“The Best of Eddie Gilbert” Volume One

A look into Eddie Gilbert’s early days in the South, his WWF run, and his efforts to become King of Memphis

I picked up this 3-part compilation DVD series at ioffer.com a few years ago. I finally decided it’s time to give it a look. I have no match lineups, so I’m heading in blind.

Eddie’s TV debut:
Tony Charles and Tommy Gilbert Jr. (Eddie) vs. Larry Latham and Wayne Farris (June 7th, 1979)

Ok….so Charles is a really good English worker in the vein of a Billy Robinson/Steven Regal type. He worked in a number of American territories back in his heyday. Larry Latham went on to be Moondog Spot, and he looks MUCH different in his platinum blond “Hollywood” gimmick. Wayne Farris is the future Honky Tonk Man – he also has his hair dyed blond.

This is from Memphis TV. The vet Charles starts the match. We clip to Eddie coming in and working Farris’ leg. We clip again to Gilbert using double leg takedowns to control the heels. Gilbert finally gets caught and the heels wear at him with headlocks and boots. We clip to the end as Charles is on the floor with a knee injury. The heels blast Gilbert with the Demolition Decapitation and other double team moves as time nears it’s end. Tommy Gilbert runs in to save his son for the DQ. The heels run and Charles and Tommy haul Eddie to the locker room. Too clipped to get much out of this other than Gilbert was booked smartly, with Eddie using basics to frustrate the heels before being overwhelmed.

Family Feud 

We jump to a promo with the Gilberts. Tommy Gilbert cuts a promo on Buddy Wayne and threatens him. This draws out Buddy and Ken Wayne. Tommy is handcuffed to the ring post and Eddie is beaten down by the other two men. Lance Russell asks for help from the back. Tommy struggles to free himself as Koko Ware and Randy Tyler charge in – they are repelled. A few more men enter the fray and the heels scatter. Officials struggle to free Tommy as he stares at his battered son. Good angle, with Tommy especially doing good facials to show his helplessness and anger.

Mr. Onita and Masa Fuchi vs. Ricky Morton and Eddie Gilbert (September 1981)

This is clipped to the finish as Tojo Yamamoto cheats for the Japanese team and Morton eats the pin. Morton gets Tojo’s kendo stick and clears the ring. Then we skip forward to all four men brawling in the concession stand. Tojo is in tow as well. The men whack each other with everything they can find as the food, blood and sweat fly. The brawl goes on for several minutes. Everyone and  everything ends up covered in plunder and food. Eddie Marlin, the local promoter, tries to jump into the fray and that just seems to reinvigorate the men as the brawl starts anew.

Lance adds in a nice touch of realism by telling the camera man to keep shooting, then mentioning that this will probably never make TV due to the graphic violence. The brawl went on for at least 10 minutes, and was certainly ahead of it’s time. This angle helped spark Mr. Onita to later start the highly successful FMW promotion which saw many death matches being booked. The Monday Night Wars have desensitized me to this style of chaos. Very famous angle from Memphis though.

Eddie Gilbert vs. The Masked Superstar (WWF, 1983)

Gilbert was given a run in the WWF in 1982-83. He ended up injuring his neck in a car wreck the same night that Jimmy Snuka’s girlfriend died under questionable circumstances. This match is part of his “comeback”,

Gilbert uses his speed to avoid Superstar’s attacks and executes dropkicks to try and knock Superstar from his feet. A shoulder block fails to budge the Superstar and the Masked man executes a flying knee and leaping lariat to down Gilbert. Superstar then delivers a pair of spinning neck breakers to down Gilbert for the pin at 2:56. Gilbert wobbles to the cement and Superstar grabs him and delivers another neck breaker. Gilbert is left motionless on the floor. They cut away from Gilbert being aided to a Sgt. Slaughter promo. How harsh!   Good, logical set-up to give Superstar heat as he goes after Bob Backlund.

We next see Gilbert in a neck brace in the hospital. His doctor explains that Gilbert re-injured his vertebrae and will be out at least a few months, if not forever. Eddie argues gently with the doctor over the future of his career.

Next we skip ahead several weeks (months?) and we see WWF champ Bob Backlund training with Gilbert. Backlund does some impressive neck bridges, then makes Gilbert try to do his own to strengthen his injured neck. Backlund and Gilbert do several more neck based training moves. Backlund ends up hovering over Gilbert and placing his bodyweight on Gilbert’s neck. This looks very much like someone just used a home recorder to track Gilbert’s progress. It really adds to the realism of the segment.

Rogers’ Corner with Eddie Gilbert:

This is an interview segment hosted by former WWF champion Buddy Rogers. Gilbert thanks the fans and Backlund for giving him the will to recover.

Piper’s Pit with Eddie Gilbert:

Piper points out that Gilbert is only 22 years old. Gilbert started when he was 17. Piper brags up how successful he was at Gilbert’s age. Roddy then rehashes Gilbert’s injury that the Superstar caused. Gilbert gets defensive and Piper walks off. Ok then. Neither segment was anything special.

