Friday, November 4, 2016

Jackie Crockett Steps in Front of the Camera

Fans who attended TV tapings in the arenas for Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW in the 1980s and 1990s became familiar with Jackie Crockett as one of the important men behind the camera.

Not many people realize that for a short period of time in 1985, Jackie stepped in front of the camera, too, hosting selected local promos that were inserted into the syndicated programs such as "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "World Wide Wrestling." These segments were taped at the makeshift studio at the Crockett offices on Briarbend Drive. 

The above image is from a local promotional segment for the Columbus, Georgia TV market. Jim Crockett's affiliate for the "World Wide Wrestling" show at that time was WRBL-3 in Columbus, with Fred Ward acting as the local promoter on the ground, just as he had been for decades for Georgia Championship Wrestling.

As we build our roster of on-air talent for Jim Crockett Promotions from the 1950s-1980s, we are happy to finally locate this image and add Jackie Crockett to that list. The complete list of on-air talent for all of the various shows and studio locations during the Crockett years can be found on the right-hand side of this website. Click on any name to bring up posts related to that person.

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Jackie played many important roles in the family business, which also included photographer. He took photos at shows primarily in Charlotte over many years, from the mid-1970s through around 1983. Some of those wonderful photos are found in a new book of his photos sold by the Crockett Foundation, the family's charitable organization run by Frances Crockett's daughter Debbie Ringley Mrozinski. (Click the graphic link below for more information.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Southeastern Championship Wrestling (Dothan)

Charlie Platt and Les Thatcher

A shot from early 1981, Charlie Platt and Les Thatcher hosting the show in the southern end of the Southeastern Championship Wrestling territory, taped at the studios of WTVY-4 in Dothan, Alabama. Thatcher also hosted the show in the northern end of the territory at that time out of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Later that same year, Ron Fuller sold the Knoxville territory to Blackjack Mulligan and Ric Flair, and concentrated his efforts out of the territory formerly known as Gulf Coast Wrestling which consisted of major towns such as Pensacola in the panhandle of Florida and cities in Alabama such as Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Southeastern Championship Wrestling (Knoxville)

Les Thatcher and Phil Rainey on the set of "Southeastern Championship Wrestling"

"Southeastern Championship Wrestling" emanated from the television studios of WBIR-10 in Knoxville, TN. It was the NWA promotion in the mid-to-late 1970s that covered East Tennessee and later parts of Northern Alabama.

The host of the show was veteran wrestler and broadcaster Les Thatcher. His frequent co-host and promo announcer was Phil Rainey, who was one of the lead sports personalities at WBIR.

Rainey's voice is heard over the opening theme song to "Southeastern Championship Wrestling" uttering these famiar words:

"Welcome to Southeastern Championship Wrestling, featuring slow motion, instant replay, and other technical firsts. The program voted number one by the Wrestling Writers Federation. Join us now for the fast paced competition of professional wrestling, featuring the top stars from the world's largest governing body, the National Wrestling Alliance."
Thatcher was one of wrestling's busiest men (still is!) as he not only hosted the program out of Knoxville, but produced it as well. He also published the area's arena program and magazine, was a photographer, organized the local promotional spots, sold advertising, and occasionally still wrestled - - a renaissance man if there ever was one!

We are proud to spotlight this great photo from the Southeastern Championship Wrestling studio.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Dusty Rhodes Promo on Ric Flair for Atlanta TV (WPCQ)

One month and one day after losing the NWA World Heavyweight Championship to Ric Flair in Kansas City on 9/17/81, Dusty Rhodes gets his rematch on 10/18/81 in the Omni in Atlanta. This taped interview with Rhodes promoted that rematch and aired on "Georgia Championship Wrestling" on Saturday, 10/03/81.

The interview was likely taped in the studios of WPCQ-36 in Charlotte, the home of television tapings for Jim Crockett Promotions since August of that same year. Crockett had just recently moved his base of TV operations from Raleigh to Charlotte. (There is also the slight possibility this was shot at the Briarbend studio where the local promos were taped, although those typically had a different background.)

The introduction by Gordon Solie was taped at the WTBS-17 studios in Atlanta, GA.  The interviewer in the clip is Ken Conrad. (Click here for more info on Ken Conrad being added to the roster of Jim Crockett Promotions on-Air Talent.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Gulf Coast Wrestling

Charlie Platt with Bob Armstrong on the set of "Gulf Coast Wrestling"

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

As I've done several times in the past on this blog, I have strayed outside the confines of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling to explore the look and feel of other studio locations for pro-wrestling from the territory days, as well as the sound and style of the broadcasters that brought us that wrestling.

