This test pattern and others like it, replaced the old "indian head" version as the standard in setting up equipment.

First Person | TV Wrasslin'

By Gene Birke

I directed Championship Wrestling for several years. We taped the shows m on Wednesday nights, and most of the time we finished matches on time. However, to make things look "honest," Jim Crockett would have longer bouts occasionally. Before we started the show series, we flew to Nashville to see a local bout on WLAC-TV. Bill Ward, Crockett's guy Leo Voss, and I flew over on the company plane one weekend. We all agreed we could do a better job than they did.

Jim CrockettJim Crockett was a wonderful man. Every Wednesday before the show, he would treat the whole crew to dinner, wherever we wanted to eat. Of course, he reimbursed me with a wad of cash from his pocket. Every Christmas season, I would get a call from a salesman at Mellon's. He had instructions to let me pick anything in the men's clothing limit. I built up a pretty good wardrobe. Of course, when Baxter's clothing (the sponsor) made the same offer, it wasn't as easy to find something decent.

During pre-show meetings, we would go over the upcoming matches, and everybody was very serious. After some meetings, Jim would corner me and say "Gene, watch out in the main event...there may be some fireworks."  Magically, there were!

Tom Cookerly hated that the show had such good ratings. I'm sure he would have liked to take it off. It was so successful,  Jim  filled  the old Coliseum several times as a result of the TV show. His son contacted me in Nashville after I moved here, because he wanted to do the same show here. He never followed up.

Jim was hugely overweight, and was hospitalized once because of it. I went to see him one night, and the door was closed. I knocked, and Leo Voss opened it, and, seeing it was me, let me in and closed the door. Jim was lying in the bed, eating hamburgers that had been smuggled in by his guys. I said, "Jim, what are you doing? You're supposed to be trying to lose weight!" He said, "I've got to eat something! I could starve to death in here!"

Bill Ward mangled the English every show (i.e. "That's like the devil between the deep blue sea"). I made a list of them (an 11 x 14 list) and sent them to Bob Quincy (another nice guy), and he printed the whole list in his column in the Observer. I felt badly that they had printed the list, and I apologized to Bill Ward about it. He said "Don't worry about it.  It was great publicity!"


Old news clippings courtesy Dick Bourne at Mid-Atlantic Gateway