Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded…but flourished. Others were DOA from the get go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative…but for various reasons….faded away. Those are the focus of this latest series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’.
In 1996, the World Wrestling Federation created a show like no other at that time. A live interactive show where WWF personalities could answer fans questions via phone…email or fax. It was called WWF Live Wire and had numerous hosts including Dok Hendrix, Todd Pettengill, Marissa Mazzola and Sunny.
It was obvious at the time, that the WWF was trying to transform its image from the outlandish cartoon world to more reality based programming. With the departures of both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to their rival WCW just a few months prior….Vince McMahon decided to change the course of business. One of those changes came with the creation of WWF Live Wire.
The show seemingly started off strong. It was new, fresh and most importantly different from any other show the WWF had on at the time. Live Wire aired on Saturday mornings on the USA network here in the states. One of their strongest shows came on the morning of October 5th, 1996.
It was on this particular show that two pretty big things (At the time) occurred. First, a WWF magazine writer by the name of Vic Venom (Vince Russo) appeared on the show and immediately shook things up. He traded verbal battles with both Sunny and Jim Cornette…the latter incidentally is very interesting to watch…considering the legitimate pure hatred Cornette has with Russo to this day. It was his verbal assault on WWF broadcaster Dok Hendrix that was really worth a look.
Vic Venom broke down the invisible 4th wall and revealed to the fans watching at home what they probably already knew…but never thought would be admitted by the WWF. Dok Hendrix was in fact Michael ‘PS’ Hayes of the legendary Fabulous Freebirds. After Venom made the reveal, we all saw the happy go lucky Dok Hendrix slowly turn back into Hayes and get in the face of Venom.
The second “incident” happened later in the show when Vince McMahon showed up to take caller questions. One of those calls was from a fan named “Bruce from Connecticut” who revealed himself to be Paul Heyman…the owner of ECW. Heyman then went on a tirade about how the WWF was stale and how Vince McMahon stole all of ECW’s ideas and concepts.
The show seemed like the perfect vehicle for the WWF to redo themselves and change fans perceptions of the product. Over time however, Livewire became stale and mundane itself. It stopped being a live interactive show and changed to simply a review show of WWF’s Monday Night Raw. As expected the show was eventually cancelled in 2001.