MITCHELL'S TAKE 25 YEARS OF BRUCE MITCHELL - DAY 3 (1992): Titled “Twenty-Five Million Dollars,” a column on Joe Pedicino’s Global Wrestling Federation on ESPN that drew outrage from many people involved with the promotion
Oct 3, 2015 - 11:30:10 AM
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This month marks the 25th Anniversary of Bruce Mitchell becoming a Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter columnist. No single person has influenced the editorial tone and direction of the Torch brand over the years than Bruce, who brought a hard-hitting, supremely well-informed, speak-truth-to-power approach to his writing. He went after sacred cows out of the gate, such as the beloved among “smart fans” (today’s “Internet fans” or “IWC,” I suppose) Eddie Gilbert and Jim Cornette. He also went hard after people in positions of authority and power who were abusing or misusing that power, or just not delivering a worthy product. He has also applauded and paid tribute to the greatest moments and movements in pro wrestling over the last 25 years, with a style of writing that has yet to be matched anywhere, I contend (despite Bill Simmons’s arrogant and uninformed contention last year that no one wrote at a high level about pro wrestling until his “Masked Man” columnist came along).
To celebrate and highlight Bruce’s stellar 25 years of influential and eloquent truth-telling about this fascinating industry, we’ll be featuring a single column from each of the last 25 years each of the first 25 days this month. His long-form columns were a pioneer approach to pro wrestling journalism, and the next 25 years you’ll experience a slice of what it is that has earned Bruce Mitchell widespread recognition within the industry over the years as being “Pro Wrestling’s Most Respected Columnist.” We began on Oct. 1st with his very first column, from Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #89 (cover dated Oct. 5, 1990).
Today we feature his column from the August 27, 1992 edition of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter. Mitchell’s column ran on the cover and addressed Joe Pedicino’s Global Wrestling Federation. For background on this one-time national upstart seen on ESPN, check out GWF Wikipedia page here.
NOTE: VIP members can access hundreds of Mitchell columns instantly in the BRUCE MITCHELL LIBRARY here, part of the massive unmatched online archives of insider wrestling coverage from over the past 28 years.
HEADLINE: TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS
“We will have a wrestling card in stadium in Nigeria that holds over 125,000 people and we will fill it… When I get through with the Global Wrestling Federation, it will be the number two network.”
-Joe Pedicino, Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, November 1990
“We have signed with NFC’s international network, and the UWF will be seen in all parts of the world. Within 90 days, because of a new syndication deal, we will be seen in over 100 markets.
-Herb Abrams, Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, November 1990.
“There are people with me right now that will be with me ten years from now… I’ve taken from nothing and made them into superstars and they’ll stay with me for years.
-Tony Mara, NAWA promoter, Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, July 1992
Over the past few years, I have become increasingly sick and tired of reading the outrageous claims of loud-mouthed, know-nothing independent so-called wrestling promoters who promise the moon to fans starving for a promotion they could support without feeling like a fool, as in the cast of WCW, or a pervert, as in the cast of Titan Sports. By now, the routine of these charlatans has become depressingly familia. These clowns all seem to follow the same recipe.
Psst! Hey, you! Yeah, you! Want to get in on the action? Follow these eight easy steps and you, too, can become a big-time independent promoter.
1. Find a forum to announce the debut of your new promotion and to bemoan the fact that the WWF is a circus and that pro wrestling is not what it used to be. Wade is always happy to provide free space in the Torch for just this service.
2. Proclaim that your new promotion will bring back the old style of, you know, *good* wrestling - whatever that is. Be vague so that fans will think you actually know how to do that. Criticize Vince McMahon, but never admit that you secretly want to be him. Make a lot of extravagant boasts about the first-rate production values and international connections of your company.
3. Claim Terry Funk and Eddie Gilbert might be coming in.
4. Put together a second-rate television show and run it on a fourth-rate satellite network or, worse, get it on ESPN. Put yourself on television in some capacity. Use a lot of poorly executed WWF-style gimmicks to hire the washed up stiffs that the WWF and WCW no longer want.
5. Run very few or no house shows. Generate no real income with your promotion.
6. Blow a six-figure or more wad of someone else’s money.
7. Go out of business. Blame the investors for the promotion’s failure.
8. Lay ow for a while and then repeat the cycle, if possible.
Want some examples? WWF, World Class, and WCW booking failure George Scott blew an estimated $600,000 in less than a year with the North American Wrestling Association. Herb “I.S.F.’ Abrams is probably lucky he is not in jail considering the trail of bounced checks and unpaid bills left in the wake of a UWF promotion that has lost at least three-quarters of a million dollars. God only knows where a guy like that got that kind of money.
Christopher Love, a very credible pervert wrestling manager in the ring, goes from state-to-state starting a folding promotions and then skipping town.
Gordon Scozzari, a teenage kid, got his loot through an inheritance and promptly pissed away almost a hundred grand on a couple of shows - “helped” immensely by wrestlers who took his money and then no-showed his card or by the name wrestler who charged him extra for an in-ring bump. Not one person present at this fiasco thought to take Gordon aside and suggest that maybe he might actually need this money to support himself.
