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.)

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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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Big Bill Ward (1958)

Host of "Championship Wrestling from 1958-1974 on WBTV-3 Charlotte
Publicity photo from 1958 Wrestling Photo Album

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Wrestling & Roller Derby on WLOS (1970)

In the early 1970s, TV wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions was still being taped in three different locations: WBTV-3 in Charlotte NC, WGHP-8 in High Point NC, and WRAL-5 in Raleigh NC. The consolidation of television production to WRAL would not take place until 1974.

The Raleigh show hosted by Bob Caudle, titled "All Star Wrestling" went out to most of the Crockett TV markets. Some markets had a second program, and during this time, we believe that program was the show taped in High Point hosted by Charlie Harville titled "Championship Wrestling." In the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market, we know this to be the case from audio recordings from WLOS in the early 1970s.

The newspaper clipping seen here shows a Saturday evening line-up for WLOS-13 in Asheville, NC from August 1, 1970. Included in that line-up is "Championship Wrestling" at 6:30 PM and the stars advertised included George Becker, Johnny Weaver, and  the Infernos.

Munsey Millaway
During this time, WLOS sports director Munsey Millaway and local JCP promoter Paul Winkhaus would host special promotional segments pre-taped at the local studios of WLOS that would air during the same time Charlie Harville was doing his local interviews for the Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem market.

This listing is from that time period. (More on Munsey Millaway here.)

Also fun to see Roller Derby listed at 11:30 PM. I'm assuming this was the show that featured the "world famous" Los Angeles Thunderbirds that was popular during that era and featured such stars as Ronnie "Psycho" Rains, "Skinny Minnie" Gwen Miller, Ralphie Valladares, heel manager Georgia Hass and many others. When we first got cable and I could watch WLOS, "Wide World Wrestling" with Ed Capral came on at 11:30 Pm followed by Roller Derby at 12:30 AM. I didn't know it at the time, but the tapes we saw in the mid-70s were actually originally recorded and aired in the early 1970s.

Check out this earlier post on another wrestling/roller derby double feature.

Good memories! Thanks to Carroll Hall at the "All-Star Championship Wrestling" blog for sending us this clipping.

Friday, March 3, 2017

TV Wrestling Debuts from WFBC-4 in Greenville SC (1960)

Composite graphic courtesy of Carroll Hall

We are proud to be able to add another name to our official roster of on air talent for Jim Crockett Promotions.

WFBC Greenville TV personality Bob Poole was the first host of "Championship Wrestling" that was taped at the studios of WFBC and aired exclusively on that channel in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market in the early 1960s. The program debuted on WFBC-4 on Saturday, March 26, 1960.

WFBC's sports director Bill Krieger followed Poole as host of "Championship Wrestling" in February of 1961.  

Poole had various roles at the station, also prominently hosting a program called "Bob Poole's Gospel Favorites" on Sunday mornings on channel 4.

Thanks to Carroll Hall at the All-Star Championship Wrestling website for this information.

For a complete list of on-air talent for Jim Crockett Promotions from the late 1950s through 1988, see the list of filter links on the right hand side of this page. 

More information on the history of "Championship Wrestling" at WFBC-4 in Greenville, SC, can be found in the Mid-Atlantic Almanac Studio TV History section on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jim Crockett Promotions Television Affiliates - 1979

This list was included in 1979 and 1980 editions of "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine" published by Jim Crockett Promotions.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tom Miller and His Ton of Fun (1983)

Tom Miller as host of "Wide World Wrestling" in 1978
We remember "Truckin'" Tom Miller fondly for his work as a color commentator on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with Bob Caudle in the summer of 1976 and co-host of Wide World Wrestling in 1978. Miller co-hosted Wide World (with George Scott) in between the 3-year stint of Ed Capral that preceded him and the 4-year stint of Rich Landrum that followed him (when the show's name was changed to World Wide Wrestling.)

He was also the well known ring announcer in Greensboro in the 1980s, as well as occasionally on the TV shows of that era, and for many of the pay-per-view events as well.

This newspaper article from 1983 was one of several columnist Jerry Bledsoe wrote about Miller in those years.

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Wednesday, February 2, 1983
By Jerry Bledsoe

Tom Miller called the other day laughing. This is usually a bad sign. It means something is up, and with Tom you never know what it might be

Tom is a well-known radio personality in these parts. He has worked in Burlington and Charlotte, but for many years he was in Greensboro at WGBG (now WKEW). For the past few years, he’s been in Danville, now as manager of WAKG, a powerful FM country music station that can be heard throughout central North Carolina and Virginia (103.3 on the dial).

Tom has done a lot of crazy things over the years and, being a good friend, he has managed to get me involved in many of them, sometimes to my regret. So I was understandably a little leery when he told me that he had come up with a great idea. This would be the biggest thing to happen in this area, he said, since……well, who knows when.

“OK,” I said. “What are you up to?

“Two-seventy,” he said.

Pounds, he meant.

And that was precisely why he was calling.

“All my life I’ve been fat,” he said.  “My mama’s fat, my daddy was fat, my sisters are fat. My whole life’s been fat, growing up in a world of fat, riding in cars going one way – leaning sideways.”

Tom has come to the point of not only accepting his size, but celebrating it.

“What I want to do,” he said, “is get a thousand people who weigh 200 pounds or more to assemble in a gigantic parking lot for a group picture. I’m going to call it ‘A Hundred Tons of Fun.’”

Tom has already checked and found out that this would be the world’s largest group picture of heavy people and the people at the Guinness Book of World Records have already indicated that they will record the event for posterity.

But this is only one reason for doing it, Tom said. The main reason is fun.

“We’re going to give away somebody’s weight in hot dogs and soft drinks and ice cream and steaks and anything else we can sell sponsors on. Those are not small prizes. You take a man who weighs 368 pounds and wins his weight in hot dogs. That’s a lot of money.”

There will be other prizes too.

“I’m going to have all kinds of trophies made up,” Tom said. “We’ll give a trophy for the heaviest person, the oldest heavy person and the youngest, the heavy person who came the longest distance, all kinds of things.  You could get in professions, the heaviest doctor and the heaviest nurse. We’ll have a superior-size beauty contest for men and women. There are just infinite possibilities.”

This is not going to be a celebration of fat so much as of bulk. Fat isn’t even necessary.

“The only requirement is that they have to weigh 200 pounds,” Tom says. “In other words, a woman could be six foot eight and weigh 202 and not have an ounce of fat on her and that would be ok.”

People who weigh less than 200 pounds will be allowed to come to the event, to enjoy the entertainment (to be provided by heavy entertainers) and other festivities, but they won’t be allowed to enter the contests, win any trophies or get into the picture.

“We’re not against skinny people,” Tom said. “It’s just that heavy people have always been discriminated against. This is one time being a big-size person is going to pay off for somebody.”

“Nobody will ever be able to accuse you of not thinking big,” I said.

“One thing we’re not going to do,” he said, ignoring me “is make fun of people. And we’re not going to moralize whether fat is right or wrong or anything. We’re just going to have fun. We’re going to say, ‘Hey, we’re big and it feels good.’”

No date has been set for this event. Tom is shooting for May or June. This is where I come into the picture, so to speak. Tom needs help finding people who weigh more than 200 pounds who would be willing to attend and pose for his picture. Write him at WAKG, P.O. Box 1629, Danville, VA 24543.

“Can you really envision it?” he asked. “Can you imagine the grandeur of 1,000 fat people in a gigantic parking lot?”

“I’m not sure I can.”