This week we look back at an issue of PWI that went to press September 8, 1988 and sold for $2.25 in the U.S, $2.95 in Canada, and £1.50 in the U.K. Let’s get right to Ratings…
We begin proper with Between Falls, the mailbag section, where Anne from Sandwich, Massachusetts says PWI is flat-out wrong to say the WWF championship is out of Hogan’s reach, and comparing Hogan to Steamboat is completely unfair as Hogan is the better wrestler. “I think, however, that instead of damaging the internal harmony of The Megapowers, Hulk will opt to avoid a direct challenge to Savage’s belt and be content with being the popular ex-champion. Although standing in the shadow is not a role the Hulkster has played for years, I’m sure he will be content to do just that throughout Savage’s title reign.” (Bwahahahaha) Meanwhile, Perry from Branford says now that Savage is champ, we don’t need Hogan anymore. “Savage is simply a more exciting wrestler.” On a different topic, Mark from Petawawa, Ontario says people keep saying the WWF doesn’t have wrestlers who are as tough as other federations, but only the WWF lets wrestlers throw each other over the top rope without getting disqualified.” So before you speak out against the WWF, take a look at the rulebooks. Then you’ll see why the WWF is the only real wrestling federation.” Then there’s Holly from Vancouver, Washington who says the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express fans are crying again because the team is splitting up, but she won’t bother because there are lots of good young teams like the Midnight Rockers and the Southern Rockers, and no one needs the older Rock ‘n’ Rolls anymore.
Jennifer from Philadelphia writes in to say she enjoyed the article about Madusa Miceli and hopes for more coverage of women in wrestling and better opportunities for women in the sport than their presently getting. And Neil from Jackson, New Jersey praises PWI for dropping Flair in the ratings to number two. “Once Flair discovers he cannot beat Lex Luger, he will probably jump to the WWF and make a fool of himself a la Harley Race and Terry Funk.” Meanwhile, Rob from Columbus, Ohio says the Midnight Express is unquestionably the most perfect tag team in wrestling. “I guess they will just have to take the World belts away from Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson for people to wake up and smell the coffee.” And finally, Lucy from New York says Kevin Sullivan’s attack on Jimmy Garvin, using cinderblocks to break Garvin’s leg, was appalling, and she has noticed that violence seems to be on the rise in wrestling. “That’s not wrestling. That’s not even rulebreaking. That’s just inhuman.”
Next, it’s Ringside with Bill Apter, where Bill reports that Kevin Von Erich has been visiting with doctors after suffering a few minor concussions over the past few months an feeling nauseous. At press time, he’s still undergoing tests. In the WWF, the Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart have been told not to bother filing a protest of Honky’s SummerSlam loss to the Ultimate Warrior. Hart’s claim that the match wasn’t sanctioned is false. In Stampede, Beef Wellington, the wrestler formerly known as Biff Wellington, is the top contender to Johnny Smith’s British Commonwealth title, and Steve DiSalvo pinned North American champ Makhan Singh in a non-title match in Calgary. Singh is scheduled to tour South Africa to defend his belt and team with Tiger Jeet Singh. In the CWA, Jimmy Valiant has joined Jerry Lawler’s war against Buddy Landell, and Eddie Gilbert and Paul E. Dangerously’s suspension has been lifted after fans voted to have it repealed. As Pat from Birmingham wrote in a letter to PWI, “Gilbert and Dangerously add excitement to wrestling.” Former NWA champion Ron Garvin is now wrestling in the Continental area. AWA women’s champion Madusa Miceli and former WWF women’s champion Fabulous Moolah wrestled to a double-disqualification on September 3rd at Cleveland’s Medina County Fairgrounds. A fan poll was recently held to choose the most popular wrestler in the Southern Championship Wrestling area, and Scott Armstrong won, garnering more votes than The Bullet, Ranger Ross, and Tommy Rich. Later in the night, Rich, after winning a “loser gets 10 lashes” match against Joel Deaton, turned on Armstrong, who was providing color commentary, whipping Armstrong instead of his defeated opponent.
