Flashback Friday: 100th PWI Issue

This week, we look back at a very special issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated that went to press in early August of 1987 and sold for $2.95 in the U.S., $3.50 in Canada, and £1.50 in the U.K. Celebrating one hundred issues of PWI, this one takes a nostalgic look back from the magazine’s debut in 1979 to the summer of 1987. So let’s make like Dusty and wine and dine with kings and queens and sleep in alleys with pork ‘n’ beans.

We begin with the Mailbag, where Ginger from Odin, Illinois is upset at PWI for suggesting The Four Horsemen break up. She says she likes them all, and as for Flair getting outside help or saving his title by disqualification, “What wrestler hasn’t done those things?” Richard from Campbell, Missouri concurs, saying, “Ric Flair dump The Horsemen? Are you crazy? They’re the best thing to happen to the NWA besides Flair winning the NWA title.” Fred from London, Kentucky, on the other hand, says The Four Horsemen should be renamed “The Four Horsebrains” and they’ll probably ruin Lex Luger’s career, which would be a shame.

Lisa from Los Angeles writes in about a different topic: “I’m hoping you can help me with a problem I have with weekly wrestling shows. The NWA and the AWA seem to be the worst offenders. First, the NWA: At least once a week on their hourly shows, the announcers come out telling you about a great match they’ll be showing that hour. But by the time they get through the wimpy matches and their endless chatter about the main event, the hour is over! You feel cheated and, quite frankly, ticked off. As for the AWA, they’ve lost it. ESPN shows an AWA show almost daily at 1 p.m, but they’re old matches mixed in with new ones. One day Rose and Somers are tag team champions, and the next day it’s The Midnight Rockers, then Rose and Somers again. The same goes for AWA World champion. One day it’s Nick Bockwinkel, the next day it’s Curt Hennig, and so on. It makes it hard to become an AWA fan when twice in five days you see Col. DeBeers attack Jimmy Snuka ‘for the first time on TV.’ They’re even showing arena dates from 1986. My son and I enjoy watching wrestling, but this makes me want to give up. Also, why don’t TV title holders ever defend their titles against worthy opponents on TV? If they can’t do this, why have TV titles?”

On a more positive note, Tracy from Harrisburg, VA is happy the NWA and the UWF are working together. “If the UWF is smart, they’ll become a permanent part of the NWA.” (In fact, the UWF had already been sold to Jim Crockett Promotions, though JCP kept the UWF brand alive until the end of the year.) “From what I’ve seen, the NWA and UWF have similar styles of wrestling. Together, they could be bigger and better than the WWF or any other organization.” (Perhaps JCP just needs a new owner and Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan to put them over the top.)

Other writers include Nora of Baltimore, who thinks Ted DiBiase is stealing Ric Flair’s gimmick by reinventing himself as “The Million Dollar Man,” and Chris from Monroe, Georgia who disagrees with PWI’s assertion that the territories are safe from Vince McMahon (WWF) and Jim Crockett (WCW). He says Vince and Jim collect wrestlers the way other people collect stamps and do not allow these wrestlers to circulate freely. “Something must be done to stop the two big companies from establishing a monopoly. Maybe the solution is for them to go head to head.” (So perhaps some kind of Monday night war?)

Join the Champions of the Galaxy wrestling league for only $9.95!

Next, Ringside with Bill Apter: Ted DiBiase has a new gimmick. He’s in the WWF as “The Million Dollar Man.” Rumor has it that he’s even trying to buy a title shot with World champion Hulk Hogan. “Unfortunately, DiBiase seems more worried about showing off his money than his considerable wrestling skills.” Apter says. Elsewhere, Shane Douglas defeated Eddie Gilbert for the UWF TV title. Some guy named Sting was originally supposed to wrestle for the title, but he was taken out by Terry Taylor on the way to the ring. In other news, promoter Paul Boesch has announced his retirement due to health concerns. The WWF has announced it will run a show in his honor on August 28 at the Sam Houston Coliseum.

