"Hot Stuff"
Eddie Gilbert

All about Eddie Biography/Tribute
Another Biography
Title History
Career Match List
Profile (part 1)
Profile (part 2)
Ken Wayne (part 1)
Ken Wayne (part 2)
James Beard
Mick Foley
Bob Magee
Garry Wolfe
Steamboat match
Photo Galleries
Fan Contributions
Jigsaw Puzzles

What's New
Site Map

Back to Homepage

About the webmaster

Links Page
Banner Links
Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments
Gary Will
Kayfabe Memories

pair Networks

Credit: Kayfabe Memories

by James Beard

  What I have found out, after working with so many different guys in this business, is that I was not unique. There are a number of talented people in all different areas of the wrestling business who were attracted by the same things that drew me to the business. One of the most talented, creative and innovative of these was a guy I had the opportunity to work closely with for a time....Eddie Gilbert.

"Hot Stuff", as he was called, had one advantage over myself...He grew up in the wrestling business. His father, Tommy was a talented wrestler and referee and Eddie took to the business as naturally as anyone ever has. He knew, unlike myself, that size was not necessarily the factor I believed it to be. 

Eddie wasn't much, if any, naturally bigger than I. But, he developed himself and his ring abilities, ultimately becoming a first rate performer. As a wrestler, he had a natural charisma and incredible timing. Size didn't hold him back...He was believable against anyone and he proved it by going against all the best of the time. And boy could he talk. It was obvious to anyone watching that he was intelligent and witty, never at a loss for words. And always the right words for the moment. I know, firsthand, how much Eddie enjoyed the performance. He loved getting the exact reaction from the fans he intended and taking them wherever he wanted, making them love him or hate him....whichever emotion he desired from them. He always knew exactly where he wanted to go and how he intended to get there. He could make an opponent, regardless of the degree of talent, look as good or as bad as he wanted. He was that good. I've never enjoyed being in the ring with anyone any more than Eddie.

But, Eddie was much more than just another great wrestler/performer. He had a feel for the creative end of the business like few have ever had. And that talent was matched by his passion for wanting the opportunity to display his ideas and carry them through the way he saw them. He was not a know it all. 

He was always, at least in my experience, open minded and willing to listen to others who may be able to contribute something worthwhile. But, he was single minded in his belief that, if he were allowed to see them through, his ideas and direction would lead to success. Some saw Eddie as difficult and unyielding. But I saw a guy who believed in himself and his abilities and was only difficult to those who were narrow minded and short sighted. In my opinion, Eddie's greatest frustration came from never being allowed to see his ideas through without interference. When he first took over the booking in Dallas (GWF), he told me his goal had always been to be able to put together the people he really wanted in the situations he visualized and develop his ideas for these people and see it unfold from start to finish. He had definite programs in his mind and he had spent his career thinking about how he was going to present these programs and how they would be carried out, if he ever got the opportunity and the right place to make them come to life. He was truly hoping that Dallas would be the place this would happen. He was as enthusiastic as anyone I've ever seen when he came to the GWF. He was promised (probably not for the first time) that he would get his wish.

Although, we had success, as far as fan interest was concerned, unfortunately politics, greed and the same short sightedness that plagued Eddie's career came into play again, cutting short his dream of finally getting to "see it through". No one was more disappointed (other than Eddie himself) to see his time in Dallas come to an end more than myself. Not only because I liked working with him and believed we were headed the right way, but also because I could recognize the continued frustration of someone who looked at professional wrestling as more than a macho display of fisticuffs. Eddie saw the wrestling business as an art form, a display of athletic competition, presented with intelligence and creativity.

I guess, in Eddie's frustration, I could see the nature of the business. Many of the same frustrations, I would eventually experience myself. If a guy that talented and creative, who had grown up in wrestling and had built a highly regarded career both in the ring and behind the scenes couldn't get around the pettiness, jealousies and politics of the business, how could I ever expect to. Looking back...I should have known.

