Sunday, January 7, 2018

All-Star Wrestling with Bill Kersten

Bill Kersten was the long-time voice of "All Star Wrestling" in Kansas City for many years in the 1960s and 1970s. This show was taped in a local television studio I haven't been able to identify yet, but someone out there is going to help me on that I'm sure. Later as they moved into the 1980s, the tapings moved to Memorial Hall in Kansas City.

Here is a little audio sample of Bill Kersten on "All Star Wrestling" circa 1977 introducing NWA World Champion (and Kansas City hometown boy) "Handsome" Harley Race, as well as his call of the pinfall and heading to commercial.

Some info on this territory written by Chris Owens on the message board in 2000:
The Central States area probably had its highest talent level in the late 60s and early 70s, when the promotion featured such names as Bob Geigel, Bulldog Bob Brown, Rufus R. Jones, Danny Littlebear, Omar Atlas, Black Angus Campbell (managed by Percival A. Friend), Nature Boy Roger Kirby, Lord Alfred Hayes, Mike George and "Mad Dog" Harley Race.

In the late 70s, Col. Buck Robley and his Army came into the area as the major heels for several years. At various times, the Army included Buzz "Avalanche" Tyler, Bruiser Bob Sweetan, Bobby Jaggers, the Blue Yankee and others. Bulldog Bob Brown, usually a heel, did a face turn to battle against the army. Ted Dibiase, Harley Race, Rufus Jones, Ken Lucas and Kevin Sullivan were all guys who I recall taking part in the long struggle against Robley and the Army.

The early 80s saw a decline in the promotion (at least in my eyes), as many of the familiar names disappeared from the territory and were replaced by guys like Mr. Pogo and Gypsy Joe. Strapped for cash because of the failure of the St. Louis promotion that Geigel, Pat O'Connor, Race and Verne Gagne had purchased from Sam Muchnick, the talent level dropped again in the mid-80s.

Jesse Ventura, Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, Ox Baker, Thunderbolt Patterson and many other stars began their careers in the Central States area.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Rich Landrum and Ric Flair (1979)

Some rare footage of "World Wide Wrestling" host Rich Landrum and Ric Flair from 1979 in the WRAL studios. I believe this 1-minute segment was something recorded and sent to other territories where Ric would be appearing. Posted on Twitter by Kris Zellner.

Fun when new WRAL footage of any kind pops up out of nowhere.

If the video will not play in your browser, go directly to Kris's tweet with this link:

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Man Behind the Mike: Danny Williams (Oklahoma)

Man Behind the Mike: Meet Danny Williams
Wrestling Revue August 1966

Unquenchable energy and creativity are the elements that go to make up the dynamic personality of Danny Williams. Known to Oklahoma oldsters and youngsters alike, Danny has been on the WKY-TV staff for sixteen years. Currently in the position of program manager for WKY Radio, Danny also conducts an early morning radio program called Time and Tune Parade" which enjoys the largest audience by far of any radio program in the Oklahoma City area.

At one time Danny led youngsters into outer space on his Monday-through-Friday "3-D Danny" show and for the past six years has played a number of character parts on the "Foreman Scotty Show," the top-ranked children's program in Oklahoma City.

In addition to all of these duties, Danny has for years been the ringside announcer for WKY-TV's Saturday Night Wrestling Show originating in the studios of WKY-TV.

Danny announced his first wrestling show in 1950 in which were featured LeRoy McGurk and Danny McShane. The Saturday night show, telecast in color, always plays to a packed house in the studios and Danny has become as famous as a wrestling announcer as have the wrestlers who have appeared in the ring.

During World War II, Danny served a hitch as a Fireman First Class in the Navy. Out of the Navy in 1946, he enrolled at the University of Texas where he acquired (I) a wife, and (2) a degree in fine arts. His first radio job was with KTSA in San Antonio.

Danny's hobbies include fishing, golf, water skiing and skeet shooting. Danny is a top-flight golfer and has won many tournaments in Oklahoma. He is a member of the famed Hole-In-One Club, a member of the Masonic Lodge, the Commandery and the Shriners.

Danny and his wife Marilyn have four girls, with twins making up half of the family.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Carolina Wrestling: New information on Jim Crockett's earliest TV Wrestling

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway 10/22/17

Carroll Hall, who publishes the "All-Star Championship Wrestling" website, has unearthed information on what most surely was Jim Crockett's earliest foray into televised wrestling.

