We are one week away from THE event that has captivated the pro wrestling world. After an absence of almost three years, Starrcast V, a wrestling convention that also presents dozens of “stage shows’ ‘ featuring live podcasts, live wrestling matches, a roast, panel discussions, Q&A sessions and so much more.
The brainchild of Conrad Thompson, it will be taking place July 29th-31st in Nashville, Tennessee. Starting with “The Roast of Ric Flair” Friday night July 29th, then Saturday July 30th is filled with panel discussions and photo ops with a who’s who of the pro wrestling world. It culminates Sunday night July 31st at 6:05 PM with a card full of wrestling matches, highlighted by the main event of “Ric Flair’s Last Match.” If you can’t be there in person, you can access all the Pay-Per-Views at https://www.fite.tv/vl/pc/thuzio/united-states/
For all the up to date information, package deals and any questions, go to https://starrcast.com/
Yiorgo: With us today is legendary promoter and TV host David Crockett, of the famed Jim Crockett Promotions. David, along with the podfather and mortgage guy himself Conrad Thompson, formed an unstoppable tag-team and have taken the wrestling world by storm. They are presenting “Ric Flair’s Last Match” event. David, how did you and Conrad first connect and what brought you together originally
David Crockett: It was around Christmas a few years ago, and Tony Schiavone called me and asked me if I wanted to do his and Conrad’s podcast, “What Happened When?” I said yes and that started the relationship between Conrad and I. From there, I did a few more and our friendship grew.
Y: Your dad Jim Crockett Senior, God Rest his Soul, started Jim Crockett Promotions back in 1931. Did you always wanted to be an announcer ?
DC: Oh no, I didn’t start out to be an announcer. I wanted to be behind the camera. We were taping our shows at the WRAL TV studio in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jim Goodman, who at that time was Executive Vice President, came to us and said, “You guys need to start your own television production. You’re taking up a good 3 days of all of our tape machines, personnel, and so forth, and they could make a lot more money on having what they call one offs.”
I took that as sort of marching orders and I started learning about behind the camera and the TV camera itself, audio, lighting and how to run the graphic machines. I learned from Wayne Daniel who was a master in the tape room, how to do replays on the tape machines. He would put up a dot and it would rewind back to that dot and that’s how he created the ins and outs of our program, going into commercial break, going into an end que. Eventually we found a truck in eastern North Carolina that was for sale. It belonged to an evangelist. We bought it, tore everything out, put tape machines, and then really one inch, half inch, 3 quarter inch Attachi, Panasonic and Sony. And then we had about five, two inch mpex machines back at our building, and several other three quarter machines. When we came back at night, we had like an umbilical cord from the truck that would go in. We hooked it up to all the machines and spent the night dubbing. We would then put interviews into the tapes for the different cities and send them out by 4 o’clock that afternoon. It was something.
I was more interested in the hands-on portion of it, then the theory behind it and learning what the machine can do, what the camera can do. I even started working with an Attachi handheld. And you’re expected to have your right hand up working on the lens. It was a job, And we started with four cameras and eventually we had five.
At one point we just used light zones on Jenny Towers to light the ring and we were producing these shows in high school Gyms, Rec. Centers, small arenas to get our audience. We also wanted the fans to leave happy, so we had main events for them besides what we taped. We did our interviews down at ringside. Keeping an audience became a problem. I had a motive, because part of the company was mine, so I had to figure out the quickest and best way to do it, and it was baptism under fire.
Y: Coming back to today, how did this particular concept of Jim Crockett Promotions Presents “Ric Flair’s Last Match” come together?
DC: Conrad came to me to talk about doing an event around Ric Flair’s last match and that’s when I said Ric is nuts to think about doing that. Conrad said, “David, you need to come to Tampa and watch him do his exercise, and so forth.” I wasn’t gonna commit until I saw that. Ric’s body fat ratio is better than it’s ever been. He is doing cardio, which he has always done. Ric has always been 90% cardio and maybe 10% weights.
That has helped Ric’s longevity, so much more than other wrestlers, and he’s always taking care of himself, you know. I say that, and at the same time we all know Ric Flair. He takes care of himself, he works out in the morning and then that afternoon, and into the night, the bright lights, big city, women. Oh, my God! He’s got that boat down in Tampa, the Wooooo. He has a Captain for it. I would not get on it, if he didn’t have a Captain for it. So I went, I watched, I talked to Ric and he said, “David, I don’t need the money, but I have something to prove.”
Ric also said that he didn’t go out the right way and when he said that I started thinking about Jim Crockett Promotions and how we didn’t go out the right way either. Everyone knows, I fought tooth and nail, not to sell to Turner and yes, I always had a bad taste in my mouth. I just didn’t like it, and it further split the family. That’s another conversation.
Y: Would you mind expanding on that?