Because of the things I talked about earlier regarding my early inclinations toward the wrestling business, I felt an understanding with Eddie and I believe that was why we related well and got along. We discussed those things together many times. My fellow contributor here at Kayfabe Memories, Ken Wayne certainly knew Eddie longer and better than myself and I'm not trying to tell the definitive Eddie Gilbert story. His experiences went well beyond the relatively short time he was in Dallas. However, that time was special to me because of the opportunity to be around, get to know and work with, in my opinion, one of the greatest talents this business has ever known. 

So, the next time, I will try to relay what it was like to work with "Hot Stuff" and tell some of the stories that came from that experience which will include some other talented guys I came to know and respect, like Eddie's younger brother, Doug and "Brother Love" Bruce Prichard....

I remember being asked what I thought of bringing Eddie Gilbert into the GWF as the booker. Without hesitation, my response was "the sooner the better".  I had worked with Eddie in the USWA and knew, firsthand his ring ability. 

But, what really excited me was the reputation Eddie had behind the scenes. He was highly regarded throughout the wrestling business as a guy who was creative and innovative. He was considered one of the brightest minds around and, in my estimation, we needed him. 

Although I was making regular trips to Japan, I was becoming more involved in the behind the scenes goings on in the GWF and I really wanted the promotion in Dallas to be successful. I had no doubt that Eddie Gilbert's being in charge was a step in the right direction. We had a decent crew of wrestlers, but someone who was dedicated to the business and knew how to get the most out of what we had was imperative. There was no doubt, the moment Eddie walked into the office on his first night as booker, that he had the conviction of his beliefs and he had a plan. He had been thinking about what he wanted to do for some time and wasn't about to waste any time getting to it.

The Patriot (Del Wilkes) was the GWF champion at the time. One of Eddie's first orders of business was to bring in his younger brother, Doug. Eddie put Doug under a hood and in all black and made him the Dark Patriot, the antithesis of the all-American image of the Patriot. In my opinion, Doug has always been under rated and under appreciated. He made the best of his new incarnation and created a character that many wrestling fans still talk about today. When the Patriot left to take a deal in Japan, the Dark Patriot turned his attention to none other than Eddie, himself.

Another guy Eddie brought into the GWF was a long time friend from Tennessee, Sam Lowe. Sam was a photographer by trade, but had been around the wrestling business for some time. Eddie made Sam a student referee and started an angle which involved myself taking him under my wing and teaching him the ins and outs of refereeing. Of course, as soon as Sam started learning and getting some confidence, he started carrying things a bit far which caused a conflict with me as senior referee. I really enjoyed the way Eddie laid things out and gave me more to do than just referee matches. It's good to stretch your boundaries at times and this gave me that opportunity. I was doing more interviews and becoming involved in the action in different ways. 

Another thing I liked about working with Eddie was the fact that he allowed me to be a part of the creative process, which was exactly what I was interested in. We talked about all the angles and the talent on a regular basis and Eddie always made me feel as though my ideas and suggestions were meaningful. In fact, we incorporated some of them into what we were doing.

Contrary to what I've heard some say, he was very encouraging and open. No ego trips were to be found. And that wasn't just with myself, he gave everyone respect and kept the door open to the talent.

A lot has been said about Eddie and John Tatum not liking each other or having heat over Eddie's involvement with Missy Hyatt. Well, John was in the GWF at this time and he and Eddie never showed any signs of tension. In fact, there were times when one or the other would joke about the whole thing.

Besides, by then Eddie was seeing Madusa Michelli and John had long since moved on from the Missy experience. Eddie actually gave John free rein as far as handling his own angles and I think John appreciated that trust.

Not long after Eddie arrived, we were joined by another guy who was known to have a great mind for the business....Brother Love, Bruce Prichard.  Bruce had grown up in the Houston area and around the late Paul Boesch. He had learned his lessons well and not only was extremely successful in front of the cameras as Brother Love, but he had become Vince McMahon's right hand man behind the cameras in the WWF. Bruce was somewhat depressed when he first came to Dallas. He had disagreed with some of the direction the WWF TV had gone in at the time. The guy in charge of producing the TV shows was also quite influential in the WWF's relationship with the network. According to Bruce, Vince was afraid the rift between Bruce and the TV guy might cause some problems with the company's relationship with the network and he and Bruce mutually agreed that he should take some time away. Bruce was worried that he might never get back to where he was and, naturally, was feeling somewhat despondent. Eddie and I tried to encourage him to help us out and I think that helped take his mind off his situation, at least for a short time. I can tell you this. We were never short on ideas during that time. And like I said before, Eddie welcomed the contribution.

