From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in November of 1987 that sold for $2.25 in the U.S. and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring Randy Savage, we’re teased with stories about Macho vs. Honky Tonk Man, Bam Bam Bigelow, Rick Rude, and the year in review. So let’s make like Honky and shake, rattle, and roll!
A quick side note before we begin. I was listening to the radio yesterday, and the hosts of a morning program were talking about being mistaken for other people. One of them talked about how he was on Raw, and during the show, a cameraman started setting up in front of him. He was thinking, “What’s going on here?” Then Bob Barker, who was calling out names for a Price is Right thing, called out for White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski—and the guy with the camera did a panning shot that landed right on the radio host. “He thought I was A.J. Pierzynksi!” And the really funny thing, he continued, is that WWE uses the shot in packages whenever Raw returns to Chicago, so people are always saying, “Hey, I saw you on Raw last night!” and he’s like, “That was years ago!”
We kick things off with Around the Ring with Ed Ricciuti, who says the big news is the war between Macho Man and The Honky Tonk Man over the Intercontinental Title. Ed says, “This is a sharp turn of events. Remember when Honky won the title from Ricky Steamboat? Who was the first one congratulate the new champion? The Macho Man.” (Ed is correct.) Ed, however, surmises that Savage does not envy Honky, he’s simply pulling himself up by the bootstraps and wrestling everyone with the same fire he displayed as champion. On the other hand, Ed thinks Honky does envy Savage, both because of the fan support Savage is getting and for Savage having Elizabeth. “In this editor’s opinion, this has all gotten under Honky’s skin.” Ed promises this issue will have more on the two in Battle of the Titans.
Next, we once again get an ad for MicroLeague Wrestling which once again misspells “legendary” as “lengendary.” I’m sure this will be noticed and fixed soon. It’s not like they’d run the same misspelling month after month, right?
We move on to Fan Forum, where fans write in about who they love to hate. Matt Power from Barrington, Rhode Island has a list (and a heck of a good wrestling name): Tied for first are Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, and Ted DiBiase. Tied for second are Andre the Giant, The Hart Foundation, and the Heenan Family. Tied for third are The One Man Gang, Killer Khan, Demolition, and Nikolai Volkoff. Fourth, Butch Reed, and fifth, The Dream Team.” (What, Honky doesn’t make the list?) A few other fans also mention Ted DiBiase, with Adam from Ohio writing, “The Million Dollar Man is a good wrestler, but I would like him better if he kept his mouth and money to himself.” Onto another topic: should there be two referees on hand for key matches, with one inside the ring and one outside the ring? Ben from New York says yes. “Many refs allow themselves to be distracted, as well as missing moves that should result in disqualification.” And finally, Thomas from Somerset, Massachusetts writes in to say he enjoyed WWF Magazine’s article about the clothesline, and he thinks the famed “Hart Attack” is the best of them all. “To my knowledge, no man has ever kicked out of a pin after being on the receiving end. It is a major reason why The Hart Foundation is the best tag team in professional wrestling today.”
And now, a special bonus: I have an issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated that came out the same time as this issue of WWF Magazine. The issue of PWI doesn’t contain any new articles because it’s a “best of” but it does contain ratings, so we’ll look at some of these throughout this recap. Here is the WWF’s Top Ten:
- Note – Andre and Ricky Steamboat were off at this point but would return for Survivor Series.
Next, you can buy Piledriver on cassette for $14.95 and receive a free Piledriver poster autographed by Hulk Hogan! That’s a $20 value. (My friends and I pooled our money to buy this. I was the one who actually sent in for it before pulling out my dual cassette boombox and illegally making copies for everyone else. The autograph, of course, was just printed onto the poster, as opposed to Hulk personally signing them all.)
Next up, WWF List of… favorite day of the year:
- Slick: “Valentine’s Day. All the ladies hope that my love and affection are headed in their direction.”
- Leaping Lanny Poffo: “The Wrestlemania break. It’s like baseball’s All-Star break. After Wrestlemania, wrestlers are given a few days off.”
- Lord Alfred Hayes: “Boxing Day. Everybody in England relaxes and watches important matches in soccer and tiddlywinks.”
- Sensational Sherri: “I like every day. Every day’s sensational when you’re Sensational Sherri.” (Later, she’d revise this to say every day was sensuous.)
