Wrestling with my remote: JCP: The Good Old Days

This article series is me, a couch, a remote, possibly an adult beverage and some random Wrasslin’ I decide to watch.

Presented by HighSpots

 

Jim Crockett Jr. tells of his father’s promoting past and various talking heads talk up how well respected he was in the NWA and wrestling overall.

Crockett explains how wrestling stars could be used far more than boxing acts and thus it made it far easier for promoters to draw money.

Crockett Sr. also promoted sporting events, music acts and various other avenues – but wrestling was the back bone of his business.

Ole Anderson was pleased that Crockett would pay in cash.

Jim Sr.’s sons explain how he ran his business with a little notebook and his mind.

The JCP fan base came weekly and wanted the same seats often.

Crockett didn’t flaunt his money as he didn’t want his fans to be put off.

Tag team wrestling was a staple of JCP and the talking heads cover the many great teams that JCP used.

The “Kentuckians” were big draws as they were big raw country boys and the locals could relate to them.

Ole and Gene Anderson were on top in JCP for years on end and had the ability to keep their heat in front of the same fans week after week.

In 1973 Crockett Sr. died suddenly of a heart ailment.  The community mourned and many of the wrestling promoters nationwide offered condolences.

Sr. had a promoter named Jackie Ringley to take over JCP instead of his own kids since he had experience in multiple areas of promotions. Jim Jr. said he was relieved to not have the pressure on him at the time.

Ringley brought in George Scott, who famously booked one of the most warmly remembered periods of wrestling in the Carolinas. 

Ringley was caught having an affair and was removed from power in JCP – Jim Jr. was then put in charge.

Ref Tommy Young explains George Scott’s success was in part due to not being a worker and thus wasn’t worried about making himself a star.

Scott brought in Wahoo McDaniel, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair and set the territory on fire.

Johnny Valentine came in and slowed down the pace of the territories matches and became a top heel for years.

Valentine loved worked very stiff and he and Wahoo tore the hides off each other. They would chop one another until their chest bled.

 Ric Flair puts over Wahoo for helping get Flair over through their rough matches.

Ric Flair, David Crockett, Johnny Valentine, Mr. Wrestling and others are injured in a horrific plane crash.  Flair’s back is wrecked and Valentine is crippled.  Mr. Wrestling worked a week later to save kayfabe since he was in a plane with heels.

David rips into the pilot for not having enough gas in the plane and then not making an emergency landing.

Blackjack Mulligan was brought in to replace the injured workers and his charisma got him over.

Paul Jones was a babyface staple in JCP and played a role in the office.

Mid-Atlantic had one of the deeper rosters ever assembled and the money being drawn made many other big names want to come in and join JCP.

(Image courtesy of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website)

Wrestling brought the talent into a close setting with the fans and made for an experience fans couldn’t get elsewhere – especially since the area had no major sports teams to draw fans with.

Business was so hot that JCP went to bigger arenas – then when the new place sold out, tickets went up and sell outs followed.

The fans would watch and accept frequent re-matches as each week saw a new twist to keep the fans coming.

Ricky Steamboat struggled to get a push early on as Ole Anderson ignored him in Georgia Championship Wrestling and then Ric Flair had to convince JCP to push a guy who hadn’t “paid his dues”.

Ric Flair knew Steamboat was going to be a star and wanted to work with him badly,

Johnny Weaver became the area legend who was used to establish new heels as top guys.

Business was so hot that the crew was split in 3 and JCP ran 3 shows a night.

George Scott wanted to make Toronto a success and he annoyed JCP talent by asking them to travel to Canada for shows while sell outs were happening near their own home.

Scott ultimately quit in order to head to other venues.  Ole Anderson took over briefly but he was already in charge of GCW and so running two promotions burnt Ole out and JCP business sank.  Gary Hart, Wahoo, Dory Funk Jr. and Ernie Ladd all had a piece of booking control after Ole was relieved of duty.

Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle against Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood set the territory on fire and “The Final Conflict” turned away thousands of fans.

JCP decided to expand to bigger ideas and Dusty Rhodes was brought in to put together a “supercard” that would become “Starrcade”.   Jim Jr. said house shows were out as the main revenue and now 3 or 4 nights a year would determine how big business could get.