In World Class, John Tatum and Jimmy Jack Funk (substituting for the injured Jack Victory) defeated World Class Texas tag champs Steve and Shawn Simpson in a Triple Dome of Terror match. Tatum and Funk will now meet World Class tag champs the Samoan Swat Team in a unification match for the WCCW tag title. In the NWA, officials are making preliminary plans to hold Starrcade ’88 at the Greensboro Coliseum. (Well, that didn’t happen.) Lou Thesz reports that all systems are go for his Virginia Wrestling Academy. Ric Flair is scheduled to defend his NWA World title against Top Gun on September 20 in Portland, Oregon. The WWF’s second Survivor Series is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day in Richfield, Ohio and will be available on pay-per-view TV. It will be the WWF’s fourth and final pay-per-view of the year. (Third, actually, assuming we’re not including the Sugar Ray Leonard boxing match Vince promoted.) That’s all for now. See you at the matches!
Next, From the Desk of Stu Staks, where Stu says Flair doesn’t care about being loved, and he doesn’t even care about being respected. He just wants to be remembered. Flair wants the History of Wrestling textbook to have him on the cover. As such, Stu notices that Flair approaches interviews differently for print and broadcast media. TV interviews are for now. Magazine interviews will live in print forever. When wrestling historians study the words of Ric Flair, they’ll perceive him as more thoughtful than boastful. (This is, of course, assuming the historians don’t have some sort of application that allows them to watch all the old wrestling programs on demand.) That said, Flair no longer holds the top spot in PWI’s ratings, and while he has objected, deep down he probably understands why. He’s been coasting. Gone are the days when he was a traveling champion defending his title night after night. He’s now scorned by fans, lambasted in the press, and dropped in the ratings. Meanwhile, Jerry Lawler has been elevating the value of the AWA championship be defending it around the country against wrestlers from other federations, including Kerry Von Erich, who once defeated Flair himself. Flair, perhaps, sensing that Lawler is on the verge of passing him in the ratings, has scheduled a title defense against Top Gun in Portland and has even talked to World Class about making a title defense in Texas. That’s because Flair knows that at this point in his career, it’s no longer enough to avoid losing the title. He must not lose his reputation.
Next, In Focus with Craig Peters reports the results of a PWI demographic fan survey. Here’s a breakdown:
- Males: 70.2%
- Females: 29.8%
- Those who buy the magazine monthly at newsstands: 70.6%
- Most popular sister publication: Inside Wrestling
- Cable subscribers: 71.6%
- Pay-per-view buyers (who bought one in the last year): 34.2%
- Favorite federation: NWA
- Second favorite federation: WWF
- Third favorite federation: World Class
- Fourth favorite federation: AWA
- How much wrestling do fans watch? 37.3% watch 3-6 hours, 30% watch more than 10 hours, 27.4% watch 7-10 hours, and 5.3% watch less than three hours.
- The most popular entertainment item: a videorecorder (owned by 84.7%)
- Video tape stats: 22% of readers own more than 10 wrestling video tapes, and 42.4% have purchased one in the past three months.
- Readers who own record players: 75.4%
- Readers who own cassette players: 67.2%
- Readers who own home computers: 31.9%
- Readers who own compact disc players: 12.5%
Next, No Holds Barred with Dave Rosenbaum where Dave complains about the Ultimate Warrior attacking the Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam ’88 before the bell rang. “Is there anything more idiotic than the non-rule that allows a wrestler to attack his opponent before the bell rings without penalty? And is there a stupider sight in all of sports than a referee frantically calling for the bell to start the match after the attack has begun?” Dave then goes on to point out that the referee in the Honky/Warrior match was Earl Hebner, who appeared to condone what should have been an illegal act. “Imagine if boxers were allowed to attack their opponent before the opening bell. Most fights would be over in a matter of seconds!” Dave goes on to suggest that while some may say disqualifying every wrestler for a before-the-bell attack may be unrealistic, a cooling-down period would be a good compromise. “It’s time to bring some common sense to wrestling’s rules.”
And speaking of boxing, Dave touches on the upcoming Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Donny Lalonde fight. Dave says the match is a major coup for Titan Sports, which outbid boxing giants Shelly Finkel and Bob Arum for the PPV rights. Finkel, however, says Titan overbid. “The $9 million they paid is way too high.” Finkel points out they’re selling it on pay-per-view for $29.95, which most people won’t bite on, and Titan will have to split the profits with the cable companies 50-50. “Across the nation, this is a good event but not spectacular. When you factor in the promotional expenses, I don’t see how they make money.” (And she was right, as Titan lost $5 million.)
Next, Matt Brocks looks at… The Honky Tonk Man. Matt says, “I told you so.” Specifically, he says he told us Cyndi Lauper, MTV, and the so-called rock ‘n’ wrestling connection would eventually cheapen wrestling to the point where a talentless, wrestler/rocker could even be a major title holder. “Everyone laughed and said it would never happen. ‘The rock connection was just a way of getting new people into the sport,’ they claimed. They were blinded.”
