Enter Hot Stuff
Ok so we are in 1993. Lets take a snap shot of what was going on in the world at this time. In January Over in the WCW, Bill Watts had just fired Paul Heyman, and he himself would be fired not long after. Ric Flair would be on his way out of the WWF around this time as well, eventually making a return to the WCW. Both the WWF, and WCW were in a transitional period that would shape the next 2.5 years for both companies.
January of 1993 was when the ECW began to make moves that would shape the rest of their existance. One important figure in the rise of the ECW was a man named Dennis Coralluzo. Remember that name.
Dennis Coralluzo was a man that ran a rival promotion to Joel Goodhart's TSWA in the Tri States region(mostly in Philly) named the World Wrestling Association. Coralluzo and Goodhart were like night and day polar opposites. Coralluzo and Goodhart developed a healthy competitive rivalry that was strictly bussiness. Coralluzo's WWA wasn't as popular as Goodhart's TSWA, but it was much more profitable due to better management. The two promotions co-existed in the area mainly because they maintained seperate crews, with the occasional ship jumper.
When Tod Gordon took over with the ECW as the successor to TSWA, the rivalry got personal very fast. Gordon's ECW and Coralluzo's WWA battled over dates, and wrestlers. Both men wanted to eliminate each other to take over the Philly area. For the sake of a big pay day, the two men put aside their differences to co promote an ECW vs WWA show titled "Battle of the Belts" in January of 1993. The announcement of the co promotion shocked many who knew Coralluzo and Gordon due to the intensity of their rivalry at the time.
The Battle of the Belts co promotion show with Coralluzo's WWA in January of 1993 was a historically significant show for the ECW for several reasons, not all of them good. One of the lowlights of the show was the appearance by Kerry Von Eric. Let me stray off topic for just one second to say that Kerry was a true forgotten Texas legend. His popularity in Texas was huge in the pre Hulkamania days. His match against Ric Flair at Texas Stadium in 83 was one of the great sports moments in Texas history in my opinion.
With that said, Von Eric showed up to the Battle of the Belts show and really put on a terrible match. He messed up his surprise masked run in by wearing a jacket that said "Kerry" on the back of it, and he was only a mere shadow of his former self in the match that followed. Kerry was going through some tough times around this era. He was once a star in his families own successfull wrestling promotion in Texas, but that was all over. He had fallen off of the wrestling mountain due to his drug problems. Kerry was in trouble with the law over his drug habbits, and was on probation. Kerry's match at ECW Battle of the Belts would end up being the last one he ever worked. One month after Battle of the belts, Kerry commited suicide with a pistol just days away from having his probation revoked.
On the other hand, another debut was quite significant. Eddie "Hot Stuff" Gilbert made his ECW debut at Battle of the Belts to battle Terry Funk.
Eddie Gilbert was a key player in Dennis Coralluzo's WWA. After the Battle of the Belts show, Gilbert deflected to the ECW to take the job as head booker. This move fanned the flames of the rivalry between Tod Gordon and Dennis Coralluzo. Eddie Gilbert got the ECW job because of his time as booker for Bill Watts' UWF, and Alabam's Continental Wrestling promotion in the late 80's. Gilbert also had a history with the Joel Goodhart's TSWA(where Tod Gordon worked, and eventually baught half of the company). Gilbert was involved in the TSWA's headline fued. A violent fued with Cactus Jack in 1991 where both men established themselves with the hardcore fanbase of Philly.
Eddie Gilbert was instrumental in bringing in Paul Heyman, and even helping him get started in the booking side of pro wrestling. Heyman was brought in early in 1993 as a performer(alongside Gilbert in his "Hot Stuff International" heel faction) and eventually Gilbert's assistant booker.
Eddie Gilbert grew up on Memphis territory style wrestling, and his booking was a reflection of it. Gilbert came into the ECW in early 1993 and cleaned house. He made several changes both in the ring, and behind the scenes. The ECW was pretty much relaunched under Gilbert's leadership. Eddie Gilbert's booking was much tighter than some of the others in the era, and he put much more emphasis on continuity in the storylines.
