That Was Then 4.22.06: The Global Wrestling Federation In 1991
Posted by Sam Caplan on 04.22.2006
After the demise of World Class, the GWF took over the Dallas territory, and became the launching pad for some of the biggest name wrestlers of the 90s, and a destination for several that had fallen out of the limelight since the 80s. See what happened in their first year in 1991.
And I'm back. Hope you all enjoyed the last three weeks of the Clique Chronicles (and shame on you if you didn't), I was certainly glad to finally run that stuff somewhere somebody's going to read it. But back to work for me. This week, we take a trip down to the great state of Texas, Dallas specifically, as we look back at the short-lived, yet infamous Global Wrestling Federation. Let's start with a bit of the background that led up to the formation of the GWF.
Part I: The Beginning
For many years, the Dallas territory was controlled by Fritz Von Erich, the owner of World Class Championship Wrestling. WCCW was an important member of the National Wrestling Alliance for a long time, including a sting by Fritz as President of the NWA. They broke off on their own in 1986 and things plugged along for three years, but financial problems cause Fritz to sell World Class to Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett, the owners of the Memphis-based CWA. Lawler and Jarrett merged the two companies together to form the USWA, with the Memphis and Dallas branches mostly promoted independently of one another. However, Jarrett and Lawler couldn't build the Dallas territory back up to their satisfaction and the USWA pulled out of there as well, instead choosing to promote exclusively in the Memphis area.
With nobody promoting the area, former NWA announcer Joe Pedicino and former USWA Commissioner Max Andrews stepped in, taking over the territory and setting up shop in June of 1991. The GWF falsely claimed to be a worldwide wrestling organization that had only recently decided to start promoting in the United States (strangely, they only decided to run in Dallas). However, the talent they brought in for the first few months was a good talent base to launch a worldwide promotion with. During the course of the summer of 1991, the GWF held tournaments to fill all of their titles, and these tournaments featured such nationally recognized names as Terry Gordy, Stan Lane, Bad News Brown, Austin Idol, Big Bully Busick, Adrian Street, Al Perez, and Axis the Demolisher (formerly Ax of Demolition in the WWF).
Although they all did well, none of these national stars would win any of the titles in these tournaments. The Light Heavyweight Title was won by the Lightning Kid, a 19-year old prodigy out of Minnesota who would go on to great fame in both the WWF and WCW under such names as the 123 Kid, Syxx, and X-Pac. The Tag Team Title was won by Chris Walker and longtime Dallas mainstay Steve Simpson. Both the TV and North American Title tournaments were won by the Patriot, a future WCW World Tag Team Champion and top contender to the WWF World Title. After his impressive performance in both tournaments, it was no wonder that this was the man around whom the GWF would build their promotion in its infancy.
Part II: The Patriot
The Patriot had won both the TV and North American Title tournaments, but not without controversy. In the finals of the North American tournament, Patriot had pinned Al Perez, but Perez's foot was on the ropes as the deciding fall was counted. The honorable Patriot decided that he couldn't accept a title victory in such a manner, and handed the North American Title back and offered Perez a rematch, which he considered the right thing to do. Patriot and Perez met again soon after in a rematch, and Perez was in control of the match when Eddie Gilbert, interfering on Perez's behalf, accidentally cost Perez the match. This time Patriot accepted the victory and the North American Title.
Now with the Perez situation behind him, Patriot had other things looming on the horizon. For one, he was now both the North American and TV Champion, and was told by GWF officials that he couldn't hold both titles, so he gave up the TV Title to concentrate on being the #1 titleholder in the GWF. Things wouldn't get any easier for the man in red, white, and blue after this, as soon after he gave up the TV Title, a man appeared in a black body suit and mask with red stars and calling himself the Dark Patriot. The Dark Patriot claimed that he had come to Global not only for the North American Title, but also the Patriot's very soul.
The appearance of the Dark Patriot consumed the Patriot, and it seemed he could not escape the specter of his evil counterpart. Indeed, during the third fall of a 2 out of 3 falls title defense against Scott Anthony, Anthony suddenly attacked the referee, and he and the Dark Patriot double teamed the Patriot, spraying something in the Patriot's eye and blinding him.
