Del Wilkes aka The Patriot wrestled for just about every top promotion in the 1990s including WWE, WCW, AWA and All Japan. It was in AWA that he got his start and met a young Eric Bischoff who was a broadcaster for the promotion.
The two would later work together again in WCW and Wilkes talked about his memories of Bischoff in AWA when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"He was our tv guy and a color commentator," Wilkes said of Bischoff. "I instantly got along with Eric and had a friendship with him. He had an enthusiasm for the business and that's what led me to go work for WCW. Eric was running WCW and Greg Gagne was on the booking committee, so that AWA connection was what opened the door for me in WCW."
Bischoff is back in the news after it was announced that he will be the executive director of SmackDown and Paul Heyman will be the same for Raw. Wilkes gave his thoughts on these new roles in WWE.
"They desperately need something and need some sort of direction. I hope this does it," said Wilkes who isn't a fan of the current WWE product. "I try to [watch it] but I must admit that every time I try to watch, I realize why I don't watch. I'm not knocking the men and women that bust their butts every night, but the product is horrible."
He says they need to give the creativity back to the performer and that you can't script guys like Ric Flair or Jake Roberts. Every talent's character has to be something that the performer can relate to.
"It's a perfect fit for me to be The Patriot because I'm an extremely patriotic individual and love my country. So, let those creative juices come from the men and women that get out there night and night and do this. Give them the opportunity to use their creativity," said Wilkes.
Wilkes had a short run with WWE in the early 1990s and then a more extended one in 1997. He talked about the main differences between those two eras of WWE.
"There were a lot of interesting things going on in '97. The face and direction of the company had changed. Vince had lost Hogan to WCW and they lost Savage and Nash and Hall. So, the faces of the company become guys like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, Mick Foley and a young Rocky Maivia," said Wilkes.
"Also too, there was a Monday Night Raw where you had to be at the building at noon. We went on air at nine o'clock at night but on this particular Monday Vince had a meeting with everybody. …That was when Vince said, 'Look guys, we're getting ready to change how we do business. This has always been a black/white business where the good guy wears the white cowboy hat and the bad guy wears the black cowboy hat. We're gonna change that and blur the lines. What was once good is gonna be bad and what was once bad is gonna be good. We're gonna push the envelope with content and be more aggressive and that's what started the Attitude Era.'
"I was there for that and it was an unbelievably different atmosphere in '97 than in '91 or '92."
"I think it's great; it's wonderful. Vince needs competition and competition is good for everybody. The boys need another option and I'm all for it. I hope they do well," stated Wilkes.
"The only thing I watched was the Cody vs. Dustin match and I thought it was really good. I wish them nothing but the best. I think they've got good talent and creativity and I think they can do some amazing things."
To purchase Del Wilkes DVD "Behind The Mask" please visit delthepatriotwilkes.com. Wilkes full interview with Wrestling Inc was included as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded player at the bottom of this post. In it he discusses his relationship with Vince McMahon, feuding with Bret Hart, the Montreal Screwjob, his issues with drugs, if WWE should offer health insurance, the legacy of The Fabulous Moolah, the current WWE product, his memories of a young Eric Bischoff, AEW, Johnny Ace's creativity and more.