From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in July of 1987 that sold for $2.50 in the U.S. and $3.25 in Canada. This time, Bret makes the cover for the first time, plus we get a new merch catalog featuring Shane & Stephanie McMahon as models! So let’s make like Bret and knock this one out.
We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti where Ed thanks everyone who has written in to the magazine. He then says that this issue features a new (or as Howard Finkel would say, “neeeeeeeeeeew”) Merchandise Catalog full of exciting posters, clothing, and more. Onto other matters: Ed says this issue features the handsome Bret Hart. He also notes that the magazine received a letter from a female fan who says Bobby Heenan is “handsome and sexy,” which is published in Fan Forum. Ed says, “We’d like to know what others think. Which WWF Superstar do you think is the best looking?” Then Ed talks about tag team wrestling and throws out another question. “The essence of tag team wrestling is coordination and smooth interchanges between both members of a duo. Which tag team do you think does this the best? Remember, we’re not talking about overall technical skill—just coordination of tactics. We’re waiting to hear from you.”
Now on to Fan Forum, a communication channel for readers and the editors. Everyone’s writing in with thoughts about WrestleMania IV. An expat living in Israel writes in to say the WWF is truly a global phenomenon—though he couldn’t watch the show because it wasn’t available in his area so he had to rely on WWF Magazine to tell him what happened. “I can’t wait for the June issue!” He also asks, “When are you coming to Israel?” The editor responds, “By now you have your June issue. We hope you liked it.” Glenn and Lance from Manaplan, New Jersey write in as a tag team to say, “Our views on WrestleMania IV are quite unique. We would like to say that the production was excellent in every sense of the word, and the tournament was a major test for all the top athletes involved. It proved to be the greatest extravaganza of the century.” The editor says, “We enjoyed your letter, fellows, but your views are not unique.” Daniel from Passaic, New Jersey writes in to say, “I would like to tell you my choice for best tag team in the WWF. Without a doubt, the best is the Tag Team champions, Demolition. They won the belts by outsmarting Strike Force. There is no team in WWF history as great as Demolition.” (That’s only because Billy Gunn hasn’t arrived yet.) Daniel finishes by saying he hopes Demolition defeats the Rougeau Brothers because he doesn’t like Jacque and Raymond. The editor says lots of people have been writing in saying they’re having second thoughts about the Rougeaus. Finally, Sandy from Cuddlebackville, New York is the fan who writes in to say Bobby Heenan is sexy. “Could you please print more pictures of him? I am really in love with that guy, and I think he’s the most handsome guy I’ve every laid eyes on.” The editor says the guys who live in Cuddlebackville must be real losers. (Way to make fans!)
Up next, On the Mat, which talks about the lengths Jimmy Hart will go to ensure his men win. Greg Valentine says, “Jimmy is a little man in a world of big men, but he risks life and limb to help his stable.” Valentine goes on to say Jimmy is brave and clever, and the magazine partially agrees, recapping a match between Valentine and George Steele to illustrate the point. Valentine won by count-out when Steele chased Hart down the aisle toward the dressing room. “The bravest man in wrestling?” the magazine rhetorically asks. “Certainly Hart takes risks. But when the chips are down, he runs. Intelligent? Very. The master of interference? Most certainly. That title for sure belongs to Jimmy Hart.”
Speaking of Hart and distractions, Hart recently distracted Brutus Beefcake during an interview, allowing Honky to smash his guitar over Beefcake’s head from behind. “Beefcake is fascinated by people’s heads,” cackled Hart. “We just gave him a chance to think about his own head for a change. Maybe we knocked some sense into it.”
Next, Personality Profile profiles the Young Stallions, who always wore disturbingly tight trunks to prove they did not have small packages. We’re told Roma and Powers are developing and on the rise. (Well, something’s on the rise.) Roma says he knows things are only going to get harder, but he and Jim are ready for it, so bring on the stiff competition. (Well hung, guys… er… well done.)
