Wednesdays in the Video Tape Room at WRAL

by Tom Gallagher

 

Wednesdays Behind the Camera in the Studio at WRAL

by Rick Armstrong

 

A Night at the WRAL Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Tapings

by Bruce Mitchell

 

WRAL Promo Tapings

Interview with Les Thatcher


RETURN TO THE STUDIO WRESTLING INDEX

 

RETURN TO THE MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY


Related Features

Bob Caudle Interview

Rich Landrum Interview

Discussions with Les Thatcher: Local Promos on WRAL

Studio Wrestling Scrapbook

 

 

The Birth of Mid-Atlantic TV Wrestling

Wrestling Theme Music Library


Ray Reeve, once a host of the "Championship Wrestling" broadcast from WRAL, is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.


WRAL Sportscaster Nick Pond

Pond hosted the Raleigh-only version of All-Star Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Hear Nick Pond's Voice - 1974


Ray Reeve (R) prepares for a WRAL sportscast. A young Bob Caudle is to his far right. Bob did weather for WRAL during this time.

A TV Guide ad featuring Bob Caudle from 1967. See an additional ad below.


Bob Caudle

The Voice of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling


Ad in TV Guide from 1970


Joe Murnick was the local promoter in Raleigh as well as parts of eastern North Carolina and Virginia for Jim Crockett Promotions. His family promoted wrestling, music concerts, and other events for decades in the Raleigh area. But he might best be remembered by Mid-Atlantic TV fans in the 1970s as the ring announcer for many  WRAL TV matches. Joe's sons Carl and Elliot Murnick also handled ring announcing chores over the years.

Joe also regularly co-hosted the Raleigh-only version of "Championship Wrestling" with Nick Pond. Joe's son Elliot Murnick briefly followed Pond as host of the show in the early 1970s.


Hall of Famer Ray Reeve


 

WRAL TV in Raleigh is the studio location most closely associated with Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Studio A at WRAL was the site of weekly TV tapings for over three decades. By 1974, all of the remaining regional taping locations (WFBC, WGHP, WBTV) had ceased, and all Crockett TV taping was consolidated into this location.

At that point, two versions of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling were taped, one hosted by long time Raleigh announcer Bob Caudle, the other hosted briefly by Sam Menacker and then regularly by Les Thatcher. The Thatcher-hosted "B" show replaced WGHP's Championship Wrestling in markets where it was also syndicated at the time. (Example: Asheville's WLOS-TV).  On October 8, 1975, a new program called Wide World Wrestling, hosted by long time Atlanta wrestling announcer Ed Capral, replaced the Thatcher version of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Thatcher would continue to do the local promo spots to be inserted in the local broadcast of each show. (Thatcher also produced and hosted the Southeastern Championship Wrestling program for Ron Fuller in Knoxville, TN. during this period.) Capral left the promotion in late 1977 and was replaced by Tom Miller and George Scott. On the weekend of October 7, 1978, Rich Landrum became the permanent host of the show, which was renamed World Wide Wrestling.

Bob Caudle's main co-host was David Crockett through the WRAL period. Tom Miller filled in during the summer of 1976 when David Crockett was tending to another family business with sister Frances Crockett, the Charlotte O's minor league baseball franchise. Big Bill Ward, who hosted Championship Wrestling for Crockett Promotions in Charlotte on WBTV from the late 1950s through early 1970s, briefly co-hosted with Bob Caudle on the 2nd Mid-Atlantic show after TV tapings had been consolidated to Raleigh. Lord Alfred Hayes had a brief stint as co-host in 1980.  Landrum's regular co-host on World Wide Wrestling would eventually be Johnny Weaver.

Prior to this consolidation, in the 1960s and early 1970s, WRAL was actually the site of one show only, a one-hour taping with simultaneous "dual" audio tracks being recorded. As they taped the matches, they had two broadcasters calling the action separately. Nick Pond, a WRAL sportscaster, hosted the show that would be seen in the Raleigh market (with co-host Joe Murnick much of that time, who was also the local Raleigh promoter), while at the same time one desk over, Bob Caudle called the action for a tape that was sent out to other markets in the Mid-Atlantic area that didn't have their own local TV tapings. Both Pond and Caudle also did sports and weather for WRAL television. Elliot Murnick replaced Pond on the Raleigh broadcast around 1972-1973. For most of this time, the Raleigh show was called Championship Wrestling  and the syndicated show was called All-Star Wrestling. When all of the other studio locations ceased taping by 1974, Caudle became the sole host of what was now titled Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling which was now sent to all of Crockett's TV  markets including the home base of Raleigh.

