federations tend to end up with more wrestlers than they know what to do with. They tend to sign people simply so that the competition can't, snatch up hot young talents in hopes of figuring out how to put them in the show later, or hire guys as a favor to somebody in the office. Naturally, the average wrestling fed can't squeeze all these guys onto their main "A Show", so they eventually put together a B Show.
A B Show is a very different experience from an A Show. Whereas the A Show, being the flagship, may have big, dramatic, Soap Opera
-esque storylines with twists, turns, and Shocking Swerves
a plenty in order to hook the viewer, a B Show has few storylines going on at any one time, and what storylines there are are much simpler and largely character-driven. Instead, you'll simply see a few matches- some Squash Matches
, and some memorable encounters from those trying to get noticed- with video packages in-between recapping the major storylines from the A Show. They're considered something of a loss-leader in the wrestling world, put on largely so that the wrestlers can keep themselves sharp and the promoters can watch carefully to single out wrestlers with potential, rather than with any eye to ratings and revenue. A B Show will often be taped at the beginning of a taping for an A Show, to minimize the costs involved.
With larger organizations such as WWE, which have very large rosters, there are often two events going on on a single evening. That is, while the A-Show (which may or may not be a live event or television taping) is going on in one city, the B Show will be taking place in another city sometimes hundreds of miles away. The B-Show, then, is comprised of younger wrestlers, often up-and-coming stars who are currently middle- and lower-level talent in a wrestling promotion, although well-known wrestlers making a comeback, finishing a career or making a special appearance will often participate, as will local wrestlers who compete for local or regional organizations.note
These shows are not always taped, although it's always been said the cameras may sometimes be rolling, either to capture an unexpected title change, storyline development or — most importantly — to use as an evaluation tool for the wrestlers. Almost always, a championship match — usually for a secondary or tag team title –- will be contested as the "main event," although this has also included battle royals and special "gimmick matches" pitting a wrestlers in the promotion's current No. 2 or 3 feud, and sometimes the flagship title is contested between the champion and a challenger who normally may not receive this opportunity on an A-Show. These shows often have a unique experience and flow to them, and very often B-Show wrestlers are able to develop their skills enough to be promoted to the A-Show. So, in many ways, the wrestling at a B-Show is often very good, if not excellent, and the same goes for C-Shows (for organizations that sometimes have a third group of wrestlers who compete at yet another event).
Sometimes B Show starts off with appearances from draws who didn't wrestle on the A show's last airing or special events such as debuts and first title defenses but usually ends up showcasing talents the company simply has nothing for at the moment in the long run. A wrestler who manages to develop a B Show following can easily find himself promoted to the A Show; however, most B Show regulars who find themselves on the A Show play a different role entirely
Not to be confused with The Big Show
... unless you're looking for a Dope Slap
by his Giant Hands of Doom
- HEAT has long been WWE's B Show. It's no longer aired on television, but was viewable on WWE.com for quite a while, until it was canceled completely. In the modern WWE, Superstars now fills this role.
- Long before HEAT, the WWF aired Shotgun Saturday Night, which was unique in that it was set up in incredibly intimate venues (and when we say "intimate venues", we mean places like bars and subway stations). Eventually this became prohibitive, however, and was replaced with a standard B Show.
- It also existed in other forms depending on the market. There was a custom version for NY stations called WWF NY, though SSN would still air on another NY station. Markets not airing the show on Saturday night got Shotgun or Shotgun Challenge. Canada got Canadian Superstars. Eventually, they were replaced with Jakked and Metal, which had the same matches in different order with different commentary and recaps intended for different aged audiences.
- WWE had Raw as an A show and Smackdown its b-Show but Smackdown grew in ratings to the point it eclipsed Raw and became a separate A show with its own B show, Velocity, to match Raw's Heat. WWE NXT served as a kind of B-show to both after Heat, Velocity and WWECW were taken off air, its emphasis on talent straight out of developmental and or the independent circuit (The "Rookies" are competing for a shot on an A-Show). More to the point is WWE Superstars, a show which started on WGN but now airs online, which features either three for four matches taped before RAW and Smack Down (originally it featured a match each from the RAW, Smack Down, and ECW brands).
