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NBC To Wrestle for Saturday-Night Ratings

NBC is turning to an old ally--pro wrestling--to try and pump up its Saturday-night ratings. The network said Wednesday it will air Saturday Night’s Main Event, a two-hour special featuring World Wrestling Entertainment action, March 18 at 8 p.m.

Main Event

returns to NBC after a 13-year hiatus, before which it was a Saturday late-night show from 1985-92, when it would periodically replace Saturday Night Live reruns.

The show aired during one of the halcyon periods for Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation, when wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan and music stars like Cyndi Lauper tag-teamed to put pro wrestling in the pop culture ether.

The special comes in the same year that NBC Universal’s USA Network wrestled back rights to the WWE’s Monday Night Raw franchise. If NBC is satisfied with the ratings, the network may air another WWE special over the summer.

But NBC will hope the show has better success than its last Saturday-night venture with Vince McMahon, the failed XFL football league in 2001.

Main Event

will also look to build on the prime time success of UPN’s Friday Night Smackdown, which should be a contender to make the new CW schedule in the fall.

In a press release, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly called the special "a genuine opportunity to do some real business in Saturday-night prime time."