This week, we look back at a 1985 issue of WWF Magazine that went to press in September and sold for $2.25 in the U.S and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring Ricky Steamboat, we’re also teased with stories about The Killer Bees, NBC, the WWF managers, and some dude named Randy Savage. Let’s jump in.
Quick note before we begin: in my magazine recap last week, I mentioned that Eddie Ellner received a letter from a Bruno.
Well, I must have been asleep at the wheel, because I failed to immediately notice that Downtown Bruno Lauer from Pennsylvania was the same Bruno who would become a prominent manager in Memphis before eventually working for WWF as manager Harvey Wippleman. (He would also go on to win the WWF’s women’s title, but the less said about that the better.)
We begin with WWF Mailbag, where the McCullough Brothers from Detroit predict B. Brian Blair will be the next Intercontinental Champion. Meanwhile, John from Maryland wants to know if he can be the first kid on Piper’s Pit. Bernadette from South Carolina wants an in-depth story about Greg Valentine. Sammy from Connecticut says only six issues of WWF Magazine a year isn’t enough and wants the magazine to come out monthly. (That’s crazy talk! If they do that, they’ll have to air more content and before you know it we’ll be expected to sit through three hour shows each week and seven hour Wrestlemanias each year. Damn you, Sammy! It’s all your fault! And now we don’t even have the flippin’ magazine anymore.) And finally, Kory of Maryland wants to hear more about her favorite wrestler, S.D. Jones. She also hopes LJN issues more toy action figures, such as Rowdy Piper, Tito Santana, Greg Valentine, Paul Orndorff, David Sammartino, The Junkyard Dog, Brutus Beefcake, George Steele, and Nikolai Volkoff. (And, in fact, many of these were already coming out by the time this letter was published, with only David never getting his own figure.)
Next up, an article about the WWF Managers. They’re mouthy, they’re crafty, and they’re inspirational to their men (and women). Some are loved, some are hated. We’re talking about Classy Freddie Blassie, Captain Lou Albano, Jimmy Hart, Cyndi Lauper, the Fabulous Moolah, Mr. Fuji, Johnny Valiant, and the “master of masters,” Bobby Heenan. “The differences between them is apparent from their choice of apparel and the wrestlers they handpick for their stables.” (This, of course, was the golden age of managers in the WWF because A: the WWF was trying to increase their television exposure but still had a lot of old school wrestlers who couldn’t talk very well, and 2: they were bringing in a lot of new guys, and the quickest way to give them credibility was to give them a known manager.)
And by the way… you can now purchase WWF video cassettes for only $60.00 each from Coliseum Video!
Next, Around the Ring with Ed Ricciuti, where he writes about arena food. Ed says it can be good, but it can also be addictive. Just ask Steve Taylor, the WWF’s photographer. “By the time an event is over,” Ed writes, “his dressing room is littered with empty popcorn cartons, cola cups, hot dog wrappers, ketchup containers, and half-chewed pizza crusts.” Sadly, according to the magazine, Steve is now addicted to fast food and eats it even when he’s at home. Ed ends his piece by asking fans to write in and share which arena eats are their favorite. (Yeah, this was a weird article.)
And now we compare George Steele to a new youngster in the WWF: The Missing Link, managed by Bobby Heenan. (Of course, Link would be gone in just months due to drug issues.) They both drive the referees crazy because they can’t help but break rules since they don’t know any better. But manager Lou Albano usually keeps George Steele from getting into too much trouble, whereas Heenan loves Missing Link’s tactics and encourages more rulebreaking.
Meanwhile, Hulk was on The Tonight Show, guest hosted by Joan Rivers. “Hulk’s performance on the show as explosive. He whipped up the audience into purely patented Hulkamania, flexed his 24-inch pythons, and left Rivers breathless at his rapid-fire, if tongue-in-cheek, declaration of ardor.”