- Oddly, Smackdown began to serve as a B-Show to NXT after a prolonged stay in the Friday Night Death Slot. It's recorded at the same time and location as NXT, which airs live. Though Smackdown had many more of the A-Show names on it, mostly to cling to the dreadfully small pool of ratings left, several A-Show talents appeared on NXT as mentors to new talent.
- Lately Smackdown has featured very lengthy recaps from Raw with very few matches of it's own. WWE has evolved into a clear hierarchy of A Show: Raw; B Show: Smackdown (though less B show than most have historically been) and C Show: Main Event (which is on broadcast television on the minor Ion Network)). NXT is now just the development promotion and isn't even available through the main WWE website, and Superstars only airs overseas.
- TNA Xplosion, which is syndicated in a handful of markets.
- WCW Saturday Night used to be WCW's flagship show, but was demoted to B Show after WCW Monday Nitro was created to compete directly with the then-WWF. Unlike most B Shows, it still had quite a few storylines going on at any one time with a more old-school sensibility than Nitro, to the point where, by the time of its demise, it seemed to be almost a separate promotion from mainstream WCW.
- WCW Thunder counted as a B Show too by virtue of the fact that all of the top-card wrestlers- which Nitro's storylines would revolve around- refused to appear on it. That, and Thunder was so poorly produced that it's hard to believe that WCW cared about it at all.
- Thunder came about because of an aborted arc: the plan with Starcade 97 was to have the NWO win control over Nitro and that WCW would be forced to retreat to the newly created Thunder. It bombed though when the company tested out the idea of "NWO Nitro" right before a PPV and it was a giant clusterfuck of bad ratings, largely because they made the move to remodel the set ON THE AIR, causing about 40 minutes of said remodeling to drive away viewers in droves (and the few who stuck through it turned to Raw during the three-four 20 minute circle jerk sessions involving Hulk Hogan).
- Power Pro Wrestling was the B-show to Mid-South Wrestling/Universal Wrestling Federation. At first, it aired a mix of old matches, house show matches, and matches from other territories featuring wrestlers who were coming to the territory soon. In October 1986, it switched to the same format as UWF, with original matches taped specifically for TV, plus the added twist of being taped at the Cowtown Coliseum in Ft. Worth Texas every week so they could promote the idea that country stars might drop in after performing next door at Billy Bob's Texas ("The world's largest honky tonk!"), as well as positioning the show as an alternative to World Class Championship Wrestling out of Dallas/Ft. Worth, which the promotion was now competing against directly.
- In the Memphis-based/CWA/Jarrett territory, the B-show had the same name as the main show (Championship Wrestling), but focused on house show matches from a few weeks earlier. It usually aired in markets like Tupelo, MS and Jackson, TN that got the main show in from Memphis and needed their own show to promote the local house shows.
- Championship Wrestling Superstars/Global Wrestling/North Florida Championship Wrestling/United States Class Wrestling/American Championship Wrestling/Southern Professional Wrestling was the B-show to Championship Wrestling from Florida. That B-show went through a LOT of names.
- For years, the syndicated WWF shows were All-Star Wrestling and Championship Wrestling. They were pretty much equal until the Summer of 1984, when they moved tapings from Pennsylvania to Brantford, ON and Poughkeepsie, NY respectively. At that point, Championship became the clear B-show. A few months before that, Superstars of Wrestling was added as the C-show featuring a mix of original content and matches aired on the other shows. At the start of the Fall '86 TV season, all 3 shows changed names and the A & B shows switched to big arenas that changed each month. Championship Wrestling became Superstars of Wrestling (yup), All-Star Wrestling became Wrestling Challenge, and Superstars of Wrestling became Wrestling Spotlight.