Bring it Back!: Shotgun Saturday Night
Do you ever wish you could cross paths with The Undertaker in a train station? Is it your dream to be in the middle of a barfight with two of the toughest Texans ever, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Terry Funk? Would you want to go clubbing with the deranged Mankind?
If any of those situations sound like something you’d be down for, then Shotgun Saturday Night would have been the show for you. An edgier twist on the normal WWE programming, the live late-night broadcast put the WWE Universe right in the middle of New York City’s bustling nightlife. It was, perhaps, the most unique show WWE ever produced, putting fans closer to the action than ever before. It took the Superstars out of Madison Square Garden and into a Fight Club–like atmosphere in locales like Webster Hall and the now-closed Official All-Star Café in Times Square. ( PHOTOS | WATCH VIDEO PLAYLIST)
"It's one of my favorite shows ever!" Zack Ryder told WWE Classics. "It was live from New York, it was dark, it was edgy. I was always excited to watch it."
Shotgun Saturday Night dropped a ring in bars and nightclubs around The Big Apple, giving the night owls of the WWE Universe the opportunity to see their favorites in a more intimate environment. Fans were often right at the edge of the ring apron. The program debuted on Jan. 4, 1997, from the Mirage Nightclub with two very unlikely tandems squaring off in the big city. Henry and Phineas Godwinn, the pig farmers from Arkansas, faced off against Mother Smucker and Sister Angelica, Brother Love’s debuting Flying Nuns. Though The Nuns looked impressive, picking up a victory in their debut, they were arrested the following week for inappropriate behavior on 42nd and Broadway and were never heard from again.
“I remember I stayed up for the first one and it was so awesome,” Curt Hawkins said. “I wanted to make sure I did that every week, but when you’re a little kid it’s tough to stay up late at night. If not, I always had a VHS ready to go to press record and pass out.”
Shotgun Saturday Night exposed regular people to the outrageous, colorful characters that are the WWE Superstars and Divas. Though they were probably used to guys creeping on them, there’s no way the dancers at Webster Hall could have been prepared for the advances of Mankind, the most unstable of Mick Foley’s alter egos. The lovely ladies looked extremely uneasy as the leather-faced maniac approached. Thankfully, Bret “Hit Man” Hart came to the rescue, forcing Mankind to the ring for their bout, where he made him submit to The Sharpshooter.
And when the 1997 Royal Rumble took place in San Antonio, Shotgun Saturday Night ventured out of the city that never sleeps, into the Lone Star State for a special episode. The rowdy crowd that packed the Denim & Diamonds bar was shocked to see Terry Funk climb into the squared circle. Funk rode down from his Double Cross Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, looking to start the Rumble one night early. He challenged anyone and everyone, including interviewer Todd Pettengill. When it looked like no one would step up, a Texas Rattlesnake slithered into the ring.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin went toe toe-to-toe with Funk, with the WWE Hall of Famer slapping him right across the face. That set off a minor scuffle, that looked to be broken up when WWE officials intervened.
Funk, however, came to fight, and no one was going to stop him from accomplishing that. During Austin’s match against Goldust, the middle-aged and crazy brawler climbed into the ring and began pummeling Austin in plain sight of the official, who threw out the bout. Not long after the bell rang, every Superstar in the building hit the ring, setting off a barroom brawl the likes of which have never been seen since. Austin and Funk broke away from the fracas, taking the fight behind the bar, brawling into the beer tap as the show went off the air. ( WATCH)
WWE wasn’t content with just taking over watering holes and dance halls. When Shotgun Saturday Night returned to New York City, the Superstars set up shop in Manhattan’s busiest railway, Penn Station. If you’ve thought you’ve seen some strange straphangers riding the subway, just imagine heading out on your commute home and running into a 6-foot-10, 320-pound man in gothic garb. That’s what happened on Feb. 8, 1997.
New York City police officers stood in awe as The Deadman took the escalator, descending from street level into the underground train station for an Intercontinental Title Match against Triple H. The Undertaker was immediately swarmed by the crowd, forcing The Phenom to shove his way to ringside. Once the battle started, it quickly turned into a New York City street fight. The brawl officially ended when The Undertaker bashed The Game over the head with the title.
Triple H tried to run away, hoping to lose The Phenom on the streets of Manhattan, but Undertaker caught up with him at the top of the escalator. The Last Outlaw made sure The Cerebral Assassin would never forget this night as he lifted him up for a Tombstone that sent him tumbling down the escalator, into the WWE Universe. ( WATCH | PHOTOS)
“I pass that escalator all the time and just think about how dangerous that was,” Curt Hawkins revealed. “I don’t know how that’s forgotten, but people don’t really reference it as much as they should. It was an awesome sight.”
Though Shotgun Saturday Night was taken out of NYC and into arenas by spring 1997, we here at WWE.com can’t help but imagine what would happen if today’s Superstars were thrust into that chaotic environment.
Zack Ryder’s finely tuned fist-pumping skills would obviously give him a home-field advantage once he steps off the Long Island Railroad into Manhattan’s hottest clubs. Would Alberto Del Rio dare hand over the keys to one of his many luxurious cars to valet service? How long would the intellectual Damien Sandow last amongst the surliest bar patrons? Is there any bar cook who could tame the appetite of Ryback, or would he demand they “feed him more?”
“I would love to see it come back,” Long Island Iced-Z admitted. “If they brought it back in night clubs, I’d be a huge fan favorite!”
“It would be a blast,” Hawkins agreed. “But I wouldn’t pick New York. I’d pick Atlantic City. Build the ring right over the pool in Harrah’s. It would be right up my alley, right?”
There’s only one way to find out: bring back Shotgun Saturday Night!