- Haku, the Islander: “King Tonga’s birthday. It’s on the Fourth of July. The celebration lasts a full week. It puts the American Fourth of July to shame.” (But I thought he was King Tonga! That’s even how he was introduced at Wrestlemania V!)
- Jimmy Hart: “January 1st. The whole world celebrates my birthday the night before. That’s how much they love me!”
- The Junk Yard Dog: “June 19th. My baby girl, Akisha, was born that day.”
- Rick Martel: “St. Jean Baptiste, June 23rd. It’s the birthday of the patron saint of Quebec. I try to be in Quebec that day because I leave feeling proud of who I am.”
- Outlaw Ron Bass: “Halloween. That’s when everybody out there turns to what I am doing everyday—looking for treats and looking for loot.”
Newsbreakers! The Islanders Assault Tito Santana: Santana was calling matches at the Spanish announce table when the Haku and Tama tried to put him out of commission. Santana, however, is more durable than they thought, and you can bet he and his tag team partner, Rick Martel, will try to even the score.
Next up, Personality Profile gives us… The Rock! That would be Don “The Rock” Muraco, of course. He’s no longer a bad guy who struggles to cut promos. (He gave that spot to Dino Bravo.) Now he’s now a good guy who struggles to cut promos. The magazine says he has his sights set on Harley Race.
Next, an Interview with Slick. The magazine immediately questions him about his wealth and hints that he might have an illegal side-job, all but accusing him of being a pimp. “You seem to throw cash around a little too freely,” the magazine says. “Considering the short time you’ve been in the WWF, it’s natural to wonder if all your money came from wrestling.” Slick says, “Let me tell you somethin, Slickster don’t throw away money.” The magazine immediately responds, “But some say that you may have earned some money in an underhanded fashion.” Slick says, “Everybody needs money. The Bible says that the love of money is the fruit of all evil, but the Slickster says that the lack of it is worse, brutha.” The magazine accuses him of dodging the question and Slick responds that he enjoys living a life of elegance but won’t comment anymore on his finances. (And why should he? Can you imagine if Sports Illustrated started an interview with Tom Brady by cornering him on his bitcoin investments?) The WWF then ratchets the hostility up a notch by asking Slick if he’s disappointed he didn’t land Bam Bam Bigelow. Slick says, “Let’s just say negotiations did not go as I had planned.” He’s then asked why he poked poor Billy Graham in the hip with a cane after Graham had just returned from hip surgery. Slick says he was doing Graham a favor, showing him he wasn’t ready to wrestle. (Well, Slick’s got a point there.) We move on to The One Man Gang, who was recently suspended and fined $10,000 for attacking a referee.
(That referee would be Jimmy Korderas, and the match happened when he was just starting out. Jimmy later said, “Pat Patterson came up and told me I would be refereeing the One Man Gang’s match in the final hour of a taping. He said to find out what the Gang wanted to do. Now the Gang, whose real name was George Gray, was one scary-looking dude, but in reality he was super-nice. So off I went to find him, and he was was in the locker room sitting quietly. When I told him I’d be refereeing his match, George nodded and said, ‘Okay, first I’ll beat up the guy for a minute or two. Then I’ll hit my finish on him. After the one-two-three, raise my hand. Then I’ll shove you out of the way, grab the guy, and hit my finish on him again. After the second time, you get in my face.’ As soon as he said that, I knew it wasn’t going to end well for me. He continued, saying, ‘Then I’ll get mad, grab you, and give you my finish.’ Trying hard not to look stunned, I told him, “I’ve never taken that finish before.’ Actually, I’d never taken anyone’s finish before, but I wasn’t going to tell him that. I was trying to sound like a grizzled old veteran, but somehow I don’t think he bought it. He said, ‘Just keep your face turned to one side so you don’t land on your nose. I’ll take care of the rest. Don’t worry, you’ll be just fine.’ I thanked him and left the locker room thinking, ‘I hope I don’t screw this up.’ Then everything went exactly as the Gang had explained to me. When the time came, he reached out, pulled my head down, hooked his left arm around the back of my head, grabbed the waistband of my pants, lifted me vertically in the air, and fell forward, dropping both of us belly first on the mat. The impact was jarring. Even more than I was anticipating. Despite that, I thought I better not budge and just lay there until someone came to get me. Eventually Joey Marella and Jack Lotz pulled me out of harm’s way and helped me to the back. Once I was through the curtain, the first person to check on me was Pat. He wanted to know how I was. I told him I was fine. He said, ‘Nice job!’ and smiled. I was then approached by Rick Martel and Haku. They were both genuinely concerned about my well-being. I reiterated to them I was fine. Both said that the bump looked really good. For me it was like earning my stripes. The next day I was told I would be booked at all TV tapings from then on.”)
