Saturday, February 21, 2009
Missy Hyatt's Tribute to "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert
MISSY'S MANOR: Tribute to Eddie Gilbert
By Missy Hyatt(2/16)
I just want to remind everybody that this week is the 14th Anniversary of the untimely passing of Eddie Gilbert. For anybody not familiar with Eddie's legacy, he was known as one of the most creative and underrated wrestling minds of the late 1980's thru early 1990's. He was very passionate about creating episodic television shows that would carry over to house shows. Eddie was also a player-coach that was instrumental in elevating many of the younger wrestlers in channeling their potential. I would like to remember Eddie as the guy who can turn around a territory when it was left for dead.
When Eddie got the book for UWF in 1986, he realized that it was vital for the industry to create new stars to be able to carry it. He was very passionate about grooming Sting for the superstardom that he rightfully deserved. Sting was placed in tag team matches with either Rick Steiner or Eddie as a partner.
Eventually Sting became very comfortable with the ring mechanics and developed in to a find worker on his own. Eventually Eddie turned Sting babyface and everybody around at the time knew that Sting was instant $$$$. I remember Eddie being so proud of Sting when he had his 45 minute draw with Ric Flair. Eddie watched the match as if he was a high school coach that was watching one of his players finally making it to the Super Bowl.
I still say that Eddie Gilbert's greatest accomplishment as a booker was being able to turn around the dormant Continental territory in 1988. Eddie brought in new wrestlers and breathed in new booking in to a territory that was left for dead. Crowds were gradually building up for their 'Road To Birmingham' shows and the territory was picking up new towns. Unfortunately their was a falling out with management and no new booker could maintain the momentum that Eddie created.
Eddie used to love to use the phrase that he "Loved To Make Chicken Salad Out Of Chicken Shit". I remember hearing about how he and Dutch Mantell helped revitalize the WWC territory in 1994. Eddie threw a fire ball at Hurricane Castillo. They would feud over the whole summer. They would help draw a big crowd for the culmination of the feud in a fire match. Eddie was also instrumental in helping a young Glen Jacobs [Kane] at the same time period in Puerto Rico. If anybody got WWC footage of Eddie Gilbert, drop me a email.
I listed some of the best Eddie Gilbert matches and angles in my opinion. I still think the match quality and interviews hold up. Older wrestling fans will fondly remember these matches and highlights. Eddie Gilbert's stuff were very popular back in the tape trading days. I hope newer fans will take the time to watch the psychology of his matches and notice what a great promo that Eddie can deliver. Unfortunately I couldn't find the Eddie Gilbert VS. Terry Funk: Texas Death Match from 11/92 in New Jersey. I saw the match over ten years ago and thought it was one of the greatest matches that I ever seen.
One of Eddie's greatest matches was the legendary "Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl" with Ricky Morton against Masa Fuchi & Atsushi Onita. Many people credit this match as being the match that pioneered garbage wrestling, hardcore wrestling, ECW, FMW style brawls, etc. Considering the match occurred in 1981 and the match quality still holds up today speaks volumes of this match. Popcorn machines, mustard jars, plywood, etc. made this every hardcore wrestling fans favorite match in the 1980's. Eddie must have made me watch this match a million times. I probably think that it might have been his personal favorite match. I'm very sure that Atsushi Onita took some aspects of this match and incorporated it in to FMW in the 1990's. The match was so realistic that even the promoter's wife got involved. I would encourage every young fan to check out the match & determine if they think it still holds up against any current hardcore match.
Prior to Sting's legendary match against Flair, he had a tag team match with Shane Douglas VS. Eddie Gilbert & Terry Taylor. The match incorporated the wild Memphis brawling to the Mid South area. Unfortunately UWF was dying, but this match was one of the last bright spots to UWF.
I think this match opened up many people's eyes on to Sting's talent. Terry Taylor was a excellent heel with Eddie Gilbert. I think if Gilbert & Taylor had gotten a push in Jim Crockett Promotions, they would had the potential in becoming a great heel combination. I'll just save that for Guest Booking ideas that never came to fruition. Once Sting and Eddie Gilbert started brawling in the back of the arena, any promoter would immediately have realized that they stumbled on to a hot feud in Sting VS. Eddie Gilbert. Jim Ross did such a great job announcing this brawl.
The Fabulous Ones [Stan Lane & Steve Keirn] were the hottest tag team in the Memphis territory. Unfortunately they left the territory in their quest to make it big on a national level. They never recreated the same magic in the AWA or Florida. Memphis thought they could strike gold again by making Tommy Rich & Eddie Gilbert in to the New Fabulous Ones. The fans crapped on them big time. The best way to salvage Eddie Gilbert & Tommy Rich was to have them feud with each other.
Eddie starts the angle by saying how Tommy Rich thinks he is too big of a star to accept his tag team of the year trophy. Eddie even uses his warped logic [similar to Chris Jericho] by explaining why Tommy Rich thinks he is too big of a star. Tommy comes out and busts Eddie up big time. The feud is on!
Eddie comes out after the commercial break. He is apologetic and vows to forfeit all of his matches against Tommy, since he was wrong. Eddie comes across so sincere in explaining the error of his way. The crowd is buying Eddie's apology. Tommy comes back to accept the apology. Too bad it was a swerve! Eddie busts up Tommy big time. This is one of the biggest juice fest angles that I have ever seen. I'm very sure that every Memphis fan was determined to buy a ticket to see Eddie Gilbert VS. Tommy Rich for the next show.
View it here:
Most of us have became immune to wrestling angles that feel like stunt shows. We have no emotional interest in exploding cars, guys falling from high levels on to crash mattresses, stuntmen getting hit by cars, etc. Jerry Lawler & Eddie Gilbert in 1990 did a angle on Memphis TV that was ahead of its time. Eddie Gilbert was going to run down Jerry Lawler on LIVE TV after being told he was fired. There were no rehearsals, no stuntmen, no retakes, etc. Eddie drove the car at a decent speed. Unfortunately Lawler didn't calculate how to properly jump on to the hood of the car in time.
It was physically brutal, but it showed how much passion that Lawler & Gilbert would go to entertain the fans. The angle was so realistic that it caused many TV viewers to call 911. Unfortunately Jerry Lawler downplayed the effects of being hit by the car in order to avoid criminal charges on Eddie Gilbert. I still cringe when i see Lawler getting hit by the car on the video.
View it here:
I am a big fan of the self righteous heel that points out the character flaws in everybody [Chris Jericho]. Eddie Gilbert did "This Is Your Life" segment on Jerry Lawler. Eddie would air sound bites of bitter wrestlers that felt they were used or deceived by Jerry Lawler. Some of these wrestlers would confront Jerry Lawler in the segment. The best part was Eddie Gilbert trying to link Andy Kaufman's death to the pile drivers that he received from Lawler.
View it here:
This music video of Dirty Deeds by AC/DC highlights the Jerry Lawler/Eddie Gilbert feud. I think very highly of Jerry Lawler and rank him as one of my all time favorites. Lawler & Gilbert had great chemistry in Memphis. They could do the crazy brawls and cut the best promos on each other. Every young wrestler should be studying the contrast interviews that Jerry Lawler & Eddie Gilbert can cut against each other.
View it here:
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Credit: Missy Hyatt/Cactusb and the Wrestling Clothesline at http://www.wrestlingclothesline.com