Monday, May 18, 2015

"I think you killed him." - Another excerpt from my never published Eddie Gilbert Book by Gene Jackson

So as requested by many, here's another excerpt from "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert: Pro Wrestling's Uncrowned King, my unpublished Eddie Gilbert biography....this time we cover the infamous "hit and run" angle from the TV-5 Studio parking lot where Eddie and Doug Gilbert hit Jerry 'the King' Lawler with a car LIVE on Memphis television....even for Memphis this was a wild and crazy stunt that is still talked about to this day! According to Eddie in his shoot interview with Bob Barnett, the quote below is what Doug told Eddie when he asked him if Lawler was ok.


One of, if not the most famous angles that Eddie ever did was the famous/infamous hit and run angle that took place in the parking lot of the WMC TV5 studios in Memphis. In an attempt to top all the wild things that had been done in the past (especially in the parking lot) between he and Jerry Lawler they came up with the idea of hitting Lawler with a car in the parking lot. Here's Eddie's recollection of the story as told in his interview with Bob Barnett.

Eddie on the hit and run angle: We were leaving Louisville (KY) one day and we stopped to get something to eat and I was riding with Doug and I think John (Gilliam) was with us too, and I asked Lawler if I could ride with him for a while. So we were thinking about stuff we could do that hadn't been done in Memphis which is hard to do unless you just shoot somebody cause almost everything had been done. So we're thinking and we were riding along and I was looking out the window and we were almost all the way to Evansville and Lawler said what if we did something outside the studio. I had already did a thing back in '88 where I threw him through the windshield of a car so we couldn't do that. So I was thinking and I said you know what would be really great? I said now you may think I'm crazy, a line often heard from Terry Funk.. I said you may think this is crazy but if I came at you with a car, do you think you could jump in time? It would look good, it'd look really good on television. Lawler said you know what I did that as a stunt one time in high school and I said wow, he's really gonna go for this......and he did. As another little piece of trivia to this, I'd driven my Toyota 4-Runner to the studio that day and we really couldn't use it because it would be too high and it wouldn't really be an angle then cause it would've just run over Jerry. After that I'd been in prison and that would be my last angle. So I had to try to talk someone into letting me use their car.

Jimmy Blaylock (Mascot/Heel Manager): I remember I was there in the studio that day doing Bundy the Gorilla and Eddie was going up asking people if he could borrow their car. He came up to me and asked if I had drove to the studio that day and what was I driving cause he wanted to borrow it for an angle. I told him I was in a van and he said, “Ah, that won't work” and continued asking other folks. We had no idea what he was going to with it.

