Inside The Magazine Volume #18: WWF RAW Magazine Winter ’97

Hopefully, you like Vic Venom (Vince Russo). He’s in this quite a bit. The hype for the USA vs. Canada feud is heavily featured. Plus, Ahmed Johnson gives us an in-depth look at gang life and what it’s all about. The feud between Mankind and Hunter Hearst Helmsley is highlighted, as well. All that and more!

Vic Venom, aka Vince Russo.

VENOM RAW: written by: Vic Venom

In case you didn’t know already, Vic Venom is the alias of Vince Russo. Also, just opening the magazine I see that numerous times he typed in CAPS making it seem like it’s an angry guy on the internet trying to get his point across. I guess that’s rather fitting for Russo, anyway.

Venom starts off saying that he has never been a fan of Sunny due to what she lacks to bring to the table. He puts over her assets in a rather creepy manner. As a manager she would just use her assets and didn’t help her teams, which ended up ending her managerial career. Venom notes that the company has her under a longterm contract and need to get something out of her. However, having her go around in skimpy outfits got old real quick, and it didn’t help that Sable came on the scene. Venom doesn’t think Sunny comes close to Sable and considers Sable to be the perfect woman.

He recalls a meeting for Friday Night Main Event where Jim Ross suggested that Sunny do interviews. Venom proceeds to go on a tangent about hating women commentators and they have “no right to be on the mike!” He also bashes Suzyn Waltman, a commentator for Yankees game, saying she doesn’t know the sport and is ugly. As it turns out, Sunny nailed the segments and he thinks she should continue in the role. Though, having her in the mens locker room is another story for another time.

Rick Rude is always listening to offers for protection.

THE INFORMER

Recently, Rick Rude suggested to Vince McMahon that he needed some protection and he’d be the man for the job. Rude notes that he is a hire gun and if someone supplies the money, he’ll do the job. The informer also suggests that Sgt. Slaughter isn’t a changed man as he has claimed in recent years. Perhaps Slaughter picks and chooses when he wants to enforce the rules in the WWF. On RAW the Nation and DOA had a brawl that saw Kama get tossed through the windshield of a car that belongs to Jim Cornette. Nobody ended up telling Cornette and he flipped out beating his own car with a baseball bat.

Two other tidbits of news from the informer include Sunny lobbying to be the manager for Animal and Hawk. Also, a wrestler has reached out to the Patriot to be on his side, but a letter wasn’t signed by someone, but rather ended with a “HOOOO!”

Chyna in the ring? Fans want it!

LETTERS FROM THE FANS

Jose thinks that the WWF should bring in some female wrestlers to wrestle Chyna, since she is attacking male wrestles despite Hunter Hearst Helmsley being more than capable to handle the competition. He thinks that Chyna in the ring would benefit the company. Mark likes that the WWF is acknowledging other companies lately and have brought in guys like Taka Michinoku and Brian Christopher. He hopes that Great Sasuke and Great Delfin will be on the program because the diverse styles makes for a more enjoyable show.

Crystal thinks the fans should have a say on who gets inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame since some questionable names have gotten in as of late. Josh can’t believe that the British Bulldog would associate himself with a group of thugs like the Hart Foundation. Heck, Bulldog isn’t even Canadian! Bulldog should know that in order to be a big name, he’s going to have to do it on his own.

RAGIN’ ROSS: written by: Jim Ross

Ross suggests that Shawn Michaels may need to recruit some help to get past the challenge of the Undertaker. Bret Hart continues to be very popular overseas. Steve Austin’s black 3:16 t-shirt is the best selling t-shirt, surpassing Hogan’s shirt in the 80s. The Patriot, Del Wilkes, was a heavily recruited football player until he signed with South Carolina. Ross puts over Mick Foley for his amazing attitude and desire towards the business. There are rumors that a WWF Lightweight Champion will be crowned by the end of the year. In the mess between Goldust, Marlena and Brian Pillman, the person suffering the most is Dakota, who needs a mother and father. Ross doesn’t believe the Undertaker will ever agree to wrestle Kane. He thinks it is a little weird that the Godwinns think that Deliverance is the best movie ever. Ross doesn’t know why Jim Cornette isn’t managing currently. There are rumors that Bret Hart will add to the Hart Foundation by the end of the year.

SHOOTIN’ FROM THE MOUTH: written by: James E. Cornette

Cornette says he was approached by the editor and begged to write an article for the magazine telling Cornette he can write about whatever he wanted to. Cornette says that he is often asked about when the Midnight Express would reunite. Dennis Condrey and Stan Lane are both retired while Bobby Eaton is “under contract with another promotion that refuses to recognize his tremendous talents.” So, a reunion isn’t likely but could still happen at some point. Cornette lists some of the greatest wrestlers in his opinion, which included Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson, Terry Funk, Jerry Lawler, Harley Race and Ric Flair. The article has a decent sized picture of Flair, who was under contract and competing for WCW at this time. Cornette believes that Bret Hart and Steve Austin can both make that list at some point, too.

