This week we look back at an issue of Inside Wrestling that went to press on April 28, 1988 that sold for $1.75 in the U.S. and $2.50 in Canada. Let’s go straight to the Ratings, where Bret Hart finally gets his name spelled right:
We begin proper with Sincerely Yours, with letters from fans. Amy from Stamford, Connecticut says it’s silly to knock the WWF for chasing money because all sports are businesses that do the same. Bill from Little Rock, Arkansas sings the praises of Kevin Sullivan and says he’s looking forward to when The Varsity Club finally has a confrontation with The Four Horsemen. Meanwhile, Charles from Waco, Texas who says he’s a big fan of the Von Erichs and says that given time, Kerry will regain the World Class Heavyweight Championship. (That’s a safe bet.) Then there’s Lisa from Reidsville, North Carolina who says children shouldn’t be watching wrestling because it teaches them that people who cheat and lie get rewarded. (So that’s why all the kids in my neighborhood were always putting their feet on the ropes.) Lisa also says that after Hogan’s loss to Andre on The Main Event she’s beginning to question her faith in wrestling. And finally, Gary from Rushford, Minnesota says he’s come up with a solution to the problem of champions getting themselves disqualified to save their titles. If a champion is disqualified three times in a row, the champion loses the match to the challenger in the third contest. (I don’t think The Honky Tonk Man would support this rule.)
Next, Editor’s Notebook with Stu Saks, where Stu says it’s usually tricky to get two wrestlers to agree to participate in Inside Wrestling’s One on One feature where two wrestlers talk on the phone. This month, however, it was a breeze. Dusty Rhodes came to the magazine and asked if he and The Midnight Rider could be taped engaging in a conversation to prove to everyone they’re two different wrestlers. Stu says, “If Dusty and The Midnight Rider are the same person, either Dusty was conversing with a tape recording or he set someone up to do an imitation of his voice. It doesn’t really matter though. The burden of proof that Dusty and the Rider are the same man rests on the shoulders of J.J. Dillon and his men.” (I was such a mark back in the day, I wondered how Dusty actually did it or if Dusty and The Midnight Rider were indeed two different people.)
Onto Behind the Dressing Room Door by David Rosenbaum where Dave talks about Barry Windham betraying Lex Luger and joining The Four Horsemen (with Tully and Arn winning the tag titles back as a result). Dave says Windham’s made a big mistake because now he won’t get a shot at Flair’s title or Tully and Arn’s tag championship. Dave also says Windham obviously knows this because it’s for these very reasons that he told Luger not to join the Horsemen in 1987. “So what does Windham do? He joins the Horsemen. Makes perfect sense.” Meanwhile, reporters have been trying to corner Barry’s brother, Kendall, to ask him what he thinks about it all. Kendall doesn’t really want to talk about it, however. (He’s probably too busy trying to dodge the Secret Service.) He does admit that he’s only seen Barry once since the whole thing went down, and concedes that Barry seems like a different person. Dave says the bottom line is that J.J. Dillon, Flair, Anderson, and Blanchard have no interest in Windham’s career. They’re just looking out for themselves, and in the end Windham will suffer.
Next, On the Road with Craig Peters where Craig shares that Inside Wrestling’s “Bring the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express Back” petition was a numerical success, with over 30,000 signatures. However, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, while touched by the response and personal letters people attached, say it’s just not in their best interests to return to the NWA, and they have to do what they have to do. “That doesn’t necessarily mean we hate the NWA or the fans there. See, people make that mistake, that when you leave one place for somewhere else, it’s because you didn’t like the place you left. That’s not true at all, at least it’s not true in our case. But what people have to understand is that change is good sometimes. In this case, I think change is going to do us a lot of good. And how knows? Someday we may very well be back in the NWA. Don’t count us out!” Meanwhile, NWA rings burn with the awe inspiring action of Fantastics-Midnight Express bouts, and the AWA has gained about 30,000 devoted new fans.
