Flashback Friday: PWI October 1988
By J.W. Braun on 11th November 2022
This week we look back at an issue of PWI that went to press in June of 1988 and sold for $2.25 in the U.S, $2.95 in Canada, and £1.50 in the U.K. Let’s get to it.
Let’s see the current ratings…
We begin proper with Between Falls, the mailbag section. Greg from Los Angeles says PWI was wrong to say Hulk Hogan passed the torch to Randy Savage. “Perhaps when you consider Randy Savage’s title was not won with with honor but with well-time interference, you should refer to Hogan as burning everything down and leaving it to Savage to pick up. (Cruel but fair.) Meanwhile, Lawrence from New Haven, Connecticut says Hogan has finally been exposed for the rulebreaking, talentless clown he is, and Macho Man will be a much more honorable champion.
On the subject of disqualifications, Matt from Cleveland says they’re dishonorable and, worse, boring. He says any wrestler who indulges in self-disqualification should be reprimanded. (Should we also put it on his permanent record?) Also, Matt agrees with a previous mailbag writer who said that any champion who is disqualified three times in a row should lose his or her title.
With regard to youngster Carmine Albano, Captain Lou Albano writes in to say Carmine is not his son as previously reported but is his nephew.
Danny from Providence writes in to say he’s confused about WCCW still recognizing Terry Gordy as one of the six-man tag champions despite him leaving the team. “The federation decree states that the six-man champs can wrestle with a substitute for Gordy with no change in championship status. That’s a sham.”
David from Monongah, West Virginia says he was in tears when he heard about Magnum T.A.’s car accident. “Now, when you look deep into the eyes of Magnum, you can see how painful it is for him that he cannot get back into the ring. We fans share this pain not only because we want to see him back but because we understand how much joy it would bring him to wrestle again.”
Lastly, Sean from Chicago disagrees with PWI’s claim that Al Perez’s greatest match was his December 25th, 1987 victory over Kerry Von Erich. He says it was a tainted win because of interference.
Onto Ringside with Bill Apter… Youngster Scott Steiner scored a big victory when he defeated Robert Fuller in Memphis to win the Renegade Rampage tournament sponsored by Renegades Tobacco. Steiner got $250,000, Renegades got media exposure, and kids got cancer. In the end, everyone won!
Steiner, however, did not have an entirely successful night. He and Billy Travis lost their CWA tag team belts to Gary Young and Don Bass. In the NWA, there are growing suspicious of Ronnie Garvin after he reportedly had a meeting with the Four Horsemen, a stable that now includes his former tag team partner, Barry Windham. Speaking of BW, he and Lex Luger have been battling to no decisions in several matches across the Carolinas. In the WWF, Bad News Brown recently appeared at the Meadowlands in New Jersey and called the New Jersey Devils hockey team “losers.” Brown is still feuding with Bret Hart. Meanwhile, Hillbilly Jim came to New York in early June to engage Mayor Ed Koch in an arm-wrestling contest staged in front of disabled men and women as part of a drive to highlight issues affecting the handicapped. And Bubba Rogers has finally made his long-awaited arrival in the WWF as Big Boss Man, a former prison guard, managed by Slick. Bubba has been wearing a correction officer’s uniform and carries a nightstick and handcuffs. In Continental, Mr. Olympia suffered a broken right arm after being attacked by Paul E. Dangerously and the Dangerous Alliance. Dangerously is also making his presence known in Chicago as manager of The Terminators (Marcus Laurinaitis and Al Green, later known as The Wrecking Crew) and the “Original Midnight Express” (Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose). In World Class Championship Wrestling, Percy Pringle announced his retirement from managing. (That’s right, you’ll never see him manage again! That part of his career is dead. You could hold a funeral for it. In a parlor. Hint hint, wink wink.) Pringle will work as a broadcaster for WCCW and handle some marketing duties. Meanwhile, Gen. Skandor Akbar has brought Kamala into the area. In Stampede, Brian Pillman is still out with an injury, so tag team partner Bruce Hart is teaming with Keith Hart instead. (I wonder who’s getting the hot tag?) Elsewhere, Wendell Cooley won the U.S.A. Tennessee title from Buddy Landell, and Billy Jack Haynes defeated Black Stud Williams for the first Oregon Wrestling Federation title. And now you’re up to date!
