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Jim Crockett Promotions

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Jim Crockett Promotions was the name of a professional wrestling promotion owned by Jim Crockett, Jr. up until the late 1980s. It was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and was the forerunner to World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

Early history

In 1931, Jim Crockett Sr. began promoting wrestling from his homebase of Charlotte, North Carolina (though his first shows were in eastern Tennessee). It must be noted that the often-quoted "1935" date as the debut for Jim Crockett Promotions was created so that the company could celebrate its "50th Anniversary" (which apparently had a better ring to it than the true 54th anniversary for some reason) in 1985 after JCP garnered a national cable TV deal on Ted Turner's cable network SuperStation TBS.

Crockett also promoted other events (including musical concerts, theatrical plays, and minor league baseball and hockey) under the banner of Jim Crockett Promotions (with the company being officially incorporated as Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1950s).

It has been incorrectly reported that this promotion was called "Eastern States Championship Wrestling." That was not the case. People have likely jumped to this conclusion due to the fact that the company recognized an Eastern States Heavyweight Championship in the early 1970s (that title evolved into the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship in 1973).

Prior to the Eastern States title, the company recognized a version of the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship as its top title. However, Jim Crockett Promotions was never named "Eastern States Championship Wrestling" (officially or otherwise). The company was called Jim Crockett Promotions throughout its history and used many brand names for its various TV shows, newspaper and radio ads, and on tickets.

Among those brand names were the generic standbys "Championship Wrestling" and "All Star Wrestling," as well as "East Coast Wrestling," "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling," "Mid-Atlantic Championship Sports," "Wide World Wrestling," and "World Wide Wrestling."

In 1973, Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc. was handed over to Jim Crockett, Jr.. The name "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" then became the company's primary brand name in print, radio, and other forms of advertising (the name was also used for their main television programs).

In 1975, they introduced the Wide World Wrestling brand and television show (which was changed to World Wide Wrestling in 1978 and which existed later as WCW WorldWide after the company was sold to Turner Broadcasting). The "World Wide" brand was used concurrently with the "Mid-Atlantic" brand. The elder Crockett joined the National Wrestling Alliance in 1952, and his territory covered Virginia, North and South Carolina. He would promote shows in this region for 38 years until his death in 1973, when his son, Jim Crockett, Jr. (known to many fans simply as Jim Crockett), took over.

Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling

Headed by the younger Crockett, and under the guidance of a new creative force, former wrestler George Scott, the promotion moved away from a tag team product to focus more on singles wrestling, though tag team wrestling continued to play a big part in the company.

JCP gradually phased out its multiple weekly television tapings in such cities as Charlotte, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; and High Point, N.C. and eventually consolidated their taping schedule into one shoot, a Wednesday night affair at WRAL in Raleigh, an agreement that would last until 1981, when they moved to WPCQ studios in Charlotte (a station once owned by Ted Turner).

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (known briefly in 1978 as Mid-Atlantic Championship Sports) and Wide World Wrestling (later World Wide Wrestling) were syndicated throughout the territory, starting in 1975, the territory was now able to form what would become the best-known version of the United States Heavyweight Championship as a result. JCP later added a short-lived show called The Best of NWA Wrestling which was taped at WCCB studios in Charlotte (across the street from the old Charlotte Coliseum) and which featured then-active wrestler Johnny Weaver sitting down with top stars in a "coach's show" type environment, in which they commentated over 16 millimeter films shot at local arenas.

JCP gradually began to expand, running shows in eastern Tennessee, parts of West Virginia, and Savannah, Georgia. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, they moved into Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio. Crockett and Scott also bought into Frank Tunney's promotion in Toronto, which ran under the Maple Leaf Wrestling brand name. Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was seen on a station out of Buffalo, New York, which allowed the joint Tunney/Crockett/Scott effort to bring a full slate of shows to Ontario and upstate New York. In 1980, Jim Crockett Jr. was elected President of the National Wrestling Alliance, and his program- which helped him get elected, due to it now being on the air in upstate New York and Ontario- became the main show for the NWA in 1981, after Crockett was help to hire Georgia Championship Wrestling booker as the booker for the show. In 1981, Crockett was able to make it so his successful show was now completely based in the WPCQ studios in Charlotte, thanks in part to Ric Flair winning the NWA World Heavyweight Title; this also helped him hire Ole Anderson too.

