Bill Bardem (1980-2007), better known to the eWrestling world as ukBill, is the founder, and former owner of the Gateway Wrestling Organization.
Bill was born to a family of seven in Hackney, a slum-like, under-developed section of London. These rough ends, combined with Bill's tough home life, convinced him to strive for better. He had no desire to one day have kids of his own who would be clawing and fighting amongst one another for bigger portions of each meal. Although not academic, Bill found a skill for selling and promoting, and this earnt him an internship with the UK-arm of Sony Records. Here he worked closely with local musical acts, and scoured the London bars and clubs for talent.
The demand of Bill's new career path, and his overwhelming determination to succeed led him down a slippery slope. Feeling that he could not cope with the speed at which his life was moving, he turned to cocaine to try and help stay more attentive and focused. Spending so much time in bars and clubs, access to the drug was easy, and before long Bill was neglecting staples of human existence, such as eating and sleeping.
Overdose and Rehabilitation
On the evening of April 17th, 1999, at the age of only nineteen, Bill was found, unconscious, slumped across a toilet in a stall in Club Koko. Blood streaming from his nose, and foaming at the mouth, it was quickly apparent that Bill had overdosed on the crutch he'd become so reliant. Fortunately he was revived, and after 2 weeks in hospital he was sent to a private Rehab clinic in America, The Betty Ford Center; expenses covered in full by Sony Records. It was highly unusual for such a large company to fund the rehabilitation of an employee as low down the bracket as an intern, but it is reported that Sony were scared of the negative publicity they could receive if Bill's story found its way into the public domain, especially given his young age.
It was in rehab that Bill became engrossed in the sport of professional wrestling. It was the height of the WWF's Attitude era, and Bill spent every Monday and Thursday night glued to the television in his room, captivated by this concept called sports entertainment.
WMWF, and the start of something special...
After leaving rehab, Bill vowed to never let himself into that world he'd been a part of back in the UK. He knew that it would only end up in the same spiral of self-abuse. Bill made a phone call to Sony Records UK, the most important of his life, telling the company that he would not be returning home. Under the advise of a friend he'd made in rehab, a high-profile lawyer who, to this day, has remained anonymous, Bill managed to secure himself a neat pay-off from Sony Records.
Two years, and two million dollars later, Bill had amassed an empire. Built on the foundations of his own background in the creative industries, and his new found obsession, he had created Wrestle Media which had become the go-to agency for wrestling photography, set and arena design, and an online network of wrestling news websites. Taking his new fortune he invested it into the sport around which he'd built his new life, creating a small federation called the Wrestle Media Wrestling Federation.
WMWF was a very small-scale project. Bill had enough of an understanding of the business to know that if he was going to start anywhere, it would need to be small, independent, and efficient. WMWF ran for approximately 3 months, and was constantly growing. It was at this point that Bill decided this federation could stand upon its own two, without the attachment of the Wrestle Media corporation. The federation was moved from New York, NY, the base of operations for the Wrestle Media corporation, to Gateway Valley, GW. Gateway Valley had a rich tradition in pro wrestling, and was home to many pro wrestling training facilities and academies, so this move made a lot of sense to everyone involved in the WMWF.
Gateway Wrestling Organization
Upon moving all staff, talent, and clientele across to their new location in Gateway Valley, it was decided that a name change would be necessary. There were many suggestions, many of which involved tired buzzwords like Xtreme, and Hardcore. Finally Bill settled on the name Gateway Wrestling Organization in honor of its home state; it was simple, and straight forward - no gimmicks. It was April 2002, and the GWO was born.
With the Gateway Wrestling Organization growing day by day in popularity, the face of Bill Bardem found its way onto the sheets of an increasing amount of magazines and newspapers. Bill was becoming a recognized figure in the pro wrestling spectrum, much to his own surprise, and like most public figures he was earning his own fanbase. Popularity grew for the hot-shot new wrestling promoter so quickly that hits for the name Bill Bardem were among the most searched on Yahoo! and Google; everyone anxious to find out who this man was, and where he came from. It was his popularity on the internet that led to his now notorious nickname, ukBill; the meaning of which takes no science to figure out. What started on the net slowly effected life, and GWO events. Suddenly arenas, packed to the ceilings with thousands of fans, were bringing ukBill signs to events and chanting the man's name. It was no longer a simple nickname, but had turned into the identity by which the world would become familiar with the man set to takeover the sport of pro wrestling.
He passed away away at some point in 2007, although the facts behind his untimely death are suspiciously sparse; there is, as yet, no documented evidence of Bardem's actual time of death, nor the reasons behind it. Shortly following this tragic turn of events the Gateway Wrestling Organization entered liquidation, and was purchased by promoter, and former manager from the company, John E. Dolla. There has been much discussion on how cheaply the company had been auctioned off for, but no price has been disclosed.