From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in December of 1987 that sold for $2.50 in the U.S. and $3.25 in Canada. With a cover featuring Jake “The Snake” Roberts, we’re teased with stories about Hogan, Demolition, and Strike Force. So let’s make like Tito and ándale arriba!
We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti. He says WrestleMania IV will be here before you know it, and wrestlers are jockeying for position because they know it can mean a huge payday and a chance for fame. (Perhaps a WrestleMania moment?) As of press time, no details about the event are known, but Ed promises the magazine will have full coverage of all the events leading up to it in the next few issues. “We promise you will not be disappointed.”
We move on to Fan Forum, where Terry from North Andover, Massachusetts says, “My little brother and I enjoy wrestling a lot. We think WWF Magazine is the best magazine on the shelf because you put your best effort forward, an effort other wrestling magazines don’t have.” (You know, for a magazine that says it doesn’t worry about the other wrestling magazines, WWF Magazine sure prints a lot of letters from fans saying it’s better than the others.) Also, Terry says he’s sending along some illustrations he drew of WWF wrestlers. The magazine says “Thanks, but we can’t use outside illustrations.” Meanwhile, R. Hannot from North River, New York is disgusted that Ted DiBiase offered a little boy $500 if he could dribble a ball 15 times only to kick the ball away after the 14th dribble. “To do that to a kid is just cruel.”
Okay, I have to cut in here because this happened in my neck of the woods, and is the alltime great Ted DiBiase skit. This was all set up ahead of time, with the WWF arranging for the kid, Sean, and his family to be part of this and the family and DiBiase participating in rehearsals earlier in the day. The family was told it didn’t matter whether Sean succeeded or not, they were getting the money either way, though Sean was just a kid and didn’t really understand that aspect of it. In front of the live crowd, when DiBiase kicked the ball away, something happened that didn’t happen in rehearsals: the kid started to cry. Today, a wrestler would probably cut the bit short and try to avoid any additional trauma, but DiBiase just kept going, telling the kid that when you don’t do the job right, you don’t get paid! Meanwhile, the Milwaukee audience, always more sensitive than other towns, turned harshly against “The Million Dollar Man,” and the whole thing put DiBiase over the top as the number one rulebreaker in wrestling. DiBiase talked about the segment later: “The greatest of all the stunts that we did to get the people to understand that I was a scoundrel was that one. And you know, when we rehearsed, I wasn’t really hardcore harsh, and it just wasn’t that good. Then we did it live in front of the crowd, my loud, deep voice scared the kid, and he had these great big crocodile tears and ran to his mother. In reality, he couldn’t have done it any better. I look like the biggest heel because I just made this little boy cry. I remember going in the back and everyone’s saying, ‘oh man, that was great.’ I said, ‘it might have been great, but you guys are going to need an armored car to get me out of this building tonight. Those people want to lynch me right now’. Years later I go to Omaha. I’m renting a car, and this guy taps me on the shoulder so I turn around, and I’m looking at his chest. I look up, and this guy is about 6’6. He looks at me and says, ‘Good to see you Mr. DiBiase. I’m the manager here. Can I help you find a car?” I said, ‘Sure, help me find something that can fit both of us!’ He said, ‘By the way, do you remember that kid you did that basketball thing with?’ It was just the look on his face, and I go, ‘No way!’ He goes, ‘It’s nice to see you again!’ He told me, ‘I actually went to college on a basketball scholarship.’ That was too much. I said, ‘See what I did for ya?’ We both laughed and he said, ‘Well, I got drafted by the Lakers but I didn’t make the final cut.’ But he was obviously doing pretty good for himself!”
Sean and DiBiase in 2021
Back to Fan Forum… Chris from Tucson, Arizona says he desperately wants a pair of sunglasses like Bret Hart wears and wants to know where he can get them. The magazine says it reached out to Bret, but the Hitman only said, “none of your business.” (Hopefully, Bret and the WWF will one day see this as a merchandising opportunity.) Then there’s Dennis of Elizabeth, New Jersey who is a fan of one particular woman in the WWF. No, not Elizabeth. (That would just be silly.) He likes Sensational Sherri. “I love her sense of humor.” Finally, Richard from Oklahoma city writes in to say he loves Bam Bam Bigelow’s tattoos, and Cathy of Newark, Delaware says that next to Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage is the best wrestler in the WWF.