In the Mid-Southern area, Jerry “the King” Lawler & Rocky Johnson and enemies Brickhouse Brown and Don Bass agreed to a Price is Right match where each team would pick what what they wanted the others to put up in the match. The stips ended up being that if Lawler was pinned, he would lose the AWA Southern title, if Johnson was pinned, he’d get a haircut, if Brown was pinned, he would throw $5,000 to the crowd, and if Bass lost, he’d get his head shaved. (One of the Bass brothers getting his head shaved? Come on now.) To choose referees, the two teams played a wrestling trivia game. (What is this, The Edge and Christian Show?)  Lawler and Johnson won and chose Big Bubba. Then, during the match itself—in a shocking twist nearly on par with Paul Orndorff’s heel turn—Big Bubba WINKED at Brickhouse Brown before turning on Lawler to give Brown the pinfall victory. In the end, Bass, as spelled out in the fine print of the stipulations, became the new AWA Southern champion. (There will be a test on all this later.)

In World Class, tag team champions Eric Embry & Thumper Lancaster seem to have their hands full with Steve & Shawn Simpson. Unfortunately for WCCW fans, The Rock ‘n’ Roll RPMs are leaving for Memphis. In Florida, Dory Funk Jr. stole the heavyweight belt from Mike Rotundo/Rotunda. Just to clarify: Funk didn’t cheat to win or even wrestle a match, he just physically stole the belt (or title or championship or whatever). He’s now being ordered to give it back. Dory, it should be noted, has been joined by his brother, Terry, with the Funk brothers vowing to run Rotundo out of the sport. They’re also terrorizing Kevin Sullivan, who has painted half his face black to signal that if he doesn’t get help soon, he will turn bad again. (Is that what Piper was signaling at Wrestlemania VI? Hopefully it didn’t take Sullivan a month to get the paint off like it did for Piper.)

In other news, Doug Furnas won the newly formed Tennessee title on August 5 in Knoxville when he defeated Tony Anthony in the tournament final. And finally, Adrian Adonis has left the WWF for the AWA, taking on Paul E. Dangerously as a manager, and is hoping to get some title matches against AWA champ Curt Hennig.

From the Desk of Stu Saks… This month, Stu reflects upon his years working for PWI. He’s particularly enjoyed getting to know his colleagues, some that are still there, some that have left, and some that have died. One that has moved on is Peter King, who Stu says was the heart and soul of the magazine for seven plus years. One who’s died is Dan Shocket, who died of cancer in 1985. “Dan, for all the controversary he stirred, was a humane, decent man. I constantly argued yet deeply respected him.”

Off the Top Rope by Eddie Ellner: Eddie begins by saying he’s disgusted by Dave Rosenbaum’s article about “Ben the Bookie,” in which Dave talks about Ben taking bets on professional wrestling (which I previously covered in here.) Eddie says Ben is a criminal, and unlike Dave, who says professional wrestlers have too much integrity to throw a match for the sake of money, Eddie thinks gambling might lead to pro wrestling becoming fixed. Onto Eddie’s mailbag: Morgan from Wheeling, West Virginia says she’s a big fan of The Honky Tonk Man and wants to know if Eddie has jumped on the bandwagon now that Honky’s won the IC title. Eddie says Honky’s win was a fluke, and that he’s a mediocre wrestler who will probably lose the title very soon. (Well, most of that was right.) Meanwhile, Scott from Surrey, British Columbia shares a poem:

Ode to Andre

Since no one compare
to try would be unfair.
So by combining features
we may match up these creatures.
We’ll start with skinny arms
which could cause no real harm
since they cannot be bulky
Kendall Windham or a Mulkey.
To rate stupidity,
no human speaks as he.
To make as dumb a goon
brains of Gorilla Monsoon.
To make as gross a face
requires sub-human race.
His looks could scour a sink:
Who else? The Missing Link.
He has no wrestling skills,
providing little thrills.
Maneuvers? Who knows less?
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express.
The beast is almost done,
But does he weigh a ton?
To make as large a bust:
That’s right, your friend Big Dust.

Eddie says he approves.

