This week, we’re going to look back at an issue of Wrestling’s Main Event, the self proclaimed number one magazine for mat fans, which went to press on June 6, 1988 and sold for $2.50 in the U.S. and $2.95 in Canada. But before we get to that, I’ve got one tidbit to address. It turns out that one of the letters to the editor from the issue of Inside Wrestling I covered last week was from one of the regulars here at the Blog of Doom! I didn’t even realize it at first because while the name rang a bell, I figured I had just read his letters in the magazines before. (And indeed, several of his were published.) So let’s begin by looking at his full letter, written in 1988.
And now on to Ratings…
We kick things off with the Editor’s Corner, where Sandy Krebs says, “Bring back the old NWA!” Krebs explains that before cable television, the NWA was the symbol of national wrestling. But when the WWF dropped out and began expanding, Mid-Atlantic, an NWA territory run by Jim Crockett, began trying to keep pace and alienated other NWA promoters, monopolizing the world champion and raiding the other territories of talent. Today (well, June of 1988), Crockett basically is the NWA and the same 30 wrestlers have the same matches each night. (Somewhere, a young James Fabiano is taking notice.) Krebs says what was great about the old NWA was that it was both a regional and a national promotion in one with a wide variety of matches. He says Crockett should do the fans a favor and relinquish his grip on the organization and let it be so once again. (Well, he’ll be relinquishing his grip alright.)
Next, we have Letters to the Editor. where Susan from Laurinburg, North Carolina says Lex Luger is the finest physical specimen in wrestling today and a role model for generations of wrestlers to come, “With Sting watching his back, he’ll be sure to win the NWA title, and from there, he will enjoy a long and glorious reign as Champion.” Then there’s Gene from Reidsville, North Carolina who says Barry Windham made a mistake joining the Horsemen. “You may be riding high now, but the price you pay may be higher. Not only have you jeopardized everything you built, you’ve risked losing your soul and self-respect.” And finally, Jim from Somerset, New Jersey writes in to say Randy Savage got lucky at WrestleMania IV. “He never would have won the World title if not for blatant interference from Hulk Hogan.”
Next, Why Don Muraco Should Leave the WWF Now by Steve Pfeffer. Steve says Muraco, who stands 6’3, weighs 275, and has 18 years of experience, is a former rulebreaking Intercontinental champion who was riding high until a few years back when he hit a career slump. Now he’s trying to reinvent himself as a fan favorite, but he keeps getting bogged down in worthless feuds. “Once he was one of the greatest WWF titleholders of all-time. Now he has been pushed down deep into the dark crevices of so many former champions. There is no more room for Muraco in the WWF. Truly the man’s skills and abilities are being wasted day after day. Don, don’t turn into another Junk Yard Dog! The only way to save your career is to leave the WWF for greener pastures before it’s too late!”
Next, Al McGiness writes about Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, and the Von Erichs: How Long Will Their Uneasy Alliance Last? Al says he knows the Freebirds well. “In fact, they made me an honorary Freebird, and whenever they came East, I knew a good time would be had by all as we drank, chased ugly girls away, and shared the pretty ones.” (Eww.) But now, Hayes and Gordy are no longer part of the group, with former stablemate Buddy Roberts carrying on as a Freebird with new member Iceman Parsons. In fact, Roberts has even shared the secret formula for the Freebird Hair Removal Cream, often used against opponents, with Parsons, angering Hayes. (Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts had previously made a sacred pact to never share the secret formula with anyone.) Meanwhile Hayes is friends with the Von Erichs, and he’s even stopped going to sleazy bars, redneck joints, and strip clubs. Al is concerned. Hayes just doesn’t seem to be Hayes, and Al doesn’t trust the Von Erichs to have his best interests at heart. Indeed, Al suspects that the Von Erichs, who now have World Class title and tag team titles, might be trying to keep the former Freebirds from chasing the gold. “Remember, Michael, the Von Erichs can never ever be trusted.”
