Flashback Friday: WWF Magazine July 1988
By J.W. Braun on 21st October 2022
From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in June of 1987 that sold for $2.50 in the U.S. and $3.25 in Canada. With a cover featuring new WWF champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage, this issue looks at the fallout from WrestleMania IV.
We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti. Ed, summoning his inner Gandalf, says WrestleMania IV has set in motion events that cannot be undone. Bret Hart and Bad News Brown are now at odds, which could be bad news for Bad News since the Hitman isn’t known for a mellow temperament. (Ed also notes that Bret Hart does appear to be done with tag team wrestling and asks readers what they think of him as a singles wrestler.) We also have a new world champion, Randy Savage, who will be besieged from all sides and will have to battle harder than ever to hang onto his title. Ed says that nonetheless, Macho has captured the imagination of most readers and many people have written into the magazine predicting he’ll have a long title reign. Meanwhile, Ed says that there has, perhaps, never been a tag team so impregnable as Demolition, and they could hold their title for a long time as well. Moving on, he says the editors of WWF Magazine try to stay objective on ring matters (bwahahahahaha) but the unbelievably crude actions of Rick Rude, who insulted the wife of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, are totally offensive, and his actions deserve comeuppance. “Don’t you agree?” he asks. (Way to be unbiased, Ed.) He then mentions a change in WWF Magazine: the covers are now laminated to better protect them. “This process is just another way we continually look for ways to improve the quality of our product, making sure you receive the best magazine possible.”
Next, Fan Forum, “a communication channel for readers and the editors.” People have been writing in about WrestleMania IV, and it’s clear that it was the best WrestleMania ever. Richard from Floral Park, New York says, “I just saw it a couple hours ago, and I could not stop cheering. I want to thank the WWF for putting it together. Randy Savage winning the title may be the biggest moment in sports history.” Meanwhile, Steve from Denver says it was great to see Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura together again, and Kevin from Houston says, “Every match was a main event.” And Steve from Union Grove, Wisconsin, a small town a stone’s throw away from me, says, “I love the results of WrestleMania IV, and I think Savage will hold the title longer than Hulk Hogan did. Demolition will now lose the title to the best team in the WWF, the Young Stallions.” Matt and Bobby from Napoleon, Ohio write in to say that while Hulk Hogan is no longer champion, he’s still the best, while Mike from Sunrise, Florida writes, “What right does Brutus Beefcake have to beat up and terrorize the poor ‘Mouth of the South,’ Jimmy Hart? Cutting a wrestler’s hair is bad enough, but a 120-pound manager becoming bald is terrible. How long is President Jack Tunney going to allow this?” And Candy from Sunbury, Pennsylvania says, “I enjoyed WrestleMania IV very much, but I would like to make a special comment on the match between Strike Force and Demolition. Strike Force would still be champs if Demolition had not played so dirty. I’m waiting to see if Strike Force gets the WWF Tag Team title back.”
Next, our newest feature, On the Mat, looks at “the tag team of the 90s,” the Young Stallions, comprised of Paul Roma and Jim Powers. A few short years ago, many mat experts considered the team frivolous. “We didn’t always win,” Roma concedes. (A few years ago? They didn’t start teaming up until 1987!) But, as is the American way, they fought their way up and continue to plow forward. Currently, they are engaged in a bitter rivalry with a team that publicly disrespects such a work ethic: Boris Zhukov and Nikolai Volkoff, the Bolsheviks. Roma and Powers promise to deliver a painful civics lesson to the Soviet duo. In fact, they had a recent match against Steve Horowitz and Steve Lombardi, and it more than illustrates the Stallions’ red, white and blue determination. Lombardi and Horowitz, who both possess enough ring experience and killer instinct to be dangerous, were defeated with deft double-teaming by the Stallions working as a unit to overcome their powerful adversaries. Roma and Powers say they hope the Bolsheviks saw the match. “I want them to watch us real close and put together the best strategy they can think of when they wrestle us,” says Powers. “I want them to give us their all. It’ll mean that much more when we defeat them.”
Newsbreakers! Bobby Heenan has signed Andre to a new contract and will once again manage him. With Andre in his stable once more, Heenan is especially happy. He made himself wealthy by selling Andre’s contract to Ted DiBiase, then signed Andre once again for a fraction of the price. Look for the combination of Heenan and Andre to prove dangerous for World Champion Randy Savage.