Next, a look behind the scenes of PWI

We then learn about the history of Pro Wresting Illustrated. Back in 1972, publisher Stanley Weston, realizing that there were no “awards” in wrestling like MVP or  Rookie of the Year, instituted “the annual achievement awards” based on results of an extensive year-end fan poll. These awards, presented by a staff not affiliated with any one territory, gained great credibility among fans and wrestlers alike. In 1979, Weston published the first copy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, an independent magazine covering all the noteworthy territories in North America. (Weston would continue to publish PWI, as well Inside Wrestling and The Wrestler, until 1993, when he sold them to Nick Karabots, a wealthy publisher in Pennsylvania. He died in 2002 at age 82.)

Who’s been on the cover the most? Up to this point in 1987, the tallies are as follows:

Dusty Rhodes: 17 times
Ric Flair: 15 times
Hulk Hogan: 14 times
Bob Backlund: 8 times

Who’s scored the most achievement awards?

Ric Flair: 9
Bruno Sammartino: 8
Bob Backlund: 7
Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Harley Race: 5

And how about the fans?

72.2% of PWI readers are between 12 and 18-years-old, with 15 year-olds making up the largest portion of that at 16%.

We move on to celebratory lists compiled by the PWI staff…

The 10 Most Influential Wrestlers of the PWI Years (1979–1987)

  • Andre the Giant: 7’5, 525 pounds, turned pro in 1964. He’s never held a major title, but he nearly defeated Hogan for the WWF championship. “Andre had hoped to get a title match with Hogan without having to make too much noise and embarrassing anyone, but it just wasn’t happening, and the big guy was getting frustrated. The Andre of old would have accepted the situation, but the older Andre may be the wiser Andre.” — Hulk vs. Andre; May, 1987
  • Bob Backlund: 6’1, 242 pounds, turned pro in 1974. Major titles held: Missouri state heavyweight title (1976), WWF Heavyweight title (1978–1983), WWF tag team title (1980) “There are few men in this sport capable of beating Hulk Hogan. Backlund is one of those men.” — Dressing Room Confidential; December, 1984
  • Ric Flair: 6’1. 245 pounds, turned pro in 1972. Major titles held: NWA World tag team title (1977), U.S. Title (1977–1982, five reigns), NWA World title (1981–present, four reigns) “The moment of destiny came at the 33 minute mark. Referee Gene Kiniski had been accidentally struck and was on his knees, groggy and trying to regain his senses, when Flair climbed to the top rope. Catapulting himself in the air, he flew at Race with a beautifully executed flying bodypress. Three seconds later, he was the new NWA World champion.” — Ric Flair Whips Harley Race For NWA Title: A Second Chance at Greatness; April, 1984
  • Hulk Hogan: 6’8, 302 pounds, turned pro in 1978. Major titles held: WWF World title (1984–present) “One of the most hated men in wrestling, Hulk Hogan, has been winning cheers when he appears in AWA matches. ‘The fans here are smarter than anywhere else in the world,’ contends Hogan. ‘They know I’m the best and react accordingly.’ The fans also realize Hogan has been wrestling rulebreakers due to a scheduling situation. Hogan doesn’t care who he wrestles, as long as he gets someone to injure.” — Wrestling Enquirer; January, 1982
  • Roddy Piper: 6’1, 231 pounds, turned pro in 1973. Major titles held: Mid-Atlantic heavyweight title (1981–1983, two reigns), U.S. Heavyweight title (1981–1983, two reigns) “Piper strode into the office of Editor-in-Chief Peter King demanding that so-called attacks on his good name be halted. What he was referring to was a typographical error on the cover of our August issue call him ‘Rodney’ instead of ‘Roddy.'” — The Match That Proved Him Right And Us Wrong; November, 1982
