Flashback Friday: WWF Magazine September 1988
By J.W. Braun on 9th December 2022
From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in the summer of 1988 that sold for $2.50 in the U.S. and $3.25 in Canada. With a cover featuring Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, we’re teased with stories about Demolition, Haku, and some new pay-per-view called Summerslam. Let’s get to it.
First off, I just want to say I wish Barry Windham the best. He’s one of my favorites, and I still watch his matches with Flair all the time.
We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti, where Ed says there’s a new pay-per-view special called SummerSlam that will air on August 29 at 8:00 p.m. (Curiously, the magazine doesn’t say what time zone that’s for.) Ed then says we might have noticed a new feature in the magazine last month: a Trivia column. He asks us to write in and tell us what we think of it. Lastly, Ed reminds us that WWF Magazine isn’t the only publication from the WWF. There are also programs available at live events, including one for the upcoming SummerSlam. “And in October, we will introduce a brand-new quarterly publication, WWF Spotlight, featuring an in-depth look at a WWF Superstar.” The subject of the first Spotlight? Randy Savage. “Keep an eye out for this real treat.”
Next, Fan Forum, where fans write in to praise their local arenas. Casey from Birmingham, Alabama says she enjoys going to the Jefferson Civic Center. “I work hard doing chores so I can earn money for three tickets: one for me, my dad, and my friend Lara. She didn’t like wrestling until I took her to a live event. You gained a fan.” Terrell from Camden, New Jersey says he likes the Philadelphia Spectrum. “So much electricity goes through my arena you can barely hear the ring announcer.” (But can you cut it with a knife?) Nancy from Boston, Massachusetts says she likes the Boston Garden. “The Boston Garden and WWF Magazine are No. 1!” Andrea from Biggs, California prefers the Arco Arena in Sacramento. “The seating is great, and after seeing Andre the Giant live, I realize why so many wrestlers are afraid of him.” Rosa of West Orange, New Jersey likes Madison Square Garden. “History has been made in this arena. I go every month. It’s the mecca of professional wrestling.” Michael from Seaford, New York also likes Madison Square Garden and adds the Nassau Coliseum and the Meadowlands as favorites as well. Marcus from Toledo, Ohio says the best arena around is the Toledo Sports Arena. “When we see Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, and the British Bulldogs, we get on our feet.” Darrell from Waterloo, Iowa says McElroy Auditorium is a great place to watch wrestling. “I attend every time there is an event there.” Bob from San Carlos, California likes the Oakland Coliseum. And finally, Ken from Keeling, Virginia says, “Without a doubt, my favorite arena is the Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. You can feel the excitement in the air.”
Newsbreakers! There’s a new tag team in the WWF. It’s comprised of the Barbarian and the Warlord and goes by the name The Powers of Pain. They remind a lot of people of Demolition and have sent waves of shock and fear across the WWF. Their first target? The Bolsheviks, managed by Slick. Slickster says his team is ready. “The Bolsheviks come from a country where pain is a way of life. We’ll show them the real meaning of pain.”
Next up, Personality Profile introduces us to the Rockers. (I think it’s fair to say Vince saw some holes forming in his tag team division and decided to take action.) Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels are high-flying, fast-moving whizzes that have caught the attention of fans. Jannetty says, “We’re going to be rockin’ and rollin’, strutting and strolling, doing our thing and having a lot of fun doing it.” Michaels says eventually they’re going to fight their way to the top of the WWF, but right now they’re just hoping to secure some matches against the Conquistadors.
Next, an interview with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who’s in the midst of a feud with Rick Rude. Roberts says he’s a volcano about to explode, and when he’s done with Rude, the Ravishing One will be kissing the mat. Asked why Rude seems as mad at Jake as Jake is at Rude, Jake says it’s because Cheryl (Jake’s wife) rejected Rude, and it destroyed Rude’s sense of manhood. “He’s insecure and real women know it.” Asked if he’s too preoccupied with Rude to see the big picture, and if that will lead him to let down his guard against someone else, Jake says, “Let down my guard? That’s not for the Snake. I’m always on guard. I’m always ready for the worst. That’s the key to survival.”
