Tuesday, December 31, 2019

George Scott hosts Wide World Wrestling

For a period of several months in 1978, booker George Scott hosted and co-hosted "Wide World Wrestling" in the studios of WRAL-5 in Raleigh, replacing the departed Ed Capral who had hosted the show for Jim Crockett Promotions since its inception in 1975.

For much of that time, Scott actually provided color commentary, as the company settled in with Tom Miller on play-by-play during the summer and early fall of 1978. Miller was a famous radio personality in the Carolinas and Virginias during this time and had temporarily served as color commentator for Bob Caudle on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" back in the summer of 1976 while regular co-host David Crockett was away helping his sister Frances Crockett with the company-owned minor league baseball team the Charlotte O's.

Scott usually conducted the interviews on Wide World, as seen above with NWA World Tag Team Champions Ricky Steamboat and Paul Jones. He and Miller continued as a team until the show received a major overhaul in the fall of 1978. It was renamed "World Wide Wrestling" with a brand new set, and longtime Richmond ring announcer Rich Landrum was brought in as the revamped show's new host.

Scott's tenure as host of "Wide World Wrestling" is largely lost to time and history, as no known video footage of his tenure in that role is thought to exist. The image above is taken from 8mm film shot directly off a TV screen back in 1978 and may be the only surviving image of George Scott in that role.

Scott booked for Jim Crockett Promotions from 1973-1981 and is generally considered one of the best creative minds in wrestling history.

* * * * *

Footnote: Russ Debuc briefly hosted "Wide World Wrestling" as well in between the Capral and Landrum eras. His tenure lasted about 4 months. More on Russ Debuc here.

Hear the "Wide World Wrestling" theme music here.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Distant Signals

Some of you old folks out there (like us!) will remember the days when you stayed up late at night and tried to maneuver your set-top or aerial antenna to pull in some distant station that had wrestling.

In this rough image, Mid-Atlantic champion Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan talk with Ed Capral on Wide World Wrestling from the WRAL television studios in December 1975. Ric wasn't back to wrestling yet at this point, still recovering from injuries suffered in the October 1975 Wilmington NC plane crash. But he was back doing interviews and color commentary by the end of December. In this image he is holding the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight championship belt (represented by the old Eastern Heavyweight title belt.)

Check out our article on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway for more about what we had to go through in the 60s and 70s to do pull in those distant signals.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Championship Wrestling from Amarillo (1971)

Host Steve Stack with Dory Funk, Sr. on the set of Championship Wrestling from Amarillo, TX in 1971. 

The Funks taped their television show Saturday afternoon in the studios of KVII channel 7 in Amarillo (later moving the tapings to KDFA channel 10 in the mid-1970s).  Wrestling had been taped at KVII going back to the early 1960s when Funk Sr. was in partnership with legendary Amarillo promoter Doc Sarpolis.

The ring announcer at those tapings was Shelton Key and Stanley Blackburn was their commissioner.

We miss those simple days of territory wrestling from the small, intimate TV studios.

* * * * * * *

 - The screen capture above within our old-school TV set is from the Vault section of the WWE Network, under Hidden Gems for 1971.
- Thanks to Tim Hornbaker and Larry Statser for additional info.

Edited with additional info August 29, 2020.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Championship Wrestling host Bill Krieger (WFBC Greenville 1961)

Bill Krieger hosted "Championship Wrestling" on WFBC-4 in 1961, featuring all the stars of the early 1960s for Jim Crockett Promotions.

Bob Poole originally hosted from 3/26/60 until WFBC-TV sports director Bill Krieger took over as host in February of 1961. Billy Powell served as color commentator during some of this time with Krieger.

For more information on live Studio Wrestling from WFBC-4 in Greenville, visit the 
WFBC Studio Wrestling page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.
Clipping courtesy Don Holbrook.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Jim Crockett Promotions Television Network - 1980

This page from a 1980 issue of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine lists the local affiliates of Jim Crockett's television network. These stations carried either Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling or World Wide Wrestling.

We actually think this list isn't complete, and may only reflect markets where Crockett was actually running shows and selling this magazine. It has been documented that there were stations in Florida, Texas, Michigan, and perhaps other locations during this era.

Also featured here are some great studio wrestling shots in front of the sets used from 1978-1981 at WRAL in Raleigh where the shows were taped every Wednesday night. Modified versions of the sets were used when the taping moved to WPCQ in Charlotte in August of 1981 until tapings moved into the arenas in July of 1983.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

WFBC Wrestling Host Bill Krieger (1961)

Following a brief experiment in 1956,  Live studio wrestling would return to WFBC-4 on March 26, 1960 with channel 4 personality Bob Poole calling the action on a broadcast taped during mid-week and airing that following weekend.

In February of 1961, WFBC Sports Director Bill Krieger took over for Poole as host of the broadcast. Billy Powell served as color commentator during some of this time with Krieger.

No photos of the ring set up in the WFBC studio are known to exist, but both Krieger and Billy Powell report in separate interviews with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway that it was a very small studio with two small bleachers on two sides of the ring, accommodating roughly 50-60 people.