Next, Personality Profile examines Hacksaw Jim Duggan. (So for those of you who don’t know, the original “Hacksaw” was Hacksaw Reynolds, a football player who earned his nickname when he supposedly sawed a car in half out of frustration. After that, we got Hacksaw Higgins, Hacksaw Butch Reed, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Hacksaw Smithers etc.) Duggan’s ring style is uncomplicated and direct. He goes straight for his opponent, forgoing fancy moves and tactics. “You don’t go in the ring to play checkers,” he says. “You go there to wrestle, to show you’re tougher than the other guy.”
We move on to an Interview with Outlaw Ron Bass, who says he’s targeting the Junk Yard Dog. In fact, the two got into an altercation when they crossed paths in the aisle during a show. Bass initially refused to let Dog pass before letting him go and attacking him from behind. Bass says, “That varmint had a chain. I beat him to the draw and gave him a little taste of Miss Betsy. I didn’t start it. I was on my way to the dressing room, and all that dirty dog had to do was to back up and move out of my way.” The interviewer then asks Bass if he’s concerned about JYD, and Bass says no. “But,” the interviewer for this unbiased magazine says, “JYD is one of the most awesome wrestlers in the ring today. Can’t you admit that?” Bass responds, “One of these days I’m gonna have a fine time with him. I’ll hogtie him with Miss Betsy and haul him away.”
Next, Battle of the Titans covers the battle royal from WrestleMania IV. Bad News Brown, who double-crossed Bret Hart to win the match, says, “Winning is the only thing that counts. Making friends don’t get you nowhere. That’s something that soft, little boy Bret Hart don’t understand.” (Boy, I can’t wait until the WWF’s next pay per view! With Hart vs. Bad News, Andre vs. Duggan, Rude vs. Roberts… it’s going to be fantastic!)
Next up, we learn about Ted DiBiase’s new finisher, The Million Dollar Dream sleeper hold, in an article that recaps a match between DiBiase and Outback Jack. “Even the big and burly Outback is helpless in the grasp of the Million Dollar Dream.” (What’s that? You thought this magazine was done with Outback Jack coverage? Well, you were wrong! And you better learn to deal with it because you’re going to keep hearing about Outback Jack until this magazine ceases to exist, brother!)
Next, the Merchandise Catalogue, where you can buy an Outback Jack T-shirt. There are also some new posters for Bam Bam, Elizabeth, and Hulk and a new Elizabeth towel…
We move on to a feature article about Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude entitled The Time of the Serpent. We run down the origins of the feud, with Rude berating a woman for not wanting to kiss him, unaware the woman was Jake’s wife. We then move on to comments from Jake, who says, “What Rick Rude did demands a different kind of punishment. Of a most terrifying kind. Remember that, Rick Rude. What I will do to you will be unique. So think about it.” Rude, for his part, says he’s unmoved by Jake’s threats. “He’s got a wife with no taste.” The magazine says that when Rude and Jake do meet in their final confrontation, the match could be not only one of the most bitter ever, but also an extremely interesting one for fans who study wrestling styles. Both are lean and mean and rely on crisp, quick moves and slashing moves to stick and stick again until the adversary is confused and exhausted. But whereas Jake underplays, Rude overplays. Of course, Jake has one of the greatest finishing maneuvers in the sport: the DDT. But Rude has a new finishing maneuver to counter it: the Rude Awakening.
For this move, Rude stands back-to-back with his opponent and hooks him under the chin with the right hand. Head bent back, body arched against Rude’s rippling shoulders, the opponent is ridden with pulverizing force. Jake has every reason to hate Rude, and insiders say Rude is seething at Jake after being rejected by Mrs. Roberts. Who will emerge victorious? Only time will tell. The time of the serpent.
Next, our cover story about Randy Savage: His Star is Blazing. The new WWF champion has contenders lining up to challenge him. Guys like Ted DiBiase, the One Man Gang, and Greg Valentine. But Savage continues to demonstrate that he burns with a desire to be the best he can. He rose to Intercontinental Champion and was then dethroned, but he never lost heart. Indeed, he committed himself more fully in his crusade to rise to the top of the WWF and stay there. Now he stands at the very peak. And he has publicly recognized, for the world to see, how the quiet inner strength and faith of his lovely manager, Miss Elizabeth, helped him to the top. At the same time, he is still the “Macho Man,” trumpeting his pride in himself and his defiance of challengers for the world to hear. He will attempt to be a champion of champions. When a star generates so much energy that its material form cannot contain all that power, it becomes a nova. It lights the universe. Randy Savage may ignite a blaze that will be a nova in the WWF. And that fire could consume his adversaries and turn their hopes into ashes. (Disclaimer: WWF Magazine has its science wrong on two fronts. Stars don’t go nova because they can’t contain their power, and stars are not made up of fire, something that requires oxygen to burn. Novas and supernovas happen for more complex reason, and stars are giant balls of gas that release heat and light due to the process of atoms getting crushed together, forcing nuclear fusion to take place.)
