Channel 4's Studio Wrestling and Sportatorium Wrestling

When I started watching wrestling regularly around 1964, the wrestling show was from the Channel 4 [then KRLD, now KDFW] studio in Dallas. Studio Wrestling was in black and white, came on from 5 to 6 P.M. on Saturdays and usually had three matches. It was taped on Wednesday mornings to promote the matches at the Sportatorium.

The studio show did not have theme music. A voice-over announcer introduced the show and then it turned to announcer Bill Mercer. The matches were usually one-sided to promote the big names. There was a competitive match booked every now and then. (The matches listed for Dallas TV on 3-27-65 in the Results section came from the studio.)

Fritz Von Erich wrestled occasionally on the program but usually he was dressed in a suit and did promos. He smoked cigars constantly on the show. There was a stipulation on the show that he could not use the Iron Claw. If you wanted to see the claw, you had to pay at the arena. Ed McLemore told Fritz if he used the Iron Claw on Channel 4, he would never wrestle in Texas again. I think their explanation for it was that it was too bloody for TV.

The wildest feud that I remember seeing was Fritz Von Erich and Duke Keomuka. They had a big brawl on Studio Wrestling with Keomuka using karate chops with the point of the fingers to get the best of Fritz. When Keomuka was a heel, he would always use the illegal chops behind the referee's back and win the match. He also had the stomach claw and the feud was billed as "claw versus claw." He had been turned babyface against Fritz, who broke up with Keomuka after being accidentally hit with a judo chop. Von Erich also had feuds with Bull Curry and Cowboy Bob Ellis during the studio show era.

On a Saturday in September of 1965, the show suddenly appeared from the Sportatorium with no explanation given. They would show some underneath matches and sometimes one or two falls of the main event. The main events were 2 out of 3 falls back then. The stipulation that Fritz could not use the claw on Channel 4 was also dropped without explanation.

After the show went to the Sportatorium, Fritz took exception to something that Billy Red Lyons had said during an interview. Fritz went down and challenged Lyons to a match and was pinned in three minutes. It was the only time on that show that I remember Fritz getting pinned without interference or distractions from the outside of the ring.

George Preston was the ring announcer and always showed partiality to the babyface after the introductions. I believe Sportatorium Wrestling went to color in the late 60's. The show went to about 1970 and was then dropped.

I wish the film from those shows was still available. It was much better than what is on today.


Danny said...

During this era (Fritz still heel) when Fritz would be interviewed, sometimes the bell would sound signaling the contestants in the next match to come to the ring. Often when this happened Fritz would bellow in his gruffest voice, "Don't you ring that bell 'till I tell you to!"

Danny said...

I'm not sure of this, but I don't recall the Sportatorium show on KRLD ever going to color. The Ft. Worth show on KTVT-11 went to color in the early or mid '70's.