Sunday, May 22, 2011

#5 of Best Places for Wrestling - Florida

This will be the first blog in series that I am starting on blog called "Best Places for Wrestling". Professional wrestling tends to thrive in certain places more than others. So I decided to put together a list for what I call the best places for wrestling. The criteria I used for this list were big time promotions that existed in that area. Also famous wrestlers that were either from or careers that thrived in that area. I did consider iconic events in professional wrestling such as Wrestlemanias and classic matches that may have taken place there. Just to give you an idea, places like Detroit, New York and Chicago just missed this list.

So lets start with the first place on my list the wonderful state of Florida. The sunshine state is the current home of the main WWE developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling(FCW). Also in Orlando TNA's Impact Wrestling is filmed there. One of the most legendary promotions ever in the state was Championship Wrestling from Florida ran by the late great Eddie Graham.
Starting 1961 Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) was brand name of the Tampa, Florida wrestling office that Graham owned and ran with the legendary Hiro Matsuda and Dean Keomuka. Matsuda is one of the most famous trainer ever to be in the business. Training such legends as Hulk Hogan and Ron Simmons. This legendary promotion was the launching pad for several big time wrestlers and also featured icons such as Lou Thesz, Barry Windham, and the great Dusty Rhodes.
Grahams promotion also saw established wrestling like the Funks and the Briscos stop in for a while. The promotion filmed and later taped its weekly TV wrestling show at the famed Sportatorium at 106 N. Albany in Tampa, FL - a small television studio with seating for a live audience of about 100 people, with the wrestling office and gym under that same roof.
The legendary promotion also had a legendary voice calling the matches. The voice of Championship Wrestling of Florida was the great Gordon Solie. Solie was one of hte most innovative and influential announcers and play by play men ever.
The promotion thrive until 1985 when Eddie Graham passed away due to suicide. The promotion was kept alive until 1987 by Graham's son Mike and was later sold to Jim Crockett promotions.

Famous Names that Passed Through CWF

Lex Luger
Wahoo McDaniel
Superstar Billy Graham
Jake Roberts
Harley Race

Wrestlers From Florida
Hulk Hogan
Randy Macho Man Savage
The Rock
Jimmy Jam Garvin

Major Wrestling Events in Florida
Royal Rumble 1990 Orlando, FL
Royal Rumble 1995 Tampa, FL
Wrestlemania XXIV Orlando, FL 2008
Survivor Series 2007, 2010 in Miami, FL
Wrestlemania XXVIII to be held in Miami, FL April 2012

Florida Wrestling Web Pages
FCW Page
NWA Florida

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