The Death of the WBF
January 17, 2006 by Johnny LaRue
First off let me thank everyone who was concerned about my health. I am doing better and hope to be able to further contribute to OWW.
I was back in the gym recently and thought about the many comments and columns on the website that mention Vince is obsessed with the "big man". I instantly was reminded of the WBF. What, you never heard of the WBF" For my younger readers who think the XFL was Vince's only failure, you missed out on the debacle that was the WBF; otherwise known as the World Body Federation. Don't worry, you did not miss much....
It was about 15 years ago when Vince planned to launch the WBF to compete directly with the IFBB. Vince then hired well known fitness legend Tom Platz to help acquire talent. After the 1990 Mr. Olympia contest Vince put out a press release which stated that the WBF would "revamp professional bodybuilding", with dramatic new events that promised the largest prize money in the history of the sport. The WBF was also hyped as being "drug free". It was a step in the right direction I feel although it is a far cry of how bodybuilding is today.
Thirteen bodybuilders jumped ship to the WBF. They were Aaron Baker, Mike Christian, Vince Comerford, David Dearth, Berry DeMey, Johnnie Morant, Danny Padilla, Tony Pearson, Jim Quinn, Mike Quinn, Eddie Robinson, Gary Strydom, and Troy Zuccolotto.
Things were looking great for the WBF. Vince announced that the WBF's first contest would be held in Atlantic City at Donald Trumps Taj Mahal casino on PPV. Vince also hinted that other superstars would join the WBF. The IBFF was clearly worried and saw the WBF as a serious threat. As a result they started signing bodybuilders to contracts. Then Vince launched a magazine and a weekly TV show called "WBF Bodystars" (hosted by himself and his eye candy co-host Cameo). He also heavily promoted his line of supplements called ICOPRO. Vince had everything going for him it seemed; but where did he go wrong" Let me count the many ways.
1.) Two below-average contests that never lived up to the hype. Go find a tape of the WBF contests and see for yourself. The shows were embarrassing and dressing up the bodybuilders in silly outfits was a joke. It may have made for great wrestling entertainment but made for horrible bodybuilding entertainment.
2.) Giving the bodybuilders less than 6 months to become clean never really panned out as seen on the contests. Instead of waiting Vince rushed the product and it clearly showed.
3.) No new "stars" were added to the original 13 to generate interest. Lou Ferrigno joined the WBF until he found out it was going to be drug free. Not being able to secure any big names made fans wonder how serious Vince was about the WBF.
4.) The silly idea of adding Lex Luger as a guest poser for one of the contests. Luckily Luger never posed due to a motorcycle accident (that was used a gimmick later on with the steel plate in his forearm that KO'd other wrestlers). Yet the damage was already done since Vince tried to combine the wrestling side of his business with his bodybuilding one. It was a recipe for disaster.
5.) The infamous "shoot" tug of war between WBF bodybuilders and WWE Superstars. Of course the bodybuilders (who had no real athletic background & did not train for endurance) lost quite handily. This loss not only further blurred the lines between bodybuilding and wrestling but it also made some fans question how strong the WBF stars really were or if the whole thing was a work. I wondered if the WBF stars would show up and wrestle on a PPV.
6.) Which brings me to the "push" or wins by Gary Strydom. Taking nothing away from the guy, but many fans (myself included) wondered if the whole WBF was rigged. Other worthy bodybuilders such as Jim Quinn and Aaron Baker seemed to take a backseat to the WBF poster boy Gary Strydom.
7.) McMahon's involvement in the ongoing steroid scandal, which he admitted to his own experimental use of anabolic steroids. This made the fans question if the WBF was as drug free as McMahon claimed it was.
8.) Joe and Ben Weider spent quite some time to get where they were in bodybuilding and were already established. They brought big names like Arnold Schwarzenegger
into the mainstream. Vince thought he had some "midas touch" and could be
successful in fewer years than what it took Joe and Ben Weider. Vince felt the same way about the XFL, and has yet to grasp the concept of this I feel.
After about 15 million dollars in losses and 18 months later the WBF was officially dead. McMahon cut his losses and left the 13 WBF superstars to sink or swim on their own. Vince did manage to get the Weiders to promote his ICOPRO supplements. Looking back on all of this, it is no shocker that Vince likes the "big men". Perhaps this is why Vince likes to push the muscular looking superstars. He tried to crossover his bodybuilding federation with his wrestling federation but failed. Now he can just hire
bodybuilder types and attempt to make them wrestling stars.
When Johnny LaRue is not watching old wrestling tapes he can be reached at [email protected]..
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