This week, we look back at the 1987 issue of WWF Magazine that went to press in May of that year and sold for $2.25 in the U.S and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring Hulk Hogan, we get stories about Wrestlemania III, Ken Patera, The Can-Am Connection, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Let’s jump in.
We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti, who reports “from the field.” Maureen Paul of the Commonwealth of Dominica, that jungle-clad mountainous and beautiful island down in the West Indies, wants to know what Hulk Hogan thinks of The Honky Tonk Man, who, if you remember, originally joined the WWF as an admirer of the Hulkster but out of greed went bad. Ed tracked down Hogan and asked on Maureen’s behalf. “You want to know what I think about Honky Tonk, brother?” Hulk bellowed. “I’ll tell you what I think about him, man. He’s weak in spirit and mind. He let greed get to him. He wanted a short cut, man. He didn’t have the guts to get out and work for fame. He betrayed his ideals. Het let everybody down. And someday, brother, he’ll pay his dues.” Meanwhile, Brenda McLean from Victoria, British Columbia wants to know why WWF Magazine doesn’t write more about The British Bulldogs. Ed says there are so many great wrestlers in the WWF, it’s tough to give some ink to each and every one of them. Ed then pivots to Ken Patera, with Ed anticipating that Patera will quickly rise to the status of a major favorite among WWF fans. He says the magazine will be watching him carefully and cover his progress. And finally, Ed says the magazine is still working out the kinks in the upcoming “lunch with Hulk Hogan” contest and entry details will not be revealed until the next issue.
In Fan Forum, we have more addresses from fans looking for pen pals. They list their favorite wrestlers as Hulk Hogan, The Can-Am Connection, Randy Savage, The Killer Bees, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, and the Hillbilly Jim. Then we move on to answers from fans to a previous query: who’s the most scientific wrestler in the WWF? A couple fans say Bob Orton, although one concedes that Bret Hart might be a close second. Some others say The British Bulldogs. As to the question of what the most devastating hold or finishing maneuver is, a couple fans say the DDT, another says Billy Jack Haynes’s full nelson, and another says Adrian Adonis’s sleeper. The magazine says they’ll print more responses from fans on these topics in the next issue.
WWF List of… Best Comebacks: The magazine’s choices? Ricky Steamboat, who kept chasing Savage until he won the Intercontinental title, Bruno Sammartino, who recently wrestled Savage himself, Hulk Hogan, who looked near death after Bundy injured him shortly before Wrestlemania 2 before defeating Bundy in a steel cage, and Roddy Piper, who came back from certain defeat at Wrestlemania III to retire a victor.
Newsbreakers: Mr. Fuji has signed Killer Khan, a 310 pound Mongol! (If memory serves, Khan would work his way up the card, defeating all sorts of guys before losing to Hogan at house shows, and then work his way down the card, jobbing himself out of the company.) Anyway, no mention is made of Khan being in the WWF before, but we do learn he recently subdued Outback Jack before a match between the two could even get underway. After the good-hearted Jack came to Khan’s corner to ask for a handshake, Khan used a Fuji’s cane to choke Jack out before leaving the ring with a snarl. Jack took a while to get to his feet but then gave a thumb’s up signal to show he was alright as the crowd gave him a roaring ovation.
Next, an Interview with the Can-Am Connection, and this one appears to be real as opposed to something from inside a writer’s head. The interviewer notes that Rick Martel and Tom Zenk look similar and asks how they’re different, and Rick says he has a lot more experience than Tom, having started in wrestling when he was 17, teaming up with his brother “Michael”. (Rick was very close to his brother, whose name was actually spelled Michel, who died at the age of 33 in 1978 of a heart attack while working in Puerto Rico.) Tom then chimes in that he comes from a bodybuilding background (also true) and is newer to the sport of wrestling. Rick quickly adds that they’re still equals, however. (Except on the payroll.) They move on to talk strategy, saying they try to keep opponents off balance, both mentally and physically, and that they can wrestle on the mat and in the air equally well. As for how they measure up to the tag team measuring stick itself, The Hart Foundation, Rick says he thinks it would be a good matchup, but the Can-Ams have what it takes to pull off the upset and win the titles, even if the Harts work together as well as any team around. Tom interjects saying, “Maybe they work well together, Rick, but not as smoothly as we do. I think this is our big advantage. We work so well together because we can practically read one another’s mind. We’ve practiced it so much that we can anticipate moves.” Asked to name other teams they think are great, Rick mentions The Rougeau Brothers, The Killer Bees, and The British Bulldogs. Zenk mentions newcomers Demolition. “Tag team wrestling is at its peak,” he adds. Finally, they talk about their favorite maneuver, The Can-Am Catapult: “One of us stands outside the ropes on the ring apron, holding the top rope with both hands, and the other, inside the ring, pulls hard and the top rope and lets it go. That catapults the man outside onto our opponent.” The beauty of the move, they say, is that either man can do it from either position. (Well, let’s hope that line isn’t taken out context.)
