This week, we look back at the 1987 issue of WWF Magazine that went to press at the beginning of the year and sold for $2.25 in the U.S and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring the Randy Savage, this issue has something significant missing. I’ll reveal exactly what at the end, but first, let’s jump into the danger zone.
We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti, where Ed tells thanks the fans for making WWF Magazine is the best selling wrestling magazine on the market. He then shares a letter from Leslie Saunders of Missauga, Ontario, who asks if the magazine can share a list of fans along with their addresses and favorite wrestlers so that people can seek out pen pals. (This was already being done in other wrestling magazines, and I can confirm they were real fans because I wrote to some of them and got replies!) Ed, however, completely misses the point and says, “Not a bad idea. We can use this column to print selected letters from fans with answers from appropriate wrestlers.” Craig from Brooklyn writes in to say his brother likes Randy Savage, his sister likes Paul Orndorff, his father likes Hulk Hogan, and his mother likes George Steele. Ed says, “It’d be interesting to be around Craig’s household when the WWF is on television.”
Next, WWF Lowdown: Slick has sold Hercules Hernandez to Bobby Heenan for a fat sum. Heenan is apparently playing on Hercules’ belief that is the reincarnation of the Hercules of myth in order to convince the wrestler that he, like his legendary counterpart, is invincible. Speaking of managers, the Honky Tonk Man, a relatively new entry to the WWF, has signed with Jimmy Hart. Honky, who made his first impression as an easy-going sort of guy, is now talking tough. Harley Race is the acknowledged King of the Ring and currently resides in a palace-like home with all the proper accouterments of royalty. Danny Davis has been drawing criticism for his work as referee, and some insiders say a scandal is brewing. Lastly, B. Brian Blair likes fishing. (Well, okay then.)
Next, Battle of the Titans looks at a match between Onrdorff and Piper on SNME in which Adrian Adonis interfered and Roddy Piper came to Hulk’s rescue. “Hardly able to believe his eyes, a dazed Hogan turned to meet what he thought was yet another attacker. But the assault never came. It was an astonishing moment in wrestling history and one which presaged an uneasy alliance.” This leads to the question of whether Hogan and Piper can trust each other. “World Wrestling Federation Champion Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper on the same team? Only a few months ago, Ronald Reagan sipping tea with Muammar Khadafi might have seemed more likely.” But Piper says the fans now want it, so he’d be willing to give it a try. The magazine says, “There’s too much water under the bridge for either Hogan or Piper to fully forget, but they do seem to have a grudging respect for one another.” Hogan says, “Piper’s something else. You can try to put him down, but you can’t keep him down. I’ll give credit where credit is due. When they made Piper, they threw away the mold.”
Next up, Brawl in the Family, an article about wrestling fathers and sons. Did you know Leaping Lanny Poffo is a second generation wrestler? His father, Angelo Poffo, enjoyed a 35-year career! Greg Valentine is also the son of a legend. His father was wrestler Johnny Valentine. Then there’s Nick Kiniski, son of Gene Kiniski, one of the meanest grapplers to set foot in the ring. Bob Orton Jr. is the son of Bob Orton Sr. (Go figure.) Raymond and Jacques Rougeau are the offspring of their pop, Jacques Sr. And finally, Bret Hart is the son of legend Stu Hart.
(I feel like we’re leaving some out, like Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, and Barry O.) There’s also Nikolai Volkoff, grandson of Russian grappling star Ante Tomasevic. Volkoff compares wrestling in the Soviet Union to Sunday softball in the United States. (Where’s Sid when you need him?) “You don’t just wrestle in school,” Volkoff brags. “You wrestle in clubs until you’re about 45 years old. That’s why the stupid Americans never won a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in the Olympics until the Russians didn’t show up.”
Next, can you guess the WWF superstar based on his footwear?
Here are the answers (highlight to read): 1. Jake Roberts 2. Randy Savage 3. Junk Yard Dog 4. Harley Race 5. Ricky Steamboat 6. Jim Neidhart 7. Greg Valentine 8. Barry O 9. Rick Martel 10. The Iron Sheik 11. Bob Orton, Roddy Piper 12. Howard Finkel.
Next up, there’s a new tag team in the WWF: The Can-Am Connection, which stands for Canada and America. Before Rick Martel met Tom Zenk, Rick heard there was a guy who looked just like him. He went to see him wrestle, and it was like looking in the mirror. Rick new they’d be a tag team someday. During a recent televised bout against Barry O and the Gladiator, they appeared to be flawless—a rarity for a newly formed team. Zenk says they’re going to the top.
Moving on, an article about a new manager in the WWF: The Wizard! (King Curtis Iaukea.) He’s now managing Kamala and Sika. (Blink and you’ll miss him.)