In May of 1956, WFBC Channel 4 in Greenville, SC announced they would begin airing live wrestling matches in the studios of WFBC beginning on June 2, 1956. The show was called, appropriately enough, "Carolina Wrestling."

Here is the text of the announcement that appeared in the Greenville Times.

Channel 4 Will Have Wrestling Ring in Studio

Wrestling in the studios of WFBC-TV on Rutherford Street will be presented "live" by Channel 4 each Saturday afternoon from 4:30 to 5:30, the television station announced yesterday.

A 20 x 20 regulation ring will be set up in the spacious studios and name wrestlers will appear regularly. First performance will be next Saturday afternoon.

The wrestlers who have been scheduled to appear at various times include Mr. Moto, Kinji Shiduya, Gene Becker, Jack Whitzig, Don Arnold, Don Eagle, and Cheif War Eagle, Lea, Chick and Leo Garabaldi, Carl Von Hess, Dick Steinborn, and Angelo Martinelli. There will also be girl and midget wrestlers.

Commentator for the events will be Claude Freeman.
According to Hall's research of newspaper archival TV listings from that time period, the show ran for just over three months, with it's last appearance on the TV schedule being Saturday, September 8, 1956. Demand for the free tickets to the studio show grew so quickly that on at least one occasion, WFBC moved the show to the famous Textile Hall in Greenville, site of many Jim Crockett wrestling events in the 1950s and 1960s. The move was reported in the Greenville Times to accommodate the huge demand for tickets to the live broadcasts.

To put this show in historical perspective of the times, WFBC Channel 4 had only been on the air for two and a half years at this point, first broadcasting on December 31, 1953. Jim Crockett would not put wrestling on WBTV in Charlotte until January of 1958. So the June 1956 "Carolina Wrestling" show was bound to be the first ever affiliated with Jim Crockett Promotions.

The show proved to be quite popular, both in ratings and in interest for tickets, which begs the question why it was relatively short-lived. As reported on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, wrestling would return to the studios of WFBC in Greenville in 1960 with hosts including Bob Poole, Bill Krieger and Billy Powell.

We will be updating the WFBC page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway archive site to reflect this information soon.

For Carroll Hall's first post on this information visit:
"Carolina Wrestling" on WFBC 4 in Greenville, SC"

Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Antenna? You're Missing A Lot. Especially Wrestling.

Ray Reeve Hosts Professional Wrestling in the Early 1960s
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Mark Eastridge Collection
This vintage newspaper ad is a real sign-of-the-times from January 1960 when it appeared in the Rocky Mount, NC newspaper.

Rocky Mount is about 70 miles from Raleigh and this ad is suggesting to Rocky Mount residents that if you don't have an aerial antenna on your roof (as opposed to just "rabbit ears" attached to the TV set in your house), you're missing out on some great television shows from WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh.

Keep in mind, this is in 1960. Television is still in its infancy. WRAL TV has only been on the air for a little over three years. Many homes didn't even have television set yet. It is estimated that only 85% of households in the U.S. had TV in 1960.*

There clearly was an education effort going on by WRAL in an effort to increase its viewership and therefore its advertising base, letting folks in rural areas know that if you didn't have a roof-top antenna, you were really missing out. It's a sure bet the television antenna manufactures trade group supported the effort as well.

The ad touts three programs that cross all age demographics and viewing periods on Saturday: "Howdy Doody" for the kids (and Mom, too, apparently) at 10 AM, live professional wrestling at 5:30 PM, and a horror movie late at night.

"Top professional athletes in exciting contests.
Grunt-by-groan description by Ray Reeve."
Championship Wrestling 5:30 PM

Ray Reeve, the "Dean of Sportscasters" was a legendary voice in broadcasting, the very first sports director and sports anchor for WRAL channel 5, as well as a popular voice on WRAL AM and FM radio. He was the play-by-play voice of ACC basketball on the Tobacco Sports Network on radio in the late 1940s and 1950s, and more notably the voice for NC State Wolfpack basketball.

Carroll Hall Collection
A role not often listed on his resume or in his many biographies was that he was the first voice of professional wrestling on WRAL when live pro wrestling first launched and became hugely popular on the station in late 1959.

