This week, we look back at the 1986 issue of WWF Magazine that went to press in November of that year and sold for $2.25 in the U.S and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring the Roddy Piper, we’re teased with stories about Piper, Hogan, The Big Event, and more. Plus, the magazine coins the name of a famous finishing maneuver. Let’s get rowdy.
We kick things off with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti. This month’s topic? Roddy Piper. Mike Shaw of Bourge, Pennsylvania suggests WWF Magazine devote an entire page to the Rowdy one, and WWF Magazine indulges him. Loraine Correa of Brooklyn says, “Roddy is so wonderful,” and Ron Wood from Trenton, New Jersey says, “Roddy’s No. 1.” Rose Amici from Allentown, Pennsylvania says Roddy has made wrestling popular, and Bobby D. from Philadelphia, PA says, “I think Roddy is the greatest wrestler of all time.” Meanwhile, Dan Laudicina from New Windsor, Maryland was really upset by a recent poem by Lanny Poffo. “I was disturbed with Poffo’s harsh words about Piper. Please print my poem: Lanny Poffo, you’re such a fool, Piper and his Pit are really cool/ All Piper fans must take a stand, and lend Piper your helping hand/ It’s called a kilt and not a dress, and you didn’t mention Piper’s success/ He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen, Really cunning and oh so keen/ So Lanny, be careful with the words you choose, because if you wrestled Piper, you’d come out bruised.” (Hey, Lanny would go on to defeat Hulk Hogan on SNME. Can Piper say the same?) Ed then suggests letters for an upcoming topic: who is the quickest wrestler?
We then move on to new feature: WWF Lowdown, which seems to be WWF’s answer to Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s “Name’s Makin’ News.” Some fans think Harley Race was lucky to win the King of the Ring tournament in Sullivan Stadium in Foxborough and say he’s a phony. The editor says these fans are wrong. Race, in fact, is the farthest thing from a phony and is one of the toughest competitors to ever lace up a pair of boots. In fact, Race has had a major influence on shaping a bevy of wrestling moves, including the suplex. Whether you like him or not, he’s a wrestler’s wrestler. Elsewhere, The Rougeau Brothers are trying to perfect their finishing maneuver, a steamroller from the top rope. (And no, this isn’t the reveal of the finishing maneuver I teased in the opening.) In fact, they’ve been getting advice from fellow Canadian Edouard Carpentier, who used the steamroller to win many matches back in his day. In Australia, Paul Roma & S.D. Jones have been having a lot of success as a tag team, but they might find it difficult to replicate that success back in the states with so many great tag teams North America right now. In Canada, the WWF held “The Big Event” in the cold. Howard Finkel wore two heavy winter shirts under his tuxedo. And lastly, the editor wonders how long the Bulldogs can hold on to the tag team title with so many great tag teams emerging right now. (Wow, the editor here is really trying to summon his/her inner Bill Apter.)
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Battle of the Titans covers another Roberts vs. Steamboat match: “As the bell rang, Roberts struck quickly, like a bushmaster darting out of the jungle brush. He lashed out of his corner, and faking an attempt at a lockup, smashed Ricky in the jaw with an elbow. A leer of triumph on his face, he quickly followed up with a kick to the midsection. Ringsider’s could sense that Ricky knew an appalling fact: the bout was only seconds old, and he was in the perfect position for the DDT. Predictably, Jake made his move, but Steamboat was ready. The Dragon lifted his head and rammed it into the Snake’s lean belly. Now it was Roberts who was sucking wind, as the two men warily circled each other. Ricky moved in like lightning and explosively floored Roberts with a quick hip toss. Roberts angrily tried to rise, but Steamboat went for a wristlock. The Snake countered with a savage low blow and was on the Dragon with a flurry of smashes to the head. Going for the kill, Roberts seized Ricky by the hair and prepared to smash his face into a knee. In doing so, however, Roberts left his midsection open again, and Steamboat sent a karate special into Jake’s stomach muscles. Scientific and cool strategy were forgotten as both men tore and clawed at each other as if they were ravening reptiles out of the Dinosaur age. Throughout it all, the referee Dave Hebner had watched the two men intently. With that match now out of hand, he exerted his authority. ‘Break,’ he ordered, as he tried to intervene. But suddenly the official was on the canvas. The wrestler who struck Hebner was not identified, but some ringside observers said Jake had purposely lashed out. As far as the referee was concerned, that was all she wrote. He signaled a double disqualification. The Dragon and the Snake, their chests heaving and eyes glaring, each retired to an opposite side of the ring. Before Steamboat departed, he turned to Roberts and said, ‘Another time, Snake.’ Jake turned and hissed back, ‘Any time you want to feel the serpent’s string, Dragon.’
