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Georgia Championship Wrestling

Georgia Championship Wrestling was a professional wrestling promotion whose self-titled TV program aired in the 1970s and 1980s on Atlanta, U.S., superstation WTBS. Though based in Atlanta, the company also ran live wrestling shows throughout its geographic "territory" of Georgia. The territory was affiliated with what had been the world's top sanctioning body of championship titles for decades before, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).

Georgia Championship Wrestling
Acronym GCW
Founded 1944
Defunct 1984
Style American Wrestling
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia
Founder(s) Paul Jones
Owner(s) Paul Jones (1944-1974)
Jim Barnett (1974-1983)
Jack Brisco (1983-1984)
Jerry Brisco (1983-1984)
Ole Anderson (1983-1984)
Vince McMahon (1984-present)
Parent WCW, Inc.
Sister Championship Wrestling from Georgia

Contents

Television programmingEdit

The TV show, hosted by Gordon Solie, was recorded in one of WTBS' studios on West Peachtree Street near 10th Street, in Midtown Atlanta. Shows were taped before a small (yet enthusiastic), live in-studio audience, as were most professional wrestling TV shows of that era. The show featured wrestling matches, plus melodramatic monologues and inter-character confrontations—similar to the programming offered by other territories, including the Northeast-based World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

GCW's show, which aired on Saturday evenings, was complemented with a Sunday evening edition.

In Savannah and Augusta, Georgia in the 1960s and early 1970s there was a 60-minute wrestling program titled "Big Time Wrestling" produced Saturday afternoons at the studio of WAII channel 11 in Atlanta. The NWA program was hosted by Ed Capral, ring announcer Charlie Harben and referee Leo Garibaldi. The show was broadcast at various times on WJBF 6 in Augusta and at 11pm Saturdays on WTOC 11 in Savannah. The program included interviews with wrestlers pertaining to their upcoming matches. On WJBF the interviews pertained to matches held on Monday nights at the Bell Auditorium promoted by Steve Manderson and on WTOC they pertained to upcoming matches held Tuesday nights at the Sports Arena, later at the Savannah Civic Center promoted by Aaron Newman. The program for Savannah was taped in Atlanta on Saturday afternoons then delivered by Greyhound Bus to Savannah to be broadcast that night.

Georgia Championship Wrestling/World Championship Wrestling/SuperstarsEdit

Tag Teams and StablesEdit

HistoryEdit

Georgia Championship Wrestling was formed in Atlanta in 1944 by promoter Paul Jones (retired wrestler Andrew Lutzi, not Paul Frederik who later was given the name) as ABC Booking. ABC held its matches at Atlanta's Municipal Auditorium every Friday night. Jones operated ABC for thirty years until his retirement in 1974, though from about 1970 until 1972 he was assisted by his booker Ray Gunkel - in fact, Jones was so infirm by this time (he died in 1988) that Gunkel effectively ran the promotion. On Christmas Day of 1971, Georgia Championship Wrestling aired its first television show, which was considered a Christmas special, since the actual series didn't begin airing until late January 1972.

The promotion underwent some big changes in 1972. Firstly, it started promoting matches at the then-brand-new Omni Coliseum. Secondly, it switched its television outlet from its original home, WQXI-TV (now WXIA) to an upstart UHF station then called WTCG but later renamed WTBS (not yet a superstation, but still owned by Ted Turner; station in Atlanta is now WPCH-TV after being spun off from the national TBS cable channel).

The battle of AtlantaEdit

The new television deal would be one of Gunkel's last decisions. Ray Gunkel died of a heart attack later that year after a match versus Ox Baker in Savannah, Georgia. The death set off some internal problems, with Ray's widow Ann, who had worked closely with Ray and expected to get his share of the promotion being shut out in favor of Bill Watts, with the promotion being renamed "Mid-South Sports." Ann Gunkel decided to start her own promotion outside of the National Wrestling Alliance, which she named the "All-South Wrestling Alliance."

It didn't look good for Mid-South at that point, most of their wrestlers had gone with Ann, and Ann's promotion had gotten Mid-South's television time slot, though both promotions aired on WTBS. (Ted Turner and Ann Gunkel had both attended Brown University and were rumored to be romantically involved.) After two years of strife, a trouble-shooter was called in: Jim Barnett, who had owned promotions in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado and Australia. (The Australian promotion was called World Championship Wrestling.) At this point, Ann's promotion went downhill, being locked out of arena dates, with wrestlers defecting to Mid-South, and finally Ann Gunkel's All-South Wrestling Alliance folded in 1974.

