Flashback Friday: Wrestling Superstars Magazine 1988
By J.W. Braun on 30th December 2022
This week we look back at an issue of Wrestling Superstars that went to press in early August of 1988 and sold for $2.25 in the U.S, $2.95 in Canada, and £1.50 in the U.K. In this issue, we get the results of a “Sexiest Superstar” poll. But first, let’s get right to Ratings…
We begin with Fan Forum, where Bernard from Battle Creek, Michigan says he enjoyed reading Wrestling Superstars’ analysis of a dream match between Hulk Hogan and Mike Tyson. “This one transcended the mat sport. It would be like planets colliding!” But whereas the writers say Hogan would probably win the matchup, Bernard says he’s not so sure. “I don’t think Tyson would lose to Hulk Hogan.” Mike from Richmond, Virginia, on the other hand, says the magazine should stick to wrestler vs. wrestler dream matches. “But,” he adds, “if anyone could beat Tyson, it is certainly Hogan.” Meanwhile, Rolene from Somerset, Texas says she recently attended an event in Houston to see Barry Windham, and she ended up seated next to a Lex Luger fan who called her names! “I almost threw her into the ring then and there, but I decided it wasn’t worth the bother.” (Has there ever been a spontaneous bra and panties fan match?) Then there’s Jerry Parent of Elk River, Minnesota who says everyone wants to know what’s wrong with the AWA, but the answer is obviously AWA president Stanley Blackburn. “His illegitimate decisions have brought the AWA to the brink of folding.” And Mark from Verona, New Jersey says that while Hacksaw Jim Duggan likes to think he’s David and Andre’s Goliath, Duggan is really just a jerk who instigated the feud. “Duggan challenged Andre. Duggan butted into Andre’s business. Duggan belted Andre with a 2×4. Now the Giant is mad.” The next letter is from Andrew of Denver who says everyone’s always calling Dusty Rhodes fat, but Dusty moves as well as anyone and is an inspiration for everyone who’s not skinny or chiseled. “Since I’ve been watching him, I’ve stopped avoiding sports and am doing better in school.” And Nancy from Markala, Michigan says that while she appreciates a man’s body, she fears the magazine’s “Sexiest Superstar” contest might objectify men and devalue wrestling. “Yes, I like the muscular bodies of today’s young stars, but if they can’t wrestle, they just don’t flip my pancakes.” (Also, there’s another danger here. If we start objectifying men at the risk of devaluing them as people, the same thing could happen to women.) Then we hear from Lisa from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who says she was at Wrestlefest where she saw Terry Taylor wrestle Curt Hennig and thought it was unfair to throw Taylor into such a competitive match with little preparation. In addition, Taylor has had to wrestle guys like Lanny Poffo who have been in the WWF for so long, they are accustomed to the referees, the fans, and the arenas. (Who does Lisa want Taylor to wrestle, the popcorn vendor?) In closing, Lisa says the WWF should allow Taylor to get some seasoning . “Before long, he’ll have no problem with the finest wrestlers.” Lastly, Kurt from Bethesda, Maryland says Sting and Lex Luger have had their chances to beat Ric Flair, and they blew them. “I no longer want to know who the man is who can beat Ric Flair, I want to know can anybody beat Ric Flair?”
Next, we get Superstar Grapevine, where we learn Hulk Hogan made his first appearance in over three months at WrestleFest in Milwaukee and defeated Andre the Giant in a steel cage match. When Andre’s manager, Bobby Heenan, climbed into the ring, Hogan beat up Heenan, tossed him into Andre, and climbed out the ring for the win. Hogan and Andre are scheduled to meet again in Greensboro on August 7 and then again in New York on August 29 in tag team action (Summerslam). Also, the word is if DiBiase doesn’t defeat Savage soon, Andre will become the new number one contender. (Wait, Hogan just beat Andre! How does that make Andre number one?) Also at WrestleFest, Curt Hennig, former AWA champion, defeated Terry Taylor, former Texas champion. According to inside sources, Hennig is hoping for a shot at Savage too.
