DEFINING A CHAMPION (By Mike Steele)

"The Patriot" Del Wilkes.

~One of the most exciting, explosive and talented wrestlers from the 90's, Del Wilkes portrayed The Patriot, a patriotic juggernaut who traveled the world, finding success everywhere he went, a Superhero come to life. Del Wilkes had one of the most chiseled physique's i believe in the history of the sport. He was also a great "tag team specialist", and he fit right into The Hart Foundation angle in 97 like a glove. He was given the ball to a degree and he ran with it IMO.

Del Wilkes played college football at South Carolina from 1980-1984. Del Wilkes had been a long time wrestling fan, having grown up on Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Del attended his first show as a fan back in 1970. Del always had a feeling that he wanted to try wrestling, so after a couple tryout's with the NFL didn't work out for him, he headed to South Carolina, and received training for a career in pro wrestling from the most legendary women's wrestler of all time, The Fabulous Moolah. Del says her school was more geared towards women, but it was his only real option at the time. Easily, he is Moolah's most famous male graduate.

He made his debut in the AWA in 1988, wrestling under his real name at first.

11/12/88 - AWA @ Showboat Sports Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Del Wilkes vs. Jay Strongbow Jr. - Time Limit Draw (15:00)

11/26/88 – Minneapolis, MN
Del Wilkes defeated Mike Enos

12/2/88 – Oshkosh, WI @ the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Kolf Sports Center
Del Wilkes defeated Frankie DeFalco (sub Larry the Butcher Cameron)

12/26/88 – Memphis, TN @ the Mid South Coliseum
Del Wilkes battled Scott Steiner to a draw.

1989

In 1989 Del Wilkes would adopt the persona of "The Trooper". The gimmick came about as a result of someone he trained with being a State Trooper. The Trooper became Del Wilkes gimmick because they had no interest in the other guy, and Greg Gagne thought he would be a good fit. He wrote his opponents tickets after beating them as part of his police gimmick, and would also hand out plastic police badges to the fans as he came to and from the ring. He was quickly gaining in popularity, having weekly access to AWA television. I had no idea for a long time that The Trooper and The Patriot were the same man. Anyway's Del Wilkes payed his dues while working for the AWA, he literally took out a loan to afford gas to drive to the shows and get hotels and food.

The Trooper vs Kent Carlson.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj3o3P95FQg

10/10/89 - @ Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota, USA
Three Way Dance: The Trooper defeats Jonnie Stewart and Kokina Maximus (Yokozuna) 
~Before "The Night The Line Was Crossed in ECW, The Trooper was winning the first three way match of the modern era in the AWA.

ALMOST NEW CHAMPIONS......

12/16/89 – Rochester, MN
Paul Diamond & The Trooper defeated Destruction Crew Mike Enos & Wayne Bloom to win AWA Tag Title. Decision later reversed, Wrong man pinned.

1990

As seen above, The Trooper would form a tag team with former Bad Company member Paul Diamond, in an effort to end the AWA tag team title reign, of the red hot Destruction Crew. (Beverly Brothers) They would have several battles throughout 1990, culminating in a non title steel cage match.

The Trooper and Paul Diamond interview.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=plTpKXHxX7U

NON TITLE STEEL CAGE.......

4/8/90 – St. Paul, MN @ the Civic Center
Non-Title Cage Match:
Paul Diamond & the Trooper defeated AWA Tag Team Champions Destruction Crew Mike Enos & Wayne Bloom
~This is the same night that Larry Zbyszko regained the AWA title from Mr Saito.

AWA WORLD TITLE MATCHES......

The Trooper would also receive a handful of shots at the AWA title, coming close to winning it on a few occasions.

4/14/90 – Rochester, MN
The Trooper defeated AWA Champion Larry Zbyszko via DQ

7/20/90 – East Moline, IL
The Trooper defeated AWA Champion Larry Zbyszko via DQ

The Trooper cuts a promo on Larry Z.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZFed60cFUM

TROOPER AND NEW PARTNER STRIKE GOLD!

8/11/90 – Rochester, MN
DJ Peterson & The Trooper defeated Destruction Crew Mike Enos & Wayne Bloom to win AWA Tag Title
~The Trooper and DJ Peterson would become the final AWA Tag Team Champions on record. 
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0FbNm3T_2M

Randy Hales fired The Trooper from the AWA, thinking he didn't have what it took to make it in the business. As The Trooper, Del Wilkes quickly made a move from the AWA to All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he faced off with some tough competition.

AJPW.....

