This is also known as “Looking for Mr. Gilbert.”
This was filmed in late 1993
The interview was conducted by Bob Barnett
It runs and one hour and forty-eight minutes long
The first few minutes of this shoot are primarily the interviewer telling Gilbert about what they will be discussing as they work out some technical issues. After that, Gilbert starts talking about all of his injuries including a torn rotator cuff that he has yet to get surgery on because he is still wrestling. He also talks about having an injured hip from when David Schultz slammed him on the floor during a six-man tag on WWF TV back in 1983. He also talks about suffering a cracked C5 veterbrae from a car accident in 1983 that he needs fixed but will be unable to wrestle if he undergoes surgery. Later on, he talks about how he messed up his arm giving Randy Savage an elbow drop in 1985.
He talks about his car accident back in 1983. Arnold Skaaland told Curt Hennig and Gilbert that Vince McMahon wanted them over his house for dinner. Hennig already left so Gilbert head over and ended up running into the back of the truck and the next thing he knew he woke up in a hospital with Don Muraco standing over him. Gilbert said that he came back from injury too soon and ended up getting homesick and left the WWF in early 1984.
On his WWF career, Gilbert talks about working against Tiger Mask at the Philadelphia Spectrum and how much he loved that match.
Gilbert is asked about his relationship with Jerry Lawler. He says it is love/hate relationship but that he uses a lot of Lawler in his own work as he mentions doing impressions of Lawler while in high school.
He talks about how he is running for County Court Clerk of Henderson County in Tennessee and hopes one day he can be a state representative as he says you have to start somewhere.
After leaving the WWF, he stayed in Memphis until the Spring of 1985 when he went to Mid-South. Gilbert was not happy with his character as booker Bill Dundee had him manage Randy Culley, then said that Jake Roberts told him to turn on the Fantastics and to pay for a portrait of himself as Gilbert was told he would get paid back by Bill Watts. However, Gilbert said the portrait part was a rib as the picture cost almost $500 and Watts laughed at Gilbert every week when he turned in his receipt for compensation. Gilbert then said this got him over as he talks about creating an angle where the Russians (Nikita & Ivan Koloff and Krusher Kruschev) ran in and attacked Bill Watts.
He is asked about Missy Hyatt as he talks about meeting her in 1986 and how he tried to stay away from her at first. One night, she wandered into her room in Oklahoma at the La Quinta where they started talking and “one thing lead to another” as three weeks later they became a couple as he talks about life imitating art. He then talks about how his relationship with Missy led to tension in his family to the point his own dad told him to either pick them (his family) or Missy but at the end it all worked out. Gilbert then talked about how all this pressure actually made him work better and he ended up getting the booking job for Watts in 1987.
Gilbert tells a story of trying to get fired in order to leave and meet Vince to go work for the WWF. He was a a show in Memphis when he introduced his brother Doug, who was playing football at the time. He thought this would get him fired since he went off script but Ken Mantell liked the idea. He then called Watts to ask if he could get out of his contract as he mentions how Watts would hold on to guys who had contracts and he offered Gilbert a booking deal and let him book a show in Memphis. So, Gilbert said part of the deal he would stay on but Watts would let Missy go so she could work for the WWF.
He talks about leaving NWA and heading to Memphis as he said Dusty Rhodes started playing mind games to the point he was disinterested in the business. So, he left to go to Memphis and did the fireball angle then he went to Alabama for the Continental Wrestling Federation where he met Paul Heyman for the first time since Heyman was a photographer as a kid when he was in the WWF.
Gilbert then brings his friend “John” in front of the camera as Gilbert said he used him for many different angles. He talks about building up the title in Alabama and how on one particular TV show, Heyman picked John, who was dressed as a farmer, out of the crowd for the $10,000 challenge. Heyman tossed John’s cigarettes into the crowd, surprising him, as Gilbert said he whipped him a few times until Austin Idol made the save as John left on a stretcher as one of the fans put the cigarettes on John’s chest. Gilbert tells another story of how John came to the ring wearing Mr. Olympia’s mask and a few other wrestlers items for a match as one guy in the crowd yelled how it was the same guy he beat up three weeks prior. They start the match as John slaps the shit out of him in the corner then used an arm drag as Gilbert rolled outside while John starts shuffling around like Muhammed Ali as the crowd went nuts. John then went for the mic and Gilbert was afraid he would do something but Gilbert came in and hit a few piledrivers and went to unmask John but Austin Idol, who had been in his car the whole time unknown to the rest of the locker room, ran out and whacked Gilbert with his axe handle as he started to bleed while Idol “broke” Heyman’s arm.
He talks about guys focusing on Vince McMahon and Ted Turner ruining the wrestling business but that the power struggle starts from day one when a booker takes over.
