When I was a kid, I used to watch WWF (now WWE) wrestling at midnight Saturdays on cable channel WOR from New York. (I didn’t have the most exciting youth.)
After that program concluded, sometimes – on a clear night – you could switch off the cable, finagle a UHF antenna (remember the old metal loop?) near the window and pick up Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. I forget on what station. Steubenville, Wheeling, Johnstown, one of those.
Studio Wrestling on Channel 11 made me a wrestling fan. Mid-Atlantic Wrestling made me fall in love with the business. Ric Flair. Ricky Steamboat. Roddy Piper. Masked Superstar. Wahoo McDaniel. Blackjack Mulligan. I could rattle off names forever.
A lot of those performers were also in WWE. They were better in Mid-Atlantic.
NWA > WWF. I knew that right away.
Flair > Hulk Hogan (or anyone else). I knew that right away, too.
Jim Crockett Jr. passed away yesterday. He was 76. His family owned Jim Crockett Promotions, which ran the Mid-Atlantic territory. Jim Jr. took the reins when his father passed away in 1973. Jim Jr. helped pioneer wrestling on pay-per-view and on national cable TV. (JCP ultimately became a mainstay on cable superstation TBS.)
If it wasn’t for that UHF antenna and the superior, more athletic and less clownish kind of wrestling Jim Jr. promoted, my life would be different. I would have never wanted to work in the industry. I wouldn’t be the lifelong fan I still am.
I met Jim Jr. several times over the years, and he was always gracious, talkative and accommodating, even with a relative nobody like me. Same goes for his brothers David and Jackie. I conversed with Jim Jr. and David at a fan fest in Baltimore in November, 2019. I’m glad I got that chance.
Jim Crockett Jr., RIP. Thanks for enabling my passion.