Back to the interview: Slick says the fine and suspension were uncalled for and that Jack Tunney is friends with Hulk Hogan and is trying to protect the champion. The magazine then moves on to say that Jimmy Hart has three of the four men’s champions in the WWF, and Slick has none, so what does that say about him? (For God’s sake, this makes Jonathan Swan’s interrogation of Donald Trump look like a softball interview.) Slick says he’s only been in the WWF a year, and he’s made a lot of progress. He just needs more time. (To be fair, he’s the only guy who got two men into the WWF title tournament at Wrestlemania IV!) The magazine then points out that Bobby Heenan calls himself “The Brain” and asks who would win a battle of wits between Heenan and Slick. Slick says he already has come out on top: just look at the Hercules deal. He knew Herc didn’t have what it took to defeat Hulk Hogan, so he sold him to Heenan and invested the money wisely. (And later, he’d buy Hercules back at a lower cost and team him up with Paul Roma to form Power & Glory!) Then Slick is asked about Oliver Humperdink, and Slick says he’s a flim-flam man who doesn’t know how to dress. Lastly, the magazine touches on Jive Soul Bro and says the women in the song don’t seem to like Slick very much. Slick is like, “Chill, bro, it’s just a song,” and says he has no problem with the ladies.
Time for another look at PWI’s ratings! Here are the Most Popular and Most Hated wrestlers from October, 1987…
Next up, strap yourselves in, because in Battle of the Titans we’ve got a recap of The Honky Tonk Man’s Intercontinental title defense on Saturday Night’s Main Event against former champion, Randy “Macho Man” Savage. And boy, was this one a doozy! I know that while many visitors to this blog are suburban dads who grew up watching wrestling around the same time I did, many of you weren’t fans yet when this one occurred, so let me set the table for you: this show was huge back in the day, and this was quite possibly the greatest Saturday Nights’ Main Event of them all. This came at a time before there was Summerslam or any other pay per views with title defenses other than Wrestlemania, and had that “big match” feel you only see today in premium live events. In fact, this particular night was to feature three title defenses. Hulk would defend the heavyweight championship against Sika and The Hart Foundation would defend the tag team title against The Young Stallions. But those seemed like mismatches with no chance of a title changing hands. Savage vs. Honky was the big one and would go on first. From a “smart fan” perspective, this seemed like a natural opportunity to transition the title to the guy who should really have it. After Wrestlemania III, Savage was clearly on his way up, but fans didn’t want to see him beat Steamboat for the title. Having Honky steal the title from The Dragon and drop it to Savage seemed to be the perfect solution, and the WWF was halfway there. From a mark standpoint (which is how I looked at it at the time), everything also pointed to a Savage victory. I remember jotting down notes throughout the day, listing pros and cons for each wrestler, hoping everything would add up to a Savage victory for the title. Keep in mind, at this time, there had only been three men’s title changes in the past year, and none had been clean. I wanted to see Savage win the belt and have a big celebration and no longer have to see The Honky Tonk Man strut around. As I jotted down notes, I said, “Pro for Savage: he already won the title before. Knows what it takes to win it. Con for Savage: must win by pinfall or submission. Pro for Honky: has Jimmy Hart. Con for Honky: hasn’t defended against anyone like Savage before.” In the end, my prediction was that Savage would walk away with the belt. Instead, what happened altered the trajectory of the WWF and laid a foundation for Wrestlemanias IV and V. Let’s go to the article about the match…
Randy “Macho Man” Savage lived by one code: “the only thing that counts is me.” He felt he owed nothing to anybody, nor would others do anything for him. Now, he’s learned that his outlook on life is wrong. People have gone to the limit for him, risked life and limb on his behalf, and Savage is now a changed man—hard as nails still, but more willing to extend his hand to true friends. And that is what you witnessed on Saturday Night’s Main Event over NBC television October 3rd—Savage offering his hand to WWF champion Hulk Hogan after Hogan rescued him from a possible career-ending beating by The Hart Foundation and The Honky Tonk Man. Still smarting psychologically from The whipping, Savage has redoubled his efforts to take the Intercontinental belt from Honky Tonk, who claims he is the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time, although many feel that honor just might belong to former champ Savage. The Macho Man’s chances look excellent. In fact, he seemed about to triumph over Honky Tonk in the Saturday Night’s Main Event bout, until the Hart Foundation entered the fray. Even before the bell rang, it was evident that Savage would have to contend with more than Honky, whose manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart, master of interference, was very much in evidence.
