Part #1 on my article that covers Continental Wrestling Federation can be archived @ http://www.f4wonline.com/content/view/20155/105/
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. Unfortunately a plethora of conflicts would erupt between the owner & Eddie that would lead to his departure.
The start of the problems occurred when Eddie ruptured a disc that was causing him nerve damage on his shoulder and neck. Unfortunately Eddie booked himself as the top heel. On his last TV taping he laid the ground work for an eventual baby face turn.
Eddie would disclose his injury & vowed to win the CWF title tournament on his own. Heyman would do an interview on the show showing disgust about Eddie’s injuries & putting his loyalty towards Dirty White Boy to win the tournament. During the interview with “The Dangerous Alliance” consisting of Dirty White Boy, Ken Wayne, & Nightmare Freddy [Doug Gilbert under a mask], Nightmare Freddy would walk away in disgust when Heyman used the analogy of shooting a race horse with a broken leg in comparison to Eddie’s injuries. Plus Jerry Stubbs would ask Paul for Eddie’s spot.
The seeds for writing Eddie out with his legitimate injury & having him return as a babyface against Heyman was already planted. That could have been accomplished with Paul Heyman & Eddie having an eventual blow up & somebody finally lays Eddie out. Eddie could have continued to book on the sidelines with an eventual return against Heyman & whomever he was managing. Heyman could had been utilized in the same manor that Jimmy Hart was used in Memphis or Bobby Heenan in AWA by bringing a rotation of top heels to feud with the baby faces while Eddie was out.
There were so many variables that caused the eventual blow up with Eddie Gilbert & management. I imagine there must have been similar situations that lead to the departures of the revolving door of bookers in Bob Armstrong, Bill Dundee, & Robert Fuller who would book after Eddie left for the NWA.
During Eddie’s injury [which was legitimate], he took an outside booking for Central States. This turned in to a big blow up with the CWF office, since Eddie should not have been taking a booking if injured. I agree with CWF on that point.
A major blow up was the pay roll. Eddie handled pay roll & would dip in to his own pocket to give money to some of the undercard wrestlers. Eddie would blame himself if the house was down, since he was the booker & in the top mix. Several of the wrestlers had their pay cut that spawned a confrontation with Eddie VS. Management.
The booking started getting second guessed, which showed a lack of faith by the owner. Since he’s paying the bills, I can see him wanting to be hands on with the decision making. This would cause several bookers to leave out of frustration that proceeded after Eddie Gilbert.
The CWF promotion got too ambitious in over expanding before they got their core cities to be profitable. CWF would eventually pick up the Eastern Tennessee, USA Promotion owned by Ron Fuller that was doing poorly. Plus they would add such cities like Pensacola, Tallahassee, Ocala, Florida, Jackson, MS, Biloxi, MS, Gainesville, GA, Little Rock, AK alongside with Chattanooga, Knoxville, & other cities in Tennessee. The promotion needed to get their house in order before a major expansion with a booker, solid crew, & by airing the TV for 12 weeks before running in new markets.
CWF had problems with the pay roll. By adding more cities would result in hiring more wrestlers. CWF wanted to have a crew of 14 wrestlers that would be divided up for two shows per night. Having such a small roster would lead to every worker being on TV for every episode. The end result is you make the talent stale that much faster & why pay to see somebody if they will be on TV every week for free?
CWF used the same regulars that had gotten stale at times; Eddie wanted to bring in new talent. Outside workers like Brian Pillman, Jerry Lawler, Tommy Rich, Terry Gordy, Bob Orton, Bam Bam Bigelow in theory could be helpful additions between their Japan commitments & indy dates. Plus you needed more wrestlers if the business model was to run 2 shows per night.
By the time that “The Road To Birmingham” was completed, Eddie was no longer working for CWF. Unfortunately Eddie couldn't have the satisfaction of seeing the culmination of the big angles & matches peek for a show that he spent months building. The house would draw over $12,000 when the initial projections were a $7,000 house. Many of the wrestlers that were aligned with Eddie would end up finishing up with CWF out of loyalty & being caught up in politics.
I recently saw the CWF TV that Bob Armstrong booked. The TV was very enjoyable. Bob’s booking relied more on the baby faces vanquishing the heels, which was a contrast to Eddie booking the heels to have heat. One can argue on which booking style is the best, but I always subscribe to the theory that people will pay to see the baby face try to gain retribution against the heel.
Bob would abruptly leave after 5 months with himself & Brad Armstrong in a main event feud with Dirty White Boy & Jerry Stubbs. I would imagine it was under the same circumstances that Eddie had previously endured.
Bill Dundee would have some level of success in booking in 1989. Ironically he only lasted 5 months as the booker [notice a pattern?]. Bill would use outsiders like Jim Cornette & The Midnight Express [on their brief hiatus from NWA] , Ricky Morton, & Kerry Von Erich would be used as a outside attraction for some of his bigger shows.
After Bill Dundee as the booker, the company went back to being booked by Robert Fuller [the booker before Eddie]. Unfortunately the company finally closed up shop in 1990. Parts of the territory would be reopened in 1992 by Jim Cornette when he promoted Smoky Mountain Wrestling from 1991-1995 with some of the long time talent that had wrestled in the South Eastern territory days.
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/
1st. Lady Of Wrestling