Wrestling first debuted on WRAL on January 31, 1959 at 5:00 PM. The show at the time was titled Championship Wrestling. In the earliest days of wrestling on WRAL, the legendary broadcaster Ray Reeve called the wrestling action before turning over the duties to Pond, who was Reeve's assistant early in his career at WRAL. Reeve was the long time radio voice of the North Carolina State Wolfpack and was the first broadcaster inducted to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. (On a side note, Charlie Harville, the long time host of wrestling taped at WGHP in High Point NC in the 60s and 70s, was the 2nd broadcaster inducted into NC Sports Hall of Fame.) 

But the voice most associated with WRAL wrestling will forever be the one and only Bob Caudle, a long time employee and on-air personality at WRAL, who continued to do TV for the Crocketts when they moved production to WPCQ in Charlotte and then took the production out to the arenas. Caudle is still loved by wrestling fans today, recently receiving a standing ovation at a wrestling legends show in Spartanburg SC. He was an inaugural inductee into the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Hall of Heroes in August of 2007, which will be an annual part of the NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte. Fans still call for his trademark show closer, "We'll see you next week fans, and until then, so long for now."

  - Dick Bourne

George Scott and Andre the Giant on the set of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling

Photograph from the collection of George and Jean Scott. Displayed on the Tampa Bay Times website in an article by Andrew Meachum on the life and death of the great George Scott.


Tiger Conway catches Ric Flair in a side headlock as Blackjack Mulligan watches on, waiting for a tag. The match took place on Wide World Wrestling at WRAL (1976).

 

Bob Caudle with Sandy and George Scott on the set of All Star Wrestling at WRAL (1973).

 BASIC INFORMATION

Call Letters: WRAL
Channel Number: 5

Network Affiliate:

ABC  (Originally NBC, now CBS)
Began Taping Wrestling:

Late 1950s

Earliest known broadcast: January 31, 1959

Ceased Taping Wrestling: July 29, 1981 (Final Taping)

Play-by-play Hosts:

MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING:

Raleigh telecast (1960s - approximately 1972): Ray Reeve, Nick Pond, Elliot Murnick

Syndicated telecast: Bob Caudle, Les Thatcher, Sam Menacker (briefly)

 

WIDE WORLD (later WORLD WIDE) WRESTLING:

Ed Capral, Tom Miller, George Scott, Russ Debuq, Rich Landrum

Color Commentators:

MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING: David Crockett, Tom Miller, Joe Murnick (Raleigh version only) Short term: Lord Alfred Hayes, Big Bill Ward. (There were brief runs by several others including Sandy Scott, Roddy Piper, and Sir Oliver Humperdink)

WIDE WORLD (later WORLD WIDE) WRESTLING:

Johnny Weaver, George Scott, Tom Miller (There were brief appearances by several others.)

Ring Announcers: Joe Murnick, Carl Murnick, Elliott Murnick, David Crockett, Jim Crockett, at least one other unidentified on audio tapes.
Local Promos:

Bob Caudle, David Crockett, Rich Landrum, Ed Capral, Les Thatcher, Bill Connell

The famous commercial bump "Let's take time for this commercial message about the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events coming up in your area..." was voiced by WRAL weatherman Bob Debardelaben.

Taping night: Wednesday nights
Show titles: Championship Wrestling, All Star Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Wide World Wrestling, World Wide Wrestling

Wahoo McDaniel executes a back suplex on Wide World Wrestling at WRAL(1976).

The referee is Angelo Martinelli.

 

(L) The versatile Les Thatcher (also a wrestler, TV wrestling producer, and editor of the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling magazine) and Bob Caudle each hosted a version of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in 1974 and 1975. (R) Raleigh promoter Joe Murnick served as ring announcer for many of the matches held at WRAL.

 

(L) David Crockett and Bob Caudle open up a broadcast of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling at WRAL (1974). (R) U.S. Champion Blackjack Mulligan and Mid-Atlantic Champion Ric Flair with Ed Capral on Wide World Wrestling at WRAL (1976).

 

(L) Rich Landrum interviews one half of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew (and one half of the World Tag Team Champions) Gene Anderson on the set of World Wide Wrestling (1981). (R) Landrum and US Champion Ricky Steamboat on the set of World Wide Wrestling at WRAL (1979).

 

(L) TV guide ad for wrestling on WRAL TV-5 (1974).  (R) Admission was free to the WRAL TV tapings, but tickets were required (ticket seen above) until the early 1980's, when a letter was issued instead of tickets (seen below).

