This week we look back at an issue of PWI that went to press on the eve of WrestleMania IV and the first Clash of the Champions that sold for $2.25 in the U.S. and $2.95 in Canada. Just to get you all oriented, we’ll kick things off with Ratings…
We begin with The Mailbag, where Jonathan from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania says that years ago everyone was complaining about Andre not getting a title shot. Now he’s getting shots at the title and everyone hates him! Jonathan says there’s no reason to hate Andre just because he’s wrestling Hulk Hogan. We can support them both and let the best man win. Speaking of Hogan and Andre, Kris from Berwick, Pennsylvania is baffled by Tunney’s decisions following their Feb 5 match. Tunney said no one can reverse a referee’s decision, but what about when the Rougeau Brothers defeated the Hart Foundation in a 1987 title match in Canada only to have the decision reversed when it was discovered that the Rougeaus cheated? And how can Tunney say Andre surrendered the title but also say DiBiase didn’t obtain it by submission? Isn’t a surrender a submission? Meanwhile, Jim from Weston, West Virginia says he hopes Backlund can return to the WWF and get a shot at the title, as Bob has already proved he can beat Hulk Hogan. Then there’s Neil from England who is tired of people putting down new wrestlers simply because they haven’t proven themselves yet. He says Lex Luger and Bam Bam Bigelow are the future, but like flowers, wrestlers sometimes blossom slowly and take years to reach full bloom. Onto the AWA: Jim from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico asks why the announcers pretend the AWA has the best talent. “Well, let’s look at some of who they have. Adrian Adonis, who came after he was humiliated by Piper in the WWF, Tom Zenk, who chickened out in the WWF, and Bob Orton who couldn’t take the heat in his war against Muraco.” (Well, none of three would be there for very long.) And lastly, Holly from Vancouver says AWA president Stanley Blackburn is biased beyond belief toward champion Curt Hennig and she’s sick of it.
We move on to Ringside with Bill Apter: Eddie Gilbert has arrived in the CWA and is causing chaos. Meanwhile, Missy Hyatt announced she’s planning to take over Jerry Lawler’s TV show because of his eye injury. As of press time, Lance Russell is hosting. In the WWF, Sam Houston, who has toiled in preliminary matches, seems to have caught a break: he teamed up with Strike Force to defeat The Honky Tonk man and The Hart Foundation. Elsewhere, the fifth annual David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions will be held May 1 at Texas Stadium. (That would be the last of them.) In Puerto Rico, Carlos Colon defeated Samoan Afa to win the second annual $50,000 Gillette Cup tournament before 17,500 fans at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Back in the States, Road Warrior Animal has returned to action following his eye injury at the hands of Warlord and Barbarian. In non-wrestling news, Todd Okerlund, son of Mean Gene, is now playing in the NHL for the New York Islanders. (That wouldn’t last long.) The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express has arrived in World Organization Wrestling and are feuding with the Fargos, who aren’t really Fargos. (They’re Pat Rose and Marcel Pringle.) The Rock ‘n’ Rolls are scheduled to leave for a Japan tour shortly. In World Class, Terry Taylor defeated Matt Borne in Dallas to win the Texas title. (Which came first, the chicken or the clown?) And Masa Chono is now the World Wrestling Alliance heavyweight and TV champion after defeating Mike George in St. Joseph Missouri. Elsewhere, Bulldog Bob Brown and the Cuban Assassin defeated Rick Patterson and Steve Ray in the final round of a tournament for the vacant Central States tag belts. Jack Victory and John Tatum lost their Wild West belts to Shawn and Steve Simpson but still hold the World Class Texas tag belts. And finally, in Stampede Wrestling, Owen Hart and Chris Benoit are feuding with Makhan Singh and Johnny Smith. That’s all for now! See you at the matches.
From the Desk of Stu Saks... Stu is happy Hogan lost the title because it preserves Bruno Sammartino’s record reign of seven years. Stu says not to get him wrong: he doesn’t hate Hogan. He just thinks Bruno’s better. And while any kid is probably going to say his favorite athlete from the present is better than any athlete from the past, that’s because kids don’t know any better. Stu points out that by 1977, Bruno’s two title reigns covered 79 percent of the WWF’s history. But it was the seven year reign that seemed to matter the most to wrestling fans, and while Hogan’s supporters began to think Hulk could surpass it, it’s likely now that Sammartino’s record reign will continue to last for some time. “For this reason alone, I’m glad Hogan lost. There is no chance now Bruno will ever lose his revered spot in history.”