Once the bell rang, the two combatants circled one another, exchanging some hot words they locked up and struggled, with Savage forcing Honky Tonk backward to the ropes. Honky Tonk quickly punched out of trouble, landed a solid elbow to Savage’s head and whipped Savage off the opposite ropes. As Savage bounced off the ropes, however, he struck with a kick to Honky Tonk’s midsection, then beat him into the ropes. A snapmare cracked Honky Tonk to the canvas. Before he could wobble to his feet, Savage dropped a knee to his face. Honky Tonk was in big trouble. As Savage circled for another blow, Honky, on his knees, pleaded for mercy. None was coming from Randy, who banged Honky Tonk around fiercely, whipped him to the corner and scored with the vicious elbow to the jaw. Meanwhile, outside the ring, Jimmy Hart’s cunning mind was working overtime for a way to distract Savage. And then it came to Hart. Standing as always in Savage’s corner, her eyes following his every move, was his manager, the beautiful, gentle Elizabeth. Smirking, Hart approached Elizabeth, screaming through the megaphone at her. He stalked Elizabeth, incessantly and menacingly backing her around the ring. The move caught Savage’s eye. He forgot about the groggy Honky Tonk, jumped from the ring and went after Hart. As Savage chased hard around the outside perimeter of the ring, Honky regained his senses, crept out of the ring and jumped Randy from behind, knocking him half senseless. Quickly, Honky Tonk dragged Savage back into the ring and pounded him with fierce fists and chops. But Savage fought back. On their feet, both wrestlers exchanged whips; then Savage rocked Honky Tonk with an elbow that sent him to the mat. Neither man seemed ready to let up or back down an inch, as the advantage went back and forth, then swung to Honky’s favor when Savage missed with the knee-drop and crumpled to the canvas. Honky Tonk bashed Savage with a double ax handle. Savage struggled to his feet to run into a hail of Honky Tonk blows. Finally, Savage lay almost unconscious on the mat. Honky postured above him, mocking the fallen gladiator. To rub it in further, Honky Tonk left the ring and posed before Elizabeth, waggling his hips as if playing his guitar. It cost him the match because it gave Savage time to recover. So intent upon shocking Elizabeth was Honky that he did not see Savage slide out the opposite side of the ring and come up from behind. But Honky did feel the crash of Savage’s elbow which sent him sprawling to the floor. Like a cat, Savage leapt back onto the apron, climb to the top rope and crashed down on Honky with a double ax handle to the head.
Savage dragged Honky into the ring, banged him off a turnbuckle and, as Honky hit the mat, went for the cover. But reaching into the ring, Jimmy Hart interfered. Even so, Savage was in command. Savage pulled Honky to his feet, back-suplexed him to the mat and fell across Honky for the cover. Hart, again from outside the ring, grabbed Savage by the head and rolled him off the champion. Again Savage hauled Honky Tonk to his feet, smashed him in the forehead with an elbow and attempted to climb to the top rope for his finishing maneuver. but the relentless Jimmy Hart was there again, grabbing him by the foot and trying to throw him off the ropes. Savage kicked the manager to the floor, placed himself on the top rope and left upon Honky Tonk, knocking him to the ring mat ready again for the finish. But Hart would not say die. He again reached into the ring, grabbed Honky Tonk’s feet and pulled him so that his shoulders came off the mat, and the pin was broken. Savage had had enough of Hart, who had climb to the ring apron. Leaping on Hart, Savage grabbed the scrawny manager by his long black hair, then cold-cocked him, knocking him to the arena floor. Savage then turned his attention to Honky Tonk and battered him until Honky escaped out of the ring and went to the aid of the fallen Hart.
