Monday, April 12, 2021

"Greenville is My Town" - 1978 Article in The Tiger mentions WFBC's Billy Powell

Ring announcer Billy Powell (R) with
Greenville promoter Paul Winkhaus

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in November of 1978, the student newspaper at Clemson University called "The Tiger" ran an article on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in the area. The two page spread included discussion of the current popularity of pro wrestling (including an interview with Ric Flair), the skeptics (including the Clemson collegiate wrestling coach), and the fans. 

A large photo was included of Ric Flair battling Blackjack Mulligan at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium, less than an hour away from the Clemson campus in Greenville SC. With some examination of the Monday cards that took place in the weeks prior to this article's publication, I've determined that the photo is from their Texas Death Match in Greenville, the main event of the October 23, 1978 card at the Auditorium.

Of particular interest to me, though, was a brief discussion of Greenville ring announcer Billy Powell, an institution in Greenville, and whose involvement in Greenville wrestling went all the way back to 1960 and the early television tapings of pro wrestling that took place at the WFBC TV studios in Greenville.

Here is a transcript of the portion of the article that dealt with Billy Powell:

A big part of Monday night wrestling is played by the ring announcer. In Greenville, the announcer is Billy Powell, a well known personality who has gained most of his popularity through the Monday night matches.

"You bet your hat I'm a wrestling fan," Powell said. He has been announcing the matches in Greenville since 1960. "We originally did the TV wrestling here, but the program was moved to Raleigh a few years back," the outgoing Powell stated. 

Wrestling in Greenville used to be held in Textile Hall, and that is where Crockett Promotions sanctioned some of their first matches. Crockett operates from its Charlotte base under the sponsorship of the National Wrestling Association (sic). "If the matches are not sanctioned, the NWA will have nothing to do with you," Powell stated.

Concerning the wrestlers as people, Powell said, "They're all nice guys. Did you see Gene Anderson in the ring tonight as he fixed my mic cord? In the ring he is a bad dude, but outside he is just a teddy bear," Powell finished.

Asked if he would ever leave the area, Powell said, "No, because Greenville is my town."

 

Greenville fans who only watched on TV and never attended a Monday night Memorial Auditorium wrestling event were still intimately familiar with Billy Powell. Twice each Saturday during the one-hour broadcast of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling on local NBC affiliate WFBC-TV channel 4 (later WYFF), Powell did exclusive 1-minute narrated promos for the card upcoming that Monday. They featured only his voice and a still artistic depiction of two wrestlers in battle. They always began the same way - - "Hello everybody, this is Billy Powell, inviting you to joins this Monday Night at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium..." These promotional segments aired twice during each show in addition to the local promotional interviews with the wrestlers taped at WRAL in Raleigh. In that way, Billy Powell's voice was as much a part of the Greenville experience of watching wrestling every week as host Bob Caudle or any of the wrestlers. 

Not only would Powell run down the matches for upcoming card, he would also briefly touch on what happened the previous Monday night, too, tying everything together. He was the man Greenville wrestling fans trusted and was a warm and familiar voice each and every week.  

For more on Billy Powell, visit the Billy Powell page on the archived Mid-Atlantic Gateway site, and check all of his related posts on this blog. You can also learn about the history of TV wrestling in Greenville on the WFBC-4 page of our guide to the studio locations for wrestling in the Mid-Atlantic area.

And you can also read the full article on wrestling in Greenville from the Nov. 3, 1978 edition of "The Tiger", which includes an interview with a young Ric Flair, archived here. It's on pages 12 and 13 of the paper, within the downloadable pdf.

 


Audio: Holiday Greetings from Billy Powell during the beginning of one of his local promos.