This week, we look back at the 1987 issue of WWF Magazine that went to press in late April of that year and sold for $2.25 in the U.S and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover celebrating Wrestlemania III, this one is basically the birth of the magazine as most of us remember it from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Let’s leap in.
We begin with some exciting news from publisher Linda M. Kelly: due to overwhelming demand, WWF Magazine will be coming out monthly from here on out. (Until 2014!) Linda says the magazine will continue to be the only magazine that takes you inside the WWF and will continue to invest in special lighting and new photographic equipment so that all photographs are crystal clear, allowing the reader to feel the action at ringside.
Fan Forum: And here we have the debut of the Fan Forum “mailbag” column, which would stick around for some time. This month, following up on a reader’s suggestion, the magazine shares names and addresses of selected fans, along with their favorite wrestlers, so people can become pen pals. Favorite wrestlers include Hulk Hogan, The British Bulldogs, Junk Yard Dog, Ricky Steamboat, and Jake Roberts. Also, Ky Ginther of North Delta, British Columbia says, “I talk like Macho Man really good.”
The ice cream bars are here. (These were overpriced, sometimes costing more than $10 a bar, but they were quite a treat! Now the WWE has ice cream sandwiches with cheap ice cream and no chocolate, and they’re awful.)
WWF Lowdown: here we get another example of a WWF Magazine staple: photos that spill out of their frames, giving us a 3D-like effect. The magazine would become really good at this, helping set their issues apart from the other wrestling magazines. Anyway, we’re told that Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s pa was a sheriff in Glens Falls, New York, and Hacksaw sees him as his role model. “I know how to take punishment, and believe me, my daddy taught me how to return it.” Elsewhere, at the National Association of Television Program Executives in New Orleans, a ring was set up on the convention floor and spectators got to watch bouts featuring Jerry Allen, Paul Roma, and J.J. Funk. In other news, The Honky Tonk Man is looking at real estate in Memphis, Tom Magee has made his WWF debut and is looking impressive, and the masked Red Demon continues to baffle the grappling community, as no one seems to be able to figure out who he is. (He’s jobber Bob Bradley.) Meanwhile, Lanny Poffo has been throwing signed Frisbees to the crowd, Jake Roberts has been gaining a lot of fans by wrestling rulebreakers, and Craig DeGeorge, with his prep-school looks, is the newest member of the WWF’s broadcast team (until they replace him with lookalike Sean Mooney).
Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti: there are several new features in this magazine, Ed says, such as Fan Forum, Private Eye, Caught in the Act, and Newsbreakers. (Ed might as well say, “Mr. Braun, here’s your childhood.”) Also, as a free extra, each issue will now include selected pages from WWF Program, sold at arenas throughout the world. “And remember that, as the official WWF Magazine, only here will you find the full story and the real facts about the aftermath of Wrestlemania III, as well as whatever else happens in the WWF.”
WWF List of… wrestlers’ heroes: different personalities weigh in on the question of whom they admire. Bobby Heenan: “I admire me.” Koko B. Ware: “Clint Eastwood. You relate to him as an outsider fighting for justice.” King Kong Bundy: “Atilla the Hun. He squashed people.” Jumping Jim Brunzell: “Bruce Springsteen. As a young boy, I wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roller. I admire him for achieving that position, and I respect him for knowing how to handle success.” The Honky Tonk Man: “Jerry Lee Lewis. He got into his Rolls Royce and crashed the gates of Graceland in the middle of the night. That showed Elvis what showmanship was all about.” Ricky Steamboat: “Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.” Jimmy Hart: “James Dean, a rebel with a cause.” Harley Race: “My predecessor, Caesar. He ruled the world and nobody could touch him.” (He also made a heck of a salad.) The Junk Yard Dog: “My grandmother. She gave all of herself to raise me. She’s 81 now, and I still listen to every word she says.”
Breaking news! With Rowdy Piper retiring, his interview segment, Piper’s Pit, has been replaced with Missy’s Manor, featuring Missy Hyatt, a ravishing new star. Guests have arrived full of confidence, only to be blinded and befuddled by Missy’s gorgeous presence. Once in this condition, they are easy prey for her questions. (Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, did it?) Missy says, “It’s not my fault if I shake up men. By the way, do you like my new hairdo?” Is Missy Hyatt devil or angel, or a little of both? We’ll have to wait to find out.
WWF Interview: Speaking of “blink and you’ll miss them in the WWF,” this month’s chat is with The Wizard (King Curtis Iaukea), a new manager who has sold the contracts of Sika and Kamala to Mr. Fuji and is now retiring. (So why do we have this feature on him? It’s not like he was even in the WWF that long. The guy was there two months and left, and he gets a farewell interview?) He says Fuji will lead Sika and Kamala to the top. (Well, Sika did get a SNME match against Hogan for the title later in the year. Shouldn’t this interview be with Fuji?)
Next, full color coverage of Wrestlemania III!
It was history in the making with more than 93,100 people packed into the Silverdome and millions more watching on pay-per-view and closed circuit worldwide. Hulk Hogan defeated the previously undefeated Andre the Giant! Randy Savage left minus the Intercontinental belt. (Yep, they call it “the belt”— several times.) Rowdy Piper won his last match and received a standing ovation. Adrian Adonis, who lost, had to have his hair shaved off. “His haircut in the ring was incomplete, so the WWF rules committee forced Adonis to to adhere to the original agreement following the match, and his head was shaved bald backstage.” The magazine then runs down all the results and briefly touches upon the celebrities involved. (Interestingly, Gorilla Monsoon went on to bury Aretha Franklin on Prime Time Wrestling immediately following the event, probably because she missed the sound check and rubbed Vince the wrong way with her attitude. Of course, she also gave one of the greatest Wrestlemania performances of all time and would be go on to be revered by the WWF, returning to reprise the performance at Wrestlemania 23.)