Meanwhile, in the dressing room, the other championship component of the Hart’s stable had heard of the manager’s beating. The tag team champion Hart Foundation, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Bret “The Hitman” Hart, rushed from the dressing room and took the unconscious Jimmy Hart away from ringside. Honky Tonk went along, leaving Savage standing on the top rope awash in cheers from the crowd. Moments later, the Foundation and Honky Tonk returned, and the battle for the belt resumed. As Honky Tonk tangled with Savage, the Foundation watched carefully from ringside. Honky was battered back, landing in the corner. Savage launched himself at Honky, who evaded the charge, and Randy smashed into the turnbuckles. Groggy, Savage buckled under the fierce assault by Honky Tonk, who apparently did not learn from his earlier mistakes and began posturing over Savage. Randy managed to rise, and the battle continued. Honky sent Savage to the canvas with the snapmare, but then missed with a fist drop from the top rope. Then Savage counter-attacked, cracking an elbow to Honky’s head and suplexing him to the floor where Honky knelt and pleaded for Savage to stop the beating. Savage went in like a pitbull, hammering away until Honky Tonk was flat on his back. A pin attempt by Savage failed. Both men regain their feet, and Honky raked down Savage’s face with both hands. Seizing the momentary advantage, Honky grabbed Savage and hurled him over the top rope to the arena floor. It was as if Savage had fallen into a pit of hyenas. The Hart Foundation, waiting for such a moment, just descended upon Savage with clubbed fists and kicks, then picked him up and dropped him over the steel barrier around the ring while Honky distracted the referee. Next, the Foundation tossed a helpless Savage back into the ring, where Honky hit him with an elbow and went for a pin. With his last ounce of strength, Savage kicked out and sent the surprise Honky sprawling. Savage got his legs under him, but barely, and Honky Tonk went for his deadly finisher, the Shake, Rattle and Roll neckbreaker. Savage looked like a goner, but, as Honky made his move, Savage pulled a reverse, took Honky Tonk up, and slammed him.
Now it was Savage’s time. He shattered Honky with an elbow from the top rope. Savage seemed ready for a sure pin when it happened—the Foundation jumped into the ring and attacked Savage as fiercely as they had a few moments before. Even though the referee signal that the match was over and the bell rang, the fight continued. (The referee disqualified The Honky Tonk Man. However Honky retained the Intercontinental Title because he did not lose by a pinfall or submission.) Savage reeled under the Foundation sneak attack. He sagged and went down—and they held him and continued to punish him. Finally, as Savage was held by the arms, Honky Tonk chopped and kicked him, laughing with evil glee. With Savage almost out, Honky left the ring for a moment to pick up his guitar from ringside. As the Foundation held Savage, Honky Tonk approached. The crowd gasped collectively. Honky was going to break his guitar over Randy’s skull. At that moment, Elizabeth, who had witnessed the horrible scene from ringside, took action. She climbed into the ring and, hands clasped in front of her as if in prayer, beseeched Honky Tonk Man not to hurt Randy further. Honky Tonk, towering over her slim figure, first threatened her with the guitar, then ordered her out of the way. She refused. He ordered again. She stood fast—and then Honky struck out with one hand and knocked her to the canvas, where her jaw hit the mat and her delicate white dress crumpled about her. [And one of the straps broke, forcing her to hold up her dress for the next few minutes.] With Elizabeth out of the way, Jimmy Hart’s thugs turned their attention again to Savage, beating him senseless. Savage, on his knees in the grasp of the Foundation, was gone. But Honky Tonk wasn’t satisfied. Up went the guitar, then down, smashing over Savage’s head.
Honky stood there, waggling his hips and celebration, while the Hart Foundation continued the grizzly work of dismantling Savage. However, Elizabeth crawled from the ring and staggered back to the dressing room, desperately in search of anyone who could help save her man. She found aid from a most unexpected source—Hulk Hogan, previously a Savage foe. Hogan rushed the ring and slid under the bottom rope. In his haste, Hogan left himself open for attack. Before he could rise, the Foundation and Honky Tonk were on him. [Note: this was a rare angle at the time that featured all four men’s champions.] They rocked the world champion. But they also set off his temper. He battled to his feet, pounding his attackers, sending them fleeing. Savage, meanwhile, had cleared his head, at least partly. He got in a few licks at those he recognized as his attackers. Still groggy, however, he apparently did not even see Hogan, whose back was turned. Suddenly the two brawny backs met, and the pair turned around to face one another in surprise. Savage shook his head to clear his eyes. He stared in disbelief. Was Hogan there to attack him? Randy put up his fist, and Hulk did the same. From the corner Elizabeth tried to explain that Hogan was Savage’s savior. Stunned, Savage listened and then, ever so slowly, he extended his open hand in friendship. This act left Hogan equally stunned. He seemed at a loss over what to do. Then he turned to his fans, as if asking them as one voice, the arena erupted with the cheer. Hogan reached out, took Savage’s hand and pumped it. It was a moment of stupendous emotion. Some onlookers cheered. Others sobbed. Hogan took the hands of Elizabeth and Savage and held them aloft. Bonds had forged whose meeting may well shake the WWF to its foundation.
