Image Credit (IMDb.com)
Through out the wrestling business there are so many wrestling companies that have come and gone. Some of those promotions have had promoters that have been good and some that have not been. However in regards to Herb Abrams almost every story surrounded on him has been absolutely crazy. Herb Abrams had his own promotion called the UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) and there are a bunch of tales told about Herb Abrams. It is a shame too how the UWF turned out as there was a ton of talent involved including Mick Foley, Jimmy Snuka, Danny Spivey, Bruno Sammartino (Commentary), Dr Death Steve Williams, Sycho Sid, and etc, So when I heard Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring crew did an episode on the UWF along with Herb Abrams, I had to watch it. Boy did I learn a lot about the UWF and Herb Abrams. So, lets get into it. Here are the 10 things that I learned watching Dark Side of The Ring Cocaine & Cowboy Boots: The Herb Abrams Story
10. The First UWF Press Conference Showed Immediate Red Flags
Ok, so I legit laughed immediately 5 minutes into this documentary when they talked about this. So with every company that starts up in pro wrestling, there is always a press conference to announce the new promotion, explain what it is all about, who will be involved, and even set up new angles for the promotion. They did that as in the middle of it they set up an angle between Danny Spivey and Brian B. Blair.
However, the red flags were immediate with some of the statements that Herb Abrams made. So with every promotion in wrestling, you are going to need to have a booker to help book and promote the show. Herb Abrams decided to announce pro wrestler Blackjack Mulligan as the booker. Problem was, Blackjack Mulligan was in prision at the time serving a 2 year sentance for trying to sell 1 million dollars worth of counterfeit money.
Thats not all as Herb also mentions that his star attraction for the UWF promotion was going to be focused on Bruiser Brody. Which obviously was not going to happen as Bruiser Brody was dead. The press conference was in 1989 and Brody died in 1988. Herb Abrams should count himself lucky that he was not laughed out of the building for those statements. That should have been a dead giveaway that this promotion was going to be a disaster.
9. How Herb Abrams became Wealthy
The thing that I don’t understand while watching the documentary, was that a lot of pro wrestlers joining the UWF had no idea what Herb Abrams did before becoming a promoter. Which kinda sounds like something you would want to know before joining a new company or promotion. I mean many thought he was a business man or in the stock market which would make sense, but it turns out that was not the case. So we get introduced to Lenny Duge who was the GM of the UWF and he was Herb Abrams best friend. So Lenny explains that Herb Abrams was a business man and had a very successful clothing store which was called “I’m a Big Girl Now”. It focuses on selling dresses to heavier set women and apparently he made a lot of money on it. I do wonder the exact amount he made, but it has to be enough to start up a wrestling company.
8. Herb Abrams had a Meeting with Vince McMahon
So with Herb Abrams finally in the wrestling business he not only has a ton of credible talents, but he has the ambition to make it work. Herb decides to have a meeting with Vince McMahon to propose an idea. So the idea was that Vince would have the East Coast along with the Midwest, where Herb would handle the West Coast and they would be some sort of power team. Vince of course was not going to agree to that and blew him off. What did Herb honestly think was going to happen as Vince McMahon is someone who is power hungry.
So with that failing Herb had the mindset to go after the WWF. He would do everything to try to get back at him and one of the creative ways he did that is with UWF Television Title. So Lenny actually has the real UWF Television Title belt that they used in shows which was super cool. Lenny would explain why it was designed a certain way as it had a message for Vince where it sad FU. I did not notice that at all and there are many more examples of Herb trying to go after Vince.
One other big thing he did to get back at Vince was well …
7. Herb Abrams signed Andre The Giant
Yep, Herb Abrams did the impossible and signed Andre The Giant. Andre The Giant was one of Vince’s most prized pieces in the WWF and was one of the big attractions that led to the growth of the company. This was a very big get for the UWF and while there was only 200 people in attendance, it really put all eyes on them. The Actual appearance is on Youtube today and if you want to watch it the video is below.
Apparently there was a radio show where the UWF discussed that Andre had a long term contract with them and was going to wrestle with the company. Well turns out that was not the case as when Vince McMahon saw Andre in the UWF he immediately called Andre and signed him to a new contract. Basically Vince Screwed Herb on this one. It was super embarrassing for Herb loosing Andre the way he did and he sort of went crazier.