A Fabulous Angle: (Memphis – Early 1984)

Eddie Gilbert and Tommy Rich briefly formed the “New” Fabulous Ones and managed to “win” the tag team of the year award. The awards presentation is interrupted by Gilbert trash talking Rich, which draws Tommy out to attack and bloody Eddie. Gilbert sprays blood from his head before a slew of men break up the beating. Russell interviews the blood covered Gilbert after a commercial break.

The beard and perm Eddie grew out in the past year really helped him lose his youthful looks. I say that in the best way possible.  He really looks like a wrestler now and not just another pretty babyface. Gilbert pleads for peace. Gilbert draws Rich out and begs him to be his friend and partner again. The men end up hugging and walking off together.

In another nice touch, Lance begins to go into his next segment when he is distracted by something off camera. We move on to see Gilbert laying out Rich with a chair- causing a massive bloody wound to quickly spew plasma all over Rich’s face and suit. Another good angle!

$10,000 Golden Challenge – Continental

Eddie Gilbert and Paul E. Dangerously come to ringside and declare a challenge for any man to beat Gilbert for a $10,000 prize. They bring in one of the young hayseeds from the audience. The man agrees to a match. Gilbert kicks the man and rips off his shirt. I actually bought this was a shoot for a moment until Gilbert tossed some worked punches. Eddie then rips off the man’s belt and whips him. A piledriver kills the kid dead. Austin Idol storms down and Gilbert decides to live to fight another day. Well…since I admitted I fell for the angle, I guess that makes it a good one!

The Fantastics vs. John Tatum and Jack Victory (October 1986 UWF)

Clipped to Eddie Gilbert coming to ringside to woo Missy Hyatt into coming with him and leaving Tatum. The Fantastics use this distraction to win with a cradle. What is this, current day RAW? Missy starts to walk off with Gilbert, but Victory and Tatum grab Eddie and are about to dish out some pain before Gilbert’s henchmen Sting and Rick Steiner charge the ring. Tatum is then beaten by all three men and smacked by Hyatt and her loaded purse. Fairly basic stuff here.

First Family Promo (UWF):

Eddie Gilbert, Terry Taylor and Rick Steiner start to talk to Jim Ross at ringside when Gilbert gets annoyed by a ringside photographer. All three men jump the geek and leave him bloody. Tim Horner and Brad Armstrong run in to make the save. The promotion was so hardcore, even the cameramen bleed!

Jerry Lawler vs. Eddie Gilbert (Memphis)

Clipped to Gilbert asking Hyatt for her shoe. Lawler uses the distraction to toss a giant fireball in Gilbert’s face. We flash ahead to the Memphis studio where Gilbert reveals that Lawler now has a $25,000 bounty on his head as Eddie’s revenge for being burnt. Gilbert is not facing the camera, as he’s selling the fire burn. Gilbert threatens Lawler’s family. Gilbert knows where Lawler’s mother lives and he just might have to go after her to pay Lawler back. ICE COLD.

Gilbert is FIRED– USWA

Gilbert is ranting at Lawler. This appears to be from a different angle as Gilbert has a new look. Eddie Marlin is insulted and that draws Marlin out for a rebuttal. Marlin promises to make Gilbert’s manager bleed and Lawler and Brickhouse Brown will be facing Eddie and Doug Gilbert on the same card. The men verbally bicker as Gilbert labels himself the biggest star in the promotion and states that he thinks Marlin won’t mess with him because Eddie equals money. Marlin is appalled and fires Gilbert. He leads Gilbert out of the studio

We see Marlin and Eddie start to shove one another in the parking lot. Marlin is knocked off his feet. Lawler shows up in street clothes to defend him. Gilbert hops in his car and runs into the King. Jerry takes a big bump over the car and onto the cement. Rex King, Bill Dundee and others come to Lawler’s aide as he is pulled back to his feet WAY too quick considering he was just hit by a car.

Arguably one of the most famous angles ever in Memphis. The local fans who were watching actually called the police on Gilbert after seeing this angle.

We flash to Gilbert, now back in the studio. He has already been rehired (on the same show!) The car incident was an accident. Gilbert accuses Lawler of killing Andy Kaufman. Gilbert promises to rid Memphis of Lawler and dubs himself “Mr. Memphis”.

Hard to hate on such a famous angle, but Lawler should have been really laid out. I suppose Gilbert had to come back right away so they could make money at that week’s house show loop.

 Jerry Lawler vs. Eddie Gilbert (USWA)

This appears to be from yet another Lawler vs. Gilbert feud as Gilbert again has a different look. We see the ending where Gilbert smacks Lawler with a foreign object and tries a cocky cover. Lawler ends up rolling him up for the 3-count. Gilbert apparently had put up his mother’s van against the King’s crown. Lawler puts on his crown and walks to the parking lot. He prepares to drive off in Gilbert’s van. Gilbert runs out and smashes the windshield with a fire extinguisher.

Nothing special here. The van wasn’t even nice. I’m sure the promos not shown fleshed out the angle a bit more.