"Wally Dusek would bring the ring each week and set it up," Krieger told the Gateway. "Some of the big names at that time that I remember wrestling at channel 4 were George Becker, Mike Piadousis, Gorgeous George, Ivan the Terrible, and others. Jim Crockett (Sr.) would come by regularly as we got started, but wouldn't stay for the whole taping."

The second stint of "Live Championship Wrestling"  lasted until December of 1961 when channel 4 began carrying the show taped in Raleigh.

For more information on live studio wrestling held at WFBC (now WYFF) channel 4 in Greenville, SC, visit our WFBC Studio Wrestling page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Famed Tampa Sportatorium Today

While Tampa's famed Sportatorium at 106 North Albany wasn't a TV studio in the purest sense, it certainly served as one for several decades through the 1960s-1980s. This was the home of weekly television tapings of "Championship Wrestling from Florida" hosted by Gordon Solie and promoted most famously by Eddie Graham, the legendary wrestler, promoter, and at one time president of the National Wrestling Alliance.

Tampa Bay Times Photo
It was also the home office of Deep South Sports, Inc., the company run by Graham that presented live wrestling events throughout the Sunshine State.

This article below, by Thad Moore (then at the Tampa Bay Times, now at the Charleston Post & Courier), talks about the recent auction of the property (2016) and the ghosts that still haunt 106 North Albany.

* * * * *

Tampa's Sportatorium sells for $695,000, to become piano conservatory 
By Thad Moore, Times Staff Writer
Published February 27 2016, Updated February 28 2016

TAMPA — They sat in folding chairs and stood in the back of a worn-out warehouse, all eyes trained on the center of the room, looking for a few minutes of spectacle.

"Let's get ready to rumble!" Vincent Gess shouted into a microphone.

In a sense, the crowd offered a return to form for the building just off W Kennedy Boulevard. The nondescript stucco structure at 106 N Albany Ave. was the site of Tampa's Sportatorium, where throngs of fans would show up for weekday wrestling matches, among the first to be televised around the country.

But instead of seeing one last fight, the weekend crowd came to watch the building — and a slice of Tampa's history — be auctioned off.

--> Read the rest of the story on the Tampa Bay Times website. 

* * * * *
Contact Thad Moore at tmoore@tampabay.com or (813) 336-3434. Follow @thadmoore.

Original article on Tampa Bay Times website:

Monday, March 4, 2019

Nick Pond Serves as Guest Ring Announcer (1967)

A nice local write-up in the Wilson, NC, newspaper in 1967 for a spot show at Fleming Stadium. Of note here is the mention that WRAL sportscaster Nick Pond would be the guest ring announcer.

"Championship Wrestling" host Nick Pond (right)
with former boxing champ Joe Louis
Pond was weekly host of the Raleigh-only version of the wrestling show taped every Wednesday night in the studios of WRAL TV channel 5 in Raleigh. The Raleigh version of the show was called "Championship Wrestling", and aired only on channel 5, while the syndicated version that went to other markets was called "All Star Wrestling" and was hosted by WRAL weather/sportscaster Bob Caudle.

Also of note is the mention of the previous card in Wilson at Fleming Stadium drawing 5000 people, a huge number, especially in those days, for a spot show in a small town.

The card mentioned in this write-up was scheduled for August 18, 1967. There was an error in the third paragraph that apparently omitted some words. The "good guy" team in the six man tag match main event was George Becker, Johnny Weaver, and the Amazing Zuma.

For more posts on Nick Pond click this link and scroll down the page.

Special thanks to Mid-Atlantic Gateway contributor and ace researcher Mark Eastridge for noticing the mention of Nick Pond in this newspaper article.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nick Pond joins the Durham Chamber of Commerce (1971)

Nick Pond was the weekly host of "Championship Wrestling" at this time, the Raleigh-only version of the one-hour wrestling program taped every Wednesday night at the studios of WRAL  channel 5 in Raleigh.

For more posts on Nick Pond on this website click this link and scroll down the page.
For more posts on WRAL-5 on this website click this link and scroll down the page.

Thanks to Carroll Hall at the All Star Championship Wrestling website.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Vintage Radio Station photo of Billy Powell

Billy Powell was an institution in Greenville SC and the whole upstate area of South Carolina, known for his radio work, advertising voice overs, and of course as the voice of Greenville wrestling.

Powell did the additional local spots in the 1960s through early 1980s that were featured in the weekly episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" on WFBC-4 (now WYFF) that were in addition to the two traditional local promotional spots inserted from Jim Crockett Promotions.

He was also the ring announcer in Greenville for many years.

Visit the Billy Powell page on the old archive website of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway (The Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives) for more info on Billy Powell. Occasional Gateway contributor Don Holbrook wrote of Powell for the website back in 2016. Visit the WFBC Studio Wrestling page, too.

Special thanks to Carroll Hall at the All Star Championship Wrestling website.