The End of the Eddie Gilbert Era

The interesting thing about Paul Heyman was that he was finished with Pro Wrestling before he came to ECW. After he was fired by the WCW, he landed a radio job, and considered himself done with the business. Rumor has it that Paul even turned down an offer from the WWF in early 1993 to come in as a performer. The one thing that lured him back was the oppurtunity to do something that he had always dreamed about, book the shows. Jim Crockett was on the verge of getting his own wrestling promotion off the ground(The WWN), and he contacted Paul Heyman to come in and book his shows. Heyman agreed, and decided to cut his teeth in booking alongside his good friend in the ECW, Eddie Gilbert, until the WWN was ready to launch later that year.

Eddie Gilbert brought in Heyman in early 1993 to be an on screen performer in return to show him the ropes of booking wrestling shows. Heyman worked alongside Gilbert in the ECW in 1993 as his assistant booker off screen, and as his manager in the "Hot Stuff International" heel faction on screen while awaiting the launch of Jim Crockett's WWN promotion. As the year progressed, it became apparant that the WWN was a pipe dream. As Heyman began to realize that the WWN job wasn't going to happen, he started making moves in the ECW to secure his future.

Through 1993 Paul Heyman and Eddie Gilbert began to have major disagreements about the direction of the ECW, and eventually their friendship dissolved. Paul had developed a relationship with Tod Gordon, and convinced him that he had the ideas to take ECW to the next level. Around this time Eddie Gilbert's relationship with Tod Gordon began to fall apart as well. Rumors are that Gilbert began making bold passes at Gordon's wife, and began to milk him for as much money as he could get from him.

Things got heated, and tense when Gilbert told Gordon that he was offered more money to book shows for Jim Crockett's upcoming WWN promotion. Tod Gordon gave Gilbert a raise in order to keep him from jumping, only to find out from Paul Heyman that it was all a lie, and that the WWN job was supposed to be his. This was the event that seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back. It was also around this time that Eddie Gilbert allegedly began taking credit for a lot of Paul Heyman's ideas. Upon talking with his performers, Tod Gordon would eventually find out that most of the good ideas that he was liking were coming from Heyman.

It all came to an end when Tod Gordon sent Paul Heyman to represent the ECW in a meeting with the NWA. Heyman had a good relationship with Jim Crockett, and worked a deal for the ECW to be the NWA's premier northeastern promotion. This was a decision that drove Eddie Gilbert out of the company. Gilbert had beef with Jim Crocket due to the way Jim Crocket treated him in the UWF when he purchased the promotion in 1987(when Gilbert was the head booker there). Eddie Gilbert wanted nothing to do with Crocket, or the NWA. The last time Gordon and Gilbert spoke to each other was a backstage shouting match over the issue in front of all the performers.

Eddie Gilbert would step down from his position in the ECW, and one week later he would make his final appearance at Ultraclash where he would give a farewell speach to the fans. After his speach, Gilbert made his rounds backstage shaking hands, and thanking the performers for their work. Gilbert never had any negative words to say about Paul Heyman, or Tod Gordon, even though they pretty much squeezed him out of the ECW.

I did in fact resign from ECW when I got the information that we would be working together with Jim Crockett. The date of my resignation was September 7th, the same day I got the news about the so called merger. I really felt it wasn't in our best interest at ECW to give away any momentum we had started to someone elsewho didn't have anything to offer us in return. The actions that transpired after that date, especially on the 9/18 card, cost me the closest firendship I've ever maintained in this bussiness. I gave the speech "That no one knew about" because I was worried how my departure would be handled. I reallly just wanted to leave with my head held high.

-Eddie Gilbert -- Wrestling Observer Newsletter October '93

So you may be asking why I spent so much time on a man that was only in the picture for six months? It's simple. People like to believe that the ECW invented hardcore, extreme wrestling, but they really didn't. The style of wrestling that the ECW gets so much credit for was born in the southern territories that Eddie Gilbert was raised on. The same Memphis promotions that Paul Heyman worked his way up through in 1987. Paul also got a taste of the wild style in his days prior in the Florida wrestling scene where the blood poured on a nightly basis. ECW was really the spiritual successor to the old southern territory days of pro wrestling. The same hardcore style that was handed down from Dory Funk Jr to Eddie Graham's Florida promotion was where it all really came from. Paul Heyman just repackaged it, and put his own touches to it.

