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

I look at when [CM] Punk and Daniel Bryan start getting reactions and their TV ratings for their quarter are terrible. So, you've got that thing where, 'They're not over in TV ratings and that's our primary goal right now.' House show business wasn't turning around. So, are they the real stars or is John Cena the real star?

To the public, John Cena still was the real star but, at the same time, you have to make new stars. If those are the guys catching on, yeah, you've got to go with them. Eventually they did, you know. But I think that the thing that dooms certain guys and helped certain guys -- I mean, in their mind, Drew McIntyre should be a star. But, he wasn't and eventually... he wasn't, if you know what I mean. But, they shoved him down our throats.

They think 6'5", good body, good looking guy and fairly athletic equals a star and a guy like Daniel Bryan who's 5'8" is not a star even though he's a great wrestler. But, look at where they both are today. As much as management will take forever to get there, the fact is is that at some point, one guy is in one place and one guy is in the other despite all of this.

WrestlingINC: Going back to 2001, that was also the year Dana White and the Fertittas took over the UFC and I remember when that happened, I thought that the company was done. They were putting Dana White in charge who had no experience. I would have never seen how much it could grow. What do you remember during that time? Did you think that the purchase would breathe new life into the company?

Meltzer: Yes. I mean, I knew [Bob] Meyrowitz was just about done. I had never met Dana White until he was put in charge of the company. He was around, he was managing Tito and Chuck Liddell but for whatever reason, I didn't know Dana at all.

But I talked to Dana from day one pretty much and I thought he was a really enthusiastic guy. But I knew the Fertittas and I knew the casinos and I knew they were rich. And I believed in the product in the sense that from UFC 3 -- which I bring back, in my mind -- this is a viable product that handled the right way with television, it could be really big. I believed that.

So, when they came in and they were wealthy, I thought, 'OK, you've got these wealthy guys behind this and they can cut through all the political bulls--t that killed it and it's going to be really big right away.

Now, there's kind of a re-writing of history -- and it may very well be that the people that advised the Fertittas told them that this was a dumb investment. But, I just know from talking to those people at that time that our thought... They were doing about 15-19,000 buys on pay-per-view with maybe 20% of the pay-per-view homes, maybe 25% of the homes able to get pay-per-view actually having access to the show. So, the whole thing was once you get 100%, if you're doing this with 25%, you're going to quadruple it -- four times -- right? That made sense.

So, the feeling was that we're going to go from 20,000 to 80,000. Then, with promotion and building stars, we can get to 100,000. And 100,000 was a great number then. 80,000 was a good number. Then, they did the first show and the first show did 75,000. OK, well, we're right where we expected pretty much. Also, I remember the first show came right after 9/11 and the whole economy was uncertain that month.

OK, the first show did exactly what we kind of figured. Not their first show, but the first show where they got on inDemand and back on the cable systems. But, what happened was that first show was f--king horrible. That set them back and then they were back there doing 30-40,000 buys for a lot of these shows. They were losing their ass and that's when it looked bad.

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