by Stephen Von Slagle
Mid Atlantic Wrestling/Jim Crockett Promotions (a.k.a. “Charlotte”)
Jim Crockett, Sr. (1931-1973)
Jim Crockett, Jr. (1973-1988)
STATES & PRIMARY CITIES
North Carolina (Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Asheville)
South Carolina (Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg)
Virginia (Roanoke, Norfolk, Richmond, Hampton)
NWA World Heavyweight title (1952-1988)
Eastern Heavyweight title (1970-1973)
United States Heavyweight title (1975-1988)
Mid Atlantic Heavyweight title (1973-1986)
Mid Atlantic TV title (1973-1985)
NWA World TV title (1985-1988)
Atlantic Coast Tag Team title (1968-1973)
Mid Atlantic Tag Team title (1973-1985)
NWA World Tag Team title (1975-1988)
The promotion that would eventually evolve into World Championship Wrestling (WCW) during the 1990s was actually founded in 1931 by Jim Crockett, Sr., when Crockett was just 22 years old. Promoting professional wrestling (as well the circus, concerts and other sporting events) the entrepreneurial Crockett, whose territory encompassed Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in 1952, and, originally, Mid Atlantic Wrestling was called Eastern States Championship Wrestling. During much of its early history, Crockett’s Eastern States promotion focused primarily on the genre of tag team wrestling. Although it was not necessarily one of the sports’ major hotbeds during the first half of its existence, Jim Crockett Promotions was nevertheless a very prosperous territory that provided a quality product for its fans as well as a consistent, reliable source of employment for its wrestlers. Additionally, Jim Crockett was a respected member of the promotional fraternity and a civic leader in the states where he ran his cards.
In the years prior to his death in 1973, Crockett began preparing for his retirement by grooming his son-in-law, John Ringley, to take over the company. When Crockett passed away, Ringley took over and was doing a commendable job running the company. However, his tenure was short-lived. When it was discovered that Ringley, who was married to Crockett’s daughter Francine, was having an extramarital affair, the family had no choice but to remove him from his position and replace him with Crockett’s eldest son, Jim Crockett, Jr. By bringing in George Scott as his booker and switching the focus from tag teams to singles competitors, Jim Crockett, Jr. proved himself to be highly competent and the promotion thrived under his leadership. By featuring top veteran singles performers like Johnny Valentine and Wahoo McDaniel while also spotlighting talented young stars like Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka and Greg Valentine plus maintaining a solid roster of major tag teams, Crockett found the perfect balance and the newly re-branded Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling promotion soon became the NWA’s most profitable territory. Additionally, Jim Crockett, Jr. was elected President of the National Wrestling Alliance in 1980, 1985 and 1987.
Under the leadership of Jim Crockett, Jr., J.C.P. expanded both its roster as well as its promotional reach. In addition to its home base of the Carolinas and Virginia, Mid Atlantic Wrestling began promoting in West Virginia, eastern Tennessee, Ohio and Georgia while also forming a very successful partnership with Frank Tunney in Toronto.
When he negotiated with Ted Turner to buy out Vince McMahon’s timeslot on TBS, Crockett gained nationwide coverage for his product and by 1985 J.C.P. was the #2 promotion in America, second only to the World Wrestling Federation. During an era of fevered expansion, Crockett was involved in more territorial acquisitions, including the purchases of the Florida, Central States and UWF promotions. However, while his company was growing by leaps and bounds, the front-office infrastructure of Jim Crockett Promotions failed to keep pace with the rest of his business. That weakness, coupled with some extremely predatory measures employed by Vince McMahon and his WWF, led to a situation wherein Crockett eventually found his company millions of dollars in debt. With no other recourse, the Crockett family sold their business to Ted Turner in November of 1988 and the fifty-seven year history of Jim Crockett Promotions came to an abrupt end.