We move on to an article about Demolition: A Lethal Combination. At WrestleMania IV, fans thought they were about to lose when Rick Martel of Strike Force, the tag team champions, had Smash in a Boston Crab. The loss might have happened if Santana had returned to his corner and let the referee concentrate on the legal men in the ring. But the hot-blooded Mexican could not pry himself away from Fuji. The manager attempted to use his cane as a weapon, but Tito knocked it away onto the ring apron. Ax, standing ringside, picked it up and cracked it down the back of Martel’s head. Approximately three seconds later, Demolition won the tag team title. Mr. Fuji says, “Demolition not only meanest team in wrestling, Ax and Smash unstoppable. We won championship because they overwhelm everyone and Fuji so smart. We set trap for Strike Force and they took bait.” The article closes by saying, “Like it or not, what happened was a superb example of how important the scheming mind of Mr. Fuji is to Demolition, and how the combination of brains and brawn may keep them on top much longer than the challengers would like.”
Next, we recap Brutus Beefcake’s match at WrestleMania IV against the Honky Tonk Man. Hart got Honky disqualified so Honky would retain the title. (In fact, all four men who walked out with gold at WrestleMania IV had help from their managers, proving the importance of having a manager at this time! Let’s not forget that it was Elizabeth who ran back and got Hulk Hogan, setting in motion the events that would allow Savage to win the WWF title.) Beefcake, it should be noted, still vows to win the Intercontinental Title and cut Honky’s hair.
Private Eye looks at WrestleMania weekend where there was a 5K run, an autograph event, and live musical performances by the Honky Tonk Man, Mean Gene Okerlund, Koko B. Ware, and Jimmy Hart, who each sang their songs from Piledriver. There was also a VIP dinner and a post-WrestleMania press conference.
Next up, we get the Wrap Up: Hulk Hogan won Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Award for Male Athlete of the Year, beating out other nominees Michael Jordan and Walter Payton. (Screw you, Chicago. Get back to us when you can find some real athletes.) Unfortunately, during the ceremony, Bobby Heenan disrupted the proceedings! (He’d be back the next year.) George Steele recently attended a Detroit Pistons game. Asked what drew him to the game, Steele said, “Round… nice.” (Maybe he was talking about Elizabeth.) Rick Martel and Tito Santana appeared at Antioch, California’s Teen Fair. The event featured educational presentations and recreational activities for young adults. Superstar Billy Graham will appear in an upcoming film, Fist Fighter. Graham plays “The Bruiser,” an arm wrestler. (Here’s a review!) Callers to the Variety Club Telethon, seen on Fox network, were more than a little surprised to discover Jake “the Snake” Roberts on the other end of the phone. Roberts was on hand to help the charity raise funds for children’s hospitals. Jake also appeared on the D.J. Kat show. According to the magazine, D.J, host of the show, thought he could match up with Roberts but fled the set once he saw how big Roberts really was.
Next, WWF Lowdown: The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase has begun stuffing $100 bills into the mouths of defeated opponents. Koko B. Ware has been teasing Bobby Heenan, reminding him that weasels belong to the same animal family as skunks. (This is no longer true. While skunks were originally thought to be Mustelids, an analysis of their DNA revealed a deep divergence between them and weasels, otters, true badgers, ferrets, minks, wolverines, and martens. So in 1997, skunks were removed from the family and placed in a new one called Mephitidae.) Speaking of Heenan, he’s lobbying to have Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s two-by-four banned from arenas. As precedent, Heenan notes that President Jack Tunney has barred Heenan from bringing a dog trainer’s suit to the ring. Regarding Randy Savage and Elizabeth, many people want to know where they get their clothes. The truth is they’re custom-made. Muraco continues to improve under the tutelage of Superstar Billy Graham. “Superstar is the best thing that ever happened to me,” Muraco says. “I owe him a great debt.” And finally, Ken Patera says he’s sick and tired of Dino Bravo, but he won’t attack Quebec just because that’s where Bravo is from. “French Canadians are great people,” he says. “Bravo’s just one bad apple.”
We move on to Wrestler’s Rebuttal where Strike Force whines about losing the tag team title…
Onto the Crossword Puzzle…
And finally, Caught in the Act:
That’s it for this week. Tune in next week where I’ll cover an issue of Inside Wrestling where we learn that Bret Hart has defected from the Hart Foundation! Plus we get an interview with Kerry Von Erich and much 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!