WWF List of… who’s my Valentine? (Warning: the following may contain worked answers in an attempt to deepen the characterizations of WWF superstars.)
- Tito Santana: “Beautiful women from all over the world call Rick Martel and I ‘Latin Lover’ and ‘Fiery Frenchman.’ So this year, I want to thank all the classy ladies cheering us on. We admire them as much as they admire us.”
- Ravishing Rick Rude: “It would be an injustice for me to have only one Valentine. I send a special wish to all the ladies whose hearts thump when my abdominals ripple.”
- Nikolai Volkoff: “Mother Russia, the land of real men.”
- Paul Roma: “Lady luck. She was watching over Jim Powers and me when we beat The Hart Foundation.”
- Bam Bam Bigelow: “Dirty Sally, my tattoo artist, and the only woman I’ve let get into my head and under my skin.”
- Davey Boy Smith: “Matilda. She manages us, excites the fans, and eats WWF ice cream bars.” (Just for the record, dogs shouldn’t be given ice cream because it gives them digestive issues, and it’s even more important that they not eat chocolate because it is poisonous to them.)
- B. Brian Blair: “Big Hazel at Hazel’s Honey Hut. She’s a big, lovable woman, the sweetest in the world.”
- Greg Valentine: “Myself, of course.”
Newsbreakers! The Million Dollar Man Tries to Buy the Title! Sending shockwaves through the World Wrestling Federation, Ted DiBiase is attempting to buy the WWF World title. “I have a tremendous plan,” he says. Some question why DiBiase, who has considerable wrestling skills, doesn’t simply try to win the championship outright, but DiBiase says, “I could whip Hogan myself, but for now, I’d rather let my money do it. I want to prove to all you poor peasants out there that money can really buy anything, even the WWF title.” (I can’t remember if this angle went anywhere or if they just dropped it.) In other news, Matilda is missing. The British Bulldogs suspect she’s been dognapped and are asking fans to be on the look out for her. They have posted a reward and have had T-shirts made in her image for people to buy and wear to spread awareness that she is the object of a search.” (My friends were convinced that Matilda was pregnant, and this was an angle designed to keep her out of wrestling until she had her puppies.)
In Personality Profile, we learn there’s some zany new wrestler named The Ultimate Warrior. “He could be from the far, far future or the dim recesses of the past, another dimension in present time or the deepest depths of the galaxy.” (Sounds like one of his promos.) “He is the final fighting machine, the Ultimate Warrior, a thunderbolt of power and speed, war paint daubed on his square-jawed face, brilliantly colored pendants streaming from his limbs, volcanic fury in his eyes and strength surging through his rippling musculature. Giving his present base as Queens in New York City, The Ultimate Warrior is an enigma.” (Sidenote: when this guy appeared on Raw the day before he died, I wasn’t able to watch live, but I had my DVR set up to record it. The next day, I heard the news about his passing and later sat down to watch him on Raw give his goodbye speech. When he talked about how one day every man breathes his final breath and his heart beats its final beat, but how someone can live on through the loyalty and memories of those who knew him, it was one of the most surreal speeches I’d ever listened to, and I’ll never forget my wife and I looking at each other in disbelief. It was as if he had died but returned to give one final speech.)
We move on to an Interview with Rick Rude, where the magazine begins by asking him why he thinks his body is the greatest. He says, “Just ask any female.” The magazine replies that many fans would say Hulk Hogan has a better body. Rude says, “Kids like him, but who cares? Hulk lacks my sex appeal, and it’s the ladies that matter.” The magazine says, “What about Billy Jack Haynes?” Rude says, “I’ve got quality he doesn’t have.” And Tito Santana? “You’ve got to be kidding. That Mex is 40 pounds underweight.” Paul Orndorff? “He’s got a few muscles, but he’s smooth. He doesn’t have my gorgeous cuts. And he’s ugly.” (He’s got him there.) Rude is asked why he signed with Heenan, and he says, “Bobby has had a great impact on me. He’s got lots of connections, is a very smart business-man, and will get me a title.” (Right again.) “And the fact that he appreciates me shows how smart he is.” He’s then asked how long he’s been called “ravishing,” and he says, “The nurses in the maternity ward named me ‘ravishing’ when I was born. Other mothers tried to trade their boy children for me. Do I have to explain further?” Asked what his ambitions are, Rude says he’s going to target Paul Orndorff first, and then go from there. The magazine says, “Another question…” but Rude cuts the reporter off. “I’ve given you enough time. Here’s a photo of me. Give it to your wife or girlfriend or whatever. She might pay more attention to you.”