Joel Goodhart fed his huge ego and wasted an enormous amount of cash boy consistently running shows where the expenses far outstripped any possible revenues.
Eddie Mansfield squandered in Florida doing the same thing. His promotion is a non-entity, but at least he still got to go to Disney World.
And these are just the big name bozos of the independent scene.
Charlatans like these are choking off the prospects of legitimate promoters who might have a chance to turn a profit by clogging the market with wrestling product that has absolutely no chance for success. These con-artists and incompetents have run fans and talent alike from this business and can take their share of the blame for wrestling’s loss of popularity.
Some gullible hardcore fans and wishful thinking newsletter editors have proclaims a renaissance of independent and regional wrestling, but the evidence simply does not bear that out. Take a look at the “Regional Updates” section of this publication. How many members of this alphabet soup run shows that break even financially? How many draw more than 1,000 consistently? How many are simply vanity productions started because some demented Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland type read newsletters and thought, “Hell, I know more about wrestling than Jim Herd! C’mon guys, let’s put on a show!”
Look at the description of these appealing cards in “Ringside Beat” on the flip side of this page. Even the first match will invariably feature some guy with an inane gimmick and a silly name like, and get a load of this one, Dead Ringer Pug - an actual name from something called the American States Wrestling Association. Most of these shows are an obvious mess from top to bottom. Very few promoters have the expertise to run a consistently successful promotion anymore.
Expertise is one thing. Promoters need traits as well. Nerves. The balls of a burglar. What G. Gordon Liddy calls “Will.” Well, these guys have none of those particular traits but for sheer gall no one except Vince McMahon can hold a Handsome Stranger opera mask to ex-Global Wrestling czar Joe Pedicino.
“Whither the GWF?” is a subject that has recently been bandied about in the pages of the Torch by Keller, former GWF color commentator Scott Hudson, and Joe Pedicino himself. The consensus seems to be that Global is kaput because mean ol’ Max Andrews fires people by fax and won’t give the wrestling personnel , who after all know best, any more money.
Scandal Akbar, Gary Hart, Manny Fernandez, and probably Sean Baxter are now like feuding family members trying to gain custody of Grandma’s dead body. The promotion that they all want so badly stinks and is decomposing rapidly. Bungee jump match, by ass. ESPN ought to do this sport a favor, pull the plug on this eyesore, and run two straight hours of Battle of the Monster Trucks instead.
Max Andrews may be an insensitive jerk and indifferent to the sport of pro wrestling, but the death of the GWF can hardly be laid hat his feet. The problem is that the GWF was born dead. The reasons for this are rooted in the origin of the promotion and are just a little fuzzy.
Two theories for this situation seem most likely. Let’s lay out those scenario and, as they say during the football seasons: You Make the Call. You know, this would make a great Ring Post question of the money: “Joe Pedicino - Fool or Liar?” However, this is the Pro Wrestling Torch.
SCENARIO #1: THE FOOL
Joe Pedicino sits in his office in Atlanta working on the Channel 67 wrestling block when someone knocks on his door. Joe answers it. Turns out the visitor is from Nigeria and his name is Olu Oliami. Turns out Olu represents a sports entertainment company in his native country. Turns out they want to get in the wrestling business. Turns out that Olu is a longtime fan of “The Fans’ Man Joe Pedicino.” Turns out that Olu wants to give Joe TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS to finance and run his own promotion.
So Joe, being a good guy and close personal friend of Steve Beverly, does the decent thing. Pedicino calls up everyone he knows in the business and promises them a job in his new promotion: Kongi Sports Inc. He announces that the GWF will consist of four national pay-per-views, two syndicated television shows, four hours a week on ESPN, and four - count ‘em - four regional promotions - Florida, Dallas, Georgia, and Memphis. Yes, Kongi Sports will buy Jerry Jarrett’s Memphis Promotion.
Oops. Slight problem. Jarrett wants to be paid in real money, just like in real life. No deal. Poor Joe, in a shocking development, discovers that Olu has no money.
Plucky Joe does not give up on his dream, though. He bravely forges ahead. Based on canny business skills of a man who announced the establishment of a Global concern, but forgets to check to see if the money to fund it actually exists, Carol Lindsay, Danny Overstreet, and television syndicator Max Andrews throw in with Pedicno as investors. Either that or they became minority investors earlier based on that damn TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLAR capital investment. Joe met Max Andrews when he skillfully outmaneuvered Jarrett for control of the ESPN timeslot - a lot that barely pays production costs. Wait a minute. Who outmaneuvered whom?
Joe really works hard to produce the best gosh-darn television show he can, but Andrew, Lindsay, and Overstreet are heartless business people and do not share the Great Man’s dream. They actually want revenues to exceed expenses. This is a problem, since the GWF ran exactly two house shows that were not money-losing Sportatorium - excuse me - “Global Dome” TV tapings Max faxes Joe off ESPN. Once again, the dean counters defeat a true visionary.
Medicine’s only mistake? A belief in his fellow man and his favorite sport.
