This week, we look back at the 1985 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated that went to press on May 8 and sold for $1.95 in the U.S. With a cover featuring Magnum T.A., we’re also teased with stories about Kerry Von Erich and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Let’s jump in.
Fans have been writing in about Wrestlemania. Rochelle from New York says the WWF gave it so much hype she half-expected the Pope to be there but it really was just a souped-up MSG event. She also says rock ‘n wrestling has run its course, and it’s time for rock to go back to the record stores and leave wrestling to the wrestlers. David from New Haven says Wrestlemania just proves the WWF has become a circus and wants to know what happened to good, exciting wrestling. (Who wants to prepare him for Doink?) Red from Texas has advice for Sunshine the valet: go with Bruiser Brody. (But perhaps avoid Puerto Rico.) Susie of North Carolina says Jimmy Valiant, the “Boogie Woogie man,” is the cutest and cuddlyest wrestler in the world. Paul from Virginia wants a color photo of his hero, Manny Fernandez, and Robert from Maryland wants to thank men like Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle for standing up for the good ol’ U.S.A.
Ringside with Bill Apter! The Second Annual David Von Erich Parade was held May 5 in Texas Stadium and was every bit as exciting as the first one. Kevin had a particularly good match against Ric Flair, giving a textbook demonstration of tactical wrestling before shifting to another gear as Flair began to tire. But alas, Flair got himself disqualified to hang onto the title. Meanwhile, Hercules Hernandez was a no show. (He was actually fired for a dressing room fight with Wahoo.) Attendance was 30,264, which was about 13,000 less than 1984. Over in the WWF, Fred Blassie is now managing George Steele, and a new tag team of Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith are wowing fans, seemingly knowing more finishing combinations than their opponents know basic moves.
King’s Court by Peter King: this month, he digs into his mailbag to look at responses to a column he wrote about Ric Flair and Rick Martel being better wrestlers than Hulk Hogan. Gerri says Hulk is not just a great wrestler, but he’s a great looking wrestler at that. “He has a gorgeous body and knows how to use it.” (That’s what she said. Wait, does that joke work if that’s actually what she said?) Jack, however, says Hogan only knows how to rip off his shirt and drop a leg. Eric says Hogan has the belt, and if Peter King wants it, he should jump in the ring and try to win it. Julie says that to have Hogan listed as a champion along side Martel and Flair is just embarrassing. Jim says Hogan is one thing Martel and Flair aren’t: a hero.
What They Are Saying…
Paul Ellering wonders why Curt Hennig is teaming up with Larry Hennig against the Road Warriors. He thinks maybe Curt is hoping his father has a heart attack so he can collect the life insurance. Brian Blair takes issue with Rick Rude. Roddy Piper says, “Ha, hmm, ha, you all saw Wrestlemania, you all know what happened there. I was the only one in the ring with any hair on my chest, except maybe for Cyndi Lauper. Ha, hrrr, hmm. Did you see Mr. Blunderful? Did you see the fool try and wrestle? Hmm. Hmmm. Did you see Liberace? Did you see him look at me with those pleading eyes? I couldn’t turn my back for a second. Ha! Hmmmm. I’m the only great wrestler in the world. Me, me me. Hmm. Hrr.” (Well, okay then.) Bugsy McGraw says, “I don’t know what the Freebirds are going to do to Mike Graham. Howza man supposed to sleep at night in the middle of such goings on? Take a sleeping pill? Or count sheep? I think The Freebirds should be put to sleep. But then again, if you’re allergic to wool, you can’t very well count sheep. Then you’d sneeze instead of snooze. You could always count moose.” (Did Bugsy later script The Ultimate Warrior’s promos?)
Off the Top Rope with Dan Shocket (who died of cancer days before this issue went to press, though it’s not mentioned): Shocket dips into his mailbag and answers questions. George of Baltimore wants to know why Shocket hates Billy Jack Haynes. Shock says the guy has no ability and moves from territory to territory to disguise it. Dean from Illinois says he sees future world champions in Terry Gordy, Butch Reed, and the One Man Gang. He also says it’s time for fans to quit backing the stupid, boastful Andre the Giant. (Wait a couple years, Deano.) Shocket agrees and points out that Sports Illustrated recently reported Andre drank 127 beers in a hotel bar before passing out. “Maybe that’s some fans’ idea of how a great athlete trains. I’ve got other ideas.” He then pivots to Hogan and points out that Sports Illustrated quoted a wrestling critic who said the Hulkster’s entire repertoire consists of the Eye of the Tiger, a shredding muscle shirt, a few minutes of inept brawling, and the infamous legdrop finish out of nowhere. Shocket adds, “Sounds like something I’ve been saying for a long time, doesn’t it?”
On Assignment by Liz Hunter: this month, Liz looks at Gentlemen Chris Adams. She says she likes Chris, and he has worked hard since his wrestling days in California some years ago. She is particularly impressed with a new move he has developed, a “superkick,” which is some kind of a high karate thrust kick which sees the wrestler use the sole of the foot to strike an opponent’s head or chin. Now he has Gary Hart, and she says the two fit together like the proverbial hand in a glove. (But not for long.) The problem is that now he’s turned his back on the fans, and they are turning on him, so he doesn’t have a direction. “I think it’s too late for Chris to turn back,” she says, “but it’s not too late for Chris to start rebuilding what he once had.”