Next, From the Desk of Stu Saks sees Stu complaining about the wrestling rulebook. Specifically, Stu thinks it’s ridiculous that when a wrestler, such as Andre the Giant, blatantly cheats by choking his opponent, the referee’s only recourse is to count. If Andre breaks before five, the match continues, and Andre can do the same thing all over again. Stu says it’s no wonder Duggan has to slug Andre with the 2×4, though that would be a disqualification. Beyond that, how is a referee supposed to handle two, or even four or six behemoths trying to rip each other’s heads off? “The job is almost impossible.” Stu says Stampede has the best solution: they use a card system. If a referee catches a wrestler breaking the rules, he is empowered to issue a yellow card. Three yellows lead to a red card signifying disqualification. In an extreme case, a black card is held up, indicating a suspension. (I would have loved to have seen this system in the WWF when Steve Austin was there. Can you imagine Austin’s face when the referee stood in front of him waving a card?) Stu says that by empowering referees, the federations are empowering wrestling as a whole.
Next, In Focus with Craig Peters, where Craig attempts to clear up some rumors. Rumor: Paul Orndorff is dead. Fact: Paul is alive and well and tending to his bowling alleys in Atlanta. Rumor: Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt have gotten a divorce. Fact: Totally untrue. (That wouldn’t happen until 1989.) Rumor: Roddy Piper is wrestling regularly in Oregon. Fact: Piper has appeared at several Pacific Northwest shows to greet longtime fans but has no plans to return to the mat wars.
Next, Craig asks fans to fill out a demographic survey with questions such as, “how many wrestling video tapes do you own?” and “how many record albums do you plan to purchase in the next three months?” “Do you own a Betamax?”
We move on to No Holds Barred with David Rosenbaum where Dave had a meeting with the Dirty White Girl. While he expected her to be wearing her usual ring attire, black panties, stockings, high heels and a garter belt, she actually showed up wearing a flowery Laura Ashley dress. (Dave confesses she still might have been wearing the garter belt, but he couldn’t confirm.) “Call me Lady Mystic,” she said. “That’s what my friends call me, and you look like you might be my friend.”
Together, they had lunch, with Mystic ordering a strawberry daiquiri along with a melon with a scoop of cottage cheese. Dave couldn’t help but marvel at how nice she was in person and asked what had happened to the nasty girl he knew from the ring. White Girl/Mystic replied, “There are two sides to me, and I like them both. I like being nasty sometimes. I like being a bad girl. But I’m a grown woman, and I like being a lady too.” Dave pressed her with questions about the bad girl, asking her about when she painted her eye black to trick people into believing she was the victim of domestic violence when it was all a swerve. “How do you think thousands of battered women out there feel about that?” he asked. After a pause, she said, “Let’s just have lunch.” Dave knew then that she wasn’t in the mood to talk about her other side. “I’m a lady today,” she said. “Treat me like a lady.” (So was this a real lunch that happened? Of course! What’d you think this was? The product of a group of New York writers sitting around an office concocting stories to appeal to teenage boys?)
Next, Off the Top Rope with Eddie Ellner, where Eddie dips into his mailbag to answer questions from the jackals. The first letter is from Bill from Chicago who says he and his friends have decided to give Eddie first prize for being the biggest idiot and award him a pair of mismatched socks with holes in them—which Eddie notes have had holes punched into them with a manual puncher. Eddie says he finds it fascinating that Bill would take the time to write the letter, choose the socks, punch holes in them, pack them, and make the trip to the post office to pay for everything to be sent out. Next, Ricky from Newhall, California says Demolition is not just another cheap ripoff of the Road Warriors and that they’ll probably hold the tag team titles for quite a while. Eddie first praises the letter. “Ricky established his topic, made his point, and exited with a minimum of histrionics. We celebrate small victories in Off the Top Rope, and this one certainly qualifies.” Then Eddie agrees they’ll likely be champions for a while, simply due to lack of competition. “Wrestling is a steady diet of Strike Force and the Islanders, Demolition may keep the belts well into the 21st century.” Next, Diane from Jenks, Oklahoma says she wishes Eddie would stop thinking all teenage girls are Rock ‘n’ Roll Express fans because they all don’t think alike. Eddie doesn’t really have a good reply to that, so he pivots, mentioning the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express are currently in Japan attempting to cash in on the Japanese fetishism for anything vaguely American. “If Bob Dylan and Bob Horner could do it, why not a pair of mercenaries completely without talent or skill? Forget Toshiba and Mitsubishi. The real trade deficit concerns the number of has-beens the United States exports to Japan so that they can remain rich and famous.” Lastly, Donna Jean from Fort Dickinson, North Dakota says she was shocked when Barry Windham turned against Lex Luger and says she must speak with Windham at once. “He must be convinced of the folly of his ways. Would you please contact him for me? I must talk to him myself.” She leaves her phone number and says Barry can call her collect. Eddie says that unfortunately the Four Horsemen have recently suffered a cash-flow problem. When Lex Luger left the Horsemen, the Horsemen’s line of vitamins declined in sales as customers began to fear they’d wind up with the belly of Arn Anderson as opposed to the biceps of Luger. One of the first cutbacks was Windham’s salary, and thus his phone bills have gone unpaid. “Although he expressed a strong desire to reach you, Donna Jean, he is unable. Have you considered a carrier pigeon?”