Matt goes on to say he once thought it would be satisfying to say, “I told you so,” but it actually makes him sad. He is, however, happy the Honky Tonk Man, who bought to the WWF the Elvis impersonation he perfected in the Stampede territory, has finally lost the Intercontinental Title he never deserved. “I know about Intercontinental champions, and I know that Honky Tonk couldn’t lick the boots of the greatest I-C champion ever, Pedro Morales.”
We move on to Off the Top Rope with Eddie Ellner, where Eddie dips into his mailbag. Erik from Severina Park, Maryland says she can’t believe how many people signed the Inside Wrestling petition begging the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to return to the NWA. “I didn’t realize that many 14-year-old girls read the magazine!” He wants to know if it’s possible to start a petition to ask them to leave again. Eddie says, “Let me allay your fears. Though 14-year-old girls can influence network television programming and create disturbing fashion trends, there is a limit to their power. Despite the pandering to the Express, the dynamic duo is no longer together as a team. Apparently, the two had a severe falling out over Gibson’s continued abuse of hair-styling gel.” Next, Pattie from Arkadelphia, Arkansas runs down Nikita Koloff, calling him a cottonmouthed Dusty Rhodes idolizer and a blind man’s Ric Flair. Eddie agrees and says it’s time for Nikita to forfeit his American citizenship and go back to wrestling bears. Then there’s Barnard from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky who says he watches a lot of wrestling and has developed a sixth sense telling him what will happen in the future. His ESP is telling him the MegaPowers will not last very long. “Hogan is a snake in the grass. He pretended to be friends with Savage just to get close to Elizabeth. When he gains her affection, he’ll dump the Macho Man. Their ensuing feud, I predict, will be the main event for WrestleMania V. What do you think?” Eddie says, “It’s my long-standing belief that Hulk Hogan is a self-serving, selfish, pompous egotist who would sell his wife, mother, daughter into white slavery to ensure his name remains on page one.” And lastly, Sue from Naples Florida asks Eddie why J.J. Dillon let Barry Windham into the Four Horsemen. “Did Dillon feel sorry for Windham? I had the slightest ray of hope that Windham would improve under the supervision of Dillon, but alas, once a geek, always a geek.” Eddie says Barry is not a geek but a pandering twit.
Next, it’s the winner of the “Phone call with Sting” contest, 15-year-old Brian McGinnis of California! Brian had a 30 minute conversation with Sting, whom Brian considers a role model. Sting led off saying, “I’m glad I’m a role model for you, Brian, but in what way am I a role model for you? What’s the deal, Brian?” Brian explains that when Sting figures out what he wants, he goes for it. “That’s the way I’ve always been since I was a kid,” Sting said. “It was probably my dad who taught me that. He told me never to quit anything, so if I started something, I never quit it. And that improves your character.” Brian then asked Sting what he does in his spare time. Sting said, “I like to work out in the gym, and I’ll go out to the clubs and goof off. I like to go and look at women. If I’m home in California, the beach is number one for me. I love to work out, and I love to work out on the beach.” Asked about his goals in 1989, Sting said, “To get one title or another. But belts don’t mean everything.” Brian asked if Sting would consider wrestling Luger if Luger were a champion. Sting replied, “Maybe sometime down the line.” (Like SuperBrawl II? Cause I was there for that.) “But I’m not in competition with him. We’re both turning wrestling into something new. We’re not from the old school.” Brian then said that most people agree Flair isn’t as good as he used to be, and Brian added that if Sting could get Flair in a no-DQ match and have allies ready, Sting could probably defeat Flair for the title. Sting said he knows what Brian means, and that’s why he liked having J.J. Dillon in a cage and judges at ringside for the March Clash of the Champions match. Brian then asked if Sting were to win the title, if he would defend it in other federations. Sting said that legally he probably couldn’t. Brian then said, “But would you want to? Who would you like to wrestle in other federations?” Sting said, “I’d like to wrestle the Ultimate Warrior. I know he won the Intercontinental title but I know I’ve come a lot further than him. I know a lot of people know that we were partners at one time, and they would like to see that match just to see who’s better.”
