Recently, on The Steve Austin Show - Unleashed!, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin spoke with 'The Patriot' Del Wilkes. Wilkes talked about his run with WWE, including how he signed a three-year deal with the company while he was injured, his WWE departure, and Vince McMahon's thoughts on masked babyface wrestlers.
According to Wilkes, he was injured when he signed with WWE in 1997. Wilkes admitted that the infamous 'Dr. Feelgood' Joel Hackett falsified his physical examination, so Wilkes could sign with WWE and he knew he would be unable to honor his three-year commitment at the time the deal was made.
"I had a knee that was blown out, I had a tricep that was blown out, and I got a doctor to gimmick up the physical for me." Wilkes said, "Hackett gimmicked up my physical. I just took the form that was sent to me by the [WWE] about the physical process and I don't remember the exact line of questioning that was on it, but I gave it to Hackett. Hackett filled it out, signed off on it, [and] gave me a clean bill of health. And I knew I was damaged goods. I had no grand illusions that I would ever be able to fulfill the three years that I signed on that deal with Vince."
In regards to Wilkes' WWE departure, he claimed that his injuries finally caught up with him in 1998. He had a conference call with his doctor, Jim Ross, and McMahon when WWE was about to start a tour of the Middle East and the decision was made for Wilkes to take time off to repair his injured tricep and knee.
"I met with my doctor and he said, 'listen man, you just can't continue to go on.' He said, 'you've got to get this tricep fixed [and] you've got to get this knee fixed.' And so we had a conference call with Vince and J.R. and it was determined by all parties involved that my body could not take it anymore." Wilkes continued, "and Vince told me, he said, 'hey, get healthy. Get well.' Now, Vince wasn't aware of the addiction I was dealing with. He was only aware, at this point in time, of the tricep and of the knee problem. He said, 'get yourself healthy. I don't care if it takes a year and if you want to come back and work, come back and work. And if you want to work on a limited schedule, I'll work with you there as well.' So he left the door open for me to come back, but once I had the surgeries, I was still dealing with that addiction, so I was in no shape to go back. And in all honesty, when it ended, I hated to see it end, but in a way, I was also relieved too."
Apparently, McMahon did not believe a masked wrestler could get over as a babyface at the time of Wilkes' signing.
"In my meeting with Vince when I eventually ended up signing the three-year deal, he wasn't that convinced, no pun intended, that a masked character could get over at that particular time [and] in that particular climate in the pro wrestling business. Wilkes added, "I did have some allies on my side in Jim Ross and Jim Cornette and Bruce Prichard. But, of course, Vince is the lead dog up there, but I think that he saw the response that the fans had when I made my appearance, initial appearance in the [WWE]. Once I think he saw that, he realized that the fans were still there, still behind the character, and he dropped me in that program with Bret [Hart]."
During the podcast, Wilkes also discussed getting 'The Patriot' gimmick, his time working in Japan, and much more. Click here to listen to the show. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.