AUGUST 20 1990
Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa defeat Scotty The Body (Raven) & The Trooper (11:50)
AJPW Summer Action Series II 1990 - Tag 3 @ Hasuda Junior High School Special Ring in Hasuda, Saitama, Japan

SEPTEMBER 3 1990
Kenta Kobashi defeats The Trooper (7:53)
AJPW Summer Action Series II 1990 - Tag 13 @ Tochigi Jusco Parking Lot Special Ring in Tochigi, Japan

THE GLOBAL WRESTLING FEDERATION

The Patriot vs Tug Taylor.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuZEIR_cP4g

In 1991 Del Wilkes debuted in the GWF as "The Patriot". Del actually showed up in Global with his Trooper giimmck in tow, he had no idea they had a gimmick change for him that would help take him to a new level. The gimmick exploded from his first night as The Patriot, It didn't take him long to reach the top in Texas, and he was crowned the first GWF Television Championship in a tournament in 1991.

JUNE 28 1991
GWF Television Title Tournament First Bracket First Round: The Patriot defeats Stan Lane
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA 
www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2VHOKzX1Pw

JUNE 29 1991 
GWF Television Title Tournament First Bracket Semi Final: The Patriot defeats Bill Irwin
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA

GWF Television Title Tournament First Bracket Final: The Patriot defeats Billy Black
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA

GWF Television Title Tournament Semi Final: The Patriot defeats Chris Walker
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA 
WATCH.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygdr2VFNwfc

TELEVISION CHAMPION OF AMERICA!

GWF Television Title Tournament Final Match, The Patriot defeats Buddy Landel - TITLE CHANGE !!!
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA

IN DEFENSE OF AMERICA AND THE TITLE......

JULY 5 1991 
GWF Television champion The Patriot defeats Terry Taylor
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA

CACTUS JACK

AUGUST 2 1991
GWF Television champion The Patriot defeats Cactus Jack
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA 
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh5wZ0fXcFs

Shortly thereafter, the GWF North American title was created and put up for grabs in a tournament. Never bet against The Patriot in a tournament.

AUGUST 9 1991 
GWF North American Title Tournament Second Bracket First Round: The Patriot defeats The Soultaker (Papa Shango)
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA 
www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bZZwBk26tc

GWF North American Title Tournament Second Bracket Semi Final: The Patriot defeats Axis The Demolisher (Bill Eadie, Ax of Demolition, who was Global booker until Eddie Gilbert took over)
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA

CHAMPION OF THE PEOPLE......

AUGUST 10 1991
GWF North American Title Tournament Final Match, The Patriot defeats Al Perez - TITLE CHANGE !!!
GWF TV Taping @ Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, USA

Soon after, The Patriot would begin feuding with his evil alter ego, "The Dark Patriot". The Dark one was actually Doug Gilbert under a mask, but i followed this feud closely at the time, at it was entertaining.

1992

EVIL WINS A BATTLE VS GOOD.....

JANUARY 31 1992
GWF North American Title: Dark Patriot defeats The Patriot (c) - TITLE CHANGE !!!
GWF TV Taping @ Global Dome in Dallas, Texas, USA

FEBRUARY 21 1992 
The Patriot defeats The Dark Patriot by DQ
GWF TV Taping @ Global Dome in Dallas, Texas, USA 
WATCH.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8jw8CxXdMI

WWF DEBUT

As Del Wilkes.

MARCH 6 1992 
Rick Martel defeats Del Wilkes
WWF House Show @ Kolf Sports Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

He would also battle Rick Martel once more as well as Repo Man, he would quickly move on to All Japan Pro Wrestling. He would team with johnny Smith and Jackie Fulton (As The Eagle), and battled teams such as Steve Williams and Terry Gordy, and even battled Andre the Giant!!

ALL JAPAN

MAY 26 1992
Steve Williams & Terry Gordy defeat Jackie Fulton & The Patriot
AJPW Super Power Series 1992 - Tag 9 @ Ishinomaki City Gymnasium in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan

MAY 30 1992
Andre The Giant, Mighty Inoue & Yoshinari Ogawa defeat Bobby Fulton, Jackie Fulton & The Patriot
AJPW Super Power Series 1992 - Tag 12 @ Hamamatsu City Gymnasium in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan

JULY 28 1992
Stan Hansen defeats The Patriot
AJPW Summer Action Series 1992 - Tag 20 @ Ishikawa Industrial Exhibition Hall in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan

OCTOBER 6 1992 
Dory Funk Jr. & The Patriot defeat Abdullah The Butcher & Kimala II (9:36)
AJPW October Giant Series 1992 - Tag 4 @ Okayama Budokan in Okayama, Japan

TEAMING WITH ANDRE......