When I moved to work and live in Alabama in early 1982, the local wrestling program I discovered on TV out of Montgomery and Birmingham, AL was "Southeastern Championship Wrestling" hosted by Charlie Platt and Ric Stewart. The funny thing about this program was that it had the same name and opening theme music and video sequence as the "Southeastern Championship Wrestling" show I grew up watching out of Knoxville, TN. That show was promoted by Ron Fuller and hosted by Les Thatcher, someone very familiar to me from the Mid-Atlantic area.

What I didn't know then was that in the late 1970s, Fuller had bought the territory based out of Mobile, AL promoted by Lee Fields known as "Gulf Coast Wrestling" and for several years the Knoxville show aired in the Alabama territory, too. Around 1980, Ron Fuller sold his interests in the Knoxville territory and moved his television tapings out of Knoxville down to WTVY-TV channel 4 in Dothan, AL which had been the home of Gulf Coast TV for many years.

The TV show was taped each Saturday morning and then sent out to TV markets throughout the territory which spanned from the panhandle of Florida up through roughly 2/3 the state of Alabama, just past Birmingham.

The studio setup in Dothan was much like the studio setup in Knoxville with a couple of bleachers on two sides of the ring, and a desk where the hosts sat and introduced the show and also did interviews with the wrestlers. The back-drop behind the desk of the Southeast show was the same as it had been in the 1970s in the Knoxville studio. But I had never known what the back-drop looked like for the Gulf Coast show.

But recently I came across a video on YouTube of wrestling from Georgia in 1980 where a taped interview with Bob Armstrong had been sent in as he prepared to return for a special match or two in the the territory. It was a great surprise to see the friendly face and hear the familiar voice of Charlie Platt introducing "Bullet" Bob against a back-drop I had never seen before. A closer look and I could make out the bottom half of the words "Gulf Coast" above the word "Wrestling" behind Armstrong and Platt.

I thought it was a very cool looking studio back-drop and it made me wish that during my time in Alabama that the show had still been called "Gulf Coast Wrestling." 

So this is our small glimpse across Charlie Platt's broadcast desk back in the Gulf Coast days of the Alabama/Pensacola territory. 

For a closer look at that territory in the Gulf Coast days, see Mike Norris's excellent series of articles on Kayfabe Memories or check out some of the relevant podcasts produced by Karl Stern on the premium side of the Wrestling Observer website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Rare Studio Shot in WRAL (1975)

Ric Flair, Les Thatcher, and Johnny Valentine on the set of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", 1975
Photo by Ric Carter

What a rare and special image from the studios of WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC, in 1975. Ric Flair (wearing the Mid-Atlantic TV championship belt), host Les Thatcher, and U.S. Champion Johnny "The Champ" Valentine are apparently waiting to come back from a commercial break, as you can see the floor director or camera operator leaning against the ringpost.

LATER EDIT: Since originally posting this, we have learned that the photographer that took this shot is Ric Carter. We hope to provide more information on him and his work in a future post.

At that point in time, two separate versions of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" were taped on Wednesday nights, one hosted by long time Raleigh announcer Bob Caudle, the other hosted briefly by Sam Menacker and then regularly by Les Thatcher. After the consolidation of Charlotte and High Point TV tapings into Raleigh, the Thatcher-hosted "B" show replaced those shows in markets where more than one hour of Crockett programing aired.

This second hour of the show featured all different interviews and matches than the first hour.

This second hour of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" was later replaced by the new "Wide World Wrestling" show in October of 1975, which would be hosted by longtime Georgia wrestling host Ed Capral.

Thanks to Doc Hopper on Facebook for sharing this image with us, which he found on the Net.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Caudle, Schiavone, and Ross Together in Charlotte

Check out the article on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway about three top wrestling broadcasters from the 1970s-1990s all at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Fanfest together in Charlotte in early August.

Mid-Atlantic Gateway:
Caudle, Schiavone, and Ross a Highlight of Fanfest

Saturday, June 25, 2016

TV Title Tournament Advertised for WRAL-5

Mark Eastridge Collection
This newspaper ad appeared in the Wilson NC newspaper on February 9, 1974. It was ent to us by Mark Eastridge.  It promotes a "Sports Special!" on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, which aired on WRAL-5 TV out of Raleigh, NC.

The "sports special" mentioned is a "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling tournament featuring America's outstanding mat men."

The show was seen in the Wilson, NC area on WRAL-5 TV at 11:30 Saturday night.

The tournament mentioned was a historic one, the prize being the first ever Mid-Atlantic Television Championship.

A month later, on the Raleigh show that was taped on 2/27/74 and aired on 3/2/74, Danny Miller defeated Ole Anderson in the finals of the tournament to become the inaugural Mid-Atlantic TV champion.

Carroll Hall of the All-Star Championship Wrestling website pointed out to us that the photo used in the ad is from 1964. "The tall guy that Sandy Scott is facing is Mike Valentino who became Baron Michel Scicluna in the WWWF," Carroll reported.

We always love coming across these old ads for TV studio wrestling!