From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in April of 1987 that sold for $2.50 in the U.S. and $3.25 in Canada. With a cover featuring all the superstars in the WrestleMania IV tournament, we get full coverage of the event. Plus, we learn Dino Bravo may be a fraud. Let’s get to it.
We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti where Ed marvels at WrestleMania IV. He says that for some superstars, WrestleMania IV will remain the highlight of their career while for others, they’ll always wonder “what if?” (In my mind, despite Savage having better matches at other WrestleManias, WrestleMania IV was the pinnacle of his career and fits the first part of the description. It was probably Bad News Brown’s best moment as well. Meanwhile, perhaps Butch Reed did sit at home for the next 30 years thinking, “Man, if I just hadn’t spent all that time trying to climb to the top rope!”) Ed then says WrestleMania IV signifies the end of one WWF year and the beginning of a new one, and tomorrow is a new day that will bring new alliances and new feuds.
Next, in Fan Forum, readers write in with suggestions for the future. Kevin from Romney, West Virginia says he’d like to see a special story about Hulk Hogan and his four year title reign. (Not a bad idea; but the WWF isn’t about to acknowledge the existence of the Iron Sheik at this point, so no.) Kevin says he’d also like to win a “Lunch With Your Favorite Announcer” contest so he could have lunch with Gorilla Monsoon. (I suppose it’s a better choice than Mean Gene, who would probably expect the fan to pick up the tab.) Meanwhile, Evan from Beverly Hills says he’s been a wrestling fan for three years and loves the photographs in the magazine. Mike from Coaldale, Alberta praises the magazine as well, saying the layout is terrific. He especially likes the choice of having a table of contents at the beginning. (That is a genius idea that other publications should look into.) He doesn’t like Newsbreakers, however, and says it should be dropped. “Isn’t everything in the magazine news?” (Yes, Mike, but “Newsbreakers” is reserved for the latest breaking news.) Matt from Bruston, New York says he enjoyed the coverage of Survivor Series and is a big fan of the Young Stallions, no doubt the best-skilled and most talented new team in the WWF. “I think someday they will be the WWF Champions.” Catherine from Columbus Ohio praises the magazine for its coverage of the Slammys. And finally, Paul from Copertino, California says Matilda is a gross mutt who shouldn’t be allowed in arenas.
On to On the Mat, a newer feature about specific WWF grapplers. This month’s subject is Greg Valentine, who we’re told has “a computer system of strategies” running through his brain. As a singles wrestler, he won the Intercontinental Championship. As a tag team wrestler, he won the tag team championship. He’s now managed once again by Jimmy Hart but maintains his high-grade performance, competent execution of ring maneuvers, and determination to plow ahead.
In Newsbreakers, we learn that Rick Rude incurred the wrath of Jake “the Snake” Roberts when the random woman he picked out of the crowd to kiss him turned out to be Jake’s wife. (As I understand it, Jake had just gotten out of rehab and the angle was concocted so Cheryl could travel with him and keep him from falling off the wagon. By the way, twenty-some years after getting a divorce, Jake and Cheryl and started dating again in 2022!)
This month’s Personality Profile covers newcomer Bad News Brown, a man of the streets who’s just plain mean. (Poor Outback Jack is pictured being pinned and referred to only as “an unlucky opponent.”) So far, Bad News is undefeated. No mention is made of his son, future WWE superstar Bad News Barrett.
Next, we get an Interview with the Hart Foundation, who are still leaning heel. Neidhart is asked why he’s called “the Anvil” and he shares the story about how he threw a 100-pound anvil farther than anybody else. Hart is asked why he’s called “the Hitman” and he says, “‘Cause I’m a real shooter, baby.” The magazine then accuses the Harts of using underhanded tactics and Neidhart says they get into the ring to win, and if people don’t like that, that’s their problem. Jim adds that nobody’s ever beaten the Hart Foundation without outside help, which the magazine says is the pot calling the kettle black. Neidhart: “I’m starting to dislike you.” The magazine then moves on to ask them what they think about the other teams: Strike Force? “Pretty boys, that’s all.” Bulldogs? “Puppies.” The Islanders? “Kind of like us. They can handle themselves” Killer Bees? “Little girls.” Demolition: “Nobody’s better than us, but they’re close.” The magazine then asks what their financial arrangement is with Jimmy Hart. (Good God, isn’t that a bit personal?) Neidhart appropriately says it’s none of the magazine’s business. And finally, Hart and Neidhart are asked about their individual goals. Neidhart says it’s the same as their tag team goal: to win. Hart says he wants to get even with Bad News Brown. “I’m going to give Bad News all the news he can handle.”
