I think the majority of people who knock Herb Abrams UWF, are fans who expect all promotions to be like the megafed WWF. Not every promotion can be WWF, and not every promoter can be Vince McMahon. People forget, McMahon had knowledge of the business due to his dad, promoter Vince McMahon, Sr., teaching him at a young age and McMahon inherited the WWWF from him too. McMahon, in a sense, was born in to royalty.
Herb Abrams was more or less an outsider to the world of professional wrestling and as such didn't have the resources that many of the more seasoned veteran promoters had. I admire Herb as he had a dream and he went after it. He signed a lucrative deal with the now-defunct Sportschannel America and signed some top talent from the glory days of the AWA, WCW and WWF. Most online reviewers say these guys were past their prime and couldn't go anymore, in my eyes guys like Paul Orndorff and B. Brian Blair showed that they still had it when the cameras started rolling on the UWF weekly series Fury Hour in the summer months of 1990.
You can't say that Herb was a bad businessman, he knew how to market his product and promote it well. People say he wasn't good at pulling in large crowds, well there is a reason for that, if you had to choose between attending a live taping of WWF television over UWF television, it is rather obvious you would choose the more established product due to a lack of certainty with the new upstart organization. It needed a chance to grow, and it wasn't going to happen overnight. I feel the reason that people hate Herb Abrams so much is because he took the UWF name from under Bill Watts when Watts failed to trademark his version of the Universal Wrestling Federation, if the fans should be angry with anyone it should be with Watts for not filing the proper paperwork. Something I've learned a long the way is that people are huge marks for Bill Watts. Another complaint that Herb Abrams gets is that the quality of the wrestling isn't very good and he was a terrible booker, well of course he was, he had never done this before and because of respected and opinionated dirt sheet writers like Dave Meltzer,its likely that Herb never would have gotten the full backing from the wrestling community that was needed to hire more experienced writers and bookers. Herb had to do it all on his own, with no help from the outside world and for all intents and purposes, the product is actually rather good for a man who never had experience at all in professional wrestling. Herb's greatest achievement though was the hiring of young up-and-comer Steven Ray, a former football player and former bodyguard of Hulk Hogan, to wrestle for the UWF. Ray was billed under the name "The Wild Thing" and had a gimmick that was a cross between Motley Crue's Vince Neil and Ric Flair. This young man had charisma, charm and great in-ring ability, whose career was cut short due to his wife becoming pregnant with their son. Abrams partnered him with the memorable Sunny Beach (Rick Allen) and one of the most charismatic and greatest unsung tag teams in the history of professional wrestling was born. The following statement will be controversial but so be it, Vince McMahon stole from Herb Abrams. Truth be told, Abrams was in fact the first ever authority figure to be at the center of a storyline on any wrestling program, predating the "Mr. McMahon" character by a good five or so years. Abrams created a personality as the upstanding promoter who rooted for the faces and called out the bad guys for cheating and even suspending wrestlers on television for breaking the rules. If you are getting vibes of "Mr. McMahon" screaming at Shawn Michaels, "You're Fired", you should. People are marks for McMahon so I guess when he does it its OK, but when Abrams did it, it was a strokefest, don't understand that logic at all.
On hand to assist Herb were the legendary Bruno Sammartino, one of wrestling's all time greatest grapplers and the always enjoyable Captain Lou Albano, one of wrestling's greatest managers and characters. Sammartino served as color commentator, first with Herb Abrams and then with Craig DeGeorge who had previously worked for the WWF in the 1980s. Albano had his own segment on the Fury Hour called "Captain Lou's Corner" where he interviewed the UWF's roster of talent and even Andre The Giant on a couple of episodes. People say Herb used to cheat the boys or "stiff" them out of cash money. Well, which promoter hasn't done that? You cannot tell me that Vince McMahon never stiffed anybody or Verne Gagne never flew the coupe prior to payday. This was an all too common occurrence in the wrestling business in the 70s, 80s and 90s. I am not excusing Herb Abrams for doing that, but he isn't the only guilty party is he? People also take issue with Herb's cocaine addiction, there is a reason Herb had that addiction. Herb was a notorious party animal and also a notorious sex addict and due to his small stature, he needed something to fuel him during those times of passionate intimacy. I don't know why I should even discuss that though, a man's personal life isn't the issue we should have, it is the quality of product that matters here, which I will reiterate was not that bad all things considered. Fans like to sadistically laugh at the events of Herb Abrams' death, in which he died in police custody, after suffering a cocaine-induced heart attack, nude, covered in Vaseline, chasing prostitutes with a baseball bat in his New York Office. The author wishes to dismiss those cackles as I see his death as more of a cry for help, than just the rampage of a psychopath. We can't take things in face value, we must look within ourselves and wonder, what if that were my family member, would you still want to laugh if that were your brother or cousin, or would you want to get them some help. I'd choose the latter. Another thing to consider is the possibility that Abrams had Autism. As an autisitc individual myself, I can detect it more than others can. Herb's mannerisms, his ticks, his attention to detail, all speak to Autism, a disorder that was never diagnosed until after Herb died. At the end of the day, was Herb Abrams a saint, of course not, and it isn't my intention to lead you in that way, however he wasn't necessarily the arrogant, idiotic jerk that people in the wrestling community make him out to be either. After many long, intimate chats with Steve "The Wild Thing" Ray, I have a whole new outlook and appreciation for Herb Abrams. Herb taught Steve everything he knew as a businessman which led Steve to owning and operating his own wellness organization for many years. Herb helped out a lot of people and by all accounts that I've heard personally, was an all around good guy. Don't believe everything you hear from people like Dave Meltzer. Do your own digging, enjoy the product, and you will discover that Herb Abrams wasn't a lunatic, but an underappreciated genius.
HERBERT CHARLES ABRAMS
An unsung hero of professional wrestling.
P.S. My wonderful friend Jonathon Plombon is working on a new book about Herb Abrams and the UWF, which will do a much better job than I have of illustrating one of wrestling's most eccentric and mysterious figures as well as the empire he built. You may check out the progress of the book at his Facebook page: UWF and Herb Abrams: The Book Project
Also check out his YouTube channel for rare UWF videos: John's UWF Channel