From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in June of 1987 that sold for $2.25 in the U.S and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring Ken Patera, we’re also teased with stories about Lunch With Hulk, Demolition, and the Bulldogs beating the Harts. Plus, a special article aboot Canadian wrestlers! Let’s jump in.
We begin with Around The Ring by Ed Ricciuti. Ed says fans, in response to Jimmy Hart’s campaign to ban the DDT, have been writing in to weigh in on the matter. “Don’t ban the DDT,” Kevin from Liverpool, New York says. “Ban Shake, rattle ‘n’ roll instead!” “Keep the DDT,” says Richard from Pacoima, CA, “but have a ‘loser is never able to use his finisher again’ match.” (Hey, that’s not a bad idea. You could have the heel lose, then illegally use his finisher whenever the referee’s back is turned.) “I don’t think you should ban the DDT because it’s Jake’s move,” says Patty from Snover Michigan. “If you take away the move,” she continues, “it’s like killing part of his ability to wrestle.” “Don’t ban the DDT,” says Jennifer from Oakland Park, Florida. She adds, “I bet a dime you won’t.” “Jimmy Hart and his megaphone are what should be banned,” says Gini of Novi, Michigan. She says Jack Tunney should also look at “Slick and his cane, Mr. Fuji and his cane, and whatever Bobby Heenan has stuffed in his pockets.” (For the record, Slick didn’t carry a cane, he carried a walking stick, as all affluent men of wealth do. Don’t people read his interviews?) Ed the moves on to say the fans have been noticing a change in Brutus Beefcake and have been writing in to support him. And he shares the thoughts of Robert Sambursky of Oceanside, New York: “You know, after matches on television, they show how the match was won in a replay. Why doesn’t the referee watch the same replay the commentators use? If the ref doesn’t do it, President Jack Tunney should. If that happened, maybe The British Bulldogs would still be champs.” Ed says the problem with this is that only certain matches are televised. He then asks if fans have any other ideas to help doublecheck the actions of wrestlers in the ring. (We could always rely on Tito Santana to run down and tell the referee what he missed.)
Next, Fan Forum, where fans continue to write in to answer the question, “Who is the most scientific wrestler?” Wendy from Amsterdam, Holland says, “Without a doubt, Ricky Steamboat.” Jasmit Singh from Toronto concurs: “He has the best mastery of scientific technique.” Other fans, like Scott from Riverdale, Maryland, say Davey Boy Smith of The British Bulldogs. Then there’s Jamie from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin who says B. Brian Blair. (Here in Wisconsin, we always know who’s from out of state when they can’t pronounce Oconomowoc.) Leif Midtdal of New Westminster, British Columbia says, “I think that Billy Jack Haynes has the best mastery of scientific technique.” Also getting mentions: Bob Orton Jr and Leaping Lanny Poffo. We move on to best finishers: Nicholas from Woodside, New York says he likes Tito Santana’s figure four. Danny from Valley, Pennsylvania says, “Outback Jack’s boomerang is the most devastating finisher I’ve ever seen.” Mandy from Boring, Oregon (been there!) says the Can-Am Catapult is number one. But the move that received the most mentions, by a wide margin, was Jake’s DDT.
Next, in WWF List of…. it’s wrestlers’ hates: Danny Davis: “Mexican food.” King Kong Bundy: “Small portions.” Randy Savage: “When someone disrespects me.” Honky Tonk Man: “Elvis impersonators.” Ken Patera: “Deceit.” Brutus Beefcake: “Unruly blond hair.” King Harley Race: “Peasants.” Nikolai Volkoff: “Suburban America.” Butch Reed: “Birds.”
Newsbreakers! In a shocking upset, The Honky Tonk Man defeated Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental Title!
Personality Profile: this month, Killer Khan, who might just be the next WWF world heavyweight champion. (Or not.)
