Friday, March 20, 2020

Studio Wrestling: 1976 Weather Promo has Five Wrestling Connections

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Originally Published on the Studio Wrestling site

WRAL produced a series of satirical promotional spots in early 1976 to announce Bob DeBardelaben as the primary weather host on WRAL newscasts, replacing Bob Caudle who was moving into other responsibilities at WRAL working for Jesse Helms (and continuing his hosting duties of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, of course.)

Brian Rogers recently discovered a compilation of those promotional clips on You Tube. I pulled them off YouTube and edited them down to one single storyline clip and re-posted them.

The immediate interest was of course that Bob Caudle was featured, and there was also a cameo by Blackjack Mulligan in the wrestling ring at WRAL. It was cool that the video featured these two direct wrestling connections, and also a third, since it was the voice of Bob Debardelaben you heard at each of the two breaks for the local wrestling promotional spots during "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "Wide World Wrestling":

"Let's take time for this commercial message about the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events coming up in your area."

A day or so after posting the video clip, Carroll Hall (who publishes the excellent "All Star Championship Wrestling" blog) pointed out to me that there was a fourth wrestling connection in the video I had failed to notice: sportscaster Nick Pond. Pond was host of the Raleigh-only wrestling broadcast "Championship Wrestling" on WRAL throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. 

After writing up that information and watching the video yet again, I suddenly noticed what I thought was the familiar face of Raleigh area promoter Joe Murnick in one short scene where the president of the station is seen at his desk. Mr. Murnick is seen sitting on the couch behind him. I asked Elliot Murnick and he confirmed it was indeed his father. (Elliot also confirmed that the "president" in the video is indeed longtime President and CEO of Capitol broadcasting Jim Goodmon.)

That makes a total of five people in this short video that had direct connections to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling at WRAL-TV:

Bob Caudle
Bob hosted the syndicated "All Star Wrestling" in the 1960s that later became "Mid-Atlantic Wrestling" in the 1970s and 1980s. He did weather, sports, and news at various times throughout his WRAL career, and worked for Jesse Helms as well. He is seen here receiving the keys to the "executive washroom" after being promoted at WRAL.

Bob DeBardelaben
"The Biggest Name in Weather", DeBardelaben succeeded Bob Caudle as the primary weather host (known then as 'weathermen') in 1976. The promotional spots featured here served to announce and promote that. DeBardelaben is the main star of the vignettes. It was "DeBardelaben's voice that introduced the local promo segments each week on the wrestling shows taped at WRAL. ("Let's take time for this commercial message about the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events coming up in your area.")

Nick Pond
Nick Pond hosted the Raleigh-only broadcast of "Championship Wrestling" (taped simultaneously alongside Caudle's "All Star Wrestling") throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. He was the main sports anchor for WRAL at the time of these promotional spots, and is seen in the video joining others in welcoming DeBardelaben to the team.

Joe Murnick
Murnick was the local promoter for Jim Crockett Promotions in Raleigh (as well as other towns in eastern NC and Virginia.) He ran his own events promotion company as well, staging concerts and other events in addition to wrestling almost every Tuesday night at the Dorton Arena or the Raleigh Civic Center. He is seen here in one scene (at the :59 second mark) sitting on a couch behind the president of the station, Jim Goodmon. His son Elliot Murnick confirmed for us that was indeed his dad!

Blackjack Mulligan
One of the main event wrestlers for Jim Crockett and Raleigh promoter Joe Murnick during this time period, Mulligan was chasing the United States wrestling championship held by Paul Jones at that time. (He would win the title for the first time on March 13 in Greensboro.) He has a cameo role here answering the question "Will Bob (DeBardelaben) quit?" Mully leans through the ropes of the wrestling ring in the TV studio and says "He better not!"

Learn more about Studio Wrestling at WRAL-5 in Raleigh on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.
Visit the Studio Wrestling website, one of the sister sites to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Thanks to Brian Rogers, Carroll Hall, and Elliot Murnick.
Link to original unedited WRAL promos: WRAL-TV: "As The Weather Turns" Promos (1976)
Link to original article on the Studio Wrestling Website