Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Wrestling from Roanoke" at the County Fair

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Continuing our streak of posts here on "Studio Wrestling" having to do with wrestling from Roanoke, I found this little newspaper clipping to be very interesting. Carroll Hall at the All Star Championship Wrestling website came across it and forwarded it to us. It's also a bit misleading, but more on that in a minute.

The article is promoting a wrestling card in Galax, VA, that was featured as a "grandstand attraction" at the Galax Agricultural Fair. The wrestling card was booked by Roanoke event promoter Pete Apostolou, booking wrestling talent from Jim Crockett Promotions in Charlotte. Apostolou was Crockett's man on the ground for wrestling events in Roanoke as well as Lynchburg and many spot-show towns around the WDBJ-7 viewing area, Galax included.

What interested me at first was the mention of the Roanoke wrestling program that aired at the time on WDBJ channel 7. The program, which was always called "All Star Wrestling" on the air, was often referred to in newspaper listings and TV Guide as "Wrestling from Roanoke" or sometimes "Live Wrestling from Roanoke."

"All Star Wrestling" was broadcast live from the studios of WDBJ-7 for many years, beginning back around 1960 until it went off the air in 1967 and the Raleigh tape started airing in Roanoke on WSLS-10.

However, this little article is a bit misleading, and when you first read it you might think it was saying this Galax event would air on WDBJ. This of course was not the case, and the writer was simply trying to say that the wrestlers you will see at the Fair will be the same wrestlers you see each week on channel 7.

During those days, there were wrestling shows from around the country that might pop up on local channels, and although they typically had a generic name like All Star Wrestling or Championship Wrestling, they were frequently identified in newspaper television listings or in the TV Guide with  a name that identified the point of origin. For example, "Wrestling from Texas" was seen in several North Carolina and South Carolina TV markets in the 1950s and 1960s.

And so it was with "Wrestling from Roanoke" in this clipping from 1963.

Thanks to Carroll Hall at the All Star Championship Wrestling website for sharing this clipping with us. We're always interested in finding vintage references to the programs taped in various stations across the Crockett landscape.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Direct From the Studios of WDBJ-TV: Wrestling Ad in Roanoke

We received this old newspaper ad from Carroll Hall at the All Star Championship Wrestling website. It's special becasue it mentions wrestling "direct from the studios of WDBJ-TV."

For the better part of the 1960's, WDBJ in Roanoke VA presented a live program called "All-Star Wrestling" on Saturday afternoons at 5:00 PM, in advance of the live event later that night at the Starland Arena. Local promoter Pete Apostolou (working for Jim Crockett Promotions) had the perfect set-up where the guys could come in and do the live "All Star Wrestling" TV at channel 7 and then the Starland Arena show later that night, all in one trip within hours of each other.

It was one of the highest rated programs in the market on a weekly basis. The show was hosted by WDBJ personality Hal Grant.

Johnny Weaver told us that WDBJ cancelled the show following an ugly incident between Ike Eakins and Luther Lindsay. Not long after, "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" hosted by Bob Caudle debuted on WSLS-10 in Roanoke VA, although for many years, they still ran the old "All Star Wrestling" logo over the Mid-Atlantic opening, which included two cartoon wrestlers and the introduction which announced the program presented by the Roanoke Sports Club. Promoter Pete Apostolou also did the inserted 30-second local promos until they began the 2:30 second spots taped in Raleigh for each local market.

(Some information for this article was pulled from the WDBJ page of the Studio Wrestling section of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives.)