One of the ideas Eddie had was to start a feud between myself and Bruce. Up to that point, Bruce was doing commentary work for the TV show. But Eddie wanted him more involved and made him a manager for the Dark Patriot, Mike Davis and some others.  During a battle royal, in which I was the referee outside the ring, I pulled Bruce down off the apron, telling him to stay on the floor. Well, when I pulled him down, I also pulled down his pants, which caused a distraction in the ring, resulting in his guys being eliminated. There's nothing like the sight of Bruce Prichard in a pair of g-string type underwear.

Well, I just laughed it off and was walking away when Bruce and his guys did a number on me from behind. This started a feud that lasted several weeks and saw me leave my referee position to get back at Bruce and his men. When Eddie first approached me about this, I was pretty apprehensive, but also a little excited to get to do even more. It was a lot of fun and different for me to do interviews showing some emotion and vowing revenge. As a referee, I had always walked the middle road and seldom got to display that side of my personality. We had all sorts of, between Bruce and myself, regular tags and six man tags which allowed me to team with Eddie and Terry Garvin as well as several different gimmick matches.

It all came down to a match which saw the loser stripped down to his g-string. Bill Irwin was the special referee and there was a big reaction from the fans when I pulled Bruce's pants down around his ankles, bringing the feud to an end. Eddie seemed very pleased with the way the whole thing went and I always appreciated the confidence he showed in me to "pull it off".....pun intended.

Another infamous incident happened at the Sportatorium one night after the matches. I've heard all sorts of spins on the story of Jeff Gaylord and Eddie having the big fight in the dressing room, but I was there.  Eddie, Bruce, Doug and I were in the office talking about the night's show and what we were going to do the next week. Gaylord showed up at the Sportatorium and asked to talk to Eddie. They had only left the room a few seconds and we heard a lot of banging and thumping. Doug tore out of the office before anyone could ask "what's going on?" Bruce and I followed him and as we turned the corner we saw Eddie there holding his head. Doug had whacked Gaylord with a coke can or bottle (don't remember which) that sent Gaylord running from the building in pain. I can tell you this....if I had a little brother, I'd want him to be like Doug. He wasted no time in coming to Eddie's aid and effectively so.

After things settled down, Eddie told us that Gaylord sucker punched him from the side and he had no chance to defend himself. Gaylord said he was there to talk to Eddie about booking him and wanted to know why Eddie had not given him any work. Later, Eddie was told it was set up due to his not working for some other promoter or not showing up at one of the guys shows. Evidently, Gaylord had been paid to punch Eddie out. Eddie kept his sense of humor about it though. He told us he wished Gaylord had told him what was up and they would have worked something out and split the money without anyone getting hurt. Well, Gaylord got to keep all the money, but he paid for it with a sore head.

Just when it looked like things were really going well, Eddie started getting some interference from the management. Eddie would listen to and respect the opinions and ideas of others in the business, but he hated it when the people who should be taking care of management, try to push their agendas into the product. Eddie tried to be diplomatic at first, but when he had had enough, he let them all know how he felt and what they could do with their ideas. It was pretty obvious a couple of weeks before he left that we were headed for a showdown. And Eddie was not one to give in when he felt he was right. The only answer, as it always is in a situation like that, was someone had to leave. And since Eddie wasn't the guy with the money, he again had his dream of seeing his programs carried through, end prematurely.

I remember the last night Eddie was there. I took him to the airport and we talked about how someday, he'd get another opportunity. He went on about how he wanted to bring his family (as he called the people close to him) back together and give it another shot. Hopefully, with more complete results......He never got the chance. How I wish he had. 

Back to Homepage