Next, we get the latest news in Wrestling’s Round-up: Jerry Lawler won the AWA title when he defeated Curt Hennig in Memphis. Kerry Von Erich won the WCCW title back from Iceman Parsons at Texas Stadium. The magazine congratulates both and wishes them both long prosperous championship reigns. (Maybe they’ll cross paths.) Barry Windham won a tournament for the vacant U.S. title in Houston when he defeated Nikita Koloff in the finals, and the Fantastics, wrestling in Chattanooga, finally defeated the Midnight Express for the U.S. tag team championship in a 44 minute classic. (The match got 5 stars from Meltzer.)
In other news, the Iron Sheik has returned to the WWF, and the Midnight Rockers are now there too. Meanwhile, Ricky Santana, Johnny Ace, Shane Douglas, and the Terminator have left the NWA, though rumors are the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express is on their way back. And in an unexpected bit of news, the fans—especially the girls—have been cheering Barry Windham and booing Dusty Rhodes in their matches! On the relationship front, Jimmy Garvin and Precious have finally admitted they’re married. The magazine suggests Randy Savage and Elizabeth do the same, though rumors are that McMahon is planning a “wedding” of some sort between the two at a future pay per view, with fans having to pay $15 to see it. And in Puerto Rico, Manny Fernandez is causing all kinds of havoc, enraging Latino fans by proclaiming Mexican athletes to be better than Puerto Ricans. (I can only imagine how much this would confuse Fox News, which considers everything south of Texas and Florida to be Mexico.)
In some Independent news, the Oregon Wrestling Federation got off the ground in early May with a tournament that included Billy Jack Haynes, Kevin Kelly, Rip Oliver, Hercules Haggerty, Joey Jackson, Chavo Guerrrero, Mike Miller, J.T. Southern, Dewey Forte, Cocoa Samoa, and Blackstud Williams. Rumors are that Corporal Kirchner, Johnny Ace, Ricky Santana, and the Terminator are on their way.
Speaking of rumors, Main Event Wrestling can dispel one: Paul Orndorff has not died. The story has been making the rounds, but he’s retired and owns several bowling alleys in the Tampa area. (I wonder if you play Piledriver backward if it says “Paul is Dead” or “I buried Paul”?)
Next, Steve Pfeffer shares a conversation he had with AWA wrestler Ox Baker, who says Randy Savage is afraid to wrestle him. Ox says he was about to enter the WWF and challenge Hulk Hogan when Hogan got wind of it and dropped the belt before the match could take place. Now Savage has the belt, but he refuses to give Ox a title shot. “Savage, you little man, stop hiding from me! Wrestle all the bums and win or take on the Ox and lose. I double dare you!” (See, this is the kind of quality material you don’t get from the Apter magazines.)
Next, courtesy of Sandy Krebs: Ted DiBiase: Championship Bound? Krebs says DiBiase was robbed at WrestleMania IV, and he is the epitome of what a wrestler should be. The only major championship that has eluded him is the World Championship. DiBiase, for his part, says, “Savage, some day, somehow, I will beat you and you know it too. It will happen. I guarantee it.” Krebs says it’s a challenge Savage may not be able to overcome. “The nightmare of many may finally come true. Ted DiBiase may soon control the WWF Championship.”
Next, an article about Ric Flair… or more accurately, his title. Writer Sandy Krebs says the NWA World title is the only championship that can be traced back to wrestling’s first heavyweight champion, Frank Gotch. Other organizations, such as the AWA, the WWF, and WCCW, were formed because of disputed title decisions involving the NWA or through business disagreements with the NWA itself. Because the NWA and these rival organizations refuse to cooperate, pro wrestling will probably never have an undisputed World heavyweight champion, but the NWA’s world title is probably the closest thing to, and it’s held by the incomparable Ric Flair. Flair, who has defeated all the other champions with the exception of Randy Savage, is a champion’s champion. (Krebs notes that a Savage vs. Flair would probably be amazing, but we’ll likely never see it.) The NWA may no longer be the most well known wrestling organization, but their World title is still the gold standard in the sport.