NOVEMBER 19 1992
Andre The Giant, Rusher Kimura & The Patriot defeat Haruka Eigen, Motoshi Okuma & Ryukaku Izumida
AJPW Real World Tag League 1992 - Tag 6 @ Yonago Industrial Gymnasium in Yonago, Tottori, Japan

1993

FEBRUARY 21 1993
Stan Hansen & The Patriot defeat Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas
AJPW Excite Series 1993 - Tag 3 @ Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

ENGLAND VS AMERICA IN JAPAN.....

MARCH 30 1993
Champion Carnival 1993 First Round: The Patriot [4] defeats Davey Boy Smith [4]
AJPW Champion Carnival 1993 - Tag 5 @ Toyama City Gymnasium in Toyama, Toyama, Japan

ALL ASIA TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!!

JUNE 2 1993
All Asia Tag Team Title:
The Eagle & The Patriot defeat Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (c) (23:02) - TITLE CHANGE !!!
AJPW Super Power Series 1993 - Tag 16 @ Oyama Skate Center in Oyama, Tochigi, Japan.

Del Wilkes has had nothing but great things to say about "The Eagle", AKA Jackie Fulton. Saying he was a pleasure to work with and he was a hard worker. Generally speaking Del said the Japanese were the toughest wrestlers anywhere in the world. The Japanese ref's were also the very best in the world.

BONUS MATCHES......

The Patriot/Kenta Kobashi vs Gary Albright/Sabu
PART ONE....www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmIJuFxTcbo
PART TWO....www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXySbWsck48

The Patriot/The Eagle vs Williams and Gordy......www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH8XIdvj_n0

Mighty Inoue/Yoshinari Ogawa vs The Patriot/Billy Black.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=69Hwh6YAxcA

The Patriot vs Stan Hansen.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM94YhlqvRI

The Patriot vs Kenta Kobashi (June 14 92)......www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxrGcND3ep4

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING DEBUT.....

Del Wilkes knew Eric Bischoff from his days in AWA. Once Bischoff took over he called Del and asked him to come to WCW.

NOVEMBER 15 1993
Lord Steven Regal defeats The Patriot
WCW Worldwide @ Disney World's MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida, USA

1994

FEBRUARY 12 1994
The Patriot defeats Lord Steven Regal
WCW Saturday Night @ Center Stage Theatre inAtlanta, Georgia, USA 
WATCH.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=abvInlgMin0

STARS AND STRIPES......

In May of 1994 The Patriot along with Marcus Alexander Bagwell formed "Stars and Stripes", (They had previously worked together in Global) they were in contention for the tag belts right from the start. In a pretty competitive mid 90's WCW Tag Team Division. They had many great battles as a team.

PRETTY WONDERFUL

MAY 14 1994
Stars And Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & The Patriot) defeat Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff & Paul Roma)
WCW Worldwide @ Disney / MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida, USA

AUGUST 6 1994 
Stars And Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & The Patriot) defeat Bad Attitude (Bobby Eaton & Steve Keirn)
WCW Pro @ Upper Marlboro, Maryland, USA

WCW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP!!

SEPTEMBER 25 1994
WCW World Tag Team Title: Stars And Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & The Patriot) defeat Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff & Paul Roma) (c) - TITLE CHANGE !!!
WCW Saturday Night @ Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

OCTOBER 10 1994
WCW World Tag Team Title: Stars And Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & The Patriot) (c) defeat Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray)
WCW Pro/World Wide Tapings @ Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, Georgia, USA

Stars and Stripes would drop the belts to Pretty Wonderful at Halloween Havoc 1994, it wouldn't take them long to rebound however, and they would dominate on their way to regaining the belts and second time.

NOVEMBER 11 1994
Stars And Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & The Patriot) defeat Arn Anderson & Bunkhouse Buck
WCW Saturday Night @ Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

SECOND TIME CHAMPS!

NOVEMBER 16 1994
WCW World Tag Team Title: Stars And Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & The Patriot) defeat Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff & Paul Roma) (c) (9:20) - TITLE CHANGE !!!
WCW Clash Of The Champions #29 @ Jacksonville Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Stars and Stripes vs Pretty Wonderful.....www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyD5e7GltM8

1995

Stars and Stripes vs Harlem Heat......www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wrtT6uEe5w

FEBRUARY 24 1995
Stars And Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & The Patriot) defeat Lord Steven Regal & Steve Austin
WCW House Show @ Eagle's Auditorium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

BATTLING THE NATURE BOY.....

APRIL 11 1995
WCW United States Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round: Ric Flair defeats The Patriot (10:15)
WCW Main Event @ Georgia Mountain Center in Gainesville, Georgia, USA

The Patriot vs Ric Flair, May 14 1995......www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfHDiBZuZgk

Shortly afterwards The Patriot would head back to All Japan Pro Wrestling.