THE LEGION OF DOOM: THE EARLY YEARS: written by: Kevin Kelly

Animal recalls at a young age having a brand new bike and some bullies destroying it. Hawk was the only person to help him fight off those bullies. Animal would move to Minnesota from Chicago, but as the odds would have it, Hawk and his family moved that way too. They would end up meeting Paul Ellering through a man named Eddie Sharkey. Soon thereafter, the Road Warriors made a splash in AWA. They used their size and power advantage to dominate a mostly grappling oriented company. Jim Cornette believes that history will serve them well for their ability to change the business, draw money and win championships. Two former bouncers followed their mentor and became the best team in professional wrestling.

DID THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION START A WAR?: written by: Kevin Kelly

For over 200-years Canada and the United States have been working together for trade involving several items. There has been a peaceful coexistence to benefit both countries. Bret Hart has been a victim in the sudden change of what American fans deem to be worth their cheers as they now have begun to cheer for Steve Austin. Kevin notes that when the WWF is in Canada, the Hart Foundation are promoted as heroes and their foes are treated as villains. Which, is a role reversal from what is promoted in America. At Calgary Stampede, images of the Hart Foundation standing tall were burned into the mind of American fans. Kelly is blaming the World Wrestling Federation for manipulating fans into this Canada vs. USA war. Kelly doesn’t think it was a coincidence that The Patriot made his debut when Bret Hart got in a scuffle with Vince McMahon at ringside. The peaceful coexistence between America and Canada might dissolve at the Survivor Series pay per view.

THE GLARE OF A RED DAWN: written by: Bill Banks

War brings Americans closer together with a since of patriotism and the economy is seen as being prosperous as a result. Patriot waves around the USA flag similar to Sgt. Slaughter and Jim Duggan in years past. However, can Patriot survive in an era where the red scare is just a page in the history books? Banks gives us a history lesson on a few wrestlers that have fought for the USA against foreign invaders. However, the Patriot’s career is following a different path since the threat of communism doesn’t exist any longer. When there isn’t a threat for Americans, we sometimes create our own threats just to battle against something. Which, would explain why the feuds between the USA and Canada in the WWF has gotten so heated in recent months. Patriot is also honest about where the USA is going and the faults the country has, which nobody prior to him would ever address. Patriot is better than Slaughter, Duggan and others in the ring and there’s no telling where his in-ring ability will lead him in the WWF.

THE TWO BIGGEST CON MEN IN THE GAME

Vic Venom took the time to interview both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. I’m personally already annoyed with how Venom writes his stuff.

Bret Hart Interview:
Bret doesn’t think he is a hypocrite for working for an American company and accepting American money. They pay him for a job and he does that. Bret doesn’t think he has an “attitude” for speaking the truth. Venom is blaming Bret for causing the wedge between America and Canada. Bret clarifies that he doesn’t have hatred towards all Americans. It’s mostly towards wrestling fans who have turned their back on him after years of entertaining them. He recalls in Binghamton, New York where Steve Austin destroyed his knee with a steel chair and the fans ate it all up. They cheered him for it. It was at that point he realized that American fans don’t deserve his respect. Bret thinks he has every right to whine and complain when nobody has his back when he continually gets screwed over in regard to the WWF World Championship. All his complaints are warranted and truth.

Hart believes that the WWF has a conspiracy against him and thinks it is Vince McMahon leading the charge with Sgt. Slaughter, Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin working with him. It makes zero sense to have Michaels as the special referee for his championship match against the Undertaker at SummerSlam. Bret believes that Vince has paid him a lot of money to keep him in the WWF just to make his life a living hell. Bret certainly believes it is Vince who is making Americans jump to a negative conclusion on Bret. Bret has just done what everyone else does in terms of cheating. He once wanted to be a fighting champion, but for here on out he’s going to do whatever it takes to be champion. Bret denies there being any agreement between himself and Michaels at SummerSlam since they despise each other and that’s not going to change.

Venom believes that Bret is lying about the deal, but Bret doesn’t care what Vic thinks. Bret doesn’t think that the Patriot will prove him wrong about America. Bret believes that America fans are going to beg him to come back and he’ll consider that a truce, but they support guys like Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and Steve Austin. Bret says the only reason he remains in America is for the money. Bret has been surviving the only way he can and hopes that he will retire as the WWF World Champion. He hopes that the small percentage of fans he lost will realize what he is trying to accomplish.

