Del Wilkes, who wrestled as masked grappler The Patriot in AWA, WCW, WWF, and other promotions throughout his career, joined Pro Wrestling Illustrated contributor Brady Hicks on the most recent episode of the In the Room podcast. Wilkes discussed a number of topics in his lengthy interview, including the new long form documentary DVDby EllBow Productions chronicling his life and career. Wilkes also talked about his work in WCW and WWF/WWE, explaining some of the bumps in the road he experienced while involved with those promotions.
While in WCW from in 1993 to 1995, Wilkes won that company’s tag titles twice with partner Marcus “Buff” Bagwell. Pointing out that The Patriot’s notoriety waned towards the end of his time in WCW, host Brady Hicks asked Wilkes if he felt like his legs had been cut out from under him by decision makers within the promotion. Wilkes explained that there was a paradigm shift in WCW that basically sapped the momentum of many of the company’s top performers once big names from WWF came on board.
“They get the big coup and they got Hogan away from Vince, they bring in Savage of course, the Nasty Boys and Beefcake, Duggan—just that big group of guys that had been working for Vince all that time,” explained Wilkes. “So now all of the sudden the focus of the company totally shifts and it goes away from the guys who were there prior to Hogan and it foes to the WWF influx and now it’s all about them. And it’s all about Hogan and the friends of Hogan… It wasn’t long after that that I packed my bags and left anyway, for that reason.”
After leaving WCW, Del Wilkes went to Japan and wrestled as The Patriot. He said that working in Japan — where he tagged with Johnny Ace, who is better known today as WWE senior producer John Laurinatis — was his favorite experience in the wrestling industry. He expressed particular appreciation for All Japan Pro Wrestling founder Shohei Baba, known far and wide by his in-ring moniker Giant Baba. Wilkes said that wrestling in Japan involved a “stiffer, more snug kind of work,” but added that some of the risks he took in the ring there likely shortened his career.