From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in November of 1987 that, thanks to inflation, sold for $2.95 in the U.S. and $3.95 in Canada. With a cover featuring “The Million Dollar Man” and Virgil, we’re teased with stories about DiBiase, Hulk Hogan, Honky Tonk Man, and coverage of a battle royal. So let’s make like Outback Jack and light this one up.
In a note from the publisher, Wrestler’s Rebuttal has been tweaked. A wrestling personality will voice his opinion, and then there will be responses from other personalities. WWF Magazine says they had to make this change because the wrestlers themselves demanded it. Also, fans are asked to write in and give their opinion on who the strongest wrestler is. There are no wrong answers (except Sam Houston).
We kick things off with Fan Forum, where Anson of San Diego writes in to say, “What an improvement” regarding the magazine. “Lots more WWF action, pictures, and interviews compared to before it went monthly.” Anson also says the Killer Bees are the next tag team champions of the world. “They’re awesome and are my favorite tag team. I just don’t think they get the publicity most other wrestlers do.” Other fans are writing in to answer the question: who is the best manager? Several write in to say it’s Jimmy Hart. “He is the best in the WWF,” says Grant from California. “The only true manager of champions,” says Darrie of Roscoe, New York. But Arturo from Chicago disagrees. “Heenan for manager of the year,” he says. Jon Adler agrees: “Heenan is the best manager because he has guts, the best wrestlers in the profession and is smart.” Joe Williams of Lakewood, Colorado has a different choice altogether. “Elizabeth’s undoubtedly the best manager in the WWF because of her personality and looks.” And Paul from La Puente, California says simply, “The best manager in the WWF is Mr. Fuji.”
WWF List of… New Year’s Resolutions:
- Hillbilly Jim: “I’m goin’ to make more people happier than I did last year.”
- Siva Afi: “Going to the islands more. I wish I could bring all my fans with me.” (Both of them?)
- Hercules: “I’m gonna work on my forearms and put some people in pain.”
- Raymond Rougeau: “To win the WWF Tag Team Championship with my brother.”
- Jimmy Hart: “I’m gonna see to it that someone in my stable beats Hulk Hogan for the World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Belt.”
- King Kong Bundy: “To rid the world of all morons and fools like Ken Patera, Randy Savage, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Hulk Hogan.”
- Honky Tonk Man: “I will continue to be the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time.”
- Outback Jack: “Tame more of the wild elements of the World Wrestling Federation. When I lived in the Outback in Australia’s Northern Territories, I fought crocks and buffalo. Defeated them as well, mate. If I could do it there, I can do it here.”
Newsbreakers:Strike Force takes the Title!
In a stunning upset, the dashing duo of Mexican Tito Santana and Canadian Rick Martel, collectively known as Strike Force, has taken the World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Title from The Hart Foundation. (This was the first clean title win in the WWF’s men’s division since March of 1986.) Martel was able to force Neidhart to submit to the Boston crab in a match shown over the WWF television network (taped for Superstars in Syracuse, New York).
Personality Profile: Jimmy Hart has signed the women’s tag team champions, Leilani Kai and Judy Martin, and has named them The Glamour Girls.
WWF Interview: A Talk With Ted DiBiase “The Million Dollar Man” — We’re at DiBiase’s estate, and once again, just like last issue, the WWF uses this forum to ask a wrestling personality about his money, wanting to know the source of DiBiase’s wealth and what his business interests are. “Be specific,” the reporter asks. Unfortunately, while there’s nothing more exciting in wrestling than learning about a wrestler’s portfolio management, DiBiase dodges the question. “My business is none of yours,” he says. The reporter than says, “You ought to watch how you treat the press. You might need us someday.” (Why is it Hulk Hogan never gets these questions or this treatment from this magazine?) DiBiase says the press lives off people like him, and he could buy the writers if he wanted anyway. The subject then moves to Virgil, with the reporter asking if he’s been bought. DiBiase says to ask Virgil about that, but Virgil isn’t talking. We move on to DiBiase’s thoughts on Hogan. “He rides a motorcycle. I’m chauffeured by a limo. He pushes a speedboat. I’ve got a boat bigger than the one Donald Trump just bought.” (Whatever happened to that guy?) “Hogan may have the title, but I’ve got the future.” The reporter says it sounds like DiBiase is seeking a title match. “Wrong,” DiBiase says. “The way I’ve got it figured, he’ll want a match against me.” The reporter says, “Hulk Hogan has beaten the biggest, baddest and most talented men who ever entered a ring. He’s at the top of his career. A world idol. What makes you think he would even consider signing a match against you?” (And here I was worried the reporter would be biased.) “Jealousy. Envy. Inferiority complex,” DiBiase answers. “Say it any way you want. Hogan would like to be like me, but he can’t. He depends too much on the sniveling little people out there.” The reporter asks, “Have you forgotten you’re speaking of a man who weighs 302 pounds, all muscle, has 24-inch biceps, and courage that has even enabled him to humble Andre the Giant? Hulk Hogan has accomplished more by far than most men ever imagine in their wildest dreams.” (Geez, Mr. Interviewer, just marry the guy already!) DiBiase gives a cryptic reply: “I’ve got resources in and out of the ring, and I can buy his downfall.” The reporter says, “You’re evading the question. What are you going to do when the Big Man comes at you, fire in his eye, Hulkamaniacs cheering, and his title is on the line? Hulk Hogan stomps people when his honor is threatened. He doesn’t go down. And you can’t buy him with money. One-on-one, do you really think you can take him? And for once, answer straight.” DiBiase says, “Virgil, come here. This person needs to be escorted out.” The magazine says, “With the approach of Virgil, the reporter exited. We are sorry we could not bring you the finish of the interview.”