 

 


HISTORY OF MID-ATLANTIC TV-STUDIO WRESTLING

FLASHBACK: Mid-Atlantic TV Program Wins Awards -

Article by Les Thatcher from Mid-Atlantic Magazine in 1977


The bumper graphics used for the two different Mid-Atlantic Wrestling tapings at WRAL described above. (L) The Mid-Atlantic "A" show, hosted by Bob Caudle and David Crockett. (R) The Mid-Atlantic "B" show hosted by Les Thatcher.

 

Diana, Zack, and David Chappell, Bob and Jackie Caudle, and Dick Bourne

at WRAL TV Studios in March 2004.

Bob Caudle is the legendary voice of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling

that was taped at WRAL studios for the better part of three decades. MORE PHOTOS

 

An ad in TV Guide magazine for Late Dateline on WRAL,

featuring Bob Caudle doing the national news and weather.

(TV Guide, October 28, 1967)

 

Ray Reeve was the original voice of professional wrestling on WRAL-TV in the late 1950s.

 

Nick Pond followed Ray Reeve as announcer for pro-wrestling on WRAL-TV in the 1960s. He would be joined soon after by Bob Caudle. They recorded to simultaneous broadcasts at each taping: Pond called the matches for the Raleigh market while Caudle called the matches for the rest of the territory. Eventually, Caudle would become the lead announcer for one single taping. (Thanks to Carroll Hall at "All Star Championship Wrestling" blog for these clippings.)

 

An ad from the Raleigh NC newspaper in December of 1980, advertising a rare double night of TV tapings at WRAL. Jim Crockett Promotions took an annual two-week break right before Christmas, so they would double up on TV tapings leading up to the break, as well as tape a special year and highlights show. The result was three weeks worth of television taped in two days. They would typically resume regular tapings the first Wednesday after Christmas.


 

Wednesdays in the Video Tape Room at WRAL

An Inside Look at a Typical Wrestling Taping at WRAL-TV in Raleigh

by Tom Gallagher

Photos courtesy of Tom Gallagher and Lee Collins


IMAGES FROM WRAL.COM'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY FEATURE:

Nelson Royal and Paul Jones being interviewed at ringside by Nick Pond

(circa 1971) at WRAL TV studio wrestling. Pond hosted the Raleigh version of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the 1960s and early 1970s. He was a sports anchor at WRAL from 1957–1971 and 1973–1978.
 

Hear Nick Pond's Voice - 1971

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Below is the text of a post on a blog discussing a fantasy pro-wrestling tournament held on a sports radio website in Raleigh NC:

"Can Ray Reeve and Nick Pond be the honorary announcers for this bracket?

Are any of you old enough to remember back in the day when Championship Wrestling was live from the WRAL studios on Western Blvd at 6:00 on Saturdays?

Every time the Fabulous Moolah (recently departed and sorely missed) was on the bill she would finish her match by planting a big ‘ol slobberbomb of a kiss on Ray’s bald head.

Pond’s analysis of what constituted “scientific” wrestling moves were priceless."

 

We recently received a nice e-mail from Nick Pond's son, Randy Pond. An excerpt:

"I was looking at your website which brought back a lot of memories.  My father, Nick Pond, announced wrestling in the late 60’s and early 70’s for WRAL in Raleigh.  I have fond memories of tagging along with my dad on the nights when they taped the show.  I remember being somewhat afraid of the wrestlers but after getting to know them, most were just nice regular guys."

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See also: A Potpourri of Wrestling related WRAL references on the Web

 

WRAL Studios, Winter 1958

© WRAL.COM

 

Bob DeBardelaben, the "Biggest Name in Weather", was also the familiar voice who told us it was time for the local promos on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:

"Let's take time for this commercial message about the

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events coming up in your area."

 

© WRAL.COM


Special thanks to Bob Caudle, Rich Landrum, Johnny Weaver, Brad Anderson, Carroll Hall, Mike Cline, Pat Buckley, Greg Stewart, Bruce Mitchell and Wayne Brower for their assistance with this feature.


STUDIO WRESTLING INDEX | ALMANAC INDEX | GATEWAY HOME PAGE


STATION HISTORY

The station's first broadcast was on December 15, 1956; an airing of the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street. From its inception, the station was an NBC affiliate until 1962, when it began a 23-year affiliation to ABC.

During the 1960s, future North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms was a regular editorial commentator on WRAL's news broadcasts.

In 1979, the station became the state's first to begin using a helicopter for newsgathering (Sky 5).

In 1985, Capital Cities Communications merged with the ABC network, making WTVD-TV an ABC owned and operated station. As a result, the CBS affiliation moved to WRAL-TV.

A severe ice storm in December 1989 caused the station's 2,000-foot tower to collapse, forcing WRAL off the air. By cooperation with Fayetteville station WKFT-TV Channel 40 (which at the time was under severe financial problems), it was back on the air in 3 hours. WKFT ran the entire WRAL schedule during this time. The station's new, stronger tower was launched on October 25, 1990, at which point WKFT reverted to airing its own programming.


