Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bob Caudle at the Associated Press Wire Station at WRAL

Bob Caudle reviews information on the AP (Associated Press) wire station at WRAL TV Studios in Raleigh.
Photo from the CBC History website. (LINK)

Bob Caudle's "day job" (before stepping into a phone booth and changing into superman Mid-Atlantic wrestling announcer) was as a newscaster and weatherman for WRAL-TV 5 in Raleigh NC. Bob is seen in this archival CBC photo reviewing information from the AP wire.

Bob hosted wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions for the better part of three decades, first at WRAL TV-5 studio-A beginning in the early 1960s. His show was called All-Star Wrestling and was syndicated to several TV markets all across the "Charlotte territory" which included cities in the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Ironically, Bob wasn't actually seen in the Raleigh market hosting wrestling until around 1973. Prior to that, the Raleigh version of the show, which was a shared-simulcast with the syndicated show, was hosted by Nick Pond and then briefly by Elliot Murnick, a son of Raleigh area promoter Joe Murnick. When the Charlotte (WBTV) and High Point (WGHP) TV tapings were consolidated into the Raleigh taping in 1973, WRAL began taping two separate hours of wrestling, both titled Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling at that point in time. One was hosted by Les Thatcher, the other by Caudle. It wasn't until then that Bob's wrestling broadcast (the "A" show) was seen as the main show in the Raleigh market. The "B" show hosted by Thatcher then became the secondary show that aired in some of the larger territory TV markets alongside the "A" show.

In 1981, Jim Crockett Promotions moved their TV tapings to the studios of WPCQ-36 in Charlotte, and in that same year Bob Caudle left WRAL to work full time in the constituency office of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. But he continued as Jim Crockett's lead play-by-play announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling until the company was sold to Turner Broadcasting in 1988. He transitioned to Turner Broadcasting and continued to host NWA Pro Wrestling for the company until leaving in 1992. He was co-host of several Turner/WCW pay-per-view events and Clash of Champions specials on WTBS.

For more posts about Bob Caudle at WRAL, click his link in the "Crockett On-Air Talent" section on the upper-right side of this webpage.

And so long for now!

WRAL Wrestling in 1959!

I came across 43 minutes of vintage wrestling matches on the Capitol Broadcasting Company's history website. These matches were filmed at WRAL studios in Raleigh, NC.

When I first saw this footage, I guessed these matches were from the early 1960s. But our friend Carroll Hall did several hours of research and was able to determine that these matches were filmed in 1959, the very first year that WRAL broadcast wrestling matches.

"This footage has got to be from 1959. After 1959 Mike Clancy did not return to wrestle in JCP until 1964," Carroll wrote to me. He researched the wrestlers and the periods of time they were all in the territory together.  "I am confident that all  these matches were filmed during the first year the WRAL show was on the air."

Sadly, there is no commentary for these matches. This is apparently the raw film footage of matches and perhaps commentary was added later. (The wrestling play-by-play announcer for WRAL at that time was legendary hall-of-fame sports announcer Ray Reeve.)

Here is a link to the video on the CBC history website and a detailed list of the matches, referees, and ring announcer, courtesy of Carroll Hall.

WRAL Wrestling (1959)

Ring announcer: Leo Voss

Match # 1: Jerry Christy vs. Johnny Heidman, referee Walter Buckner
Match # 2: Mike Clancy vs. Hans Schnable, referee Walter Buckner
Match # 3: Jerry Christy vs Danny McShane, referee Sam "Lucky" Roberts
Match # 4: Rita Cortez vs. Judy Grable referee, Walter Buckner

WRAL first broadcast wrestling on January 31, 1959. It is possible that these were some of the first matches that took place in that studio.

Bob Caudle and Bob DeBardelaben Archive Photo

Bob Caudle and Bob DeBardelaben. Photo from the CBC History website. (Link)

From the CBC History website:
WRAL-TV weather anchors Bob Caudle and Bob DeBardelaben during a lull in a promo shoot. This photo was taken in 1976 when DeBardelaben was taking over the weather anchor duties from Caudle. The humorous promo campaign was titled “As the Weather Turns.”

