This week, we look back at the 1986 issue of WWF Magazine that went to press in July of that year and sold for $2.25 in the U.S and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring King Kong Bundy, we’re teased with stories about Adrian Adonis, Hulk Hogan, and martial arts. So let’s make like Haku and kick this one off.
We begin with The Mailbag, where Larry from Hanover, Michigan says he’s 13 and a big Hulk Hogan fan. He hopes Hulk can make an appearance at the Joe Louis Arena so Larry can see him in person. Meanwhile, Grant from Burlingame, California says he’s a fan of Bob Orton and even remembers when Bob’s dad was wrestling. Then there’s Brian Noble from Libby, Montana who says The Junk Yard Dog is the best, and he has his Wrestling Superstars Figure and The Wrestling Album so he can have JYD in his life 24/7. Finally, Vicki from Carlisle, Pennsylvania asks the magazine to write more about The Hart Foundation, the most underrated tag team in the WWF. She says they’re truly one of the best tag teams the WWF has seen in a long time. (I give these Harts a month or two tops before they leave and start doing jobs in the UWF or CWA.)
Get your Wrestlemania 2 video cassette for only $39.95! Yes, for the price of a 1986 car payment, you can get a whole 2 hours of wrestling action on video to watch over and over again. In fact, this is the longest Wrestlemania up this point, and perhaps forevermore, assuming they don’t start making Wrestlemanias longer than your standard 1980s feature film.
Next, an article about The Middle Guys: the Steve Lombardis, the Paul Romas, and Rusty Brooks. “Rusty Brooks has just strolled into the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York. The beach-ball shaped native of Denton, Texas is decked out in a plaid leisure suit and a straw hat. He corners a security guard and inquires as to the location of the dressing room. ‘I don’t think you want the dressing room, sir,’ the guard replied. ‘Why not?’ Brooks asked. ‘The buyer’s not there,’ the guard said. ‘He’s in his office. You’re the popcorn salesman, right?’ ‘Popcorn salesman!?’ Brooks shouted. ‘I’m Rusty Brooks, one of the World Wrestling Federation’s stellar athletes. Didn’t you see me wrestle Hulk Hogan on TV? I almost won the belt! 1986 is going to be my year!’ Rusty Brooks may be unique, but his fantasies are identical to dozens of ‘middle guys’ attempting to labor their way up in the WWF. Week after week, he takes his bumps, rarely logging a victory. But one day, he believes, a superstar will let his guard down at the wrong time and hand over his fame.”
The article goes on to talk about “fellow middle guy” Steve Lombardi, who thinks the WWF is clogged up with too many has-beens like Tito Santana and Pedro Morales. “I’m getting better every day,” says Lombardi, who recently made the transition from journeyman rookie to roughhousing personality. “All I need now is a manager.” (Well, that would take a while to happen.) Youngster Jose Luis Rivera from Puerto Rico is taking a different path. He’s been following the advice of former WWF champion Pedro Morales to improve his skills. (Perhaps this will allow him to conquer the competition.) He’s even scored some impressive victories over Barry O and Rene Goulet, though he recently lost a boxing match to Ace Bob Orton. “That Orton beat me because he fought dirty,” he says. Jim Powers, meanwhile, is trying to work his way up without holding grudges. “I can’t afford to get sidetracked with a feud. These are the major leagues.” An equally determined wrestler, Paul Roma, may one day be a good tag-team partner for Roma. He’s studied kickboxing and is also an impressive aeriel artist. Lastly, there’s A.J. Petrucci who is from the same town where Jim Thorpe is buried. “No one from my area has ever made it in professional wrestling, though. I’ve researched it. I’m carrying the dignity of the Pocono Mountains on my back.” Countless losses have not diminished the spirit of Petrucci, Roma, Lombardi and the rest, however. “Winning takes time and waiting,” Petrucci says, “And I can wait forever.”