After several weeks, the Patriot had recovered enough to get back in the ring, and he put up his North American Title for the opportunity to get the Dark Patriot in the ring. The Patriot was in control of the match when commentator Bruce Prichard (who you might remember as Brother Love in the WWF), who had up to this point been playing a neutral announcer on TV, suddenly went nuts, launching an expletive-laced diatribe against the GWF and fellow announcer Craig Johnson. Prichard then went down to the ring and, as the referee lay unconscious from an errant blow, hit the Patriot with the North American Title belt, allowing the Dark Patriot to score the three count and win the North American Title.
To the dismay of the Dallas crowd, the Dark Patriot had won. The Patriot left the GWF following the loss, and would never return. The fans awaited the emergence of a hero who could take back the North American Title from the hated Dark Patriot.
Part III: The Taylors vs The Dirty Davis Bros
Chaz, a popular young rookie from Los Angeles, did very well in the inaugural Light Heavyweight Title Tournament. Although he didn't win the tournament, his performance was good enough to earn him a title shot. He defeated the Lightning Kid for the LHW Title, but lost it back two days later. Although he wasn't able to hold on to the title, he remained a top contender. In the meantime, he was also part of a popular tag team with Terry Garvin, and the pair split matches against Mike and Tom Davis. They had a third match to settle the series, but the Davis Bros were not interested in winning matches this time around. As they beat down Garvin and taped him to the ropes, the Lightning Kid came down to the ring and handed wads of cash to the Davis Bros. The Lightning Kid laughed as his hired goons attacked Chaz's knee in an attempt to put him on the shelf for good and ruin any chance of him again taking the LHW Title. As the Davis Bros attempted to cripple Chaz, Tug Taylor, a 300 pound Texas mainstay came down to the ring and, after accepting a wad of cash from the Kid, went up to the top rope, presumably to come off of onto Chaz's knee and put him out once and for all. Instead, Tug came off the top with a double clothesline on the Davis Bros, and sent them and the Kid scurrying.
In an interview soon after, the previously heel Taylor admitted that Chaz is his son, and that he had been keeping an eye on him since he entered the GWF. The time had come when his son needed him, and he came out to help the younger Taylor in his time of need. Tug Taylor and Terry Garvin teamed up while Chaz was on the shelf, and had several matches against the Davis Bros, but none conclusively ended the feud. Finally, it was decided that a cage match was needed to settle the score. Despite an attack on Chaz by the Lightning Kid, Tug and Garvin scored the win in the cage.
The Davis Bros might have thought that they were done with the Taylor family, but they were mistaken. Tom Davis was set to meet an unknown masked wrestler shortly after the cage match, when the wrestler unmasked and revealed himself to be Chaz, who had finally recovered from the knee injury. Chaz sent the Davis Bros packing, but it wasn't enough. It was clear that the GWF was not big enough for all these men, and someone was going to have to go. Chaz met Mike Davis in a match where whoever won would get to pick somebody from the other side to be banished from the GWF forever. Despite threats by Mike that he was going to send Chaz's father packing, Chaz won the match and chose Mike's brother Tom to leave the GWF.
Tom Davis had been banished, and Mike Davis decided that he didn't want to face Garvin and the Taylors by himself, and also left shortly thereafter. As for the guy who instigated the whole thing, the Lightning Kid, he was not long for the GWF either. After months of instigating trouble everywhere he went, he lost the LHW Title in a 2 out of 3 falls match to the man he had scored a tainted victory over in the initial tournament finals, Jerry Lynn, and left the GWF soon afterward.
Part IV: Scott Anthony & The Boss
The first heel faction to appear in the GWF was the Cartel. Led by the mysterious Boss, who nobody outside the Cartel knew the identity of, the group consisted of Mahkan Singh (the former Norman and future Bastion Booger), "The Hustler" Rip Rogers, a young Cactus Jack, and "The Palm Beach Heartthrob" Scott Anthony, who would later be known as Johnny Polo and, still later, Raven. Their goal, as with most heel factions in the South at the time, was to cause havoc amongst the babyfaces and take all the titles. They did well in the tournaments, including all four members making the three-team finals of the Tag Team Tournament.