JULY 13 1995
Triple Crown Contendership League: The Patriot defeats Kenta Kobashi (23:04)
AJPW Summer Action Series 1995 - Tag 11 @ Sasebo Sports Bunka Hall in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan

JUNE 5 1995
Johnny Ace & The Patriot defeat Rob Van Dam & Stan Hansen
AJPW Super Power Series 1995 - Tag 13 @ Chiba Park Gymnasium in Chiba, Japan

JULY 13 1995
Triple Crown Contendership League: The Patriot defeats Kenta Kobashi (23:04)
AJPW Summer Action Series 1995 - Tag 11 @ Sasebo Sports Bunka Hall in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan

OCTOBER 13 1995
The Patriot defeats Giant Kimala
AJPW October Giant Series 1995 - Tag 10 @ Yokosuka Sports Center in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan

In early 1997, Wilkes and Kobashi teamed with Johnny Ace and the three formed the stable: GET (Global, Energetic, Tough).

Del Wilkes has stated that of all the places he's worked, he enjoyed his time in Japan the most. But There was a hot angle going on in the WWF, and The Patriot would fill a main event face spot on the roster quite nicely, scoring some huge victories and earning title matches.

A VICTORY FOR HIS COUNTRY!!

JULY 28 1997
The Patriot defeats Bret Hart
WWF RAW is WAR #220 @ Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA 
WATCH......www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwC3IX37caM

AUGUST 4 1997
Twenty Man Battle Royal:
The Patriot defeats Chainz and Crush and D-Lo Brown and Faarooq and Henry O. Godwinn and Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Ken Shamrock and Mankind and Miguel Perez and Mosh and Phineas I. Godwinn and Rockabilly and Salvatore Sincere and Savio Vega and The British Bulldog and The Brooklyn Brawler and The Sultan and Thrasher and Vader
WWF Shotgun Saturday Night @ Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

AUGUST 18 1997
The Patriot defeats Vader
WWF RAW is WAR #223 @ Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
~Vader had handily defeated The Patriot in WCW back in 1995, this was payback at it's finest. Actually Del Wilkes has respect for Vader. He says the first time they wrestled, Vader tagged him pretty good so he retaliated and from that point they never had a problem again. He enjoyed working with and alongside him.

WWF TITLE SHOTS......

AUGUST 28 1997
WWF World Heavyweight Title: The Patriot defeats Bret Hart (c) by DQ
WWF House Show @ Tacoma, Washington, USA

THE GROUND ZERO PPV.....

SEPTEMBER 7 1997
WWF World Heavyweight Title: Bret Hart (c) defeats The Patriot (19:20)
WWF In Your House 17: Ground Zero @ Louisville Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky, USA

DOMINATING THE HEELS......

PATRIOT COMES OUT LOOKING RED, WHITE AND BLUE!

SEPTEMBER 6 1997 
The Patriot defeats Brian Pillman
WWF House Show @ Nashville, Tennessee, USA

HART CHECKLIST!

SEPTEMBER 9 1997
The Patriot defeats Owen Hart (10:37)
WWF RAW is WAR #225 @ Muncie, Indiana, USA 
www.youtube.com/watch?v=77PcLvX42mM

ONE NIGHT ONLY

SEPTEMBER 20 1997
The Patriot defeats Flash Funk (8:47)
WWF One Night Only @ NEC Arena in Birmingham, England, UK

SEPTEMBER 24 1997
Triple Threat:
The Patriot defeats Owen Hart and Triple H
WWF House Show @ Sports Arena in Toledo, Ohio, USA 
~Huge Triple Threat victory.

OCTOBER 12 1997
The Patriot defeats Jim Neidhart
WWF House Show @ San Jose Arena in San Jose, California, USA
~With this victory The Patriot had now defeated every member of the Hart Foundation. (His win over Davey Boy Smith came in Japan prior though)

Patriot/Goldust vs Bulldog/Owen Hart......www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3STSkxsbtM

LAST MATCH

OCTOBER 21 1997 
Jim Neidhart defeats The Patriot by DQ
WWF Shotgun Saturday Night @ Convention Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

After leaving the WWF, Wilkes retired due to a broken collarbone.

During his tenure in the WWF, Wilkes used the song "Medal", which would later be used by Sgt. Slaughter at December 1997's D-Generation X: In Your House, and then popularized by Kurt Angle following his November 1999 debut.

Interview with Del Wilkes......www.youtube.com/watch?v=jueu7hYUtpQ

RETIREMENT......

After Del Wilkes retired from wrestling, he became somewhat of an advocate for the younger generation asking them to learn from past generation mistakes, noting that 85 people who he once worked with in the wrestling business have passed away far too young.

Del Wilkes was a great man, inspirational even, and a true American Patriot.