  • Harley Race: 6’1, 255, turned pro in 1960. Major titles held: NWA World title (1973–1983, seven reigns), Missouri heavyweight title (1972–1985, seven reigns), AWA World tag team title (1965–1967, thee reigns) “Harley Race is probably the smartest wrestler in the sport’s history, and probably the most defensive as well. Any man who relies upon brains and cunning to win matches isn’t going to excite people as much as cute kids and brawny offensive powerhouses. But he’s going to win, and I can vouch for the fact that I never saw Harley Race beat himself in a match.” — Matt Brock; Looking at Harley Race; February, 1986
  • Dusty Rhodes: 6’1, 302 pounds, turned pro in 1969. Major titles held: NWA World tag team title (1984–1985), NWA World title (1979–1986, three reigns) “Titles and championships gather unwarranted importance in professional sports. Sometimes the mere possession of a diamond studded belt obscures sinister motives or actually condones venomous rulebreaking tactics. On the other hand, a wrestler who fails to win a title or doesn’t manage a lengthy reign suffers the stigma obscuring excellent skills and decent character traits. Dusty Rhodes has labored under such burdens long enough. What real difference does it make how long Rhodes holds a title or whether he ever wins another major championship? Can the word ‘champion’ compare with Rhodes’s qualities of fairness, kindness, and concern for the well-being of both fans and fellow grapplers? Focus upon Rhodes’s brilliant style, clever wit, and loyalty to his peers rather than any black and white judgement of his relative title successes. If not, a great wrestler is done a great disservice.” — The Morgenstein Report; December, 1980
  • The Road Warriors: 6’2, 6’3, 544 pounds, turned pro in 1982. Major titles held: National tag team title (1982–1984), AWA World tag team title (1984–1985), All-Japan International tag team title (1987–present) “Hawk and Animal are awesome, and the collective view of the wrestling community is that they will rule the sport through the 1980s, into the 1990s, and for as long as they want to stay together as a team.”— Dressing Room Confidential; May, 1985
  • Bruno Sammartino: 5’11, 252 pounds, turned pro in 1959. Major titles held: WWF heavyweight championship (1963–1977, two reigns) “Bruno is the only two-time WWF champion. His first stretch as champion lasted a record seven years, seven months, and one day. Add to this his second title reign of over three and half years and you will see Bruno held the title longer than all the other WWF champions put together! The question isn’t ‘Was Bruno the greatest WWF champion ever?’, it’s ‘Was Bruno the greatest wrestler of all time?’ It is quite clear he was the top man in the sport over the last 20 years. You would have go to back to the 1940s for a young Lou Thesz or back to Ed ‘Strangler’ Lewis in the 1920s to come close to the greatness of Bruno Sammartino.” — The Fans Make it Official: Bruno Sammartino Named Greatest WWF Champion Ever!; November, 1983
  • Kerry Von Erich: 6’2, 245 pounds, turned pro in 1978. Major titles held: Missouri State heavyweight championship (1983), NWA World title (1984) “Kerry Von Erich doesn’t think; he doesn’t have the capacity for intelligent thought. I think that impressive musculature must have invaded his brain cavity.” — Cowboy Bob Orton on Why Kerry Von Erich Isn’t Tough Enough to Survive the 1980s; August, 1983

