Wrestling at the Chase
Wrestling at the Chase was a professional wrestling television series that aired in St. Louis, Missouri. Initially, the matches were broadcast live on Saturday nights and repeated traditionally on Sunday mornings. This production method was later replaced by a live-to-tape system, meaning that while the performances were taped for later broadcast, they were shot entirely in one take as if airing live, so that no allowances were made for unforeseen or unscripted developments or events. It was promoted by the St. Louis Wrestling Club, which was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance.
The show was the brainchild of Sam Muchnick, president of the St. Louis Wrestling Club, and Harold Koplar, who owned KPLR and the old Chase Park Plaza Hotel. The two were together on an airplane in 1958 and wondered how they could put wrestling into St. Louis area homes.
The series began on May 23, 1959 and ran until September 10, 1983. KPLR-TV, Channel 11 produced and televised the matches, which were held at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis' Central West End and televised at 10:00 A.M.; conveniently, the KPLR studios were in an adjacent connecting building. The show produced approximately 1,100 episodes over its 24 years.
Although the St. Louis Wrestling Club began by taping one show at a time, they began taping three shows at a time on Sunday mornings in the early 1970s. Admission to the tapings was free, and the room in which the matches took place seated 900 fans.
Joe Garagiola was the initial play-by-play commentator. When he left in 1963, Don Cunningham took his place. The following year, Cunningham died, and was replaced with George Abel. He was joined in 1972 by Larry Matysik, who at the time, was also a part-time police officer in Belleville, Illinois. Ring announcers included John Curley, Eddie Gromacki and Joe Garagiola's brother Mickey Garagiola.
The show featured many of the most famous wrestlers in the NWA. Participants included Ric Flair, Harley Race, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Dick the Bruiser, Bruiser Brody, Gene Kiniski, Lou Thesz and Ted DiBiase.
WWF tapings held at the Chase
Wrestling at the Chase was consistently one of the highest rated television shows in St. Louis. Among St. Louis-based shows, it was third behind the local news and St. Louis Cardinals baseball games. The show often had over 100,000 viewers per episode. It is considered one of the pro wrestling industry's most historic programs.
As of 2009, 12 volumes of the program have been released for sale. In 2005, Larry Matysik's book, Wrestling at the Chase: The Inside Story of Sam Muchnick and the Legends of Professional Wrestling was published by ECW Press.
- Hornbaker, Tim (2006). National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling. ECW Press. p. 55. ISBN 1-55022-741-6.
- Matysik, Larry (2005). Wrestling at the Chase: The Inside Story of Sam Muchnick and the Legends of Professional Wrestling. ECW Press. p. 152. ISBN 1-55022-684-3.
- Sonderman, Steve. "May 23" (PDF). STLmedia.net. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
- Matysik, Larry (2005). Wrestling at the Chase: The Inside Story of Sam Muchnick and the Legends of Professional Wrestling. ECW Press. p. 153. ISBN 1-55022-684-3.
- "Wrestling History". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Retrieved 2009-01-26.[dead link]
- "Classic St Louis Wrestling Volumes 1-12". St. Louis Wrestling from the Chase. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- "Book Catalogue: Wrestling at the Chase". ECW Press. Retrieved 2009-01-26.