Eddie Gilbert (wrestler)
|Birth name||Thomas Edward Gilbert Jr.|
|Born||August 14, 1961|
Lexington, Tennessee, United States
|Died||February 18, 1995 (aged 33)|
Isla Verde, Puerto Rico
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
(m. 1987; div. 1989)
(m. 1990; div. 1990)
|Family||Tommy Gilbert (father)|
Doug Gilbert (brother)
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Eddie Gilbert|
Tommy Gilbert Jr.
|Billed height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Billed weight||222 lb (101 kg)|
|Billed from||"Every girl's dream"|
|Trained by||Tommy Gilbert|
Professional wrestling career
Early career (1977-1982)
Gilbert started wrestling in 1977 in the Memphis, Tennessee-based Continental Wrestling Association as "Tommy Gilbert Jr." in honor of his father, Tommy Gilbert. In 1980, he and his father won the AWA Southern Tag Team Championship.
World Wrestling Federation (1982-1984)
He spent a little bit of time wrestling in the World Wrestling Federation as an enhancement talent in 1982, before being promoted to mid-card status. During this time period, Gilbert was touted as the protege of then WWF Champion Bob Backlund. He continued to work his way up the card when he was legitimately injured seriously in a car accident in 1983. He spent several months recovering before returning to the ring; upon his return, he stated on television that Backlund had been a tremendous inspiration to him. At a September 1983 TV taping, Gilbert's neck was (in storyline) reinjured by the Masked Superstar who executed two neckbreakers to Gilbert in the ring to win a match and a third on the floor ringside afterwards, resulting in Gilbert being stretchered from the ring and taken away in an ambulance. Gilbert continued wrestling for the WWF until 1984.
Continental Wrestling Association (1984–1986)
Later, he began making a name for himself as Eddie Gilbert in CWA in Memphis, Tennessee. He teamed with his father and Ricky Morton in those years. In addition, he formed a team with Tommy Rich as "Fargo's Fabulous Ones", an attempt by CWA (Memphis) to bury and still cash in on the fame attained by the previous incarnation of the Fabulous Ones, Steve Keirn and Stan Lane, who walked out of the territory after a dispute. They held the AWA Southern Tag Team titles in 1984 until dropping them to Phil Hickerson and the Spoiler (Frank Morrell). The duo would break up soon after, with Gilbert turning heel. The two had a brief but intense feud, which memorably began on television when the two were presented with a "Tag Team of the Year" award by announcer Lance Russell and two guests. Gilbert, unaware his former partner was at the taping, badmouthed Rich, then the International Heavyweight Champion, until Rich came out to confront him. Rich immediately got the upper hand, running Gibert into the steel ringpost several times, bloodying him in the process before the cameras went to a commercial. After the commercial break, Gilbert told Russell he wanted Rich to come back out so he could apologize to him in person, stating he was wrong for still being bitter about the break-up of the team, and was fueled by jealousy of Rich's championship title reign and new found star status. When Rich accepted Gilbert's apology, Gilbert suddenly turned on him and, in front of a stunned audience and a speechless Russell, rammed Rich's head into the ringpost, just as Rich had done to him moments earlier. Gilbert then made his way to Bill Watts' Mid-South territory.
Universal Wrestling Federation (1985-1987)
In 1985, Gilbert went to work for Bill Watts at Universal Wrestling Federation, Eddie added the "Hot Stuff" to his name. He started a heel stable of wrestlers called "Hot Stuff International, Inc." and he managed it and wrestled. His stable included Sting, Ultimate Warrior and Rick Steiner before they were stars. He was always a ladies' man and he stole Missy Hyatt from John Tatum in 1987, with his stable being renamed "H & H International, Inc." He married Hyatt in 1988. Iceman Parsons and Dick Murdoch would also join his stable later on at different times as well. Sting would eventually leave "Hot Stuff International, Inc." and feud with them. Eddie also worked as a booker, who came up with the famous Battle of New Orleans angle in late-1987 involving Chris Adams, Terry Taylor, Sting, and himself. Following a match in which Taylor defeated Shane Douglas due to interference by both Gilbert and Rick Steiner, Adams told referee Randy Anderson of the interference. As Adams pleaded his case with Anderson, Gilbert and Taylor attacked him, and Sting eventually evened the sides. The angle eventually spilled outside the ring into the stands, and near the concession area, featuring a huge brawl involving beer kegs, chairs, trash cans, tables, popcorn machines and other objects. Gilbert was awarded Best Booker of 1988 by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. He would stay with the Universal Wrestling Federation until the Purchase from Jim Crockett Promotions
Continental Wrestling Federation (1988)
From there, Gilbert worked in Alabama's Continental Wrestling Federation (CWF), where he reformed Hot Stuff Inc. Gilbert also served as booker, with Paul Heyman as his assistant. The CWF was broadcast nationally on the Financial News Network, and Gilbert's creative work was widely praised by wrestling journalists. However, Gilbert left due to conflicts with management.
Jim Crockett Promotions / NWA World Championship Wrestling (1988–1989)
Gilbert went to the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) -- which had purchased the UWF—and brought Hyatt, Heyman and his brother Doug Gilbert with him. Eddie teamed with Rick Steiner to feud with Kevin Sullivan and his Varsity Club. He also became involved in a feud with Ric Flair and Barry Windham in which he teamed with Ricky Steamboat and Lex Luger. Near the end of his stint there, JCP was renamed World Championship Wrestling, and Gilbert was featured in the first WCW video game.