Elsewhere, an apparent rift between Rick Morton and Robert Gibson has caused the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to implode. Morton is still wrestling for the NWA, but Gibson appears to be headed back to the AWA, though he may also wrestle for independent promotions. Neither individual would comment on the breakup.
Next, Superstar Quote Book… Sadly, only a few of these people are still with us.
This issue’s dream match analysis is Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage. The writers paint a portrait of Vince McMahon and Jim Crockett Jr. working together to set up the match, with McMahon even resorting to trickery to get Savage emotionally invested by creating fake pictures of Ric Flair and Elizabeth together.
The dream match itself is described as two men putting on a wrestling clinic before Flair takes control, seemingly ready to put Savage away. But then Savage rolls up the NWA champ in a pinning attempt only for the Horsemen run in and break things up, getting Flair disqualified.
Next, in Know Your Holds, Pat Tanaka teaches us about the Waistlock Suplex. He says it’s not as flashy as a flying dropkick or bodypress, but it’s less risky and more effective. The key to the move is to catch your opponent by surprise and perform the maneuver as quickly as possible. The faster you do it, the greater the impact and the less chance your opponent has to shift his weight, allowing you to use his weight against him and put him in a pinning predicament. “Speed, impact, and the element of surpise. These are all secrets of a successful suplex.”
Next, an interview with Ronnie Garvin, who shocked the world by turning against Dusty Rhodes and helping out the Four Horsemen for a satchel full of cash before hiring Gary Hart as his new manager.
Garvin is asked “Why?” His answer is simple: “Cash.” He says he’s still the same Ronnie Garvin he’s always been, he’s just smarter now. “I still have my ‘hands of stone,’ but now I’m doin’ the ‘Garvin stomp’ on the prone bodies of my defeated opponents.”
(By the way, here are the directions for the Garvin Stomp copied and pasted directly from WWE.com: “1. Approach vulnerable opponent lying on the mat. Stomp shoulder. 2. Go to the waist … STOMP! 3. Head to the knee … STOMP!”)
Garvin then goes on to say Gary Hart is the greatest manager in wrestling, and after losing the NWA title and not getting any return matches, Garvin realized he needed someone like that. “Now, Mr. Hart is going to ensure everything I touch turns to solid gold.”
Garvin reiterates that all that matters to him now his money, and he’ll wrestle his brother, Jimmy, or his own mother if the price is right. “You know, sportswriters are the dumbest things there is. They pick on athletes for signing big money contracts, but they jump from newspapers to magazines back to newspapers all the time and nobody blinks an eye. You’re all hypocrites.”
The magazine asks Garvin if getting the money was worth losing all his old friends, and he says, “I didn’t lose Barry Windham, wise guy. We were U.S. tag team champions together, and we’ve remained close. Since he joined the Horsemen, he’s never been happier—or richer—in his life.”
As for his future, Garvin says he might team up with Al Perez. “He’s always needed some veteran leadership, and with Gary behind us, there’s no limit to what we can do as a team.”
As for Dusty Rhodes? “Bring on that butterball. If I can retire him, Gary and J.J. have promised me a bonus that will make what they gave me at the Baltimore Bash look like a Crackerjack prize.”
Next, an article about how Shane Douglas has changed Humongous. Humongous, who stands 6’8 and weighs 318 pounds and wrestles for the Continental Wrestling Federation, used to be one of the most hated men in the sport. Now he’s a fan favorite thanks to an intervention by youngster Shane Douglas. “Humongous was a confused man,” Douglas says. “The fans hated him because of his brutality, but he couldn’t understand that because it was all he knew how to do. But we were childhood friends in Pittsburgh, and I knew who he really was. When I caught up with him in the CWF, I gave him a big hug, and we knew we still had a connection.” Subsequently, Douglas was being interviewed when he was attacked by Downtown Bruno and Detroit Demolition. Who should come to the youngster’s rescue? Humongous himself. “Shane is my friend,” said the soft spoken Humongous afterward. “No one will attack him again.” The two friends formed a tag team, and now they’re the CWF tag team champions of the world.
“Humongous has been misunderstood, that’s all,” claims Douglas. “I really care about the guy. He just got mixed up with the wrong people, the same way he used to when we were young. But he doesn’t have to worry about being taken advantage of anymore. I’ll be here whenever he needs me.” (There were actually a few different wrestlers playing “Humongous” over the years, but this incarnation was some dude named Sid Eudy.)
