Pioneers of Wrestling
With a love of wrestling from his childhood in the 1920s, Jim Crockett Sr. saw opportunity on the horizon as America continued modernizing after World War II. He pioneered an industry, making a business out of bringing wrestling to the masses who would love it as he did.
Throughout its history, beginning in 1948, as the wrestling industry grew as a whole Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) evolved and operated under brand names such as Championship Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and World Wide Wrestling.
In 1952 Jim Crockett Promotions joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) with a territory that covered South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. NWA wrestling was well underway.
By the late 1970s, this small territory grew both wide and far to include Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, and far up the East coast to New York and Canada. Jim Crockett Promotions eventually became better known as Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling which became their primary brand name.
(The book When Wrestling Was Wrestling is available for purchase now – complete with never before seen images from the Golden Age of Wrestling. It’s the Crockett Foundation’s first paperback book release – and we hope you’ll enjoy the fun memories as we do.)
Television Needed Wrestling
One of the most successful attractions of television broadcasting in the 1940’s was professional wrestling. This classic wrestling typically only originated from major television markets like New York or Chicago.
When local broadcasting across the country started quickly evolving in the late 1950’s Jim Crockett Promotions partnered with the local CBS affiliate in Charlotte, WBTV. Together they produced live televised wrestling bouts at the television studio in Charlotte.
On Saturday January 11, 1958, WBTV aired its first live broadcast of professional wrestling. These classic wrestling productions that aired live on TV proved to be an effective way to attract more distant attendees to travel and enjoy their weekly wrestling cards held locally at the Charlotte Park Center. And, of course the local TV station benefited by keeping the continually growing number of new wrestling fans as new viewers for their other programming.
In the 1960s the Southern Heavyweight Title was a singles title. In 1970 in an effort to try to push a singles championship in a traditionally tag-team oriented territory, upward on the East cost of the US, the Southern Heavyweight Title was transformed into the Eastern Heavyweight Title.
In that Eastern effort, as early as March of 1972 Jim Crockett Promotions began to establish the brand “Mid-Atlantic Wrestling”. The final phase of the transition took place at the end of 1973, when the Mid-Atlantic title and their new belts were established. On a fall evening in September, 1973 Jerry Brisco became the first Mid-Atlantic Champion.
The Mid-Atlantic Championship Heavyweight Championship became one of the great regional titles in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the greatest names in wrestling history held that championship title: Johnny Valentine, Paul Jones, Wahoo McDaniel, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Dory Funk, Jr., Jack and Jerry Brisco. The list goes on and on.
(How many of us still fit into our wrestling shirts from back in the day? Check out the new Ric Flair “FLAIR ’16 Make America Wooo Again” shirt here! Other wrestling merchandise found here might be of interest to you too, in case you can’t make it out to an upcoming show.)
Wrestling Needed Arenas
In 1983, Jim Crockett Promotions went from recording weekly shows in a television studio to recording them live in arenas. Starrcade was also created that year by Jim Crockett Promotions and became the new dominant supercard for NWA wrestling.
Starrcade was an annual event seen across the JCP territory on closed-circuit television. Held on Thanksgiving for several years, this classic wrestling event was held in the Greensboro Coliseum from 1983-2000. That stadium holds approximately 23,000 people, and that’s a big crowd. The largest feuds of the year were leading up to this culmination event during the holiday season in America.
Because of their larger than life personalities and star-quality stage presence, supercards Starrcade and the Great American Bash were perfect showcases for Ric Flair, Wahoo McDaniel, The Andersons and The Road Warriors. (What would wrestling merchandise be without these guys?)
In 2008 a 25th anniversary special called The Essential Starrcade was aired by WWE 24/7 Classics. It’s a 5 part series that counts down Starrcade’s top 25 matches. The Great American Bash, which was typically held in the summer, was held in the Baltimore Arena from 1985-2000, which holds approximately 14,000 people. Both of these events were shown on pay per view and became the crowning events for all the matches leading up to them.
Jim Crockett promotions continued to be in the fore front of local, national and televised wrestling until its demise in November 1988. Nothing can undermine the effect Jim Crockett Promotions has on the way professional wrestling progressed to the national stage it plays on today.
We’re proud to be a wrestling charity today, carrying on the community engagement and helping to improve the lives of those battling emotional and mental illness as Jim Crockett Sr. and Elizabeth Crockett have always done. Today we’re focused on these areas in the lives of US Military Veterans. You may donate to the Crockett Foundation and read more about our current charitable focus here.
Check out our Tag Team partners appreciation page here. You’ll find links to information on The Four Horsemen (J.J. Dillon, Nature Boy Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, plus Arn Anderson, and Ole Anderson), Ricky The Dragon Steamboat, A Les Thatcher audio interview from June 2016, and a great article to read of an interview with J.J. Dillon.
Check out the book When Wrestling Was Wrestling for never before seen images from the Golden Age of Wrestling.