Next, in Battle of the Titans, we get coverage of a huge match from Saturday Night’s Main Event, which shockingly ended with Hulk Hogan’s first noteworthy defeat on national television. (By the way, I notice that Peacock lists the seasons of SNME as periods that run from January to December, which I know is the standard way they are handling all wrestling content. But for 1980s SNME, this is incorrect. The season premier always happened in the fall, and the show would run through the spring. The particular episode we’re looking at was the second episode of the season.) Given the significance of this match, I give you the article in full.
From the moment he left the dressing room for the match with King Kong Bundy, World Wrestling Federation Champion Hulk Hogan knew that it would be a case of three against one—that is, Bundy, manager Bobby “The weasel” Heenan, and awesome Andre the Giant against Hogan.
Not all of them would be in the ring at once, of course. But Hogan sensed that Heenan and Andre, who was a surprise cornerman for Bundy, would interfere from outside the ropes. Indeed, they did. Andre reached under the bottom rope and tripped Hogan and was banished from the arena by the referee. It was Heenan’s interference, however, that cost Hogan the match, although not the title because of the nature of the loss. With Hogan outside the ring, Heenan held on to the Hulkster’s leg just long enough for the referee to count him out. Titles don’t change hands that way, but the loss mortified Hogan, who made Heenan pay dearly for his skullduggery.
The match, shown November 28th on Saturday Night’s Main Event, was the first of two encounters between the champion and Bundy. The second will be in the March issue of WWF magazine.
Bundy’s hand was raised in victory after the initial Hogan match, but it was a shallow triumph, indeed. Bundy won the match, but the title eluded him. The events that occurred during the bout, moreover, were of a nature that both the Hulkster and Bundy couldn’t wait to get at one another in the rematch.
Even before the bell, it was evident that Hogan was even more fired up than usual. He simply couldn’t stay still. He danced about on the balls of his feet, swinging his massive arms and verbally challenging Bundy, as well as Andre, who stood alongside the ring in Bundy’s corner. Andre glared back at Hogan. When the Hulkster removed his title strap, Andre glowered and boomed out, “That’s my belt.” [Championship]
Hogan pointed at Andre and invited him into the ring. This demonstrated another part of Heenan’s strategy. Take Hogan’s mind off Bundy by taunting the champ with Andre.
Once the bell rang, however, Hogan focused entirely on Bundy. He and the 460-pound Bundy circled one another. They tentatively made a few grabs at one another’s hands, then backed off, waiting for an opening. Suddenly Hulk decided he wanted action. He pushed his face into Bundy’s and jawboned. The two took to shoving, and then Hulk struck, seizing Bundy in a withering headlock. It was underway, this clash of powerhouses.
Bundy threw off Hogan, who bounced back off the ropes and rammed Bundy with the shoulder block. Bundy laughed as he took the full force of the blow and the hardly noticed it.
Hogan seemed surprised. So he tried again. This time, the result was worse. Bundy didn’t budge, but the Hulkster ended up on his back. Sneering, Bundy challenged Hogan to try once more. Hogan took him up on it, but this time as he careened into Bundy, Hulk smacked the big man in the head with an elbow. Bundy crumbled to the mat and Hulk covered him, but Bundy pushed Hogan off after a two count. As the two men got to their feet, Hulk went for broke. He scooped up the ponderous Bundy, lifted him in the air and attempted a body slam. As Hogan raised Bundy to shoulder height, however, Bundy shifted his weight ever so slightly against the champion. Beneath all of Bundy’s bulk, Hogan gave way, unbalanced, and fell onto his back with Bundy atop him.
Fighting off the shock of the fall, Hogan frustrated Bundy by kicking out, but remained on the mat while Bundy worked him over with fists, elbows, and feet, using the rope several times as a brace and for leverage.