SuperstationEdit

When WTBS went on satellite in 1976, making the station available to cable systems all across the USA, the renamed Georgia Championship Wrestling became the first NWA promotion to be broadcast nationally. Many of the NWA's regional promoters were unhappy, but Barnett claimed since he was only using Georgia-based wrestlers, that there was no harm. Whether or not Barnett was in fact taking the promotion national is a matter of dispute. Some wrestlers, such as Roddy Piper, say that he was in fact doing so, but was prevented by fears of crossing organized crime figures involved with the sport. Throughout the 1970s, Georgia Championship Wrestling was one of the main shows that kept the Superstation alive.[1]

In 1982, Georgia Championship Wrestling changed its main programming name to World Championship Wrestling. GCW ran shows in Ohio & Michigan; wrestling returned to Dayton, Ohio in January 1983 after a lay-off of no wrestling in Dayton for five years. The ring announcer there was Les Pomerville Sr., a Dayton native, and Father of "Flying" Les Edwards.

Barnett was forced out in a power struggle in late 1983. This set the stage for an important move in wrestling history, involving a regional promoter: Vince McMahon.

Georgia Championship Wrestling was primarily owned in 1983 by a conglomerate of: Jack Brisco and Jerry Brisco (brothers who were also superstar amateur and professional wrestlers); Jim Barnett; and Paul Jones. The remaining ten-percent stake belonged to Al Rogowski, a match booker, who also wrestled as "Ole Anderson."

Black Saturday, the move that changed wrestling historyEdit

July 14, 1984 is known as Black Saturday within the U.S. professional wrestling industry. That day Georgia Championship Wrestling ceased to exist when Vince McMahon unexpectedly bought the promotion and its TV time slot for his then-nationally expanding WWF. The Briscos sold their stock in GCW to Vince McMahon for $900,000 and guaranteed jobs with the WWF. Gerald (Jerry) Brisco, in fact, was still a road agent in today's WWE before suffering three strokes in 2009. After working out a few prior commitments, Georgia Championship Wrestling ceased to exist.

Freddie Miller, an announcer, was the only member of the original Georgia Championship Wrestling on-air cast who did not quit in protest or just get replaced by the new owner. McMahon had underestimated two major factors, however. The first was the differences in tastes between fanbases of different geographical regions. The WWF's style of wrestling sharply differed from that of GCW, with the WWF featuring cartoonish characters and storylines and squash matches and GCW featuring more athletic competition. Secondly, Southerners resented the symbolism of a "Yankee" company coming down from The North and "taking over" their wrestling.

In addition, WWF World Championship Wrestling was mainly used as a re-cap show, featuring matches which had previously aired on the WWF's main programming venues such as WWF Championship Wrestling and WWF All-Star Wrestling. This angered WTBS owner Ted Turner, who was hoping that the WWF would have original matches originating from the WTBS Studios at 1050 Techwood Drive. Finally, on March 2, 1985, the WWF changed the name of their program to WWF Georgia Championship Wrestling and began airing in-studio squash matches co-hosted by ring announcer Miller and play-by-play commentator Gorilla Monsoon. Along with the squash matches, Miller did interviews with many of the WWF stars, mainly to promote the first WrestleMania card.

The WWF version of the show received much lower Nielsen ratings than its NWA-associated forerunner. As a result, on March 30, 1985, McMahon sold the Saturday night time slot (but not the Georgia Championship Wrestling promotion) to Jim Crockett, Jr., a Charlotte, North Carolina-based promoter who ran NWA-branded shows in the Mid-Atlantic states. Jim Crockett Promotions took over production of the TV show using the same set.[2]. In time, the show was renamed WCW Saturday Night, reflecting an overhauled look and a new home studio-arena at the CNN Center. In 2001, the WWF gained the rights to Crockett's library of GCW/WCW/NWA matches and shows, augmenting the WWE Tape Library through its purchase of assets and trademarks belonging to the now-defunct WCW (now a legal entity called WCW, Inc.).

