Saturday, June 6, 2015

Broadcaster George Abel & Wrestling at the Chase (1965)

The following short article is from a "Man Behind the Mike" feature in Wrestling Revue magazine in October of 1965. It spotlights the great career of George Abel who was for many years the voice of Sam Muchnick's Wrestling at the Chase in St. Louis. The program aired on KPLR and at the time of this article originated from the Chase Hotel in St. Louis.

Great names from wrestling's past also mentioned in the article include Sam Muchnick, Jack Brickhouse, Lou Thesz, Wild Bill Longson, and Joe Garagiola. (Video is also included in this feature following the article.)


From Wrestling Revue Magazine, October 1965

GEORGE ABEL is one of the most knowledgeable and popular wrestling commentators, whose "Wrestling at the Chase" programs, are television highlights of the mid-West. When you hear the clear, corn-posed, calm and articulate Abel announcing the mat shows, you'd never suspect it, but George claims that he was once one of the world's worst stutterers.

Abel finds it hard to explain, but presumes that his desire to become an announcer must have been stronger than the reason for the speech defect. The impediment disappeared just as his broadcasting career was begun.

Since November 1963 Abel has been reigning over the KPLR microphone, broadcasting the wrestling matches from St. Louis, Mo. He had some misgivings when he took over the program. "I was attempting to fill a large pair of shoes, since one of my predecessors was the inimitable Joe Garagiola, who replaced Mel Allen in the broadcasting of the N.Y. Yankees' ballgames," he confessed. "However, I'm proud to say our ratings are now bigger and better than ever."

Wrestling has never been presented in more plush surroundings than for this show. "Wrestling at the Chase" is staged in the ornate Khorassan Room of St. Louis' finest hotel, the Chase-Park Plaza. Weekly 1,500 patrons attend by invitation only and during the telecasts, the fans enjoy the matches with food and beverages.

Abel is a veteran of broadcasting and the stage. He began his radio and television careers in 1941, working as an announcer on many sports shows. While a station staff announcer, he used to watch the telecasts of Jack Brickhouse's wrestling shows from the Marigold Gardens, in Chicago. George was fascinated and impress-ed, admits he actually learned wrestling terminology from Brickhouse.

Several years ago Abel was able to put his wrestling knowledge to use, doing the hold-by-hold commentary for Sam Muchnick, a top-notch promoter who is also the president of the National Wrestling Alliance.

Muchnick's Saturday night wrestling shows were televised over a Missouri-Illinois network.
When it was decided to originate a TV wrestling show from St. Louis, Abel won the audition from among a number of candidates. He received considerable help from such wrestling greats as NWA champion Lou Thesz and former champ, Wild Bill Longson.

Abel is married and the father of two boys, nine and eleven years old.

His score of years before the mike includes many local radio and TV shows. He has been starred as an actor on a kiddie TV program, "The Wranglers," in the role of Drygulch. Abel had a fling for a year on the stage with the famed Barter Theatre, in Virginia, and appeared opposite Dolores Grey as "Sitting Bull" in the St. Louis Municipal Opera production of "Annie Get Your Gun," plus many appearances with the local Community Playhouse.

Abel is most articulate and capable at the mike. We can hardly believe that he ever stuttered, but he says he did!


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Here is some rare video from "Wrestling at the Chase" featuring the play-by-play voice of George Abel. By this point in time, the television tapings had moved from the Khorassan ballroom to a smaller TV studio.

George Abel is a member of the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame and is featured on the St. Louis Media History website. More information about George and the Wrestling at The Chase program can be found on Tim Hornbaker's excellent "Legacy of Wrestling" website.

The "Championship Wrestling" art that would appear bumping in and out of commercial
breaks on KPLR in the 1960s

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Thanks as always to Carroll Hall for providing the scanned image of the article for us. The article was from "Wrestling Revue" Volume 6, Issue 6 from October 1965. Subscription rates in 1965 were $3.00....per year!