Reeve later turned over his wrestling duties to WRAL sports and news personalities Nick Pond and Bob Caudle. Pond became the voice of wrestling in Raleigh, and Caudle the voice of wrestling for the rest of the Carolinas and Virginia that would later be known as the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling area. By 1973, all of the various television wrestling tapings for Jim Crockett Promotions (which included WBTV-3 in Charlotte and WGHP-8 in High Point) were consolidated to WRAL in Raleigh, and Bob Caudle became the singular host for the flagship program until the late 1980s when the Crockett family business was sold to the Ted Turner broadcasting empire in Atlanta.

Ray Reeve was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1967.

For more wrestling history of the Mid-Atlantic area, visit the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Clipping Confirms Starting Date for WRAL Wrestling Tapings

Researcher-extraordinaire and regualr Mid-Atlantic Gateway contributor Mark Eastridge came across this great clipping in the Rocky Mount, NC, newspaper from February 7, 1959. It further confirms information we included some years ago on our WRAL Studio Wrestling page that the date of the first airing of wrestling from the studios of WRAL was the week prior, 1/31/59.

This article on Saturday 2/7/59 states that "the weekly series started last Saturday" which would have been 1/31/59.

The article also references the separate studio wrestling tapings that took place in Charlotte (at the studios of WBTV-3.)

* * * * *

Visit the Mid-Atlantic Gateway at

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Rare Houston Footage spotlights familiar faces from the Mid-Atlantic Area

Bob Caudle, David Crockett, and Joe Murnick join Paul Boesch in signing Harley Race vs. Andre the Giant in a rare video clip from WRAL in Raleigh

by Dick Bourne
originally published 10/3/17 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Another rare piece of Crockett-related footage has surfaced from Houston TV on YouTube. Houston promoter Paul Boesch flew from Texas to Raleigh, NC, in the fall of 1978 to film a contract signing segment with Andre the Giant.

The video is actually two separate segments that would have aired separately on the Houston television show, and are likely presented here in reverse order.

In the segments, Boesch signs Andre the Giant to challenge NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race at the Summit Arena in Houston on 10/13/1978. Paul Boesch is introduced by "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" host Bob Caudle. Representing the NWA for the contract signing are David Crockett and Joe Murnick of Jim Crockett Promotions in Charlotte.

The segments were taped at the studios of WRAL TV in Raleigh, NC, home of Jim Crockett's weekly television tapings.

Both David Crockett and Joe Murnich got a few words in. I especially liked Murnich's well-wishes to fellow promoter Boesch and the fans of Houston:
"I think the fans of Houston are very, very fortunate because I know this bout could be held anywhere in the world and your fans are most fortunate in having it. Good luck to you." 
David Crockett noted that the bout would be held on Friday the 13th, and suggested it might be unlucky for some (Harley Race perhaps?) but hopefully not for Andre.

The real rarity here is seeing and hearing Joe Murnick. What a special treat. Murnick was the local promoter for Jim Crockett based in Raleigh, NC, and he promoted the Raleigh area, as well as most of eastern North Carolina and eastern Virginia, including Richmond and Norfolk. Murnick was co-host of a Raleigh-only version of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" in the 1960s and early 1970s, and when that Raleigh-only version was discontinued and all of the area's TV tapes were consolidated to WRAL in Raleigh, Murnick was still seen as the ring announcer on Crockett shows until his sons Elliot and Carl took over those duties toward the end of 1977 or early 1978. Joe Murnick had a deep, classically-southern voice that was just so perfect for the times and one of my favorite ring announcers ever. 

Very cool to be able to go back in time this far and see Murnick, Caudle, and Crockett in the old WRAL studio. Crockett Promotions didn't start keeping and archiving their old tapes until the early 1980s, so seeing this is very rare. The backdrop used in this tape was one frequently used in the early 1970s for local promotional spots for the various towns, but by 1978 wasn't used that frequently anymore. Nice to see it here.

These videos are bound to be pulled down soon, so we should enjoy them while we have them.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ring Announcer Tom Miller

Tom Miller introduces Barry Windham and NWA World Champion Ric Flair
before their title match in Fayetteville, NC in January of 1987

For lots more about "Truckin' Tom Miller and his various roles in Jim Crockett Promotions, check out all of our related posts on the Studio Wrestling website.

Also see our post on the 1975 "Wide World Wrestling" theme music on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.