Thursday, December 27, 2018

Mid-Atlantic Myths: Eastern States Championship Wrestling

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

A recent YouTube video on the history of Jim Crockett Promotions (Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling: The Untold Story) asserts that the promotion was known as "Eastern States Championship Wrestling" prior to the rebranding to "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." This is not the case, but if you Google the phrase "Eastern States Championship Wrestling", you'll find a dozen or so pro-wrestling references, all oddly similar, that mention this was the early branding identity of Jim Crockett Promotions.

Eastern States Champion Rip Hawk
There was an Eastern States Championship in the
1970s, but the territory was never known as
"Eastern States Championship Wrestling"

* * *
This appears to be a modern-day Internet/Wikipedia phenomenon, and sadly it has become one the most common misconceptions among fans about the history of the company. To our knowledge, neither the territory nor the company were ever known (officially or otherwise) as "Eastern States Championship Wrestling."

One of the reasons I bring this up is because our website is credited in the documentary as a general source for information used in the video, and I wanted to document here that we are not the source for this misconception.

It's not exactly clear where this myth got started, although some of the earliest independent references I could find through Internet searches trace to this early 2000s post on the Kayfabe Memories website (quoted almost word for word in the YouTube documentary): "The history of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling goes all the way back to 1935 when Jim Crockett Sr. started promoting in the Carolina and Virginia areas....The area was known at the time as Eastern States Championship Wrestling." (

First let me say that Kayfabe Memories is a wonderful website with an amazing collection of memories and stories written by many knowledgeable people about the territory days of pro-wrestling. But in an age of "cut-and-paste" internet journalism, some things that are simple honest errors or misunderstandings get copied to other sources (like Wikipedia and fan websites) and before you know it there are lots of references to things that are untrue that spread throughout the Internet that people begin to accept as fact. The idea that Jim Crockett Promotions called itself "Eastern States Championship Wrestling" is a great example of this.

Now I'm the last person to throw stones at someone making an error, especially when it comes to the largely undocumented world of pro-wrestling history. I've made plenty of honest errors myself when writing about wrestling. And I always try to own up to them and get them corrected as soon as possible. But this Eastern States myth is one that has bothered me for awhile because there is really no basis for it. The only possible thing I can speculate on that might have resulted in this misconception is the existence of the company's Eastern States Heavyweight championship in the early 1970s, but that only existed for three and a half years (1970-1973). How that got misunderstood as going back in the 1930s is beyond me.

Prior to the switch in branding to "Mid-Atlantic" which began as early as 1972, there was no specific name for the promotion publicly. It was usually referred to as "Championship Wrestling" or "All-Star Wrestling" in newspaper ads and on event posters, which were the names of the TV programs when they were launched in the late 1950s. Prior to that, ads and posters simply promoted "Wrestling". The local promoters partnering with JCP were independent contractors up until the 1970s and they occasionally used other regional names to promote shows in their ads, but there was no broader company name until 1972-1973 when the branding for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling began.

Other popular misconceptions included alongside this Eastern States myth are that
(1) Jim Crockett, Jr. took over the company after his father retired, and that
(2) he subsequently named it Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

Jim Crockett, Sr. never really retired. He died on April 1, 1973 while still fully in charge of the company. The person he was grooming to take over the family business was his son-in-law John Ringley. Not long after Crockett, Sr.'s death, Ringley left the company after a separation from his wife Frances (Jim Sr.'s daughter), and that's when his oldest son Jim, Jr. took over.

The branding name "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" was actually conceived of by John Ringley in the early 1970s, suggested to Jim Crockett, Sr. as both men were riding in a car together on Morehead Street in Charlotte. Ringley remembers it clearly, as related to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in my conversation with him in 2016. (David Crockett confirmed this in the 2013 Michael Elliot documentary for "Jim Crockett Promotions: The Good Old Days.") Ringley wanted to brand their company to the public, moving away from the generic "All Star Wrestling" or "Championship Wrestling" names that were used by them and many other promotions for the TV shows and live events for decades. Jim Sr. approved of the idea, and the name "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" started showing up in newspaper ads as early as March of 1972, more than a year before Jim Crockett, Sr.'s death. The TV show's name was changed when TV production was consolidated to one location in 1973.

Whatever way the story of "Eastern States Championship Wrestling" got started, I felt the need to set it straight, at least as best we know it. We always welcome further information that helps fill in gaps or provides further detail on the rich history of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions, and we appreciate anyone and everyone who endeavors to keep the history of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling alive.

Thanks to Carroll Hall for his assistance with this article.