Next up, an ad for Durango Boot showing we can all get along.
Next, an article about The Hart Foundation that names a certain move… So sometime back, an e-mailer wrote in to Scott asking, “When the heck did the WWF start calling the Hart Foundation’s finisher the Hart Attack? I remember people using that name for it on RSPW circa 97 when I joined, but where the hell did all you old farts get it from? The best we can come up with is that Randy Savage called it that once at KOTR 94.” Scott’s reply: “It came from the WWF magazine and I think everyone just figured that the name was so stupidly perfect that it couldn’t possibly be called anything else.” Well, I can confirm that Scott is correct, and I do believe this is the issue that first introduces the name. “You’ve got to be brutal to be the last ones in the ring with the King of the Battles Royal, Andre the Giant.” (Yes, they call him the King of the Battles Royal.) “That was where the Hart Foundation found themselves during Wrestlemania 2’s frenzied 20-man over the top Battle Royal. In the end, Jim Neidhart and Bret Hart, following a vicious high-low assault which nearly toppled the man-mountain Andre, were eliminated.” (Hey, Bret finally gets his first named spelled right!) “But WWF fans know it was not for a lack of savagery on the part of the Hart Foundation. “Both Neidhart and Hart hail from physical, competitive backgrounds. Nevada-born Neidhart developed his bone-crunching strength in the trenches of the offensive line of the Oakland Raiders.” (On the practice team.) “Bret Hart acquired his skills under the iron fist of his father, famed Canadian wrestler Stu Hart. Combine the Anvil’s strength and the Hit Man’s moves, and you have 30 years of disciplined physical contact and conditioning.” (“Have some discipline.”) “Together, the two form a clockwork coordinated team on par with the Bulldogs and Beefcake & Valentine. Their strategy is simple yet effective: send the Anvil in to wear the opponent down, then release the Hit Man for the pin. The attack is very similar to that of boxing sensation Iron Mike Tyson. Like Tyson, the Anvil works the body to devastating effect. Then the Hit Man enters and delivers a blow that is frequently unseen. ‘I’m the one who lowers the boom,’ mouths Hart. ‘He’s the Anvil, and I’m the hammer.’ (Hey, that’s gimmick infringement. Good thing John Cena wasn’t around yet or Bret might have lost his sunglasses deal.) “Fans will agree. The Hit Man is most definitely the technician of the team. Considering his background, it stands to reason. You can’t grow up with a father like Stu Hart and enter the ring without an advantage. ‘I’m more aerial than my dad,’ comments Hart, a statement that points out a simple yet cruel truth. Neidhart and Hart have put together one of the most vicious two-man moves in wrestling today: a move that joins the Anvil’s gorilla-like strength with the Hit Man’s aerial precision in a perfect marriage. Bret explains: ‘The move was a natural for us. It works like this. Jim goes in and locks whichever wimp is in the ring into one of his bearhugs. Then he lifts the guy up. and I come off the turnbuckle or the ropes and catch the guy with what might best be described as the ultimate clothesline.’ ‘It’s a Hart Attack, man!” blurts the hulking Anvil before going off on one of his hyena-like laughs. The Hart Attack is a lightning fast, cruel maneuver that is symbolic of this tag team’s fighting attitude. It is precisely this attitude that has made The Hart Foundation what it is today: a vicious, human bulldozer.”