Next coverage of Hulk’s run-in to save Randy Savage from Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase on Saturday Night’s Main Event. “Randy Savage was a lucky man that night, as he was once before, and he says he knows it.” Says Savage: “Hulk Hogan… The Macho Man owes him a great debt. And the Macho Man never forgets. How can I pay back Hogan for what he’s done for me? One way and one way only. Be the best.”
Next, a feature on a specialty match: the dreaded steel cage match. Two men go in. Only one comes out, either through the door or over the top. (On that subject: escaping through the door and winning is lame, and the idea that someone can win a title that way is stupid. I always preferred steel cage matches where you have a referee and can win by pinfall, such as Starrcade 83.) The matches are rugged and brutal, the type of contest that traditionally pits grapplers who have long-standing scores to settle.
This issue shows us photographic proof that the WWF didn’t always use the blue cage during this period.
Fans sometimes wonder why wrestler risk their all in cage matches. Sometimes the reason is revenge. Sometimes its bragging rights. Sometimes, however, it’s strategic. Inside the cage, a wrestler only has to worry about his opponent. Managers and other wrestlers cannot interfere. Strategies inside the cage, however, can differ. A big man can more easily corner his opponent. But a smaller man can more easily escape. Perhaps the ideal combination for a cage match is a man who is quick and strong but not huge, such as Randy Savage or the Ultimate Warrior. No matter who competes, however, it will always come down to the survival of the fittest.
I took this photo of Dolph Ziggler wrestling the Miz in a steel cage at Madison Square Garden. It was a fantastic match!
Next, an article about the Hebner twins. We learn that as kids, Dave would always try to do things the right way but Earl would always try to cut corners to get ahead. By junior high school, Earl fell in with a bad crowd. He’d skip school and was always up to mischief. Did Earl get a bad name? No, Dave did. Earl would impersonate his brother just to get Dave in trouble. He’d taunt other kids, only to identify himself as Dave and run. (How did that work exactly? Did he give the other kids wedgies and say, “By the way, my name is Dave”?) During senior year, he even called up Dave’s girlfriend and, once again impersonating Dave, asked her out on a date only to leave her in a bad neighborhood and drive off. After that, Earl drifted through life. He enjoyed a brief career as a professional wrestler but never made it to the main events. “I wouldn’t say Earl lacked talent,” said one wrestling promoter. “He just didn’t have the guts of the patience to make a career in the ring.” Meanwhile, Dave earned his spurs as a top referee in the WWF. People looked up to him. He developed a reputation as a fearless straight shooter who never picked favorites. Again, Earl was envious. He began hanging around arenas for the sole purpose of undermining Dave. During intermissions, youngsters would surround Earl to receive constructive advice from the man they believed was Dave. (Ah, yes. I remember the days of my youth when my friends and I would go to a WWF event so we could surround a referee and ask him for constructive advice about life.) Earl mocked and insulted them. “Get lost, creeps,” he would say. “I’ve got no time for you.” Earl’s charades did not go unnoticed. He finally caught the eye of Ted DiBiase. Always trying to stack the odds in his favor, DiBiase made a mental note about Earl in case it might come in handy in the future. Then came DiBiase’s attempt to buy the title and preparation for a match between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan. DiBiase contacted Earl and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. To Earl, it was the best of both worlds. On the night of February 5, at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Earl, wearing referee’s garb, entered through a side door and waited for a signal from DiBiase. In the dressing room, Dave was removing his shirt from a supply closet. Slam! DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil closed and locked the door, imprisoning Dave inside. By the time Dave caught somebody’s attention and was released, it was too late. Earl had done his dirty work, counting a pinfall and awarding the WWF title to Andre the Giant even though Hogan’s shoulder was off the mat. After the decision, WWF President Jack Tunney was sympathetic to Dave but had no choice to let the pinfall stand. It turns out Earl is licensed as a referee in the state of Indiana and in accordance to the bylaws of the Indiana State Athletic Commission, his decision was final. After the match, Dave Hebner was asked to be fingerprinted, and he is now fingerprinted for comparison before being allowed in any arena. But Tunney admits that even he doesn’t know for sure which Hebner was really fingerprinted in the first place. Earl remains the master of deception. Meanwhile, WWF Magazine has discovered that, courtesy of DiBiase, Earl is now a rich man. His payoff was apparently very large. He leaves obscenely large tips at restaurants and dates showgirls. He buys expensive cars. He has everything. Everything, that is, but the respect given to his twin brother.