Snarling, Bundy kicked Hogan under the bottom rope to the arena floor. As the Hulkster tried to claw his way back, Bundy grabbed him, dragged him under the ropes to center ring and hammered his back with savage elbow smashes. Then, no effort showing on his face, Bundy seized the 302-pound champion and shocked him with a thunderous bodyslam. A stunned Hulk, on his back, was a perfect target for Bundy’s Big splash—only when Bundy came down, Hogan wasn’t there. He had rolled away and Bundy crashed into the canvas.
This time it was Hulk’s turn to go to town. Coming off the ropes, he rained fists and elbows on Bundy. Bundy went down but was able to shove Hogan away before he could gain a three count. Hogan was blazing mad. He went at Bundy and hit him with everything in his arsenal. The referee intervened and told the champion to stop illegal blows with his fists, and, inadvertently, gave Bundy time to recover. Almost, that is. Hulk was on him again in a flash punching Bundy and bouncing off the ropes. Bundy came back with a vicious elbow that downed Hogan, allowing Bundy to get a two count. After Hulk evaded the pin, Bundy locked his arms around the front of Hogan’s neck and head and pushed his shoulder into the champion’s back. Hogan’s eyes bulged from the pressure, which Bundy—his face contorted with effort—increased each second. Sweat gushed down Hogan’s face. His nostrils flared as he tried to keep breath going. He dug his fingers into Bundy’s arms but could not break the hold. The referee began to check the champion’s condition. The lock was cutting off the blood to Hogan’s brain and thus could put him out. The ref raised Hogan’s hand, then released it. With effort Hogan held it aloft showing he was still conscious.
The Hulkster dropped his hand once the referee was satisfied then lifted it on his own. The muscles in his arms tensed and suddenly as the fans roared, Hogan’s index finger went up, signifying Hogan had called on what he calls his “secondary survival system”—his reserves of endurance, courage and power. Rising to his feet and bringing Bundy up with him, Hogan hit his adversary repeatedly with elbows to the midsection. Bundy let go of the lock on Hogan’s head as the blows to the middle lifted the mammoth challenger off his feet. After Bundy missed a swing that could have taken the champion’s head if it had connected, Hogan stopped the challenger by sending him off the ropes into the Hulkster’s upraised boot.
Bundy went down. Hogan began another attack, coming off the ropes… and went down on his face. From next to the ring, Andre the Giant had snaked a hand under the bottom rope, grabbed Hogan’s ankle and tripped him.
Hogan scrambled to his feet, angrier than the fans had ever seen him before. His rage was awesome: his fury, white hot. And he went for Andre until the referee intervened. Gesturing and bellowing, Hogan demanded the referee move out of the way. His eyes were riveted on Andre, who snarled defiance.
Suddenly, the bell rang. The ref had taken matters in hand. He announced that, unless Andre left the arena, the match would be stopped and awarded to Hulk. This shocked Heenan and Bundy, who pleaded with Andre to leave. “Please, Andre,” begged Heenan, “it’s Bundy’s match. Please leave. Everything we worked for will be over.”
Andre, however, didn’t appear ready to do anything but get into the ring with Hogan, which would have suited the champion fine. The Giant seemed ready to enter the fray, even though Bundy and Heenan beseeched him to depart. A second referee stepped into the pack outside the ring to demand that Andre leave ringside. Meanwhile Heenan and Bundy continued to plead with the glowering, angry giant. In the end, the Giant gave in to his manager and stablemate Bundy. Glaring and pointing at Hogan, Andre backed away from ringside, then turned and strolled down the aisle, face frozen in anger. A television cameraman who got in the way was upended by the Giant, who growled and shoved his hand into the camera lens. And Andre was gone, leaving Hogan to attend to Bundy.
The bell signaled the resumption of the match, which Bundy began with a ripping eye-rake. Banging Hulk into a corner, Bundy seized the champion’s head and twice battered it into the turnbuckle. As Hulk tried to shake it off, Bundy tried a whip, which Hogan reversed, shooting Bundy into the buckle. Giving Bundy no chance to counter, Hogan rushed him in the corner and jolted him with a fierce short arm clothes line that snapped the challenger’s bald skull backward.
