Monday, January 11, 2021

Studio Wrestling: 1976 Weather Promo Has 5 Wrestling Connections

By Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Originally published on Studio Wrestling

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 Jim Crockett Promotions' 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 at the station 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.

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.

Blackjack Mulligan
One of the main event wrestlers for Jim Crockett and Joe Murnick during this time period, Mulligan was chasing the United States Heavyweight wrestling championship held by Paul Jones. (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!"

Originally published in February of 2013 on Studio Wrestling,
part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway family of websites.

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