Dave Meltzer Discusses The Monday Night Wars, Three Hour RAWs, UFC's Rise, WCW Folding, More

WrestlingINC: Was that pretty hard to cover Nitro in those dying days? I remember I just had the hardest time watching the last year.

Meltzer: Yeah. I almost go blank when people bring up stuff like that. So much happened and I don't remember it because I tried to put it out of my memory. On Raw, every couple of weeks, you'd go, 'Boy, this was stupid.' On Nitro for three straight hours and Thunder for another two hours, it bombarded stupidity -- constant.

People like to talk about WWE is bad now. It really isn't. It's not great, but I consider it OK to good now. That stuff was really, really bad with what they did with the last couple of years in WCW. The people who were running that and making decisions had no concept of what wrestling fans wanted. It was unbelievable for me to watch it and it's unbelievable that so many of them still had jobs in wrestling after that and years later in TNA, making the same decisions. It boggles the mind the way that happened.

WrestlingINC: Then, you started seeing WWF not making the bad booking decisions that WCW made, but making a lot of the same business decisions. Starting Smackdown!, adding a lot more TV. Do you think that had an adverse affect on business as far as over-saturation and putting too much product on?

Meltzer: Adding Smackdown! at first, was good. Did that lead to the declined popularity after so many hours? It probably did to a degree. You do burn out the audience with too much television, there's no question. But, the things have changed in the sense that wrestling now is a lot less popular then it was 10 years ago or 11 years ago now. 2001 is when it really hit the skids.

Television, especially internationally, it can make a lot of money. It's a weird thing. You have the ability to make more money but at the same time, you're cannibalizing your interest level by doing so. Everyone is doing it because that's the nature of hundreds of stations of television. Now, there's a demand for product. But, as far as the popularity and the ability to get lots of people to buy your pay-per-views or go to the house shows or even care about Raw is all diminished. But, they still have ways of making money.

Now, with WWF, they can't lose money the way their business is structured. But, if you look at the popularity -- is wrestling as a popularity within culture? It's way, way down. It's not as down as it was during '92-'96 during the dark ages but it's way down. It's probably half as popular as it was 11 years ago.

This years been better than last year but the general rule over the last decade has been a slow, steady decline. You would think that that's not good but they can't lose money. This product, if you put this product in 1998 -- this product here? They could lose a lot of money with this product. Not WCW money, but they could lose money. Whereas, now, they can't lose money because they make so much money off of television and all the new revenue streams that have come forth.

WrestlingINC: Ratings for Raw are kind of in the mid-Monday night wars range when they were getting beat by WCW. Do you think that it's going to keep going on this decline, especially with where the product is creatively and with RAW moving to three hours?

Meltzer: I believe that a three hour Raw means they're doomed to a slow, steady decline. As far as making more money? Yes, but that's the same thing that we talked about before. It's not like they're going to collapse because they're doing three hour Raws but you watch that three hour Raw... It's difficult. And you don't want watching wrestling to be difficult for the fans. Or for them to go, 'There's too much, I've had my fill.' That is what you get right now.

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