Next, WWF interview with Jesse Ventura: Jess says he likes making movies because it allows him to be someone else. He says he majored in theater in college but didn’t pursue it because he left school to become a wrestler. The commentator thing came after he got sick due to blood clots and had to think about a career transition. “At the time, the WWF wanted a ‘tell it like it is’ commentator, and I tried out and got the job.” Jesse says it’s valuable to have someone like him in the booth because he understands the art of rulebreaking. “A wrestler is just as talented if he pulls hair and can hide it from the referee as is an expert at scientific wrestling.” He then talks about how Savage was robbed of the IC title and Danny Davis is underrated before closing the interview by teasing a run at Hulk Hogan’s title.
Next up, Battle of the Titans recaps the match between Honky Tonk Man and Jake Roberts at Wrestlemania III.
Onto our Feature Article: Ken Patera has it in for his former manager, Bobby Heenan, and vice versa. During a recent arranged debate between the two, the war of words transitioned into a physical confrontation that saw Patera injure Heenan, only for Heenan to get back by sending his men after Patera like a wolf pack. “I learned my lesson,” Patera said afterward. “When you take on Heenan or any of his men, you’re not against one man. You’ve got to fight all of them. Next time, I’ll be ready.” (You’d think Patera would know this after his days in the Bobby Heenan Family, particularly after being part of a Four Horsemen-like group in the AWA where everyone in the Family was a champion and would gang up on guys like Hulk Hogan.)
Next: Canadians in the WWF: Invasion or Civil War? Here we find out that Canada has a great presence in the WWF. There’s Rick Martel, Dino Bravo, Bret Hart, The Rougeau Brothers, Iron Mike Sharpe, Frenchy Martin, and even President Jack Tunney. At first glance, it looks like an invasion. But, in fact, some of the Canadians are fighting tooth and nail against other Canadians. For example, Jacques Rougeau says Bravo is overrated. “He’s slow and less skilled than us,” he says. Bravo, for his part, says “I don’t like the Rougeaus’ style. They don’t belong in the ring with The Hammer and me.” (Sick burn, Dino.) Meanwhile, Rick Martel and his partner, Tom Zenk, have their sights set on Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart. “I don’t like what The Hart Foundation stands for,” Martel says. “I think that I reflect well on Canada and Hart doesn’t, just like Tom makes America proud and Neidhart doesn’t.”
Next, an article about Demolition, and boy were they a work in progress in 1987. As one pointed out in a comment section on this blog, when they made their debut on Wrestling Challenge, “Ax looked like he was wearing reverse clown makeup and Randy Colley looked like he put his makeup on while waiting in gorilla.” They would then, of course, switch out Colley with Barry Darsow, but still not make the cut for Wrestlemania III. (No shame there and probably for the best.) Then they got some theme music, but not the famous Derringer version. It was the same song we’d come to know and love but done completely on rhythm guitar by Jim Johnston alone. Later, they used the Derringer version but with no lyrics. Finally, the WWF went all in and used the Piledriver album version with “Here comes the Ax, and here comes the Smasher.” (Sidenote: does anyone remember back in the day when it was fun to see a wrestler’s entrance take longer than normal so you could hear more of their theme song than you ever had before? Some of the theme music was hard to get, and the only way you’d hear something like “All American Boys” was when you were watching The Rougeaus come down to the ring.) All along the way, Demolition improved its look and tag team continuity. As a fan at the time, it was really something to see and experience. Anyway, we run down a match between Demolition and the Islanders, which I think aired on Prime Time Wrestling and is available on Peacock and the Network. Demolition won when Smash pinned Tama. The magazine notes that while they were originally managed by Johnny V, they’re now managed by Mr. Fuji. Ax says he couldn’t be happier, and Fuji will take them to the top.