In 1996, WRAL-TV was granted the first experimental high-definition television license in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission. In 2000, WRAL-HD aired the world's first all-HDTV newscast on October 13. In January 2001, WRAL converted all of its local news broadcasts to high-definition. Today, WRAL-TV airs the entire CBS program schedule, as it has since the late 1990s. Announced on February 1, 2006, WRAL is now going to simulcast all programming (CBS, News, and Syndicated) on wral.com. (If you do not live in the Raleigh-Durham DMA, you cannot see this. It is free of charge, but you must subscribe to view it.) (Source: Wikipedia)

 


Other links:

The History of WRAL on wral.com | Capitol Broadcasting Company | CBC Profile on WRAL-TV


A Potpourri of Wrestling related WRAL references on the Web:

 

Well as I was commenting on oldrebel's blog pertaining to Jesse Helms, Uncle Paul came to mind and I mentioned that Jesse, along with Uncle Paul and of course wrestling, were staples of the history of WRAL. I remember them all quite well: as a child I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in the summer . . . LINK

I was on Uncle Paul's show and he also accompanied me on piano on other TV shows. A great guy! Back then Joe Murnick ran nearly all of the wrestling and the Rock N' Roll shows that came to town. LINK

Having lived my entire 43 years in the Raleigh area, these are my fondest memories of "Retro Raleigh"...
- Cross Family Christmas decorations on New Bern Ave. - Mechanical Santa window display at King's dept. store on Wilmington St. - Colorful Christmas lights at the old Cameron Village & visiting Santa in his glass house in-front of Penny's - Pine State eggnog - Downtown Christmas decorations & the evening Christmas parade - Marching w/ Uncle Paul & meeting Crawford the Lion - Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Tues. nights at Dorton Arena - Wed. night wrestling tapings at WRAL studios w/ Bob Caudle (aired on Sat. nights at 11:30) - Mr. Peanut waving in-front of candy store on Wilmington St. - Best Products on Western Blvd. - WRAL's "Chiller Theater" & "Spook Spectacular" - "Scream in the Dark" - Cardinal Theater at North Hills - Center Drive-in - Warner Bros. Store at Crabtree - Magic Corner on Hillsborough - Record Bar - WKIX - R.B.s Chicken & Pine Drug Store on S. Saunders LINK

 

He (Tommy Bland) and his father also came to see “Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling” which was taped in Studio A at the time. LINK

 

From 1959-1979, Phlegar was the producer / director behind successful programs such as The Uncle Paul Show and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling for WRAL-TV 5.  LINK

 

Doctor Steve from Tennessee wrote: I worked at WRAL-TV in the '70s and we taped Wide World of Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling there every Wednesday. The Crocketts had contracted to have Brute Bernard come and do a show with us, and I was full of trepidation, having watched him as a kid decimate his enemies, never uttering a word other than a guttural growl. I knew this guy would just be scary and probably a lot of trouble.

So there I was at the bottom of the dressing room stairs, waiting for Brute Bernard to come down to the studio; I was nervous, not knowing what to expect, when he emerged from the dressing room door. And what a sight! He had on a silk smoking jacket, thick reading glasses, and was reading the Wall Street Journal. He greeted me with a "hi, son, nice to meet you" and entered the studio. He was the nicest wrestler I ever met (and I met a lot of them). That night, of course, he was the same old Brute that I remembered as a kid but I had a completely different opinion of him, having seen his "other" side. LINK

 

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WRAL Nov.1959 TV Ad (All Star Championship Wrestling Blog)

 

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MMA on CBS
By Jeff Gravley WRAL.com - June 2, 2008  LINK

On January 31, 1959 professional wrestling made its debut on WRAL-TV. From the early 60's through the 70's the matches were filmed in a studio here at the station and shown on Saturday night at 11:30.

The Nature Boy--Blackjack Mulligan--Wahoo McDaniel. Those were the names that were synonymous with pro wrestling and those were the guys who would come to the station for their Wednesday night filmings.

Former news anchor Charlie Gaddy joked that he would be reading the news about a house fire in one studio while the wrestlers were applying headlocks and dropping a back suplex in the other studio.

WRAL weatherman Bob Caudle hosted Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with help from WRAL sportscasters Ray Reeve and Nick Pond.

I give you this little history lesson as a backdrop to CBS's decision to show Mixed Martial Arts in prime time this past Saturday...... (read the entire article)

 

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MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY

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Copyright © Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Article originally published in 2005. Updated in 2010, 2012.