Next, we learn that Demolition has taken out Rick Martel! Insiders say Demolition schemed to take out Strike Force, knowing they only had to injure one member of the team to nullify the whole. Martel and Santana were wrestling Demolition in a rematch in an attempt to regain the tag team titles when Demolition cheated to win, using a chair to pummel Martel and win by countout. In the end, the poor Canadian had to be stretchered out. “Ax, Smash, and Fuji had plotted well and carried out their schemes with devastating effect. Strike Force had been broken.” (In reality, Martel needed time off to care for his wife, who was very ill.)
Next, our cover story about Brutus Beefcake. He knew he had the Honky Tonk Man where he wanted him at WrestleMania IV, but while he still notched a victory via disqualification, he did not win the title. The magazine says: “Brutus’s spirits are still up, even though he’s filled with frustrations. Observers note, however, that he Barber is in danger of weirding out.” Regardless, the magazine says Brutus and Honky will meet once again at SummerSlam 88. Brutus promises that this time Honky will leave the match without his hair.
Next, it’s Trivia time!
(I’m guessing not that many WWF fans knew the names of the Jumping Bomb Angels. Vince himself called them “pink” and “red,” and he owned the company.)
Answers: Football, the New York Islanders, and Lou Duva; Bob Uecker, NBC, and Sika; True, Dave & Earl Hebner, and Itsuki Yamazaki & Noriyo Tateno; Trump Plaza, the Junk Yard Dog, Bret Hart & Bad News Brown, and Hogan, Andre, One Man Gang, & Ted DiBiase; Merchandise: French or Spanish, white, and Brutus Beefcake.
Next, all hail Haku, the new king! Bobby Heenan is still upset with Hogan for injuring Harley Race by virtue of moving out of the way when the former King tried to dive on him. (This was a table spot, but it didn’t go as planned. Race later said, “Like an idiot, I didn’t even go out to the ring and look at the table before the match. Later, I had no problem going through it for the spot. It didn’t even hurt that much…until I tried to get up, that is. That’s when the steel band that wraps around the edge of the table recoiled and hit me just above the pelvic bone. I would have been better off if the damn thing would have just hit the bone and broke it. Still, I just shrugged it off and kept wrestling. That’s not to say that it didn’t hurt.” Race kept wrestling for a while, but eventually his intestinal injury led to an infection that almost took his life.) Heenan says that after Race was forced to abdicate his thrown, many wrestlers sent in applications hoping to be crowned the next king, including Hogan himself. (Hogan denies this.) Eventually, Heenan settled on Haku due to his impressive combat skills, his win-loss record, and the ability to speak several languages. (Plus, it’s Haku. Would you say no to him?) He also adds that we shouldn’t be surprised if the King goes on to win the WWF title too. “And Elizabeth just might be his queen,” Heenan says, “bringing Haku grapes and fanning him.” Haku, for his part, now wears purple and refuses to sign autographs. (I ran into him around this time, and when he refused to sign my program, I threatened to knock him on his keister. He immediately said, “I’m sorry, sir,” and signed my program. And yes, I just made that story up.)
Next, introducing Brother Love! (I recently heard my local radio station using his theme music in the background while the disc jockeys were talking about people asking priests, ministers, and rabbis for advice on which NFL teams to bet on.) Brother Love is a friend of Bobby Heenan’s with the financial backing of Ted DiBiase who claims to spread the word of love. The writers of the magazine are skeptical. (I’ve got to give it to Bruce. He really threw himself into the role. But you know who would have also been good in the part? Jim Cornette! And unlike Bruce, who had too many backstage duties to be a fulltime manager, Jim could have done the interview segments and managed guys too.)
Next, we’re told again that SummerSlam 88 is on its way, and there are three matches scheduled. The main event will feature Andre the Giant & Ted DiBiase teaming up to face Randy Savage & Hulk Hogan. We get a recap of the events leading up to this, with Andre confronting Savage only for DiBiase to attack the champ from behind. Savage then challenged Andre & DiBiase to a tag team match, and they accepted, only to be shocked when Macho subsequently chose Hulk Hogan as his tag team partner. (Who’d they expect Macho to choose, Koko B. Ware?) There is some good news for Andre & DiBiase: Jesse Ventura has been named the special guest referee. Meanwhile, Brutus Beefcake will wrestle The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental championship, with Beefcake vowing to win the title or cut Honky’s hair. And in a dream match, the Hart Foundation will wrestle Demolition for the tag team championship.