My grandpa(RIP) grew up in Florida. He used to tell me stories when I was a kid about matches that he went to see live back in the day. Matches in Florida with Terry Funk, and Dory Funk JR where they would brawl all through the arena, bleeding all over everything, and legitimately beating the shit out of each other.

He used to laugh at the WWF matches I would watch as a kid.

Anyone who knows anything about old school Memphis and Florida wrestling can see the influences are obvious. Eddie Gilbert doesn't get nearly enough credit for what he did for the ECW, and it goes beyond his six months that he spent as head booker. He competed first hand in the single match(the Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl) in the Memphis territories that inspired the Japanese FMW(the place where Sabu got all of his scars). Gilbert played a major role in the way ECW grew up into the Extreme Championship Wrestling that it became, and he also played a major role in the evolution of the "Hardcore" style of wrestling.

Eddie Gilbert passed away on February 18th, 1995. He was 33 years old.

Eddie Gilbert was my brother.

-Tod Gordon
NWA 50th anniversary banquet, 1998
Here are the ECW results for the rest of Gilbert's tenure as booker of the ECW courtesy of Obsessed With Wrestling:

June 19, 1993--Super Summer Sizzler in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at ECW Arena: Herve Rinestro vs Don E. Allen ended in a NO CONTEST, Jimmy Snuka b J.T. Smith to retain the ECW Television title, Tony Stetson b Larry Winters in a "First Blood" match, Peaches b Tigra, Jimmy Snuka b Tommy Cairo to retain the Television title, Rockin' Rebel b Sandman in a "Philadelphia Street Fight", Dick Murdoch b Dark Patriot II, Sal Bellomo & Stevie Wonderful & Super Destroyer #1 b Johnny Hotbody & Chris Michaels & Hunter Q. Robbins III, Eddie Gilbert b Terry Funk in a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" match (aka Chain Match)..

June 22, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Don Muraco b Tommy Cairo to retain ECW Heavyweight Title(Cairo subed for Hawk who wasn't there), The Dark Patriot b J.T. Smith by Countout(Smith gets thrown off 20 foot balcony and Dark Patriot jumps off 20 foot balcony), The Sandman & Larry Winters defeat Rockin' Rebel & Tony Stetson, The Suicide Blondes vs The Super Destroyers & Sal Bellomo went to a No Contest(Big brawl involving everyone breaks out)

July 13, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Ivan & Vladimir Koloff b Harve Renesto & Glen Osbourne, "King of Philadelphia" Eddie Gilbert visits Delaware Avenue, Tony Stetson vs Larry Winters went to a NO CONTEST, Tommy Cairo b Jimmy Snuka via reverse decision (Terry Funk comes out and tells ref Muraco interfered), Sal Bellomo b Sir Richard Michaels w/Hunter Q. Robins,III (Brawl between Suicide Blondes & Super Destroyers break out, Bellomo breaks Candido's arm)

July 20, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Tod Gordon says anybody that comes out to the ring thats not suppose to be there will be suspended, Suicide Blondes (Michaels & Hotbody) b The Super Destroyers to win ECW Tag Titles (If Suicide Blondes would of lost they would of left ECW forever), ECW Heavyweight Title Contention Match: Larry Winters b "Rockin Rebel w/Tony Stetson, Terry Funk vs Jimmy Snuka went to a NO CONTEST (Brawl involving everyone breaks out, Tod Gordon gets knocked out)

July 27, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Press Conference with ECW board about brawl last week, Gordon says he'll hand out fines and suspension, Gordon strips Suicide Blondes of Tag Titles, Gilbert interupts conference wanting to know who his opponent at UltraClash 1 is, Terry Funk b The Canadian Wolfman (Hotstuff International tries to jump Terry but he goes to the back and gets Road Warrior Hawk), The Sandman w/Miss Peaches b Sir Jonathan Hotbody (Rockin' Rebel and Tigra show up and rip Peaches clothes off), Eddie Gilbert b Glen Osbourne (After the match Gilbert has a confrontation witn Ron Jaworski)