Next, an article about the Art of Using the Ropes by Keith Greenberg. Keith notes that the ropes are the major difference between amateur wrestling (which has none) and professional wrestling (which uses them to keep competitors in the ring). The ropes can serve multiple purposes. They can be used to gain added momentum, they can be used as an offensive weapon, they can be used to force a break, they can negate a pinfall, or they can be climbed to give a competitor an aerial advantage. Various competitors talk about how they use the ropes, like Brad Rheingens, who says that he relies on them to give him added propulsion. Jake Roberts says they can make a shorter man taller. Roberts adds, “Pure pro wrestling involves the ropes. Everybody who has been successful in this business knows that. Even the big men who could get by on their strength use the ropes.” Hacksaw Jim Duggan says that ropes could even benefit some college programs if they put them around the mats. “Imagine if you were competing against a powerhouse team like Penn or Iowa, and you could escape a near-fall by draping a foot on the bottom rope.” The magazine goes on to talk about “running the ropes.” That’s when there’s a critical point where wrestlers criss-cross in a battle of ring wits, bouncing off the ropes on opposite sides. (We’re perilously close to a breach of kayfabe here.) “Even if you’ve been on the losing end,” says Duggan, “if you can increase your speed and keep your head on straight, you can turn things around with a hip toss, tackle, or cross-body block.” The magazine says that’s the moment when all those hours of watching tapes of your foe come in handy. “A lot of guys follow a set pattern,” says Dino Bravo. “They’ll run the ropes maybe three times before taking action. If this is the case, the second time your opponent bounces off, you hit him with a clothesline and he’s yours.” Which rope tactics the future will bring is unclear, but the ropes will keep the gladiators together, aiding in triumphs and failures. (And in the next issue of WWF Magazine, there’s a recap of a 1987 match where the top rope broke. But we’ll get to that later.)
Next, we finally get the details for the “Lunch with Hulk Hogan” contest. You need to send in a postcard before August of 1987 with your name, your age, address, and HOME TELEPHONE number to Stamford CT. (It took them three issues to put those details together?) This may NEVER be repeated!
Next up, an article about how The British Bulldogs are losing ground in their quest to regain the tag team championship. It’s not for lack of effort. In fact, the Bulldogs recently defeated the Harts in a two out of three falls match on SNME, but one of the falls was by DQ so the tag titles didn’t change hands. (Well, that rule would be forgotten about, wouldn’t it?) The Harts say The Bulldogs had their opportunity and blew it, and there are other contenders who deserve a title shot.
Next, Private Eye shows us pictures of Honky and Jimmy Hart at Graceland.
We move on to WWF Lowdown: Outback Jack was recently injured in a match against Killer Khan and has reportedly had a long talk with Hillbilly Jim afterward. A new wrestler, The One Man Gang, has entered the WWF and looks to be a worthy challenger for the WWF title. Canadians have written in to WWF Magazine to complain about last month’s article featuring Dino Bravo. “Next time, do a layout on someone Canadians are proud of,” says Frank from Quebec. (Ouch.) Ron Bass is using a new move called the Texas gord buster, where he places an opponent’s head between his knees and drives his victim’s head and face into the mat. (I’ve heard this move has quite a pedigree.) Bass brags that the move contains enough pressure to break the neck of a Brahma bull. As covered earlier in the magazine, Ken Patera recently had an in-ring debate with Bobby Heenan that ended up with physical shenanigans. Looking back, says one anonymous WWF representative, scheduling a debate between two wrestling personalities, complete with podiums, was probably not a wise idea. (It still went smoother than the Biden/Trump debates.) And finally the Islanders have raised some eyebrows due to their recent actions in the ring, as they seem to be bending the rules. They’ve also signed Bobby Heenan to manage them.
Wrap up: George Steele recently stepped into the commentator’s booth to fill in for Bobby Heenan on Wrestling Challenge. Jake Roberts recently granted an interview to P.M. Magazine. Various wrestlers recently competed in France, including The Fabulous Moolah, Velvet McIntyre, Hillbilly Jim, and France’s own Andre the Giant. Wrestlemania III on video cassette has been flying off the shelves and has gone platinum. And finally, a recent Wall Street Journal article on Borneo said the locals there like watching Hulk Hogan and Kamala wrestle on television. (Well at least someone does.)
Next up, an excerpt from WWF Program featuring Hercules. He’s still feuding with Billy Jack Haynes, and they still don’t like each other.
Onto, Wrestler’s Rebuttal with Brutus Beefcake…
And finally, Caught in the Act…
That’s it for this week! See ya next time where we recap the September, 1987 issue of WWF Magazine and find out all about The Honky Tonk Man’s fictitious past, meet Bam Bam Bigelow, and learn about the different ways the clothesline maneuver is used in the WWF and why some say it’s illegal. Meanwhile, be sure to take a look at my books at my website: www.jwbraun.com.