Now Hogan took Bundy around the ring, dragging him from corner to corner and, in each one, introducing his face to the buckle. Groggy and wobbly, Bundy shuttered under a series of backhanded chops by Hogan, who followed up with an Irish whip and elbow smash that put down the challenger. Eyes gleaming, the Hulkster dropped the elbow on the prostate Bundy, who evaded it. Hulk smashed into the mat and collapsed, while Bundy towered over him and bombed him with blows to the back of the head. Bundy went for a pin, but Hogan somehow got out with the two count.
The champion was in trouble. Bundy slung him into a turnbuckle, then with Hogan’s face down stood with all his 460 pound on the Hulkster’s back. Trying to regain his feet, Hogan was grabbed in a crushing Bundy bear hug, which the champion broke only after monumental exertion—and a hard elbow to Bundy’s glistening forehead.
The battle raged on, with Hogan getting the worst of it—a Bundy avalanche in the corner, a big splash on the mat and an attempt at a pin by the challenger.
That was when Hogan erupted. Exploding with strength, he tossed off Bundy, then rose to his feet, fists flying. Bundy blasted back, and Hogan just stuck out his jaw and dared him to go at it toe to toe. Bundy tried. The Hulkster blocked the right and came back with salvo of his own. The pounding left Bundy almost limp. Hulk went for a body slam and this time made it, leaving Bundy gasping on the mat. Hurting, Bundy slid out of the ring. Hogan went after him. They battled on the arena floor, with fury by the Hulkster that left Bundy reeling. Hogan shoved Bundy back into the ring, where he lay flat trying to regain his breath. Sensing victory, Hogan started to climb back into the ring. And then Heenan, crouched down to hide himself from the referee’s view, interfered, holding Hogan’s leg just long enough to force a countout, before Hulk finally dislodged his grip with a solid kick to the head.
When the announcement was made, Hogan was astounded. In total shock, he threw up his hands and dismay. Bundy raised his arms in triumph while Heenan whooped it up in the corner. Their celebration was cut short when Hogan knocked Bundy out of the ring, then reached over the top rope and grabbed a Heenan by the hair. Up went Heenan into the ring. The Weasel wriggled, squirmed and squealed in the champion’s grasp but was caught for good. Seizing Heenan by the collar and neck, Hogan raised him in the air. Arms extended, the Hulkster held Heenan over his head, shook him like a rat, then dropped him to the mat. Heenan yelled and writhed in pain. So Hogan did it again, and once more for good measure. The crowd went wild. Heenan rolled in agony close enough to the apron for Bundy to pull him out to safety and crawled to the dressing room, holding what appeared—and was later confirmed to be—a severely injured neck.
For Hogan, the beating he had administered to Heenan and Bundy somewhat made up for the loss, although the match really satisfied no one. Hogan had a win stolen from him and had suffered insult from Andre. Bundy did not win the title. Andre experienced another frustration in his campaign to destroy Hogan. There are many scores yet to be settled, and the event seen on NBC television foreshadows storms that will shake the WWF in the months to follow. [And indeed, this match would set about a chain of events that would reshape the WWF landscape. What fan in November of 1987 would have ever guessed that watching this match was the wrestling equivalent of Emperor Honorious watching the Visigoths coming over the hills, setting in motion the fall of the Holy Roman Empire?]
Next up, our feature article about Jake Roberts, the lethal loner. (Lethal loner? That sounds like when the car dealership gave me a Ford Pinto while they worked on my car.) We learn about how Jake can wrestle scientifically with the likes of Ted DiBiase or brawl with guys like Outlaw Ron Bass. He’s tall, lean, and as strong a steel cable. And although often outweighed and outmuscled, Jake has the advantage of speed and darting strikes. He also lives in his own world and is more likely to speak in whispers and proverbs than shouts and threats. But being a loner has its disadvantages. Jake has no one to watch his back and a long list of enemies. Jake himself says he doesn’t care. He does what he has to. In the meantime, he’ll take on anybody and keep climbing the mountain until he gets to the summit. And once there, will it be lonely? Sure, but that’s just how he likes it. (I wish we could have had just one appearance by Jake in the Royal Rumble in modern times. The pop his music would have gotten could have blown the roof off the joint.)
