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 - Bill Camp

This month I promised to talk about the history of WWWF television.  I thought this would be a novel approach to my monthly duties, as I do not recall any other section taking this approach before.  I should also mention that most of the early portions of this history comes from the website “Wrestling As We Liked It,” which is another fine site for us fans of Classic pro wrestling.

Early in Vincent J. McMahon’s career, he knew the importance of television for a wrestling product.  By the early 1960s he was already working behind the scenes for Fred Kohler’s “Wrestling Champions from Chicago” television show, the first network television wrestling show aired across the nation and seen by millions of viewers every week.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out McMahon was booking for Kohler in the later stages of the show since it appeared to have McMahon hands all over it just before being taken off the air.  It seems the McMahon family always believed that to be successful with “casual” fans of the sport, beyond us hardcore junkies, you had to present a product that was less toward wrestling and more toward gimmicks and showmanship.  Therefore, the later stages of “Wrestling Champions” used shorter matches, and gimmick wrestlers started popping up left and right, like “Prof.” Turo Tanaka, “Golden Moose” Cholack, and the ballet dancer Ricky Starr (although Starr first appears in the late 1950s, so he may not have been an incarnation of McMahon).

When McMahon left Kohler in 1963, he found longtime wrestling promoter Toots Mondt, who had been around since the 1930s, and they set out to start their own promotion together.  They first tried Columbus, OH, where they had the small and swift Dory Dixon defeat Buddy Rogers for the World Title, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t stick.  Perhaps McMahon had another chance to start the promotion in the much more lucrative market of New York City, because that’s exactly where he Mondt wound up.  Together they formed the World Wide Wrestling Federation, and since Mondt was getting up in the years while McMahon at this time was a young upstart, it was obvious who would end up with this business.

Their television shows came live from Philadelphia each week.  The show had the same look as Kohler’s “Wrestling Champions” under McMahon’s tenure with invariably four matches each week, basically all squashes.   More...

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