The Ten Greatest Events of the PWI Years…

  • August 9, 1980: Shea Stadium Showdown — In front of 40,671 fans, Bruno Sammartino battled former friend Larry Zbyszko in one of the most anticipated steel cage matches of all time. Ironically, on that very same card, Andre the Giant defeated Hulk Hogan.
  • July 4, 1982: WWF Title vs. NWA Title — WWF kingpin Bob Backlund met NWA titlist Ric Flair in a historic bout at The Omni in Atlanta in a battle between a scientific master and a scientific rulebreaker. After 20 minutes of furious action, the contest fell out of the ring and both men were counted out. It was the last WWF title vs. NWA title match ever held.
  • June 10, 1983: A New Record is Set — Lou Thesz’s record of six NWA World Titles was equaled by Harley Race in May, 1981, and for more than two years the two men would share a place in the record book. But on June 10, 1983 in St. Louis, Race unseated World champion Ric Flair in a thrilling best-of-three falls match. Currently, Ric Flair is on his fourth title reign and it will probably be years before he approaches the record set by Race, if it ever happens.
  • November 24, 1983: Starrcade, the Very First Supercard — Before there was Wrestlemania, there was Starrcade, the granddaddy of them all. A crowd of 15,447 fans at the Greensboro Coliseum and an estimated 30,000 more throughout the Mid-Atlantic states watched on closed-circuit TV as Ric Flair regained the NWA World championship. More than four years later, Thanksgiving means Starrcade, a great annual event now held in two cities.
  • January 23, 1984: The Dawn of a New Era — When World champion Bob Backlund suffered an injury and bowed out of his title rematch against Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden, Hulk Hogan was declared the number-one contender and, amid much protest, was granted a title shot. He manhandled Sheik and won the belt in just five minutes and 40 seconds. It was the start of title reign that still has no end in sight.
  • May 6, 1984: A Dream Fulfilled — Kerry Von Erich’s victory over Ric Flair for the NWA World heavyweight championship was a labor of love. Just three months earlier, the death of Kerry’s brother David shocked the wrestling world. Kerry dedicated his match to his brother, and over 43,000 fans were on hand to see the historic contest. Von Erich wrestled a brilliant match, and at 25:42 executed a perfect backslide to pin Flair.
  • March 31, 1985: The World Takes Notice — The first Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden drew more press coverage than the sport has ever known, capturing the imagination of the entire country. Wrestling was “in” with the yuppie crowd, and the rock ‘n’ wrestling connection was the reason why.
  • May 11, 1985: A Television Milestone — As wrestling peaked in the national spotlight, its return to national network television was only a matter of time. On May 11, 1985 wrestling returned to network TV after a 30-year absence with the premiere of Saturday Night’s Main Event, a 90-minute WWF program on NBC. Vince McMahon did play-by-play and Jesse Ventura provided color commentary for the show, which was taped the previous evening at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
  • April 19, 1986: The Million Dollar Tag Team — The Superdome in New Orleans was the sight of the first annual Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup tag-team tournament, a two-day event that carried a $1 million first prize, the largest in wrestling history. Top tag teams from around the world converged, but it was two fan favorite teams, The Road Warriors and Magnum T.A. & Ronnie Garvin who fought in the finals. No one will ever forget the amazing test of strength between Animal and T.A., or the Warrior’s victory when Animal pinned Garvin for the Cup and the cash.
  • March 29, 1987: The Biggest Crowd Ever — While the epic battle between the undefeated Andre the Giant and WWF Heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan drew all the headlines, the real story of March 29, 1987 was the crowd of 93,173 fans who packed The Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan for Wrestlemania III. In the main event of a 13-match card, Hogan pinned his former friend and tag team partner after 12:01.

Unofficial Awards Created and Chosen by the Fans…

  • Bad Guys Finish First: The late, great Dan Shocket
  • Best scientific wrestler of the PWI Years: Bob Backlund
  • Best head of hair on a Russian: Soldat Ustinov by default
  • Biggest Dork of the PWI Years: The Honky Tonk Man
  • Biggest mistake of the PWI Years: Andre the Giant turning on Hulk Hogan
  • Full Moon Award: to Hulk Hogan, who’s defended his title about as often as the full moon appears
  • MIA: Sgt. Slaughter
  • Most likely to get beaten up by Rock ‘N’ Roll Express fans: Eddie Ellner
  • Most Overrated and Undeserving NWA champion of the PWI Years: Tommy Rich
  • Put Him out to Pasture, But he’d eat all the grass and the cows would starve Award: to Dusty Rhodes
  • Tammy Bakker Award for Best Makeup: Adrian Adonis
  • Throw Your Remote Control Through the TV Award: to the WWF Slammys on MTV
  • Whatever happened to? John Studd
  • Worst Wrestling League of the PWI Years: AWA
  • Wow! Wow! Wow! Oh!! Look at that, Tony! AHHHHHHH!: David Crockett

Official Awards Voted on by Fans For the PWI Years (1979–1987)

  • Best wrestler: Ric Flair
  • Worst wrestler: Frank Williams
  • Best tag team: The Road Warriors
  • Worst tag team: Randy & Bill Mulkey
  • Most improved wrestler: Barry Windham
  • Best feud: Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes
  • Best match: Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat, Wrestlemania III
  • Best manager: Capt. Lou Albano
  • Best valet: Precious
  • Favorite PWI writer: Bill Apter
  • Worst PWI writer: Eddie Ellner
  • Favorite PWI story: “Magnum T.A.’s Message to the Fans — Thank You For Your Prayers”
  • Worst PWI story:  “The Von Erich Dynasty: The Kid Who Will Lead Them Into the 21st Century” (This one would look even worse some years later.)
  • Biggest News Story: WWF Expansion
  • Favorite PWI column: Ringside With Bill Apter
  • Worst PWI column: Eddie Ellner
  • Best Television Announcer: Gordon Solie
  • Worst Television Announcer: Gorilla Monsoon