Next up, we’ve got some bad news; Bad News Brown, that is. In this interview, Bad News says anybody who gets between him and what he wants will get nailed and nailed hard. The ring is like the streets he grew up on, and he knows how to handle himself. Asked about allegations that his glove might be loaded with an illegal weapon, he says, “I am a weapon, so the glove doesn’t matter much, does it?” We move on to the WrestleMania IV doublecross, where he attacked Bret Hart from behind, with Bad News handwaving it away. “Any sucker who lets himself get it in the back is just askin’ for it.” He’s then asked about various wrestlers. Junk Yard Dog? “He likes children. He wouldn’t last a day where I come from.” Jake Roberts? “I can’t stomach snakes.” (Foreshadowing.) Koko B. Ware? “He don’t know nothing’ ’bout life.” Randy Savage? “Elizabeth’s a fox, and Savage don’t seem to know it. Something’s wrong with that boy.” Finally, the magazine asks Bad News about the possibility of getting a manager. Bad News says he doesn’t need one but he might get one to handle his contracts just so he doesn’t have to deal with that part of the business. “But he’d better remember he works for me. Now I’m tired of talkin’. Interview’s over.” (You know, back in the day, I had no idea Bad News was already in his mid-40s by the time he began his 1980s WWF run. Heck, he was born the same year as Harley Race!)
Next up, Battle of the Titans covers a nontitle bout between Randy Savage and Virgil from Superstars of Wrestling. Yes, it was a nontitle match against Virgil and Elizabeth still managed to look like she feared for her man’s safety, a superb demonstration of her skillset that would have me wanting to rush down to the arena and embrace her to give her comfort and reassurance. Or maybe she was just worried Virgil would try to corner her and sell her an autograph. I don’t know. Anyway, Savage won with the flying elbow but was then attacked by Ted DiBiase before all the wrestlers on the show ran down to the ring and began to brawl. And by the way, as I’m writing this, I’m watching this match on Youtube, and Elizabeth is wearing a completely different outfit than what we see in the photo! So the magazine stole a picture from another match and described it as “Elizabeth watching on in anguish.” Nonetheless, my offer to rush down to the arena and embrace her with comfort and reassurance still stands—unless my wife is reading.
Next up, our feature article about Bret Hart. We’re told there is more bounce in his jaunt, more passion in his eyes, more snap in his armdrags and hip tosses. A recent opponent, who requested anonymity, said, “I always considered Hart one of the top athletes in the sport. But now, he just seems to sparkle all the time. It’s impossible to catch him on a bad night. He’s a man who’s soaring.” Bret himself has become more contemplative. “When I come to the arena, before the people arrive, I stare at the ring and I get chills. I feel like something great is going to happen between those ropes, and I’m going to be part of it. I know I can show the people something, show my opponent something, and show myself something. I believe I’m near the high point of my wrestling career.” The magazine then gives us a short recap of his career, noting that he’s a former tag team champion and he almost defeated the now-WWF champion Randy Savage on Saturday Night’s Main Event late last year. We then get a quote from Bret’s father, Stu, who is a legend in his own right. “I’ve trained many professional wrestlers, but I get special satisfaction when I watch Bret these days. It’s not only because he’s my son, it’s because of the way he’s learned. He’s a true student of professional wrestling. And he’s still improving.” Savage also heaps praise on the Hitman. “He’s a cut above the rest. The man tests you. I know I have to keep extra sharp because guys like Bret Hart are out there.” Hart himself takes a vague stance when questioned about challenging Savage for the WWF title. “I haven’t thought it all through yet. We basically have the same style, so it would be a tough match for both of us. But I did come pretty close to beating him last time, so you never know.” More likely, the magazine says, Hart will first challenge the Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship. Although Hart and Honky had the same manager in 1987, Hart says he never really respected Honky. “I never thought he deserved the belt,” Hart says. “You have to understand that I’m a second generation wrestler and have pride in this sport. Seeing the Honky Tonk Man wiggle around like some greased-up weirdo always rubbed me the wrong way. I’d like to wear the belt and show people how it looks around a wrestler’s waist.” (Belt? Wrestler? Clearly he meant to say “championship” and “superstar.”) For his part, Honky says the word “wrestler” does not befit Hart. “He can’t rassle too good. I’m tellin’ ya, it don’t matter if it’s Elvis or Hulk Hogan or Bret Hart. Everybody tries to copy Honky Tonk Man. It was me who taught Bret Hart all about this sport. And he wasn’t a good learner neither. I’ll also teach him what it means to lose if we wrestle. But I don’t see that happening for a while, He hasn’t really proved himself yet to get a shot at my belt.” The magazine then recaps a match between Hart and Van Van Horne, which Hart won won after a piledriver. “So confident was Hart of his victory that he did not bother to hook his foe’s leg while covering him for the pin. Hitman simply leaned across Van Horne’s body, counting to three along with the referee.”
Next, a new feature, WWF Trivia…
And here are the answers: Titles – Danny Davis, Ted DiBiase, Sensational Sherri. Partners – Dino Bravo & Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake & Valentine, DiBiase & Virgil, Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook. Movies – Andre the Giant, Moving, Sgt. Blain. Music – Mean Gene Okerlund, Aretha Franklin, Outrageous Conduct. Odds and Ends – Richfield Coliseum, Seattle Seahawks, 715 (Regarding the last question, I believe the weight was officially weighed at 712 after the lift.)