Battle of the Titans lives up to its name, recapping the Wrestlemania III main event between Andre and Hulk. Spoiler: Hulk wins. “Ring experts by now have analyzed the match perhaps more thoroughly than they have ever examined a contest before. In the end, the meeting of Hogan and Andre demonstrated more vividly than ever why the Hulkster has given a new meaning to the word “champion” and has managed to conquer when all odds seem against him. Time and time again, Hogan seemed on the verge of losing, only to come back and, ultimately, come out triumphant.”
Breaking news! Ken Patera is back after emerging from the bowels of a nightmare, having spent time in prison after following the teachings of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Now he’s free and clear, but also confused and angry. Regardless, he’s changed his ways and is targeting the Bobby Heenan Family. Heenan, however, dismisses Patera as an insignificant threat. “He’s a nobody now,” Heenan says. Patera, for his part, says he can’t wait to get his hands on King Harley Race, Hercules, King Kong Bundy, and ultimately Bobby Heenan himself.
Next, an analysis of the flying dropkick. It’s a beautiful move, but one that comes with controversy. Ricky Steamboat explains: “Honestly, what you’re doing is jumping high to kick someone. The dropkick is a great move for brawling. But if you have your opponent down on the mat and are kicking him, you can get disqualified. You can look at your feet as a pair of fists but with more strength.” The dropkick, we’re told, was first performed by Abe Coleman in 1932, who at the time of this publication was working as a ringside judge for the New York State Athletic Commission. (In fact, Abe lived to be 101 years old, dying in 2007.) Originally called a “kangeroo kick,” it was adopted and improved upon by other wrestlers, such as Antonino Rocca and Marvin Mercer. Today, it’s used by such superstars as Koko B. Ware and Jumping Jim Brunzell. Koko says it’s a great equalizer. “I use it to bring myself up to the other guy’s size. I know I’m not going to beat a Nikolai Volkoff or a John Studd with strength.” (Yes, WWF Magazine keeps referencing Studd as an active competitor despite his retirement in 1986!) But to land a successful dropkick requires precise training. First, you must learn where to target it. Simply leaping and kicking will serve little purpose. “If you hit in the chest,” explains Paul Roma, “you may just back up the other wrestler.” Roma suggests you aim for the head or the shoulder. Second, once the kick is executed, you must learn how to land without bodily injury. Danny Spivey says he prefers to land on his back. “I feel that makes it easier to spring back up and keeps my eye on the target.” Other wrestlers, like Steamboat, prefer to fall facing the canvas. “I was taught by men who were in the business for more than two decades. They told me to turn in flight and land palms first, then the forearms, then the chest.” Koko B. Ware can actually perform the move from the top turnbuckle, though if he misses, he will likely lose the match. “Although it may sometimes backfire, however, the flying dropkick is as devastating a move to its target as it is exciting for fans who witness it.”
Next, an article about Billy Jack Haynes and his quest for vengeance against Hercules after being bloodied at Wrestlemania. We’re told the full nelson is the granddaddy of pretzel holds, Haynes can apply it with paralyzing force, and he has his sights set on Hercules. “I’ll never forgive and forget,” he says. “Hercules used a chain on me. He whipped me like an animal. I promise I’ll make the chain his downfall.” (And, in fact, the two would have chain matches throughout the summer.)