Next, coverage of Scott Keith’s favorite tag team, The Oregonians. The magazine says that those who dislike Demolition can take heart. Just as the warlike German barbarians known as the Vandals were finally stopped by the newly combined army of Greeks and Romans, Billy Jack Haynes and Ken Patera have teamed up to stop Mr. Fuji’s team of destruction. And these men from Oregon have the strength, power, and intensity to do it. “Ken and I are two men who’ve walked a hard road to get to where we are today,” Haynes says. “We see all people as equals and try to go through life peaceably. We’d had enough troubles in our time. But Demolition fired the first shot, and we’re ready to fire back with heavy artillery.” The first shot was not actually fired against Patera or Haynes. It was fired at Brad Boone, a rookie grappler who is Haynes’s cousin. Boone, teamed with Scott Casey against Demolition, was in the ring at the finish of a match and subjected to Demolition’s throat smashing finisher. But Demolition did not stop once they had taken care of Boone. They did it again and again. Billy Jack Haynes raced to the ring to save his cousin, only to be felled himself. That’s when Ken Patera joined the fray, though he was subdued as well. Battered but determined, when Patera and Haynes returned to the dressing room, they vowed vengeance. Demolition, however, is not worried. “They’ll never get anywhere against us,” Smash said when asked about the new duo. “They’re softhearted, mushy, and spineless.” Given the score that Patera and Haynes plan to settle, however, Demolition might want to keep on the lookout.
Next, can you smell what the Rock is cooking? We learn that Don “the Rock” Muraco recently saved Superstar Billy Graham from Slickster’s thugs, Butch Reed and the One Man Gang. (This was when Superstar, hobbled with injuries, retired and gave his spot to Muraco.) Reed and Gang are now promising to put the Rock out of wrestling too.
Next, an article about the Beefcake/Valentine feud. This, of course, is a spinoff of what happened at Wrestlemania III when Beefcake and Valentine split up. “Greg Valentine,” Beefcake says, “we were once friends. But no more and never again. Let me tell you something. I’m coming after you!” Valentine, for his part, says, “He knows he can’t stay in the ring with me and not get hurt. He’s mine, baby, all mine.”
Next, an article about Strike Force. How long can they hold onto the tag team title? They’ve got The Hart Foundation still chasing after them, the Islanders nipping at their heels, and Demolition waiting in the wings. “Neither Santana nor Martel has the incredible strength of Demolition, so they will have to rely on strength and skill.” The magazine sums things up by saying, “Whichever of the three challenging teams goes against Strike Force, each of the them has a manager. Any one of these masterminds could map out a strategy for winning on the back of a matchbook. Strike Force has no such help. But they do have the title, and they will fight to the last breath to hold onto it.”
Next, one of the paparazzi snapped a photo of Andre having dinner (above) and then ran for his life.
We move on to WWF Lowdown… Dangerous Danny Davis lost to Sam Houston in Davis’s first singles match on national television. Now Davis is plotting revenge. Boris Zhukov, one half of The Bolsheviks, had to go to a special tailor to get a hat made big enough to fit his head. The Islanders are trying to get a title shot against Strike Force. Hacksaw Jim Duggan is in the midst of a feud with Harley Race. Now you’re up to date!
Wrap Up: Lanny Poffo recently did some color commentary for the WWF and is compiling a book of poetry. The October 3rd broadcast of Saturday Night’s Main Event featuring the meeting the Megapowers received a 9.7 rating and a 30 share, meaning 30% of television sets on at the time were tuned in to the WWF ring wars. Rick Martel, Tito Santana, and Rick Derringer visited Spec’s Records and Tapes in Miami, Florida to talk about the hit song “Girls in Cars” and the rock ‘n’ wrestling connection. LJN has released a new line of wrestling stretch dolls featuring Hulk Hogan, King Kong Bundy, Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, George Steele and The Junk Yard Dog. Finally, Brian “the Boz” Bosworth of the Seattle Seahawks and ten of his teammates attended Saturday Night’s Main Event and Boz even got a photo with Hulk Hogan.
In Wrestler’s Rebuttal, Bobby Heenan says that the notes he supposedly wrote that were published in the last issue of WWF Magazine were fake news.
Here’s another WWF Crossword puzzle…
And that’s it for this week! See you next time for coverage of the first Survivor Series, as well as Starrcade 87. Meanwhile, check out my book, Chasing the Eclipse.