We move onto Names Makin’ News with Bill Apter: The Fantastics defeated The Midnight Express on April 26 in Chattanooga, Tennessee in a 40 minute match to win the U.S. tag team championship, ending a reign that had begun on May 16, 1987. Some more news of interest in the NWA: Ric Flair is scheduled to battle Lex Luger on July 10 when The Great American Bash Tour moves through Baltimore. This is one of 40 dates on this year’s Bash tour but will only be the NWA’s third appearance on pay per view, with the first being Starrcade ’87 and the second being 1988’s Bunkhouse Stampede. In other news, Diamond Timothy Flowers won the Canadian International Wrestling Association heavyweight title tournament on April 23 at the prestigious Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia. All matches were held in a steel cage. In Stampede wrestling, International tag champs Bruce Hart and Brian Pillman, a.k.a. Bad Company, are feuding with the Cuban Assassins. Meanwhile, former Stampede British Commonwealth champion Gama Singh is on a tour of South Africa. In the Central States (Kansas City), the CSA tag team title has been vacated and Stevie Ray and Rick Patterson, the last tag champs, have left the area. In the WWF, Bret Hart and Bad News Brown have renewed their Stampede feud. Rumors are that Hart will dump Hart Foundation teammate Jim Neidhart and form a team with his brother, Owen Hart. Owen, 1987’s Rookie of the Year, has recently been touring Japan and has made a few appearances in the WWF, though he’s currently busy defending his Stampede title against strongman Steve DiSalvo. In other WWF news, Randy Savage, in his first title defense at Madison Square Garden, lost by countout to Ted DiBiase though he retained the title, and Sherri Martel was recently successful defending her women’s title against Desiree Peterson. Meanwhile, John Studd is negotiating with the WWF for a September return. Elsewhere, in Memphis, Jerry Lawler recently defeated Eddie Gilbert’s bounty hunter Robert Fuller and won Missy Hyatt as his maid for the day. And in Alabama, Mr. Ito won the World Organization Wrestling heavyweight title by defeating Hacksaw Higgins in the final of an April 18 tournament. In other WOW news, Mr. Olympia is now the WOW U.S. champion and will tour Japan this summer. And in Continental, the board has recalled all of the CWA singles titles and announced plans to declare one champion. Alabama champion Tony Anthony, Southeast champ Lord Humongous, and Continental champ Dutch Mantel have been asked to return their belts, and a tournament will happen with a final round in Birmingham. In the meantime, the CWA will recognize AWA champion Curt Hennig as its champ. Things should start heating up in the territory, with Shane Douglas, Terry Taylor, and Paul E. Dangerously all negotiating contracts with the promotion and Wendell Cooley already headed to the area. That’s all for now! See you at the matches.
Onto The Insider with Eddie Ellner: “The champion is losing badly, his strength and resolve sapped by an aggressive foe. The crown he has worn for years is in jeopardy. His reputation as an indomitable ring legend is clearly threatened. Experience will not help him now. He is too old, too tired. His body is too weakened from years of beatings. What should he do? Concede graciously to the inevitable passage of time? Hurl his worn body at his opponent in a bold, final attempt to preserve his title, determined to leave the ring in a manner appropriate to his legend? Or he could scurry from the ring like a pigeon-hearted sloth, aware only that without the title-generated income he will be unable to maintain payments on his beachfront condominium. Introducing, in the corner to my left, wearing gold trunks and possessing the heart of a pigeon, Ric Flair. For years, Flair has eluded defeat by an uncanny and unprecedented ability to disqualify himself in the heat of battle. A scoop of hair here, an ill-concealed foreign object there, perhaps a closed fist in view of the referee. Myriad were the ways in which Flair could provoke an early exit. It was the art of losing. Some suggest that if Flair spent his time concentrating on winning rather than on getting himself disqualified, his record would be unblemished. His brand of talent may never come oru way again. In Flair, there were several tiers of strength, wisdom, and technique blended in subtle composition. Flair was not distinguished by rippling biceps or