Next, an article by Jerry Lawler’s wife, Paula. She says the AWA title has turned Jerry into a monster. “Some people are going to read this and get the wrong idea,” she says. “Jerry is the sweetest guy I’ve ever met. He’s kind, giving, considerate, and he’s got a great sense of humor. But something’s changed. Recently, when he wrestled his good friend Bill Dundee, he reached into his trunks and pulled out a weapon. I wish I could have stopped him. He started using it on Bill, who’s my friend too. When we got home that night I asked Jerry about the match. Jerry pointed at me and said, ‘Listen, what I do in that ring is my business. I got that belt now, and Bill wanted it so he’s the enemy.'” (An enemy deserves no mercy!) Jerry’s wife says she wishes things would have gotten better, but they’ve only gotten worse. He won’t even let her use the phone because he wants the line to be available in case one of the magazines calls. “A champion has to be accessible,” he says. His wife closes the article by saying, “I would never leave my husband, but the sad thing about this is that Jerry and I always used to dream about the day he’d be World champion. Now I almost wish it never happened.”
Next, a Press Conference with Rick Steamboat, presently retired and running a gym in North Carolina. He says, “I don’t know if my career has really come to a close, but right now I don’t foresee wrestling for a while.” Asked if he’d be interested in returning to the NWA, he says, “No, not at all. But I’ve corresponded with some people in Japan, and I may go over there on some tours. But I’m 35 years old now. I know many wrestlers who go on their careers until their 40s. Fortunately, I’m in a position where I don’t have to rely on wrestling.” As for his current plans, he says he has an agent in Los Angeles who’s trying to help him get some film roles or maybe something in the commercials, things of that nature. Other than that, he likes being at home with his wife and son and working at his gym. He’s then asked about his career, and he says it was a thrill to win the Intercontinental title before 93,000 people, and while it was a setback to lose it, when his son came into his life right after, everything changed. “In fact, the proudest moment of my career was at WrestleMania IV when I got to bring my boy into the ring. That’s something Bonnie and I had been kicking around for a couple of months. And it was my last match! Nothing really comes close to comparing to that.” Asked if we’ll ever see him wrestle again, he says, “It’s possible. But for the time being, the answer is no. It’s simply time to move on.”
Next, our feature article: PWI’s Great American Contest: Win a Phone Call from Sting! When the editors of PWI first approached Sting with the idea, they expected Sting to be hesitant or tell them to scram. Instead, he said, “What a great idea! Now I can finally sit down and talk to a fan at length. I can’t wait!” (That indeed sounds like Sting.) Anyway, fans are asked to write an essay of 50 words or less describing why it’s important for them to talk to Sting. A winner will be chosen, Sting will call, and the winner can ask him anything or even give him advice, such as how to beat Ric Flair. An edited transcript of the conversation will be published in a future issue. So get to it!
Next, an article about how Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase controls Hulk Hogan’s destiny… which seems to be a misleading headline. We’re told that with Savage proving to be a capable and popular champion capable of keeping the turnstiles whirring in arenas throughout the country while Hogan is away, Hogan has reason to be concerned. When he returns, WWF promoters may come to see the advantages of keeping Hogan away from the belt, using Savage and Hogan in double main events or using them to main event separate cards simultaneously. But what if Savage loses the belt to Ted DiBiase? A Hogan/DiBiase matchup might seem inevitable, but then again, it might not happen. DiBiase has enough money to pay off the championship committee and may see to it that Hogan never gets a title shot. The world awaits Hogan’s next move. The controversy surrounding the WWF title, amazingly, may have only just begun.