On going back to WCW, he got the U.S. Tag Title with Rick Steiner but booker George Scott was fired and they went with a committee that he was a part of until leaving in late 1989.
Gilbert then went to Memphis in 1990 and thought they could show some tapes of Heyman and him in Continental but that the guys in Memphis did not understand Heyman, who also said some things to rub Memphis the wrong way.
He then tells a story about Lawler. One day, Lawler was leaving Louisville and they were thinking about stuff to do in Memphis. Gilbert told Lawler if he came at him with a car, would he be able to jump out of the way in time. Lawler told him he did that in high school as part of a stunt. So, Gilbert said his truck had too much pickup so he borrowed Brian Lee’s car. However, this time they did it Lawler did not get out of the way in time and Lawler flipped up in the air and cracked the windshield. Gilbert said he told his brother Doug to go back into TV and tell Lee what happened as he was a friend of his. Gilbert, while TV was still filming, went to a car wash and next thing he knew the cops and ambulance came as Lawler was on the sidewalk. Gilbert learned later on that fans watching live on TV called the ambulance for Lawler and the cops on himself. Gilbert said he snuck out the back door of the studio as the cops went in afterwards looking for him. When asked, Gilbert said that he did not purposely accelerate to hurt Lawler as they were both concerned he would be going too slow and it would not look good on TV.
Gilbert talks about his first match against Cactus Jack in Philadelphia for Joel Goodhart’s Tri-State Wrestling promotion was a 15-minute draw and it was awful. He said neither guy knew whether they were supposed to be face or heel as Jack had his hardcore following but was a heel. However, after their first gimmick match, things went off as they started beating on each other with everything in sight. Gilbert said that Cactus always goes all out for the fans. Gilbert said he agreed to six months there and enjoyed himself.
After that he went to Japan with his brother and worked for the WING promotion. He wrestled as the Boogie Man while Doug wrestled as Freddie Kruger and how they did a lot of crazy stuff like balcony dives. Gilbert said one night, he took a fire extinguisher off of the floor and sprayed it as the fans went nuts and ran all over the place but the owner got pissed. Backstage, Doug came up and said they wanted to take $150 out of each of their paychecks. Gilbert then said that Leatherface (Corporal Kirchner got in trouble for helping a wrestler who was getting attacked by the fans as he is happy that Dave Meltzer mentioned this in the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter.”
He is asked about Jim Ross and how Ross got him the booking job in UWF but during the sale to Crockett, Ross became a very good politician and ended up getting more power and eventually a spot on the booking committee. Gilbert even believes that he had problems with Ric Flair on the committee.
On marrying Madusa, Gilbert said she is a great person and glad she got a job in the WWF.
Gilbert was supposed to go book for AWF. At the time, he was wrestling and booking for the Global Wrestling Federation. Owner Gordon Scozzari called him and said he had a plane ticket to get to Massachusetts but Gilbert was in Dallas and the flight was leaving from Atlanta. Gilbert then said he faxed the TV shows he wrote out but they claimed to never get it and other people ended up booking the show instead. Shortly after that, Gilbert was at the Sportatorium in Dallas when Jeff Gaylord came in looking for a job. Gilbert said he gave his car keys to Barry Horowitz, who went to get a business card for Gaylord. Gilbert said they walked back through to the locker room and Gilbert started to get punched in the back of the head and turned around to hear Gaylord. Next thing he knew, Doug was screaming as Cactus Jack broke a glass Pepsi bottle over Gaylord’s head as Gaylord fled and took off in his car. They later found out from WCW announcer Chris Cruise that Scozzari told him he paid Gaylord $1,000 to beat him up. Gilbert then said later on he got home as at the time he was still married to Madusa. She told Gilbert that she would be up near where the AWF running and promised to pay back Scozzari and actually did as Gilbert said Madusa got Scozzari to come over and ended up kicking him a few times.
When asked why companies have not tried to hire Sabu, Gilbert said that sometimes guys make it complicated as Sabu would rather work in Japan than in the States so when he wants to make it here, it will happen as he talks about how playing hard to get is one of the best mind games in the business.
Final Thoughts: This was recognized as one of the first shoot interviews. Overall, I thought I was decent. It started off slowly but got a lot better as it went along. Gilbert seemed to warm up as the interview continued too. He told a lot of interesting stories here as well.
My one complaint was that the timelines jumped all over the place and it was hard to keep track at times. But the stories he told here about his time in various territories were pretty damn good.
Overall, I’d recommend this interview as its the only time you’ll get the chance to hear from Gilbert, who passed away in 1995. Gilbert told some good stories here and kept it about the wrestling, which is nice.
You can purchase the VHS of this interview for $15 here