Next up WWF Interview. This month’s subject is newcomer and nutcase Billy Jack Haynes. He begins by talking about his background, saying he was an amateur boxer and bodybuilder but doesn’t actually have any amateur wrestling experience. He’s just a roughhouser who’s been in pro wrestling for four years now. (He was actually trained by Stu Hart, though they don’t mention that.) He says he’s happy he got into wrestling because he never made more than five bucks and hour before getting into the sport, and he’d probably be broke if it weren’t for the mat. He’s asked if he’d be interested in a manager, and he says no way. “I believe in nose to nose and toes to toes. I don’t need anyone else.” (Well, aside from Elizabeth, this wasn’t a good time for face managers, so it was probably for the best anyway.) He then talks about the Oregon thing, with “Oregon” on his jacket and trunks. “My roots are back in Oregon. I got my start and my break there, and I don’t want my family to ever think I’ve left them behind.” (My wife’s from Oregon, and my advice to you is to never pronounce it Ore-a-gone.) He mentions that his mother died when he was 39, and his father is blind and in a nursing home. His father taught him to always respect other people, and later Billy met Stan Stasiak, who won the WWF Title, and Stan helped him further his career. (I’m somewhat surprised at the WWF acknowledging a former champion who’s not on the roster.) His present goal is to beat Randy Savage and win the Intercontinental Title. (Good luck with that.)
Next, Sounding Off.. Randy Savage speaks out about his thoughts on Women’s Liberation. “It’s all right for a woman to speak her mind, as long as it’s to other women, and she doesn’t say anything bad about her man.” Ricky Steamboat, meanwhile, defends martial arts in wrestling. “Some people say martial arts have n place in the wrestling ring. That’s not so. Professional wrestling in the WWF is the ultimate form of one-on-one athletic confrontation. Why can’t we use all that we know? Western fighters use leg sweeps. Oriental fighters use the greater outer reaping sweep. Just because one has a different name doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Martial arts are part of my heritage, and I say martial arts belong in professional wrestling.” And finally, Captain Lou Albano says big is beautiful. “There are different kinds of big. I’m big around the middle. I have a big mouth. But no matter what, being big is better than being little. When you’re big, you’re noticed.” (Is this a Charles Atlas ad?) “Some people say I’m too fat, but fat is the best kind of big. There’s an old Italian saying: ‘A man with a big belly is a powerful, important man because it shows he doesn’t have to work. Other people work for him.’ So as far as I’m concerned, if people say I’m fat, it means I’m successful, and because of that, I’m beautiful.”
Next, various wrestling personalities weigh in on the feud between Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff. Bruno Sammartion says Hogan has a size and reach advantage. Johnny V. says Hogan is overconfident and that will cost him. The Junk Yard Dog disagrees and thinks Hogan will be extra motivated after what Orndorff did. (After all, it was the most treacherous act since Benedict Arnold sold the plans of West Point to the British.) Studd says Orndorff is hungrier, and Hogan doesn’t have the fighting spirit he used to. Gorilla Monsoon says the matchup is too close to call. “If Orndorff can set up Hogan for the piledriver, it’s all over. But Hogan has a great dropkick. It’s a toss up.” (???)
Next up, the magazine introduces us to… Slick, The Doctor of Style. In what is reported to be the largest deal in wrestling history, Slick has bought a half-share of Freddie Blassie’s proteges. (Wasn’t “Slick” just the perfect name? Nothing long, nothing fancy, just “Slick” or “Slickster” if you wanted something more. Also, is there a manager who ever had better theme music?) Anyway, Slick says he holds several college degrees and won’t wear a suit if it costs less than $1000. He also carries a walking stick, and he wants you to know it’s not a cane. “I do not own a cane. I carry a walking stick, as do all men of leisure and wealth.” He’s now helping to manage Sheik and Volkoff and hopes to lead them to tag team gold, and he’s also managing Hercules (who would be sold to Heenan before too long). Speculation is that Blassie may be retiring soon, leaving Slick a clear path of his own.
Next up, WWF merchandise. And we’ve got T shirts for $12 each! Some of these would stick around for a good while, too. You can also get posters for $4 each, including one of Elizabeth that I’m surprised Randy was okay with.
We move on to WWF’s Best, with this month’s theme being Acts of Courage. The best? Hillbilly Jim vaulting out of his seat and coming to Hulk Hogan’s rescue, Hulk Hogan wrestling Bundy with bruised ribs at Wrestlemania 2, and Mean Gene sharing a vehicle and a room with Albano while they are on the road to help Albano cut his traveling expenses.
