Flashback Friday: WWF Magazine October 1987

From the pages of WWF Magazine… this week, we look back at an issue that went to press in August of 1987 that sold for $2.25 in the U.S. and $3.00 in Canada. With a cover featuring Bobby “the Brain” Heenan, we’re also teased with stories about Ted DiBiase, George Steele, and Ron Bass. So let’s make like Miss Betsy and whip this one out.

We begin with Around the Ring by Ed Ricciuti featuring comments from fans. Roger from Bowling Green, Missouri says he’s been a wrestling fan since he learned how to turn on a television set, and he loves Hulk Hogan. He also asks for an interview with George Steele, and Ed says the magazine will do its best. A few other readers write in to say WWF Magazine is number one, and Ed says the staff appreciates such sentiments but stresses that WWF Magazine also welcomes criticism too. “Only you, our readers, can give us your thoughts on how to make this magazine better.”

Next, Fan Forum, featuring more comments from fans. On the subject of who is the most scientific grappler, Andrew of Redlands, California says “Davey Boy Smith. He’s fast, aggressive, and does many different moves.” Lloyd of Campobello, South Carolina says, “Harley Race. He has an awesome cradle suplex.” Howard from Westwood, Massachusetts says, “I have watched wrestling for years. I was a good wrestler back in high school, and I know wrestling inside and out. I feel very strongly that there are three men who are clearly masters of scientific technique: Kamala, Jake Roberts, and Randy Savage.” We move on to best finishers, with more fans, such as Mike from Kitchener, Ontario saying the DDT is the best. On the other hand, Matt from Brunswick, Maryland and Scott from Gahanna, Ohio give a shout-out to Hulk Hogan’s legdrop. “By far, Hulk Hogan’s legdrop is the greatest finisher ever done,” Scott says. “When the Hulkster drops his massive leg on his hapless opponent, you know the match is already won.”

And finally, Mary from Shelbyville, Missouri writes in to say that she and her husband were appalled when Bobby Heenan and four of his men attacked Ken Patera. “I feel there should be some drastic measures taken because of the brutal attack. Heenan has tried to make it look like Patera attacked him when Patera was only defending himself. Heenan started it with Patera, so Heenan should be man enough to take the consequences.”

Up next, WWF List of… favorite cities:

  • Brutus Beefcake: “Paris, France. It’s the city of hair salons.”
  • Ted DiBiase: “Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s glitzy and has style and class.”
  • Harley Race: “Monte Carlo. The people there respect royalty.”
  • Outback Jack: “My home town of Humpty Doo, Northern Territories. I also like New York. It’s a lot like the Outback, actually. Behind every building there’s an adventure waiting.”
  • One Man Gang: “Chicago. When I get tired of hammering saps in the ring, I head over to behind the stockyards to give my knuckles some exercise.”
  • Raymond Rougeau: “Montreal, Quebec. That is where the Rougeau family is made to feel as if we are the family of everyone.”
  • Junk Yard Dog: “New Orleans. When I strut down Bourbon Street and hear that hot jazz, the Junk Yard Dog is right at home.”
  • Hulk Hogan: “Every city is Hulkamania country, but when it comes down to it, I have to stick to Venice Beach, California. When the hot sun’s blazing down and I’m out pumping my pythons on the golden sand, there’s nothing like it—except for defending my championship in front of thousands of Hulkamaniacs.”
  • King Kong Bundy: “Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Downtown there’s a restaurant called Rainardo’s. They have the best all-you-can-eat surf and turf special on the planet.”

Newsbreakers! Sensational Sherri has taken the Women’s Championship from the Fabulous Moolah! (Well, that didn’t take her long.) Her win came after she neatly reversed a pin attempt by Moolah. “As a newcomer to the WWF, she may have lucked out in the Moolah bout. She now has to prove she can hold on to her new-found glory.”

Moving on, this month’s Personality Profile covers Matilda. (?) We’re told that she’s a lot like the British Bulldogs themselves. (So she’s a douchebag?) From the moment she enters the ring, Matilda is on guard against a sneak attack. Friendly toward most people, she nonetheless goes after the Bulldogs’ enemies like gangbusters. Davey says, “Travelling all the time, we love to have her with us. She’s a good friend. Adds Dynamite, “Matilda makes me proud to be a Bulldog.” (I wonder how many wrestlers were upset that a dog took up space that could have been used to get them more coverage.)