Next, Media Review: British station ITV, one of only four non-cable stations in England, will discontinue coverage of Britain’s local wrestling by the end of the year due to low ratings. Look for the WWF to make a big push to fill the vacuum. WWF specials—quarterly compilations of news items and feud updates— were already receiving ratings twice that of regularly scheduled British wrestling coverage in England. And speaking of the WWF, PWI suspects that the numbers Vince is giving Electronic Media, a weekly trade publication, might be inflated, but Electronic Media is publishing them as if they are factual. Among the interesting figures: WWF TV shows are carried by 300 stations, WWF revenue is $50 million a year, and top wrestlers are making $10 million a year. PWI notes that top athletes in baseball only earn two to three million annually, making it unlikely wrestlers are raking in so much more—but the mainstream media just prints whatever the WWF feeds them.
Onto some minor notes: The NWA is now being seen in New York on channel 11 Saturday mornings at 2am. Meanwhile, the organization will not be running any shows at the Nassau Coliseum for the immediate future. And in WWF news, the August 29 card at Madison Square Garden has been scheduled as a pay-per-view event.
Next Dr. Death Steve William’s prescription for Mike Rotundo: Quit the Varsity Club! This article is actually based on an overheard conversation. (What an enormous breach of privacy!) An editor from PWI spotted Steve Williams at an airport when Steve decided to call his wife. So like any of us would do today, Steve went looking for a payphone and dropped in some coins. A few seconds later, his wife, Tammy, answered the phone. “It’s good to hear your voice,” he said while the PWI editor listened on. “How’s our little doll of a daughter doing?” While he and his wife made small-talk back and forth, she must have noticed something was wrong. “Boy,” he said, laughing, “nobody knows me better than you do. I’ll tell you, it’s a good thing I don’t have to wrestle you because you’d probably beat me every damn time! You’re right. Something’s bugging me. It was my match last night.” After hearing a few words from his wife, he said, “No, I didn’t lose. Not against Mike Rotundo. But he sure tried to injure me. I’ve never seen him act that way in a wrestling match before. It was like he was possessed. I remember when I used to be friends with the guy. That was only a few months ago. Seems strange.” Another pause. “Scientific maneuvers?” he said in response to a question. “I think he used two, maybe three. Lots of kicking, punching, gouging. He even bit me at one point.” Williams noted that Rotundo seemed to be caught in a holding pattern. “He’s not losing his matches, but he’s not winning them either. It’s just an endless stream of disqualifications, count-outs, and sneak-attacks by his goofball friends. People think he’s turning into an animal because of Kevin Sullivan, but I think he’s just becoming frustrated.” Williams’ voice began to gain volume and anger. “I mean, I don’t know what Sullivan’s motives are, but what kills me is Rotundo’s career is stagnating, and he doesn’t do anything about it. He needs to quit the Varsity Club. He needs to become his own man again. Hell, he was Florida champion without Sullivan’s help. He can become great again by breaking away and reestablishing his own identity. Look at me. I’ve become a top contender for Ric Flair’s World title.” An operator cut into the call, informing Williams that his time was almost up. (Good God, how far back in time did we go? The 1950s?) Williams looked around and noticed a line of people waiting to use the telephone. “I’ve got to go, honey. I have another match with Rotundo tomorrow night. I’ll be careful, and I’ll be home soon. Buh-bye.” The article closes by saying, “Steve Williams knows who he’s fighting for. Who Rotundo is fighting for is anyone’s guess.”
Next, Arena Report, which includes a report of Makhan Singh pinning Owen Hart for the North American heavyweight title. Also, note that Siva Afi has taken Tama’s spot in the soon-to-be-defunct Islanders…
Thanks to you the fans, the Rock ‘n’ Rolls are coming back to the NWA! “Our decision was made for us,” Ricky Morton says. “The combination of not getting a title shot in the AWA and the fans practically begging us to come back left us no choice.” Meanwhile, PWI reports that Jim Cornette’s article in Inside Wrestling claiming the Fantastics wanted him as a manager, while initially dismissed by most as ridiculous, may have had some merit after all. Sources report that the Fantastics and Jim Cornette had some secret negotiations. The Fantastics deny this. In AWA/WWF news, the Midmight Rockers appear to be poised to once again jump from one to the other. In fact, they’re already throwing out a challenge to WWF tag team champions, Demolition. “We want a piece of them,” says Shawn Michaels. “They’re nothing special, and we’ll win the belts from them before September.” Meanwhile, in World Class, the board is reviewing the disqualification rule that allows belts to change hands on DQs. And the word out of San Juan, Puerto Rico is that the World Wrestling Council will hold a card in New York City at the Forest Hills Tennis Center in August featuring Carlos Colon, Hercules Ayala, and Bruiser Brody. (Well, that didn’t happen.)
Finally, here’s a PWI poll regarding Barry Windham. Remember, there’s a statistical margin of error plus or minus three percent.