The Professional 3 10.13.13: Top Sunday Night Heat Stars
Posted by Jon Harder on 10.13.2013
A fan of all WWE B-Shows, Jon Harder discusses Sunday Night Heat and three men who attempted to make Heat an entertaining show. It was a good try, but obscure as all Hell.
Welcome everyone to another edition of the Professional 3 on 411mania.com. I'm Jon Harder and Battleground is in the books. Another unique story building throughout WWE with the finish behind that match. Regardless of that, I do want to thank fans for great feedback towards the P3 on Jushin "Thunder" Liger. It made me proud to see people enjoy talk of wrestling from that time period of 1991-92, and I hope to do so again this week.
Before we go any further, check out this week's Hardway Podcast on TheJonHarder.com with Rory Mondo from CZW! Rory talks about his deathmatch roots, training in the Big Japan Pro Wrestling dojo, Beyond Wrestling's Tournament for Tomorrow 2 and SO MUCH MORE! You can find him on Twitter at @RoryMondo.
Also, you can find me on Twitter at @TheJonHarder. I like talking baseball, wrestling, Giant Gonzalez, and anything Nintendo 64 related. Follow me, tweeps!
Now, onto this week's piece. I am the first to admit that due to my non-Professional 3 responsibilities (work, forced to hang out with my girlfriend, being lazy, watching old Mets games on YouTube); I am only able to catch Raw on Monday nights. Very sparingly, I watch a Smackdown on Friday and on the ultimate rarity, a Main Event on Wednesday. With Superstars, Total Divas, and the ever exclusive Saturday Morning Slam, I never have the time anymore to catch as much mainstream wrestling as I should. Does that make me a bad wrestling fan? For some wrestling fans, yeah. For others, I believe it's totally understandable.
Now back in the early to mid 2000s, I was completely able to catch up on any and old wrestling imaginable. Even though it was the post-Monday Night Wars era where WWF and WCW had an immense amount of wrestling programming throughout the entire week, I consumed as much wrestling as humanly possible. Raw, Smackdown, TNA weekly pay-per-views, Velocity, MSG classics, the dying days of ECW Hardcore TV, bootleg MLW on the Sunshine Network tapes, and, for some ungodly reason, my personal favorite wrestling show, Sunday Night Heat.
Debuting on August 2, 1998, Heat was supposed to be a 6 episode trial series on USA on Sunday nights, but due to the wrestling boom in 1998 and the high rating pickup it received, USA picked it up immediately and a new show hit the airwaves. After lasting two years on USA as a B-show continuing storylines and building to the next night's Raw, Heat was revamped on MTV, being filmed LIVE from WWF New York with Michael Cole and Tazz for 18 months. Once the Alliance invasion took place, Heat went back to being a standard wrestling program. In March of 2002, Heat became an official program for the Raw brand, due to the brand extension between Raw and Smackdown. In 2003, Heat left MTV after WrestleMania XIX and became a Sunday night fixture on Spike TV. Ultimately, once WWE went back to USA, Heat was relegated to WWE.com before ultimately going away in 2008.
As a fan of the obscure, not many people truly know about any insane habits involving scouring the shows for absolute nuggets of entertainment. Well, I truly had that with Heat. Did you know that there were 3 title changes throughout the entire history of the show? Yes there was, and it was all about the Light Heavyweight championship. Essa Rios in January 2000, Crash Holly in March 2001, and Jerry Lynn in April 2001 all won the championship in matches revolving around that particular belt. (Technically, on "Halftime Heat" during Super Bowl XXXIII, Mankind won the WWF championship, but since it wasn't on an official episode of Sunday Night Heat, I won't count it. The Sunday Night thing rules over Halftime.) Also, as I mentioned in a previous P3, Shane McMahon retired the European champion on 4/4/99 and made himself an undefeated European title holder.
Especially in the early 2000's, a lot of memorable moments happened on Heat. However, there are certain characters that have taken Heat into their own. Sunday Night Heat was passionate for a select few competitors who took chances and opportunities to make their own name on the Raw B-Show. They were innovative, they were unique, and most of all, for the die-hard wrestling fan, memorable. I truly believe that although they live on within a cult fan base, I dug everything that these men brought to the table. Without further hesitation...
THE PROFESSIONAL 3: Top Three Sunday Night Heat Loyalists
1) RAVEN AND HIS MASTERPIECE
In the summer of 2002, Raven lost a loser-leaves Raw match to Tommy Dreamer, thus making Raven permanently banished to Sunday Night Heat. And since, in Raven's words, he wasn't "an attractive free agent" that Smackdown would want, he decided that Heat would become his personal playground. And for 6 months, Raven made Heat his home. After color-commentating with Jonathan Coachman and getting sick of that particular job, Raven quit and subsequently feuded with his replacement at the broadcast booth, D'Lo Brown. Ultimately coming out on the losing end of the rivalry, Raven knew he needed to reboot his ego and character. Thus started his Masterpiece.
Raven started doing promos where he had started performing each of the 7 Deadly Sins and criticizing and abusing each one of the victims apart of them. Supposedly, it was based around the movie Se7en and Raven would be the "puppet master" of Heat. Rumors around were that the Hurricane would have fallen into Raven's trap and become one of his followers. Before we could figure that out, in January 2003, Raven had his opportunity to leave the permanent banishment of Heat and go back to Raw, if he stopped his Masterpiece and defeated the man that banished him to Heat, Tommy Dreamer. Raven did, won the match, went back to Raw, and was released 2 days later. Oh, what could have been.
2) STEVIE NIGHT HEAT
In 2003, fresh off his pairing with Victoria and his 22 time Hardcore championship reigns in 2002, Stevie Richards needed something to do. He needed his respect. In the mantra of his days in the Blue World Order, he knew Heat needed to be taken over. Thus, Stevie Night Heat was born. Stevie became the unofficial General Manager of Heat and began running around like an authority figure, although it was not an official title given to anyone within the WWE Board of Directors.
Instantly, Heat became "Must See Ste Vie". Stevie and his "Flower" always attempted to get involved with Al "Stone"...erm, Snow and among the midcard competitors wrestling weekly on Heat. For Christ sake, he even had "Stevie Night Heat" trunks made! Bottom line, although it never progressed to where it could have gone, Stevie Richards displayed a full range of charisma throughout his career and Stevie Night Heat was just pretty damn cool.
3) JOHNNY PARISI - HEAT SUPERSTAR
OK OK OK, I know I will take a licking for this one, but you have to understand the rationale behind this one. The former Johnny Swinger, fresh off signing with WWE and making an appearance during the closing brawl between WWE and ECW (Joey Styles even made a "Johnny Swinger is here!" reference) at ECW One Night Stand 2005, Johnny Parisi debuted in WWE on Sunday Night Heat as a member of the Raw brand. Here's the key element that never gets mentioned about Parisi: he is the only man that, as a member of the Raw brand during his entire stay in WWE, NEVER wrestled a singles match on Raw. In fact, every WWE match he had was wrestled on Sunday Night Heat. As Tony Parisi's nephew, Johnny never truly made a major impact on WWE television, but for Heat fans, you can rest solidly knowing that there was a Heat Exclusive wrestler. Johnny Parisi was his name, despite Triple H not knowing who he was. True story.
Bottom line, was Sunday Night Heat was a commercial blockbuster? Perhaps. To me, Heat was this generation's Wrestling Challenge. Guys genuinely attempted to make a name for themselves on Heat, but it never truly broke through like it should have. I loved Sunday Night Heat. For you fans that have Main Event, Saturday Morning Slam, and Total Divas, appreciate the B-Show content while you can. It truly can have some phenomenal stuff.