This lead us to the next article about Hogan and Don Muraco appearing on NBC’s soap opera, Search For Tomorrow for five episodes that aired in late June. In the serial’s storyline, Hogan and Muraco are booked to wrestle on a local television show. “What was particularly interesting about these episodes,” says Diane Blackman, account executive for the show’s public relations firm, “was that it was generally unscripted. This is something that I believe is unprecedented in daytime serials. We just let the wrestlers come onto the set and react. Nobody knew what to expect.” Muraco and Hogan, sworn enemies, did not communicate prior to the taping, and the tension that existed between the two was evident. But each man did his best to impress actress Lisa Peluso, with Hulk ultimately winning her affections. “He’s like a big teddy bear,” she says.
Next, we return to the Rock ‘n Wrestling Connection with an article about Leslie West, front man for the rock group mountain. He loves wrestling, from his childhood days of watching Antonino Rocca to the grown up days of watching Rowdy Piper and Hillbilly Jim. He was particularly excited when he gave Jesse Ventura a pair of hits boots and Jess wore them while appearing on Piper’s Pit. (West passed away December of 2020.)
Jeff Walton digs into the archives for “A Match to Remember,” all about Ray “The Crippler” Stevens taking on Pedro Morales at the Cow Palace in 1967. Morales, to the delight of the crowd, won by countout.
Get one year of WWF Magazine for $13! That’s six issues of full color action photos along with all the latest news! Send a check or money order or choose “bill me later.”
Cover story: Steamboat’s mastery of the fighting arts of the Orient gives him an edge over the competition and has earned him the nickname “The Dragon.” The dragon, he explains, has a profound symbolic significance in both Oriental culture and Asian fighting arts, representing great—but not evil—power. His favorite martial art is the Chinese form called tai chi, an ancient fighting system that’s also a type of moving meditation. The writer goes on to talk about how Steamboat is well conditioned and was even featured in Cosmopolitan in a photographic spread dedicated to hunks. Brutus Beefcake is unimpressed, saying, “He can try all the tricky Japanese stuff he wants, but I’ll still make him into sukiyaki. How’d he get into Cosmo anyway?”
Amy speaks out! This month she explains that WWF wrestling, with its rock ‘n wrestling connection, is especially popular in colleges, fitting into the college lifestyle and allowing roommates to bond. After all, what college kids don’t love rock ‘n roll and wrestling? (Certainly no one that wants to be a friend of mine!)
Time for WWF merch!
Next, staying fit with Don Muraco. His 300-pound body is laden with corded muscles because he works out an hour or two a day at least four days each week, doing front and back chin-ups before moving on to a dumbbell. (Now he just needs to learn how to cut a promo.)
Speaking of guys with nothing particularly interesting to say…
B. Brian Blair and Jumping Jim Brunzell are high flyers ready to sting the WWF competition. Both played football in college, and Brunzell was a high jumper. (Side story not in the article: when Vince signed Brunzell, he thought Brunzell was best suited as a tag team wrestler because of Brunzell’s tag team experience in the AWA. Unfortunately, Jim’s old partner from the AWA refused to jump ship for some reason or another. Maybe a family thing. Anyway, Hulk Hogan was a fan of Blair, who had previously been with the WWF and was wrestling in Florida, so Vince brought Blair back to round out the team. “After I’d just met Jimmy,” Blair said in an interview, “George Scott said ‘We need a name for you guys, something catchy.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t know. Think of something. By the way you’re on in an hour.’ So anyway we were talking and I said, ‘Jimmy, did you ever watch the Miami Dolphins ’72 football team? The linebackers’ names all began with a B so they called them The Killer Bees.’ I always thought that was so cool because I was a big Dolphins fan. Jimmy said, ‘The Killer Bees, I kinda like that. Yeah, The Killer Bees.’ and that’s how we got our name.”)
