The problem that plagued the promotion was usually stale talent, bad booking, & talent that put themselves over the top. If you ever look at what killed most promotions, compare those three variables & you can usually pin point when the fans start revolting by no longer attending the shows.
When Eddie Gilbert took over the booking, it was in bad shape from the previous regime. Usually each booker aligns themselves with talent that they are friends with based out of loyalty & confidence. Every booker is guilty of this; unfortunately it becomes a bad thing when you continue to push the same talent that is long past entertaining to the fans. Eddie was fresh as a main heel character to most of the towns & was probably in his best physical prime years in the ring.
Paul E Dangerously was a major focal point as the top heel manager. Paul was the ultimate heat magnet for any Southern territory. Paul was a few years too late in being a top heel manager in the manor on how WWF used them in the 1970’s against Bruno Sammartino. Paul was quite an upgrade from Downtown Bruno who was usually the top heel manager when Robert Fuller booked the territory.
Just like any top heel faction, they all have a habit in being the focal point of the TV. This can be good or bad based on one’s booking direction. Eddie was in to having heels with mega heat, since he grew up on Jerry Lawler as the top heel in Memphis in the 1970’s. I guess by that formula, Heyman would be his version of Sam Bass or Jimmy Hart. Since talent was very thin, Eddie had to be the ultimate heel in drawing against perennial baby faces that were not the biggest draws on their own.
The angle in which Heyman & Eddie attacked Willie B Hert’s [Pez Whately] son almost resulted in the fans rioting. Nobody had ever seen a 14 year old attacked by the top heels as a wrestling angle. It was very relatable for the fans to pay to see a mid card babyface want revenge against the heels. Eddie VS. Willie B Hert would end up drawing 2,700 fans in Montgomery, Al on 8/14/88 in conjunction with a CWF TV taping.
The angle in which Austin Idol was attacked by Eddie & Heyman in which they cut a part of his hair was also a big draw. Austin Idol had a habit of being a bit flaky when it came to showing up for any regional promotion for the long haul. Austin Idol was confident enough in Eddie that he showed up for the shows, keep in mind that he flaked out on a main event program with Adrian Street during the previous year. One of their matches had the previous house at $2,000 jump to $7,000 when Idol headlined against Eddie Gilbert in a grudge match.
In a span of four weeks with Eddie booking TV, CWF outdrew Jim Crockett Promotions on the weekend of 6/19/88 in the same town of Montgomery, Alabama. Keep in mind that Crockett might have done a bigger house in dollars, but his guaranteed contracts made the show probably less profitable in comparison to CWF being on a shoestring budget. Using Jerry Lawler as an outsider with his AWA Title against Austin Idol drew a $10,000 house on 7/2/88 in Dothan, Alabama. The premise of Eddie putting up a $10,000 challenge became enough of a drawing card for the house shows. I remember Shane Douglas having a 35 minute match that got the whole building behind him in his attempt to get the money.
The undercards had plenty of talent that was getting their first big pushes to fill out the undercard. Bob Carter received a Sgt Slaughter gimmick that was probably patented after his Mid Atlantic run as a heel. He even got a Private in Mark Pyle [Mark Scarpa/Vincent Young in NWA]. Perennial TBS jobber in Alan Martin became the second tier heel manager & did a great job at it. Shane Douglas was continuing to learn in his formative years by working extended programs. Ken Wayne & Danny Davis became fresh again with their long running blood feud that culminated in a hair cut match. I thought Dirty White Boy & Dirty White Girl did an awesome job together. I recently watched some CWF & was amazed on what a great heel that Dirty White Girl was. I worked a brief program with her in mixed tag team matches as a baby face on my way out of the territory.
Unfortunately it was very demoralizing for the talent that pay offs were very low at times. The territories were dying out & other territories like World Class, Florida, Memphis, & Central States had plenty of $50 pay offs that were being given out. The only possible cure for low pay offs was to bring up the houses or to use the TV to spring board yourself to employment at NWA, WWF, or Japan.
Eddie Gilbert’s booking stint in CWF would be short lived [5 months]. Eddie did provide entertaining TV that was a hybrid between Mid South/Memphis. He presented new story lines, fresh talent, compelling feuds, and increases in attendance. Unfortunately a plethora of conflicts would erupt between the owner & Eddie that would lead to his departure.
If anybody wants to watch CWF, I suggest visiting this site @ http://www.youtube.com/user/popculturestu#p/search & look up continental in the search engine
Eddie Gilbert will be honored this year at The Cauliflower Alley Club. You can get more information @ http://www.caulifloweralleyclub.org/2010/11/29/2011-family-award-the-gilberts/
I will have a part #2 for next week.
1st. Lady Of Wrestling