Eddie Gilbert promo

We jump back in time as this is a later 80’s Memphis clip. Gilbert is cocking off to Lance Russell about Lawler, who he thinks is out of the area. Russell reveals Jerry is HERE. Lawler comes out, donned all in black, and lays a beating on Gilbert. The set is knocked over and the men brawl out to the parking lot. The show goes to commercial in the middle of the brawl, and that amuses me way more than it should. We come back and the men are trading blows on a car hood. Gilbert slams Lawler into a windshield and cracks it in the process. Gilbert begins to wander away, but Lawler leaps to his feet and goes on the attack again.   Having all these parking lot brawls shown back to back sort of kills the uniqueness of them.

Nightmare Freddy and Leatherface vs. Michael Myers and ???? (November 1994(?)

This is a Japanese death match in some indy promotion. I think W*ING but it may be FMW. The match starts out with a four-way brawl and Myers cradles Freddy for the pin instantly. Myers then trades a few shots with Freddy and rolls him up for the pin again. Freddy stands right up and grabs the mic. He unmasks himself as Doug Gilbert. Gilbert calls the promoter a “piece of shit” and pledges the Gilbert’s alliance to Giant Baba. Eddie Gilbert unmasks and screams about being treated like shit. The Gilbert Brothers then storm to the back.   This was a total shoot as the pair were actually upset with the promotion and quit. I’m sure the fans were baffled watching this unfold.

Memphis Wrasslin:

This is from 1993ish. A clip shows Brian Christopher, Jerry Lawler and Doug Gilbert facing Tommy Rich, the Dream Machine and Jeff Jarrett.  Eddie Gilbert makes a run in and accidently hits Doug with a fireball. The faces score a win off that. Rich and the Machine pound Eddie bloody for his failed efforts. Rich is incredibly overweight here, and still wearing tights like he’s still a sex symbol. The faces come in to save Eddie, but Adam Bomb storms in to aide Rich and Dream Machine. The heel trio lays everyone out. Eddie Marlin makes his way to the ring to try and calm things down. Marlin ends up going down to a Rich punch.

We cut to Gilbert in the Memphis studio. Eddie explains he’s done a lot of bad things, but he’s not sorry for any of it. Eddie plans on avenging himself from Dream Machine, Adam Bomb and Rich’s attack. He promises a devious revenge plot. Brian Christopher is called out. He asks Brian to be his partner. Christopher laughs in his face and reminds Eddie that Gilbert would not have been beaten down had he not come down to the ring and tried to burn Christopher in the first place. The men talk shit to one another and Brian even suggests Gilbert is setting him up. Gilbert whispers something to Christopher and he agrees to be Eddie’s partner.

With that settled, Brian walks away. Doug Gilbert is called out next. Eddie is sorrowful that he accidentally burned Doug. Doug is not having any of Eddie’s jive. Doug goes off on Eddie over even thinking about being partners with Christopher. Eddie ends up asking Doug to be the special ref for the tag match. Doug eventually agrees.

And…we don’t get the match!?!!?!? Well…. hard to comment on all that then. Brian Christopher did a good job talking the talk with Gilbert.

Jeff Jarrett and Dream Machine vs. Eddie Gilbert and Jerry Lawler (1994) 

We see the ending as Gilbert attacks Lawler and he and the Dream Machine beat on the King. Jarrett gets up from his previous injury and doesn’t like seeing Lawler getting beat down unfairly. Instead of saving him, Jarrett confronts Machine and then storms off. Brian Christopher runs in to save Lawler – but Doug Gilbert is hot on his trail. Promoter Eddie Marlin climbs in and starts smacking the heels. He’s an old man though, so the heels down him as well. Jarrett has finally seen enough and runs back in and makes the save. Marlin is Jarrett’s Grandpa.

We see Gilbert in the studio bragging about turning on Lawler. A horde of heels including Axl Rotten, Perry Saturn, the Dream Machine, Doug Gilbert and others come out with a cake as Memphis Wrasslin’ is celebrating their 900th episode. Eddie speaks with disgust over how he had to act like he cared about the hicks who came to all the USWA shows. He had to play nice with Lawler and his friends in order to lure Lawler into his trap. Amazingly, no one ended up coming out to smash the cake in Gilbert’s face.

We skip ahead a bit on the same show. Gilbert cheats to beat a jabroni. He then offers the guy a piece of cake. The guy refuses, so the heels attack him and shove the cake in his face. Phew! I was afraid we were passing up a key wrasslin’ troupe. Lawler and Christopher run out to scare off the heels.

The angle and Gilbert’s promo were a total homage to Ole Anderson’s turn on Dusty Rhodes in the early 80’s.

Eddie’s Movie

More Memphis fun as Gilbert interrupts the Memphis TV show and demands a video package of his long off and on again feud with Lawler to be played. Clips air to AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds”.

Jerry Lawler vs. Eddie Gilbert (USWA TV)

The bell rings and Scott Bowden blinds Lawler with powder. Gilbert rolls him up for the pin instantly and runs away. With no context, I really can’t say much about this clip.

Final thoughts: Overall part one was a fun watch, but if I had a bit more story behind some of the angles, they would have been that much better.  More to come soon!

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.