Next, an article about Rock ‘n Wrestling’s cosmic forecaster, Kal Rudman. Famous for his work as a disc jockey and his music industry magazine, Friday Morning Quarterback, we learn that he’s called “The Prophet of Pop” and “The Man With the Golden Ears.” (I thought that was Don Kirshner’s gimmick.) Starting in 1977, he began calling wrestling shows in Philadelphia for the WWF. (And indeed, this would continue until 1989.) WWF Magazine also mentions that it was Rudman who was largely responsible for connecting the WWF to the rock ‘n roll industry, which has a lot of truth to it. He says, “I like to put people together, and I love to see their chemistry work. I don’t believe one and one should equal two. One and one should equal eleven.” Paul also breaks kayfabe by saying Vince McMahon Jr. deserves credit for taking chances and making a success out of it all.
Next up, an article about wrestler Salvatore Bellomo and his love of cooking Italian food. He says he’s cooking up some new tricks that will make hash out of his opponents. (And then he left in September of 1985 before returning for another brief run that lasted from late 1986 to early 1987.)
This month in Foreign Affairs: Hulk Hogan wrestled Tatsumi Fujinami in Tokyo. As customary before all bouts in Japan, both men were given bouquets of flowers by lovely young women. Then the bell sounded and they wrestled for thirty minutes as the crowd got more and more into it and began chanting “Itchiban,” which means number one, for Hogan. Eventually, after every expert wrestling maneuver was exhausted, the Hulkster pulled out the W. “The fans in Tokyo are no different from the fans in the United States,” the article says. “They recognize championship stock and the embodiment of championship spirit. The cheers of ‘Itchiban’ followed Hulk back to the dressing room and rang throughout the arena for several minutes after the match.” (Sidenote: this might be the match Hogan refers to in his first WWF DVD where he talks about shooting on Tatsumi Fujinami.)
Oh, and now we learn about this guy…
Macho enough to reach the top? (I’ll believe it when I see it.) Anyway, here’s WWF newcomer Randy Savage, who has defeated the likes of S.D. Jones, Tony Garea, and Rick McGraw. But can he defeat JYD, Tony Atlas, or Ricky Steamboat? Regarding the latter, the magazine points out that they’re around the same size, and a match between the two could be quite interesting.
Hillbilly Jim’s uncle from Philadelphia, Mississippi has decided to give the WWF a try. “Ah like wrestling. Haven’t had so much fun since ah won the county fair greased pig contest.” (I’ve heard that Stan “Plowboy” Fraizer was a good wrestler in his day, but at nearly 50 years old and with his health beginning to fail, it was probably not a good idea to try to squeeze anything more out of his career.) Anyway, he’s ready to take on all comers, such as Big John Studd, Jim Neidhart, or Magnificent Muraco.
Meanwhile, Big John Studd is “plowing through the WWF.” (Are they throwing out these “high flyer” and “plowing” references as inside jokes?) Heenan says he expects Plowboy Studd to defeat Hogan for the title at some point. “If given free rein, he’ll plow through any obstacle to get the World Wrestling Federation Championship belt.”
Terry Funk is middle-aged and crazy. (And will be for some time.) He also writes poetry such as: “When I travel to that big ranch up in the sky, where the grass grows tall, green, and stirrup high… And the Big Man asks me if I paid my toll, that’s when I want to be remembered for beating Hulk Hogan and murdering rock ‘n roll.” Anyway, Terry attended West Texas State and starred in ABC’s Wildside, which nobody saw because it went against The Cosby Show. “I was really tempted to tie Bill Cosby up so he couldn’t make it to set,” he says. (Today this would make him a babyface.) Now Terry is entering the WWF because the WWF title is the most coveted title in the world.
And that’s it for this week! Join me next week when we look at the next issue of WWF Magazine and take a deep dive into the first WWF album, including the real story behind “Real American.” (Spoiler alert: it all started with Barry Windham sitting on the couch brainstorming ways to express his love for the U.S.A.) We also have new tag team champions, and a fan trolls Editor Linda McMahon with a letter asking about wrestlers’ extra-curricular activities. And if you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings films, be sure to check out my book, The Lord of the Films.