This week we look back at an issue of Inside Wrestling that went to press April 2, 1988 that sold for $1.75 in the U.S. and $2.50 in Canada. Fresh off WrestleMania IV and the first Clash of the Champions, let’s get right to the ratings and the roll call of champions.
We begin proper with Sincerely Yours, featuring letters from fans. Tobias from Hamburg, Maine writes in to say that a recent article claiming the wrestlers stick to the rulebook in Calgary is B.S. “What matches are you watching? Jason the Terrible is allowed to terrorize his opponents with a hockey mask! Makhan Singh just beat Leo Burke with a foreign object!” Scott from Oklahoma City writes in to praise Eddie Ellner for his touchingly reminiscent May article about the good ol’ days of professional wrestling when you had to watch low budget, shoddy productions on difficult to receive UHF stations. (Ah, my childhood.) Scott says that today wrestling is too big, making it next to impossible to differentiate the real fans from the new wave of trendy Hulkamaniacs. Meanwhile, psychiatrist Dr. Morton Weinskin from Skokie, Illinois writes in to praise Inside Wrestling’s Dr. Sydney M Basil for his insightful analyses of wrestlers and hopes we hear more from him in the future. Then there’s Russ from McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania who says he enjoys the monthly feature “Where Are they Now?” but wishes the magazine would include more stories about old time wrestlers still in the business, like Harley Race and Don Muraco. And finally, Fred from Mattapoisett, Massachusetts says the Road Warriors are the best tag team in wrestling today, and he hates the Powers of Pain and their slimy manager, Paul Jones. (Well, okay then.)
Onto Editor’s Notebook with Stu Saks, where Stu reports that ringside observers heard Hogan and Savage talking in the ring after Savage’s WrestleMania IV title victory. Hogan said, “Congratulations, Randy. You’ll make a fine champion. But brother, I’ll be back in a couple of months, and when I return…” But Randy cut him off and said, “You’ll get a shot, Hulk. That’s the least I can do for you.” Stu says the only conclusion he can draw is that Hogan believes he has just loaned Savage the title but thinks it’s still properly his.
In Behind the Dressing Room Door with David Rosenbaum, Dave says everyone’s talking about WWF champion Randy Savage’s title victory at WrestleMania IV, but there’s much more news in the wrestling world. To wit: Misty Blue is going to make her first tour in Japan, the Honky Tonk Man, should he continue to hold onto the Intercontinental Title, will celebrate one year as champion on June 2, and Al Perez & Larry Zbyszko have entered the Crockett Cup. Regarding Honky, Dave notes that he rarely cracks Inside Wrestling’s Top 15, but it’s time to start giving him more respect. “Honky Tonk’s reign is the fourth-longest in Intercontinental title history. Although fans hate him, his record speaks for itself. He finds a way to win or at least not lose the belt. NWA champion Ric Flair does the same thing, and he’s constantly ranked first or second. I’m not saying Honky is a better wrestler than Flair, but he goes about the business the same way, and I’ll continue to press for his inclusion in the Top 10 ratings. It’s only fair.”
We move on to On the Road With Craig Peters, where he talks about attending Clash of the Champions. He says that before the matches, all the fans were talking about WrestleMania IV. Craig asked one of them, “Why are you here and not at WrestleMania?” The guy said, “I can’t afford WrestleMania, and I can’t take off tomorrow from work.” Craig pressed him: “Why not watch it on television?” The guy answered, “No cable.” By the end of the show, however, no one was talking about WrestleMania. “Hey Craig, come here,” the guy said. “You know something? That was an amazing card. Absolutely amazing. I don’t care what happened at WrestleMania IV. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else but here today.”
In Names Makin’ News, Bill Apter shares the latest news: Dusty Rhodes has been stripped of his U.S. Heavyweight title and suspended after an altercation with Tully Blanchard where Rhodes also struck NWA President Jim Crockett. This also means Rhodes will not be able to participate in the Crockett Cup, where he was scheduled to team up with Nikita Koloff. J.J. Dillon is reportedly seeking a lifetime ban for Rhodes, claiming, “If one of the Horsemen did that, we’d be gone.” The vacant U.S. championship will be filled in a tournament in May.
In the WWF, Randy Savage defeated Ted DiBiase in the final round of a tournament to win the WWF heavyweight title, but nearly lost in the excitement was Demolition’s shocking victory over Strike Force for the WWF tag team title. Also, rulebreakers Bret Hart and Bad News Brown appear ready to feud after Brown eliminated Hart in a battle royal.
In WCCW, Kerry Von Erich lost the World Class heavyweight title to Iceman Parsons due to interference by Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts after the lights mysteriously went out. Several people contend that Angel of Death turned out the lights, but other witnesses claim they saw Lance Von Erich in the control area.
Eddie Gilbert is headed to Continental to wrestle, Paul E. Dangerously has added Col. DeBeers to his “Dangerous Alliance” in Windy City Wrestling, Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond defeated The Midnight Rockers for the AWA tag team championship, and Steve and Shawn Simpson won the World Class tag team belts from John Tatum and Jack Victory. That’s all for now, fans! See you at the matches.
