Sunday, January 27, 2019

Jim Crockett, Jr. and Bill Watts at the Crockett Cup (1986)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

My friend Rob Riddick once told me that one of his favorite trips was to New Orleans in April of 1986 for the inaugural Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup tag team tournament. George Napolitano, through the assistance of Tony Schiavone in the Crockett office, made it possible for him to get credentials.

Ironically, it would be an event where he wasn't allowed to shoot many of the matches, since they limited the number of photographers that could shoot ringside, and those would be the guys like Napolitano, Bill Apter, and the photographers from Japan. But what made the trip so memorable for him was that he was able to get this shot.

Rob told me he was walking through one of the long hallways in the Super Dome before the evening session and noticed Jim Crockett and Bill Watts having a conversation in front of a set where they had the Crockett Cup trophy on display in front of a huge board with the tournament brackets. He worked up the nerve to interrupt them and asked them could he get a picture, sensing the rare opportunity to get them together in such a setting. Watts told him, "I don't have my jacket with me." Rob assured him that wasn't a problem in the slightest.

Without being asked, the two reached up and each held the trophy for the photograph which Rob told me was one of his all-time favorites given these two giants in wrestling together for that rather historic show.

This April the National Wrestling Alliance, in conjunction with the Crockett Foundation and Ring of Honor Wrestling, will bring back the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament. The original event, promoted by Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1980s, only lasted three years, from 1986-1988. The company was sold to Ted Turner late in 1988.

When Jim Crockett, Jr. announced that the NWA had selected New Orleans to host the inaugural tournament in 1986, he told fans that it was his dream to host the tournament in the home city of Crockett Promotions, Charlotte, NC. Mr. Crockett never got to fulfill that dream, but the modern day NWA is about to come close for him.

The 2019 tournament will be held in Concord, NC, just outside Charlotte, at Cabarrus Arena. The venue has been host to several ROH events over the last few years. We'll be following news of the Crockett Cup closely and look forward to seeing that event return to the landscape of pro-wrestling.

Follow the NWA on Twitter at @NWA.