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Global Wrestling Federation was a professional wrestling promotion based in Dallas, Texas. It started in June 1991 and folded in September 1994. At one time its shows were presented on the ESPN television network. On many weeks, the promotion provided programming five days a week airing at 4 p.m. Eastern with current matches.
The GWF was the last pro wrestling promotion to be seen on ESPN regularly. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the network began to emphasize talk shows in the mid-afternoon hours, supplanting pro wrestling.
Max Andrews and Joe Pedicino were the original GWF promoters. The organization was a mix of established names and newcomers, many of whom would launch their national careers after appearances on the daily ESPN show. The original stars included The Patriot (Del Wilkes), Stan Lane, Scott Anthony (Raven of ECW, WCW, WWE and TNA), The Handsome Stranger (Marcus Bagwell of WCW) and Cactus Jack. In late 1991, "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert entered the promotion and took over much of the creative direction of the show introducing The Dark Patriot (his brother, Doug Gilbert), John Hawk (John Bradshaw Layfield), Jerry Lynn, and "The Winner" Barry Horowitz (a character created by Gilbert and announcer Craig Johnson.) Booker T and Stevie Ray also wrestled in the promotion as well as the Lightning Kid (later known as the 1-2-3 Kid, Syxx, and X-Pac in WCW and WWE)
Weekly shows from "The GlobalDome"
The GWF began airing weekly shows in the local Dallas and Fort Worth metroplex television market from the Dallas Sportatorium, which was billed for a short time as The GlobalDome. The promotion's announcers were Jon Horton (as Craig Johnson), Scott Hudson, Steven Prazak (as "Steven DeTruth"), and Joe Pedicino, with Boni Blackstone as ringside interviewer. Scott Hudson left the announcer's table and in his place was "The Expert" Bruce Prichard (Brother Love of WWF/WWE). In one storyline, Prichard and Horton argued in an expletive filled exchange only to reveal that Prichard was orchestrating many of the nefarious activities of the heels.
The Cartel was the first stable formed in the GWF and was the top heel stable in 1991. It consisted of Mick Foley as Cactus Jack, Raven as Scotty Anthony, Rip Rogers and Makhan Singh. They feuded with the top baby-faces at the time in Steve Simpson, Chris Walker and The Patriot. They never won any titles but their presence was always felt at each event. Rogers was the talker for the group and did most of their interviews, but Foley and Levy were allowed to shine occasionally on the mic. They talked of having a "boss" but would not name him. After a few months of this, they finally named the boss as GWF Commissioner Max Andrews and then the stable disbanded.
The original GWF was notable for many of its wrestling broadcast innovations, most importantly, the acknowledgement of other promotions within the broadcast (including past promotions such as World Class Championship Wrestling). Competitors' former championships were mentioned, as well as departures of wrestlers to other promotions. The promotion also aired behind-the-scenes footage and news segments with features from around the sport. In 1994, however, the company would fold.
Massive cutbacks in budget
Following a massive cutback of budget, Pedicino and Johnson left the promotion, and shortly thereafter, so did Eddie Gilbert.
Due to a pay dispute booker Eddie Gilbert, along with his brother Doug (working under a mask as the Dark Patriot) left the GWF in 1992. Eddie Gilbert took with him the GWF North American Heavyweight Championship belt. He made a few defenses of the title in the United States Wrestling Association as the GWF World Heavyweight champion, despite being stripped of the belt and not being recognized as such by the GWF. It was around this time that Grey Pierson and Joe Pedicino had their falling out, with Pierson taking over promoting duties for the GWF and cutting back to a roster featuring mostly Texas mainstays, and bringing in older Texas stars, mostly those from the World Class era.
Enter Grey Pierson and WCCW alumni arrive
In the wake of this temporary fold, the GWF was purchased by Grey Pierson, and many former World Class Championship Wrestling stars began appearing, including Chris Adams, Kerry Von Erich and Iceman Parsons, among others. Doyle King, David Webb, and other guest announcers (including former World Class announcers Bill Mercer and Marc Lowrance) were brought introduced as the show became more of a theatrical presentation. Mercer, a veteran of Sportatorium wrestling since the 1950s, hosted a weekly segment on many memorable events that took place in the venerable Dallas arena.
Kerry Von Erich's return to the Sportatorium, along with Chris Adams' debut with the GWF, was so significant that the arena once again began filling up to see Kerry - however, the renewed round of glory would be short-lived.
