me how behind the times, production-wise, pro wrestling was at that time. Seeing how poorly lit the shows/matches were, often with sub-par sound, amongst almost all of the companies (including WWF), and compared with other pop culture mediums that were popular at the time such as TV shows, sporting events and music videos, it was pretty plain to see that the wrestling industry was ripe for someone to come along and upgrade the look of the business with greatly increased production values. Even WCCW, which was at the top of the TV production heap circa 1983, would pale compared to what was being done in the WWF a couple of years later.

Now much has been said about why Vince McMahon was able to steamroll his competition during the 80s with his aggression and business practices (in addition to that competition's incompetence). My question to you is if Vince had done everything else to become the #1 guy during that time, with bringing in all the talent, getting all the TV stations and cable in his wheelhouse, and playing hardball with the various arenas, and yet did not improve his production values so much, do you think he would have had anywhere near the success that he had? We hardcore fans may scoff at their importance, but such things as improved lighting, camera work, and sound can certainly catch the eye of casual fans, who can definitely lead to much greater business. Your thoughts?

Absolutely, I've been banging that drum for years.  Say what you will about Vince's changes to the product and storylines and such, but the guy who deserves a large amount of credit for dragging him into the 20th century is Dick Ebersol.  Ebersol made Vince increase production values for Saturday Night's Main Event and brighten up the arenas, and then move from taping Superstars in crappy little studios and shift to full sized arena shows.  It immediately made the WWF product look light-years ahead of anything else in the market.