Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rich Landrum on World Wide Wrestling (1978)

Rich Landrum on the set of "World Wide Wrestling" at WRAL TV studios in Raleigh

This is one of the greatest photos of we have from inside WRAL-5 TV studios in Raleigh, the home of Jim Crockett Promotions television tapings from 1959-1981.

Rich Landrum, seen above opening another episode of World Wide Wrestling, graciously provided this photograph to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway when we did an interview with him several years ago.

The photo was taken not long after Rich began hosting the program in 1978. The show, which had also undergone a slight name change from Wide World Wrestling, began in 1975 and was originally hosted by legendary Atlanta wrestling announcer Ed Capral (who preceded Gordon Solie in Georgia.) Capral left in 1977 and was followed by Tom Miller until Rich was brought in from Richmond in the fall of 1978 to take over the show, which featured a revised name and brand new set, seen above. It was one of the sharpest, professional looking sets in all of televised wrestling at that time.

Johnny Weaver and Rich Landrum
Rich had a revolving door of co-hosts for months before settling in on legendary wrestler Johnny Weaver as his regular sidekick. Landrum dubbed Weaver "the Dean of Professional Wrestling" for the Mid-Atlantic area and the nickname stuck. Weaver was an instant hit as a color commentator with fans and was famous for singing "Turn Out the Lights, The Party's Over" after at least one match on almost every show during those years.

Landrum was the long time ring announcer in Richmond, VA at the Richmond Fairgrounds, Richmond Arena, and Richmond Coliseum. He lived in the Richmond area and continued in that role there while making the weekly Wednesday night trip to Raleigh to host World Wide Wrestling.

When the show moved to Charlotte in the summer of 1981, Landrum moved with it for about five months until parting ways with the company in early 1982. David Crockett replaced him as host, and was later followed by Tony Schiavone.

The new home of the wrestling tapings, WPCQ-36 in Charlotte, was a tiny little studio and the expansive set from WRAL would not completely fit, and so only sections of it were used in Charlotte.

Rich's photograph makes us really homesick for the friendly confines of WRAL, which I believe was the greatest studio environment for wrestling ever.

Audio Extra: Rich Landrum signs-off on "World Wide Wrestling"