Tryout: Looking Back at Inside Wrestling ’88

Hey, Scott

I have hundreds of old wrestling magazines that I’ll never part with. I was wondering if you’d be interested in me writing summaries of them, like your Observer reports. Here’s a sample:
Absolutely!  I actually had a similar idea recently but couldn’t track down any issues of PWI Weekly without paying ridiculous prices on eBay.  So without further ado, here’s Justin with Inside Wrestling from May 1988…

Looking Back: Inside Wrestling Magazine, May,1988 $1.75 U.S. /$2.50 Canada (Press deadline was after the Royal Rumble, before the February Hogan/Andre match on The Main Event)

Looking Back: Inside Wrestling Magazine, May,1988 $1.75 U.S. /$2.50 Canada (Press deadline was after the Royal Rumble, before the February Hogan/Andre match on The Main Event)


This month’s cover features Ted DiBiase (“The Future of the WWF is in DiBiase’s Hands!”) as well as the Road Warriors and the Warlord and the Barbarian. (“Preview & Analysis of a Violent Feud”) Also, the Midnight Rockers are once again AWA tag team champs, and Fritz Von Erich says “they’ve broken my body but not my spirit.” Let’s dig in.


We start with Sincerely Yours, with letters from fans.


Matt from New Jersey says Luger made the worst decision of his career when he quit the Four Horsemen, and it’s going to hurt him in the Bunkhouse Stampede. (It will probably hurt him more that he isn’t the booker.) Jennifer from Pennsylvania takes exception to a February article asking the Rock ‘n Roll Express to split up because she loves them both and wants the press to leave them alone. (Good news, Jennifer: you can still drool over them in 2021. They haven’t even aged a day!) Mike from Illinois is upset with an article by David Rosenbaum that claims a battle royal victory for Jake Roberts was tainted after Ted DiBiase paid two men to quit the match. He points out that this wasn’t Jake’s fault, and Jake is afraid of no man and deserves more credit. Curtis from California says there should be an annual “Night of Champions” featuring 20 champions from around the world, including the WWF champ, NWA champ, and AWA champ. He says fans might even pay $100 for ringside seats! And finally, Brooks of Ontario says the WWF is treating their wrestlers like cattle and using them simply to sell a product.


Next up, Stu Saks’s Notebook, where Stu bitches about how difficult it is to bring two wrestlers together on the phone for the “One on One” column and how sometimes the magazine has to settle for guys lower down the rankings than fans might like. He says that in this issue they had a problem with Austin Idol and Tommy Rich arguing about who gets to speak first, what time the call would be, and who gets to be in the room when it happens.


Next: Behind the Dressing Room Door with David Rosenbaum. “Is Brett Hart the best wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation?” he asks. He then muses that the Jumping Bomb Angels might be better. Either way, he says, they’re all better than Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant and put on a great show in the January Royal Rumble that neither Hogan nor Andre wrestled in. “What a shock it must have been for those Hulkamaniacs to watch the Jumping Bomb Angels display aerial techniques that put even The British Bulldogs to shame.” David then explains the rules of the Royal Rumble match and mentions that Brett lasted for 36 minutes. (By who’s stopwatch? It was more like 25 minutes.)


On the Road Again with Craig Peters: he says Calgary is a great wrestling town, and it already has produced the British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation, and The Honky Tonk Man. Now there’s a new crop of talent. Men like Jason the Terrible, Brian Pillman, Steve DiSalvo, and Owen Hart. He says Calgary referee Jurgen Hermann told him that you have to be skilled in Calgary because there’s a strict enforcement of rules thanks to a card system. A yellow card is a warning. Another yellow card is another warning. Then you can get a red card, which indicates a disqualification. Finally, a black card is a suspension. (This system is flawless!) The bottom line? If you want to know wrestling’s future, keep an eye on Calgary.


Next up, Names Makin’ News with Bill Apter:


Dusty Rhodes won the Bunkhouse Stampede for the third consecutive year when Luger got tied up with the Four Horsemen, and they were all eliminated. (Matt called it!) Also, Larry Zbyszko defeated Barry Windham for the Western States title when a “groogy” referee (Dick Kroll) counted the three. (I’m thinking Bill was going for groggy, but maybe he meant groovy. Or maybe both at once.) Meanwhile, the Iron Sheik is trying to return to the WWF. Afa and Rocky Johnson are feuding in Puerto Rico. And while Jim Duggan won the Royal Rumble, everyone is talking about the One Man Gang, who eliminated B. Brian Blair, Jake Roberts, Hillbilly Jim, Don Muraco, and Dino Bravo before “a controversial finish in which replays show Duggan held down the rope.” Elsewhere, Tom Zenk has signed with the AWA and has his sights set on Curt Hennig’s title. But AWA president Stanley Blackburn says Zenk must first prove himself worthy. Meanwhile, CWA officials ruled that the Midnight Rockers cannot hold both the CWA and AWA tag team championships, so the Rockers have surrendered the CWA belts. In other AWA news, the Nasty Boys have signed on and should be top contenders. And finally, Terry Taylor has signed with the CWA and seems “close to the edge.”