Next, in Battle of the Titans, we learn about an epic ten-man Battle Royal from Superstars featuring Outback Jack, the Bolsheviks, One Man Gang, Bob Orton, Junk Yard Dog, The Rock (Don Muraco), Bam Bam Bigelow, Hercules, and some new dude named “The Ultimate Warrior.” There was a lot of punching and kicking, but JYD and Outback Jack wasted little time in dumping OMG, then Hercules threw out Outback Jack. Then “the action got even hotter.” JYD heaved Bolshevik Nikolai Volkoff off, only for Volkoff to hang onto Dog and pull him out to. Volkoff was joined by his tag team partner, Boris Zhukov, shortly after when The Ultimate Warrior gorilla pressed the Russian newcomer out of the ring. There was no time for Warrior to celebrate, however, as Bob Orton came up from behind and immediately tossed Warrior out too. That left three: Orton, Hercules, and Bigelow. “Orton and Hercules automatically became allies against Bigelow, each knowing that he could prove too much for one of them alone.” (Indeed, until the Royal Rumble in 1989, these sort of matches were always about the heels taking on the faces as opposed to “every man for himself.”)
But, in a rather nifty spot, as Orton and Hercules cornered Bam Bam by a turnbuckle and attempted to lift his legs up, Bam Bam was able to get under both men and flip them both over the ropes. “Bam Bam had faced two of the toughest men in the ring by himself and whipped them good. One-on-one, he could be unbeatable.”
We move on to an exclusive: How Heenan Plans to Beat The Hulkster: WWF Magazine has come into possession of documents that show Heenan’s mind is working in pursuit of Hogan’s title belt. According to a source, Heenan put the brainstorm on paper in note form before transferring it to computer. The handwritten notes were then supposed to be shredded, but due to an oversight, they were not and ended up in the hands of WWF Magazine. (At least he wasn’t flushing them down the toilet.) “Infinitely clever, Heenan figures to use other managers and their gladiators as instruments against the Hulkster.” Heenan’s plan, devised months ago, includes the Thanksgiving Survivor Series, which he views as one step in a systematic program of destruction aimed at the champion. “Try and get Hogan against as many opponents as possible,” he wrote, with hopes that Hogan may become injured and vulnerable. His plan then continues, looking ahead to Wrestlemania IV, where Hogan, as champion, will undoubtedly play a major role. “Heenan apparently hopes the champion will be reeling under both physical and psychological pressure, which could lead to his undoing if the Brain can arrange it so one of his men is in the ring with Hogan.” Heenan wrote, “If all parts come together—the plan should work!” (I for one think this article was a tremendous breach of privacy, and WWF Magazine should be ashamed of sifting through Heenan’s garbage and printing his notes.)
Next, an article about Hacksaw Jim Duggan, whom the magazine refers to at one point as “The Hacker.” He says his temper his his curse and his weapon. “I’ve got almost everything on my side,” the humble wrestler says. “I’m big, strong and don’t hurt easily. I like to tangle. I know something about techniques of wrestling, more than most of my opponents. About the only problem I have is my temper. And even that can sometimes help me in the ring.” We then get a recap of a six-man tag, where Duggan and The Rougeau Brothers took on The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis. After Davis entered the ring illegally with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone behind the referee’s back, Duggan grabbed his 2 by 4 and entered the ring… only for the referee to see it and immediately disqualify Duggan’s team. Then we learn about another incident where Duggan, after being attacked by King Harley Race, stole the King’s crown and robe and kept them for several weeks, wearing the royal regalia at various events. (Well, that wouldn’t be the last time he’d wear that gear.) In the end, it’s Duggan’s temper that gets him into—and out of—trouble.