According to Ric Flair in his autobiography To Be the Man, The Road Warriors were offered $5,000 to injure the Briscos during a tag team match by an unnamed, disgruntled source. Instead of injuring them, they promptly informed the Briscos and told them not to worry because, "We're not those kinds of business people."

Championship Wrestling from GeorgiaEdit

After Black Saturday, Ole Anderson tried to carry on in the territory, promoting Championship Wrestling from Georgia (CWG), which briefly aired out of Atlanta. In April 1985, shows began being co-promoted with Jim Crockett Promotions. On April 27's main event, Arn Anderson wrestled Thunderbolt Patterson to a no contest in the Columbus Municipal Auditorium, then CWG disappeared. The National titles, originally created in 1980 in Georgia, were carried on by Crockett until 1986, when they were either abandoned or unified with equivalent titles.[3]

GCW championshipsEdit

Georgia State ChampionshipsEdit

City Championships (outside Atlanta)Edit

NWA Columbus Heavyweight ChampionshipEdit

NWA Columbus Heavyweight Championship
 
Abdullah the Butcher is a former NWA Columbus Heavyweight Champion.
Details
Promotion Georgia Championship Wrestling
Date established July 22, 1970[4]
Date retired 1979

The NWA Columbus Heavyweight Championship was a professional wrestling regional championship in Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW). It was a secondary title, complementing the NWA Columbus Tag Team Championship, and defended almost exclusively at the Columbus Municipal Auditorium throughout the 1970s.[5]

The Columbus titles were one of two sets of GCW's city-wide championships, along with the NWA Macon Heavyweight Championship and NWA Macon Tag Team Championship, and one of a select few city championships recognized by the National Wrestling Alliance. The final champion was Angelo Mosca and the title was eventually abandoned after 1979.

There have been a total of 11 recognized champions who have had a combined 18 official reigns, with "Bullet" Bob Armstrong holding the most at four. At 131 days, Armstrong's second reign was the longest in the title's history. The shortest reigning champion was Hiro Matsuda, whose first and only reign lasted 21 days.

Reign The reign number for the specific set of wrestlers listed
Event The event promoted by the respective promotion in which the titles were won
N/A The specific information is not known
Used for vacated reigns so as not to count it as an official reign
(n) Indicates that a title change took place "no later than" the date listed.[Note 1]
  Indicates that there was a period where the lineage is undocumented due to the lack of written documentation
No. Champion Reign Date Days held Location Event Notes Ref.
1 Assassin #2 1 July, 1971 (n) [Note 2] N/A Live event [4]
2 Bill Dromo 1 October 6, 1971 [Note 3] Columbus, GA Live event [6]
                 
3 Bob Armstrong 1 September 6, 1972 126 Columbus, GA Live event [7]
4 Hiro Matsuda 1 January 10, 1973 21 Columbus, GA Live event [8]
5 Bob Armstrong 2 January 31, 1973 131 Columbus, GA Live event
6 Bobby Duncum 1 June 11, 1973 N/A Columbus, GA Live event [9][10]
7 Bill Dromo 2 1973 N/A N/A Live event [11]
8 Bobby Duncum 2 August 8, 1973 14 Columbus, GA Live event
9 Mr. Wrestling II 1 August 22, 1973 [Note 4] Columbus, GA Live event
10 Gorgeous George Jr. 1 November, 1973 (n) N/A N/A Live event [12]
                 
11 Bob Armstrong 3 January, 1974 (n) N/A N/A Live event
                 
12 Bob Armstrong 4 April, 1974 (n) N/A N/A Live event [13]
                 
Vacated 1975 N/A N/A Championship vacated for unknown reasons.  
                 
13 Mr. Wrestling II 2 February, 1977 (n) N/A N/A Live event [14]
                 
14 Mr. Wrestling II 3 January, 1978 (n) 102 N/A Live event [15]
15 Abdullah the Butcher 1 April 30, 1978 49 Columbus, GA Live event [16]
16 Stan Hansen 1 June 18, 1978 N/A Columbus, GA Live event [16][17]
                 