Predictions for the biggest event over the next 100 issues of PWI:

  • A title unification match between Flair and Hogan
  • Bruno Sammartino returns to win the WWF title
  • The NWA, WWF, AWA, UWF, and World Class will hold a supercard together at the Metrodome
  • Flair will leave The Horsemen and team up with Dusty Rhodes to take on The Horsemen
  • Vince McMahon will buy out the AWA
  • Magnum T.A. will wrestle again
  • Roddy Piper will come out of retirement and feud with Oliver Humperdink
  • Killer Khan will permanently blind Hulk Hogan with green mist

A Look Back at the PWI’s Past…

1979

  • PWI debuts with a cover story featuring Dusty Rhodes and Mil Mascaras, a press conference with Bruno Sammartino, and an open letter to Ricky Steamboat.
  • Later in the year, PWI  publishes a portrait of a manager, featuring Bobby Heenan.

1980

  • Ken Patera wins the Intercontinental Title!
  • Jimmy Carter poses with Mr. Wrestling II!

1981

  • Sgt. Slaughter started with a standing offer of $5,000 to any man who could break his cobra clutch, but upped it to $10,000 to goad announcer Pat Patterson into giving it a try. Pat Patterson accepted, and to the cheers of the fans, won the money.
  • A fan wins a genuine Mil Mascaras mask in a PWI contest!
  • Ken Patera claims Ted DiBiase paid off a referee to win a match. (Patera in six years: “I told you! I told you all, and you laughed at me!”)
  • A scheduling problem in the AWA has forced rulebreaker Hulk Hogan to wrestle other rulebreakers.

1982

  • Dusty Rhodes has hired Kevin Sullivan as a nutritionist.
  • Wrestling’s first scaffold match was held between Bill Dundee and Koko Ware. (So it was also a midget match?)
  • Superstar Billy Graham says reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated.
  • PWI has baby pictures of Tommy Rich!

1983

  • PWI, taking note that Bob Backlund does not wrestle other scientific wrestlers, has withdrawn its recognition of the WWF title as a world title.
  • A fan poll shows overwhelming support (95%) for another Backlund/Superfly Jimmy Snuka match. Will the WWF listen? (Answer: no)
  • A Broadway play about a professional wrestler, Teaneck Tanzi (who uses The Venus Flytrap as her finishing maneuver) has bombed, closing after two performances.
  • Hulk Hogan has returned from Japan to the AWA, where fans are cheering him wildly and hoping he can defeat AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel.
  • A 23-year-old nurse from Nebraska won a phone call from Roddy Piper and told him she thought he was cute.

1984

  • Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon says he tries to be nice, but it’s hard to be polite to people when they’re such idiots.
  • The NWA World tag team title is a hot potato with FIVE title changes between January and October.
  • Kevin Sullivan has somehow convinced Mike Davis to become Dusty Rhodes.
  • Wahoo McDaniel, once cheered by the fans, has turned bad.

1985 by the Money

  • $100 is how much a ringside seat will cost at Wrestlemania.
  • $866.15 is how much it would cost to purchase all the WWF’s merchandise.
  • $1,182 is how much it would cost to order every back issue of PWI.
  • $10,000 was given to Jim Cornette by his mother in hopes of finding a new way for The Midnight Express to win the World Class tag team titles.
  • $100,000 was won by Kerry, Kevin, and Mike Von Erich plus the Freebirds when they defeated Chris Adams, Gino Hernandez, Steve Williams, Kamala, The One Man Gang, and Rip Oliver at Texas Stadium in a best-of-five falls match.
  • $102,987 in refunds were given to angry Pittsburgh fans who went to see Wrestlemania on closed-circuit and were greeted with a blank screen due to technical issues with the feed.
  • $376,614 in tax dollars were collected by New York State from pro wrestling.
  • $18,600,00 in damages is being sought by Kevin Wilson, a St. Louis fan who contended Kamala punched him. Named as defendants are Kamala, the St. Louis Wrestling Club and Pat O’Connor, a former wrestler now employed as a matchmaker.

