George Gulas was wrestling’s ultimate nepo baby. The son of Tennessee promoter Nick Gulas, George wrestled for NWA Mid-America, rocketing to the top in no time at all.
And if you’ve never heard of NWA Mid-America, there’s a good reason for that.
Now, there was also a good reason why wrestling promoters used to build their organizations around family members:
In the days of handshake deals, a promoter needed to make sure his top star wouldn’t jump to another territory, especially not while champion. So the safe bet was to keep it in the family.
Besides, some of these promoters’ kids were all-time greats. Fritz Von Erich had his sons, Stu Hart had his Hart clan, and Verne Gagne had…
…son-in-law Larry Zbyszko.
But even Greg Gagne was a Hall-of-Famer compared to George Gulas, often dubbed the worst wrestler ever. Ever is a long, long time, folks.
On paper, Gulas had it all:
He was tall.
He stood 6’4”.
He was well above average height.
Of course, he was also thin as a rail…
…with an untrimmed chest that’d make Pat Monahan blush.
He also had a lisp to rival Dusty Rhodes’s, but without the fiery promos or blue collar appeal (“Son of a Promoter” doesn’t have the same ring to it).
And then there was his wrestling. The first thing you’ll notice watching a George Gulas match is how incredibly weak his punches looked.
Compare those to other wrestlers in the territory like, say, Jerry Lawler.
Worse still, though George Gulas’s strikes looked fake, they apparently hurt a lot…
…for both parties involved; he’d allegedly complain to his dad that his opponent hurt George’s hand with his chest.
His chain wrestling was just as bad. At no point did he seem aware that holds were supposed to look painful.
You’ll often hear that a certain wrestler didn’t know a wristlock from a wristwatch, but in George’s case, it might have been literally true.
Look at the way he gently holds his opponent’s wrist — the only difference between that and an actual Rolex is that the latter looks like a million bucks and is much easier to sell.
Even worse were the moves that wouldn’t work in real life, even when performed correctly…
…but that absolutely defied belief when executed by Gulas.
All this would be bad enough if George Gulas were simply on the card. But daddy Nick hyped him to the moon, putting his photo on all the posters from the moment he debuted.
Before he debuted, in fact. Here’s a 1973 ad where George got top billing as the referee:
Soon he started amassing championships. Twenty-seven of them, to be exact.
Typically, dad would pair his son with a popular babyface who could gain sympathy…
…before making the hot tag to George, who’d clean house with his punches.
George Gulas ran through 19 partners in six years this way.
The nadir of George-amania came when NWA Champion Harley Race came to town. Unwilling to job his son out, Nick Gulas booked Harley and George to a sixty-minute draw.
That’s this Harley Race, one of the toughest men in the history of wrestling…
…failing to put away George Gulas within an hour. Legend has it, George told an uncooperative Race mid-match, “Daddy said sell!”
The fans literally weren’t buying any of it. Beginning with George’s 1974 debut and never-ending push, ticket sales steadily dropped across the territory…
…except in cities like Memphis where Jerry Jarrett booked the shows and, not coincidentally, never used George Gulas.
But in 1977, Nick Gulas demanded Jarrett start booking his son in those hot towns and, of course, have George win (and of course, tank the business). Jarrett refused, split off from NWA Mid-America, and started his own rival promotion (one that lasted, in some shape or form, until 1997).
Within three years, Nick Gulas’s territory was done-zo, bought out for a token sum by Jarrett. After nearly forty years, NWA Mid-America had gone out of business largely thanks to one man:
Not Vince K McMahon, but George N Gulas.
At least, that is, if you believe Dutch Mantel. Or Jim Cornette. Or Jerry Lawler. Or basically anyone who ever saw George wrestle.
There are plenty more legends about George Gulas that deserve mention, such as:
- The time he tried fighting fans in the crowd who booed him against Harley Race.
- The time he got arrested two days in a row for soliciting the same undercover cop.
- The time he cancelled a show at a high school gym after their varsity team beat him at basketball.
- The time Bobby Eaton tried to leave the territory to avoid teaming with him, only to have his gear mysteriously stolen.
But ultimately, nothing can top the fact that, after years of Nick Gulas making his wrestlers sell for George, it was George who ultimately made him sell.