Next, we get an article about Summerslam 86! Er… make that The Big Event, a stadium show in front of 70,000 Canadian fans! (Wait, before it was 65,000?) There were 20,000 on the field and 50,000 in the stands. (And no doubt more hanging from the rafters. Except the stadium didn’t have rafters, but if it had them people would have been hanging from them.) In fact, the entire article is about the attendance. Only three times before was Canadian National Exhibition Stadium sold out: once for a performance by The Who (which hopefully did not include unassigned seating), and twice for Bruce Springsteen concerts. The attendance also beat out the first Super Bowl and many World Series games. Perhaps The Toronto Sun columnist Hunt said it best the next day: “Wrestling is the sport of the future.” (See, if you go back far enough, Hogan was able to win a big match in Toronto.) Side note: as I understand it, The Big Event was supposed to be a house show. In fact, it was one of two shows the WWF did that night, hence why only half the main roster was there. To everyone’s surprise, however, it drew a legit 64,000 fans, which not only laid the foundation for future stadium shows, but gave Jack Tunney tenure for the next ten years. In 1988, the WWF tried to replicate the success with Wrestlefest in Milwaukee, which I attended, but it didn’t do nearly as well. They put the ring in the outfield behind third base, and all us fans were consolidated in one area to make the stadium look more full than it was. Still, it was a fun night.
Next, an article about, “Who has the grandest bodyslam?” (For those who don’t know why a slam is named a slam, Ernie Ladd graciously explains it at The Big Event: “A slam is named as such because you pick your opponent up and slam them into the mat.”) So we begin by looking at different kind of slams: the traditional bodyslam, the powerslam, and the press slam. Then we start dropping names. Bruno says Don Leo Jonathan was the best bodyslammer he ever wrestled. Davey Boy Smith has an impressive slam in his own right. Ricky Steamboat and Nikolai Volkoff also seem to have perfected the move. Some also say Hulk Hogan has a good slam, but Harley Race disagrees. “He’s too busy posing.” (Maybe Hulk should stick with that fabled dropkick of his. No doubt a victory at Wrestlemania III would be much more dramatic following a dropkick rather than a slam.)
Next, our feature article about Roddy Piper. Has he changed? He’s getting cheers, but he’s just as rowdy as ever. The article runs down a match had had with A.J. Petruzzi, in which Piper beat his opponent senseless. We also learn he has no friends, and he takes no prisoners. “The Hot Rod will need to be more rowdy than ever to survive.”
Next up, coverage of a battle royal featuring Chief Jay Strongbow, Killer Kowalski, Mr. Fuji, Jimmy Jack Funk, Mr. X (Danny Davis), Dan Spivey, Terry Gibbs, Lanny Poffo, Johnny V. and more. In the end, the winner, who took home a $50,000 check, was The Fabulous Moolah, who hid outside before ambushing the last man standing (Johnny V.) from behind, eliminating him. (How is this finish legal? And why even get into the ring at the beginning of a battle royal/Royal Rumble if you can hang out outside the ring and not be eliminated?)
Next up, an article about Leaping Lanny Poffo, who’s trying to bulk up. He’s gone from 219 to 256 and has been training with Ricky Steamboat. (So funny story here: I was listening to a Green Bay Packers game on the radio back in the 1990s, and color commentator Max McGee started talking about Reggie White, who was having a tremendous season. “I was talking to him earlier today. He said he’s on the juice, and it’s really helping.” The two other commentators, Jim and Larry, paused before Jim jumped in. “Max, are you sure you heard that correctly?” Max said, “Yeah, he’s drinking all sorts of juices. Orange juice, apple juice. He says it’s helping a lot.” “Ohhh,” Jim said. “Fruit juice. I got ya. I thought you meant something else.” Larry said, “So did I.”)
Next, a photo spread showing The Rougeaus in Quebec. Who needs The Fabulous Ones when you’ve got Jacques and Raymond?
That takes us to WWF Wrap Up. The WWF has three new TV shows: Superstars of Wrestling, Wrestling Challenge, and WWF Wrestling Spotlight. (Yes, dear readers, we present to you your childhood.) King Kong Bundy, John Studd, and Hillbilly Jim are in a commercial for Chevy trucks. Hulk Hogan was presented with the keys to the city of Kansas City and was honored with “Hulk Hogan Day.” The October edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event was witnessed by the largest crowd ever at the Richfield, Ohio Coliseum, with more than 19,000 attending.
And finally, the wise words of Leaping Lanny Poffo:
That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading, and check out my new book about Anne Frank. Did you know her first name is pronounced with two syllables? Did you know the Nazi who arrested her later bought her published diary to see if he was in it? Find out about all this and more in this short read.