Next, we get the tale of the tape, comparing the sizes of various athletes. The average American male is 162 pounds, stands 5’9 and has a 38 inch chest, a 32 inch waist, and 38 inch hips. Think Howard Finkel. Then there’s Manute Bol, who stands 7’7 and wears a 15 1/2 inch shoe. William Perry is 6’2 and 308 pounds. But nobody is like Andre the Giant. His finger is the size of a silver dollar. His wrist is 12 inches, the same size as a western lowland gorilla. His frequent opponent, King Kong Bundy, is something else too. He stands 6’6 and weighs 458 pounds, making Mike Tyson, 5’11 and 217 pounds, look like a paperweight. On the other hand, Jim Neidhart is only six feet tall, which made him look like the little guy when he played on the Dallas Cowboys alongside Ed “too tall” Jones, 6’10, and Harvey Martin, 6’8, (as part of the practice team). Neidhart, however, believes his build gives him an advantage. “The fact that I’m shorter than many of my opponents helps me as far as leverage goes. I can get under them and root them out.” Dan Spivey, a defensive standout at the University of Georgia is 6’7 and 285 pounds, disagrees, and believes its better to be bigger and stronger. And the latter certainly defines John Studd, who stands 6’10, has a 38 inch waist, and weighs 364 pounds. Studd says he laughs at athletes in other sports, saying they’re nothing like wrestlers. Surprisingly, Nikolai Volkoff doesn’t agree. “Every sport has its own standards,” the big Russian says. “In my country, all sports are important. A wrestler probably could not do what a swimmer, runner, or basketball player could do.” Those close to Volkoff reveal that he has expressed a fantasy to one day tag team with 7’2 Arvidas Sabonis, star of the Soviet basketball squad, and Georgi Glouchkov, the 6’8 Bulgarian forward for the Phoenix Suns. Finally, there’s Ted Arcidi, who stands 6 feet, weighs 297 pounds, has a 61 inch chest, 24 inch neck, 38 inch waist, 24 inch biceps, and can bench press over 700 pounds. He says he knows the measurements don’t always add up to victories, however, and he’s looking forward to proving himself in the ring. (24 inch biceps? That sounds like gimmick encroachment, brother.)
Next up, do Martial Arts have a place in pro wrestling? We ponder this thought while looking at Haku performing a non-martial arts dropkick.
Anyway, we cover Haku… oops, King Tonga, Ricky Steamboat, Magnificent Muraco, Tiger Chung Lee, and Superfly Sivi Afi. Steamboat says martial arts are here to stay and will continue to be a large part of the sport. “They add excitement. But nobody is going to win in the WWF unless he is first and foremost a great wrestler.” (Tell that to Dino Bravo.)
In The Battle of the Titans, we find out that Sheik and Volkoff are still chasing the tag team titles. You gotta give them credit. After they lost the titles, they wrestled The U.S. Express in a rematch, chased after The Dream Team, and now they’re going after The Bulldogs. To paraphrase Bobby Heenan, “They’d wrestle their own grandmothers if they had to.” Anyway, this was a two out of three fall match on Saturday Night’s Main Event, with Sheik and Volkoff taking the first fall, and the Bulldogs taking the next two. (Stupid European rules.) The magazine says it might have been the best Sheik and Volkoff ever looked, and “The Bulldogs were lucky to come away still holding the belts.” (You mean the titles.) Scott gave the match two stars and calls the end like this: “Sheik with the camel clutch to really work that knee, but the Bulldogs switch off and Davey cradles Sheik for the pin at 14:33. They’re wearing different color tights! How blind and/or stupid is this referee?”
Next up, Staying Fit, where we get some tips from Nikolai Volkoff, who has a routine similar to power weightlifters. He does a lot of squats and good mornings. He also tries to eat right.
Next, we catch up with WWF Kingpin, Hulk Hogan. How long will he stay on top? He points to his body and says, “as long as it keeps going, I’ll keep winning.” But Hogan has been defending the WWF title at a record pace, evading no worthy challenger (such as Rusty Brooks), and some worry that he may be getting worn down. In fact, some veteran mat watchers compare his recent steel cage match against Bundy at Wrestlemania 2 to the Thrilla in Manila, and question whether Hulk, like Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali, will ever be the same again.
In the end, however, despite the doomsayers, Hogan is on a plane above the rest. When the future looks bleakest, he rises to new heights. Simply, the Hulkster is a winner.