Next, we get full coverage of WrestleMania IV…
To give credit where credit is due, the photographers did a good job of getting some nice shots in a place that was little more photogenic than a men’s room. (Interestingly, the magazine even acknowledges that the event took place at the Atlantic City Convention Center.) Also, the articles themselves make the matches seem more exciting than they actually were. It was great coverage all around, making WrestleMania IV seem better than it really was.
We move on to coverage of Hacksaw Jim Duggan knocking out Andre the Giant.
So about a month after Andre interfered in Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s match at WrestleMania IV, Duggan ran down to the ring to stop Andre from pounding some jobber. Andre got a hold of Duggan (inadvertently breaking open Hacksaw’s lip in the process, causing Duggan to bleed all over the place) before Duggan knocked out Andre with the 2×4. This led to a summer feud between the two, and the sight of Andre getting knocked unconscious was so well received by the fans, the WWF used a derivative of it on Saturday Night’s Main Event in the Fall when Andre had a confrontation with Jake Roberts and Damian.
In Private Eye, we learn about the WWF’s presence at the latest convention for the National Association of Television Programming Executives. Guests included Hulk Hogan, Mean Gene Okerlund, Scott Casey, Outlaw Ron Bass, the Conquistadors, Jose Luis Rivera, the Killer Bees, Mr. T, the Jumping Bomb Angels, and the Glamour Girls. There was even a ring set up and attendees got to watch some matches.
Next, WWF Wrap Up: King Kong Bundy guest starred on Married With Children (which was appropriate since the show’s family was named after him). In New York, WWF personalities hosted a luncheon with 80 members of the press. Attendees including Donald Trump, who addressed the gathering. (He was probably telling them that WrestleMania IV had a greater attendance than WrestleMania III.) Mean Gene Okerlund’s son had a spectacular performance at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, scoring a goal against the Russians. The magazine says he’s been signed by the Islanders and then clarifies: “The New York Islanders, not Haku and Tama.” And finally, Randy Savage and Elizabeth attended an auto show in Buffalo, New York.
Next, Wrestler’s Rebuttal, where Ken Patera writes about how Dino Bravo is the worst… wait, he says Dino’s “a fraud”. Well, that works too. (I think people have been unfairly blaming Dino for saying he broke the bench press record at the Royal Rumble. Let’s recap: Dino tried to lift the weight, struggled, and Jesse did what he was supposed to do, helping Dino get the weight back up to avoid injury. It was Mean Gene who was at fault, announcing it as a new world record despite no word said from Bravo or Ventura. At that point, can you blame Bravo for not coming forward and saying, “No, Mean Gene, you’re wrong.” I mean, Bravo could hardly speak English that well and probably didn’t even understand what was going on. It’s time we give him an apology.)
And here’s the Crossword Puzzle… where you’re supposed to guess which Japanese city Mr. Fuji hails from. (I didn’t know Honolulu was a Japanese city.)
And lastly Caught in the Act...
That’s it for this week! Tune in next week for a recap of Inside Wrestling. 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!