Next up, an article about the next big thing, Outback Jack! He’s from Australia, and he’s more than ready to dominate the World Wrestling Federation. (And holy cow did they make this article hard to read with its patterned background!) In fact, the WWF Board of Directors discovered him Down Under and brought him to America, just so WWF fans could get a look at him. (Or he was wrestling in Stampede Wrestling, and the WWF brought him in to capitalize on the popularity of 1986’s surprise hit film, Crocodile Dundee. One or the other.) Outback Jack knows a variety of wrestling holds, but two of his favorites are the crocodile roll, which begins with a front facelock and ends with a spinning neckbreaker, and the boomerang, his version of the clothesline.
Outback Jack with the tribe of Australian Aborigines the magazine says he lived with.
Some experts expect Jack to use his vast strength to plow to the pinnacle of the federation. Others predict painful experiences that will either discourage the grappler or motivate him to fight to higher plateaus. “I’m here to give it my best go,” he says. “A bloke can do only that, can’t he?”
Next up, an article about a potential King Kong Bundy vs. Kamala match, with mat experts weighing in on who would win such a confrontation. “Given their differences and similarities, who would leave the ring the victor? It still is hard to say. Neither would have an advantage in strength, although Bundy could have a slight edge. Kamala’s surprising speed could counter Bundy’s strategy and skill. On the other hand, Bundy’s cold-blooded calculating could take advantage of Kamala’s slavering rage and trick him into a mistake. Probably, the outcome would hinge on which could weaken the other first so that bulk could be brought into play. Fans would witness a spectacular in-fighting as the two men tried to batter one another into vulnerability for a crushing finisher.”
Next, we catch up with The Honky Tonk Man. (Meh. The guy will probably last only a month or two. I want to hear more about the next big thing, Outback Jack!) Honky says he has a bone to pick with Hulk Hogan. “Hulk’s the one who originally invited me here. I now know he needed me because his popularity was waning. He used me to bring the crowd over to his side. My reliable sources tell me that, away from the arena, Hulk Hogan is imitating me—greasing up his hair in a pompadour. It’s really a pathetic thing. Everybody knows the Honky Tonk Man don’t use grease in his hair. This is the way I look when I wake up in the morning. Not only is Hogan using grease, but he’s walking the streets in original, spangled Honky Tonk Man jumpsuits.” We then recap his WWF history, beginning with his babyface days when he had trouble winning over the crowd, and then moving on to his “vote of confidence” project (which was a thing of beauty) and his subsequent heel turn. Now he’s with Jimmy Hart, who he calls “The Colonel.” “And now,” Honky says, “all the fans are trying to jump on the Honky Tonk bandwagon. But I don’t need these Johnny-come-latelies.”
This month’s lunch with a wrestler contest winner is Jeff Fortner from Ontario who chose Billy Jack Haynes as his dream lunch companion. (Well, that’s certainly a… unique choice.) In addition to breaking bread with Billy, Jeff got to watch Haynes wrestle King Harley Race at the London Gardens. He was also featured on his local news! The next “lunch with a wrestler” winner will dine with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. (But what about those of us who would prefer to eat with Outback Jack?)
Next, we recap the incident where Brutus Beefcake had his hair cut by mistake following a match between The Dream Team and The Can-Am Connection. Hopefully Beefcake can spin-off some kind of gimmick from the fallout of this whole thing.
Battle of the Titans recaps the Battle Royal on SNME where Hogan and Andre played a game of “can you top this” before Andre threw Hogan out like a guy tossing out the trash.
In Private Eye, we get a photospread of Dino Bravo in Montreal.
WWF Wrap-up: During a recent WWF event at Madison Square Garden, Howard Finkel was honored for a decade of service, receiving a plaque and a standing ovation. (Hopefully he sticks around for a few more years.) LJN has released a new line of 8 inch WWF dolls which include S.D. Jones, the Killer Bees, Kamala, Randy Savage, and Elizabeth. And speaking of Randy and Liz, they, along with several other WWF superstars, made an appearance at the New York Toy Fair. Ricky Steamboat, meanwhile, visited the Canadian Toy Fair in Toronto.
Next up, a sample of the WWF Program: our cover subject is Butch Reed, who’s said to be bad to the bone. There’s also an article about young Paul Roma, who’s lighting it up in Australia.
And finally, Wrestler’s Rebuttal: Why Americans Are Soft by Nikolai Volkoff. He says Americans are a bunch of jellyfish because they rely on busses and cars whereas Russians walk, even if they have to walk through a blizzard in Siberia to get to school. Plus, in America you can just walk into a store and buy a loaf of bread. In Russia, they have to wait in line for hours. And American homes? They have heat. In Russia, houses are cold. “Makes us strong. Makes us hard.”
And that’s it for this issue! Join me next time for coverage of Ken Patera, The Can-Am Connection, and more of Hulk vs. Andre! And if you’re interested in Star Trek, check out the first 100 pages of my book about Star Trek: The Original Series and consider purchasing the whole thing at Amazon!