Flashback Friday: WWF Magazine September 1987

From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in July of 1987 that sold for $2.25 in the U.S., $3.00 in Canada, and $2.13 at my grocery store. With a cover featuring The Honky Tonk Man, we’re also teased with stories about Brutus the Barber, Hulk Hogan, and The Hart Foundation. So let’s shake, rattle, and roll our way into this one.

We kick things off with Fan Forum, where Priscilla from Nederland, Texas writes in to say, “I can’t take it any longer. Bobby Heenan needs to be taken down a peg or two. He’s obnoxious, loud, stupid, and ugly. I have reviewed the film of Hulk and Andre at Wrestlemania III, and Andre lost fair and square. Both of a wrestler’s shoulders have to be pinned to the mat for a three count, and Hulk’s were not. His right shoulder was at least 6 inches off the mat. So tell Bobby and Andre to cry in their own beer or whatever.” Joining Priscilla in her weasel bashing is Steve from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “Bobby Heenan has been causing too many problems. Now that Ken Patera’s back, I’m sure Heenan and company will get what’s coming to them.” On the other hand, Jeff from Perry, Iowa has a different point of view. “I’m a big fan of the WWF and WWF Magazine. It has the greatest articles, and the articles about my favorites: Paul Orndorff, Bobby Heenan, Hercules, Butch Reed, and Nikolai Volkoff.” Meanwhile, Jason from Mount Royal, New Jersey praises King Harley Race. “I think the King’s cradle suplex is the most devastating move in the WWF. I wonder if Hulk Hogan will lose his title belt to the King?” On another topic, William of Cincinnati has a request: “Please, please, I beg of you. Please interview The Islanders. And if by some chance you can’t, please tell me why.” The magazine says they plan to, especially since The Islanders have shifted gears and joined the Bobby Heenan Family. Finally, Alex from Astoria, New York says he loves WWF Magazine, and everyone in his fifth grade class reads it. He wants to know, however, what’s happened to Superstar Billy Graham, who was supposed to be coming back. The magazine reminds Alex that Billy had hip surgery but promises he’ll re-enter the ring shortly. (And he did! But he would retire later in the year due to the strain on his hip and ankles.)

WWF List of… Man or Woman of the Year, with wrestling personalities telling you whom they would choose.

  • B. Brian Blair: “Hulk Hogan. He performed a feat no one thought possible, lifting, slamming, and pinning Andre the Giant.”
  • Outlaw Ron Bass: “Mountain Men. They follow nobody’s laws but their own. They live in the woods, away from the rest of civilization. When someone messes with them, there’s an old-fashioned brawl.”
  • Jimmy Hart: “Dolly Parton. She built this big theme park outside of Nashville. It’s just perfect for The Honky Tonk Man to go to on weekends when Memphis gets too hectic. We can have two places: Honky Tonk Land near Graceland and Honkywood, instead of Dollywood, close to Nashville.” (Actually, just set the record straight, Dolly didn’t build the park but bought a preexisting park and renamed it.)
  • King Harley Race: “Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. The patsies in this country are giving him a lot of heat, but he’s strong enough to take it. He helped arranged those arms shipments because that’s what he thought his leader wanted. He’s loyal.”
  • Tito Santana: “Jack Tunney. He always stays calm and dignified, analyzing the situation. I registered a complaint with the president’s office after Danny Davis’s incompetency cost The British Bulldog the tag team title, and Tunney listened, barring Davis from ever refereeing again.” (Yeah… about that lifetime ban…)
  • The Honky Tonk Man: “Kimchee, who lent me his mask. I came to the ring in a Kimchee disguise and beat on Jake Roberts in front of a national TV audience. Did you hear the way the fans cheered for me? It was deafening.”
  • Leaping Lanny Poffo: “William Shakespeare, the great British writer who wrote Romeo and Juliet.” (Oh, that William Shakespeare.)
  • Elizabeth: “Randy Savage. He’s the most gifted wrestler of all time and should be wearing every belt in the World Wrestling Federation. He’s also very handsome. Did I say the right thing, Randy?”
  • Randy Savage: “Man of the year? I’m the man of this year and every year. Nobody in his right mind can deny it.”
  • Ax of Demolition: “Mr. Fuji. Nobody else has such a mind for wrestling strategy. He’s a true genius of the ring.”

Newsbreakers: in a minor note that should have no effect on the future of the World Wrestling Federation Championship, Hulk Hogan, and the World Wrestling Federation in general, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase has returned come to the WWF. The magazine says he might find out the competition is more than he bargained for when he steps into the ring against the likes of Ken Patera or The Junk Yard Dog.

This month’s Personality Profile features… newcomer Bam Bam Bigelow. The magazine says he’s an astonishing big man who weighs just a shade under 400 pounds. (So long as he picks a good manager and doesn’t blow out his knee, he should be fine.)

WWF Interview with Johnny V: we’re told he’s a child of Manhattan’s mean streets. (Actually, he was from Pittsburgh.) And recently, Brutus Beefcake knocked him out and cut his hair. Johnny puts over his men saying, “Greg Valentine and Dino Bravo are workhorses. Brutus Beefcake is a show horse.” He says he was right to bench Beefcake, and he’s happy to be rid of him because he was hurting his pocketbook. “There’s only one thing money can’t buy, baby, and that’s poverty.” He then goes into his background, saying that growing up in New York made him tough. He grew up where on any corner or street somebody might jump you. So he’s street-wise, and that makes him ring-wise. “I know only one way to live. I live to get even. I don’t care about getting ahead, just getting even. That’s the whole ballgame, baby.”

Battle of the Titans covers Hulk Hogan vs. Bob Orton in their Memorial Day match, which aired on Superstars. “Experts agreed that the odds were in Hogan’s favor but that the match was no shoe-in. Orton had the ability to take advantage of any mistake Hogan might make and turn it into a pinfall.” For those of you who might remember, this was the match where the top rope broke, which is mentioned in the article. “Orton raked Hogan across the eyes, then went for a whip. But the Hulkster reversed and rocketed Orton into the corner with such force, the top rope broke. The event was a disaster for Orton, who mounts the ropes to use his awesome superplex, one of the most feared moves in wrestling.” Hogan eventually dropped the leg and won by pinfall. “The bout demonstrated an important reason why Hogan has remained champion. He has taken on giants, brawlers, schemers, and plotters. and he can handle the master technicians as well.”

Next, an article about Brutus Beefcake and the debt he owes his new friends, The Rougeau Brothers. First, there’s a recap of the Wrestlemania III matchup of Beefcake & Valentine vs. The Rougeaus, which ended with Beefcake’s face turn, then we get a recap of a subsequent match between Beefcake and Dino Bravo. The latter match ended when Greg Valentine interfered and put Beefcake in the figure-four leglock. “My brother and I were watching in the back,” said Jacques Rougeau, “and we couldn’t bear it.” The Rougeaus ran down to the ring and took out Valentine, Bravo, and their manager, Johnny V. with several punches. “I owe you won,” Beefcake told them.

Merch break!

Next up, an article about a twin threat to the Hulkster: The One Man Gang and Killer Khan are both going after the World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship. (I think Hulk will be just fine.) “When I think about The One Man Gang and Killer Khan, man, I get all riled up. I get lathered,” says Hogan fiercely. “They’ve been beating on a lot of people in the WWF and had a good time doing it. No more, no way, brother. I’m gonna put ’em both down.”

Next, a recap of Honky Tonk’s Intercontinental Championship victory over Ricky Steamboat. Honky wasn’t even a ranked contender, but Steamboat, thinking it would be an easy win, gave Honky a match to shut up the Elvis impersonator. Honky, the magazine concedes, might be more talented than people know, and he has amazing luck. In the end, after some shoddy refereeing, he somehow won the title.. “Robbery? Maybe,” the magazine says. “But even Steamboat’s most adoring fans must remember that in Wrestlemania III, Randy Savage had Steamboat pinned for a fall, but the referee never counted it because he had been knocked cold. Steamboat benefited by that one and lost by a similar event in the match with Honky Tonk. The end of the match was so shocking that Honky did not seem to realize he had won until Hart spelled it out for him.”

We then go to a “special investigative report” about Honky’s high school years, with his high school pals telling all. Years before The Honky Tonk Man came to Memphis to try his hand as a rock singer and later a wrestler, folks in a small farm community in western Tennessee knew Honky Tonk as the boy who was “touched in the haid.” He’d cultivate friendships with classmates just so he could steal their records. He’d defy other boys to throw rocks at his head. Convinced to join the church choir by his mother, he refused to sing “The Old Rugged Cross,” claiming “Be Bop A Loo Bop” was a better song. In the High School band, the instructor refused to let him play the guitar, issuing him an accordion instead. Honky tied the instrument to the bumper of his car and drove in circles around the band during practice. One teacher, however, who took a liking to Honky was Fuzzy Baker, a grizzled relic now in his 80s. “There was sensitivity,” Fuzzy recalls. “The boy knew he was brilliant, and I told him that I’d seen a lot of musicians, and he was a million times better than Elvis.” At that point, Honky started slicking his hair into a pompadour and became a greaser, and a surly one at that. If you believe The Honky Tonk Man, he then moved to Memphis and was a regular at Elvis Presley’s mansion, Graceland. The wrestler insists the legendary singer consulted him for both musical and fashion tips. “Some of those nights in Graceland went on forever,” Honky says. “There’s I’d be in the center of the room telling Elvis what life was all about while he sat nodding.” WWF Magazine asked Graceland spokesman Jim Delulio to verify Honky’s allegations, but Jim responded, “I don’t even know who he is.”

Next up, we get excerpts from the Wrestlemania III program.

We move on to an article about the clothesline by Keith Greenberg. The move is not a finesse move like a neck bridge or the figure-four leglock. It’s just simple, quick, and effective. A wrestler brings his extended arm into a foe’s neck area and chops his opponent down. Nobody knows who invented the move, but there are several different versions:

  • The flying clothesline, where you leave your feet and and throw your arm out. An example of this is what Bret Hart does when The Hart Foundation is performing their finishing maneuver, The Hart Attack.
  • The running clothesline, where you run toward your stagnant opponent and snare him. Hulk Hogan specializes in this.
  • The off-the-ropes clothesline, where a wrestler uses the ropes to achieve greater speed. Outback Jack does this when he does his version of the clothesline, the boomerang.
  • The short-arm clothesline, where you pull a foe into your arm. Jake Roberts employs this to set up his finishing move, the DDT.

But the clothesline is not without controversary. Some wrestling purists dislike it. “The rules are too lenient today,” says former WWF Champion Bruno Sammartino. “When I was starting out, you’d get disqualified if you used a clothesline. I didn’t go for that maneuver in my day, and I don’t approve of it now.” Jesse Ventura specifically dislikes Hulk Hogan’s clothesline. “I don’t like it at all. He goes for the throat, and that’s illegal.” Rick Martel of the Can-Am Connection, however, says “You can talk all you like about what should be permitted and what shouldn’t, but when you get in the ring, you better be prepared to clothesline your opponent before he can clothesline you.” Indeed, today the “thwack” of a clothesline is as common as the crash of a bodyslam.

Next, Private Eye takes us inside The Hart Foundation’s secret headquarters, where they use wrestling dolls to map out strategies for upcoming matches. (Danny Davis looks so cocky in these photos that even today I want to thwack him one.)

We then move on to WWF Lowdown: Jesse Ventura recently attended the premier of Predator at Manhattan’s Gotham Theater. Female fans marveled at the fact that Jesse—seen in the film without his wraparound sunglasses and outlandish headpieces, is a handsome leading-man type. The WWF story on Jesse’s role in the film from the previous issue was quoted extensively in USA Today’s Life section. Jesse will appear in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next flick, The Running Man. In other news, The Junk Yard Dog has been working out extra hard in the weight room. (Well, okay then.) Terry Gibbs has been using a new move: a reverse neck breaker. (Hopefully, no big star comes into the WWF and steals it from him because that was just be rude.) Then we get a story about a fan who spent two months designing, carving, and painting a wooden replica of Hulk Hogan’s belt before showing up at Madison Square Garden with it and nearly getting hauled off by security, who thought he had stolen the real thing.

Wrap Up: Freddie Blassie recently made an appearance at Sgt. Gregory’s parish in Princeton, New Jersey, where he shared anecdotes from his 40-plus years in the sport of kings. Mr. T. recently stopped by to say hi to everyone at tapings of Superstars and Wrestling Challenge. Freddie Blassie and Jesse Ventura participated in a radio show in New York where fans got to call in and ask them questions. Coliseum Home Video has released three more WWF tapes. There’s Volume 11 of The Best of the WWF series, The History of the Intercontinental Title, and a production all about The Hart Foundation. And speaking of the Hart Foundation, LJN has released new wrestling figures that include Hart & Neidhart (which I had) and The Killer Bees (which I didn’t). And lastly, be sure to get Micro League Wrestling, the hottest wrestler video game of the summer! The game was first test-marketed at a closed circuit Wrestlemania III venue in New Jersey, and the fans loved it!

Getting very near the end, we have Wrestler’s Rebuttal with Danny Davis. (Wouldn’t it have been something had Danny Davis won the Intercontinental Title instead of Honky?)

And finally, Caught In the Act gives us a goofy photo of Hulk Hogan.

That’s it for this week! See ya next time where we’ll look at the 100th issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, with articles that look back at the magazine’s entire history. In the meantime, be sure to take a look at my books at my website: www.jwbraun.com.