(As a postscript, the match had profound implications for the rest of the night. The next match, featuring Hogan defending the title against Sika, was suddenly no longer a mismatch. With Hogan having already been in the ring and taken a beating, Sika’s chances suddenly looked much better, and I had a real fear Hogan’s world title reign might come to an end. Then, later in the night, The Hart Foundation had to defend the tag team titles against The Young Stallions without Jimmy Hart in their corner. That made them look much more vulnerable too, especially considering The Young Stallions had just defeated the Harts on Superstars. In the end, no titles changed hands—though perhaps it should have been here that Strike Force won the tag titles—but it was quite a show nonetheless! Bret Hart wrote in his book: “In the dressing room before the match, Pat Patterson told us what was going to happen. For a guy to touch a girl on TV was unheard of, and all of us would get big-time heat as a result. It all went as planned, and the crowd was totally incensed as the three of us heels came back through the curtain. Later that night I heard I’d be working a singles match with Macho on the next Saturday Night’s Main Event. Macho was now the hottest babyface in the territory next to Hogan, and it was a great opportunity.”
Moving on, we get 1987 in Review, though the magazine notes that they went to press in October, so it only covers up to that point. With that in mind, the staff chooses their top ten moments of the year. Let’s have a look and see how they hold up:
- Hulk Hogan beats Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III. (Good choice.) The magazine points out that Andre, however, still looms as a threat.
- Honky Tonk Man wins the Intercontinental Title. (This title win would only loom larger as Honky held the title longer and longer, though Steamboat’s victory at Wrestlemania III should probably have gotten the second spot.) The magazine points out that Savage is hot on Honky’s tail.
- The Battle for Bam Bam, with Oliver Humperdink signing Bam Bam Bigelow. (This is obviously a poor choice in retrospect, but I can’t really blame the staff for choosing it. Bam Bam was considered by smarts and marks alike to be the next big thing, and there were many who thought he’d be the next WWF champion.
- The Hart Foundation wins the tag team title. (Yep.) The magazine notes that Strike Force is hot on their tail.
- Rowdy Roddy Piper’s retirement. (Good but surprising choice. Usually this magazine doesn’t waste ink on retired wrestlers, since its purpose is really to help get over the current talent.)
- Ken Patera returns. (A swing and a miss. Patera didn’t have anything left. It does show how much the WWF thought of him at the time, and how he was supposed to be a featured player in 1988 rather than a jobber to the stars.)
- Sensational Sherri ends Moolah’s reign. (Meh.) The magazine notes that Moolah had stood atop the pinnacle of women’s wrestling for almost three decades, save for “a brief hiatus of a year or two.” (Suck it, Wendi.)
- Slick signs The One Man Gang. (Now we’re reaching, but like Bigelow, the Gang was thought to be the next big star, and he did more or less end up take Bundy’s spot.) The magazine notes the Gang has potential, but he hasn’t made good on his promise yet.
- A new Dream Team is created, with Dino Bravo taking Brutus Beefcake’s place as Greg Valentine’s tag team partner. (Poor Valentine. While he was teamed up with Dino Bravo, he went from one of the more talked-about WWF stars to a forgotten man. Fortunately, The Dream Team would be disbanded soon, making Valentine suddenly relevant again. Anyway, the bigger story related to this was Brutus Beefcake becoming Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.)
- The Million Dollar Man enters the WWF. (Good call! Looking back, this should have been higher on the list. DiBiase would go on to turn the WWF upside down in 1988.)