We edited clips from some of the "As The Weather Turns" skits and posted them on YouTube.

Did you notice several other wrestling personalities in this video? Click here to learn more about the 5 people with connections to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling seen in this video.

For more posts about Bob Caudle at WRAL, click his link in the "Broadcasters" section on the upper-right side of this webpage.

Thanks to Brian Rogers.

Bob Caudle Profile on CBC's History Website

Bob Caudle's profile from the Capitol Broadcasting Company history website (as of 12/17/14):

Bob Caudle was a longtime newscaster and weatherman at WRAL-TV, but he is best known as the television announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling during a broadcast career that spanned more than three decades. 
Bob’s TV career began in 1954 at WMFD-TV (later WECT-TV) in Wilmington, NC, where he played a lead role in “Bob and Hester,” a children’s program featuring a dog puppet that talked and sang songs. After three years in Wilmington, Caudle moved to TV job in Savannah, and three years later headed to Raleigh and WRAL-TV. 
At WRAL, Caudle anchored late-night news and appeared as “The Atlantic Weatherman” who would deliver the forecast each evening dressed in a gas station attendant’s uniform. In 1961 he took on additional duties as the announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, which was recorded every Wednesday night at WRAL. From that point on—Bob Caudle became a household name in the world of television wrestling. 
Caudle announced and recorded hundreds of wrestling matches in WRAL’s famous Studio A, teaming up with partners such as David Crockett, Roddy Piper, Les Thatcher and Johnny Weaver. Soon he began going on the road for Crockett Promotions to tape wrestling shows throughout the eastern half of the country.
Bob’s signature sign-off line at the end of every show was “That’s it for this week, and until next week fans, so long for now!” 
Caudle left WRAL-TV in early 1981 to become a legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, with whom he had worked during his early days at WRAL. Caudle held that position until he retired in 1996. During his time as Senator Helms’ assistant, he continued his ring announcing—working for Jim Crockett Promotions and Turner Broadcasting until the early 90s 
Bob Caudle is a native of Charlotte. He and his wife have three children and seven grandchildren. They live in Raleigh.
Thanks to Rob Newton and William Rouse.

Nick Pond interviews Former World Boxing Champ Joe Louis

From the CBC History website. (Link)
What an amazing photo found on the Capitol Broadcasting Company's history website. ( Seen here is longtime WRAL sports personality Nick Pond interviewing former world boxing champion Joe Louis at ringside during a taping of "Championship Wrestling" at WRAL TV studios in Raleigh NC. Pond hosted the Raleigh-only version of WRAL's wrestling broadcast for nearly a decade. (Bob Caudle hosted the syndicated version of the same show which was known as "All-Star Wrestling". This was in the years before the name of the show was changed to "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.")

Joe Louis did many spots for Jim Crockett Promotions as a special guest referee in bouts all across the territory around the years 1967-1968.

Wish we knew who the wrestlers were in the ring, standing in the "bad guys" corner awaiting their match.

I'm back! Long Overdue Updates.

This is the first update to the Studio Wrestling Scrapbook since February 2013. This blog was never intended to be updated very frequently to begin with but 22 months is a little slack, I know.

The purpose of the blog was really more to catalog various pieces of memorabilia and nostalgia related to studio wrestling shows (primarily WRAL, but others as well) as I came across them, and not as a regularly updated blog.

I've recently come across some additional material on the Capitol Broadcasting History website and will be sharing some of that stuff here in these updates.

The Google-provided stats for this blog indicate a healthy number of visitors here, which is encouraging, as I've often felt there were very few of us left who had an interest in such a niche topic. Let's all work to keep these memories alive. I will do my best to update the blog more often.

Thanks for recent contributions and feedback from Carroll Hall, Barry Caldwell, and Rob Newton.

So long for now!

Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway