Flashback Friday: Inside Wrestling November 1985

This week, we look back at a 1985 issue of Inside Wrestling that went to press on July 30 and sold for $1.75 in the U.S. and $2.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring Kabuki vs. Chris Adams, we’re also teased with stories about Ricky Steamboat, Magnum T.A., Jim Cornette, and the Freebirds. Let’s boogie.

We begin with “Sincerely Yours,” the mailbag feature. Richard from Texas says he wants to read more about Terry Taylor, the wrestler he believes will take the NWA championship away from Ric Flair. Joe from New Jersey says he’s disgusted by the fact that Inside Wrestling doesn’t recognize the WWF title as a world title and has 30 friends lined up to boycott the magazine if this doesn’t change. Peter from New York, on the other hand, hates the WWF and wants everyone to stop going to the shows and buying their merchandise since all the WWF cares about is money. He says the WWF, like coke, used to be good, but then they changed their formula so now he watches Pro Wrestling U.S.A. and drinks fruit juice. Tammy from Tennessee says Magnum T.A. was stupid to rip up a $1,500 suit that Ric Flair bought for him and says she’s no longer a fan of his.

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Editor’s Notebook by Peter King: King says he’s all for equal pay for equal work, but it’s time to get rid of the female referees in wrestling. He says they simply can’t control the wrestlers, and a referee’s job is to control everything in the ring. Only men have the commanding presence to be heard and be successful in the job. That’s why all other major sports have male officials. (I mean, could you imagine a female official in the NFL? Before you know it, we’d have women calling the games too, and Sundays would be ruined.)

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Behind the Dressing Room Door by Stu Saks: Hallelujah! The Rock ‘n Roll Express have won the NWA World tag team titles from the evil Russians. Stu is particularly happy about this because there were three Russians holding the belts: Ivan Koloff, Nikita Kolloff, and Khruschev, even though only two of them won them. He blames the Freebirds for setting the bad precedent of three guys holding a tag team title, with any two able to defend them. (Maybe we should name this rule after them.) And he also speculates that the only reason NWA president Bob Geigel agreed to this was because politicians in Washington interjected and persuaded Geigel to let it go to avoid angering Moscow and escalating the Cold War. (Personally, I suspect a deep state plot involving Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi.) Regardless, the Russians, who were also chasing Flair’s NWA title, lost focus and got careless, and the NWA is better for it. (Hopefully we don’t have to worry about this Khruschev guy trying the same three-man tag team thing again.)

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On the Road with Craig Peters looks at fans’ takes on the Rock ‘n Wrestling connection. Todd from New York says he thinks Rock ‘n Wrestling the most exciting thing he’s ever seen. Alfred from New York says Vince is going a bit overboard but hasn’t made a mockery of the sport like when Andy Kaufman wrestled Jerry Lawler. Rob from Philadelphia says he thinks Rock ‘n Wrestling has done more for wrestling than the NWA has done in 80 years.

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Next up, Names Makin’ News with Bill Apter: Tully Blanchard won the U.S. title from Magnum T.A. thanks to interference from Baby Doll. Tully says he’s ready to defend it as many times as need be. Meanwhile, Hercules walked out on Florida, vacating the Southern and Florida titles he had won. (He was actually fired after getting into a fight with Wahoo.) Bill speculates that he might have been afraid to compete against Billy Jack Haynes. (Hopefully Herc doesn’t have to worry about that guy anymore.) A couple tournaments were set up, and Rick Rude defeated Mike Graham to win the Southern title while Jack Hart, who began is career 0-131, defeated Mike Graham to win the Florida title. (Perhaps Hart deserves a pat on the back.) Randy Savage is now in the WWF and is gearing up for a series of matches against Hulk Hogan. Apter speculates that Savage might be the most serious challenger Hogan will meet since winning the title. In unrelated news, Lanny Poffo is also in the WWF but seems to be struggling. Also, Exotic Adrian Street will be appearing in Grunt: The Wrestling Movie and Hector Guerrero and Curt Hennig have agreed to be body doubles for Adam Baldwin and Mike Jolly in the movie Bad Guys, about a couple of policemen who moonlight as wrestlers. In the NWA, Ole and Arn Anderson broke into Magnum T.A.’s dressing room to give him a beating. On the way out, Ole took a swipe at the cameraman, causing the camera to fall to the ground and costing the NWA about $3,000. In the Mid-Southern area, Little John will now be known as Big John. And in the AWA, the Freebirds have begun wearing make-up to the ring, painting their faces with the stars-and-bars. (Apter says, “It looks great!”)

The Insider by Eddie Ellner, where Eddie ponders what a rulebreaker really is and fans write in to provide answers…

Vickie says a rulebreaker is a wrestler who under pressure must break the rules because of lack of talent or a lack of education. Eddie responds that he’s always advocated that wrestlers pursue their post-graduate studies, but his is just a lone voice in the wind. Jim and Mark write in to say that all wrestlers break rules, but to truly be a rulebreaker, you must be booed at all times and must be deeply despised by fans. Eddie somewhat agrees, but has problems letting the fickle fans decide who the rulebreakers are and aren’t. Bruno says “A rulebreaker is not hated by the fans because he cheats, he cheats because he is hated by the fans.” Eddie doesn’t know what to think of this and offers to send Bruno a chicken and an egg. Steve says it’s more about attitude than anything else, pointing out that fans consider Tully Blanchard a rulebreaker because he’s obnoxious even though he doesn’t excessively cheat. Eddie replies, “While I agree with Steve’s basic premise, I feel it’s my duty to report to him the sad fact that Blanchard does excessively cheat.” Bernadette offers her take:

The Rulebreaker

He’s a man of pride and dignity, he’s hated everywhere. Yet arenas fill to capacity whenever he is there. His style is disputable, the fans scream and cuss. He really tries his best to intensify the fuss. He swings his opponents across, who now knows of his fate. The rulebreaker holds his chin up high, which makes the fans irate.

Eddie promises Bernadette a two-week extension course at The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and a copy of the booklet Small Engine Repair: A Guide On How to Start Your Own Money-Making Business.

News from The Wrestling Capitals gives us fan reports from house shows: JYD beat Valentine by DQ in Chicago, Magnum T.A. beat Flair by DQ in Atlanta, Dusty Rhodes beat the Nature Boy (Buddy Landel) by DQ in Columbia, Steamboat beat Muraco by DQ in Uniondale, and Jimmy Valiant defeated Konga the Barbarian by DQ in Cleveland. (The refs had a short leash this month, didn’t they?)

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Matt Brock’s Plain Speaking… Matt says that he previously wrote about his concern that the Russians could take over American wrestling, what with the Russians holding the NWA tag titles and getting shots at the world title, not to mention Volkoff being one half of the WWF tag team champs and being a threat to Hulk Hogan. (“The Red Menace: Will the Russians Conquer American Wrestling?”) However, he says his fears now seem unfounded, and the Russian wrestlers seem to be in decline. (For NOW.) Meanwhile, he admits that he was wrong about Ricky Steamboat being the guy who would defeat Valentine for the Intercontinental Championship and was stunned when Tito Santana did so in a thrilling steel cage match. Unfortunately, Magnum hasn’t fared as well, failing to win the NWA title and losing the U.S. title in the meantime. Brock says Magnum doesn’t seem to have the same drive he once had and suggests he form a tag team with Terry Taylor to rejuvenate himself. And speaking of tag teams, Brock is concerned that the AWA tag team division seems to be thinning out, which could hurt the organization as a whole.

Where are They Now? Don Kernodle is recovering from an injury and hopes to return by the end of the year. (And so he would.) Mark Youngblood is wrestling in Kansas City under his birth-given surname, Romero. Jesse Barr is wrestling in Puerto Rico, and Domenic DeNucci is wrestling in Montreal. (Sadly, we lost both Kernodle and DeNucci in 2021.)