Next, the WWF Magazine says you can get six issues a year if you subscribe now for $13. (Apparently, there weren’t yet aware they’d be going to 12 issues a year very shortly.)
We then move on to a photospread of Hogan in speedo on his boat. (Was there a large gay contingent who bought this magazine? Because guys on the water wearing very little seems to have been a regular feature around this time.)
Then we transition to the older version of Hulk Hogan: Superstar Billy Graham. It seems that his career has hit a snag. He needs a hip replacement. He says not to worry, he’ll be back wrestling soon. (And indeed, he’d give it a try, but his body just wouldn’t cooperate anymore, and in late 1987 he called it a career at age 44. The good news is he’s still alive today, now nearing 80 years old.)
Next, an interview with Tito Santana. (Sadly, we don’t get “Tito in a speedo”) He says he’s not interested in tag team wrestling, and he’s concentrating on trying to win the Intercontinental Title back. He also says he likes relaxing and taking it easy when he can away from the big cities. He also likes to barbeque. He says sometimes he misses Mexico and especially Mexican food, however, there’s a lot of poverty in Mexico, and he appreciates what the United States has to offer.
Next up, we meet KoKo B. Ware and his bird, Frankie. KoKo says he’s happy to be in the WWF, and he’s specially trained Frankie to be his mascot. “I’ve had him about six months. I set him down in front of my boom box and turned up the sound. At first, he whooped and hollered and tried to get off his perch. I kept working with him, and finally he calmed down. Now it doesn’t bother him. You might see him jump around, but I think that’s because he feels good to be in the World Wrestling Federation.” (Yeah, sure.) KoKo has his own theme music by Morris Day and The Time called “The Bird.” It’s an upbeat tune that gets everyone rocking and rolling. As for Frankie, he had to quarantine for six months after coming from South America. Now he can travel with KoKo in the passenger section of planes. KoKo says he’s only about a year old. “Since McCaws live to be 75 to 100 years old, he’ll be doing The Bird when I’m six feet under!” (Sadly, Frankie died in a house fire in 2001.)
Next up, Worst Lies, featuring made up quotes like Macho Man saying, “When I find me the right woman, I’ll treat her like a Queen” and King Kong Bundy saying, “I really don’t like hurting people.”
We follow that up with a news story: Slick will now be managing newcomer Butch Reed. Hailing from Kansas City, Reed, a superb athlete, insists his blond hair is natural. “You see, I am The Natural from head to feet.” Reed’s short term goal is to defeat the Junk Yard Dog. JYD says he’ll be ready. Reed says from there it’s only a matter of time before he defeats Hulk Hogan. The magazine says, “Unquestionably, a Reed-Hogan matchup would be a long-remembered war.”
We move on to WWF Wrap-up: Ricky Steamboat played a major role in an episode of Walt Disney Productions Sidekicks, seen on ABC television. Steamboat appeared as the cousin of one of the principal characters. (Sidekicks was a vehicle for Filipino-American child actor Ernie Reyes Jr. The final heir of a distinguished line of karate masters, he’s sent to live with an Italian-American cop. In this episode they’ve arranged for Ernie’s nine-year-old cousin Primo to come and live with them. Thanks to a wacky sitcom miscommunication, Primo turns out to be a childlike 29 year-old adult.) In other Steamboat news, he threw out the first pitch at Cleveland Municipal Stadium for a game between the Indians and the Athletics. Elsewhere, Macy’s stores in New York City have opened WWF Action Wear Boutiques. And snackers in Canada who buy Hostess Chips might find they also get a sticker of WWF stars in their bag of munchies as part of a three-month promotion. Paul Orndorff, Roddy Piper, and Jesse Ventura are starring in a new commercial for Campbell’s Chunky Beef Soup. Producers attempted to keep the wrestlers away from each other when the cameras weren’t rolling, but even so, things got tense. The WWF is starting an official fan club. Members will get a color membership certificate, a membership card, a pin, collectable stickers, an iron-on transfer, a WWF superstars poster and more. (Later, you’d get cassettes with theme music.) Lastly, Hulk Hogan again appeared on The Tonight Show, guest hosted by Joan Rivers, giving the host a cardboard cutout of himself and a Hulk Hogan action figure.
And finally, in Wrestler’s Rebuttal, Harley Race declares himself the true King of the World Wrestling Federation by virtue of winning the King of the Ring tournament. He promises to reign forever.
So what’s missing from this issue? An article about the cover subject, Randy Savage! Did they plan to include him in the “Brawl in the Family” section about famous wrestling families? Probably not. But I can’t say I remember any other magazine with a cover that doesn’t lead to an article. That’s all for this week! Be sure to check out my new book, Chasing the Eclipse, all about my adventures in 2017 trying to see The Great American Solar Eclipse along with tips for seeing the 2024 Great American Solar Eclipse.