6. Marty Yesberg’s first meeting with Herb Abrams was bizarre
Gosh, when you talk about a strange first meeting involving business this one with Marty Yesberg and Herb Abrams is definitely up there. So Marty Yesberg is a pro wrestling manager and he was known for his role as The Colonel in the UWF. When he heard of the UWF he wanted to get involved, so he sets up a meeting with Herb Abrams. Abrams decides to set this meeting in a hotel room suite at Beverly Hills. So Herb arrives, with two high end hookers and it was super strange for a meeting to talk business. Herb also brought a ton of cocaine and the large amount got Yesberg to think that the Swat Team was going to come any second. He was terrified, especially as the room was in his name. So he basically sat in that room all night watching Herb Abrams do a ton of cocaine and well saw a live porno.
Keep in mind that this was supposed to be a business meeting to agree on a contract for Yesberg to work in the UWF and Abrams was focused on partying. This story was absolutley insane and I am shocked that Yesberg would want to still work for Abrams with how this went. I guess he was not so terrified once this was all over or the money was too good to pass on.
5. The First PPV for the UWF was a huge Money Looser
Herb Abrams decides that he wants to take the UWF to the next level and one way to do that was doing a PPV. The first pay per view was called Beach Brawl and it was a disaster. A big reason why was that the PPV took place at the Manatee Civic Center in Palmetto, Florida. It was a bad location as it is almost an hour away from the closest major city in Florida. With how big the building was, it was almost too big as almost everyone knew that they were not going to come close filling this building. Herb Abrams at this time was a huge mess and did a lot of cocaine. It was so bad that he did it before PPV/UWF shows would begin and Lenny tried and convince Herb to go to rehab.
So the PPV starts and with the low amount of people that came to the show they had to dim the lights in the arena for the PPV. Herb was of course devastated by this and said that “somebody screwed up”. This PPV really took a toll on him mentally and to get over that devastation he apparently took multiple trips to the bathroom and did a lot of cocaine.
Abrams suffered through a tremendous financial loss with this PPV. Something that I did not know was that the PPV buy rate a .01 which is super small. The amount was around 100 or 1,000 people bought the show which is telling.
4. What Brian B. Blair saw when he asked Herb to pay him
So with the PPV being a flop financially Herb is starting to stiff wrestlers on pay. Brian B. Blair was not having it and went to go speak to Abrams face to face in his hotel room. Well, lets just say it was a bit awkward as inside the room there was 2 hookers, a nude Herb Abrams, and multiple piles of cocaine. So with Blair entering the room to talk business, Abrams decides to write a check for the two hookers which was around $2,000 dollars each. Abrams was basically blowing a lot of his money on cocaine and hookers. This shocked Brian Blair and it started to make him question whether the UWF promotion would last long. Well duh, especially with Herb Abrams being this much of a train wreck. I would think the same thing and wonder about job security. If I was in Blair’s shoes I would have immediately left the company and told Abrams to get some help.
3. Herb Abrams had multiple bank accounts to trick wrestlers and tv crew
With the financial issues going on more and more people involved with the UWF were being stiffed on pay. It made a lot of people angry that they would refuse to work the show, unless the wrestlers got paid. Heck even the TV crew was not even getting paid either and were threatening to leave unless they got paid. That is a problem, because without them you can’t produce a weekly tv show for the promotion.
So, Abrams decides to bring them to his office to talk business. In that meeting Abrams decided to call his bank to confirm the amount of money he had in the account to get the crew to stay. The bank said that he had millions of dollars in that account. The TV Crew heard that and said he had the money and was going to pay them. Turns out that Abrams pulled a fast one on them as he had 2 bank accounts. One account had millions of dollars and the other had no money in it. Guess which account Abrams decided to write checks out of? If you guess the empty account then you would be correct.
Lenny warned the crew to not accept a check with Herb, as he was very untrustworthy, but they did not listen. They were not happy as the TV Crew and even wrestlers threatened to throw Herb off the roof of he building. Heck even employees like Marty Yesberg would get calls about people wanting to kill any associated with the company including himself. I mean maybe there taking it a bit too far, but I don’t blame them for the way they acted. The lesson here is that if you want to own a business, you have to pay your employees.