Insider with Eddie Ellner: He says wrestling used to be special, but now there’s too much content on TV, and not all of it’s good. He says we now have to watch people like George Steele, who used to be good but is now an embarrassment. He’s also upset that Bobby Heenan skipped the Royal Rumble to appear on the David Letterman show, saying wrestling is no longer the priority for these people. (Cause they’re treated like cattle!)


Liz Hunter On Assignment: she catches up with Terry Taylor. He seems unhinged.and doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing. (Well, Liz, so long as he doesn’t start strutting around and crowing like a rooster, he should be fine.)


Where are they Now? Dr. Bill Miller is working as an inspector for the government. Sweet Daddy Siki is playing gigs with a band, Sunshine is home in Florida, and Buddy Colt owns a hardware distributorship.


Capsule Profile gives a rundown of Dr. Death Steve Williams’s career and gives the reader a pinup picture.


News From the Wrestling Capitals runs down some house show results sent in by fans. Hogan defeated DiBiase in Milwaukee, Sting and Zbyszko were both counted out in Bassett, VA, Beefcake defeated Valentine in Indianapolis, and Carlos Colon defeated the Iron Sheik in San Juan. (There will be a test later.)


Matt Brock’s Plain Speaking: Matt has discovered a newcomer in Texas named Jason Sterling and says guys like him will someday replace DiBiase, Flair, and Hennig. (Maybe Brock should have gone to Calgary instead.) He then talks about everything that went wrong with the Bunkhouse Stampede, starting with the tickets, which listed the wrong start time. (Some said 7pm, some said 8pm. It actually started at 6:30pm.) In addition, the card wasn’t advertised in any local papers, and it didn’t help that it went up against the Royal Rumble. He says the NWA has the highest quality of talent in the United States but that doesn’t matter if you make these kind of mistakes. (Fortunately, WCW would fix these issues.) Finally, he says he has an uneasy feeling about DiBiase trying to buy the WWF title and isn’t sure how that’s going to work. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work out very well.)


Next up, It’s Baby Doll Who’ll Cause Zbyszko’s Downfall! Yes, the two are now a pair, but other wrestlers don’t think it will work out well because of Baby Doll’s history. Magnum T.A. says Baby Doll seems so sweet at first, but she’s really evil. Noted psychologist Dr. Sidney M. Basil says she can’t deal with commitment and has an unstable personality. Inside Wrestling warns Larry to beware. (Well, the pairing certainly didn’t last long.)


Ratings! I can’t go through them all, but…


Top 10 Singles:

  1. Ric Flair (NWA Champ)
  2. Hulk Hogan (WWF Champ)
  3. Dusty Rhodes (NWA)
  4. Randy Savage (WWF)
  5. Nikita Koloff (NWA TV Champ)
  6. Curt Hennig (AWA Champ)
  7. Lex Luger (NWA)
  8. Al Perez (World Class Champ)
  9. Jerry Lawler (CWA Champ)
  10. Owen Hart (Stampede North American Champ)


Most Popular:

  1. Hulk Hogan
  2. Lex Luger
  3. Dusty Rhodes


Most Hated:

  1. Andre the Giant
  2. Ted DiBiase
  3. Ric Flair


Top 5 Tag Teams:

  1. The Road Warriors (NWA)
  2. Tully and Arn (NWA tag team champs)
  3. Strike Force (WWF tag team champs)
  4. The Midnight Express: Lane/Eaton (NWA U.S. tag team champs)
  5. The Hart Foundation (WWF)


Feature article: Ted DiBiase’s attempt to buy the WWF title from Hulk Hogan or Andre the Giant might be only the beginning. A report commissioned by Inside Wrestling indicates DiBiase might try to buy the entire federation. (Geez, do you think he’s a billionaire? What’s he going to do, bring in some outsiders too?) Editor Stu Saks apparently rushed into the office out of breath with a bulging briefcase to deliver this report to Managing Editor Craig Peters. As it turns out, DiBiase is wealthier than Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan combined. “And if he takes over the WWF, he takes over everyone’s contracts,” Saks says. All the magazine writers then conclude it might be best if Andre just wins the title and sells it to DiBiase outright. (Hopefully Tunney wouldn’t get in the way.)


Next, a preview of the Road Warriors vs. the Warlord and the Barbarian: the latter two are underrated and could pose quite a challenge. The Warriors, however, have an advantage in teamwork and experience.and will probably emerge victorious.


On the Hotseat: Fritz Von Erich talks with the magazine about fighting his own battles and sticking up for what’s right. He says reports that he had a heart attack aren’t accurate, and he’s ready to fight if bad folks come calling, like the Freebirds.


Breaking news! The Midnight Rockers are once again AWA tag team champions after Stanley Blackburn overruled a controversial pinfall in December. Paul E. Dangerously isn’t happy about it, pointing out that between Hennig and the Rockers, Blackburn is basically choosing who the champions are at this point. (The man’s got a point.)


One on One: former tag team partners Austin Idol and Tommy Rich talk on the phone. A sample:


AI: “I see that pretty face of yours is back to normal again. What’d ya do, get plastic surgery after what we did to you? You look good in crimson! Hahaha.”

TR: “And I hope you look half as good, Idol, because soon you’re gonna be wearing the same color!”


And that does it for May of 1988!