Moving along, it’s In Focus with Craig Peters… Craig says rumors are that World Class and Stampede may have some tag teams in the Crockett Cup, but it wouldn’t surprise him if the deal doesn’t come together. Why? Because there are too many quibbles in the negotiations. Who pays for airfare and hotels? Who pays for the teams’ entourages? How do you slice up the videotape profits? What Craig wants to know is who is going to set aside greed and personal pride and put the fans first? Next, Craig talks about Kendall Windham. He’s floundering, and he needs help. Craig suspects big brother Barry Windham is fearful of helping Kendall for fear of overshadowing him, but Craig says Barry needs to do something now or Kendall’s career might well be over. (Let’s hope Kendall doesn’t turn to a life of crime.)
Next, No Holds Barred with David Rosenbaum… Dave attended a Michael Hayes and the Badstreet Band concert at the Sportatorium in Dallas. Most people came to see Hayes the famous wrestler and didn’t really care about the band. (Dave says Hayes looked like a bad imitation of David Lee Roth.) In fact, the fans themselves were of questionable character and wore things like Mötley Crüe T shirts. Some of the women even had tattoos! Dave notes that they probably weren’t there for the political or sociological importance of Hayes’ music, and it was what it was.
This month in Off the Top Rope with Eddie Ellner… Eddie notes that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express are currently plying their trade in World Organization Wrestling, an independent federation located in the twin metropolises of Pensacola, Florida an Mobile, Alabama. He says, “Is this the end for them? Don’t count on it. Like aging rock stars, as long as someone will pay their freight, this twirpy tandem will still be around. And there will always be some promoter desperate enough to book them. So look for them in your neighborhood, provided the population of your town is under 850.” (Well, that was pretty much dead on.) Eddie then reaches into his mailbag for some letters. One fan says Dusty Rhodes is the world’s greatest man. Eddie says “Can the end of the world be far behind?” Another fan asks if Eddie feels bad for the way Hogan lost the title. Eddie says no. “Years of deceiving the public finally blew up in Hogan’s face, and although I’m fearful that Hogan will regain his title, there exists hope that someone like Randy Savage or Bam Bam Bigelow may rescue the belt.” Another letter asks Eddie what the biggest problem in wrestling is. Eddie says “politics.” He says it’s driving away men like Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen and may drive away Lex Luger, Randy Savage, and Bam Bam Bigelow. Lastly, a fan from Pasadena, California writes in to ask if he can be Eddie’s protégé. (Oh boy.) The fan offers to send in a sample of his work. Eddie replies, “I am not familiar with the moral code in California, but here in New York solicitation is still a crime.”
Next, an article about the WCCW champ: While World Class Burns, Al Perez fiddles. (That’s deep.) The gist here is that Perez is happy so long as he’s champ and doesn’t care about the chaos around him. How’s Fritz doing after the Christmas day attack? What effect will Michael Hayes have on WCCW? Who cares? All that matters to Perez is that he’s still champ. (And by March 27, he’ll have lost the title and bolted to the NWA, making an appearance at Clash of the Champions.)
