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|Headquarters||Marina del Rey, California|
The Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF) was an American wrestling promotion based out of Marina del Rey, California.
Herb Abrams founded the UWF in 1990 with hopes of returning professional wrestling back to its roots. He signed top stars such as Paul Orndorff, Steve Williams, Bam Bam Bigelow, Don Muraco, Bob Orton, Jr., Brian Blair, Danny Spivey, Billy Jack Haynes, Ken Patera, Colonel DeBeers, David Sammartino, Ivan Koloff, Bob Backlund, and Cactus Jack. He ran into financial issues early on, with reports of bounced checks in February 1991, as well as legal threats from the WWF over usage of the term "sports entertainment" and using Rick Rude, Honky Tonk Man, and Greg Valentine while they were under contract with WWF.
He trademarked the UWF name in June 1991 because Bill Watts never bothered to trademark his version of the Universal Wrestling Federation that was sold to Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987. Abrams was head booker of the company from 1990 to 1992. Zoogz Rift, a cult musician and manager in the UWF, took over as head booker in 1993. Zoogz Rift accompanied Abrams on several international business trips in 1993, where they managed to secure home video deals for the company. He quit in March 1994, leaving Abrams to book the September 1994 Blackjack Brawl card. In late 1995, Rift rejoined the company as vice president, helping to secure new television deals with both SportsChannel America and Prime Network. Abrams' death in July 1996, however, marked the end of the company. Blackjack Brawl would stand as the final UWF show.
The UWF tape library was left in a storage maintained by former wrestler Al Burke in California when Abrams returned to New York. When Abrams died, Burke claimed the library as abandoned property. In recent years, he has partnered with Gene Okerlund of Classic Wrestling to repackage and license the library through DirecTV and ESPN Classic Canada.
UWF held two major events during its run. The first event Beach Brawl was the only pay-per-view event in the company's history held on June 7, 1991 at the Manatee Civic Center in Palmetto, Florida. The event was headlined by a match between Steve Williams and Bam Bam Bigelow, which was the final round match of a sixteen-man tournament for the crowning of the first UWF SportsChannel Television Champion. Williams defeated Bigelow to become the first SportsChannel Television Champion. The event was an overall failure with a low buyrate of 0.1 and a crowd of 500 in attendance at the arena.
After the failure of Beach Brawl, UWF decided to air a live television special called Blackjack Brawl on September 23, 1994 on SportsChannel America, which was UWF's last major attempt to secure a major television deal and survive in the professional wrestling industry. The event was held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. like its predecessor Beach Brawl, the event received a very low attendance of 600 fans and received negative response from critics and audiences for weak quality, weakly performed matches, nonsense booking and weak commentary. The event featured nine championship matches with two vacant championships being decided at the event while seven new championships being contested at the event. The event was headlined by a UWF World Heavyweight Championship match between defending champion Steve Williams and Sid Vicious. The event was received negatively by fans especially due to the main event match ending in a disqualification and this was UWF's final show.
|UWF Fury Hour|
UWF Fury Hour logo
|Created by||Herb Abrams|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||69 (SportsChannel America)|
|Camera setup||Multicamera setup|
|Running time||approximately 1 hour per episode|
|Original network||SportsChannel America|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original release||1990 –|
In 1990, the company signed a deal with national cable network SportsChannel America. A weekly program called Fury Hour debuted in October 1990 and ran until 1993. The program also featured matches from the Wild Women of Wrestling promotion.
In 1991, Herb Abrams was owed money by Steve Ray and wrongly suspected that Ray was sleeping with his wife. On May 10, 1991 during a television taping at Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City, Abrams paid Steve Williams an extra $100 for the night to break Ray's nose during their match. Although this turned out to be a Worked Shoot.
In 1995, existing episodes were repackaged to a half-hour format and aired on ESPN2. Those same 24 episodes re-aired on ESPN Classic between January and March 2008. ESPN Classic started re-airing these episodes on February 4, 2009. ESPN Classic Canada reran original one-hour format episodes of Fury Hour in 2004.
|Herb Abrams and Bruno Sammartino||September 1990-November 1990|
|Craig DeGeorge and Bruno Sammartino||December 1990-July 1991|
|Craig DeGeorge and Lou Albano||April 1991|
|Craig DeGeorge and John Tolos||June 1992|
|Carlo Gianelli and John Tolos||July 1993-September 1994|
|Commissioner||Date started||Date finished|
|Arnold Ross||September 24, 1990||October 11, 1990|
|Carlo Gianelli||July 24, 1993||July 24, 1993|
|Bruno Sammartino||September 23, 1994||September 23, 1994|
|Segment||Segment Type||Host||Years Active|
|Ask The Wrestlers||Interview||Herb Abrams||1990-1991|
|Captain Lou's Corner||Interview||Lou Albano||1990-1991|
- UWF Americas Championship (1994)
- UWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship (1993)
- UWF Israeli Championship (1991)
- UWF Junior Heavyweight Championship (1994)
- UWF MGM Grand Championship (1994)
- UWF Midget World Championship (1994)
- UWF North American Championship (1991)
- UWF Southern States Championship (1992, 1994)
- UWF SportsChannel Television Championship (1991-1992)
- UWF Women's World Championship (1991, 1994)
- UWF World Heavyweight Championship (1994)
- UWF World Tag Team Championship (1994)
In 1992, the UWF issued six VHS releases in the United States through Best Film & Video Corporation: Beach Brawl, Tag Team Tandems, The Best of Paul Orndorff, The Lumberjack Match, The Steel Cage Match, and Wrestling's Greatest Champions. In 1993, the UWF released six volumes of PAL videos in Germany through Summit International Pictures under the "Wrestling Super Champs" banner. They were all compilations of Fury Hour matches. The same six "Wrestling Super Champs" volumes were re-released in Germany through Jünger Verlag under the "Super Wrestling" banner.
Recent years have seen the emergence of UWF DVDs in Australia through Payless Entertainment. Each of the seven Region 4 DVDs contains one episode of Fury Hour. The DVDs include Body Slammin, Grand Slam, Grudge Matches, It's War, Tag Team Madness, The Main Event, and Wrestling Wars. In Germany, a Region 0 DVD titled "Wrestling Super 4 Champs" was released containing two episodes of Fury Hour. Also in Germany, the "Wrestling Super Champs" VHS compilations were re-released on DVD in six volumes as "American History of Wrestling - UWF".
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.184)
- Observer Staff (February 4, 1991). "February 4, 1991 Observer Newsletter: Pivotal week in the life of Dave Meltzer". F4WOnline.com. Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved September 7, 2019. (subscription required)
- "UWF - Interview - Zoogz Rift". herbabramsuwf.googlepages.com.
- "Wrestling With Wregret - UWF". www.youtube.com.
- 411mania » Wrestling » TV Reports Archived September 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "UWF - ESPN Classic". herbabramsuwf.googlepages.com.
- "ESPN Classics Canada won't go Raw". SLAM Wrestling. January 21, 2004.
- Foley, Mick (2000). Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-103101-1.