gravity-defying backflips. He was just better than everyone else he wrestled. But he has opted for the easy life both in and out of the ring. Why work when the rules reward you for cheating? If you could lose and still walk away with the strap, what difference did it make? Rather than expand on his abilities, exploring and stretching their boundaries, Flair preferred to take his money and leave. If history were to regard him with contempt, what did he care? History wasn’t drinking expensive champagne with leggy models or jetting around the world in a private plane. After each ignominious defeat, with the jeweled belt still adorning his waist, Flair would point and say, ‘I’m still the champ, aren’t I? You may feel I lost the match, but this belt proves otherwise.’ Unfortunately, it did. If no one could take his title, he was champ. On rare occasions, with the dream of competition awakened in his bloodstream, Flair would favor the world with a demonstration of his talents. A 45-minute war against Sting. A 60-minute battle against Lex Luger. He’d make us forget the tawdry manner in which is losses diminished the sport. The legend would endure and insulate him from further criticism. Four times he lost the title; four times he battled like a lion to regain it. But Flair has tested the patience of his most devoted followers. Now, when the going gets tough, Flair gets going… out of the ring. No longer does he put forth the effort to earn his disqualification. Instead, he simply walks, as he did in a recent title bout against Nikita Koloff. Tommy Young forced him back to the ring where the match ended, naturally, with Flair getting himself disqualified. Koloff demanded an investigation into the match to no avail. The NWA offices denied his inquiry. The longer Flair, the federation’s standardbearer, is permitted to flout the rules and walk away laughing, the worst it reflects upon the federation. What has always separated the NWA from the WWF is its integrity. With Flair’s latest escapade, the federation risks losing the best edge it’s got in the sport.”
Be sure to get the hottest new video tape on the market, Slant-Eyed Slaughter, featuring all your favorite Japanese women wrestlers! Find it wherever racist video tapes are sold, and be sure to keep on the lookout for next month’s releases, Wet-back Wonders and Glamourous Gooks.
Next, On Assignment with Liz Hunter, where Liz says hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, save for a jealous husband can smother the dark gods just as dramatically. Specifically, Rick Rude is making a public play for the wife of Jake Roberts and Roberts is responding with rage and anguish and has vowed to murder Rude on sight. With Rude, the dominant trait has always been his conceit that every woman worships the ground on which he walks and the air that he breathes. Lately, he has obliged a tiny slice of his adoring public by selecting a lucky lady at random from the crowd and soul-kissing her deeply in the mouth. His latest attempt at a smooch was aimed squarely at the lips of Mrs. Jake Roberts. She slapped Rude across the face before a hasty exit from the arena. Despite the slap, Rude insists Mrs. Roberts is smitten as a mitten. Roberts, for his part, refuses to speak to the media about the incident. That’s a change for Roberts, who would always make time for reporters in the past, even as a rulebreaker. Now he’s even unapproachable in the locker room by fellow wrestlers, with one claiming he asked Roberts for a spare towel and nearly had his head taken off. “He used to stop and have a beer with the boys and spin some stories, y’know,” says the wrestler. “But Rude is driving him nuts. I’ve never seen him so intense.” Liz says she’s known Roberts for years herself, and he’s more devoted to his wife than most know. “Once, a preliminary wrestler passed an innocent remark about the way Mrs. Roberts filled out her dress, and Jake thrashed him badly.” Another wrestler points out that Rude is underestimating Mrs. Roberts. “She’s totally devoted to Jake. She loves the guy.” Liz ends the article by saying that if Rude can pull himself away from his mirror to read this, he’d be doing himself a favor.
Where are they now?
Two Ton Harris died in 2002 at the age of 75. Rene Goulet died in 2019 at the age of 86. Miguel Perez Sr. died in 2005 at the age of 68. Dennis Condrey is still around and is now 70.
Onto Capsule Profile, featuring a rundown of the career of Brutus Beefcake.
