Flashback Friday: PWI October 1986

This week, we look back at the 1986 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated that went to press in early June and sold for $2.25 in the U.S and $2.75 in Canada. With a cover featuring Nikita Koloff, we’re also teased stories about Randy Savage and Buddy Landell. So let’s make like Jake and slither in.

We kick things off with The Mailbag where readers comment on the Randy Savage issue and Bob from Michigan mourns the figurative passing of Harley Race.

Meanwhile, Joaquin from Tulsa requests a full color centerfold of Abdullah the Butcher, and Lorilee from Houston says that Rick Rude is sexy and attractive, but he needs to focus more on his matches and less on his out-of-the ring activities. Lastly, Brian from Ohio sings the praises of Lex Lugar and says that soon everyone will be jumping on Lex’s bandwagon. (How about a bus?)

Next, Ringside with Bill Apter. The 3rd David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions happened at Texas Stadium, with Rick Rude successfully defending the World Class title against Bruiser Brody. Meanwhile, Kerry Von Erich, Lance Von Erich, and Steve Simpson defeated The Fabulous Freebirds for the six-man tag team championship. Of special note here, Steve took Kevin Von Erich’s place due to an injury, but because Kevin’s name was on the contract, World Class officials decided afterward that Kerry, Lance, and Kevin should be recognized as the six-man champs. (Welcome to Texas.) In the AWA, Curt Hennig & Scott Hall lost the AWA tag team championship to Buddy Rose & Doug Somers by countout. (This was a rare title change via countout, with a special stipulation in place to enable it.) In the UWF, Terry Gordy won a tournament to become the first UWF heavyweight champ when he pinned Hacksaw Jim Duggan in the final round. Gordy also defeated Koko Ware, Ted DiBiase, and Steve Williams. Other participants included Terry Taylor, Michael Hayes, and Sting and Rock from The Blade Runners. In the WWF, there’s tension between Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy, with the two recently getting into a shoving match following a DQ against The British Bulldogs. Bobby Heenan, however, says everything’s been straightened out. The Mid-Southern title has been held up after referee Jimmy Jett mistook who pinned whom in a match between champion Bill Dundee and challenger Buddy Landell. Dundee and Landell will wrestle for the title again at a later time. There’s a new tag team in the Mid-Southern area consisting of “Fire” and “Flame.” (That would be Don Bass & Roger Smith, who previously wrestled as The Interns in the Continental Wrestling Association.) And finally, Chris Adams is back in the ring and seems to have patched things up with the Von Erichs.

“Bamm Bamm” Terry Gordy

This month in King’s Court, Peter King marvels at Terry Gordy’s rise to the top of the UWF. Last month, Gordy07 wasn’t even ranked in the top ten. Now he’s champion. Gordy may have to wait for a match against Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Stan Hansen, or Rick Rude, but there’s more than enough competition in the UWF to keep him busy and we’ll soon find out whether Gordy is a legitimate or fluke champion. Meanwhile, Michael Hayes says he’s busy negotiating merchandising deals for the champ. “I’m negotiating a deal right now to make Terry the spokesman for Flintstone vitamins. I’m also working a six-figure T-shirt deal too. Stores should soon be flooded with Gordy shirts that say, “The 10,000 Day Reign Begins.”

In Dressing Room Confidential, Stu Saks comments on Mike Rotundo returning the WWF and forming a U.S. Express wannabe team with Dan Spivey. He says Dan Spivey is no Barry Windham, however, after watching Rotundo and Spivey together, he can’t help but notice Spivey has improved greatly since he last saw him. Still, Stu says, it might be a mistake for the WWF and Mike Rotundo to try to recapture the magic of the original team.

Next, we catch up with the “Meet the Road Warriors” contest winner, who was given a limousine ride to the Philadelphia Civic Center to see them wrestle and meet them in person. She also brought a friend. Hawk and Animal assured them, “we’re not all show, no go.” Anyway, Laura said she had a good time.

Next, we move on to Off the Top Rope with Eddie Ellner. “Today’s first topic,” Eddie says, “is The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, the NWA’s answer to Adrian Adonis.” One fan, Susie, writes, “Eddie, can you get me autographs of Rick and Robert? Ricky once smiled at me in Charlotte, and they are the greatest.” Eddie says, “Readers, Susie’s letter reflects the core of the Rock ‘n’ Roll fan fold, a flock as grotesque and dangerous as Hitler Youth and as intelligent as a flock of sheep. My response is baa baa.” Next, L. Sheehan writes, “Dear Mr. Ellner, an article I’d like to see is one entitled, ‘Hair in the World of Professional Wrestling,’ with subtitles such as ‘The Bleach Babies: How Much Does it Take for Rhodes, Garvin, and Flair to Keep Their Roots from Showing?’ Or: ‘Hulk Hogan: Will His Hair Outlast his Belt?'” Eddie replies that the famous May snowstorm in Atlanta was actually due to Dusty Rhodes scratching dandruff off his scalp atop The Omni. Another fan writes, “Dear Eddie, even you cannot condone the malicious attack on Baby Doll by The Midnight Express. What do you think they deserve?” Eddie says they’re probably ineligible for the Congressional Medal of Honor, but $100,000 in cash should do. He says they don’t deserve more simply because Baby Doll survived. Finally, a fan asks Eddie what he thinks of Mean Gene, and Eddie says Gene takes himself more seriously than what’s going on in the ring and doesn’t understand what an insignificant pawn he is.

