Friday, June 06, 2014

SHOOT DVD REVIEWS #2: Looking For Mr Gilbert (1993)

“Paul E. learned too well…I’ll leave it at that.
I trusted him.”

FIRST off, Looking For Mr Gilbert is a very amateurish production. Legendary tape trader Bob Barnett is not the world’s greatest interviewer and his questions are all over the place. The sound is poor, the room they’re filming in is poorly lit – in fact, there are constant lighting issues early on. And what I watched was the raw footage with no editing. Also, someone off camera – Eddie’s then-girlfriend? – occasionally chips in with muffled, irrelevant comments that can be distracting.
That aside, this near-two-hour shoot tape – the very first of its kind – is a must see for all hard-core wrestling fans.
Filmed soon after Gilbert had left ECW (then Eastern Championship Wrestling) in 1993, the tape captures a guy who was still something of a major player in wrestling (both as a wrestler and a shrewd booking mind).
His fall from grace was swift, however. Within two years, Eddie was dead at the premature age of 34, at the time practically blacklisted in the US and having to eke out a miserable living in Puerto Rico. That future tragedy was still ahead of him when Gilbert took the revolutionary step of doing a shoot interview, something that was unheard of at this time.
The tape kicks off with Eddie listing his many injuries: bad neck, bad shoulder, bad elbows, bad back and bad hip – some of them stemming from the car accident he was in while working in the WWWF in the early 1980s.
He honestly examines his relationship with Jerry Lawler, admitting he grew up idolising Lawler and wanting to be the “King of Memphis”. He talks about being a heel in Memphis, then moving to Mid-South and managing Korchenko, the Blade Runners and others, while coming up with ideas and angles that impressed promoter Bill Watts.
This is followed by a short discussion over the real/fake Missy Hyatt/John Tatum love triangle feud, but Eddie clams up because it clearly still affected him. But he later opens up about his tumultuous relationship with Missy, how he nearly went to WWF with her in 1986, but instead stuck with Mid-South/UWF after being promised booking duties. He stayed on through the ill-fated buy-out by the NWA and how that inter-promotional feud fell apart due to tension and jealousy from the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair.
Eddie then goes into great detail about his return to Memphis in early 1988 his growing success as a booker of territories, even if he never lasted long in any of them. Next, he discusses his move to the CWF in Alabama in 1988 with Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman), giving viewers some great anecdotes about several angles he shot there. He also explains why he fell out with CWF owner David Woods and left the promotion.
Gilbert's return to WCW in late 1988 is covered, particularly his involvement with Ricky Steamboat’s return in early 1989. He discusses how internal politics eventually led to his divorce from Missy and caused him to leave WCW.
Next, he goes into great detail about returning to Memphis and coming up with the notorious angle where he ran over Jerry Lawler with a car in 1990. This incident nearly led to Gilbert winding up in jail.
Eddie talks about how he and Cactus Jack felt in going to extremes to entertain the fans for Joel Goodhart’s promotion in 1991 – the pride they took in making their matches as real and as violent as possible.
His Eastern Championship Wrestling run in 1993 is briefly touched on and, clearly, there was still a lot of bad blood between Eddie and Paul Heyman: “Paul E. learned too well…I’ll leave it at that. I trusted him.”
Then it’s on to the infamous W*NG incident involving Jason the Terrible and his brother Doug.
Barnett gets Gilbert to backtrack to discuss how the second Tupelo concession stand brawl in 1981 came about involving him, Ricky Morton, Atsushi Onita, Masa Fuchi and Tojo Yamamoto.
It was this brawl that inspired Onita to create his hardcore FMW promotion in Japan and, indirectly, led to the birth of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
When Jim Ross’s name is brought up, Eddie gets very serious. He had a major falling out with Jim in 1987 during the UWF sale and it wasn’t resolved by the date of this interview: “He’s a very good politician.”
Gilbert touches on his relationship with second wife Madusa. He calls her a good person and has nothing bad to say to her. He talks about the AWF debacle in 1991, involving inept promoter Gordon Scozzari, his then-wife Madusa and Jeff Gaylord, who Scozzari paid to attack Eddie.
Finally, Gilbert briefly chats about the next big thing in wrestling: Sabu.
CONCLUSION: I have to say this historic DVD is incredible, flaws and all. Eddie had demons but he was a genius and a visionary (the fact he was willing to do a shoot tape before anyone else is a good example). A smart man, a likeable and funny guy. It’s a real tragedy that he died so early, not only on a personal level but also when you consider what he could have brought to the wrestling business during the Monday Night Wars.
RATING: *****

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

SHOOT DVD REVIEWS #1: Kayfabe Commentaries with Jim Cornette (2014)

“Kevin Steen is the perfect guy to be your top star and champion if you want to work in front of 400 people in a rec centre.”
WHAT do you expect from a Jim Cornette shoot DVD? If you want hilarious, outta-control ranting, then that's what you're gonna get. But what could Jimbo possibly add to this latest shoot DVD that he hasn't already said on the dozens he's done in the past. Well, quite a bit, actually. In fact, THREE HOURS WORTH!
Host Sean Oliver covers the gamut of the past 2-3 years in Cornette's life: from Sean's own falling out with Jim (they're now friends again - I guess money heals all wounds), Cornette's final weeks in TNA and his dealings with Vince Russo, Dixie Carter, Terry Taylor and Jeff Jarrett. Cornette then goes into minute detail about everything that went wrong during his tenure booking/co-booking Ring Of Honor.
If you hate Cornette, then this section will make you hate him more, especially when he buries the likes of Kevin Steen, Grizzly Redwood and the Super Smash Brothers. If you love him (as I do), then you still may get tired as he itemises every single thing that ROH did wrong and how NONE of it was his fault.
The wrestling legend saves his main vitriol for ROH management and the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Oh boy...does he bury those guys. He especially sprays Greg Gilliland ("Greg the office boy") and merchandise guy Ross Abrams (who he directly says on camera is a "pussy" and a "prick"...and that's his kinder descriptions). He also buries (former?) friend Gary Juster for being gutless.
Basically, as fascinating as this two-disc set is, I think it ran too long and Sean Oliver really should have reined Corny in as he almost gets boring with his anal detail on ROH's incompetence.
The DVD wraps up with some quick questions on pop culture, organised religion and why having his wife Stacey work in OVW WASN'T nepotism.
In the end, I can't rate this DVD higher than **** out of a possible 5 stars. Still, I'd recommend you check it out, especially if you're an ROH fan who was wondering what the hell happened to the promotion during 2012.