From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in January of 1987 that sold for $2.50 in the U.S. and $3.25 in Canada. With a cover featuring Andre, we’re teased with stories about the Ultimate Warrior, the One Man Gang, and the Survivor Series. Are you ready?
Before we get into the magazine proper, I want to address a question from Darryl Stewart regarding Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Inside Wrestling, and The Wrestler. He asks, “What are the Most Popular and Most Hated were based on? The volume and type of fanmail they received for/about each wrestler? Their attempt to gauge the level of sound each generated in the arenas?” Here’s Senior Editor Bill Apter to explain how all the various ratings were compiled: “That was one of our most popular features, and most fans took the ratings very seriously, as did the promoters and wrestlers. Sometimes they were taken too seriously. This is how it worked: for the ratings for each company, once or twice a week, I would spend many hours on the telephone calling most of the wrestling offices around the United States to gather information and run through a preliminary list of ratings I had already prepared, talking with guys like Gorilla Monsoon, Verne Gagne, Stu Hart, and J.J. Dillon. They’d tell me if there were plans for someone to be on their way up or on their way down, or suggest I eliminate a name altogether. So those ratings were all a work. For the most popular and most hated rankings, we did look at sales figures based on who was on the cover and read all the letters we got, so the ratings were based heavily on that. The hardest category was the Overall Top 10 because each of the major federation world champions would take offense if he wasn’t the number one guy.” (Can you imagine talking to Monsoon about the WWF’s top ten? “Don’t commit his name to memory,” he’d probably say about someone. “He won’t be around here long.”)
Onto WWF Magazine. A couple of notes here: first, while my wife initially mistook my magazines with Elizabeth on the cover for Playboys, there was no such problem with this issue. Second, it seems that WWF Magazine was tinkering around with the prices around this time. A few months back, the magazine was selling for $2.25/$3.00 in the U.S./Canada, then they went to $2.95/$3.95, and now we’re at $2.50/$3.25.
We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti, who says the magazine has had to increase expenditures to provide better coverage. He says you may notice a slight increase in the price, which the magazine is using to add more sophisticated equipment for their photographers, writers, and stable of reporters to use. Ed then goes on to say Wrestlemania IV is just around the corner, and every wrestler is vying for a spot—and the staff will be covering it all. (Will Andre the Giant have a path to Wrestlemania?) More on Wrestlemania IV next issue.
The Survivor Series is now on video cassette! You can watch it again and again on VHS or Beta for just $42.95. (Prices slightly higher in Canada.)
In Fan Forum, fans write in to answer the question, “Who is the most powerful wrestler in the WWF?” Jill from Bayonne, New Jersey says Davey Boy Smith. George from Niceville, Florida says Andre. Many fans say the Ultimate Warrior, including Matt from Toledo, Ohio who says “The Honky Tonk Man is going to have some sleepless nights worrying about this guy.” Shifting gears, Peter from Deer Isle, Maine says Rick Martel and Tito Santana are his two favorite wrestlers, and so he’s thrilled their teaming up and they’ve won the tag team title. On the other hand, Sheila from Arcadia, California wants to see Strike Force lose the belts as soon as possible. She also says that with a good manager, Bret Hart could easily become IC or even heavyweight champ. (She does know he has a manager, right? Or is that a way to throw some shade at Jimmy Hart?) Christine from Toms River, New Jersey agrees and says, without any evidence, that Strike Force cheated to win the belts. And finally, Katherine from Connecticut says she really loves Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake. “They’re my favorite wrestlers. I think they’re the greatest.”
Moving along, we get WWF List of… toughest matches.
- Gorilla Monsoon: “My toughest match was against Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden. We fought for an hour and 34 minutes.” (Highly unlikely.)
- One Man Gang: “I ain’t never had a tough match with nobody.”
- Junk Yard Dog: “The one I had with Randy Savage in The Wrestling Classic. I had a bye in an earlier match. Savage didn’t. I was lucky.”
- Randy Savage: “My match with Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III.”
- Bam Bam Bigelow: “Last year when I won a battle royal.”
- Jake Roberts: “It was a match I had against Ricky Steamboat. We pulled out all our physical and psychological weapons, and we both got disqualified. Just as well.”
Newsbreakers:Piledriver has gone gold! (In Canada) “Piledriver and its success are one more testimony to the varied abilities and talents of WWF stars and personalities both in and out of the wrestling ring.”
We move on to more news, as Ted DiBiase has bought Andre the Giant from Bobby Heenan. When Hogan wouldn’t sell the WWF title, DiBiase looked for someone who would, and he decided that someone is Andre, who attacked Hogan after a match on Saturday Night’s Main Event, where Andre was substituting for Heenan as King Kong Bundy’s manager. Of course, for the scheme to work, Andre has to defeat Hogan, who has held the WWF championship for four years. We then move on to full coverage of that Hogan vs. Bundy match, which Hogan won before being choked out by Andre.
Personality Profile: We learn about The One Man Gang. The magazine says his name says it all.
As a special bonus, here are the rankings from Inside Wrestling for this time period. (Too bad there weren’t any good tag teams at this time.)
