Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Dean and The Voice of World Wide Wrestling


Many of today's fans associate Johnny Weaver's broadcasting career with the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and NWA Pro Wrestling shows that aired in the 1980s, primarily as a result of Johnny's national exposure on NWA Pro when it was syndicated to markets all around the United States as Jim Crockett Promotions began to expand nation wide. But long time fans in the territory might best remember him with his first broadcast partner, the host of World Wide Wrestling from 1978-1982, Rich Landrum.

Landrum worked in Richmond VA as the ring announcer for Jim Crockett Promotions/Murnich Promotions shows in Richmond and the surrounding area going back to the late 1960s, and took over television host duties for the re-vamped "World Wide Wrestling" in 1978. Landrum made the weekly trek each Wednesday from Richmond to WRAL TV studios in Raleigh NC. He originally hosted the show solo with occasional guest co-hosts, and then took on Weaver as a regular partner in 1979, even though Weaver continued wrestling a near full time schedule through 1981.

They became a very popular broadcasting duo over the next four years, and are still remembered today, especially for one of their signiture spots where Johnny would offer his rendition of "Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over" at the end of a match each week, as Landrum then reviewed the match's finish on instant replay.

In 2007, Landrum appeared on a Burlington NC wrestling event and briefly reunited with Weaver to introduce the finals of the Johnny Weaver Cup Tag Team Tournament. Weaver passed away 6 months later, and in November of 2008, Landrum made a second appearance at a tribute show for Johnny Weaver in Rocky Mount VA along with Johnny's daughter Wendi. The show also featured wrestling legend Jim Nelson/Boris Zhukov in action, who was one of Johnny's last tag partners during the last years of his career in the ring in 1983.

Special thanks to Wendi Weaver for providing this photograph from her father's personal collection.

Related blog post: Weaver does color commentary
Related feature: WRAL Studio Wrestling
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Interviews with Rich Landrum | Johnny Weaver