Jim Crockett, Jr. Passes Away

by Mark Long

Jim Crockett, Jr., a longtime promoter in the Carolinas and a former President of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), passed away on March 4, 2021 at the age of 76 from complications of liver and kidney failure.

Crockett, Jr. became the owner of the Charlotte O’s AA minor league baseball team in 1976, but in 1977, he took over the reins of Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) which had been founded by his father, Jim Crockett, Sr. in 1931 and had become the premier wrestling territory in the southeastern United States. Crockett, Jr. hired George Scott as the booker of JCP and put the weight of the promotion on the shoulders of young stars such as Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Magnum TA and the Road Warriors while bringing in veteran talent such as Dusty Rhodes and Gene and Ole Anderson. This combination showcased some of the best wrestling action and storylines in years. Promoting in the Mid-Atlantic territory which ran through North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, Crockett was able to sell out coliseums throughout the region.

He eventually expanded throughout the southeast (Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia), and eventually into parts of Ohio. As wrestling’s territorial system began breaking down under the pressure of Vince K. McMahon’s national expansion of the WWF, Crockett in turn began buying out or merging with numerous wrestling promotions across the United States. With the increased roster of talent and a national market for fans, he was able to put on his first supercard on Thanksgiving day in 1983, with “Starrcade : A Flair for the Gold” which was broadcast on closed-circuit television from the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina.

In 1984, Crockett bought out McMahon’s time slot on Ted Turner’s Superstation cable broadcast channel and later bought out two more hours on Turner’s Saturday night 6:05 time slot. The popularity of his television broadcasts, roster of stars and influence within the NWA allowed him to challenge the WWF for the spot as the number one wrestling company in the world. In April 1986, Crockett put on the inaugural Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament from the New Orleans Superdome. He later acquired a controlling interest in the St. Louis Wrestling Club, Championship Wrestling from Georgia, Bob Geigel’s Central States brand, Championship Wrestling from Florida, and Bill Watts’ Mid-South Sports/Universal Wrestling Federation promotions. But just as he was able to present a real challenge to the WWF, Crockett’s fortunes turned.

In October 1986, Magnum TA, one of the promotion’s biggest stars and the wrestler being groomed to become the next NWA champion, suffered career ending injuries in an automobile accident. In November of 1987, the promotion scheduled Starrcade ’87 as it’s first pay-per-view event, but the WWF scheduled its first Survivors Series pay per view event to compete head to head on the same day. McMahon further sought to dominate the night by threatening PPV outlets, warning that if they broadcast Starrcade ’87, they would be shut out from broadcasting the next year’s Wrestlemania event. According to Dave Meltzer, 250 of the 255 outlets decided not to broadcast Crockett’s event. The next January, WWF gave away the first Royal Rumble special on basic cable on the same day that Crockett staged the Bunkhouse Stampede event on pay-per-view, thus diminishing the buyrate for JCP. Poor booking decisions, increased costs for travel, lavish spending on hotels and a private jet and poor marketing left Jim Crockett Promotions on the verge of bankruptcy. In November 1988, Turner Broadcasting System purchased a majority interest in the promotion and renamed it World Championship Wrestling.

After a few brief attempts to get back into the professional wrestling business, Crockett moved to Texas to work in the real estate industry until his retirement.

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