Next, an interview with the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time, The Honky Tonk Man. He’s asked what he thinks about Randy Savage being out for vengeance after Honky hit him over the head with a guitar and shoved Elizabeth to the mat. Honky says, “Lemme tell you something, my friend. I’m whupped Savage to within an inch of his life. I’ve played my guitar on his thick skull. And I showed that girl Elizabeth not to get in the way of the Honky Tonk Man. What’s that say to you? It says Honky Tonk is too good for Savage. And that Honky isn’t afraid or him or nobody else.” The magazine then says, “You’ve mentioned Elizabeth. We’ve been wondering what you really think of her, in your heart of hearts. She’s a beautiful, desirable woman. Isn’t it true you’re attracted to her?” (I find this question entirely inappropriate, and whether WWF Magazine thinks Elizabeth is beautiful or desirable has nothing to do with the interview and should be kept to themselves.) Honky says he doesn’t care about Elizabeth at all, but Elizabeth is stuck on him is frustrated because Honky won’t go out with her. He says he has a girlfriend, and that’s Peggy Sue. (Kudos to the “Piledriver” video for showing Honky in his pink Caddy with Peggy Sue beside him, the Colonel in the back.) Then the magazine interviewer cuts him off and saying, “Enough about Peggy Sue. Looking back at your confrontations with Savage, it seems you’ve been lucky and that you had help from your friends.” (This is the worst interviewer ever!) Honky says, “Luck? I don’t need any. And who needs help when you’re against somebody who hides behind a woman’s skirt?” The magazine asks, “But aren’t you worried about Savage?” Honky says no. (I think he’s made that clear already.) He’s then asked about his video for his song, “Honky Tonk Man.” The magazine says, “Isn’t it true that the people in the video were paid to be there and to cheer? Weren’t they just actors?” Honky says, “They were actors who were my fans. They got paid because it was in their contract, but they were there for me.” The magazine says, “Let’s get back to Randy Savage. You seem to dismiss him as a threat. Aren’t you even a little worried?” Honky says Savage is the past. He’s the future, and he’ll be champion as long as he wants to be.
Battle of the Titans covers the Survivor Series, running down all the results.
We move on to an article about the Ultimate Warrior entitled Created for Combat where he’s compared to Achilles, Horatius, Leonidas, and Ragnar the Viking, among others. “Out of the minds have writers have come fictional men who stood tall above everyone else as well. Conan the Barbarian, Luke Skywalker, John Carter of Mars. And what about James Bond? The Terminator? Clint Eastwood? There is something about the Ultimate Warrior that invokes their essence. Other men come to the ring for fame, money and a demonstration of athletic prowess. Not the fierce-eyed man of whom we write. He comes for combat. Wouldn’t we all like to be Ultimate Warriors?”
Next, coverage of the 1987 Slammy Awards, including a breakdown of the winners.
Next up, a look a look at the impending conflict between the One Man Gang and Bam Bam Bigelow, a mat version of tank warfare. Slick says his man, the Gang, is ready. Oliver Humperdink says his man, Bigelow, is too. The magazine says Gang is bigger but Bigelow is faster. The article concludes by saying the matchup could be the greatest tank battle since World War II.
We then get a look at a special Private Merchandise Sale for the magazine readers. Save over 50% on these all time favorites! (These look suspiciously like lesser desired items they’re trying to clear out.)
Next, Private Eye catches up with Ted DiBiase at one of his winter residences. If you haven’t heard, he’s rich.
We move on to WWF Lowdown, where Steve Lombardi says the Ultimate Warrior’s war paint is a foreign object that shouldn’t be allowed in the ring. “It gets in your eyes and blinds you.” WWF Magazine did some investigating and learned from an inside source that Warrior uses plain paint that’s legal for ring use. The magazine also points out that Warrior wouldn’t wear something around his eyes that could blind somebody because it would blind him first. On another subject, wrestlers in the locker room have been marveling over how much Billy Jack Haynes and Ken Patera have improved as a team. Haynes and Patera have, in particular, gotten faster at tagging in and out and have become better at coordinating their moves. Also, an anonymous wrestler in the locker room has suggested something else on the tag team front: Honky Tonk Man should team up with Jimmy Hart to take on Randy Savage and Elizabeth. “Hart’s such a coward, he probably wouldn’t show,” says the wrestler. In other news, Don Muraco has been plunging his fists into a barrel of gravel for an hour each day to make them harder. Lastly, Rude has reportedly taken the money from his new WWF contract and spent it on pictures of himself to put on his walls at home.
Next, Wrap Up: Though he didn’t lose the title, Hulk Hogan still fuming over his November 28th loss on Saturday Night’s Main Event as well as his loss at the first Survivor Series. He says more people are watching the WWF than ever before, and it makes him really mad to know that Bobby Heenan’s Family got the better of him. He promises to do better in 1988. Speaking of the Survivor Series, 490,000 households ordered the event on pay-per-view. Since it was Thanksgiving, the WWF estimates that the households were actually comprised of larger groups than usual, meaning the audience was much greater than the numbers indicate. “Conspicuously absent from the Richfield Coliseum on Turkey Night was former WWF manager Classy Freddie Blassie. Blassie accepted an invitation to watch the Survivor Series at Lou Duva’s Seafood Grill & Sports Club in Totowa, New Jersey. If Lou Duva sounds familiar, it’s because he was Roddy Piper’s boxing trainer for Wrestlemania 2.” (Thanks for all that, though I doubt any fans were really wondering about Freddie Blassie or Lou Duva in 1988.) Elsewhere, Koko B. Ware visited Kempmill Record Store in Washington D.C. to promote the Piledriver album, and Randy Savage and Elizabeth appeared on City Lights, an interview program that airs on CBS in Philadelphia. (Savage pledged to win his war against the Honky Tonk Man.) Now your up to date!
Next, a special Rebuttal by Linda
McMahon Kelly, publisher of WWF Magazine…
And lastly, Crossword puzzle answers for the last issue. (I can’t share the new puzzle with you because I filled it out.)
That’s it for this week! Join me next week for a look back at the first Royal Rumble and the third Bunkhouse Stampede.