The National Expansion of 1984


Even when Linda McMahon was going through confirmation hearing for SBA administrator, there was criticism that the McMahons put all their competition out of business starting with the national expansion in 1984 and buying WCW in 2001.

Vince didn’t exactly put mom and pop shops out of business, he beat a group of greedy promoters who were running a cartel (NWA). Vince is seen as breaking a gentleman’s agreement not to move out of his allotted Northeast territory, but I say there is no honor among thieves. Vince saw the expansion of cable, he saw weak competition that was stuck in the 1960s, and he saw rosters that he could easily raid.

With cable tv and pay per view, it was inevitable that the territory system would die and if Vince didn’t take advantage, someone else would have. So if Vince doesn’t go national, who does? Bill Watts, Fritz Von Erich?

Even with the first idea to compete against Vince was the colossal failure known as Pro Wrestling USA, which if I recall was Verne Gagne, Jim Crockett, Jerry Jarrett, and some other promoters trying to work together. It failed because there was no honor among thieves especially when David Crockett was caught trying to recruit AWA stars to jump to Mid-Atlantic at SuperClash I. Jim Crockett pulls out of Pro Wrestling USA and then goes through the costly trouble of buying out Central States, Florida, and Watts’ UWF, which eventually is such a bad deal that Ted Turner has to buy him out. Aside from competing against Vince, I don’t remember promoters trying to take business from other promoters who weren’t Vince.

I remember Vince being asked about SuperClash III which was the AWA, Jarrett, and Von Erich working together. Vince claims he had no worry about it because he knew it would fail because promoters can’t work together. Of course, it’s alleged that Vince alerted the Illinois State Athletic Commission that Kerry Von Erich had a prosthetic foot.

So if Vince doesn’t go national in 1984, what happens? Does someone else get the idea to do it? Or do we have a long, drawn out range war between 3-4 promoters like Gagne, Crockett, Jarrett, Watts, and Von Erich that takes years to conclude?

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Quite the leadup to the question there.

Yeah, if Vince doesn’t do the expansion, someone else does, 100%. Crockett wanted to be the guy, and in fact he did all the same stuff Vince did but on a smaller scale and not as successfully. Verne would steal TV time for other promoters regularly and use whatever underhanded tactics he needed to keep his foothold in California and the Midwestand he only started crying foul when Vince did it more effectively to him. Also, while you could argue that most of the big guys that Vince killed off were too stupid to live anyway, he also wiped out a LOT of smaller promotions without blinking. And not only that, he did it by offering them exposure on his TV show as a gesture of goodwill and then turning around and stealing all the talent for himself once they were over to his audience. Kind of like what he’s doing now with the indies in Britain, where it’s kindly old Uncle Vince helping them out until he wants a UK foothold and then BAM, pull all your contracted talent OR ELSE. I don’t necessarily feel bad for ALL the promoters, but I do feel bad for a lot of them, and especially the fans who were no longer given a choice of what promotion they wanted to watch in the 80s.


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