Okay, I admit it. Scenario 1: The Fool seems a little implausible. Who the hell was Olu Oliami? Why did he claim to have TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS to give Pedicino? Why didn’t Pedicino ask for proof before making all those outrageous claim? If Oliami was some sort of con artist, how did he benefit from getting someone to believe his preposterous story? Luckily, for mystery fans everywhere, there is another scenario.
SCENARIO #2: THE LIAR
Joe Pedicino, having recently left WCW partly because he ironically did not want to play a “Joe Izuzu” character, sits on his couch and broods. He could run that promotion, dammit! Involve the fans, get some beefcake for the ladies, a little Voo Doo here, a little Patriotism there - it would be a piece of cake! But Nooo, a guy like him, a visionary, sits at home watching TV evangelist Robert Tilton while hacks like Jim Herd kill the business.
Suddenly Joe looks up at the TV. That’s it! Hilton is right. Expect a miracle! Since the Lord helps those who help themselves, Joe fires off a check to his boy Tilton and gets to work.
The idea is to make something happen. Joe concocts a story about a Nigerian investor who wants to finance a promotion. He even knows a guy who will play the part on TV for a couple of bucks. After all, checking someone out from another continent is next to impossible for the wrestling press. He calls up television stations and potential investors.
“Vince McMahon is a double-digit millionaire! Want to get in on the floor of the next Titan Sports? Get on board! We have already raised TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS!”
Hell, once the fans see the innovative new ideas Joe has, like the Professional Virgin or the Zombie or the American Condom, money will start pouring in! Pretty soon everyone will forget about that TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS. Pedicino receives the benefits of that miracle which he sent Robert Tilton “seed money” for. Joe Pedicino becomes the Savior of Pro Wrestling. Hallelujah!
Now we are on to something. Scenario #2: The Liar actually points a finger at the only man who really benefits from the GWF: Joe Pedicino. The Fans’ Man got salaried positions for both himself and his ‘70s retro-queen wife Bonnie Blackstone, invaluable television exposure, and the ultimate ego trip for pro wrestling nerds - his own promotion to run. The only problem with this little con is the simple fact that Joe Pedicino is unqualified to run a wrestling promotion.
Joe had no idea how to draw money or how to even create a conduit for incoming revenue. Of course, why should he care about revenue as long as someone else foots the bill and pays his salary? Max Andrews is not the villain here. It was his money being burned for the benefit of a promotion that never even had the chance to turn a profit
The trail of money is the key to this puzzle. Everyone from Jarrett to Jim Cornette to Carol Lindsay to the Lightning Kid to Bill Eadie to Bad News Brown to Del Wilkes left because ultimate they wanted to be paid in cash, not empty promises. Eddie Gilbert had no chance of succeeding by the time he arrived no matter what he did. Advertising and 900 phone line income was negligible. The promotion had to rely on the Sportatorium gates. Fat chance. Pedicino got a nice run and a lot of attention without risking a thing.
Not that some good stuff didn’t come out of this fiasco. Lightning Kid did some good work and had a great match with Jerry Lynn. Cactus Jack had a decent match with Terry Gordy. Scott Hudson established himself as a good announcer and a great straight man. Eddie Gilbert did as good a job as humanly possible with the limited resources he had.
And there were plenty of those perversely great moments that only bad wrestling shows can produce: The convoluted Boss angle, the Al Perez vs. Patriot match, Mike Davis’s cheesy Snake imitation, the dumb segments where real fans read questions off cue cards about wrestlers they obviously never heard of, or the inane swooning over Chaz Taylor. My favorite GWF image was on Blackstone’s face when Chris Love turned to her and said, “I liked you better when you were a man.” Her stunned look was priceless.
The Global Wrestling Federation wasted a lot of money, time, and talent for that collection of meager highlights. The bottom line on Joe Medicine’s GWF is one of shameful failure. Fans and professionals alike are being ripped off by this kind of nonsense.
What can fans do about it? They should support promotions that make realistic promises and then set out to fulfill them. Fans should ask themselves the following questions before deciding to spend money: If the promotion has a TV show, does that program support a regular circuit of house shows? Do the same wrestlers work for it from week to week? Is the primary goal of the promotions to make a steady profit? DO they get the most out of their talent?. Do they have any talent? Are the house shows run in a well-organized fashion? Does manager of the year Ron Wright work for them? If the answer of most of these questions is yes, that promotion deserves your support.
Maybe then the rest of these buffoons can quit scamming people and do something constructive with their lives - like get jobs.
NOTE: VIP members can read a volatile reaction from within the industry in the following week’s Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter reader letters page at this link. GWF announcers Craig Johnson, Scott Hudson and Steve Prazak, and Freddie Fargo, plus wrestling newsletter editor (and Pedicino pal) Steve Beverly all wrote scathing letters in response to Mitchell, as did the promoter of the indy show Mitchell mocked. I also published lengthy responses to their letters.
LINK TO YESTERDAY’S 1991 COLUMN ON RIC FLAIR’S ARRIVAL IN THE WWF:
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