Onto News from the Wrestling Capitals…
Next, Matt Brock’s Plain Speaking, featuring everyone’s favorite fictitious field reporter. Matt begins with a tip: never leave your car in the WMC-TV Channel 5 parking lot when attending a CWA TV taping. “I learned my lesson the hard way. Eddie Gilbert and Jerry Lawler got into a brawl that spilled into the hallways to the parking lot. Yes, that was my car they ended up fighting on, with $1,300 in damage ultimately billed to my employer.”
Matt then talks about visiting Puerto Rico, where he saw Carlos Colon regain the World Wrestling Council Universal title from Hercules Ayala. “I’m not one for frying my skin, and I don’t see what’s so great about a 95-degree slum where you can’t drink the water without fear of infection, but if you like wrestling, Puerto Rico’s not a bad place to be because people here love this sport.” Brock says Colon needs to be on the lookout because Dan Spivey is due to join the promotion soon. “He’s scheduled for a title match on May 8, which I’d like to see. I’d like to see it in Chicago or New York, but unfortunately it’s going to be in Puerto Rico, and I’m not coming back here for another couple of years.”
We move on to Dallas, where Matt says he talked to referee John Keaton, who counted the pinfall that gave Iceman Parsons the World Class title despite the fact that the lights had gone out. “Frankly, I don’t understand how the decision could stand,” Matt says. “If the lights went out in a stadium during a baseball game, would they keep playing? I asked Keaton about it, and he said, ‘There’s nothing in the rules that stipulates what must be done in this situation. There was no reason to stop the match.’ Sorry, Keaton, but I’m not buying it. In my opinion, you’re incompetent and should be fired and the decision should be reversed.”
Lastly, Matt talks about Barry Windham joining the Four Horsemen, saying it doesn’t make any sense for Barry to join since A: he doesn’t need them, B: he wants the World title, and C: he knows they’re just a bunch of con men and told Luger as much before watching Luger join the group and seeing how it all fell apart. “I always thought Windham was an intelligent man. How ironic that Luger is out and Windham is in. How sad too.”
Next, an article about the Honky Tonk Man’s Intercontinental title reign. Nobody thought he’d hold it this long, but in just two months, on August 2nd, he’ll pass the record currently held by Pedro Morales, who defeated Don Muraco on November 23, 1981 in Madison Square Garden before losing the belt to Muraco in the same arena on January 22, 1983. (I actually watched Honky defend the title against Hacksaw Jim Duggan on July 31, 1988 and had recently read this article. I don’t know if he had a title defense the next day, but I said to myself, “If he can get through this match without losing the title, he’s probably going to set the record!”) Dave Rosenbaum says, “I think we in the press have been too quick to condemn the Honky Tonk Man. So he likes to sing and dance. What’s wrong with that? Randy Savage likes to sing and dance too; you just don’t read about it.” The magazine then points out that Honky has taken on all comers, including Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, but none has been able to take the IC title from him. “The truth is that in a sport where championships can be won and lost in a matter of weeks, longevity is a genuine mark of greatness. Ric Flair has built a career out of that fact. Bruno Sammartino is remembered by many not for the excellence of his technique, but for the length of his title reigns. It won’t be long before Honky, should he still have the title, will deserve consideration as one of the best. Who will be able to deny him that?”
Next, Inside Wrestling speculates that Missy Hyatt might dump Eddie Gilbert. “Remember John Tatum. Beware, Eddie Gilbert, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” Less than two years ago, the love affair between Tatum and Missy was the hottest item in wrestling, but then Gilbert entered the picture. Missy never had a very long attention span, and before long she and Gilbert formed Hot Stuff and Hyatt Incorporated. Tatum was out of the picture and Hyatt was walking around on Gilbert’s arm. Then last year, Gilbert and Hyatt were married. But will it last? Missy’s eyes appear to already be wandering. She’s recently been seen with Scotty the Body, who says Missy has promised him a date if he could beat Jerry Lawler. Gilbert, for his part, says he doesn’t blame Scotty for wanting to go out with his wife, but he’s not worried. Missy, meanwhile, insists she would never cheat on Gilbert. But Missy has a history of using men for her own gains, and only time will tell what the future holds for the two lovers.