Next, an astrology article, which seems to be an excuse to list the birthdays of wrestlers. Jimmy Hart was born January 1st making him a Capricorn. That means he’s extra-active. Bret Hart, on the other hand, is a Cancer, born on July 2. (Sure was! He, me, and Lindsay Lohan were all born on the exact midpoint of the year.) This means he’s moody. Jim Neidhart was born on February 8th, making him an egotistical Aquarian. Adrian Adonis is a Virgo, with his September 15th birthday making him obsessed with details. Randy Savage shares the same birthday, giving him a similar personality. (Randy Savage obsessed with details? C’mon.) Elizabeth is a Scorpio born on November 19th, giving her “the sexiest sign of the Zodiac.” (I didn’t even know that was a thing.) Tito Santana’s birthday is May 10, making him a Taurian, one of the strongest signs. The Killer Bees have signs that compliment each other, with one having a sign of a goat and the other having a sign of a lion. (Huh?) B. Brian Blair is a Capricorn, born January 12th. Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell is a Leo, born August 13th. Another Leo is Hulk Hogan, born on August 11. Leo is, after all, a royal sign, and Hogan was born to rule. Bobby Heenan and King Kong Bundy are both Scorpios, with Heenan born on November 1st and Bundy born on November 17th. That makes them vicious and devious. (Wait, I thought Scorpios were sexy! And FIY: 2 Cold Scorpio’s October 25th birthday makes him a Scorpio, so all is right with the world.) Magnificent Muraco, like Adonis and Savage, is a Virgo, with a birthdate of September 10th. Nikolai Volkoff and Dan Spivey share the same birthday, October 14th, making them Libra, which means they’re fond of ceremonies. Lanny Poffo was born December 28th, making him a Capricorn and an overachiever. Ricky Steamboat’s February 28th birthday makes him a Pisces, so he’s intuitive but something of a dreamer. “Success in wrestling depends upon many factors, but it doesn’t hurt to have the stars shining in one’s favor too. Every advantage is needed to gain victory. The stars were certainly right in predicting Hulk Hogan would be champion.” (What about poor Jim Brunzell?.) “Can the stars predict who will win and who will lose in the future? Astrologers might say that one twinkle is worth a thousand words.”
Around the Ring with Ed Ricciuti: he recounts the SNME match where Jake Roberts knocked out Ricky Steamboat with a DDT. (Sure did!) He then segues into the question of why Jake is allowed to bring a snake with him to the ring and says things could have been much worse if the snake had attacked Ricky Steamboat while Steamboat was out. (What? A snake attacking a helpless wrestler on SNME? Jake wouldn’t let that happen. Anyway, I do agree with Ed, and I’d take things further. No snakes, dogs, birds, pigs, etc. should be at ringside. I’m fine with Vince and Jesse on horses. But animals should be kept away from the ring. I can’t stand watching the Bulldogs/Rougeau match at Summerslam 88 simply because every time a wrestler was slammed, poor Matilda was startled, and her handler, trying to stay out of view, had to keep calming her down. And you can bet she had to put up with worse in the locker room and at airports too.)
We catch up with Bundy, who began wrestling in college and then went pro. (He says “amateur wrestling is for wimps.”) He’s asked how he feels about Gorilla Monsoon calling him a “walking Condominium” and says, “Well, I’m hoping Monsoon, being an over-the-hill retired grappler, means it as a compliment. That I’m very large. Those aren’t the words I would choose, but I don’t see it as particularly bad—unless Monsoon means it that way, and then I’d grab him and throw him into the ring to let him back up his words.” When asked about his bald head, he says he shaves it because he thinks he looks better that way. (No argument here.) When asked why he named his finishing maneuver the “avalanche,” he says it’s because people live through hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, but nobody lives through an avalanche. When asked to describe himself, he says he stands for truth, justice, and the American way and would never take advantage of an opponent just to gain victory. He’s a fair and just man who doesn’t have to cheat to win. Regarding the recent trade, where Jimmy Hart gave him to Bobby Heenan in exchange for two men and cash, Bundy says he understands business is business. Jimmy is young and needs to build up a stable. Bobby is trying to lead someone to the WWF title, and Bundy is perfect for that. “I’m quicker, stronger, and better looking than Hulk Hogan, and I’m in the gym every chance I get.”
Grappling Glitter catches up with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who loves wrestling and enjoys working with Jesse Ventura. (Jesse is once again falsely called a former WWF tag team champion in the continuing effort to retcon his AWA tag team title reign into a WWF tag team title reign.) Arnold is preparing for a new film, tentatively called “Hunter.” (May I suggest Predator instead?) Then he plans to make The Running Man. (And so he would.) Meanwhile, he watches wrestling whenever he has the chance.
