Craig Leathers

Craig Leathers

WCW Television Director

Craig Leathers was a longtime director and producer of World Championship Wrestling telecasts. He has worked with Eric Bischoff for many years during the mid to late 90's. In 1995, Leathers was hired as television director for Turner's WCW Monday Nitro, and later would also become executive producer of the show.

Nitro brought with it an intense rivalry between WCW's Monday night program and the WWF's Monday Night RAW program. This rivalry is known to wrestling fans as the "Monday Night Wars." Throughout the Monday Night Wars between Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon, Nitro was gaining on its WWF counterpart popularity-wise. Soon Nitro would surpass RAW in the TV ratings. Leathers lead Monday Nitro into the ratings war and held the highest ratings in cable for 82 consecutive weeks...beating WWF's RAW.

When Bischoff was removed from power in September 1999, Leathers would continue to direct the show for the remainder of the year, but with creative restrictions put upon him. With new management in charge, they wanted to change WCW's format to resemble WWF's style of broadcast. Changes in production included tinkering of camera angles, such as the removal of the Steadicam from the entranceway to be replaced by a standard hand held camera zoomed in from ringside. Although that change in angle may not have been as visually pleasing to some, the new management did so to better emulate the look and feel of WWF's Monday Night program.

On the 2/19/01 Nitro broadcast, Leathers resumed position of television director around the time Bischoff regained some control of the company. With WCW up for sale, Bischoff and his investors' deal to purchase the company failed when Turner executives canceled WCW's timeslots. The World Wrestling Federation would later purchase and eliminate WCW in late March 2001, forcing many employees (including Leathers) to be laid off.

World Wrestling Legends

In 2006, Leathers would produce World Wrestling Legends, a tribute to the WCW Saturday Night program that included well-known wrestlers and a few original crew members from the show.

Trivia

  • A few interesting shots from the 1995-1998 Nitro telecast include: a stationary camera (with surrounding crowd) high in the rafters giving a wide panning view of the arena - a JIB camera framed on props and pieces of equipment on the set that would boom or whip pan onto the entranceway - and various Steadicam shots following wrestlers to the ring. With the JIB and Steadicam both having wide-angle lenses and in close proximity on the set, there was a high risk of one camera capturing another. Depending on the position of the JIB, Leathers would sometimes have the Steadicam frame a shot on the ground. When cross dissolved to the Steadicam, the operator would tilt up and quickly move towards the subject. This would prove to be a stylish wipe sequence between both cameras, and in effect gave the JIB more time to swing out of view.
  • Bischoff and Leathers came up with an original idea that many commercial breaks should be taken during live matches. While some fans at the time found it distressing, this made the matches more realistic and gave an unpredictable feeling to the show. It seemed as if the production crew had no control over the length or content of the match. Many times Nitro would go overtime when ratings were high, sometimes even up to 15 minutes past their scheduled timeslot on TNT.
  • During the nWo takeover episode of Nitro, Konnan busts into the broadcast truck and harasses the crew members. When Konnan gets to Leathers, he asks him if he is with the nWo or not. Leathers, looking at Konnan incredulously, replies in a reassuring manner, "of course I am". This was an inside joke at the time since Leathers was the one who designed the nWo logo.

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