This month’s pinup star: Billy Jack Haynes! Here you go, Princess:

Feature article: Kabuki vs. Chris Adams! They were both previously managed by Gary Hart, and they can both do superkicks. Who will win this feud? Hart says he hopes they both kill each other. Adams’s tag team partner, Gino Hernandez, says he’s worried about Chris and fears their tag team might get lost in the shuffle. (Well, the tag team doesn’t make it through 1985, though the worse news is that Gino doesn’t make it through 1986.)

Next, an article about Magnum T.A., who lost his U.S. Championship to Tully Blanchard and can’t seem to beat Ric Flair. Heck, he’s having trouble beating Buddy Landel, the poor man’s version of Ric Flair. Tully himself says Magnum’s a mess, and he knew it, which is why he challenged him for the U.S. title and won it. Magnum himself says he doesn’t know what he really wants and needs to make some decisions. Does he go after the world title? Does he try to win back the U.S. title? Does he form a tag team with Terry Taylor? “I just don’t know right now.” (Maybe he should do an “I Quit” match.)

Inside Wrestling reports that Tito Santana has surprised everyone by winning back the IC title in rematch number 487 with Greg Valentine. When the news reached Ricky Steamboat, the Dragon mouthed the plaudits you would expect, saying he was very happy for Tito; but the furrowed brow that arranged his comely face spoke differently. Steamboat had been thinking it was just a matter of time before he got his opportunity to defeat Valentine for that very championship, and in fact, it was a key reason he was in the WWF. Sure, he’d like to win the heavyweight championship too. But he knows Hulk Hogan and the WWF would never give him a shot at that because of the WWF’s unwritten rule that fan favorites can’t wrestle fan favorites. Now he’s being shut out of the Intercontinental title picture and his only hope is that Muraco can somehow upset Santana. Inside Wrestling writers are worried. They fear Steamboat may leave the WWF and may leave wrestling all together if he doesn’t have something to fight for. Therefore, they are reaching out to the WWF with a request: please allow Steamboat to wrestle Santana for the title. “We implore the WWF to alter a policy that is absolutely nonsensical in its rationale. The WWF is the only federation to deny its fans the pleasure of seeing a well-fought scientific match between two popular opponents. Tito Santana vs. Ricky Steamboat would be a good place to start.”

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Hotseat: an interview with Jim Cornette, who looks like he’s 12. Cornette says Mother provided him with an initial investment necessary to purchase the six figure contracts of Loverboy Dennis Condrey and Beautiful Bobby Eaton, and from there it was just a matter of him applying his unique strategic genius to lead them to a series of tag team victories and tag team gold. He says when Dennis and Bobby step into the ring with The Rock ‘n Roll Express, it will be like Godzilla taking on Tokyo and the Midnight Express will win the NWA World tag team titles.

Cornette with the Southern tag team belts

The Freebirds have a message for the AWA: they want the Road Warriors! The Road Warriors say, “So does everyone. Get in line.”

One on One: a phone conversation between Jake Roberts and Ted DiBiase: Jake Roberts points out that he has the DDT whereas DiBiase just has a lame spinning toehold, so he has an obvious advantage. (Good point.) DiBiase says he’s already gotten up from the DDT before, but his toehold is so complicated, he can’t even discuss it with someone as stupid as Roberts. Jake replies that DiBiase only felt a taste of the DDT, a level 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. He says sometimes he does it lighter, sometimes heavier. (Steamboat better look out for the latter.) Jake says there’s no way DiBiase is getting up from a level 10. DiBiase says, “A level 4 DDT? Level 10? What the hell are you talking about?” Jake promises to demonstrate in the ring.

And finally… ratings! And the Roll Call of Champions:

That’s it for this week! Join me next week when we flip back to WWF Magazine, with Ricky Steamboat gracing a cover that teases stories about the Killer Bees, the WWF managers, and Randy Savage. And if you’re a Star Trek fan, be sure to check out my book, The Trekker’s Guide to the Janeway Years, which covers every episode of Star Trek: Voyager.