Starrcade was a closed circuit mega event that drew more money than any show in history and that earned Dusty the job as JCP booker.  Jim Cornette says business started to decline after Starrcade ’83 and Vince McMahon raided a bunch of talent for his own WWF expansion.  Dusty replaced Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine and others with his Florida buddies Ron Bass, Barry Windham, Mike Rotundo and others.

The talking heads are a bit split on Dusty’s booking abilities – some saying Dusty booked around himself, overspent and didn’t create new stars, while others marvel at his creativity and big vision scope. 

July 1984 featured “Black Saturday” when promoter Jim Barnett jumped to the WWF and GCW was bought out by Vince McMahon.   WWF failed to make a mark with the audience and Ted Turner ended up giving Bill Watts a Sunday show and Ole Anderson a Saturday morning show. 

Ole blames the failure of the “new” GCW on Vince’s talent raids and his lousy time slot.

Jim Jr. admits that JCP’s strategy of buying out promotions in order to gain a national scope and then use it to earn national advertising money was a faulty plan. 

Jim Ross convinced Jim Jr. to buy the UWF promotion for their TV clearances.  Flair and David both rip Jim Jr.’s decision (retrospectively of course).

JCP was the largest private TV syndicator at this point but Jim Jr. didn’t hire anyone to help organize his business structure and thus he couldn’t maximize his company’s productivity like the WWF was doing.

The UWF guys were not pushed and thus the promotion didn’t add fresh faces to a stale product.  JCP moved operations to Dallas and Dusty and Jim Jr. had plans on expanding into movies and TV shows. 

JCP expanded their big shows out of Charlotte and alienated their fan base. Chicago didn’t sell out and the local media didn’t care.  A lose-lose-lose.

Ron Garvin was given the World title at Flair’s request to try and spark interest heading into Starrcade ’87.  Garvin blames Dusty for booking him as a babyface champ and then not having him defend the title for over a month.

The next PPV was done in New York and also bombed.  Vince blocking PPV access nearly killed JCP dead in the water.

Crockett lost 4 million in 1987 despite making 19 million dollars.  Buying planes and other such frivolities didn’t help.

Jim Jr. says he spent too much time hanging out with “the boys” since they were great guys and he wanted to party with them.

Dusty would abuse the jet privileges and fly himself and others to spot shows that were close together and easily drivable.  This cost wages for 2 pilots per plane as well as maintenance and fuel costs.

Jim Jr. says signing guys to giant contracts were a necessity as Vince was taking anybody he wanted otherwise.  The balloon payments came back to haunt JCP.

JCP had an accountant on staff from when they were still small time – once the expansion started he became overwhelmed and they went in the hole millions before Jim Jr. found out.   David Crockett defends the accountant and blames his brother’s wild spending on Dusty’s request as the culprit.  Jr. chose to ignore the red flags according to David.  Everybody else blames the accountant.

David Crockett says he doesn’t respect Dusty for his reckless business ideas – others bash Rhodes for not booking a money drawing product to match his dreams – others bash Jim Jr. for not saying “no”.

George South says he received a check that had a note asking them to wait until Friday afternoon to cash it, that’s when he realized how much trouble JCP was in.

Jim Jr. defends Dusty and his accountant and puts the failure of JCP on himself for ignoring the warnings he received and not finding help for himself.

David Crockett says Ted Turner told them that he would kick them off the air if the Crockett’s didn’t sell out to him.

Jim Jr. says he hasn’t watched an hour of wrestling since selling to Turner.

Jr. says it was great fun to brain storm booking ideas.

All the talking heads talk up how many great memories they have from JCP and how much fun and money was made in the heyday.

Jim Jr. says any success is thanks to Jim Sr. and he regrets screwing it all up.  (Jim seems so sad during his parts on here – I just want to give him a hug.)

Final thoughts: Great documentary! This DVD clocks in at over 2 hours and is full of a plethora of familiar faces from the gravy days of JCP and pro wrasslin’.  The DVD also includes vintage hand held footage from JCP in the 70’s and the grainy stock adds to the aura of the period wonderfully. There is also hours of “bonus” footage to enjoy that adds to the overall package offered. If you fancy yourself a fan of wrestling history, then there can be no excuse to not pick this up. 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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