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 - Rich Tate

Last month, I discussed what led to the origins of Georgia Championship Wrestling, where Ann Gunkel had decided to break away from ABC Booking's Live Atlanta Wrestling branch of the NWA in Atlanta.  This month, I will delve into what happened to make the NWA Atlanta group rebound from the power struggle and allowed them to succeed, and remain a vital cog in the NWA machine.

When Ann opened the All-South group, she had a roster of talent that left the ABC office, and Turner gave her a slot on WTCG that aired immediately after the Live Atlanta Wrestling program.  Her show would be called All-Star Wrestling.  The interesting thing to note here is that both groups shared the same studio at Techwood, and not only did their shows air back-to-back, but they taped them that way, also.  Although there was no animosity between the workers coming and going, it is quite obvious there may have been in the offices backstage.

Because Ward had decided to renege on booking for All-South, Ann needed a way to run shows there.  Columbus has always been a huge wrestling area, and Ward had consistently kept the house filled over the years with the very wrestlers that Ann now utilized.  Realizing that she had the talent the fans knew and wanted to continue seeing, she had Steinborn acquired a license to promote shows there.  But Ward had a monopoly on the Auditorium, larger than the arena at the Armory, where All-South ran initially, and she struggled to acquire permission to run there.  The local government originally sided with Ward as the exclusive promoter for any wrestling events at the Auditorium, and the matter had to go through legal action before All-South could get its foot in the door.  Once she did, she was now able to match Jones and Fuller's numbers in both Atlanta and Columbus.  It appeared as though she had succeeded in her venture.

Other affiliates of the NWA, mostly from Tampa, had sent wrestlers from all over the country to help build cards immediately after the split.  Jones received assistance from such wrestlers as Ramon Torres, Hiro Matsuda, Stan and Butcher Vachon, Dale Lewis, Chief Jay Strongbow, Boris Malenko, Andre the Giant, and Sputnik Monroe. WWWF champion Pedro Morales made some trips to Atlanta, also, as did Don Curtis, who had been promoting in Jacksonville, FL for Eddie Graham's Tampa office since his retirement from the ring.  Graham, himself, came along a few times, and Buddy Fuller (Welch) returned briefly, too.  More...

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