Next, the magazine has an article imploring the fans to stop cheering for Hacksaw Duggan. They say Duggan looks like something that’s been hibernating in the mountains for the past ten years, that he can only yell incoherently in interviews, and he always carries a foreign object. (Bret Hart would probably give him a couple of fours for look and mic skills.) Yet the fans cheer him nonetheless. Why? Because he chants USA? Is the man really a proper role model for children? Do we want to say, “Children, this is the way to deal with your problems. If somebody gets in your way, hit them with a 2×4.” Worse yet, the WWF even sells replicas of Duggan’s lumber at the concession stands! Cheer for men who uphold the rules an integrity of professional wrestling. Shawn Michaels. Davey Boy Smith. Dynamite Kid. Sam Houston. They deserve those cheers. But don’t cheer for Duggan. He has does nothing to enhance the image of the sport. He doesn’t deserve your cheers.
Next, an article about Kamala being afraid of Kerry Von Erich. Kamala’s manager, General Akbar says that where Kamala grew up in Uganda, Africa, there was the face of a God responsible for death, disease, famine, and wars on a cliff face. The face was always watching Kamala’s tribe, and each member was deathly afraid of it. And the face looked exactly like Kerry Von Erich. For that reason, Kamala cannot bring himself to look upon the World Class champion, and Akbar doesn’t know how to handle it. (It’s a trap!)
And now it’s time for what you’re all here for… the sexiest men in wrestling as voted by you the fans. First, let’s start with number 20 and work our way to number eleven:
- #20: Steve DiSalvo
- #19: Brad Armstrong
- #18: Rick Martel
- #17: Ric Flair
- #16: Randy Savage
- #15: Jake Roberts
- #14: Kevin Von Erich
- #13: Stan Lane
- #12: Barry Windham
- #11: Robert Gibson.
And now, we’ll take a closer look at the top 10
#10: Rick Morton
#9: Brutus Beefcake
#8: Al Perez
#7: Bret Hart
#6: The Ultimate Warrior
#5: Hulk Hogan
#3: Kerry Von Erich
#2: Lex Luger
And here are some comments from fans on what they liked about these guys:
“Lex Luger doesn’t walk, he oozes. And when he rips his shirt off, I get weak all over.”
“Kerry Von Erich is muscular, but he’s different. When he walks to the ring wearing just his jeans, I practically faint!”
“Sting is so energetic, you can’t help but be hypnotized by him. The war paint seems to bring out his natural animal instincts, and it brings out mine too.”
“Hulk Hogan really works at his body. He says he’s going to dedicate himself to training, vitamins, weightlifting, and all the rest, then he goes out and does it.”
“The Ultimate Warrior is a veritable obelisk of muscle! How could you not find him sexy?
“Every pore of Bret Hart’s body emanates just one thing: ‘cool.’ And when he smiles, he looks just like a cat that ate the canary!”
“Al Perez has great eyes and a great body. He’s not overly muscular, but he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him, and he always has a great sweaty look after a match.”
“Brutus Beefcake is more than just an exciting wrestler, he’s muscular and has the most perfect pair of legs I’ve ever seen. I love the way his tights show off his body!”
“Ricky Morton has the most fantastic pair of eyes that I’ve ever seen on a human male. When he smiles, oooh, let me tell you, that is my definition of sexy. He can make me melt into a puddle with just one look.”
And finally… here’s number one…..
From a fan: “Rick Rude is the ultimate embodiment of sex. There isn’t a specific body part that impresses me more than any other, it’s just a matter of Rude being so complete and perfect that he simply sets me swooning as soon as I look at a photo of him or hear his name. I usually find myself leaving the arena before his match even begins. And that’s not because I don’t like him, it’s because I’m trying to keep myself under control. Just the sight of him gets me too crazy.”
That’s all for this week. Tune in next week, where I’ll cover Inside Wrestling, which has an interview with Roddy Piper and a description of a house show just before Summerslam 88 that appears to include a dress rehearsal for a title change. 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.