However, the tournaments would basically be the end of the Cartel as a group, as only Scott Anthony hung around after the summer of 1991. However, The Boss was still in the picture, and Anthony would speak of him constantly. Now that he was on his own, Anthony's first target was the Handsome Stranger. A well-built young man with a Lone Ranger mask, the Handsome Stranger was a favorite of all the female fans in the audience, and the kids loved his good sportsmanship and smooth in-ring work. He ran into trouble against Scott Anthony as soon as the Palm Beach Heartthrob set his sights on the masked man from Monte Carlo. Anthony made the first strike, dressing as a woman and hiding in the crowd at the Globaldome and launching a surprise attack on the Stranger as he made his way to the ring for a match, and Anthony left the Stranger laying in a heap.
The next conflict between the two came at the second TV Title Tournament, which was held to fill the vacancy created when The Patriot gave up the title. At the beginning of the night, Joe Pedicino and Commissioner Max Andrews drew the six names that would be entered in the tournament, and the Handsome Stranger was among them. Not among them was Scott Anthony, but Anthony came out and asked "Max" (who he appeared to be on a first name basis with) to enter him in the tournament since he had beaten up the Stranger and apparently chased him out of town. To the shock of Pedicino, Andrews agreed and Anthony was entered into the tournament.
It was not to be, because as Anthony made his way to the ring for his opening round match, the Handsome Stranger made his return, chasing off Scott Anthony and taking his rightful place in the tournament. The Stranger made his way to the finals of the tournament, finding himself up against Eddie Gilbert. Although the Handsome Stranger dominated the match and appeared close to putting Gilbert away, the referee got knocked out and was unable to count the Stranger's pin on Gilbert. Eventually both Gilbert and the Stranger wound up unconscious and Anthony jumped at the opportunity to even the score with the Stranger, climbing into the ring and planting knucks in the Stranger's tights. The referee finally revived, and found the knucks on the Stranger. Seeing Gilbert knocked out, the referee had no choice but to disqualify the Handsome Stranger and award the vacant TV Title to Eddie Gilbert.
The Handsome Stranger left the GWF following the tournament (heading to WCW, where he would gain fame under his real name of Marcus Bagwell), but Anthony's celebration would be short lived. Shortly after the tournament, Joe Pedicino came out to the set while announcer Craig Johnson was interviewing Scott Anthony with a tape recorder, claiming he knew who The Boss was. The next week, he played the tape and revealed The Boss to be none other than GWF Commissioner Max Andrews. It all made sense now, as Anthony had been referring to him as "Max" and alluding to some sort of personal relationship the two shared.
Although Max Andrews would eventually retain his position as commissioner, saying that he had gone undercover in the Cartel to cut the legs out from under them before they had a chance to get off the ground, Scott Anthony stuck around and continued to cause havoc in the GWF. Worse, now he had a very valuable ally in TV Champion Eddie Gilbert, and time would tell what sort of trouble the pair would cause.
Part V: The Wild Bunch vs The Coast To Coast Connection
Skandar Akbar, who had spent many years terrorizing the Dallas territory as the head of Devastation, Inc, returned to the scene in late 1991. Instead of reforming Devastation, Inc, he instead simply took a seat at ringside during a tag match pitting Gary Young and Jeff Gaylord against John Tatum and Rod Price, all former charges of his. He soon made his allegiance known when he interfered and helped Tatum and Price beat Young and Gaylord. Although Gaylord decided not to get involved in a conflict with the Coast To Coast Connection (as Tatum and Price now called themselves), Young painted a target on himself when he accidentally injured Price's knee in a subsequent singles match. In an attempt to get revenge, Price, Tatum, and new third Connection member Sweet Daddy Falcone attacked Young during a match against Wild Bill Irwin. Tatum and Falcone beat Young down and held him for Irwin, expecting that he would help his fellow heels in the attack. Instead, Irwin turned his whip against the Connection and ran them off.
Irwin would continue to be a thorn in the Connection's side in the coming weeks, often preventing them from taking out his new buddy Gary Young. The Connection finally had had enough and attempted to put Irwin out of commission, but the cavalry soon arrived in the form of Black Bart and the Rattlesnake. The three men chased off the Connection, and soon came to be known as the Wild Bunch. Now with backup of his own, Irwin would continue to prevent the Connection from using their numbers advantage to gain wins.
