This week, we look back at the 1986 issue of Inside Wrestling that went to press on March 26 and sold for $1.75 in the U.S and $2.25 in Canada. And this time, we’re celebrating AMERICA with an All-American special issue! Let’s put on our MAGA hats and dig in.
We kick things off with The Mailbag, where Larry from New York says Hulk Hogan keeps proving Inside Wrestling and its sister publications wrong by successfully defending his championship time after time. He says there’s never been a champion like him, and there won’t be another like him again. Meanwhile, Phylis of Baltimore is upset that the NWA refuses to overturn the Midnight Express’s title victory when the video tape shows they clearly cheated. She then goes on to say she’s suspicious of the NWA overall because they seem to protect Ric Flair too. “The $35,000 belt has his name on it! Since when does the NWA champ get his name engraved upon a title belt? Something fishy is going on.” Burns from Chicago is a Stan Hansen fan because Stan knows wrestling isn’t a square dance or a place to be polite. It’s all about winning, and Stan knows how to do so. “And as for the alleged brutality of his wife, all I can say is that she’s still with him, so she must love him.” (Case closed, your honor.) Greg from Pennsylvania thinks King Kong Bundy will defeat Hogan for the title thanks to Bobby Heenan. And Carl from Tulsa says he’s always been a Steve Williams fan and is glad other fans are finally embracing him too. “I hope the people that were so quick to vilify him have learned their lessons.”
And now, I share with you the story of Mac, and the insult that made him a man.
Editor’s Notebook with Peter King: he says the WWF lies a lot. Last year, they said you had to see Wrestlemania in person or watch it on closed circuit, or you’d never see the matches. Then they aired some of the matches on free TV (beginning just one week after the event) and released the event on video cassette (available to rent in some stores for $1.) This year’s lie is an even bigger whopper: the announcers keep saying Hogan’s title defense against Bundy at Wrestlemania 2 will be the first time a world champ has defended his title in a steel cage. King says that setting aside that Harley Race lost his title to Ric Flair in a cage, even in the WWF there have been many title matches in a cage. Bruno Sammartino participated in them. Pedro Morales participated in them. Bob Backlund participated in them. And Hulk Hogan’s has defended the title in a cage himself. (There’s even a Hulk Hogan vs. Don Muraco steel cage match for the title from 1985 on Hulk’s first video cassette.) But, Peter points out, this isn’t a simple slipup by the WWF. They know they’re wrong. They’re just saying this is a first to sell tickets. “Some people may call this a good marketing ploy. I call it lying.”
Next, James will tell you how you can purchase cars for $200 or less if you send for his $10 information packet. There’s no leasing, no government sales, no auctions, and no gambling! He discovered this method by accident, and while he could open his own used car dealership and make lots of money, he doesn’t want the hassle of owning a business. So he figures he’ll just pass along the secret to you for $10. “I figure if I can sell enough to pay off some bills, take a vacation, and put a down payment on a house, that will be enough. And then you can do the same!”
Behind the Dressing Room Door with Stu Saks: For Wahoo McDaniel’s wife, Karen, sitting at ringside watching his matches is never easy. She sits in the front row as he gets punched, kicked, and tortured by opponents. “I can only think of one thing in the world that would be worse than watching Wahoo wrestle,” she confides. “That’s sitting at home imagining what is happening to him.” So she continues to watch his matches, though she says she doesn’t dare let him see her worry. “Sometimes I wish Wahoo were a tennis player,” she adds. Fortunately for Wahoo, Karen is a nurse, a fact that Wahoo believes will add five years to his career. In fact, Karen knows the importance of athletes changing up the way they prepare as they get older, such as focusing more on stretching to stay flexible. (Holy cow, that last point was way ahead of its time and rather startling to read in a 1986 kayfabe magazine!) And as long as Wahoo wrestles, Karen will be there for him. (Until the divorce some years later. Karen, by the way, really was a nurse, and she also made robes for a lot of wrestlers, including Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard.)
This month in On the Road with Craig Peters, Craig is in Florida, where he’s been caught by surprise by the skills of Tyree Pride, an unassuming, quiet 215 pounder who holds the Bahamas heavyweight title. Tyree reminds Craig of Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson blended with Ronnie Garvin.
Next, in Names Makin’ News with Bill Apter, we’re informed that Mid-South Wrestling, in an effort to go national, has rebranded itself the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF). Bill Watts says, “Our television syndication has grown by leaps and bounds, our live matches are expanding their horizons, and the name ‘Mid-South’ seemed too confining.'” (Hopefully he remembers to trademark the UWF name so some other promoter with a coke habit doesn’t come along to steal it.) Meanwhile, North American champ Dick Slater gave his TV title to Buzz Sawyer because no one in the UWF can hold two titles concurrently. But due to a mix-up in the contracts, when Sawyer lost a subsequent title defense against Jim Duggan, Duggan won the North American title as opposed to the TV title, meaning Slater ended up losing both championships despite not wrestling. (I feel like we need a flow chart to properly explain this.) In other UWF news, the Sheepherders captured the tag title from Steve Williams & Ted DiBiase. In Mid-Atlantic, Black Bart is the new champion, having defeated Sam Houston. In the WWF, Terry Funk is now teaming with his brother, Dory Funk Jr. Meanwhile, The Road Warriors are aiming for the NWA world tag titles held by the Midnight Express. In World Class, the Freebirds claim to have put Bruiser Brody in a wheelchair for several days, but Brody denies it. Meanwhile, Brian Adidas won the Texas championship from The Grappler. In the Pacific Northwest, Bobby Jaggers defeated Tom Zenk for the PNW title.
Next, The Insider with Eddie Ellner, where he defends Hulk Hogan.
