Championship Wrestling from Florida
|Founder(s)||"Cowboy" Clarence P. Luttrall|
Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) was the corporate and brand name of the Tampa, Florida wrestling office existing from 1961, when Eddie Graham first bought into the promotion, until 1987, when it closed down. It is also referred to as Florida Championship Wrestling. When Mike Graham tried a return to promoting, the rights to the name had been acquired by an outside party, forcing him to use another name, Florida Championship Wrestling.
The original owner and promoter was "Cowboy" Clarence Preston Luttrall, a former journeyman heel wrestler who once fought a widely publicized boxing match, resulting from a wrestling angle, with a forty-something Jack Dempsey. It worked but Cowboy took a severe beating. Cowboy opened the office in 1949, and Eddie Graham bought into the promotion in 1961, then took over completely in 1971, because of health reasons with Cowboy.
The office was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance during the entire CWF era, Eddie Graham serving two terms as NWA president, and loosely aligned before that, with other 'worldame a staple in many Southern households in the 1970s and 1980s, with Dusty Rhodes arguably its most noted headliner, his babyface turn beginning May 14 1974 against former partner Pak Song. The promotion competed against other syndicated shows on Saturday night like The Lawrence Welk Show and Solid Gold for years.
The promotion thrived with stars such as NWA champions Lou Thesz and Gene Kiniski, Graham, Bobby Shane Robert Lee Schoenberger, Don Curtis, Sam Steamboat, The Magnificent Muraco (Don Muraco), the Great Malenko (Larry Simon), Johnny Valentine, Hiro Matsuda, Bob Orton Sr. and later Bob Orton Jr., Joe Scarpa (later known as Chief Jay Strongbow), Wahoo McDaniel, the Funks (Terry and Dory Jr.), the Briscos (Jack and Jerry), Buddy Colt (Ron Read), Dusty Rhodes, Blackjack Mulligan, Bruiser Brody, Kendall Windham, Barry Windham, Mike Rotunda, Lex Lugar, Rick Rood (later Rick Rude), Harley Race, André the Giant, Jim Duggan, Hacksaw Butch Reed, Rick Steiner, The Freebirds, Cactus Jack, Scott Hall, Terry Allen (later more famous as Magnum T.A.), Percy Pringle (later more famous as Paul Bearer), Luna Vachon, Jimmy Garvin, Adrian Street, Héctor Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Sir Oliver Humperdinck, One Man Gang, J.J. Dillon, Gary Hart, Bob Roop, Mark Lewin, Dutch Mantel, Mike Graham (Eddie's son), The Sheepherders, Kevin Sullivan – whose cult-like Army of Darkness got tremendous heat from the fans – and, in the words of the promotion's legendary commentator and a star in his own right Gordon Solie, 'a host of others'. Solie's deadpan interviewing style often buoyed the outlandish behavior and actions of Sullivan and his minions, bringing a legitimacy to the on-air segments no matter what depths Sullivan would descend to.
Dusty Rhodes stands out among the noted performers because of the number of rivalries he had on air through most of CWF's broadcasting history. Well known heels, newcomers and babyfaces who turned heel during their tenure with CWF often sought out Rhodes to make their names in the territory. His rivals over the years included Superstar Billy Graham, Ray Stevens, Ernie Ladd, Ivan Koloff, Ox Baker, Ron Bass, Kamala, Abdullah the Butcher, Ric Flair, his old Texas Outlaws partner Dick Murdoch and of course, Kevin Sullivan.
After Eddie Graham's suicide
When Eddie Graham committed suicide in January 1985, due to a combination of personal and business problems, responsibility for the office went to Hiro Matsuda and Duke Keomuka, both of whom bought in during the 1960s. The other remaining owners were Mike Graham, Eddie's brother Skip Gossett, Dusty Rhodes and Buddy Colt. The promotion continued losing money and merged with Jim Crockett Promotions in February 1987. Most of the stars had gone to Jim Crockett Promotions or the WWF by that point.
Television programs and tape library
CWF filmed and later taped its weekly TV wrestling show at the famed Sportatorium at 106 N. Albany in Tampa, Fla., which was in reality a small television studio with seating for a live audience of about 100 people (1/40th of the seating capacity of its Dallas counterpart), with the wrestling office and gym in the same building. Arena footage was always also used, and full arena show broadcasts began in the early '80s. CWF Spin-off shows were Championship Wrestling Superstars, Global Wrestling, North Florida Championship Wrestling, United States Class Wrestling, American Championship Wrestling and Southern Professional Wrestling.
In 2003, Kevin Rhodes started Championship Wrestling from Florida as a member of the NWA. He occasionally has some stars of 1980s wrestling appear in his promotion.
In 2007, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) revived the promotion as a developmental territory under the name Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). In 2012, the promotion began operating under the NXT banner, dropping references to FCW.
On June 28, 2013, the WWE formally shuttered the Florida Championship Wrestling Arena, moving all equipment and personnel to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
- NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship
- NWA Florida Television Championship
- NWA Florida Junior Heavyweight Championship
- NWA Florida Women's Championship
- NWA Southern Women's Championship (Florida version)
- NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Florida version)
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version)
- NWA Southern Tag Team Championship (Florida version)
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Florida version)
- NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Florida version)
- NWA Florida Tag Team Championship
- NWA Bahamas Championship
- NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Florida version)
- NWA Global Tag Team Championship
- List of National Wrestling Alliance territories
- List of independent wrestling promotions in the United States
- "WrestlingTerritories.png". Freakin' Awesome Network Forums :: Freakin' Awesome Wrestling Forum :: (w)Rest of Wrestling. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
- Scheiber, Dave (September 23, 2007). "MINORS' QUIET MVP READY TO HANG SPIKES: As president, Mike Moore helped modernize the minor leagues and make them profitable". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
- N.W.A. Championship Wrestling from Florida
- "Florida Championship Wrestling unveils new arena in Tampa, Fla". World Wrestling Entertainment. 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2008-07-08.