Next up an article about the announcers. (Does everyone get an article this month?) We’re even introduced to Ken Resnick, fresh off working WrestleRock 86. (He wouldn’t last long.) Other commentators include straight-shooter Vince McMahon (whom I believe still works for the company), the unconventional Jesse Ventura, and the sly Mean Gene, who has intrigued followers with his tongue-in-cheek comments. Then there’s Gorilla Monsoon, whose commentary reflects the perspective of a man who, in a 21 year career, experienced both scorn and adulation of fans. Fans recently have praised him for catching Randy Savage using a foreign object to win the Intercontinental Title while others, including Ventura, did not initially notice the rulebreaking tactic. (He’s also great at analyzing flaws in abdominal stretches.) Bruno Sammartino is another former grappler, and he says his experience in the ring is invaluable to a broadcast team. “I think it’s important for a wrestler to help with the announcing. We’ve been in that ring, and we know the holds and counterholds.” Then there are the foreign announcers, such as Mexican-born Miguel Alonso, who used to call Dodger games in Los Angeles. In Canada, Edouard Carpentier electrifies viewers with his French play-by play. Pat Patterson speaks French as well, helping him interview wrestlers such as Andre the Giant, Mad Dog Vachon, Rene Goulet, the Rougeau Brothers, and Dino Bravo. And as the WWF keeps expanding, so will its announcing teams.
That leads us right into Foreign Affairs: Paul Roma has been teaming up with S.D. Jones in Australia, and fans like what they’re seeing. So popular are Roma and Jones, that they’ve been getting mobbed in Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. In fact, the young, handsome Roma has become something of a heartthrob for Aussie ladies. He was recently featured on a major television program, Perfect Match, in which he was asked to choose his favorite from a batch of female contestants.
Next up, coverage of Adonis vs. Orndorff from SNME. Scott’s take on the three-star match: “Adonis drops an elbow for two and follows with a suplex for two, but he goes up and misses the flying splash. Orndorff makes the comeback and knees him into the ropes, and Adonis takes an amazing bump where he flips over 360 degrees and winds up tied up in the ropes. Orndorff tears up the dress and chokes him out, beating on him while Vince fat shames Adonis. Paul kicks too much ass and gets disqualified at 11:23. As usual Adonis was hurling himself all over the ring to get this over despite Vince burying him six feet under every step of the way.” WWF Magazine’s take: “Adonis was as furious as a woman scorned. He rained elbows and fists on Orndorff, then bounced him off the ropes for a knee into the midsection. Then Adrian was on him like a she-devil and smashed him into the mat with a suplex. Strutting and apparently sure of victory, Adrian climbed to the top rope, then leapt at the prostrate Orndorff. With his last reserve of strength, Orndorff lifted his knees and Adrian’s big belly struck them at full force. Eyes blazing, Orndorff hammered Adonis with a mighty kneelift. Adonis ended up with his arms caught in the ropes, like a chicken ready for the plucking. Now there was no stopping Orndorff. He tore off Adrian’s dress and began to strangle the Adorable One with it. Adonis’ eyes bulged and his feet kicked, but he could not escape. But help was on the way in the form of the referee, who moved to break up the melee. Orndorff, however, was so wrathful he was beyond reason. With a powerful shove, he sent the referee to the canvas. The referee, rightly so, disqualified Orndorff for his actions. Orndorff stood in the center of the ring, frustrated. In one powerful hand he clenched a fragment of Adrian’s dress. Paul had lost, but at least he came away with a trophy of sorts.”
Next, coverage of Adrian’s makeover before the match. This was basically just a photo spread.
WWF Wrap up: Hulk Hogan was once again on The Tonight Show, with Joan Rivers once again serving as guest host. Paul Orndorff and B. Brian Blair recently visited their hometown of Tampa and went fishing together, catching many. “We loaded the boat,” Orndorff said. Big John Studd is featured in a commercial for Wild World Amusement Park near Baltimore. The WWF, Pepsi, and 7-Eleven stores have teamed up for a special wrestling offer. Conducted in 7-Eleven stores in twenty cities, the offer is for collectors of Big Gulp and Super Big Gulp cups, featuring pictures of 10 different WWF stars, such as Hulk Hogan and The Junk Yard Dog. Proofs of purchase for the 10 cups, plus postage, earn four 10 by 12 prints of Hogan, the Dog, Ricky Steamboat, and Tito Santana.
That’s it for this week! Join me next time for a look back at one of my favorite issues of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, featuring coverage of the most treacherous act since Benedict Arnold sold the plans of West Point to the British, as well as an article about Lance, the Lone Von Erich standing in the Lone Star State, and we learn about the fallout when one of the world champions is asked to drop his title and he refuses and leaves the company—with the belt. In the meantime, be sure to check out my book all about Star Trek: The Next Generation!