Next, What Randy Savage Must do to Escape the Shadow of Hulk Hogan. The article points out that Hogan keeps bailing Savage out of trouble, and to many fans, it looks like Savage can’t do anything without Hogan there to help him. “Perhaps Savage would have been better off if he had absorbed a more brutal beating at Honky Tonk’s hands on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Maybe he could have fought his way out of trouble when DiBiase, Virgil and Andre attacked him a few months later. And who knows? Maybe he would have somehow escaped DiBiase’s sleeperhold and gone on to win the World championship at WrestleMania IV had Hogan not interfered. If so, Savage could have shown that he can get out of trouble on his own. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. And in the eyes of most fans, Macho Man isn’t the real world champion. He’s just holding Hogan’s belt for a while. An informal wrestling poll at a recent Madison Square Garden card tells the tale. When asked why fans like him, 85% said it was because Hogan took him under his wing. When asked if Savage could have won the WWF title without Hogan, 75% said no. When asked if Savage would be a better champion than Hogan, 94% said no. One fan even insisted that at the end of WrestleMania IV, most people were probably cheering for Hogan and Elizabeth, not Savage.” (It’s like despite holding the WWF Championship, he’s number three in the Megapowers! This could be a problem.) The article continues by saying most fans consider Hogan to be the true champion. “Indeed, for many, he’s the only champion they’ve ever known. Yet Savage is probably the more talented all-around wrestler, an aerial artist with far greater scientific skills and much greater stamina. Perhaps the only way for Savage to prove his worthiness as champion is to wrestle Hogan and beat him. Of course, Hogan is better off never wrestling Savage. That way, the Macho Man will live in his shadow forever and the Hogan legend will never be surpassed. (As someone who liked Savage more than Hogan and completely bought into Savage as World Champion in 1988, much of this article made me furious back in the day.)
Next, One Man’s Nightmare: We’re Demanding Too much of Sting! So there was a time when a young lad came to love competition and went on to win the NCAA tournament before getting drafted by the Chicago Bulls. After a few years, he began winning NBA championships and everyone loved watching him play. But the fans and the media wouldn’t leave him alone, and eventually he got sick of it all and walked away. We had driven the guy away from the sport he loved! Wait, that’s Michael Jordan’s story. Well, switch out some of the details there with wrestling stuff and you basically have what they’re getting at in this article about Sting. Despite just beginning his journey, after the inaugural Clash of the Champions, Sting, awash in the sweat and exhaustion of hard competition, couldn’t help but be crestfallen. “Geez, I really wanted this one for the fans,” he said to reporters. “But I couldn’t put him away. Man! I was so close I could taste the belt. Every time I go to the ring I know the fans are pulling for me. They must know how hard I’m trying.” And indeed, there will be other matches for Sting. Some will be defeats. Others will be great victories. But are we asking for too much too soon from a young man who’s already being called the wrestler of the 1990s? Time will tell.
Next up, Hotseat with Michael Hayes, where he says he’s done with the Freebirds, and he’s happy to be friends with the Von Erichs. “I even went over to their family’s house for dinner. Can you believe that?” Hayes says it’s never too late to learn, and he’s discovered that Kerry Von Erich in particular is a pretty decent dude.
Next up, Dusty Rhodes and the Midnight Rider converse over the telephone in this month’s One on One. Dusty says he’s happy this will finally convince everyone they are definitely not the same person. The Midnight Rider concurs. They both talk about how bad the Horsemen are and how wonderful Magnum T.A. is. The Midnight Rider says he’s just happy to help Big Dust out, and after Dusty’s reinstated, the Rider will probably return to his ranch in Diablo Canyon, Colorado. (Curiously, the Ratings say the Midnight Rider is from Austin, Texas. Must be a typo.)
And that about does it for this month! Here’s the Roll Call of Champions:
That’s it for this week. Tune in next week where I’ll cover an issue of Wrestling Eye featuring stories about the Hart Foundation, Orga Stalinsky, and more! 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!