In Focus with Craig Peters has more questions:
“With so many hours of WWF programming in the course of a week, is NBC really going to add to it by putting Saturday Night’s Main Event on the air every month?” (Yes, Craig. Yes they are.)
“How could Sports Illustrated do a cover story on professional wrestling and, for the most part, ignore the NWA, the AWA, and the various other areas and concentrate solely on the WWF?”
“I’ve seen tag team titles held up in the past, such as when Jim Cornette interfered with World Class tag team title matches between The Midnight Express and The Fantastics. So why don’t the WWF officials look at the tape of Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo’s loss of the belts to The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff and do something about it?” (I want to know why Tito Santana didn’t run down to tell the referee about Blassie’s shenanigans. And where was he when Rude defeated the Warrior for the IC strap? Or when the Street Profits defeated Angel Garza and Austin Theory?)
Press Conference with Hacksaw Duggan! He’s wrestling in Mid-South, and he wants Ted DiBiase. He also takes issue with Skandor Akbar, saying, “How can anyone make a living in this country and still make fun of it?” Shocket asks Duggan if he’s seen a doctor about his foot. “My foot,” Duggan says, “There’s nothing wrong with it.” Shocket says, “But you’re always stomping it up and down. I figured it keeps falling asleep.” Reporter Eddie Ellner tells Shocket to cut it out and says Hacksaw is a role model for many people and tells Hacksaw to keep up the good work.
Kerry Von Erich and Chris Adams had quite the battle in a strap match, but nothing was settled and Von Erich says it’s just the beginning of their feud.
Next up a feature article about Hulk Hogan: the PWI writers are worried about him because there’s no off-season in wrestling and he seems to be wearing down. In fact, he just lost at MSG to Don Muraco (via countout). “And there are plenty of wrestlers better than Muraco,” Matt Brock adds. The writers say that if Hogan doesn’t find some way to take a break soon, even if it’s just a week, he’ll lose his title.
Next, our feature article about Magnum T.A., the U.S. Champion. They say he has a certain something, a charisma that’s unique and difficult to replicate. Even Dusty Rhodes is mystified by it. “Now myself,” Dusty says, “I like to get down and boogie with my people, you see, get down and get funky. But Magnum, he’s a serious dude. All business. I know he appreciates his cheers, and I know that the fans know it, too, but I think the fans also see the kind of seriousness he is, and they respect that.” But all the same, Magnum doesn’t seem to embrace the fans like other wrestlers, instead laser focused on his opponents. Dr. Lawrence Maltin, Medical Director of Applied Research in Psychobiochemistry, says “I’ve been following the development of Magnum closely because I feel he is a very unique case in professional wrestling. He is obviously a loner by nature, a man who is respectful of others but who prefers to spend his days in solitude. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he is a very lonely man.” Magnum, for his part, refuses to talk about himself, preferring to let his actions in the ring do the talking for him.
Up next, scouting reports from the AWA. Martel has the perfect combination of youth and experience, but sometimes he plays too much by the rules. Sgt. Slaughter is powerful but slow. Bob Backlund also has experience but is too obsessed with the past and can’t let 1983 go. Baron Von Raschke has the claw. Nick Bockwinkle needs a manager.
Flair is answering his country’s call and will wrestle Nikita Koloff to defend America’s honor and prove American wrestlers are just as good as the Russians. (Aren’t they both from Minnesota?) Also, Missing Link is rumored to be headed to the WWF, Billy Jack Haynes is going to wrestle for Mid-Atlantic, and Zbyszko wants an AWA title match against Martel.
In other news, Victor Chi, a 14 year old from New Jersey, has won a pair of Dusty Rhodes’s boots in a PWI contest.
Matt Brock looks back at Wahoo McDaniel, who is approaching 20 years in the sport. He muses about how odd it is that Wahoo is currently cheered in some towns and booed in others. (Has Matt Brock visited Philadelphia?)
And that takes us to ratings, along with this special announcement: for those wanting an even more comprehensive list of wrestlers in the biz, PWI’s sister publication, Inside Wrestling, will be removing photos from its ratings page so it can bring you not just the top ten wrestlers for each category, but the top 15! And it’s adding a page called the “Roll Call of Champions,” which will give you a list of all the champions along with information about when, where, and against whom they won their titles along with notations indicating recent title changes. (For the record, I’ll be covering a 1985 issue of Inside Wrestling in a couple weeks.)
That’s it for this week! Join me next week when we flip back to WWF Magazine, with Cyndi Lauper, Roddy Piper, and The Sheik and Volkoff gracing the cover. And if you’re a Star Trek fan, be sure to check out my book, The Trekker’s Guide to the Picard Years, which covers every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, plus every film featuring Picard and his crew.