Question: I am stumped. John Pinnette, one of my favorite comedians, was in a syndicated TV show in the late '80s and I can't think of the name. He was a referee and I think contestants settled squabbles in an arena. Please help.
Answer: You're close on the timing, but the show in question, The Grudge Match, was actually produced in 1991-92. Hosted by Steve Albert and Jesse "The Body" Ventura, the show pretty much lived up to its title.
Rather than submit to the wisdom of a Judge Judy or Mills Lane, two contestants with a beef would, as you say, settle it in the ring by battling it out with giant boxing gloves or by throwing vegetables or various kinds of muck at each other, etc. Pinnette, while unable to keep it clean, made sure nobody fought dirty and the studio audience's vote determined the winner when all the punching and heaving was through.