We move on to coverage of the Lunch with Hulk Hogan contest winner: nine-year-old Jeremy Turoff from Dallas. Jeremy enjoyed a visit to a hotel where he chowed down on shrimp and fettuccini with the Hulkster, who told him, “You know more about wrestling than some of the wrestlers.” Jeremy says Hulk is his favorite wrestler, but he also likes The Young Stallions and Randy Savage. After eating, Jeremy was taken to the Convention Center Arena, where he sat at ringside to watch a stellar WWF card. “It was great,” he says. Today, Jeremy still lives in Texas where he’s married and has a daughter.
Next, an article about The Honky Tonk Man: he says he wants to be the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time to prove his really is the best, but the magazine points out he has a long way to go. “A host of menacing opponents wait in the wings: including Jake Roberts, Bam Bam Bigelow, and possibly Brutus Beefcake.” And there’s still Randy Savage. “Savage?” sneers Honky. “Remember how I broke my guitar over his head? Well, I’ll play a tune on his body again. A dirge.” As for other opponents, Honky warns, “They’re fools if they mess with me. They won’t just be goin’ against me. They’ll be up against my destiny.”
Onto an article about the referees, the “Mediators for the Maulers.” Freddie Sparta tells us that being an official isn’t easy. “This can be the most thankless job in the world,” he says. (He shared similar sentiments in an ice cream bahh commercial.) Mark Yeaton agrees. He remembers refereeing his first match and getting thrown to the arena floor by a wrestler. The writer says, “Aside from being attacked by an enraged battler, the referee’s biggest fear is an accidental collision with a large, quick-moving body.” Beyond that, fan abuse is constant. “I’ve been called names I didn’t know existed,” says Sparta. So why do referees subject themselves to revilement? The answer is not money or exposure, it’s the love of professional wrestling. “The rules the referees enforce are basic,” the article says. “Grapplers cannot oil their bodies before a bout to facilitate slipping out of holds or conceal foreign objects in trunks, boots, or pads. Hair-pulling, face-gouging or hitting with a closed fist is not allowed.” (Well good to know we won’t see any of that!) “Failing to break on the count of five or remaining outside the ring for the count of 10 results in disqualification. Outside interference is prohibited.” Sparta says he sees his job as going into the ring with an open mind and calling the match as he sees it. “You can’t be a fan, favoring a certain star. They all must be the same in your eyes. Here in the WWF, we’re in the ring with the best talent in the world. They expect you to be the best, and the fans expect no less. I only wish I had eyes in the back of my head.”
Sidenote from me: Jimmy Korderas, who is the referee pictured above with Killer Khan, was a longtime referee for the WWF who started in 1987 after doing a good job setting up the rings, and he had some trouble of his own in those early days! In one of his first matches, a six-man tag, no one would listen to him and he had guys illegally entering the ring throughout the entire match. “It made me look incompetent, even for a pro wrestling referee,” he says. “I’m not saying none of it was my fault, but I was happier than Tony Chimel at an all you can eat buffet when the bell rang to end the match. I made my way backstage, and the second I stepped through the curtain, Vince power-walked right over to me. Right there in front of everyone, I got an earful about how terrible the match was, how I let them bury me out there, and how there was no possible way they could use the footage for TV.” Determined to do better, Jimmy then had to referee a match between The Young Stallions and Sika & Kamala. “They were having a good match, and the crowd was very into it. Now it was time for the finish. Here is how it was supposed to go down: I was to turn my attention to Paul Roma to try to get him out of the ring and back to his corner. With my focus on Roma and my back to the ring, the heels would cheat behind my back. Roma would give me the okay, and I would turn at the appropriate time to see Powers being pinned. For some reason, I turned around before Roma gave me the signal just in time to see the illegal man, Sika, driving off the top rope and splashing Powers. Sika then rolled out of the ring while Kamala covered Powers for the pin. I should have just counted the pin. In fact, Roma kept shouting to me in carnie, “Just cizount, cizount!” But I called for the bell, disqualifying the heels. Everyone in the ring look confused, including me. As I raised the winners’ hands in victory, Roma leaned over and said, ‘Thanks, Jimmy.'” Afterward, Jack Lanza stormed in. He tore into me almost as harshly as Vince had but with F bombs. Before he left, he removed me from the other match I was scheduled to referee that night.” Then there was one other incident that bears mentioning. Jimmy was refereeing a match that was actually going smoothly when the back of his pants split. “Not just a small split, but a rather large gaping one. There is one little thing you learn once something like this happens. You wear black undergarments or tights under your referee pants just in case of such an emergency. That day, I was wearing light blue which probably looked like a blue light flashing from the back of my pants. I could hear people laughing, but I chose to ignore it and continue my in-ring duties. I glanced over at the announcers’ table where I saw Heenan in stitches while Gorilla just shook his head in disbelief. At the end of the show, Heenan came up to me, still laughing, shook my hand and said, ‘It’s not that you split your pants open in the middle of a match I find funny, it was the expression on your face and the fact that you no-sold it that was hilarious.’ Gorilla, on the other hand, was a little more father-like. He said I was fine for not letting my mishap distract me but that I should be better prepared for such an occurrence. I agreed and thanked him for his help.” Jimmy, it should be noted, went on to become one of the finest WWF referees, being a firm believer of the following:
- The referee should not be invisible. He or she should enhance the match and the story the wrestlers are trying to tell.
