Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Don't Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Borrowing from the French philosopher Voltaire, I offer some sage advice. And as I offer this advice to you now, I confess to have repeated this advice quietly to myself several times over the last few days; don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

Is this treasure trove of early 1980s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling programming on the WWE Network perfect? No. But is it good? You bet it is. It is very good.

I've been waiting for the WWE Network to add Mid-Atlantic Wrestling to their network for four years, since the day it first launched back in February of 2014. Yet I find myself fretting over the things I don't like, the things that are missing, the things they had to change. And it is here that I keep telling myself those same words:

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

Over the last few days I have found myself alternately excited and frustrated by this new material (and the lack thereof) now included on the WWE Network service. I'm not complaining about the period of time covered by the drop (September 1981 - October 1983). That period is just as relevant as any other period in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history. We all enjoy certain time frames more than others, we all have our favorite periods, usually determined by when we first started watching wrestling. They'll get to the rest of what they have at some point, I feel confident.

No, what I keep reminding myself of is how blessed we are to have this material available at all.

Many people like to demonize Vince McMahon as the devil incarnate. Hogwash. Without Vince McMahon and the WWE owning those libraries of old tapes, none of this material would have likely ever seen the light of day in its current form. These are the folks investing millions of dollars in a digital delivery system (i.e.; "the network") to archive and make available these shows. And I, for one, am very grateful for that.

Some people respond that YouTube has a lot of old Mid-Atlantic Wrestling shows, so we don't need the network. To be sure, there are many random clips and complete episodes on YouTube, and I actually enjoy those very much. But nothing there matches the volume and the comprehensiveness of this material on the WWE Network (both what they have put up and what is still yet to come.)

Now, all that being said, I have been just as deeply disappointed in what has been omitted within this time frame as I have been excited about what is there. Friends of mine that are more familiar with how the network works have encouraged me with their experience of the network continuing to add material in subsequent weeks after a big drop, often filling in gaps and adding shows that are missing in the sequence. Glad to hear that.

Some of what's missing can't be blamed on WWE. The sad fact is a few of the shows are simply missing and no longer exist and those could never be added. But not all of what's missing falls in that category. In fact, likely not most of it.

My problems is, I'm just paranoid enough about this stuff to imagine they have selectively omitted things for reasons known only to them. (Not really, but I just told you I'm paranoid about it.)

Here are several examples:

  • The October 3, 1981 show is missing, which includes Ric Flair's first appearance in his home area as NWA World Heavyweight Champion and a warm interview with host Bob Caudle. This is one of the most historically significant shows of that fall. It's missing.
  • A full three weeks of shows (2/19, 2/26, and 3/5) are missing leading up to the huge and historic Greensboro cage match featuring Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle vs. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. This show is known generally as the "Final Conflict" and was the show that convinced Jim Crockett Promotions to try closed-circuit events, which led to the first Starrcade later that year.  
  • One of the most shocking heel turns of the era was the Brisco Brothers turning heel. Three of the shows in a row (4/30, 5/7, and 5/14) that build up to that, including the show with actual turn itself, are missing. While clips are replayed on later shows, these shows kicked off the bitter feud that would eventually culminate at Starrcade '83 seven months later. And they are missing.
  • In those same shows is the angle where Greg Valentine injures the ear of Roddy Piper, which set up the feud that would also lead all the way to Starrcade '83. Piper called it the "year of the ear." Most of that initial material is missing (although they show clips of it later.)

Bob Caudle and David Crockett congratulate Ric Flair on winning the NWA World Championship
on the 10/3/81 episode of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." Sadly, the episode is not
currently included on the WWE Network.

These are just a few examples. It'd odd that it doesn't seem to be random shows missing, it seems to be key shows missing.

But given what I'm told the network did earlier with the drop of "World Class Wrestling" and "World Championship Wrestling (WTBS)" shows, I have hope that they fill in these gaps at a later date. But it begs the question - - what purpose is served by holding those back now? They are part of a story being told that is missing for no apparent reason and it greatly disrupts the flow of these things.


One of things people have been unhappy about is the removal of the opening theme music. This really isn't the WWE's fault, and we knew it was probably going to happen. Because they don't own the rights to the music originally used and don't want to get into the additional cost of licensing the music in perpetuity, the network removes or drowns out all unlicensed music and uses canned music they own or license to replace it.

The original theme music during those years, with its familiar opening bass line, was taken from a 1978 minor disco hit titled "Got to Have Loving" written and performed by 1970s disco producer, arranger and performer Don Ray. Jim Crockett Promotions started using a custom edit of the song for its opening theme music sometime in 1979 and continued using it until the spring of 1986 when the name of the show was changed to "NWA Pro Wrestling" and a new musical theme was introduced.

I will admit is is jarring when that familiar opening sequence of the Mid-Atlantic logo begins and you hear something totally foreign. Your brain expects to hear those descending bass notes leading into the synth jungle-disco drum line to follow, and then the familiar sight and sound of Bob Caudle welcoming us to another hour of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Now we hear a generic sounding theme that has sort of a funky-soul-disco feel to it, like it also came straight out of the late 1970s.

And it's not just the opening of the show. It is used to replace the original music when bumping out to commercials, or during slow-motion instant replays, and in place of the closing theme, too. At the end of the show, this new music completely removes the familiar, almost ritualistic, barter declaration:
"Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling has been furnished to this station for broadcast at this time by Jim Crockett Promotions in exchange for commercial consideration"  
And because they lay this new music over the original audio throughout the show to drown out the original music but still allow us to hear what Bob Caudle is saying (sort of), it is much louder than the normal audio level of the show itself, and it becomes a little annoying.

Actually, it's not that bad of a replacement tune if a replacement had to be made to begin with. I sure would prefer the original, but I like the funky horns in this replacement and if we had to lose the original, this suits me fine. But to be sure, it does take you out of the moment every time it plays.


Also missing are most of the the custom local promotional spots for each market that were inserted into the original shows. That's also understandable, but that also eliminates the very familiar announcement that always announced those promos:

"Let's take time for this commercial message about the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events coming up in your area."
A few of the local promo spots survived if they were on the original tape to begin with. (We're compiling a list to be posted here later.) In their place in many of the shows are interviews taped live in the studio that most people never saw because they were seeing their local interviews in that spot. For many months, the time was used to allow underneath (enhancement) talent the time to work on interviews, something they never had the opportunity to do in these shows otherwise. Some of these are painful to watch. In the shows from late 1982 and the spring of 1983 that I've watched so far, the promos feature the main event talent and seem to be aimed at the Florida market where Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was now apparently being seen. It's actually kind of fun hearing those as there is lots of discussion of the wrestlers working then for Championship Wrestling from Florida.

All of these shows are great to see again, but they aren't perfect. But here again, I keep reminding myself - - - - don't let perfect be the enemy of good.  And I'm having a really good time watching these shows again, most of which I haven't seen since they originally aired over 35 years ago. I'm not going to let the fact that they aren't perfect ruin an otherwise good time.

Besides, if you really are missing the original theme music and need your fix, here it is for you to enjoy (from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives site):


Now, go get the network, watch and enjoy these old shows. And let the WWE Network know on their Facebook and Twitter pages how glad you are they have added Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

30 Day Free Trial at 

Also see:
All related Gateway articles about Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on the WWE Network.