August 3, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: The Dark Patriot & Eddie Gilbert w/ Paul E. Dangerously b Glen Osbourne & J.T. Smith, Footage from Japan's W*ING, Jimmy Snuka b Tommy Cairo to retain ECW TV Title (Taped from Super Summer Sizzler Spectacular)

August 17, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Eddie Gilbert finds someone on the street to host the show better than Jay Sulli, Tag Title Tourny Round 1: Ivan & Vladimir Koloff b The Headhunter to advance, Don Muraco b Metal Maniac to retain ECW Heavyweight Title, Tag Title Tourny Round 1: Sal Bellomo & Sandman b Tony Stetson & Sir Richard Michaels to advance, Tod Gordon announces matches for UltraClash 1 but Stan Hansen comes out and challenges Jimmy Snuka, Stan Hansen b Jimmy Snuka via DQ

August 24, 1993--ECW Television in Phildelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Tag Title Tourny Round 1: Eddie Gilbert & Dark Patriot b J.T. Smith & Tommy Cairo via reverse decision(Sherri Martel shows up and chases Freddie Gilbert to the back), Shane Douglas debuts and joins Hotstuff International and has an open challenge with $10,000 on the line, Shane Douglas b Don E. Allen & Harve Renesto, Tag Title Tourny Round 1: The Super Destroyers b Suicide Blondes(Suicide Blondes forfeit, Hunter Q. Robins, III offers $25,000 to the Super Destroyers to back to him, SDs said no), Terry Funk b The Canadian Wolfman, Tito Santana b Don Muraco to win ECW Heavyweight Title

August 31, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Tag Title Tourny Round 2: Sandman & Sal Bellomo b Ivan & Vladimir Koloff to advance, Tod Gordon announces the participants for the Mixed Gender Battle Royal, Freddie Gilbert tries to give Sherri Martel a rose but Angel pulls him to the back, Tag Title Tourny Round 2: Eddie Gilbert & The Dark Patriot b The Super Destroyers to advance,(SD #2 turns on SD #1 with help from Hunter Q. Robins, III), The Headhunters vs Miguelito Perez & Mr. Danger went to a NO CONTEST, Shane Douglas & Don Muraco vs Tito Santana & Stan Hansen went to a NO CONTEST(After the match Eddie Gilbert hit The Dark Patriot with a fireball instead of Stan Hansen.)

September 7, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Super Destroyers & Sal Bellomo vs Headhunters & Freddy Krueger was a Double DQ(SD #2 attacks SD #1), Sir Richard Michaels, Tony Stetson, Super Destroyer #2 & Hunter Q. Robins, III attack Sal Bellomo & Sherri Martel(Sir Richard Michaels whips Bellomo with a leather strap, J.T. Smith vs Mr. Motagi went to a Time Limit Draw(Motagi retains W*ING Junior Heavyweight Title, After the match Dark Patriot & Shane Douglas attack J.T. Smith but Mr. Motagi makes the save), Tag Team Title Tourny Finals: Eddie Gilbert & The Dark Patriot b Sandman & Sal Bellomo to win the ECW Tag Team Titles

September 14, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Tony Stetson b Tommy Cairo to win Pennsylvania State Title, Review of past couple shows 

Keep in mind when you are reading these results that Tod Gordon filtered many of his booking decisions(with Paul Heyman in his ear), and limited his roster to mostly cheap locals. After Gilbert's resignation, Paul Heyman was given total, and complete control almost immediately. Tod Gordon gave Heyman the keys, and stepped back out of his way.

Our next show is the first show under Heyman's helm, and the first under the affiliation of Jim Crockett's NWA. It was also the last show that Eddie Gilbert appeared in for the ECW. Gilbert sat at a merchandise booth signing autographs for the fans as this show was going on.


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