2. Herb Abrams was on cocaine through the planning and during The Blackjack Brawl PPV
Herb Abrams while watching WrestleMania 9 decides to try and yet again stick it to Vince by running another PPV in Las Vegas to show his product. So he books the MGM Grand which holds up to 17,000 people. Yes because this worked out so well financially the last time. But one thing is for sure, Abrams was heavily coked up at this time and decides to speak with Mick Foley. While talking about being on the brink of sucess Abrams shows Foley these yellow ostrage cowboy boots that have UWF on it. In his coked state he believed that these boots were going to make fans crazy. At that point Foley realized that there was a big problem with not only the UWF but Abrams. Foley and many others realized that Abrams was booking/planning this show on cocaine. If you thought that was bad wait until the show begins.
So the PPV begins and Herb Abrams was just all over this show. I watched the Blackjack Brawl PPV and you can tell that Abrams was coked up. It was super obvious as he had so much energy throughout the show and the way he acted both on the mic and on commentary. In fact at one point of the show Herb apparently shouted out to the crowd, “Let’s hear it for the Jews.” Once the event was over, Herb thought the show was a success because he booked the MGM. Problem was that it was a gigantic flop where the attendance was 200 people. If you want to watch the PPV and see a coked up Herb Abrams it is actually on Youtube and I will even put it below.
1. The Way Herb Abrams Died
Ok, so this has got to be one of the craziest and most unbelievable deaths I have ever heard of in my life. So it was July 23rd, 1996 and Herb Abrams is in his office with multiple hookers and a lot of cocaine was at the scene. It seems like that he was in a cocaine induced state and was wacked. He found a baseball bat and just went beserk. Smashing everything with a baseball bat while naked and covered in baby oil and cocaine. At one point he belived that the hookers were robbing him and he decided to chase them with the baseball bat. It was at this point I wondered if we were in a GTA V video game.
Thats not all as there were also rumors on way that he truly died and they are just insane itself. I am going to bullet point the rumors below here and there just out there on the way along with where he officially died.
- He was sodomized by police with a baton and died of an immediate heart attack
- The hookers slammed the door on Herb’s face and he died instantly
- Abrams had a massive coronary the moment police died
- He took his close off in the Jail and died of a seizure in the cell
- While in the back of the police car he apparently suffered a heart attack
Nobody knows for sure how he died, but it is clear that he had a cocaine induced heart attack and he died. Brian Blair summed it up pretty well sayin “The one thing I know is that Herb Abrams left this world doing what he loved, cocaine and hookers”. Yeah, unfortunately that is 100% true. He did go out doing what he loved, but his death became a legendary story in pro wrestling.
My Thoughts on the Documentary
This was a well made documentary and It is one of my favorite episode made in this series. Coming in I had little knowledge on Herb Abrams. Now I can say, that he was basically a GTA V character in real life. Herb Abrams was a train wreck and it shows how dangerous and addictive cocaine is. A lot of people said good things about Abrams and were heartbroken when he passed away. Abrams story is a cautionary tale for anyone trying to get into the business.
The one person I really wish got interviewed in this was Dave Meltzer. If you don’t know Dave Meltzer, he is the publisher and editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Dave Meltzer did not like the UWF or Herb Abrams. Meltzer would often give Abrams and UWF a bunch of bad awards on the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. So Abrams decided to get back at Melzer as he decided to use a jobber he named “Davey Meltzer” which was used as an obvious jab. I would have loved for the crew to got Meltzer’s view on the promotion too, but I guess you can’t have everybody on.
The MVP of the documentary I have to give to Lenny Duge. Mainly because this was the first time we got his insight on the UWF and Herb Abrams. Plus he was Abrams’s best friend and there was a lot of insight that I did not know of before. Duge was a big get for the UWF, but others interviewed were great too like Stevie Ray, Mick Foley, Sunny Beach, Marty Yesberg and Brian B. Blair. I strongly recommend that you watch this episode and to me it is one of my Top 5 episodes in the Dark Side of the Ring series.
Hello my name is Nicholas and I am a writer for Moore Than Sports. I am a graduate from Farmingdale State College. Currently I am enrolled at Canisius College going for my Masters Degree in Sports Administration. My favorite sports teams are the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Charlotte Hornets, Buffalo Sabers, New York Rangers, and New York Yankees. I enjoy watching sports, analyzing transactions, scouting football players, and of course writing sports articles.