Next, it’s the new WWF Merchandise catalogue! Check out Shane O Mac trying to look cool standing next to a truck, modeling a Hulk Hogan shirt. Also, his sister, Stephanie McMahon, models a Matilda shirt.
By the way, I have a beef with that Hulk Hogan growth chart and growth charts in general. They’re usually made so you hang them up a foot off the floor, which is fine, but then the picture of the guy doesn’t account for that, and so it looks like Hogan or whoever is only tall because he’s standing a foot off the floor!
Next, we get more Beefcake in an article about a match between Beefcake and Honky for the Intercontinental title where Jimmy Hart was banned from the arena… only for a bearded Peggy Sue to interfere. Turns out Peggy Sue was actually Jimmy Hart! This was after Hart interfered at WrestleMania IV. (Hart, for his part, claims referee Jimmy Korderas knocked himself out, which must be an inside joke because that’s what actually happened.) That prompted the World Wrestling Federation Rules Committee to hold a closed-door session before ultimately deciding to ban Hart from the arena for a subsequent match. The day the event was to take place, WWF Magazine spied Hart in a local thrift shop. When a reporter approached him, the manager said he was shopping for his sweetheart. “When it was pointed out that a woman sporting a size 40 coat and size 32 waist was an oddity, the Mouth of the South responded, ‘Yes, she is a big girl, isn’t she?'” That night, during the match, Brutus was on his way to winning the IC belt when “Peggy Sue” hit the Barber with a purse. Brutus turned to chase “her” and Honky turned to chase him, and eventually both combatants were counted out. Meanwhile, Beefcake caught up to Peggy Sue and ripped her wig off to reveal the face of Jimmy Hart. Then he removed Jimmy’s sweatshirt and skirt, pulling bathroom tissue from the panty-clad imposter’s bra before Honky rushed his companion back to the locker room. Jimmy Hart, it should be noted, still claims it wasn’t him. “The real Peggy Sue was kidnapped, and the person you saw was a Jimmy Hart impersonator paid off by Brutus Beefcake. They just wanted to ruin my reputation. Simple as that.” (Could you imagine some celebrity in real life trying to get away with such an obvious lie? Oh wait…)
Next, we reflect upon Macho Man’s first 100 days as champion, with comments from various wrestling personalities. The One Man Gang says Savage is hiding from him. Jimmy Hart says Savage is lucky, and that it’s only a matter of time before Greg Valentine wins the title. Bobby Heenan, who reportedly has been trying to get Andre the Giant a title shot, says, “Just wait. Savage has spent most of his so-called reign trying to avoid his opponents. Now he’s on borrowed time.” Ted DiBiase agrees but thinks he’ll be the next champion. “Randy Savage is vulnerable to my tactics. He needs to go to the top rope to do any real damage. One day he’ll try that with me, and I’ll shoot him out of the air. That is, if I don’t buy him first.”
We also hear from fan favorites. Koko B. Ware says, “Savage is a true champion because he gives his all each and every time.” Rick Martel says, “Savage represents what’s best about the WWF. He’s got the guts, the power, the speed and the heart. My hat’s off to him.” Elizabeth, rapidly approaching a temperature of 142 nonillion kelvins (maximum hotness), says “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but Randy has shown the world what I’ve always known. He is a champion’s champion. I’m so proud of him.” Savage himself refuses to comment on the first 100 days. “The past doesn’t count for the Macho Man. It’s the future that matters. It’s not about history, it’s about making history.”
Next, an article about Rick Rude’s obsession with ridding the ring of Jake “the Snake” Roberts. This all stems from Rude being embarrassed by Jake’s wife, Mrs. Roberts. As fans know, Rude, not knowing who she was, invited her to the ring for a kiss, only to be rejected. Now Rude is verbally taking out his frustrations on the Snake. “You’re history, Jake Roberts,” he says. “Only you don’t know it yet. But you’re looking at the man who will put you out of wrestling for good. Then I’ll show your old lady what a real man’s like. I promise.”