To give you an idea of how Gilbert was running the ECW kind of like the "Memphis of the North" Here are some ECW results from the era in time where Gilbert was the booker courtesy of Online World Of Wrestling. I'm going to be skipping through this to get to our next show, but this will give you an idea of how he did things, what kind of fueds were going on, and who the champions were:
April 6, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA: Tod Gordon announces TV Title Tourny and a third announcer but Eddie Gilbert thinks its him but its Terry Funk, The Super Destroyers w/Hunter Q. Robins, III defeat The Hell Riders to retain ECW Tag Titles, TV Tourny Round 1: Tommy Cairo b Sal Bellomo w/Cosmic Commander by Countout to advance(Johnny Hotbody attacks Cairo after the match), Rockin' Rebel b Tony Stetson, TV Title Tourny Round 1: Jimmy Snuka w/Eddie Gilbert defeat Larry Winters to advance, Sal Bellomo w/Cosmic Commander b Ernesto Benefico
April 14, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA: Stevie Wonderful announces Eddie Gilbert as third announcer, Funk comes out and pours Gilberts water down his shirt, TV Title Tourny Round 1: Glen Osbourne b Johnny Hotbody to advance(Tommy Cairo interferes and brawl with Hotbody after match), Larry Winters & Tony Stetson defeat Samoan Warrior & Chris Michaels(Winters & Stetson brawl with Super Destroyers after match), The Sandman b Kodiak Bear to retain ECW Heavyweight Title(before match Peaches gives Sandman a kiss), TV Title Tourny Round 1: Eddie Gilbert b J.T. Smith to advance, Tommy Cairo b Super Ninja(Cairo & Hotbody brawl after match)
April 21, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA: Eddie Gilbert comes out and apologizes to Terry Funk, The Super Destroyers w/Hunter Q. Robins, III defeat Super Ninja & Canadian Wolfman to retain ECW Tag Titles, Terry Funk tries to interview Hunter Q. Robins, III but is attacked from behind by Eddie Gilbert with a chair, TV Title Semi-Finals: Jimmy Snuka w/Eddie Gilbert b Tommy Cairo to advance (Hotbody interferes, Cairo's undefeated streak ended), TV Title Semi-Final: Glen Osbourne b Eddie Gilbert by reverse decision to advance (Jay Sulli points to the ref that Gilbert used brass knucks, Gilbert goes after Sulli but is attacked from behind by Terry Funk with a chair), Rockin' Rebel tries to get a kiss from Peaches but she slaps him, Rockin' Rebel squashes ???(After the match Rockin' Rebel grabs Peaches, Sandman makes the save but Rockin' Rebel breaks Sandman's surf board over his head), TV Title Finals: Jimmy Snuka w/Eddie Gilbert b Glen Osbourne to win ECW TV Title
April 28, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia,PA: Eddie Gilbert comes out and says he ran Terry Funk out of ECW and shows footage but was interupted by Tod Gordon, Larry Winters & Tony Stetson defeat The Super Destroyers by DQ(before match Hunter Q. Robins, III put up $500 that the Super Destroyers would win), Eddie Gilbert announces Don Muraco as new member of Hotstuff International, The Suicide Blondes (Hotbody & Candido) defeat Tommy Cairo & J.T. Smith(This is Candidos ECW debut), Don Muraco & Jimmy Snuka w/Eddie Gilbert defeat The Hell Riders, The Sandman w/Peaches b Rockin' Rebel w/Tigra by DQ
May 4, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA: Terry Funk promo of him talking to a horses ass(great), Don Muraco & Eddie Gilbert defeat J.T. Smith & Glen Osbourne(Paul E. Dangerously debuts and talks about Hotstuff International & Dangerous Alliance merging), The Super Destroyers defeat Larry Winters & Tony Stetson to retain ECW Tag Titles, The Sandman w/Peaches b Sal Bellomo by Countout to retain ECW Heavyweight Title, Rockin' Rebel w/Tigra b Ernesto Benefico, Tommy Cairo b Jonathon Hotbody(Hotbody & Candido brawl with Cairo after match)
