Long before the Monday Night Wars between the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the late 1990s, there was an event that took place in the mid 1980s that was a harbinger of things to come and can be pointed at as the true start of the rivalry.
It was known, quite simply, as Black Saturday, and it went down on this date in pro wrestling history (July 14, 1984).
In the early 80s, Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) had a program that aired on Saturday nights on TBS, named World Championship Wrestling, that put its emphasis on the opposite of what Vince McMahon and the WWF promoted. Whereas McMahon booked cartoon like characters and exaggerated gimmicks, GCW was more about wrestling for wrestling's sake and its fans identified with it as such.
During this time, McMahon was still trying to expand his reach within the pro wrestling industry and the only way to do that was through television. So he tried to purchase GCW's time slot from Ted Turner. When that didn't work, he simply bought GCW altogether and took over the time slot that way, which is just such a Vince McMahon thing to do.
So, on July 14, Freddie Miller opened the show by introducing Vince McMahon, who in turn introduced his WWF and promised fans of GCW who tuned in to watch its brand of wrestling each week they would be just as entertained by what he had to offer.
Except they weren't.
In fact, they were so upset by the switch, they flooded TBS with calls complaining about it and demanding the return of GCW and the wrestling they had come to know and love. It showed in the ratings, too, as the WWF tanked on Saturday nights. Eventually, McMahon was forced to sell to Jim Crockett Promotions, which would later come to be known as the WCW that went to war with McMahon in the late 90s.
Thankfully for McMahon, he was able to tuck tail and run back to his home on USA. It's worked out quite well for him, too, as Monday Night Raw is just over one week away from running its 1,000th episode. WCW would find success with Turner, with Nitro on TNT and Thunder on TBS later nearly running McMahon out of business. Ultimately, though, Turner lost control and WCW lost so much money they were sold off to -- you guessed it -- McMahon himself in 2001.
Vince may have lost the first battle but he won the war. As usual.
After the jump, you can watch the episode that aired on July 14 and would come to be known as Black Saturday.