Controversy brews ahead of ‘American Digger’ premier March 21 on SPIKE

A new unscripted original series, “American Digger” premiers at 10 p.m. ET/PT March 21 on the SPIKE cable television network.

American Digger logo SPIKE TV

American Digger premiers March 21 on SPIKE.

American Digger” follows a team from the Mechanicsville, Va., company called American Savage, led by former professional wrestler Ric Savage. The team scours battlefields and historic sites in hopes of striking it rich by unearthing and selling rare pieces of American history.

A bit of controversy is popping up as collectors question whether the show promotes looting of historical sites.

This wouldn’t be the first antiques-related reality TV show to become embroiled in controversy. Antique Trader readers were divided after the first few shows of HISTORY’s “American Pickers.” Some accused the show of taking advantage of elderly collectors.

“American Digger” travels to a different city each week, including Detroit, Brooklyn, Chicago, and Jamestown searching for high-value artifacts and relics, some of which have been untouched for centuries. The series discovers a late 17th century British Carronade naval cannon, a 5 million year old Megalodon shark’s tooth and a 19th century Kentucky long rifle.

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American Savage rescues as much as $500,000 worth of historical artifacts from the U.S. soil each year.  The team is comprised of recovery expert Rue Shumate, battlefield historian Bob Buttafuso, Savage’s wife, Rita, who manages the business and their 25-year old son Giuseppe, who provides tech support and is the “muscle” of the operation.

Born and raised in western North Carolina, Savage had a prolific seven year wrestling career, competing in nearly every wrestling organization, among them the WCW (World Championship Wrestling), the ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) and the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance).  Following his retirement in 1997, Savage returned to his other passion, the Civil War era.  His first major find, a hunk of shrapnel he found at the site of the Battle of Cold Harbor, Va., prompted him to form American Salvage.

“American Digger” is set for 13 half-hour episode series.

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