A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
For a long time, Missy Hyatt was one of the most polarizing names in wrestling. Some think her only contribution to the sport is a number of salacious backstage stories; Hyatt herself openly talks about the wrestlers she had relations with. Others look at her as something of a pioneer. Maybe she wasn’t the first woman manager, but she was certainly more than a valet. It definitely is a shame she is rarely mentioned today.
“Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert is another forgotten name. Gilbert, the son of wrestler Tommy Gilbert, was best known for his feuds with Jerry Lawler and Bill Watts. His work behind the scenes is even more celebrated, however. Gilbert booked famous angles in the UWF, Continental, and the NWA. It was under Gilbert in Continental that Paul Heyman got his first taste of the book. Gilbert is also the subject of the first wrestling shoot interview, “Looking for Mr. Gilbert”.
Bill Watts’s Universal Wrestling Federation is fondly remembered for a number of reasons. Though it died a quick death, it was home to some of the most memorable television programs of all time. One of the best written angles was the saga of Hot Stuff & Hyatt International. Or Hyatt & Hot Stuff International. Or H & H International.
Hyatt got her start in the business in 1985, when she would accompany real life boyfriend John Tatum to the ring. What separated Hyatt from women like Sunshine and Miss Elizabeth was her demeanor; she was a spoiled rich girl from Beverly Hills who always got what she wanted. She was too delicate to get in the ring, but she would not let any man talk down to her. She was surrounded by a sex appeal that could best be described as unattainable.
She and Tatum would venture to the UWF in 1986, where she participated in arguably the best storyline of her career. Gilbert had always fancied himself a ladies man, even going so far as to have announcers bill him from “every woman’s fantasy”. When he began to pal around with Tatum and Hyatt, everyone knew where things were headed.
Everyone except “Hollywood”. In what may be the best pro wrestling love triangle ever written, Tatum played the oblivious boyfriend. The relationship between Hot Stuff and Hyatt was clearly a business one. After all, Missy wanted every belt in the UWF. And when she wanted something, she would to everything she could to get it.
Gilbert also played his role well. Initially, it seemed like he also saw this as nothing more than a business deal. If Hyatt was looking for something more, Gilbert had no problems reciprocating, but all he wanted was money, titles, and power. If anything, it seemed like Hyatt was infatuated with Gilbert.
Over the weeks, things would change. Hyatt & Hot Stuff International feuded with the Fantastics over the tag belts. Gilbert would team with Sting to win the titles while Tatum would fail to win singles gold. Tensions were at a high for weeks, with Tatum constantly shooting down rumors. For his part, the previously flippant Gilbert now seemed to care about Hyatt.
Meanwhile, Missy was impossible to read. At first, she just seemed like she was looking for more excitement in her life. Hot Stuff was a dynamic personality, plus he could bring her the titles she so desperately craved. She certainly enjoyed flirting with him, but it was hard to tell if she actually liked Gilbert.
She also remained devoted to Tatum. There was a number of times during the angle when it looked like Hyatt would just leave with Gilbert. During these moments, Hyatt looked pained with having to make a decision. It was a case of having her cake and eating it, too. When Hyatt finally turned on Tatum, it was spectacular. After weeks of buildup, Gilbert declared his love for Missy. She hit Tatum with her loaded purse and walked out of his life.
It almost sounds like a traditional love story: Two people obviously meant for each other have to settle for unrequited love. One day, the man declares he is madly in love and the two live happily ever after. Of course, this is professional wrestling, so things were slightly different. Through lies and manipulation the two ended up falling madly in love. It may not be the type of love story parents tell their children, but it is one of the best romance angles in wrestling history.
Next week: Has the well run dry?
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