- The referee must act as if every contest is genuine. If he or she doesn’t act like it’s authentic, the fans will know it.
- The referee should always act professional, whether at work or in public.
- The referee should always appear confident. If he or she is hesitant, no one will buy them as an official ever again.
- Counts should be rhythmic and consistent, whether it’s a pin attempt or a five count for a break, or a ten count if the wrestlers are outside the ring. Any variation in cadence is noticeable by the fans.
- The referee should never allow him or herself to be distracted by the fans.
Next up, an article about one of the most important moves in wrestling: the pin! (We won’t show you a picture of a pin because that would just be silly, right?) We begin by recapping The Honky Tonk Man’s IC title victory over Ricky Steamboat. The magazine somewhat acknowledges the botched pin without going into specifics. “As Steamboat scrambled to get to his feet, the battered rock ‘n’ roller staggered forward, striking his opponent with his bulky torso and sending both wrestlers to the mat. But The Honky Tonk Man landed on top, and got the sloppy pin.” (They botched a small package.) We then learn mat experts learn a lot by looking at a wrestler’s “PP,” which stands for pin percentage, the number of times a wrestler wins by pinfall divided by the number of times he wrestles. (This is presented as something to wrestling that’s essentially what RBI is to baseball: that hidden statistic that’s the key to the game.) Honky’s is very low, making his title victory all the more amazing. The magazine tells us that number one all-time in PP is Bruno Sammartino, at 81%, followed closely by Hogan at 80%. (Honky is at 38%.) Yet, Honky seems to recognize this and has added numerous pinning drills in his workout routine in an effort to raise his percentage. (Maybe he’s working on his small package. But enough about his PP.)
Private Eye shows us Ken Patera and his family at home. (Next week, we’ll learn he’s found a tag team partner!)
WWF Lowdown gives us the latest scoops: as mentioned earlier, Nikolai Volkoff has a new partner. His name is Boris Zhukov, and he’s from Moscow. They will now be known as The Bolsheviks. “People in America think they can do whatever they want,” says Zhukov. “Not so in Russia. People obey government and do what it says.” Word has it the Russian government is hoping the Bolsheviks can defeat Strike Force for the tag team title. Meanwhile, Ivan Putski is back. (Well, that won’t last long.) There’s also a newcomer named The Ultimate Warrior. (More on him next month if he’s still around.) And finally, Jimmy Hart has filed a complaint with Jack Tunney over The Young Stallions using his song, “Crank it Up” as their theme music.
WWF Wrap up: The WWF’s latest album, Piledriver, continues to be the talk of the entertainment industry. Koko B. Ware, who sings the title song, says, “Sometimes I have to smack myself so I know I’m not dreaming.” The first week after the album was released, it shot to 193 on the Billboard charts. The second week, it was up to 128. Meanwhile, Randy Savage and The Honky Tonk Man alternatively hosted Friday Night Videos on NBC. Speaking of music videos, Hulk Hogan was recently featured in country & western darling Dolly Parton’s new video, Headlock on My Heart. Elsewhere, MicroLeague Wrestling is selling like hotcakes! It’s the only wrestling video game to feature real wrestlers. Also, there are several new LJN wrestling dolls available: we’ve now got Koko B. Ware, Outback Jack, King Harley Race, Billy Jack Haynes, Bob Orton, S.D. Jones, and Johnny V. In addition, to make the action seem more authentic, LJN has also released a referee doll, as well as dolls for Vince McMahon, Gene Okerlund, and Jesse Ventura so fans can place them in their proper positions. (If memory serves, we’re coming to the end of the line with this wrestling doll line.)
Next, Outlaw Ron Bass tells us why Texans are tougher and he’s the toughest in Wrestler’s Rebuttal, with others responding. (Tama’s response: “Where’s Texas?”)
Not sure if anyone cares, but here’s the crossword puzzle…
And finally, King Harley Race is featured in Caught in the Ac(t)
That’s it for this week. See ya next time for the next issue where Heenan responds to his leaked planned, Hulk Hogan loses a big match on NBC, and in a story that probably won’t go anywhere, “The Million Dollar Man” says he wants to buy the WWF heavyweight championship. Also, check out my book The Flat Earth Fallacy & The Globe Earth Proof, which is currently 49% off at Amazon.