17 Ole Anderson 1 November 29, 1978 N/A Columbus, GA Live event Defeated Mr. Wrestling II. [18]
                 
18 King Kong Mosca 1 January, 1979 (n) N/A N/A Live event [19]
List of top combined reigns
 
"Bullet" Bob Armstrong, who was the longest-reigning Columbus Heavyweight Champion
¤ The exact length of several title reigns are uncertain, so the shortest possible length is used.
List of combined reigns
Rank Champion No. of reigns Combined days
1 Bob Armstrong 4 257¤
2 Mr. Wrestling II 3 173¤
3 Bill Dromo 2 119¤
4 Assassin #2 1 77¤
5 Abdullah the Butcher 1 49
6 Hiro Matsuda 1 21
7 Bobby Duncum 2 16¤
8 Gorgeous George Jr. 1 N/A
9 Stan Hansen 1 N/A
10 Ole Anderson 1 N/A
11 King Kong Mosca 1 N/A

NWA Columbus Tag Team ChampionshipEdit

NWA Columbus Tag Team Championship
Details
Promotion Georgia Championship Wrestling
Date established No later than January 1975
Date retired No later than February 1977

The NWA Columbus Tag Team Championship was a professional wrestling tag team championship in Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW). A secondary title complementing the NWA Columbus Heavyweight Championship, it was one of many state tag team championships recognized by the National Wrestling Alliance.

Some reigns were held by champions using a ring name, while others used their real name. There have been a total of 13 recognized individual champions and 8 recognized teams, who have had a combined 10 official reigns. The earliest recorded champions were The Mighty Yankees (Mighty Yankee #1 and Mighty Yankee #2), and the last-known champions were Robert Fuller and Bob Armstrong. The following is a chronological list of teams that have been Columbus Tag Team Champions by ring name.

Reigns The number of times a specific set of wrestlers have won the titles
Event The event promoted by the respective promotion in which the titles were won
N/A The information is not available.
Wrestler name (#) The number represents the number of times the wrestler has held the title individually
Used for vacated reigns in order to not count it as an official reign
(n) Indicates that a title change took place "no later than" the date listed.[Note 5]
  Indicates that there was a period where the lineage is undocumented due to the lack of written documentation
# Wrestlers Reigns Date Days held Location Event Notes Ref.
1 The Mighty Yankees
(Mighty Yankee #1 and Mighty Yankee #2)
1 January 22, 1975 (n) [Note 6] N/A House show
                 
2 Robert Fuller and Bob Armstrong 1 February, 1977 (n) N/A N/A House show  

National ChampionshipsEdit

Southern Championships (Georgia versions)Edit

International/World Championships (Georgia versions)Edit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Documentation of the specific date of a title change is not found but documentation of the champion holding the title on that date/in that period.
  2. ^ The exact date on which the title was lost is not known, which means their title reign lasted between 77 and 97 days.
  3. ^ The exact date on which the title was lost is not known, which means their title reign lasted between 119 and 335 days.
  4. ^ The exact date on which the title was lost is not known, which means their title reign lasted between 14 and 98 days.
  5. ^ Documentation of the specific date of a title change is not found but documentation of the champion holding the title on that date/in that period.
  6. ^ The exact date on which the title was won is not known, which means their title reign lasted between 1 and 741 days.

ReferencesEdit

General

Specific

  1. ^ Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.226)
  2. ^ History of WWF in-ring action in 1985
  3. ^ Championship Wrestling from Georgia profile, from WrestlingData.com
  4. ^ a b Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (July-September 1971)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ Avery, Fred Jr. (2004). "Regional Territories: GCW #17". KayfabeMemories.com. 
  6. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (October-December 1971)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (July-September 1972)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (January 1973)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (June 1973)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. 
  10. ^ Hoops, Brian (August 8, 2015). "On this day in pro wrestling history: Gagne wins AWA title from Fritz Von Erich, Wahoo beats Piper, Guerrera over Jericho". F4Wonline.com. Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Weekly. 
  11. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (August 1973)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. 
  12. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (November 1973)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. 
  13. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (April-June 1974)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 16, 2012. 
  14. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (January-March 1977)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. 
  15. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (January-March 1978)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (April-June 1978)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Pulse Wrestling's Top 100 Wrestlers of the Modern Era: #35 – Stan Hansen". March 21, 2008. 
  18. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (October-December 1978)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. 
  19. ^ Tate, Rich and Larry Goodman (ed.). "CARDS & RESULTS: 1970-79 (January 1979)". GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com. Georgia Wrestling History: Cards & Results. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. 

External linksEdit