We move onto The Insider with Eddie Ellner where Eddie says the big news isn’t Savage winning the WWF title or Dusty being stripped of the U.S. title. No, what’s really important is that Genichiro Tenryu pinned Stan Hansen to capture the Pacific Northwest Federation title in Yokohama, Japan. Regarding Savage, Eddie says he’s happy for him. Macho had become lost in the shuffle before WrestleMania IV but did not let fortune pass him by. “For years Savage was pegged for stardom; now he has the belt to prove it. Let the trumpets play: the Hulk Hogan era has officially ended!” Regarding Dusty, Eddie says the fight that led to the suspension wouldn’t have happened had it not been for Magnum T.A. provoking Tully Blanchard to begin with. “Magnum’s recovery is remarkable,” Eddie admits, “and a bold testament to the man’s impenetrable resolve, but his inability to accept limitations jeopardizes the careers of the same friends who supported him since his tragic injury. He now carries a baseball bat ‘just in case.’ In case of what? In case Tony Schiavone throws him a high hard one? The truth is, he’s looking for some action, and now it cost Dusty Rhodes his U.S. title and nearly cost Jim Crockett his life.” Finally, Eddie comments on Hansen’s loss. “The man who broke Bruno’s neck and nearly snapped Rick Martel’s back was pinned in the middle of the ring by Japanese great Genichiro Tenryu. No controversary, no protests. Now the word is Hansen is training with Bruiser Brody and preparing for a rematch, though how long those two can get along is anyone’s guess.”
Speaking of odd couples, Liz Hunter is On Assignment and can’t believe what she’s seeing: Kerry Von Erich and Michael P.S. Hayes have become friends. “What comes to mind when you think of avowed teetotaler Kerry Von Erich?” Liz asks. (Steroids, cocaine, painkillers?) “Christian values. Milk and cookies. Charity. Family.” (I meant that.) “And Michael Hayes? A six-pack and a bottle of Jack. Live fast, work hard, party always.” (That one sounds right.) But wrestlers inhabit a strange world.” (Well that’s for sure.) “The lines of friendship and animosity are often blurred, and men cut from vastly different cloth find themselves linking hands.” (You’re mixing your metaphors, Liz.) Meanwhile, Buddy Roberts is mad at Hayes for supporting the Von Erichs, and Gordy, who’s been wrestling in Japan, is mad at both Roberts and Hayes for not getting along while he’s been gone. “When I get back, I might have to kick both their ugly butts,” he says. Liz continues: “Yes there is trouble in the Freebird Kingdom, and adding to the confusion, the rumor is that Michael and Kerry may soon team up.” Kerry chimes in: “It’s no rumor. Michael is a different man. You wouldn’t recognize him.” Liz, however, is not convinced. When she stopped by to visit Michael in his hotel room, he was wearing a towel and sipping a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. Liz told him, “Kerry claims you’ve changed for the better, but you’re still going to have to convince me.” Hayes answered, “Look close here, Lizzy. Can’t you see my halo?” Liz laments that perhaps Kerry’s motorcycle accident hurt more than just his ankle. He may not have his judgment anymore.
Where are they now?
And now in 2022… Spivey, 69, no longer has his hair but is still around. Tony Marino died last year at the age of 90. Gito Mongol died in 2013 at the age of 82. (Incidentally, his tag team partner, Bepo Mongol, went on to become Nikolai Volkoff.) Mighty Igor died in 2002 at the age of 70.
Onto Capsule Profile…
And onto News from the Wrestling Capitals…
Next, Matt Brock’s Plain Speaking, where cranky ‘ol Matt says, “Let me get one thing straight. I don’t like it when professional wrestlers use this great sport to advance their careers in other areas, especially crappy rock music.” Matt says he makes it a point to show up late whenever a wrestling show advertises a concert before the matches, and he especially doesn’t like Michael Hayes using his fame to promote his own rock shows. Nonetheless, for the sake of journalism, he attended one of Michael’s shows, and thus he personally witnessed all hell breaking loose. “Hayes told the audience he wanted to dedicate ‘My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys’ to David Von Erich and invited Kerry and Kevin Von Erich up on stage. Then Buddy Roberts and Iceman Parsons showed up, and one thing led to another. Before you knew it, they were fighting, and Roberts even picked up a guitar and swung it at Kerry only to miss and hit Hayes, causing Hayes to miss his title match against Al Perez two nights later. Kerry took Michael’s place and beat Perez for the belt. A few days later, Perez and manager Gary Hart announced they were going to the NWA. Now Kerry and Kevin are friends with Hayes, and World Class fans are waiting to see what’s next!”
Matt then moves on to talk about Mike Tyson, saying he doesn’t seem to have any good challengers. “Hulk Hogan, Antonio Inoki or some other top wrestler would probably give Tyson his best run for his money. Of course, I have no doubt who would win. Wrestlers are multifaceted athletes; Tyson can only use his hands. He’d get destroyed.”
Onto WrestleMania IV. Matt says it’s no surprise Savage won the tournament. He’s young, talented, and hungry. On the other hand, Hogan yet again showed what a poor role model he is, sneaking into the ring and hitting DiBiase with a chair so Savage could score the win. “Did he want Savage to be a tainted champ? Maybe Hogan figured that since he couldn’t be champion, nobody could be.”