Next, a Press Conference with Hulk Hogan, which is a conglomeration of two press conferences arranged by Vince McMahon for the media: one just before the February 5 match with Andre and one a few weeks later to promote WrestleMania IV. From the first one, Hogan’s asked if he’s afraid of Andre. Hogan says, “No, I’ve already beaten him. Everybody saw it.” Hogan’s asked what his relationship is with Andre. He says, “I’m not discussing that anymore.” The PWI guys then point out that in 1980, Hogan was the rulebreaker and Andre was the fan favorite but now they seem to have switched places. “How did that happen?” Hogan says PWI is wrong and that’s not the way it was in 1980. However, Andre does seem to be getting more bitter with each passing year. “But like I said,” Hogan continues, “I wouldn’t say that he was the fan favorite and I was the bad guy. I differ with that. I think you’re off-base with that one.” Moving on to after the title loss, Hogan is asked about his thoughts and says, “I’ve been living in a dream world and Andre the Giant is my worst nightmare. All I can say is that Andre can say he’s the World champion, but anybody who watched on NBC saw that the referee was totally wrong. In my own mind I know that Andre never beat me. Just before I came in this room, I saw a little teeny Hulkamaniac in a wheelchair. I went up to him and he said to me, ‘You know something, Mr. Hogan, we have no more role models left. There are no heroes. They’re all doing drugs or getting involved in sex scandals. You’re the last American hero.’ That registered with me.” Hogan is then asked about the guys in the tournament. Regarding Andre, he says he’s ready for him. Ted DiBiase? “Boring as the Olympics.” Randy Savage or Bam Bam Bigelow? “I’d just have to go out and beat ’em to get the World title back. They’re nice guys, but they’re going down.”
Next, an article about Mike Rotundo and The Varsity Club. Mike recently wrestled Sting to a time limit draw, stunning some fans who thought Sting would win easily. Fueled by their collegiate skills and led by Kevin Sullivan, Rotundo and Rick Steiner are making their presence felt throughout the NWA in singles and tag team matches. Sting, for his part, says the draw was his fault as he misjudged the time and let the win get away from him. He says it’s okay though because he’s still learning, and the experience will make him a better wrestler.
We move on to an article about Brutus Beefcake and how well he’s come along. Even Matt Brock is impressed with how much the wrestler has improved since 1985, with recent wins over Greg Valentine especially impressive. “He really does have quite a style,” Matt says. “Every move he makes is designed to put his opponent away. Nobody scoffs at him anymore. How many guys have proven the critics, the fans, and most important, his opponents wrong?”
Next, Scouting Reports looks at tag teams…
We move on to coverage of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. The Midnight Rockers: they met in the CWA. In fact, Ricky Morton specifically asked for the match saying, “We want a match with these Rockin’ Midnighters.” Upon being informed of the challenge, Shawn Michaels said, “Please inform Mr. Morton that these tag team champions will be more than happy to grant a bout with those aging, fading, has-been singers. And please inform Mr. Morton that the correct name is The Midnight Rockers.” Marty Jannetty added that The Rock ‘n’ Rolls used to be good five years ago or so, but if The Rock ‘n’ Rolls are the Beatles, the Rockers are U2. “They’re yesterday’s heroes, but we are here today.” Fans packed Memphis’ Mid-South Coliseum envisioning a thrilling bout, and they got their money’s worth. In the end, after a controversial finish involving two different referees, the match was declared a draw. One week later, they wrestled again and the Rockers defeated the Express with help from Manny Fernandez. Many in attendance, however, were saddened by the animosity the teams had developed for each other. “They’re two of the best representatives of high-flying action you don’t see much of anymore,” said Marge Jensis, a fan from Memphis. “Now they’re trying to rip each others’ throats out like mad dogs. I don’t like it one bit.”
Arena Reports! Billy Jack Haynes is out of the WWF, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan is picking up his bookings. Meanwhile, Nikita Koloff & Paul Ellering are taking turns subbing for an injured Road Warrior Animal.
Breaking News! The NWA and WCCW are have opened negotiations for a possible talent exchange to augment The Crockett Cup and Parade of Champions. Specifically, the NWA would like to have Kerry and Kevin Von Erich in the Crockett Cup and WCCW would like to have Flair back at the Parade of Champions. (Well, none of that happened.) In other news, Sgt. Slaughter is back in the AWA. He says Curt Hennig has turned his back on America, and he’s coming after him. Elsewhere, Big Bubba Rogers has been negotiating with the WWF, but there are some disagreements.
Lastly, we look at this month’s PWI Poll: this month, we find out what fans think about the situation where Greg Gagne defeated AWA champion Curt Hennig in a steel cage but did not win the title according to AWA president Stanley Blackburn because of AWA bylaws. Not all promoters agreed with decision, prompting some to declare Gagne the real champion and Blackburn to threaten retaliation.
And that does it for this week. Next week we finally get to WrestleMania IV/Clash of the Champions! I leave you with Ratings Analysis: