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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Remembering the Global Wrestling Federation
March 1, 2005 by Ron Valliere


For a short time in the early 90's, the Global Wrestling Federation invaded the national scene on ESPN five days a week. The Texas-based federation quickly established itself as the number three wrestling organization behind the WWF and WCW. Unfortunately, the GWF faded just as fast. However, some of its stars went on to bigger things and a few still perform on national television today. For a short period of time the GWF was a fun alternative (to me at least) to the WWF and WCW.

The GWF television tapings were held at the Sportatorium (the old home of World Class Championship Wrestling), which was renamed the Global Dome. The GWF roster was comprised of a good mix of veteran stars and younger talent. Veterans included Axis the Demolisher (Demolition Ax in the WWF), Bad News (Bad News Brown in the WWF), Sweet Stan Lane (formerly of the Midnight Express) with manager James E. Cornette, Bam Bam Terry Gordy (formerly of the Fabulous Freebirds),Cactus Jack (who at that time could be best described as a journeyman), Steve Simpson (formerly of World Class Championship Wrestling), Makhan Singh (formerly Norman in WCW), Rip Rogers, Al Perez, Austin Idol, Buddy Landell, and Exotic Adrian Street among others. Youngsters included the Lightning Kid, Jerry Lynn, the Handsome Stranger, Connan Chris Walker, Scott Anthony, the Soultaker, Big Bully Nick Busick, Axl Rotten, and Rasta the Voodoo Mon (who was using black magic well before Papa Shango in the WWF) among others. On-air personalities included Joe Pedicino and Bonnie Blackstone. Finally, the centrepiece of the organization was Del Wilkes. Wilkes, who wrestled as the Trooper in the AWA (which ironically also appeared on ESPN in the late 80's) was brought in as the Patriot.

The GWF took a bit of a risk by making a masked man the face of the organization. However, the muscular Wilkes (6'4, 280 lbs.) despite not being a great technical wrestler (but neither was Hulk Hogan, who you could argue the Patriot character was based on), did a good job making the Patriot come to life. Also, at the time the United States was involved in war/conflict with Iraq and for that reason the Patriot was an easy concept for the fans to relate to and warm up to rather quickly. The fans seemed to really enjoy seeing the bad guys vanquished by the Patriot Missile - a shoulder tackle delivered from the top rope.

The GWF got things rolling by announcing a tournament to crown a television champion. The Patriot's first round match was against veteran Stan Lane. At the time I really did not think the Patriot would win this match, for several reasons. I felt Sweet Stan was a favorite to win the tourney because he and manager Jim Cornette could create a lot of heat and adding the television title to the formula would really make the fans upset. I felt Lane had the potential to be the GWF's Ric Flair or he and Cornette could be the GWF's answer to the Honky Tonk Man and Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart. I also didn't think the GWF would allow a new character (a masked one at that) to advance quickly in the company. I have to admit that it was a pleasant surprise when the Patriot defeated Lane. Following the big win I had a pretty good feeling that the Patriot would win the whole tournament, which he did by defeating Nature Boy Buddy Landell (who I felt was another great candidate for a heel champion) in the finals. The move to push the Patriot so quickly got my attention and I was very interested to see how the character would progress.

Up next for the Patriot was the GWF North American title tournament. The Patriot was impressive in the tourney as he defeated Axis, the Soultaker, and Al Perez on route to winning the title. However, he gave the belt back because he felt that he didn't defeat Perez fairly. The Patriot cleanly defeated the Latin Heart Throb in a rematch to finally win the GWF North American title. You could now see specific similarities between the GWF Patriot character and the Hulk Hogan character of the 80's WWF. The ultra good guy who can do no wrong was a winning formula (for Hogan), but was it an outdated formula" The Patriot wouldn't be around much longer to answer that question.

The company was headed for a major overhaul shortly after the Patriot won the North American title. Doug Gilbert was brought in to play the Patriot's ultimate nemesis - the Dark Patriot, whose finisher was the Scud Missile, managed by Bruce Prichard (formerly Brother Love in the WWF). The Dark Patriot quickly won the GWF North American title from the Patriot who soon vanished. This definitely marked the beginning of a downward spiral for the company. Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert (who was originally brought in as a heel) became the new company baby face and briefly feuded with the Dark Patriot. Shortly after their feud started both vanished.

The company took on a new identity when the roster was turned almost completely upside down and the Sportatorium was no longer referred to as the Global Dome. Gone were the Patriot, Bad News, Chris Walker, the Lightning Kid, etc. and replacing them were Texas based wrestlers such as the Ebony Experience- Booker T and Stevie Ray, John Hawk, Bobby Duncum Jr., Rugged Rod Price, Alex Porteau, Scott Putski, and World Class alumni such as John Mantel, Wild Bill Irwin, and Modern Day Warrior Kerry Von Erich. The GWF did not lack talent but their inability to maintain their roster for any good length of time was probably one of its biggest downfalls. ESPN eventually dropped the GWF from its television line up.

It should be noted that the following stars all made an impact in the wrestling world following their stints with the GWF: Cactus Jack went on to work for both WCW and the WWF/WWE where he made his biggest impact as Mankind, Dude Love, Cactus Jack, and Mick Foley. The Patriot went on to work for both WCW and the WWF where he feuded briefly with the legendary Bret "Hitman" Hart. Makhan Singh became Bastion Bugger in the WWF. Chris Walker and Big Bully Busick worked briefly for the WWF. Jerry Lynn went on to work for ECW, WCW, and the WWF. Doug Gilbert briefly replayed the Dark Patriot character in ECW and appeared in the WWF Royal Rumble as a member of the USWA. The Handsome Stranger will lose the mask and gain success as Buff Bagwell in WCW. The Lightning Kid went on to fame as the 1-2-3 Kid and later X-Pac in the WWF/WWE, as Syxx in WCW's nWo, and as Syxx Pac in TNA. Scott Anthony's claim to fame was the character Raven in ECW and later in WCW, WWE, and TNA. The Soultaker would go on to the WWF/WWE where he has competed as Papa Shango, Kama, and most successfully as the Godfather. Booker T went on to be a five time WCW Champion and still competes on WWE Smackdown! today. John Hawk went on to the WWF/WWE where he has competed as Justin Hawk Bradshaw, as a member of the A.P.A. with Ron Simmons, and most recently and most successfully as WWE Smackdown! Champion John Bradshaw Layfield.

In closing, here are some final random thoughts about the GWF. The Cartel (Rip Rogers, Scott Anthony, Cactus Jack, and Makhan Singh) were certainly far from being the Four Horsemen. The revealing of "The Boss" was a big let down. The Aztec was the fattest, non-athletic luchador, of all time, but it was a good time watching him get destroyed by Bad News in the GWF North American Title Tournament. On one show Joe Pedicino announced that the GWF World Champion was Baron Von Stieger - who the heck was he and why did he never appear on television!" My GWF unsung heroes are: Mike Davis and the Winner Barry Horowitz. I also enjoyed Joe Pedicino Knows and the European Style Tournaments, which included many wrestlers (unlike the WWE's lame 8-man tournaments). Finally, if you can get your hands on some GWF tapes do so, because you will be viewing the past, present, and future of wrestling all in one show.

by Ron Valliere ..


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