We move on to The Rock Rages, an article about Don “The Rock” Muraco’s thirst for revenge against Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. So you might remember that in 1987, Butch Reed injured Superstar Billy Graham before Muraco came to Graham’s rescue, which was a way to transition from a planned Reed/Graham feud to a Reed/Muraco feud when Graham’s body began falling apart. Well, Reed was fired following WrestleMania IV, so Valentine, who had recently transitioned back to singles competition, was plugged into Reed’s spot. To get where we needed to go, Graham and Muraco intervened as Valentine held the figure-four leglock on defeated jobber Ricky Ataki after a match. Muraco then chased Jimmy Hart back to the locker room while Valentine put his figure-four leglock on Graham, aggravating Graham’s old injury before Muraco ran back to break it up. Back to the article: Muraco looks up to Superstar Billy Graham as a father figure, and has learned life lessons from him. “Superstar once went into the desert with the spiders and the snakes and found the answers to keep winning. He’s given me some of those answers.” Muraco says what Valentine did to Superstar was terrible, and he’s like a volcano about to erupt. “When I’m finished with Valentine, fans are going to be brushing ash off their clothes.”
Next, in Private Eye, we’re told that Matilda, the mascot of the British Bulldogs, requires special needs when traveling, and Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith are especially attentive to them. To keep Matilda fit, they regularly walk her. To keep up her looks, they visit canine beauty parlors. It’s a lot of work, but it’s all worth it. “Matilda’s our closest friend,” Dynamite says. “We’d do anything for her.”
Onto WWF Lowdown: The Rougeau Brothers are now calling themselves The “Fabulous” Rougeau Brothers and seem to be trying new tactics and losing friends and fans in the process. Speculation is they are frustrated that they haven’t won the tag team title yet and might be looking for short cuts. Demolition, on the other hand, is looking more and more like true champions. “Everyone knows they are seasoned veterans,” the magazine says. “They hide from no challengers and are demonstrating they have smarts as well as brawn.” Meanwhile, the Ultimate Warrior has been patiently working his way up the ladder. No one is sure what to think of him yet, but combat between the ropes seems to be in his blood. Regarding the One Man Gang, manager Slick is working on some way to make the big man even more lethal. (Maybe the Gang just needs to find his African roots.) Hacksaw Jim Duggan continues to impress the magazine writers. “Duggan is known as a powerful man. But he’s even stronger than he appears. Take that two-by-four he carries around. He wields it without effort. But an ordinary man could hardly keep that piece of wood aloft with one hand.” With regard to Bad News Brown, the magazine again questions if his glove contains a foreign object. Brown says there’s nothing in the glove but a fist. In other news, word is Ted DiBiase is looking for another palatial home. The magazine suggests a place in Antarctica. Dino Bravo recently had a televised tug-of-war with Olympian Ken Patera that ended when Bravo intentionally crashed into Patera and began using the rope as a weapon. The WWF has new watches for sale! They’re in the merchandise catalog and are made by WWF licensee Celebrity Watches International. Greg Valentine is using a new hockey-style shin guard to “protect” his ankle. Opponents say he’s using it to make his figure-four leglock more effective. Jack Tunney is looking into the situation.
WWF Wrap Up: King Kong Bundy was a special guest at the Mr. Tinker Hardware Show in Cincinnati. Saturday Night’s Main Event will return to NBC for its fourth season in the Fall. Also scheduled: another Main Event prime time special. (And I would be there.) Superstar Billy Graham gave an inspirational speech at the Baker & Taylor National Sales Conference. “The salesmen left the room feeling like No. 1 contenders.” Diners were a bit frightened when Jake “the Snake” Roberts and Hacksaw Jim Duggan paraded into a New York sports luncheon sponsored by the March of Dimes. Roberts had Damien, his snake. Duggan had his two-by-four. After a few moments, however, everybody calmed down and Roberts and Duggan spoke about their commitment to help the March of Dimes fight childhood disabilities. Andre the Giant, on the other hand, was terrifying throughout his visit to Chicago’s Consumer Electronics Show. Akklaim Entertainment Inc., manufacturer of a WWF video game, was responsible for the visit. Andre wasn’t much of a spokesman for the product, though. (What’d they expect?) May 10 was declared “Macho Madness Day” in Duluth, Minnesota by Duluth Mayor John A. Fedo. Macho appeared at a card held at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. And finally, Hillbilly Jim appeared at Curtis Mathis clothing store in Jackson, Michigan and Value Video Plus in Livonia, Michigan to help sell WWF video cassettes. The magazine says, “The likable Hillbilly said he was thinking of buying a VCR for his family in Mud Lick, Kentucky, but they’d have to get electricity first.”
Next, Wrestler’s Rebuttal with Dino Bravo explaining why he’s not the worst…
And here’s the Crossword Puzzle…
And finally, Caught in the Act…
That’s all for this week. Join me next week, same time, same station! 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!