May 11, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA: Terry funk promo of him running over a dummy(great), Tony Stetson & Larry Winters defeat The Super Destroyers to win ECW Tag Titles in a No DQ No Countout Hair vs Title Match(Hunter Q. Robins, III was handcuffed to Tommy Cairo during match), Jimmy Snuka & Eddie Gilbert defeat J.T. Smith & Max Thrasher, Sal Bellomo b The Canadian Wolfman, Jonathon Hotbody b Tommy Cairo in a Lumberjack Match(Hunter Q. Robins, III interferes), Sandman & Miss Peaches vs Rockin' Rebel & Tigra went to a No Contest
May 18, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA: Paul E. Dangerously calls out Tod Gordon and says there will be no Texas Chain Masscre Match, Don Muraco comes out and challenges Sandman for ECW Heavyweight Title, Eddie Gilbert & Jimmy Snuka defeat J.T. Smith & Max Thrasher(Thrasher turns on Smith), Larry Winters & Tony Stetson defeat The Suicide Blondes (Suicide Blondes attack Winters & Stetson after match), Don Muraco b Glen Osbourne, Sandman vs Rockin' Rebel went to a No Contest
May 25, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA: Super Destroyer # 3 b H.D. Rider w/Easy Rider(Super Destroyer # 3 was clearly Sal Bellomo, Super Destroyers come out and beat down Bellomo after the match), Suicide Blondes defeat Larry Winters & Tony Stetson to win ECW Tag Titles, Don Muraco b Ernesto Benefico, Tommy Cairo & J.T. Smith defeat The Canadian Wolfman & Max Thrasher, Jimmy Snuka b Glen Osbourne to retain ECW TV Title
June 1, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA: Sal Bellomo b Super Destroyer #1 w/Hunter Q. Robins, III by DQ(Super Destroyers beat down Bellomo until Tommy Cairo makes the save, Bellomo goes nuts and clotheslines Cairo), Eddie Gilbert & Jimmy Snuka defeat Tommy Cairo & Glen Osbourne, J.T. Smith b Max Thrasher, Don Muraco b The Sandman to win ECW Heavyweight Title(Rockin' Rebel interferes)
June 8, 1993--ECW Television in Philadelphia, PA at ECW Arena: Road Warrior Hawk b Samoan Warrior & Don E. Allen in a Handicap Match(Hawk's ECW debut), Tommy Cairo wins 16 man battle royal to win Pennsylvania State Title(Tony Stetson turns on Larry Winters), The Suicide Blondes w/Hunter Q. Robins, III defeat Tommy Cairo & Glen Osbourne to retain ECW Tag Titles(Hunter Q. Robins announces Richard(aka Chris) Michaels as third Suicide Blonde, Super Destroyers fire Robins and brawl with Suicide Blondes), Don Muraco b The Sandman by Countout to retain ECW Heavyweight Title
The next show we are going to look at is one of the last ECW shows under Eddie Gilbert's direction. During the time leading up to this show, Gilbert and Heyman(who at one time were very close friends) began to stop getting along so well. Rumors swirl about why. Some say that it was all about power, and that Paul wanted Eddie's job. Paul wanted to go in a much different direction than where Eddie was taking the company, and he was starting to get Tod Gordon to see things his way.
Next up is an episode of ECW's TV show from the summer of 1993. Like I said, this is our last look at Eddie "Hot Stuff" Gilbert's "Memphis of the North" version of the ECW before he has a falling out with Paul Heyman, and Tod Gordon. The next show after this one will be Paul's first at the helm of the company(Ultraclash).