In 1982, Crockett partnered with wrestlers Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan to start a secondary company out of Knoxville, Tennessee, which operated under the brand name Southern Championship Wrestling. That group featured such stars as Mulligan, his son Barry Windham (then wrestling as Blackjack Mulligan Jr.), Kevin Sullivan, Wayne Ferris (the future Honky Tonk Man), The Mongolian Stomper, Terry Taylor, Tim Horner, and others. The group lasted less than a year.

By the 1980s, the wrestling world was undergoing significant changes. The old NWA territory system was collapsing under pressure from the nationalized Titan Sports, which operated under the brand name World Wrestling Federation (WWF); Titan Sports Inc, Vince K. McMahon's minority-WWF company founded in 1980-, became the modern day WWE after it purchased McMahon Sr's Capitol Wrestling Inc. (majority WWF) and unified as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as its own corporation after this purchase occurred in 1982. The now NWA-independent WWF- thanks in main part to the epic cage match between Jimmy Snuka and Bob Backlund, on June 28, 1982, that helped make this historic purchase possible- was even able to promote a match between WWF champion Bob Backlund and NWA champion Ric Flair on July 4, 1982, but Crockett still had open plans for the future as well. Jim Crockett's vision was to create a united NWA by purchasing, or merging, all of its member territories.

Enter Ted Turner

Ted Turner had realized the value of pro wrestling for cable television in the early 1970s. This was a smart move for Turner, as pro wrestling was a source of cheap, live entertainment, well suited to his cable network. He could run per inquiry ads (Slim Whitman albums, ginsu knives, etc.) and take part of the sales profits just by bringing in a big audience through pro wrestling (which generally did not attract big ad revenue due to its perceived demographic).

As Jim Crockett ended his second year as NWA president- as a result of the WWF becoming independent and Bob Geigel purchasing Sam Muchnick's St Louis Wrestling Club- in 1982, the winds of change were starting to whip up in the wrestling industry. Turner's SuperStation TBS had asked Georgia Championship Wrestling, Inc. to change its public brand name to "World Championship Wrestling" and there were rumblings that the Jim Barnett-controlled company would go national; Georgia Championship Wrestling was now able to be called WCW by the next year (1983).

By 1983, JCP went from recording its weekly shows in a television studio, to recording them live in arenas. After purchasing a mobile television unit for $1 million, Crockett started thinking big. In some people's eyes, he thought too big. In order to prevent another Showdown At the Shea from taking place, Crockett created the new dominant supercard for the NWA, Starrcade.

In 1984, the WWF purchased a majority interest in Georgia Championship Wrestling from a number of its shareholders, including the Brisco brothers and Jim Barnett, and thus controlled GCW's Saturday night timeslot on WTBS. This was part of the WWF's attempt to go national, in part by co-opting local wrestling timeslots. However, TBS received many complaints for the move, so much so that another promotion backed by holdout GCW shareholder and NWA member Fred Ward and former GCW wrestler/booker Ole Anderson was given an early Saturday morning time slot on TBS. This company (and its television show and brand name) was named Championship Wrestling from Georgia. This program, along with Bill Watts' Mid South Wrestling, easily surpassed the WWF TBS clip show program. The decline in ratings for the Saturday evening show, and the fans clamoring for GCW, began to make the WWF's move one that lost the federation money. Also around this time, it is rumored that Ted Turner attempted to purchase the WWF, though Vince McMahon refused to sell. Eventually McMahon cut his losses and sold the ex-GCW timeslot to Crockett for $1 million. This chain of events and McMahon's refusal to sell to Turner were critical in Turner's later decision to purchase Jim Crockett Promotions and form WCW in its wake.

An extra sense of urgency was added to Crockett's national ambitions when, after Frank Tunney's death, the Toronto promotion joined forces with the WWF. If Crockett wanted to run shows outside the Mid Atlantic states, he'd have to either find other willing promoters, or buy out their territories.

This period also marked Crockett's first attempt to create a national federation; Crockett and other wrestling companies needed the opportunity after the Brawl To End It All aired on MTV. Together with Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA), Championship Wrestling from Georgia, and Memphis-based Jarrett Promotions, Jim Crockett Promotions would create Pro Wrestling USA. It collapsed soon after, leaving Crockett to attempt to achieve his vision on his own.