Speaking of which…
Inside Wrestling has heard from sources that Hogan attempted to use the Macho Man to take out DiBiase prior to WrestleMania IV. The sources say Hogan offered Macho upwards of $1 million (estimates vary) to injure DiBiase in March’s installment of Saturday Night’s Main Event in hopes of taking DiBiase out of the championship tournament. In the meanwhile, there’s speculation that DiBiase had plots of his own and his money was behind the reshuffling of the tournament brackets. Originally, the tournament was set up so DiBiase might wrestle Savage in the semi-finals before wrestling Hogan in the finals. This pleased Hogan because he liked the idea of Savage weakening DiBiase or vice versa before Hogan would wrestle the winner for the title. Instead, Hogan would have to wrestle DiBiase (should both advance) immediately after wrestling The Giant, and then possibly have to wrestle Savage for the title. “That concerned Hogan greatly,” said a friend of both who prefers to remain anonymous. Ironically, the schemes of both Hogan and DiBiase backfired in the end, with Savage winning the title and standing tall over both.
Onto the next article: Down But Not Out: J.J. Dillon’s Plan To Revitalize the Four Horsemen. The question keeps getting asked: when is J.J. going to replace the loss of Lex Luger and bring a fourth wrestler into the Four Horsemen? Most mat analysts agree that someone is needed to fill the spot so the wrestler can team up with Ric Flair when necessary—and watch Flair’s back when Tully and Arn are busy. But who is the ideal candidate? Some say Barry Windham. But Windham previously declined an offer to join the group. Another possibility is Sting. But could Sting ever trust the Horsemen? J.J. says he doesn’t like Sting and wouldn’t offer him the spot anyway. “My plan is to revitalize the Horsemen through a modified and stepped-up program of bodybuilding, exercise, diet, and advanced strategic training. And if need be, I can step into the ring myself.” (And if that doesn’t work, they can bring in BW.)
Next, our feature article: Kerry Von Erich and Michael Hayes Unite! Try to imagine Hulk Hogan and Ted DiBiase getting along. Or Jerry Lawler and Paul E. Dangerously chatting amicably. Or Sgt. Slaughter and The Iron Sheik teaming up. All these situations are unlikely to ever happen because of the deep hatred that exists between these men.
Michael Hayes and Kerry Von Erich forming a friendship? That’s even harder to believe. Yet they now speak of each other with only the most glowing praise and admiration. “There’s nobody with more integrity than Kerry Von Erich,” says Hayes. “And he’s got heart.” Kerry for his part says, “You know, Michael Hayes and I spilled a great deal of each other’s blood during our battles. But our new friendship is solid. We’ve grown up.” The article then recaps the history between the two before recounting the Michael Hayes concert that ended with a fight, leading to the Von Erich/Hayes friendship. During the fight, Hayes was hit with a guitar and suffered a concussion, forcing him to give up his match against then-World Class champion Al Perez. Since Gordy, the number two contender, was in Japan, the title shot went to the number three contender, Kerry. When Kerry won, Hayes was as pleased as if he had won himself. When Hayes wrestled Perez a few days later and the Angel of Death interfered, it was Kerry who ran to the ring to rescue Hayes. But can the two stay friends? Their partnership is a test of their experience and maturity.
Next up, an article about The WWF’s forgotten superstar, Ricky Steamboat. It’s been nearly a year since he lost the Intercontinental title, and he’s stuck in a road to nowhere blood feud with Rick Rude. (Technically, all his feuds are Blood feuds, right?) The time is now for Steamboat to arrange a meeting with WWF promoters and administrators and issue demands that will get him back into the public eye. A wrestler with his considerable scientific and aerial talents deserves to be treated with more respect.
We move on to an interview with the Stinger, who says he’s not only happy he hasn’t won the NWA heavyweight title, he’s happy he hasn’t won any titles. Interviewer Bill Apter says, “Sting, don’t get me wrong, but I think you’ve had one too many paint jobs.” Sting says, “Let me explain,” and then he goes on to say he’s gaining valuable experience, and the titles will come when he’s ready for them. Bill then points out that both Sting and Luger are out for the same prize and wonders if it affects their friendship. Sting says “no way.” He says it’s just fodder for the fans to talk about. He’s then asked if he’d like to be part of the Four Horsemen and says no. “I’m going to be king. You can’t do that by being courtier.” He finishes by saying, “I want to prove I’m for real, and the best way to do that is to get the gold. Luger, Windham, the Garvins and I are going to finally rid the world of the Horsemen. You can bet your house on it, Bill.” (Of course we’ve subsequently learned that Sting isn’t the best judge of character, as he’s basically the Susan Collins of wrestling, and it’s probably best not to bet the house based on his hunches.)
That takes us to One on One where Jerry Lawler and Eddie Gilbert trade insults…
And finally, we get a Blast from the Past!
See you next week, where we’ll look at Pro Wrestling Illustrated from this same period. And if you’re new here, be sure to leave a comment and check out the archive. Also, check out my website to see what books I’ve written!