The magazine says it will be a classic encounter pitting the Foundation’s Hart Attack, a slingshot clothesline, against Demolition’s perilous finishing maneuver, where one member of the team comes down with an elbow off the second rope to hit an opponent draped across his partner’s knee. (Yes, the magazine still doesn’t have a name for the latter.) And that’s all the coverage we get going into SummerSlam 88!
Next, we catch up with the Rougeau Brothers, Jacques and Raymond, who are now calling themselves the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers. They want you to know that just because they’re from the same place as Dino Bravo, they aren’t like him. They love America. Can’t you tell by their little flags? We then get a recap of a match they had against the Killer Bees, Jim Brunzell and B. Brian Blair, where the Rougeaus kept offering handshakes to their opponents “out of respect.” Eventually, the Bees got tired of it and lost their tempers before the Rougeaus performed some moves of questionable legality behind the referee’s back before notched a pinfall victory. While the Bees attempted to protest the decision, the Rougeaus offered them another handshake… which the Bees again declined. “We’re sorry the Bees were angry,” says Jacques. “But that’s the way it goes. They’ll cool down, and we’ll shake hands again. We’re sure Jim and Brian will appreciate it when we’re on top.”
In Private Eye, we get a look at Hacksaw Jim Duggan visiting his hometown, Glens Falls, New York…
Next, the WWF Lowdown: George Steele has a new companion, a stuffed creature named “Mine” who bears a resemblance to Steele himself. Occasionally he stuffs it into his opponent’s face. Often, after a victory, he insists the referee raise Mine’s hand as well. Fans can now purchase the companion in the merchandise catalog. Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart are again teaming up as the Hart Foundation, but this time they’re doing it without Jimmy Hart. Bret says he’d rather not have a manager who was recently caught by WWF Magazine wearing women’s clothes. Ringside observers say the duo looks better than ever. Hillbilly Jim and New York City Mayor Ed Koch arm-wrestled as part of a promotion for a wheelchair basketball game. Jim participated in one of the games himself, playing in a wheelchair against the Brooklyn Whirlaways, an all-star disabled team. Bam Bam Bigelow recently greeted people at the Queens Festival in New York, held to celebrate ethnic diversity. Meanwhile, Jake Roberts visited Chicago’s Lincoln Park where he signed autographs and said hello to fans and also appeared at Rutherford, New Jersey’s Meadowland’s Raceway to greet fans before the races. Closer to the ring, Slick has been complaining about the lack of title shots for his Bolsheviks and says there’s a conspiracy to keep them away from Demolition. “The Bolsheviks could destroy Demolition,” he says, “any time any place.” The Ultimate Warrior recently visited the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital for substance abusers to give a pep talk for patients there. (I wish I had a transcript of that.) The British Bulldogs say they’re a little surprised by the cheap shots the Rougeaus have been taking lately. (I bet they are.) They say it looks like the Rougeaus are trying to take shortcuts to success.
Next, in Wrestler’s Rebuttal, Bam Bam Bigelow says he can’t wait to get ahold of the Big Boss Man. (Too bad Bam Bam was headed out the door.)
And here’s this month’s Crossword Puzzle… (curiously, the “answer puzzle” doesn’t include the original’s photo of the British Bulldogs in the middle.)
And finally, Caught in the Act, featuring Craig DeGeorge on Hulk Hogan’s boat…
That’s all for this week! Join me next week where we’ll look Pro Wrestling Illustrated to learn that in the WWF, Bam Bam Bigelow is out and Curt Hennig is in. Meanwhile, the Honky Tonk Man has become the longest reigning Intercontinental champion of all time. Also, the murder of a wrestler has left Eddie Ellner shaken, and PWI argues that the WWF should introduce an Intercontinental tag team title. 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!