Vol. 37: Jim Crockett Jr. and the Story of Jim Crockett Promotions Rise to National Popularity

Today we have another career tribute for somebody that was not a wrestler. To tell the story of Jim Jr. (or Jimmy) we first have to look at the family and the business at the time. Jim Crockett Sr. (aka “Big Jim”) was a promoter of many sports and entertainment, including pro wrestling. Vince McMahon talked about how much his dad respected Big Jim, and that he was a good promoter and a good man.

Big Jim ran Jim Crocket Promotions from 1935 until his sudden untimely death of a heart attack in 1973 at the age of 63. The company was originally meant to go to John Ringley. who was married to the oldest sibling, Frances Crockett. However, he got caught cheating on her and the reigns were handed over to Jim Jr.

It’s worth noting that even in the 1970s a woman owning and running a business was still uncommon. It’s also worth noting that Ann Gunkel tried running a wrestling promotion after her husband Roy passed away and was not very successful.

One of the main changes Jim made after taking over the promotion was to bring in George Scott and focus on singles feuds for bigger arenas. He is also credited with creating the NWA Mid-Atlantic US Title, which has a lineage still recognized by WWE to this day. He also helped forge what would become a vital part of wrestling, the major show PPV like Starrcade.

When you look at it from a per capita standpoint, he ran the #1 territory for a while. In 1985 he famously bought the timeslot of 6:05 PM ET Saturday Night timeslot for TBS replacing the WWF show and beating out Bill Watts. The first two or three years after that were some of the best years of any wrestling promotion ever. While, JCP still was running in the southeastern part of the US (Georgia, The Carolinas, Virginia, and Florida), they still managed to sell more tickets to wrestling events than Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation, which had expanded nationally.

Unfortunately, despite outselling WWE in ticket sales in 1986, Jim Crockett Promotions wound up over one million dollars in debt in 1988. The family had no choice but to sell the company to Ted Turner’s media company.

As mentioned during the show, Crazy Train was a guest on The Willis Show.