Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Remembering the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF)

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the first Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) event, taking place at the Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas. Max Andrews and Joe Pedicino founded the GWF, and it's most remembered for being presented on ESPN on weekday afternoons in the 1990s. Being on ESPN was a huge opportunity for the promotion, as it enabled them to have a national audience from the very beginning. The GWF existed from 1991 to 1994, and it was on ESPN all three years. The GWF was the last pro-wrestling promotion to be in this fortunate position of being on ESPN regularly, as the sports channel began focusing on talk shows in the afternoon during the mid-1990s.

Wrestlers who were on the GWF roster and then later moved on to have successful careers in larger companies include Booker T, Stevie Ray, Jerry Lynn, Patriot, Raven (who wrestled in the GWF as, "Scott Anthony"),S ean Waltman (who wrestled in the GWF as, "Lightning Kid"), and John Bradshaw Layfield (who wrestled in the GWF as, "John Hawk"). Members of the original GWF announcing team moved on to bigger success as well- Boni Blackstone worked for WWE, Scott Hudson worked for WCW and WWE (as well as TNA), and Steve Prazak (who was, "Steven DeTruth" in the GWF) worked for ECW.

When the GWF first started, it had been believed that Joe Pedicino had a backer from Nigeria who was going to invest $10 million dollars into the company. This belief was false, and according to then-GWF Play-by-Play announcer Craig Johnson (Jon Horton) in a 2003 interview with me, this realization was just the beginning of proof that the GWF was not very financially stable. Add to this that reportedly the GWF's viewership was not very high, and it appears that was never destined to be a major player in the pro-wrestling industry, despite the fact that GWF management had ambitious plans that included eventually having events outside of the Sportatorum, having a new show on Pay Cable, and even having a Pay Per View on a US Navy Aircraft Carrier. But as Johnson told me in the interview, "There were a lot of fresh ideas, but no money to make them happen."

Nonetheless, the GWF gave initial national exposure to future superstars of the industry via ESPN, and the programs were entertaining. My favorite period of the GWF was in early-1992, when The Dark Patriot (Doug Gilbert) and Bruce Prichard were at the top of the mountain in the promotion, with The Dark Patriot holding the GWF North American Championship, and Prichard as his manager. I thought they had great chemistry together.

Along with managing the Dark Patriot, Bruce Prichard was working as a heel announcer, and also formed alliances with other heels in the GWF, including Scott Anthony and Barry Horowitz, who he managed while Horowitz was GWF Light Heavyweight Champion. So Prichard was one of the most prominent GWF heels during his time there.

My favorite GWF feud was Patriot vs. The Dark Patriot. It was unique and interesting- The Dark Patriot wore red & black and claimed to be from the dark side of America, making him the perfect foil to the patriotic red, white and blue-wearing Patriot. The Dark Patriot was an evil clone to the extent that while Patriot called his diving shoulder block finisher "Patriot Missile", The Dark Patriot used the same finisher, calling it "Scud Missile", named after the missile that was used by the Iraqi Army during the Gulf War that was taking place when he made his GWF debut. This feud was an example of how the GWF focused on storytelling, creating complex storylines with well-developed characters that could keep a viewer engaged. The GWF's focus on storytelling was one of the things that made it stand out from other wrestling promotions at the time. It helped to create a more immersive and engaging viewing experience for fans.

I also enjoyed the work of Mike Davis, who kept me laughing with his, "Maniac" gimmick. Davis began wrestling for the GWF in July 1991, and stayed with the promotion until it folded in September 1994, making him one wrestler who stayed with the GWF the longest.

The GWF was special, and I think WWE recognized this, being that WWE Libraries purchased GWF content in 2013. It's well worth watching, whether it's to see GWF action for the first time, or to relive the days when every weekday afternoon was pro-wrestling time, thanks to the GWF.

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