Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturdays of Glory (Part One)

Once upon a time, Saturdays were the best day of the week for me and my brother. Not only was there no school but wrestling was on! After Saturday morning cartoons, it was time for the best part of the day-Jim Crockett Promotion's (JCP) Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling . With stars like Ricky Steamboat, Jay Youngblood, Blackjack Mulligan, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka (to name but a few), we had a solid hour of nonstop entertainment.

Things got even better when we discovered that local Canadian station CHCH was broadcasting wrestling. With the help of good weather and a good antenna, we were able to see Maple Leaf Wrestling. The show featured talent from JCP as well as local Canadian stars like Dewey Robertson and Angelo "King Kong" Mosca. With retired Canadian legend Billy "Red" Lyons doing the announcing, we doubled our wrestling fix and saw even more new stars (MLW would sometimes bring in wrestlers from the AWA and WWF which meant they'd show video of them in their respective territories before showcasing them in live matches).

All good things come to an end though and Vince McMahon was buying up TV time like Pacman was gobbling up power pellets in arcades around the country. One day I tuned in to watch Ric Flair and I got Bob Backlund. ARGGGH!!! While the WWF had its fair share of talented wrestlers, the promotion couldn't hold a candle to my beloved Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Jim Crockett lined up some of the most colorful wrestlers around while the WWF at the time had guys like Bob Backlund, The Wild Samoans, and Tony Garea. Granted, all of these guys were solid performers but they weren't Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, or Roddy Piper. Worse yet, the WWF booked squash match after squash match with a rare angle thrown in from time to time.

Once in a while, a JCP star would show up in WWF, catching my interest. However it just wasn't the same. Seeing a former JCP favorite "Cowboy" Bob Orton feud with Bob Backlund did nothing for me, especially with the WWF style of booking (The WWF booked their weekly shows with squash match after squash match with a rare angle thrown in from time to time. Worse yet, feuds took forever to develop).

Fortunately for us, there was still Maple Leaf Wrestling to tune in to. After the WWF show , we eagerly tuned in to the often fuzzy broadcasts of Maple Leaf Wrestling to catch up on the latest action in JCP. That and the Apter mags were my lifeline to my favorite promotion. Through them, I kept up with all the storylines and longed for the day when JCP returned to Buffalo.

Then it happened. Oh cruel fate. What did I do to deserve this, not once but twice? One day I tuned in to Maple Leaf Wrestling to see the WWF stars alongside announcer Billy "Red" Lyons. Now, I was stuck with not one but two hours of crappy WWF TV. Vince McMahon had robbed me of my only pleasure in life.

Little did I know that business was about to pick up and the best was yet to come. Cable TV was going to open my eyes to an entirely new wrestling experience.

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