Next, a Press Conference with Iceman Parsons, who recently won the Texas title when he defeated Kerry Von Erich, who was substituting for the injured champion, Kevin Von Erich. Parsons says, “I have once again proven that I am the only man in wrestling that can defeat the so-called ‘great’ Kerry Von Erich anytime I want to. But all I ever see in ‘Von Erich this, Von Erich that.’ You still don’t give me my due.” The magazine writers point out there was cheating in the match, to which Parsons says, “What are you talking about, you raggedy rooty-poot? Kerry passed out because I was layin’ such a whuppin’ on his behind, then I pinned him. He’s really easy to beat, you know.” Asked why he’s taken General Skandor Akbar as his manager, Parsons responds, “What kind of a jive-question is that? Everybody knows that there are very few men in the sport who are as intelligent as Akbar, the true manager of champions. I’m the Texas champion. The Samoan Swat Team are the World Class tag team champions. Now as soon as I win back my World Class title, there will be only one mission left to achieve. It’s high time we got rid of Michael Hayes.”
Next, an article about the MegaPowers. “If there was a way to measure hugs, the one Elizabeth and Hulk Hogan gave each other after the Megabucks vs. Megapowers match at SummerSlam ’88 would have gone off the scale.” (Wait until Survivor Series.) “You’ve heard of the cold-fish handshake? Moments later, Elizabeth gave Randy Savage the cold-fish hug.” The magazine says that’s not the only fishy aspect to the ever-intriguing Savage-Hogan-Elizabeth triangle. To wit: prior to SummerSlam ’88, Hogan suggested that Elizabeth would wear an “itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie, yellow polkadot bikini.” Yet instead, Elizabeth wore a modest one-piece bathing suit. Why the change in clothing? Could it be Savage vetoed Hogan’s idea? When Hogan and Savage appeared in an interview shortly following the announcement of the match at SummerSlam, Savage seemed stunned by Hogan’s suggestion that Elizabeth was now “our manager” and no longer Savage’s sole property. Weeks later, Elizabeth kissed Savage during an interview. Hogan then asked, “What about me?” and Elizabeth planted a kiss on the Hulkster’s cheek. All the while, Savage’s face got redder and redder. And finally, Hogan has saved Savage on a number of occasions. But each time it was only when Elizabeth asked Hogan for his help. Is Hogan really Savage’s friend, or is he only interested in impressing Elizabeth? Moreover, PWI says the truth is Savage wouldn’t be nearly as popular as he is without his woman, and Hogan knows this. Could Hogan be plotting to steal Elizabeth to anger Savage, put himself in line for a title shot, and sabotage Savage’s connection with the fans? One thing’s for sure: Hogan would never have agreed to team with his former archrival if not for Elizabeth’s intervention. And Hogan is clearly begging for her attention as Savage tries to hold on to the women he loves. It is a desperate struggle between two men who are used to getting what they want. A struggle that could soon lead to catastrophe.
Next, it’s Close-up with Barry Windham…
Next, Scouting Reports!
Next, an article about the Road Warriors. It was September 29, 1985 when they were upset by the unranked team of Jim Garvin and Steve Regal for the AWA championship, and despite the Warriors consistently ranking as a top tag team, they haven’t worn gold in North America since. Now they say it’s time to win the NWA tag team belts or retire. But are they serious? The Four Horsemen say no. “It’s just a lot of malarkey designed to get us to sign for a match,” J.J. Dillons says. Insiders claim differently. Anonymous sources claim if the Warriors don’t win the World tag team title by the end of 1988, they’ll ride off into the sunset.
Next, Arena Reports…
Next, Breaking News! At the Clash of the Champions III: Fall Brawl, Paul Jones and the Russian Assassins turned on Ivan Koloff, and rumors are that Ivan may reunite with Nikita. (That indeed was the long-term plan until Nikita’s wife became ill.) In other news, Leroy Brown died in a hospital on September 6 after suffering a stroke. He was 37.
In the WWF, Brutus Beefcake, who missed SummerSlam ’88 due to injury, is demanding that the Ultimate Warrior give him a shot at the Intercontinental title.
And Rick Bassman, the manager who first brought Sting and the Ultimate Warrior into the national spotlight, has issued a challenge to his former proteges. He would like them to wrestle his tag team, The Golden Rule, which is made up of wrestlers Mark “the Legend” Miller and Greg “The Myth” Boyd.
That’s all for this week! Join me next week for a look at an issue of Inside Wrestling where we get an article about Hulk Hogan’s new headgear, Eddie Ellner picks a winner in his contest asking fans to name the most historical moment in wrestling, and we have new NWA World tag team champions. 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!