NWA 'Unification'

1985 was a big year for Jim Crockett. First, Crockett bought out Ole Anderson' CWG, on April 6, 1985,[1] and was re-elected NWA president; this was to help counter the WWF after it became the superior wrestling business after the first Wrestlemania occurred. Then, he purchased both the Saturday evening TBS slots from Vince McMahon, and became the owner of WCW. He filled the timeslot with two hours of original programming filmed in Ted Turner's Atlanta studios and aired it under the "World Championship Wrestling" banner which had been adopted by Georgia Championship Wrestling before its demise. As a result of the success WCW now had from acquiring the Saturday night time slots, Crockett, along with JCP booker Dusty Rhodes, was able to establish the annual supercard known as The Great American Bash, and soon regained the title of NWA President for his second time. Crocket purchased the NWA St Louis Wrestling Club in September 1985 [2], thanks in part of the success of Pro Wrestling USA's Superclash; this program featured Magnum TA and Ric Flair fight in a classic match. However, the WWF was also able to gain fame in St Louis with the Hulk Hogan/Paul Orndorff feud, and Bob Geigel was re-elected NWA President until Crocket could buy out the NWA, and even the UWF on April 9, 1987; this was to help after WrestleMania III occurred.

By 1987 Crockett was elected to a third term as NWA president and gained control (either through purchase or working agreements) of the St. Louis Wrestling Club, Heart of America Sports Attractions Inc. (Bob Geigel's Central States brand), Championship Wrestling from Florida, and Bill Watts' Mid-South Sports (which operated under the Mid-South Wrestling, and later, upon expansion, Universal Wrestling Federation brand names).

Despite Crockett having six consolidated territories under his banner and being NWA president, it must be pointed out that JCP and NWA were two separate entities and that Crockett, like all NWA promoters before him and since, was simply licensing the NWA brand name. This despite the fact that during his reign, Crockett had what can only be termed an iron clad grip on the NWA World heavyweight championship as by that point Ric Flair was locked in as champion and any title changes that occurred henceforth were to other wrestlers (i.e. Dusty Rhodes, Ronnie Garvin, etc.) who were in Crockett's employ.

Crockett's rapid expansion had significant financial consequences for the company. JCP expanded operations, and by December, the UWF completely absorbed itself as part of WCW and JCP moved many of its employees from its Charlotte base to Watts' former headquarters in Dallas (with Jim Crockett and Dusty Rhodes manning the Dallas office, David Crockett was left in charge of the Charlotte wing).

They began to run shows in new markets from coast to coast, greatly increasing travel costs and other overhead. Their first pay-per-view endeavor, 1987's Starrcade, was scheduled in its traditional Thanksgiving slot, but ran into competition from WWF's debuting Survivor Series. WWF informed cable companies that if they chose to air Starrcade, they would not be offered future WWF shows. At the time, WWF was the uncontested market leader in PPV, and only a handful of companies committed to JCP, devastating the show's profitability.

A similar incident occurred in January 1988 when WWF scheduled the first Royal Rumble special on the USA Network against JCP's Bunkhouse Stampede pay-per-view, again cutting into its buyrate. As a result, Crockett aired the first ever Clash of the Champions on TBS on March 27, 1988 to draw viewers away from WrestleMania IV, which also took place this night too. Clash of the Champions was now the only thing Crockett could use to keep the NWA alive, though it wasn't as watched as Saturday Night's Main Event [3][4]. On the verge of bankruptcy, Crockett sold his company to Ted Turner in November 1988.

For history of the circuit thereafter, see the World Championship Wrestling article.

Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup

A tag team tournament was held for three years among the NWA promotions to honor Jim Crockett. It was called the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament. The cards which featured the tournaments were also headlined by NWA World Title Matches.

The 1986 show was held on April 19, 1986 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Road Warriors won the tournament by defeating Ron Garvin & Magnum T.A. in the finals. NWA World Champ Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes by disqualification.

The 1987 show was held on April 10 & 11, 1987 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Super Powers (Dusty Rhodes & Nikita Koloff) won the tournament by defeating Tully Blanchard & Lex Luger in the finals. NWA World Champ Ric Flair pinned Barry Windham. What made this show memorable was Magnum T.A. appearing in support of Rhodes and Koloff. This was Magnum T.A.'s first appearance at a wrestling show since suffering career-ending injuries in an automobile accident on October 14, 1986.

The 1988 show was held on April 22, 1988 in Greenville, South Carolina and on April 23, 1988 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sting & Lex Luger won the tournament by defeating Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard in the finals. Nikita Koloff defeated NWA World Champ Ric Flair by disqualification.

Titles in Jim Crockett Promotions

See also

External links

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