The local television shows boasted that it was also being aired over a fictitious global television network as Pierson persuaded many of his friends and associates to don the garb of equally fictitious and bizarre characters. In one of its more interesting angles, GWF hired a "psychiatrist" as a valet – the "psychiatrist" was actually Dr. Allan Saxe, a political science professor at the nearby University of Texas at Arlington.
One strange angle at that time included a "Bungee" match in which Steven Dane wrestled against Chaz Taylor in a scaffold match outside the Sportatorium. After the match, "Maniac" Mike Davis attached himself to the bungee cord and jumped off of the scaffolding. When he landed back on the ground, he claimed he had launched himself to the Moon and had returned to Earth with a "moon rock." Another weird angle in which announcer David Webb, having "amnesia" following an attack by Manny Fernandez, believed that he was Elvis Presley (who performed at the Sportatorium in the late-1950s during the Big D Jamboree days). Another strange angle was when Cecil Fielder made an appearance and was billed as the first two sport athlete in baseball and wrestling. He didn't wrestle, he was "observing" other wrestlers.
The shows were also presented in an abbreviated and more serious format for a brief time over the ESPN television network.
1992 lawsuit by the World Wrestling Federation
In 1992, the Global Wrestling Federation was sued by then World Wrestling Federation because they felt the use of the word "Global" was in the same definition as the word "World."
Kerry Von Erich tribute show
In 1993, a memorial wrestling card was held in memory of Kerry Von Erich, who committed suicide on February 18. Von Erich previously was to have faced the Angel of Death, David Sheldon, that day. Instead, a memorial service was held at the Sportatorium prior to the matches, with former World Class announcer Marc Lowrance making a special appearance to pay his tributes to Kerry (Lowrance was the ring announcer who called Von Erich's NWA World title victory over Ric Flair in 1984). The following April, a memorial tribute card was held at the Dallas Sportatorium, featuring many former World Class wrestlers, referees and other officials. In that card, the main event was the official last match between the Freebirds and the Von Erichs. Kevin Von Erich and Chris Adams (who wore Kerry's ring jacket in his memory) faced Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts, with Skandor Akbar in Hayes and Roberts' corner, and Fritz Von Erich in Chris and Kevin's corner (his last appearance in a professional wrestling match). The match ended with Kevin applying the claw on Roberts for the win, while Fritz applied the iron claw on Skandor Akbar. Adams meanwhile was ganged up by Hayes and Rod Price when David Sheldon came in to save Adams. Sid Vicious and Booker T also competed on the memorial card. The Ultimate Warrior, who competed in Dallas as The Dingo Warrior, was scheduled to wrestle, but no-showed.
Bill Mercer, Marc Lowrance, David Manning and Bronco Lubich were among the many WCCW officials and personalities whom appeared on the memorial card. Manning officiated Kerry's 1984 NWA World title-clinching match against Ric Flair at Texas Stadium nearly 9 years earlier.
Proceeds of this card went to a trust fund established for Kerry's daughters Hollie Adkisson and Lacey Adkisson (who is now a model and third-generation pro wrestler competing in Total Non-Stop Action). In 1994, the GWF paid tribute to Kerry again in a month-long series of past matches Kerry was involved in, including some from World Class.
Chris Adams as the focus
Afterwards, the federation centered mostly on Adams, who again ran his wrestling school and was working a feud with both Price and Iceman Parsons; as well as assist in booking various matches. During one 1993 match, Adams accidentally tore the hair weave off the hair of Price, resulting in stitches on his head. Chris' former second wife Toni Adams, whom he brought in to the storyline, was also involved, siding with Price and Parsons; and during one match, she attempted to rub Freebird Hair Cream into Chris' eyes. The former couple also was wrestling in Memphis' USWA promotion, where Toni was billed as Nanny Simpson. Chris and Toni's son Chris Jr., then about 5, also made a few appearances in the ring.
A renewed feud between Adams and Jimmy Garvin took place, but the closing of the GWF on September 21, 1994, ended any prospects of a long angle between the two former rivals.
Despite all of these angles, Adams managed to win the GWF North American title twice, defeating King Parsons on December 25, 1993; then beating Rod Price on July 1, 1994 to regain the title he lost three months earlier to Price. It would be Adams' last championship glory, as he would never win another major title again.
Life after the GWF
After the GWF folded, promoter Jim Crockett brought the NWA back to the Sportatorium for a tenure lasting less than a year. After several other attempts to keep wrestling going, the Sportatorium was demolished in 2003.
- GWF North American Heavyweight Championship
- GWF Television Championship
- GWF Texas Heavyweight Championship
- GWF Brass Knuckles Championship
- GWF Light Heavyweight Championship
- GWF Tag Team Championship