Eddie wants you to know his opinion of Hulk Hogan hasn’t changed. He’s a bad wrestler, a poor caretaker of his God-given abilities, a pandering nitwit, and a terrible man. However, as a piece of Americana, he is a powerful symbol that has had a profound impact on professional wrestling and American life. “For similar reasons, I admire Ronald Reagan. Because my grandmother survives on Social Security, because my brother is a hungry member of the school lunch program, and because I believe in peace as much as I believe in the Arts, I did not vote for the President, who in his tenure has gone to exasperating lengths to cut Social Security and the Endowment for the Arts, has claimed ketchup is a vegetable able to meet the nutritional requirements of students, and approaches war in Libya and Central America with a hand-rubbing zeal that would make Rambo squeamish. Yet I must admire how the President has restored faith throughout the land, turning our nation into a wellspring of nationalism.” And so the circle returns to Hulk Hogan—or leastways Hulkamania, which deserves its laurels. “He invests in the wrestling fan a belief in the values and perseverance, belief in individual power, and belief that we can control our own destiny. Such ideals should not be taken lightly. His importance is not what he does, but what he stands for. And even his ghastly ring skills cannot tarnish that.”
News from the Wrestling Capitals, with match recaps sent in by fans!
Next, Matt Brock’s Plain Speaking…
The condition of the Union is healthy and aglow in Tulsa, Oklahoma where fans belt out the National Anthem before Jim Duggan takes out the trash, such as Russian Korsika Korchenko. (Things wouldn’t be so rosy for Oklahoma later in the year when an oil-based recession basically ends up tanking the UWF.) Meanwhile, in Charlotte, NC, the Koloffs are attempting to gain followers. “By defeating America’s greatest athletes, we undermine the public faith in American abilities,” Nikita says. “Each victory brings us new converts to Soviet ideology.” And in New York, Corporal Kirchner is slowly winning over the hearts of American fans. Brock, however, feels that Kirchner is better suited to be a tag team wrestling and urges him to find a partner, such as the Junk Yard Dog.
Where Are They Now?
Ole Anderson is recovering from a knee injury. Brickhouse Brown is wrestling for World Class and has been eating nothing but grass, alfalfa, and seaweed while drinking distilled virgin goat’s milk. Sputnik Monroe, who claims to have wrestled his first professional match at age 9 in 1937, is now a referee for Texas All-Star Wrestling. The Tonga Kid (later Tama of the Islanders) has been wrestling all over the globe and has signed to appear in a movie with Roddy Piper. (That would be Body Slam, starring Dirk Benedict.)
Next, Capsule Profile with George “The Animal” Steele. He began wrestling in the 1960s and has fought many of the toughest men in the sport. He is scheduled to wrestle Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania 2, and the feud is likely to continue for months after.
“Yo Rude,” a heckler shouted at the World Class heavyweight champion, “what’s the anchor on your arm for?” “So your old lady’ll recognize me at night,” Rude answered. The heckler, taken aback, said, “Lance Von Erich’s gonna shut you up tonight, big mouth!” Rude took no notice. He knows everyone’s coming after him. Heck, during his tenure as champion he’s gone from wrestling for World Class, NWA affiliate, to World Class, its own federation. And through it all, he’s still champ. “Hecklers don’t bug me,” Rude tells Inside Wrestling’s Liz Hunter. “It keeps the edge on my game. You know what it’s like to go against the Von Erichs down here? It’s like fighting IBM. But the only time I get pinned is in the bedroom.”
As requested, here are the advertisements for Inside Wrestling’s sister publications. (I’ll be covering the issue of PWI next week.)
Next our Feature Article: “Pat yourself on the back, America. You’re looking pretty damn good. You bodyslammed unemployment and dropkicked inflation.” (Yeah, about that latter one…) “Gas prices are now under a buck. The mid-1980s have glistened with the renewal of hope. Even our leading lady, Miss Liberty, is getting a make-over. And Americans are looking pretty darn good in the wrestling ring too. We’re talking Ric Flair, Magnum T.A., Hulk Hogan, and Stan Hansen. They claim not to be supermen, yet they perform heroic deeds, doing so with inevitable directness. In victory after victory, they preach freedom of choice, the triumph of free will, and the vitality of sustained effort. We are all Hulk Hogan. We are all Magnum T.A. We are all Americans, and together we shall not fail.”
Meanwhile, in the Hotseat, Ivan Koloff says “American patriotism makes me sick!” In this interview, Koloff talks about his Russian ancestors, such as his father who was a general for the Soviet Army who commanded a squad of 1,500 soldiers that held off 20,000 Germans during World War II and was shot down and killed during the Czech insurgency in 1968. He says Russians learn from hardship and experience. Americans learn from VCRs. That’s why Americans are weak and Russians are strong. “American patriotism is such a false ideal. People rally around the flag and screech about values while they trample each other every day of their lives. But your hardships mean rained-out picnic or cancelled concert. The world is not so pleasant a place, as you will one day discover. Our history, the history our people’s struggle against oppression is beyond your comprehension.”
Next, Road Warrior Animal and Krusher Khrushchev shout back and forth in this month’s One on One. (This would have been a more interesting One on One some years later.)
Animal is disgusted that Krusher has defected from America. If Krusher were Russian, he’d hate him for that alone. But it’s all the worse that Krusher is an American who has embraced Russia. Krusher says, “Talk is cheap. Your hospital bills won’t be.”
Finally, here’s what you probably came for: the Official Ratings and Roll Call of Champions…
That’s it for this week! Join me next week for a recap of the August 1986 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated where Peter King selects which ten wrestlers/tag teams he would draft if he were starting a wrestling organization in 1986. (And I pick the ten he should have picked.) We also get a new ratings category: top ten Wrestlemania 2 celebrities. Meanwhile, thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my books!