DC: The family was split before that. Dusty Rhodes and my brother Jimmy Crockett went to Texas, when Jimmy bought the Mid-South territory from Bill Watts. That just opened a can of worms as far as the debt that Bill had. We didn’t do our good diligence and then people would start doing crazy things like at some of our events we would have David Allen Coe, Wayland Jennings and Hank Williams Junior. Why are you doing this? It’s a wrestling event and you’re paying them $100,000 more plus production, for just one or 2 songs. If that’s what you want, then do a concert and separate the two out.
Y: How did that concept even start?
DC: It started with the Rock and Roll Express. We did the Rock and Roll Express Tour. They were on a bus, we went to high school stadiums and wrestled, we had the cheerleaders ride on the bus with chaperones and the radio station sponsor and it was a hit. So they said, why can’t we do this for our big event “The Great American Bash.” It was in the spring and the summer and it really was good. Of course we didn’t go national with it but in the Carolinas and Virginia, it really worked. But when you take it to high cost cities your cost triples. And outside is risky business, you know, in the spring and summer, because of the weather.
And when Jimmy purchased the second plane, he named it Stardust and I think you could only seat six. So who’s gonna suck up to whom to get on the jet. Now, I’d rather fly commercial unless I really had something to do. But yeah, that really started it and it split the family, it split the wrestlers. Who gets to ride and who doesn’t. It wasn’t right. So I decided to do this so we can go out in a fitting way. There again if this is the last time for Jim Crockett Promotions. You never know. It might not be. I hate to say it but it gets back in your blood, it never goes away. The adrenaline rush of creating something that works. Talking to Ric, too, was important. My concern was the fans. Are they gonna get a quality, unique special event, and not a belly flop. And I really believe they’re gonna get a special, unique, exciting event. Ric Flair is going to be Ric Flair. He might be a step slower, but he is going to be Ric Flair.
My concern now is, what is Ric going to do with his life because he is known throughout the world. You see him, going through the airport and the athletes and the entertainers, that know, like and love him, he lives and dies with the audience. There is something else in his life for Ric. He’s been too close several times to going over the edge. We were in that plane crash together.
Y: In horrific accidents like that, they say it’s best if you don’t remember. Do you have any memories of the plane crash?
DC: I don’t. It’s to the point of I don’t know what I’ve been told and what I do remember. Well I take that back. I do remember the engine on one side cutting off. And for some reason I want to say that we were over Lumberton or Florence, South Carolina and to this day I don’t know why we didn’t land at either one because they both have airports. My seat was the only seat that did not break loose in the plane. Everybody else did. God was thinking of me. Also, with the plane crash in 1975, afterwards, Ric and I were in the same hospital room. With his back broken the way it was, he would ask my wife Valerie to move the sheet just to get to a different position.
Y: And a few years ago we almost lost him again.
DC: He was in intensive care, they called me, I rushed to the hospital, we all prayed, he came back, had a pacemaker put in, he had heart problems and he’s come back, his doctor has given the okay, so you know, God has another purpose for Ric.
Y: What have been some of your favorite behind the scene moments in regards to this whole experience?
DC: Working on the Ric Flair documentary and seeing so many great old friends. It was great seeing Tommy Young again and talking to him. Magnum TA, he’s doing well, he’s got several businesses going. Nikita Koloff, we spent two hours together and I’d love to spend more time with him. His philosophy on life and talking about how he entered wrestling not knowing anything, and look at him today. I saw Jake “The Snake” Robertsand Diamond Dallas Page. DDP is doing fantastic. You know I have my family, but I had another family, the Jim Crockett Promotions family and it was great seeing them doing well. And not just the wrestlers but those behind the scenes as well.
Y: The band is back together again. David Crockett and Tony Schiavone will be announcing the matches and of course Ric Flair’s last match. What are your thoughts about that?
DC: After all these years we are reuniting on a replica of the original 6:05 PM TBS studio set. It’s very exciting. I am really looking forward to it. It may also be the last time it may happen because of Tony’s contract with All Elite Wrestling. We were very fortunate in Tony Khan allowing him to do it.
And thanks to Tony Khan again for allowing us to use Arn Anderson and his son Brock. Wow what a nice kid, and he looks just like his dad, too.
Y: You’ve stayed friends with Tony Schiavone through all these years. What was your first impression of Tony when you met him?
DC: Well, Greenwood, South Carolina was the first time I saw Tony. I remember saying, who is this kid? I mean he was a kid. He could have been my son. I told him he had to grow a mustache just to look older. But such a talent. Talk about somebody that can cut a person apart. You think he is mild and meek, no way, no way, no way. He has a gift of the king’s English and he uses it to tear people apart when he wants to.
Y: What are some of your favorite moments with Tony? Hanging out at the bar, traveling, on the set, etc.
DC: Tony didn’t hang out that much at the bar. Going out to eat and definitely announcing was fun. You know I’m the crazy person and he’s the straight guy I guess. And Tony is so knowledgeable. We were a good twosome. We were like ham and eggs.
Next week Part II.
Yiorgo is an arts, entertainment and sports writer. A stage, TV and movie actor, he is also a sports entertainer, educator, motivational speaker, writer, storyteller and columnist.