Honorable mentions: The Islanders turn heel. (A good move, but ultimately not worthy of the top ten.) Magnificent Muraco turns good. (Whatever.) Bobby Heenan signs Rick Rude. (This would prove to be bigger than Ken Patera’s return.) Killer Khan joins the WWF. (… and would shortly be leaving.) Rick Martel & Tito Santana are teaming up as Strike Force. (Huge if true.) There was an exciting battle royal on the eve of Wrestlemania III. (It was indeed a good one.) And finally, Ax and Smash of Demolition join the WWF. (Hopefully they’ll have some success.)
Next, let’s take a look at the top wrestlers across the board from this time period courtesy of PWI…
We’ve got some new merch! The T Shirt line has been expanded to include ones for Strike Force, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Bam Bam Bigelow, Koko B. Ware, Outback Jack, and King Kong Bundy. (By the way, the holy grail of WWF merchandise at this time was Hulk Hogan’s yellow T-shirt. I remember going to events and seeing them all sell out hours before the show started.) There are also two new posters: one for Piledriver and one for The Hart Foundation. And the 1988 WWF Calendar is now available.
Next, some guy named Bruce Pritchard writes an article about how everyone’s targeting Bam Bam Bigelow. Perhaps the biggest of his enemies? The One Man Gang. “The Gang has promised Slick that he will not rest until he has completely eliminated Bigelow and Humperdink from the scene.”
We move on to a story about Heenan’s new man: Rick Rude. Rude is feuding with Paul Orndorff and says the WWF is only big enough for one of them.
Next up, an article about The Pillars of Wrestling: the Legs by L Ginafriddo. It’s very important for a wrestler to take care of his legs to have a sturdy base to work with in the ring. (How do you think Kevin Nash won all those world championships?) Butch Reed points out that guys like Superstar Billy Graham, who hurt his hip years ago, are useless when they can’t stand. (Ouch.) We also learn about a variety of leg-lock maneuvers meant to weaken legs to either throw a wrestler off balance or force him to submit. “Novice wrestling fans often miss leg action,” Ginafriddo says. “But the experienced students of the sport keep their eyes on a grappler’s pillars. When the pillars begin to falter, the experts know the rest of the body will soon follow.”
Next, an article about Strike Force: they’re aiming for the tag team titles. However, the magazine notes, should they defeat the Hart Foundation for the straps, they’ll become a target themselves, with teams like Demolition waiting in the wings for their opportunity. “The problem for Martel and Santana is that once they reach their peak, they will never be able to let down, or they may go down to defeat. (I feel like we’re getting ahead of ourselves.)
Private Eye gives us glimpse of the videos for the Piledriver album.
In WWF Lowdown, we learn that Brutus Beefcake is targeting Danny Davis. (Nothing like aiming high.) Outback Jack recently returned to his native Australia to find himself and regroup before returning to the WWF. “I knew I was in for a hard time in the WWF,” he says, “but some of these blokes are tougher than I thought.” He says he’s now rejuvenated and ready to fight again. In other news, Rick Rude has been rejecting requests for autographs. “I have pride in myself,” he says. “I don’t hand out autographs randomly to undeserving slugs. My affection has to be earned.” And finally, Ted DiBiase recently bid on a condo but was turned down by the condo board due to his personality. He responded by buying the whole building.
Next, WWF Wrap Up: we finally get word about a new pay per view called “The Survivor Series” which will feature team elimination matches. But the magazine has no details about the participants. The Hart Foundation recently appeared on San Francisco television and radio to talk about what a great team they are. Tito Santana held a press conference in Tucson, Arizona to announce the formation of Strike Force. Hulk Hogan appeared at Jerry Lewis’s annual telethon to battle muscular dystrophy. Cincinnati continues to showcase wrestlers each September at its annual Riverfest celebration. They’re now branding it “Wrestlefest.” (Maybe we’ll steal that name here in Milwaukee.) And finally, Carbondale, Pennsylvania has appointed Rick Martel Grand Marshall of their Pioneer’s Day extravaganza. “Imagine the reception Carbondale will give him if Strike Force snags the tag team straps!” (As if.)
In Wrestler’s Rebuttal, Paul Orndorff explains why he fired Bobby Heenan… again.
And here’s the crossword puzzle!
And finally, Caught in the Act… featuring King Kong Bundy in a photo that may or may not have been staged.
That’s it for this week. See ya next time for an interview with Ted DiBiase, a look at a hidden wrestling statistic mat experts love to use, and more!