Monday, December 12, 2022

Promoter Joe Murnick Was Key to Crockett TV Business

By Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In an article about wrestling promoter Joe Murnick in the Raleigh papers in the early-1980s, Murnick explained how it came to pass he wound up in the wrestling business and shed light on the origins of TV wrestling in Raleigh which would become the center of the TV aspect of Crockett's business.

Promoter Joe Murnick

"I worked in Norfolk after serving there in the Navy, and later moved to Charlotte, where I bought a paint store," he said. "Jim Crockett was promoting wrestling matches in Charlotte and I used to go watch them every Monday night." 

Murnick stayed in Charlotte for the decade of the 1950s and became very active in the community and in civic life. It was there that he also formed a friendship with - - and became a business ally of - - the biggest event promoter in the Southeast, Jim Crockett, Sr.

"I loved wrestling, and I thoroughly enjoyed the friendship that developed between Crockett and me," he continued. "This was in the early 1950s when pro-wrestling was just beginning to be on television. Jim knew I had friends in the media in Raleigh and he suggested that I might get a television package for wrestling there. That's how I got into it."

Later in 1961 following the death of eastern Virginia/North Carolina promoter (and Crockett business partner) Bill Lewis, Crockett sent Murnick to Raleigh to take over Lewis's part of the vast Crockett wrestling empire, a territory which stretched from Raleigh eastward to the coast of North Carolina, and included eastern Virginia and the key cities of Richmond, Norfolk, Hampton and that area. Murnick became a huge promoter in Raleigh, not only of wrestling but, like Crockett, of concerts and other events.

Crockett was also able to establish local television wrestling in Charlotte and the Greensboro/High Point market in the 1960s, but it was Murnick's early arrangement with WRAL television in Raleigh that would make Raleigh the TV hub for the organization. 

"We'd go to a city that had television and supply the Raleigh tape [to the local station]," Murnick recalled. "The station would use it to collect the advertising." The barter arrangement allowed the Crocketts to significantly grow their business through the exposure of the growing TV industry. By the mid-1970s, all of Jim Crockett's TV production was merged into the weekly Wednesday night TV tapings at WRAL. The shows were syndicated to TV markets blanketing North and South Carolina, Virginia and also selected markets in West Virginia, Georgia, Florida and even Texas.

It was just another example of how Joe Murnick was a pioneer in the wrestling business for Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1950s until his death in 1985.