BY DAVID BIXENSPAN – NOV 9, 2018
The WWE Hidden Gems section of WWE Network’s on-demand library is one of the more reliably enjoyable things that the promotion offers, a weekly release of unseen or rarely seen footage from their vast archives that offers a compelling look at weird days gone by in the sport. Not every week is a home run, and there have been way too many releases focused on matches from WWE’s farm system promotions that were already on YouTube, but there has also been a wealth of good stuff and a steady flow of “holy grail” matches previously believed to be lost.
One week, you might get a previously unavailable match of “The God of Pro Wrestling” Karl Gotch, or a complete, unaired 1983 card from the Omni in Atlanta. Another, you’ll get three hours of raw footage from Lex Luger’s promotional tour in 1993. And sometimes, as was the case this week, something shows up that both fills a gap and adds context to past historical narrative. The release in question, this week, also has the added benefit of being absolutely batshit insane. It’s the unaired pilot from 1989 for the AWA’s “Team Challenge Series” concept, which did end up happening, just not as originally envisioned.
Some background is in order. Leading up to the Fall 1989 television season, a rush of steroidal sports-adjacent competition shows like American Gladiators, Rollergames, and Tuff Trax were being sold to networks. According to the July 10, 1989 issue of Broadcasting, syndicators and programmers saw an opening in that nascent genre thanks to NBC’s recurring WWE specials outdrawing Saturday Night Live, which it occasionally preempted, in the Nielsen ratings … Read the Full Story HERE