1986 by the Quotes

  • “I would wrestle Hulk Hogan when I’m 50-years-old. He’s a good entertainer. He’s a good guitar player. I wrestle better.” — Bob Backlund
  • “One of the things I learned from my father is it’s better to develop a good relationship with your customers than to squeeze them for every penny.” — Jim Crockett
  • “I visualize the tumor as a devil, and I visualize the radiation coming in there was a big lightning bolt and just knocking the hell out of it.” — Scott Irwin
  • “Wade Boggs likes chicken, but he doesn’t bring one to the plate he comes to bat.” — Larry King questioning Vince McMahon on why Jake Roberts brings a snake to the ring
  • “Everybody thinks the Federation is in it for the money. It’s not so. They are concerned about the kids. This is what separates the WWF from the others.” — Ernie Ladd
  • “I want to get out and wrestle tomorrow night.” — Kerry Von Erich, speaking from his hospital bed just days after a motorcycle accident
  • “Hulk Hogan couldn’t last five minutes in a Mid-South match!” — Bill Watts

1987

  • A group of Florida investors announced plans for an initial public offering of $7 million shares of stock in the Global Wrestling Alliance.
  • Former Atlanta Braves’ star first baseman Bob Horner (who once hit four homers in a single game) has declined an offer from Jim Crockett Promotions to simultaneously play Double-A baseball in Charlotte while training to become a professional wrestler, instead opting to play baseball in Japan.
  • The WWF reportedly is not amused with Mad Magazine’s parody of WWF Magazine with a cover promising such articles as “King Kong Bundy: Cellulite is my secret weapon!” and “Exclusive Interviews With Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts’s Python and Kamala’s Stomach.” A spokesperson for the WWF says the Federation is concerned that fans might be duped into buying the magazine and not realize it’s a counterfeit until they get home.

Onto a special Arena Report, featuring rundowns of historic cards…

In this month’s breaking news… Paul Orndorff has turned on Bobby Heenan and has signed a new contract with manager Oliver Humperdink. (Brilliant move! I predict big things in the WWF for Orndorff and Humperdink in 1988.) Heenan, it should be noted, has signed former World Class heavyweight champion Rick Rude. (As if that’s going anywhere.) In Florida, Gordon Solie has resigned his on air duties after 37 years. The organization has announced that Steve Keirn will replace him. Solie, meanwhile, will continue to serve as a broadcaster for Continental Championship Wrestling. In Charlotte, Dusty Rhodes has announced that he is going after Lex Luger’s United States title. Rhodes points out that he has won every major championship save for that one. Luger, for his part, says he’s the complete package. (Some might even say “total.”) And he’s not worried about “some fat old guy with a big mouth.” He says he’ll hold on to the U.S. title forever. (Or perhaps until Starrcade.) In other news, Gary Hart, manager of Al Perez, has traveled to Sudan, Africa in search of a young cannibal who reportedly is the brother of Abdullah the Butcher. (That old stick?) According to Hart, Abdullah left behind his baby brother in Africa when he came to the U.S. and the young boy is now rumored to be the same size as him but is even more fierce. (“Kane’s alive!” Wait, wrong angle.) Elsewhere, a group of fans in Israel known as “The Von Erich Fan Club of Israel” recently made a visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to pray for Mike Von Erich, who committed suicide in April. In Japan, Japanese wrestling officials were seriously considering banning the Road Warriors because of dominance over local rivals, but fan protests apparently caused them to change their minds. And lastly, The Rockers, who left the AWA for the WWF, have run into “contractual difficulties” with the latter and have signed a deal with Continental Championship Wrestling and are hoping to get a shot at Southeast Continental tag team champions Robert Fuller & Jimmy Golden.

Next, we get The PWI Poll of the Month about the PWI years:

And lastly, the latest rankings.

That’s all for this week! Join me next time for WWF Magazine where we’ll get coverage of a title change featuring a newcomer who won a belt in her first WWF match, we’ll get inciteful comments in an exclusive interview with George “The Animal” Steele, and fans will insist Hulk Hogan’s legdrop is the greatest finishing maneuver in wrestling. Plus, B. Brian Blair writes a 202 word essay on why masks are fair!

And be sure to check out my book all about Star Trek: The Next Generation! (You can read free sample chapters here.)