Dave Meltzer Discusses Appearing On 'Donahue' With Vince McMahon, WON, UFC, '90s Wrestling, More

Ken and Royce Gracie were the two guys that built the original UFC. To me, that became very interesting, especially in Japan. Especially in Japan, UFC got tremendous coverage in the wrestling magazines. The second Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie match in Charlotte, I remember the coverage was way bigger than any WrestleMania had ever been. The cover, which was unheard of for an American event to get a Japanese cover. It was just huge in Japan.

The early UFC, I won't say it was huge in the United States, but it was big. They were doing similar pay-per-view numbers to WWF and WCW without any television so it was pretty impressive but it was a short run. By 1997, it was starting to fade. It started in '93, it really picked up in '94. I would say that it was really strong in '95 and '96 and then it went down. So, it was a short-lived thing the first time.

WrestlingINC: When you were covering it in '93-'94, did you picture it becoming bigger or did you see it kind of staying as this freak show/spectacle?

Meltzer: I didn't really think about it because it was something that they just did, the first couple. It was there. I didn't think about it being big or small until they did UFC 3. I just remember when UFC 3 was over, there was someone in wrestling that called me up right after the show ended. It was a really different show. There was a lot of twists and turns in UFC 3. He goes, 'Wow, this is the show that turned it around.' I said, 'Yeah, they're going to start doing business after this. There's so much going on.'

They did, as a matter of fact. It was after UFC 3 that it really hit big. UFC 4-7, that's when they were at their peak of business. Things happened. There were a lot of things that they weren't ready for and they had a lot of politic enemies. A lot of things happened that took it down. Some of it was, in hindsight if you look at it, was really unfair. But, it happened.

As far as thinking it would be as big as it became? No. Did I think it would be very big? Yes. When UFC 1 and 2 were over, I didn't think much about it. It was just something I watched that night. Never gave it a lot of thought as to where it was going. After UFC 3? Yes, I thought it would become something very significant. Especially if they got television.

They never got television and then it went down for political reasons. But, did I think it would be as big as it became? No.

WrestlingINC: You mentioned 1997 when it started to go down. That was also a scary year because all of a sudden, WWF going out of business didn't seem that unlikely. Business was going down, they were starting to lose money. Did you see that that could potentially happen?

Meltzer: I mean, I knew they were losing money. I do not believe that I ever for a second thought that WWF was ever going to go out of business at any point in time. Not like it never would, but there was never a point where I thought, 'Wow, they could go out of business.' Even when they were losing money, I just thought that there was enough there.

There were enough different things that could have been done to where I just never saw it going down. Even when WCW was hammering it and they were scared of going out of business. They took the water coolers and things were bad -- and they were -- and guys got the pay cuts and everything. I never really believed they were going to go out of business.

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