USWA and various promotions (1990–1995)
Eddie left WCW in April 1990 and also divorced Hyatt. He went back to the independents where he could book again. He worked for the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) in Memphis (where he feuded with Jerry Lawler) and the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF), as well as Philadelphia's Tri-State Wrestling Alliance promotion. Gilbert also married Madusa at this time after having hit it off with Madusa on TWA promoter Joel Goodhart's radio show, but the marriage was brief. Gilbert's most famous feud in the Memphis territory involved an angle between himself and Lawler in September 1990. Eddie and his brother Doug were "fired" from the promotion, and in retaliation hit Lawler with their car and fled the scene. Numerous home viewers, fearing for Lawler, immediately called the police to report what they had just seen as a legitimate vehicular assault. Lawler had to inform the police what was going on and Lawler was forced to appear on television (while selling his "injuries") sooner than intended out of concern that Gilbert would have been legitimately arrested if he didn't show on TV that he was all right.
Gilbert quit the USWA in January 1991. The on air story was that he had chosen to leave the promotion rather than be injured by Jim Cornette and The Fabulous Ones. Due to a pay dispute, Gilbert, along with his brother Doug (who wrestled under a mask as the Dark Patriot) left the GWF in 1992. Eddie Gilbert took with him the GWF North American Heavyweight Championship belt. He made a few defenses of the title in the USWA as the GWF World Heavyweight champion, despite being stripped of the belt and not being recognized as such by the GWF. He wrestled in and booked the successor to Tri-State Wrestling. Gilbert then returned to the USWA until early 1995 when he worked one night for Smoky Mountain Wrestling before traveling to World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico to wrestle and book.
NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling (1993)
In 1993, Gilbert wrestled for NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling, where he again teamed with Doug. He also served as head booker for nearly six months, but gave up his position in September 1993 to Paul Heyman. Heyman would take the company in an even more extreme direction, and under the name Extreme Championship Wrestling just 11 months later which saw the company depart the NWA in controversial fashion. Due to ECW's notoriety under Heyman, the company quickly became the third biggest wrestling company in North America behind the WWF and WCW.
In early 1994, Gilbert sat down with Bob Barnett and conducted a filmed shoot interview titled "Looking For Mr. Gilbert." Gilbert spoke openly about his life and career at a time when professional wrestlers rarely appeared on film out of character and almost never spoke publicly about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the wrestling business. The footage from the interview was later marketed on home video and sold through wrestling newsletters, as well as at independent wrestling shows, the first of its kind. "Looking For Mr. Gilbert" is now considered the first professional wrestling "shoot video", and in the decades since, countless professional wrestlers have conducted sit-down shoot interviews, most notably in RF Video's Shoot Interview series and Kayfabe Commentaries' YouShoot interview series.
On February 18, 1995, Gilbert died of a heart attack in his apartment in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. Ken Wayne and Jason The Terrible found Gilbert in his apartment. His father, Tommy Gilbert, stated that injuries to Eddie's chest and heart muscle had occurred in a serious car crash in 1983 and could have been a factor; Eddie's alleged use of painkillers since the accident could also have contributed to his heart condition. The Eddie Gilbert Memorial Brawl was held in his memory from 1996 to 1999.
Championships and accomplishments
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Central States Wrestling
- Continental Wrestling Association
- Eastern Championship Wrestling
- Global Wrestling Federation
- Hardcore Hall of Fame
- Class of 2009
- Jim Crockett Promotions
- Memphis Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2017
- NWA Tri-State / Mid-South Wrestling Association / Universal Wrestling Federation
- Mid-South Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with The Nightmare
- NWA Tri-State Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Ricky Morton (1), and Tommy Gilbert (2)
- NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Tri-State version) (1 time) – with Tommy Gilbert
- UWF World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Sting
- UWF World Television Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- United States Wrestling Association
- USWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- USWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- USWA Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Brian Christopher
- USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- GWF World Heavyweight Championship (actually GWF North American Championship brought over to USWA)
- Memphis Wrestling Hall of Fame (Class of 1995)
- World Wrestling Council
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Harris M. Lentz III (2015). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling, 2d ed. McFarland & Co. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-4766-0505-0.
- Thom Loverro (2007). The Rise & Fall of ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling. Simon & Schuster. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-4165-1312-4.
- Profile of Eddie Gilbert, part 1. EddieGilbert.com
- Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
- Observer Staff (January 21, 1991). "January 21, 1991 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Ric Flair defeats Sting for his 7th World title win, more". F4WOnline.com. Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved September 4, 2019. (subscription required)
- Power Slam Staff (January 1999). "Power Slam". This Month in History: February. SW Publishing. p. 28. 55.
- Oliver, Greg (April 20, 2011). "Lifetime honoree Foley captivates at CAC Baloney Blowout". Slam Wrestling. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
- Hoops, Brian (January 14, 2019). "Pro wrestling history (01/14): Christian wins NWA World Title". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
- Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2006) [2000.]. "(Memphis, Nashville) Tennessee: Southern Tag Team Title [Roy Welsch & Nick Gulas, Jerry Jarrett from 1977]". Wrestling title histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Waterloo, Ontario: Archeus Communications. pp. 185–189. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- "Southern Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
- Hoops, Brian (January 24, 2020). "Pro wrestling history (01/24): WWF Royal Rumble 1999". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
- "Legends of the Arena Results 6.27.09".
- "Next Official Memphis Wrestling Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony". Official Memphis Wrestling. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years". Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
- "Memphis Hall of Fame". Wrestling-Titles.com. Puroresu Dojo. 2003. Retrieved April 15, 2012.