The latest episode of Dark Side Of The Ring explores a fascinating man and his attempt to make his way into the world of professional wrestling.

    Herb Abrams launched the Universal Wrestling Federation in 1990 and quickly they became a big deal on the wrestling scene, grabbing a bunch of big-name stars as well as some of wrestling’s brightest young things. However in just a few years, millions had been spent, a promotion has died and Abrams ended up losing his life.

    How Abrams ended up in this sad situation is something straight out of a Hollywood movie. Drugs, hookers and cash; Abrams was pretty much the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ – but with men in tights. If you’ve seen Brian Zane’s excellent retrospective on the UWF, you know about the nuts and bolts of the promotion but thanks to Dark Side of The Ring, you discover there is a lot more than meets the eye.

    From the kick-off, you learn that Abrams was ambitious almost to a fault. We learn that Herb went into networking overload at a Wrestling Weekend convention. He went around introducing himself, selling the UWF and making some outlandish claims. During his press conference, he declared that Blackjack Mulligan would be his booker. However, Mulligan was currently serving time in jail and was set to have Bruiser Brody as his main guy, despite having the notable handicap of dying the year before. So, not off to the best of starts.

    Another fascinating side of Abrams reaching for the stars was he met with WWF owner Vince McMahon to say that he can promote the East Coast and Midwest and he would handle the West Coast. Abrams literally told the man behind the boom in wrestling a few years earlier to stay off of his turf. The balls on this lad!

    Herb Abrams pre-empted Eric Bischoff by a few years by not only wanting to take out McMahon, but also becoming an on-screen authority figure. This is where ‘Mr. Electricity’ started to fall apart. Some of the stories we heard from ‘The Colonel’ Marty Yesberg about coming up to his suite in Beverley Hills and finding high-end call girls (or Hollywood Honeys as he eloquently described them) and mounds of cocaine.

    We also learn that Abrams literally used his UWF Television title to stick it to Vince McMahon, having UWF logo side-plates so when the belt is folded it says ‘F U’. Talk about petty.

    Then there’s the Spartanburg incident. Ooh boy, this was interesting. Abrams had started to bounce cheques, all while keeping the party going. This led to the TV crew demanding payment, with Herb showed he was good for by phoning his bank account, to show he had millions of dollars. What they didn’t know is that he had a second account that he wrote his cheques from. Once that bounced, the crew did their best Suge Knight impression and nearly threw him out a fifth story window.

    Herb’s addiction got worse, the money ran out and he got more and more paranoid. We discover how paranoid he became, tearing hotel room furniture apart to find cameras or microphones because ‘they’ were watching him. Was it paranoia? Well not if your bouncing cheques to sex workers. We hear that Abrams dove out of a hotel window naked, running away from thugs who he owed money. How was this not a movie, seriously?

    The final, and saddest thing we learn is how Herb Abrams ultimately passed away. The UWF has closed and Herb had seemingly got his act together by the time 1996 rolled around. However, the ‘best’ addicts can act fine on the surface and that seemed to be the case as he was discovered in his office, the site of an unbelievable scene. The stories all differ, but every one is as insane as the last – hookers, mounds of cocaine, baseball bats and baby oil. Abrams either died running into a door or, more realistically, through heart failure.

    B. Brain Blair hit the nail on the head when he said:

    “[Abrams] died doing what he loved, cocaine and hookers”.

    This was a fascinating insight into a man who loved wrestling, a fan with a lot of money who dared to dream but fell to typical late 80’s/early 90’s excess. Another quote sums up this movie-like story perfectly, this time from Mick Foley.

    “He may have gotten in death what he didn’t in life: he became a legend.”

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    You can find the author of this article on Twitter @MattyID. Thanks for reading!