One night, during a taping of the Mid-Atlantic promotion’s World Wide Wrestling, host Rich Landrum called an audible in introducing his color man. Ordinarily, he welcomed fans to show the show and brought out “the ever-popular” Johnny Weaver. On this occasion, he embellished the intro with “the ever-popular Dean of Professional Wrestling, Johnny Weaver.”

Weaver looked at him incredulously as he walked into the camera shot. “You are the Dean,” Landrum recalled telling Weaver. “Who’s been here longer than you?” When they went to a commercial, Weaver stared and vowed to get even.

“He started calling me ‘The Voice’” Landrum said. “That’s the way it was with emails. We emailed back and forth a couple of times a week, and he would call me ‘The Voice’ and I’d call him The Dean. It’s funny, his emails were always all-caps and very little punctuation. That was just John.”

“The Voice” went silent on August 14, 2023, when Landrum died outside of Richmond, Virginia, at the age of 77. His long career in broadcasting was highlighted by the four years he spent on World Wide Wrestling, produced by Jim Crockett Promotions. He was a mellifluous foil to Wahoo McDaniel, Ernie Ladd, Roddy Piper, Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, and even “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers.

“I felt fortunate that I was there during its golden era, its heyday, whatever,” Landrum said in an interview. “I learned a lot, not just about the sport, but I learned a lot about the guys, and I made some really good friends, friends that are still friends to this day. That means a lot. It’s kind of like away from the ring, away from everything, you’re a part of a bigger family and you’ll always be a part of that family.”

A Richmond native, Landrum started working at a top local radio station when he was a teenager and was on-air a TV station in nearby Petersburg when a friend dragged him to see a wrestling card at the Richmond Fairgrounds in 1972. Promoter Joe Murnick noticed Landrum and walked over to him a few minutes before show started. The regular ring announcer from another TV station was a no-show and Murnick wanted to know if Landrum would handle the duties. A star was born.

“I’d seen enough of it on TV, so I knew what to do,” Landrum said. “After the show, when he was paying me, he said, ‘You know, you’re pretty good. You keep coming back, I’ll keep paying you.’ He paid me a big ten dollars. So keep in mind, that was 1972, so that was pretty good money. I kept coming back.

Landrum continued as ring announcer in Richmond, becoming a recognizable in a hot market. “It was on top,” Landrum said of wrestling. “Joe Murnick once said, ‘There are three sports that survive in Richmond — baseball, racing and rasslin.’” In mid-1977, he started doing commercial interview segments for upcoming matches. He became the lead announcer on World Wide Wrestling, the “B” show for the promotion the following year, wearing a brown tuxedo to match the tuxedos worn on Crockett’s competitor International Championship Wrestling.

“You know how hard it is to find a brown tuxedo?” Landrum laughed. He kept the hideous apparel until 2003, when his wife wanted it out of the house.

“A month later, (wrestler) George South calls me, ‘Do you still have that brown tuxedo? I’ll buy it from you. I’d like to put it in my museum.’ ‘Hold on a minute, I’ll let you talk to my wife. Here.’ She just looked at me like, sorry about that.

Landrum had a lot of TV experience but was in awe of the quality of World Wide, taped at WRAL in Raleigh. “Their equipment, at the time, was top of the line, right on target. Their production was just fantastic. Their studios were huge.” A typical shoot might run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with interviews, a break for dinner, than a return to do the TV show. “It was a long day and a tiring day,” Landrum said.

When calling the action, Landrum said he never wanted to know the match finish unless booker George Scott needed him to get out of the way of a flying body. “I didn’t know who was going to do it, because then I would be too pre-programmed for it, and it would not be spontaneous,” he said. World Wide was must-viewing for fans in the Carolinas and beyond, especially when Weaver came on board toward the end of his active career.

“No matter what show it was, whether it was a small spot show somewhere or a Coliseum show, he got as big a pop coming into the room and the main event would, and I think he could have went main event as much as he wanted, but I think he wanted to slow down some.”

Interviews with Mid-Atlantic stars went smoothly, for the most part, as Landrum alternative between handing the mic over to Flair or Piper, and working overtime to take John Studd through a promo. An incident with Wahoo McDaniel, however, showed Landrum was no pushover for the big-name guys. McDaniel could be moody and got into it with Landrum one night in the dressing room at the Richmond Coliseum.

“He asked me about something in the match and I guess he figured I was going to say, ‘Oh, it was great, you were over.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re this, this and this. It was good but it wasn’t one of your star matches.’ And he hauled off and chopped me,” Landrum recalled. “I looked at him and said, ‘You ever do that again I’ll kill you.’ Simple as that. He looked at me like nobody’s ever said that to him. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll kill you. Don’t ever do that to me again.’ ‘How you going to do it?’ I said, ‘I’ll shoot you. What did you think?’”

Landrum walked out and Blackjack Mulligan who also was in the dressing room, caught up with him later on and told him he did the right thing. “I said, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Yeah. He’ll never fool with you again. He’ll respect you now.’”

One of Landrum’s favorites was Bill Eadie, the Masked Superstar, and he ended up being the wrestler’s medic. Eadie did a run-in during a match in Richmond and was standing in a corner with Landrum, pushing their way to the locker room. “When we got to the back, he was holding his side, and I said, ‘What happened?’ He said, ‘I was stabbed.’ I said, What?! Let me see that!’ And sure enough he had. It wasn’t wide, it was a stab, but I didn’t know how deep it was and that was my concern at the time.”

Kayfabe was still the order of the day, so Landrum drove Eadie to Henrico Doctor’s Hospital instead of a hospital closer to the Coliseum, where fans might have followed. Fortunately, it was not a deep wound and Eadie was wrestling the next night.

Crockett Promotions released Landrum in 1982; by then, it had moved tapings to a smaller, less expensive studio in Charlotte. It was a controversial decision, to say the least, and apparently driven by cost considerations.

David Crockett came up and he’s counting out my money. My deal had always been, with any promoter, you pay me that night in cash and send me a 1099 at the end of the year if you like. He said, ‘Oh, by the way, this is your last show.’ And I went, ‘What? What did you just say.’ ‘This is your last show.’ I said, ‘Thanks, David, I really appreciate that. My mom died two weeks ago and you hit me with this.’ ‘Well, I didn’t know about that, I’m sorry.’ ‘It’s funny, all the boys knew it, but you didn’t know it? Even the boys sent flowers. You didn’t send anything.’” Jay Youngblood and Jimmy Valiant tried to intercede with Ole Anderson, who had replaced Scott as booker. The promotion offered a job at lower pay, but with the added travel expenses, Landrum figured he would lose money on the deal. I said, ‘I really appreciate it. Thank you, but not, I can’t do it for that.’”

Rich Landrum

Rich Landrum

Landrum worked for about a year as a house announcer on WWE shows, following Scott who had moved to the federation, overcame some health issues, and later went into private business. He was a regular for years at Mid-Atlantic fanfests and put on a few shows in his home of Colonial Heights, Virginia.

He is survived by his wife Pamela, a son, Corey Landrum, and a grandson, Stone Landrum. Landrum was active all his life in volunteer rescue squads and the family asks any contributions be made to the Tuckahoe Volunteer Rescue Squad, 1101 Horsepen Road, Henrico, VA 23229.

TOP PHOTO: Rich Landrum, courtesy Mid-Atlantic Gateway, which has an extensive interview with Landrum here.