Wednesday, October 05, 2022

"Championship Wrestling" debuts in Charlotte on WBTV Channel 3 (1958)


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

There was history in the making in this January 1958 Charlotte News article. Promoter Jim Crockett had finally arranged for televised wrestling in his home base of Charlotte, NC on the heels of successful national wrestling programs during the decade of the 1950s in such places as Chicago, Los Angeles, and in Texas.

The program would air live from the studios of WBTV channel 3 on Saturday afternoons and would be hosted by the station's sportscaster Bill Ward. The announcement was made by WBTV production manager Bob Rierson.

Crockett's first foray into televised wrestling was actually nineteen months earlier, on WFBC channel 4 in Greenville, SC, but for only about three short months. Perhaps this was a pilot program. Once wrestling made it's debut in Charlotte in January of 1958, it wasn't long before several other TV stations in Crockett's territory also began airing wrestling in partnership with the Charlotte promoter, including WRAL-5 in Raleigh, NC,  a return to WFBC in Greenville and the debut on WDBJ-7 in Roanoke, VA, both in 1960, and WGHP-8 in High Point (Greensboro market) in 1964. 

Crockett's wrestling debut on channel 3 was not without its challenges, however, having nothing to do with wrestling, but rather with ACC basketball. The results gave WBTV producer Gene Burke fits that January Saturday afternoon. We'll review that neat bit of history as well in a future post.

Mid-Atlantic Gateway Studio Wrestling Index

Originally published in July of 2021 on Studio Wrestling blog, part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.