Finally, a six man tag was signed to settle things, but that match ended in a double disqualification when things got too crazy for the referee to contain. Nothing had been settled, and the two groups would continue to interfere in each other's matches. In another attempt to settle the feud, a Russian Roulette series of singles matches were signed, with $10,000 going to the winner of the series. Irwin beat Falcone to take the Wild Bunch ahead 1-0, but Tatum beat the Rattlesnake and Price scored a cheap countout win over Black Bart due to the interference of Akbar to win the series. But winning the series wasn't enough for the Connection. They dragged Bart back in the ring, beat him down, and shaved his beard off.
This was too much for the Wild Bunch, and they challenged the Connection to a 2 out of 3 falls six man match, and they'd put up another $10,000 against the money the Connection had just won, winner take all. The Wild Bunch won the match and got all the money, seemingly ending the conflict between the two groups. However, the Wild Bunch were drawn back by the promise of championship gold, as Tatum and Price had defeated Steve Simpson 2-on-1 for the Tag Team Title when Simpson's partner Chris Walker no-showed. Irwin and Bart got the title match and, despite gratuitous cheating on the Connection's part, the Wild Bunch defeated them for the GWF Tag Team Title to close out the year. The Connection had been defeated by the Wild Bunch, but would soon regroup and come back to try and regain their lost title.
Part VI: The Gilbert-Garvin Feud, Part I
As we saw earlier, "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert came to the GWF and almost immediately made a nuisance of himself, getting involved in the rematch between the Patriot and Al Perez for the North American Title and accidentally costing Perez the match. Because the Patriot retained the North American Title, he had to give up the TV Title because the GWF would not allow him to hold both titles simultaneously. Ironically, Gilbert would benefit from this situation by winning the tournament for the now vacant TV Title, albeit due to interference from Scott Anthony.
But that aside, Eddie Gilbert was now the GWF Television Champion. In one of his first matches after winning the TV Title, he faced Terry Garvin in a non-title match. Garvin, fresh off helping the Taylors win their feud against the Davis Bros, pinned Gilbert cleanly in under five minutes. Gilbert was in shock at the loss, and would now be forced to face Garvin in a title match. However, when they finally met in a match for the TV Title, Garvin seemingly had things well in hand when Gilbert used a foreign object to knock Garvin out and retain the title.
Garvin was able to get another shot at the title, and this time not only the referee, but also three fans would search Gilbert for any weapons he had brought to the ring with him. Each of them found a foreign object on Gilbert, and the now seemingly unarmed Gilbert was sent into the ring to defend the title against Garvin. However, despite all the weapons that had been found and taken from him, Gilbert still had one trick up his sleeve. As Garvin again seemed about to take the TV Title from Gilbert, Gilbert threw a fireball at Garvin and was able to roll him up for a three count.
Yet another match was signed between Garvin and Gilbert, this time with the stipulation that there would be no disqualifications or time limit. The two men went at it again, and this time were both counted out. The issue between Gilbert and Garvin was far from settled. Garvin had proven he was capable of beating Gilbert, but was unable to take the TV Title from him. Gilbert had made it through the end of the year with the TV Title around his waist, but he would face Garvin again in 1992, and it remained to be seen whether he'd be able to hang onto the title much longer.
Part VII: Conclusion
The GWF had had a terrific first year in 1991, with lots of great storylines and angles, hot feuds, and good matches. But would they be able to keep the momentum going in 1992? As with the end of any year, the events that closed out 1991 would bring lots of other new questions.
The Dark Patriot had succeeded in running the Patriot out of the GWF forever, and was now the reigning North American Champion. Would anybody be able to unseat him in the new year? Another titleholder, Eddie Gilbert, had weaseled his way into the TV Championship, and was willing to do anything to sneak out every night with the title. Although he had been able to hold off the challenges of Terry Garvin, would his luck run out in 1992?
The father and son team of Chaz & Tug Taylor had won the family feud against Mike & Tom Davis and sent them packing from the GWF. What was next for the Taylors? Would Chaz again attempt to win the LHW Title from new champion Jerry Lynn? Or perhaps he and his father would challenge GWF Tag Team Champions the Wild Bunch? If they were to defend against the Taylors, however, the Wild Bunch would first be faced with another challenge from the Coast To Coast Connection, who were ready to take another run at Irwin and company after losing the Tag Team Title. Which side would win this feud?
Check back next week as we answer all these questions and more, as we look back at the GWF in 1992!