Next, can Ricky Steamboat hold the IC title with Savage hot to reclaim the belt? (You mean reclaim the championship, pal!) Mat experts believe Steamboat was lucky to win at Wrestlemania III, and now Savage burns with desire for revenge. Steamboat will have to keep his own fire burning white hot to fend off a furious Macho Man. (You know, I would have never believed in April of 1987 that Randy would never hold the IC title again.)
Next, Slick says it’s stupid for Jim Duggan to stand up for “the land of the free” by stopping Nikolai Volkoff from singing the Soviet national anthem, and Slick challenges Duggan to wrestle the big Russian one on one. Duggan, for his part, says that’s a challenge Slick may live to regret, and he’s mad that Volkoff and Sheik run down the American system while taking American money. “It’s time to teach them some social studies,” he says slapping his 2×4.
Private Eye shows us Jesse Ventura on the set of Predator. An elderly English director says, “If Jesse Ventura had been around in the days of old Hollywood, he’d have been cast opposite Errol Flynn.” Jesse, for his part, says he admires Carl Weathers and enjoyed working with him in the movie. “In my young film career, he’s the best dialogue man I ever worked with. He can set a mood with his words.” (No argument here.) Jesse says Arnold Schwarzenegger is a great guy too. “He’s always in a good mood.” Ventura’s next Hollywood project will be the “Steven King” story, The Running Man. (Yes, Linda misspells Stephen’s name.) Jesse says he hopes to win an Oscar someday and become the first wrestler to get a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Next, it’s WWF Lowdown. Following Wrestlemania III, the WWF switchboard was loaded with calls from fans inquiring about Little Beaver’s condition. Thankfully, he’s fine. Beaver says it’s due to the years he’s spent in the gym. (Not his five pack a day smoking habit?) Meanwhile, Jake Roberts nearly lost a match on Superstars to an unknown masked wrestler named The Raider. Jake says, “He seemed to know my style a little too well.” (He was jobber Randy Barber.) King Harley Race isn’t satisfied with the crown and says it’s only a matter of time before he’s WWF champion. In other news, fans may have heard about a gorgeous American model being devoured by a crocodile in Australia. (That would be Ginger Meadows, who was a day shy of 25 when she insisted on swimming in crocodile infested waters despite being warned not to. Curiously, when the crew of a boat recovered her body the next day, another crocodile lunged four feet out of the water to snap at the body bag she was in, nearly taking her body under again.) Outback Jack, summoning his inner Crocodile Dundee, says he’s familiar with the kind of crocs that got her and says the trick is to get them before they get you. Elsewhere, Dino Bravo has bleached his hair, though he won’t say why. And Jesse Ventura recently ran into Clint Eastwood at a West Coast party where Clint expressed his admiration for wrestling. The magazine points out that Clint can’t attend too many events right now because he’s serving as mayor of Carmel, California. “Jesse’s following in Clint’s Hollywood footsteps, but let’s hope he doesn’t follow him into politics. The political world isn’t ready for the Body, is it?” Lastly, the word is that Jim Powers is teaming up with Paul Roma.
WWF Wrap Up: Jesse recently hosted NBC’s Friday Night Videos along with Macho Man, The Honk Tonk Man, and Jimmy Hart. Mean Gene, George Steele and Jake Roberts also appeared. John Studd appeared on ABC’s show Disney on the same day as Wrestlemania III forcing VCRs nationwide to work overtime. King Kong Bundy has a role in Richard Pryor’s latest Warner Brothers flick Moving. The bad baldie plays Gorgo, the sort of moving man we all fear will handle our furniture. Corporal Kirchner is featured in a new commercial for Oaklawn Jeep, located in the Chicago area. In Brooklyn at RKO Video Shack, a thousand fans turned out on April 4th to congratulate Ricky Steamboat on his Wrestlemania III victory. Organizers estimated that even more would have been there had it not been for a freezing downpour. And finally, WWF ice cream bars are being manufactured by the Gold Bond Ice Cream Company in Green Bay Wisconsin, and George Steele was on hand to eat the first one.
Next, this month’s Program excerpt features Ricky Steamboat and a recap of his feud with Savage.
And then, Wrestler’s Rebuttal with Jake Roberts:
And finally, Caught in the Act features Arnold “Schwarzennegger” (whose name is also spelled wrong).
That’s it for this week! Join me next week where we’ll catch up with the NWA and the rest of the wrestling companies with a 1987 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.