Speaking on a recent episode of Grilling JR, Jim Ross has dismissed claims that Vince McMahon is responsible for putting the territories out of business. Instead suggesting that the cause of failure for many of the promotions was due to laziness and unwillingness to change.
Responding to a question from Ad-Free Shows own Conrad Thompson, Jim Ross would discuss the outside perception of the WWE during the mid-eighties and the wider wrestling business’ reaction to McMahon’s push to make the WWE mainstream:
“They [promoters] were uneasy because they did not want to change to keep up with the times. When people say ‘Vince put all these territories out of business, that stuff’s bullsh*t. It’s the silliest goddamn thing in the world. These local promoters put each other out of business because they didn’t change with the times.”
Continuing, Jim Ross would discuss the specificities within wrestling that the minds behind many of wrestling’s territories [such as Fritz or Eddie Graham] refused to adapt to:
They didn’t want to change the TV camera angles, they didn’t want to change graphics, they didn’t want to change talent, they didn’t want to change the way they format a show.
Eddie Graham served as Booker and Promoter for ‘Championship Wrestling from Florida’ working alongside Hiro Matsuda and Duke Keomuka. The promotion featured a who’s who of mid-eighties Superstars including the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Bob Orton Sr., Barry Windham, Cactus Jack and Andre the Giant.
Graham would sadly take his own life in January of 1985, following his death ‘Championship Wrestling for Florida’ was purchased and merged with Jim Crockett promotions due to struggling financial performances.
In 2007 WWE would revive the promotion under an updated title [due to ownership issues with the original] and Florida Championship Wrestling [FCW] was created, serving as WWE’s developmental brand until late 2012 when it was rebranded as NXT.
The FCW Heavyweight Championship was held by multiple future WWE Champions including Jake Hager, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins.
Finally, JR would outline the importance of adapting in wrestling and why it’s not as simple as copy and pasting a card week to week with outlined main event slots and main event talent before giving his final verdict on why the territories collapsed:
You can’t just have a format and fill-in-the-blanks, ‘this is our main event slot, this is going to be these two guys, this is going to be this slot’. Maybe you’ve gotta put your main event on first, and hook people, or maybe second, ‘no, we’ve always done it this way. I’ve always said promoters who b*tch and moan about Vince putting them out of business is a cop-out. You went out of business because you didn’t want to change, you’re lazy, you’re uncreative. […] The promoters put themselves out of business and blame everything on McMahon. He can be held accountable for a lot of things in the eyes of some, but the territories going to hell.”
Conrad Thompson and Jim Ross can be found every week on the Grilling JR Podcast, the most recent edition of the show can be found here.
If you use any quotes from this transcript please provide a h/t and link back to Inside The Ropes.