Eddie continued: So I'm thinking I need a car and Doug was good friends with Brian Lee. Doug talked to Brian and I went up and asked if I could borrow his car. He said “Yeah man but it's not really my car.” It was his girlfriend's car or friend's car or something. Brian asked, “He's not going to dent the hood or anything is he?” I told him no no he's gonna jump and just roll right off. He said “Ok as long as you don't dent it up or anything because it's not mine.” I told him don't worry about it, he won't dent it........and he didn't. This thing punched so fast I didn't think that a four door Taurus had the kind of pick up to take off that fast from where I was at. It did, when I hit the floorboard Eddie Marlin was still standing there and I thought I was gonna hit him too but I knew it was live television and I couldn't stop. Marlin ended up getting out of the way Lawler went to jump but I was going too fast and it struck him right in the leg that he broke in a football game in '77 or '78 and it knocked him up over where the next thing I saw after I hit him was Lawler's a** up in my face and it busted out the windshield of the car.........he didn't dent the hood but he busted the windshield and then rolled over the top and I remember the feeling of it was so bad and the lick that you could feel when the car hit him. The adrenaline was going because it's live TV there's only one take. Going at a guy with a car on live TV that's life or death and I remember stopping for just a second and asking Doug if he was okay and Doug said, “I think you killed him.” I thought “oh no”, but we drove on off and went up the road about 2 blocks and pulled into this Pancho's Mexican Restaurant and the windshield is all busted and I'm like oh no what are we gonna tell Brian, the windshield is all broken, he's gonna kill me. Okay, so now I've killed a guy with the car and the windshield is broke and I'm gonna be dead so this is awful. As I go to turn around these guys were watching on the TV inside the restaurant and came out laughing, “ah hah you just ran over Jerry Lawler in the parking lot, he's dead.” So we drive back down to the studio and I let Doug off out in front and tell him to go back in and tell Brian (Lee) about his windshield before I get back down here. So I look and there's a 'Mr. Pride Car Wash' next to the Channel 5 studio so I'm thinking I need this car to look as clean as possible when I return it to Brian Lee so I pull into the car wash and all this is during the TV show, the live show is still going on while I'm driving up to this car wash. I get out and I hear an ambulance coming with the sirens going and this lady comes up and says, “What can I do for ya'.” I tell her I need her to vacuum all this glass out of the car cause I just ran over Jerry Lawler over at TV5 because I didn't know if she knew what was going on or not. I asked if I could leave it there while they took care of it and she said 'yeah'. I leave the car and head back up the sidewalk to the studio and I see the ambulance pulling into the parking lot. So then I realize I've done it this time, this is the one right here. Here's a guy I have more respect for than anybody and I've probably ended everything for him. I figured his legs were messed up and at the least his a** had to broke. I get back into the studio and Lawler is sitting there and his whole hip was already turning black and blue. So I'm pacing back and forth worried about what all could be wrong. It turns out the ambulance was there because some wrestling fans at home watching the show live had called them, not anyone from the studio to come and get him. What they also did was call the police to come and get me for a hit and run. We wound up with three different sets of policemen showing up at three different times to come and get me. Each time the promoters gave some excuse that I had left or that nothing really happened but by the third time the cops said they HAD to do something even if charges weren't filed because it happened in the parking lot and people had reported it so they at least had to take me in for questioning. By that time I had figured I had better really get out of there so Doug and I slipped out the back door and left. It was a good thing we did because right after that a whole bunch of cops showed up and shut the place off and wouldn't let anyone leave while they searched for me. Lawler got worried that they were gonna show up at the Monday night card at the Coliseum and arrest me so he went back out on TV to show he was alright. I know a lot of people think that when he goes back out there he ruins the credibility of the car lick and all but what he did was try to save my hide because had he not gone back out there people would have assumed he was either dead or half dead, even though he looked like Superman walking back out there but believe me he was hurt and he was hurt real bad. He was just trying to save my scalp at that point of course looking back now I wished he would have stayed out about two months. I've even said to people that even if it meant I had to go to jail for a week, if it would get a wrestling angle over and get us publicity, I'd just about do anything for the business. There was a misconception by a lot of people that I may have hit the accelerator hard on purpose but we had talked about it even right before we went out there he said, “make sure you hit it hard”, and I said don't worry I will it's live TV, I want it to look good. I don't want one star in Dave Meltzer's sheet, I want four. So I did hit it on purpose but not on purpose to hurt him, on purpose to get the angle over.

Jerry Jarrett (Owner/Booker): I was booking. In retrospect, I probably would not have taken such a chance with Lawler's health, welfare, and possibly life. But I was young then and threw caution to the wind too often.

Downtown Bruno (Manager): I was present first hand when the car angle took place at channel 5 that Saturday morning. I remember initially they were going to use another car, I'm not sure if it was going to actually be Eddie's or Doug's or even mine or Sam Lowe's ,but they decided on Brian Lee's because it had a longer hood, front end type situation, which I guess made the "stunt"/bump, whatever easier and or a bit safer to pull off, I assume. There's no need in me giving a recap of the actual bump/hit and run, because I'm sure you and the readers have all seen it and heard umpteen descriptions of it already, so basically what I remember that the people watching on tv and reading about it now don't know about, or at least didn't know about then, was that Eddie and Doug had the cops called on them by passersby on Union Avenue, and since the west precinct of the Memphis Police Department was just across the street and a half a block west of channel 5, the cops sent investigators over there right away. Lawler ended up going out on live tv and making a fired up interview rather than being secretly removed from the studio and being portrayed to be hospitalized or whatever, more or less to alleviate the law enforcement situation. Naturally,especially in that day and age of strict kayfabe, we couldn't tell the M.P.D. that it was all an angle etc, so the best way to more or less let them know that it was an angle without actually smartening them up was to continue on with business as usual. I remember that after the show was over, me and Zeke Rivers got Brian Lee's car over to Pat Collins Auto Glass on Summer Avenue to get repaired, then we went to Shoney's on Union Avenue to eat and then went and hung out at Zeke's until the glass was fixed, then we went on to that night's booking, which I believe was Nashville at the Fairgrounds. As you basically said in your e-mail yes, nowadays these type of "stunts" have become almost common-place, but that day in Memphis, it wasn't done by stunt men with multiple takes, lookalikes, stand-ins, was do or die, live, done by Lawler and stunt drivers ,nothing.

No comments: