Today, special guest refs are a common place in the WWF (although there have been less and less of them). My question is, when did they BECOME a commonplace? My guess would be around 1997 that the WWF started using them regularly, but were they used a lot before that? What promotion made use of them first?
Worth noting a story from Mick Foley's book, talking about Jake Roberts. This has gotta be from the late 80's at the absolute earliest because he was working for Bill Watts' Mid-South promotion... Ali was a special guest ref there as well and Jake refused to sell Ali's worked punches. Wish I could've seen it!!
I don't remember what Foley said about it, but I do remember Ali and Roberts. Ali was a guest at ringside, not a ref. He wound up decking Roberts and The Barbarian [John Nord] who were feuding with The Snowman, supposedly a protege of Ali cornerman Drew "Bundini" Brown.
Speaking of Roberts and Nord, they got screwed by guest ref "Bruiser" Bob Sweetan in a tag match for the Mid-South titles with DiBiase and Steve Williams, but Joe Frazier predates that.
"No one has a beer party at Scott Hall's expense!"
A few thoughts on Raw's lowest ratings since 1997: 1) Didn't TNA recently prove that ratings = Kurt Angle in a speedo? Correct me if I'm wrong, but RAW = no speedos, no Kurt Angle. 2) There's too much wrestling on TV right now.