Shawn Michaels Interview:
Michaels says he called Vince McMahon the stupidest son of a bitch he met, because he felt at that point in time that it was true. Michaels thinks that McMahon can really be dumb sometimes especially if he were to think he’s in cahoots with Bret Hart of all people. Shawn doesn’t think that there are two different versions of himself. He believes he’s been the same guy throughout his career. Michaels doesn’t feel like he has any resentment towards anyone. He’s just a guy who is capable of pushing buttons and pushing people over the edge. Which, is exactly what he did to Bret Hart and Vince McMahon. Michaels has fun causing trouble in the WWF. Michaels wanted to hit Bret with a steel chair after he was spat on, but Hart moved and he hit Taker instead. Michaels had to make the count otherwise he wouldn’t be able to compete in America. He certainly doesn’t want to be regulated to wrestling Canada. Michaels has beaten Bret Hart for the WWF World Championship before and that drove him over the edge. Michaels doesn’t have a desire to be the WWF World Champion and is instead doing whatever he feels makes him happy and is fun.

Winning the WWF World Championship was a double edged sword. He didn’t have any real emotion when he lost it to Sid. He feels that he was satisfied with being the champion and moved on. Being champion was exhausting and that’s because he doesn’t half-ass anything in wrestling. The WWF will always be part of his life, but it’s not the only important thing to him. Michaels isn’t concerned with people saying he hasn’t defended America against the Hart Foundation. He’s focusing on himself and his family. He’s learned that life isn’t fair and you just have to get use to it.

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD: written by: Bill Banks

Undertaker has been known for being able to absorb a lot of punishment but still bounces back to get some level of revenge against various rivals. Recently, he teamed with Mankind to take on Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Shawn Michaels. Michaels avoided interaction with Taker for as long as he could. Taker would choke slam Michaels, but moments later Shawn was able to bust Taker wide open with a steel chair shot. The taste of blood has only made Taker’s desire for revenge stronger leading into WWF In Your House: Ground Zero.

ECHOES FROM THE STREETS: written by: Lou Gianfriddo

Ahmed Johnson decided to give the magazine a scoop on the life of a gang member. In the initiation stage, often times people will get beaten up by the gang members to be accepted. Ahmed declined that offer and instead shot himself in the arm. He didn’t flinch nor did he show any pain. He would get shot in the same arm years later in a drive by shooting. Gang rules are rather simple. You don’t talk smack and you keep your word. If you don’t keep your word you are kicked out of the gang as you’re seen as being useless. Johnson says that gangs aren’t about wars anymore but rather the brotherhood and respect, which is something he misses. The bond that is in a gang is a major pro to be in one. However, he does note the con of gangs who do carjackings and other crimes. Those actions give everyone a bad name. Ahmed will always support the young kids and back them 100% for the positive in their life. He will not support the ones who carry guns and do bad things, though.

THY KINGDOM INVESTED BY A MADMAN: written by: Bill Banks

Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Mankind started their feud at the King of the Ring where they met in the finals. During the match, Helmsley put Mankind through the announcers table with a pedigree. Plus, Chyna smashed a glass scepter over Mankind’s head leading to Helmsley winning the tournament. The following month at Canadian Stampede, their match ended in a double count-out but they brawled backstage and in the crowd throughout the show. Helmsley was left bloodied as Mankind got some level of revenge. Their final battle taking place inside a steel cage at SummerSlam. Mankind prevailed after hitting an elbow drop off the top of the cage and was able to escape soon thereafter.

Stan Stasiak

YO, DO YOU REMEMBER…: written by: Keith Elliot Greenberg

We get a career retrospective of Stan Stasiak. He started his career in 1958 and was significantly bigger than his opponents at 6’3’’ and 275lbs he dominated opponents with strikes the Heart Punch finisher. Stan won the WWF World Championship in 1973, but had a short reign after defeating Pedro Morales when he lost the title to Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden. He remained in title contention until 1977. He retired in 1979 and in retirement was a broadcaster for Beaver State wrestling team. Sadly, Stan passed away on June 19th while awaiting a heart transplant.

SGT. SLAUGHTER VS. ULTIMATE WARRIOR: THE NIGHT THE BELT CHANGED HANDS: written by: Kevin Kelly

Kevin provides an in-depth look at the Royal Rumble ’91 main event where Sgt. Slaughter shocked the world when he pinned the Ultimate Warrior to win the WWF World Championship. Of course, there was some help from Randy Savage and Sensational Sherri. It’s a loss that will never be forgotten in Tampa.

FANTASY WARFARE: KEN SHAMROCK VS. KEN PANTERA: written by: Bill Banks

A showdown between the powerful Pantera and the wild Ken Shamrock to finish off the magazine. Banks looks at their strengths, weaknesses, key wins and key losses. While Pantera was a powerful man, he lacked conditioning for a long fight. His key wins include winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Pat Patterson in 1980. His biggest loss was when he served two years in prison after a fight in a bar that involved a police officer seemingly derailing his career. His finishing move was the swinging neck breaker, which he perfected, according to Banks.

Ken Shamrock has a strength of absorbing an insane amount of punishment and coming back to win the match or fight. His lack of wrestling skill is a weakness. His major wins include a win against Vader and a win against Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Leaving the octagon for the squared circle is considered a minor loss. Obviously, his ankle lock submission is quite successful for its purpose.

That concludes another edition of Inside The Magazine. What are your thoughts on the magazine and on the WWF at this time?

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