Get in on the new wrestling game that’s taking the galaxy by storm!

This issue in On Assignment, Liz Hunter asks female fans to write in and share with her what in wrestling is the sexual yardstick. Lex Lugar’s arrival? Ricky Steamboat’s smile? Hulk Hogan’s pythons? What turns you on? A flexing bicep? A comely look? A fearless attack? A flawless strategy? Send your entries to “Easy Liz, c/o Pro Wrestling Illustrated, and you can win a T shirt.

Next, an article about Randy Savage and King Kong Bundy. Most WWF fans don’t know they were once a tag team in the Mid-Southern area before a bitter breakup led to an ugly feud. Does the bad blood still linger? Savage, after all, was Hogan’s prime opponent before Bundy somehow became the number one contender for Wrestlemania 2. Savage is not famous for turning the other cheek and is likely not happy about the whole situation. Perhaps a Savage/Bundy feud will happen again sooner than we expect.

Steve Simpson turned a lot of heads at The Parade of Champions. He defeated The Great Kabuki in a gauntlet match before helping the Von Erichs win the six-man tag team championship. (Simpson, it should be noted, was introduced at the event as being from “Africa.” Kabuki, while not given a hometown, was at least introduced as being from Japan. Would it have been too much info to say Simpson was from South Africa?) In this issue, he talks about his sudden success and what the future holds. He’s just a humble man trying to make a living, and he believes in establishing goals and working hard to achieve them. He’ll take it one match at a time because there are no short cuts in life. He also mentions his Pacific Northwest background, saying he was friends with Lance Von Erich there, and it’s fun to team up with him in World Class. (Wait, what was a Von Erich doing in the Pacific Northwest? And why was Lance never in the PNW rankings?) Anyway, he says he’s flattered to already be in big matches, and he’s proud to have helped the Von Erichs win the six-man title, even if Kevin took his spot as the third member of the team after. “Kevin is part of the Von Erich team, and just because I substituted for him on one occasion, it doesn’t mean I deserve to share the belt.” He closes the interview by saying he loves his fans, and they have made him a better wrestler. “I’m a pretty lucky guy.” (I’m thinking this guy might be a babyface.)

Our feature story is just a couple pages long. Nikita Koloff is sick of Americans and their celebrations, such as The Fourth of July. “Just three years ago, I was marching with my troop in the May Day parade. Now I must watch others do the marching.” Ivan Koloff chimes in: “We’re tired of these hypocritical displays of patriotism. They talk about how they would love to go in and bomb Russia. They would kill our wives and children, burn schools and fields, and terrorize our citizens. These Americans pray for our deaths like it was a religion.” Ivan is particularly sad that Nikita has to live his prime years in a culture that hates him. “Back home, Nikita is a hero, yet he must put up with these Americans day after day.” Nikita, however, says he would have it no other way because it’s too important to win the war against men like Magnum T.A., Dusty Rhodes, and “the little men, Morton and Gibson.”

Jerry Lawler says, “I think Buddy Landell and the fans have discovered each other.” (Perhaps the same is true of Landell and coke.) After one recent match, Landell, wrestling in the Mid-Southern area, couldn’t help but be overjoyed the response he got. “You heard the fans tonight,” he said. “And I haven’t even won the world title yet! When I do, it’ll be because of them.”

Onto scouting reports…

Next, Ric Flair is ready to take Lex Lugar to school. In Lugar, he doesn’t see a talented young man who’s ready to take on the world. He sees a brash, young rookie who thinks he knows more than he does. Flair recently wrestled Lugar, and he came away unimpressed. (Lugar won by DQ when Flair tossed Lugar over the top rope.) Yes, Flair ended up with a gash in his head, but Flair says he’s cut himself worse while shaving his girlfriend’s legs. (Just how was he shaving his girlfriend’s legs? And did Beth know?) Lugar says he’s just happy he got Flair’s attention, and for his part, he’s not that impressed with Flair. “People say to me, ‘You should have seen him five years ago.’ Well, it’s not five years ago. I’m the man people are coming to watch now, and the quicker he hands over his title, the better for him.” Flair points out that he’s wrestled plenty of muscle-men before who like to brag, and now most of them are working the 7-11 while he’s still World Champ. “I can beat you a hundred different ways, and Lex Lugar has 99 more to go.”

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And finally, The Last Word

That’s it for this month. Join me next time for a look back at the August, 1986 issue WWF Magazine, with articles about everyone from Hulk Hogan to Steve Lombardi. And be sure to check out my book all about Star Trek.