Next, the magazine speculates that the Ultimate Warrior may be gearing up for an Inter-Continental title run. Writer Joel Eisenberg says Warrior’s career is taking off like a rocket and that he may be unstoppable in the future, perhaps someday challenging the WWF world titleholder. Right now, however, the Inter-Continental title seems like a more realistic goal. The Honky Tonk Man has been defending the belt against almost everybody and has, stunningly, held onto it. But Honky has yet to face the Warrior, and a collision between the two seems inevitable. “If this occurs, Honky Tonk should beware. The Ultimate Warrior takes no prisoners.”
Next, an article about Velvet McIntyre by Gordi Whitelaw. At WrestleMania 2, McIntyre lost to the Fabulous Moolah when the referee counted the pin despite McIntyre having a foot on the rope. (That was right after one of McIntyre’s straps broke, and they had to rush to the finish before things came flopping out.) No matter. She’s now back in the WWF and is chasing Sherri Martel and the WWF women’s title all around the world. Many people feel that this time she’s destined to be champ. (No, but she did actually win the title in the summer of 1986 in Brisbane before dropping it six days later in Sydney. It was just never reported in the Northern Hemisphere.)
Up next, an article about Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school in Massachusetts. Kowalski has taught many men an women the ins and outs of the ring and even gets his students booked with promotions after they graduate. His students have included Big John Studd, Mad Dog Richard, and Misty Blue. (I hear there’s also this kid named Paul Levesque who might be worth a look.) Kowalski, a strict vegetarian, teaches his students about the importance of diet and exercise and warns them to avoid steroids and other unnatural chemicals to alter their physiques. (Okay, maybe forget about that Paul kid.)
Next, an article by Sandy Krebs about Mike George: The Unknown World Champion. “Timekeeper” Mike George is a twenty year veteran and the first World Wrestling Alliances world champion. (That was Bob Giegel’s promotion in Kansas City, founded after Geigel had a falling out with Crockett.) Surprisingly, despite the Timekeeper’s success, many fail to acknowledge his achievements. (Maybe because he has the worst nickname in wrestling.) In fact, recently, while wrestling for World Class, he wasn’t even introduced as the WWA champion. Nonetheless, George has a motor that won’t quit, and when asked to comment on his future, he said, “I want to get Kerry Von Erich into the ring and show him who the real champion is!” (Because nothing says champion like Timekeeper.)
Next, an article about Larry Winters of the NWF. In March, he defeated D.C. “Mad Dog” Drake in a dog collar match to win the NWF Heavyweight Championship. Larry is described as a student of the game and appears to have a bright future.
Next up, we get some VHS tape reviews. Bash 86 gets a B. Bash 87 gets an A. Torneo Por El Campeonato Universal Del Consejo Mundial De Lucha gets a bueno.
Next, we get a rundown of the feud between the Midnight Express and the Fantastics, an attempt to recreate the magic the Midnights had with the Rock ‘n’ Rolls.
Next, an article by Clinton S. Freeman praising the Honky Tonk Man. “All praise and kudos are due,” the writer says. We’re told his real name is Wayne Ferris, and he’s the cousin of Jerry Lawler. After starting in Memphis, he wrestled in Alberta before eventually coming to the WWF. Today he’s hated by the fans, but Freeman wonders if that’s because he’s being judged as a poor singer as opposed to a poor wrestler. Freeman concedes that Honky seems to have an unhealthy fixation with Elvis Presley, comparing it to Mark David Chapman’s love/hate obsession with John Lennon. (Well, this article got dark in a hurry.) Nonetheless, his reign as Inter-Continental champion is a tremendous achievement.
And finally, we get a look at newcomer Johnny Ace. He’s such a sweet guy. Maybe we should find him a paralegal.
That’s all for this week! Next week, we’ll look at an issue of PWI where there’s a press conference with Ricky Steamboat, a contest involving Sting, and a date with Lady Mystic. 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!