Speaking of animals… next, an Interview with George Steele. The joke here is that Steele gives his answers in his typical way, and WWF Magazine translates them in brackets. For example WWF Magazine asks, “George, how did you get the way you are today?” George looks at the interviewer as if returning the question then shakes his head up and down. [George might be implying he is the way he is period.]  “George, how did you get into wrestling?” A look of pondering appears on George’s face, then he raises his eyebrows as if he’s suddenly enlightened. “George bad. Wrestling good. Now George nice.” [George seems to mean that he was a mean customer so he entered the ring to beat people. Now he is still in the ring, but the meanness has vanished.] “George, who do you like best in the world?” “George like ‘Lizabeth. Shhh. Don’t tell Macho Man.” [George is referring to Elizabeth, the lovely female manager of Randy “Macho Man” Savage.] “Complete this sentence: George Steele is a man who…” George looks puzzled, then with a sudden move, he grabs the interviewer behind the head with a grizzled paw and pulls him nose to nose. “Some people like. Some people no. You like George?”

Next, Frank Henson writes an article about attacks on an opponent’s arm in Arming to Win.  Color commentator Bruno Sammartino spells it out. “The object is to focus only on one arm. If you can disable one arm, you’ve handicapped your opponent quite seriously.” Bruno says he likes working the wrist and elbow joints, and he likes the hammerlock too. Another wristlock and hammerlock specialist is The Honky Tonk Man. “Don’t be fooled by the Honky Tonk Man’s vanity. He’s a crafty wrestler whose skill with such arm-attack holds have made him a force that can’t be ignored. In fact, he attributes several recent victories to a combination of arms-as-weapons and arm-attack strategies.” Honky, when asked to reveal the secret to his attack, says: “I grip ’em and rip ’em.” Another arm specialist is Randy Savage, who has one of the best armdrags in the business. “Hey, I know what works, brother,” he says. “I always shoot for the arms. You slide in, twist his arm a little here, a little there, and he’ll feel like he was lifting 100-pound sandbags all day long.” How many arm holds are there in wrestling? It’s impossible to count. When a wrestler finds a hold that gives him an advantage, he will make that hold a part of his battle strategy, and he will be arming himself to win. (Get it?)

Next, Battle of the Titans by Keith Greenberg recaps a thrilling Killer Khan vs. Outback Jack fight. Khan won after spraying Outback Jack with some mysterious green mist. “Outback Jack has a score to settle with Khan. But the Aussie may not get the chance. For Khan, Jack was but a stepping stone on the road to a title match with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. Given Khan’s success to date, it will probably come about. And given the savagery and trickery Khan used to dispose of the rugged Australian, Hogan had better be on guard.” (Khaaaaan!)

Onto our feature article about Who Is the Most Successful Manager: Heenan or Hart? This, of course, was written at a time when Jimmy Hart was on fire, managing the WWF Tag Team champions and the Intercontinental Champion. (Soon, he’d also be managing the ladies tag team champions.) Meanwhile, Bobby Heenan was busy being Wile E. Coyote to Hulk Hogan’s Road Runner, coming up with scheme after scheme to bring Hogan down only to fail every time.

The magazine compares and contrasts the two, admitting Hart is presently more successful, but adding that Heenan, whose “Heenan Family” is anchored by Andre the Giant, might have the more formidable stable. (Ironically, when Andre finally defeated Hogan for the title, he was no longer managed by Heenan. And by the time Andre took Heenan back, he had already surrendered the championship!)

Onto Tag Team Turmoil by Keith Greenberg. The writer says, “It was never supposed to be this good. The novelty match invented by an Australian promoter many decades ago with the sole purpose of putting four men in a ring to wage war was to inspire fan curiosity and create pandemonium. Today in the WWF, tag team warfare has evolved into sophisticated strategy, with more top-quality teams competing for glory than ever before.” Greenberg runs through the top teams: The Hart Foundation, The Rougeau Brothers, The British Bulldogs, Demolition, The Islanders, Kamala & Sika, The Dream Team, and The Young Stallions. “Today, for whatever reasons, the proliferation of superb combinations is unmatched by any prior roster.” And, Greenberg adds, some of them have even developed devastating two-man finishing maneuvers such as the Hart’s Hart Attack and the Rougeaus’ Le Bombe de Rougeau. “The four-man mode skirmish has even allowed men who might have languished in single’s competition to bask in the spotlight. Consider, for example, the names Louie Cerdan, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Irish Pat Barrett, and Tony Garea. As individuals, the main events customarily evaded them. Yet each was proficient enough at team grappling to hold a piece of the WWF Tag Team Title!” Greenberg concludes his piece by observing, “What started as a novelty is now an irreplaceable institution in the sport of kings. The Hart Foundation rules over a sizzling domain that gets hotter each day. Fledgling combinations like Paul Roma & Jim Powers or Outback Jack & Hillbilly Jim all want to play a role in this, the golden age of the tag team.”

Next, a piece about The Million-Dollar Man Ted DiBiase that covers his early vignettes.  Scott Keith recently pointed out that DiBiase was one of those guys who would sell quite a bit for jobbers in squash matches on the syndicated shows, and I have to agree. When he entered the WWF, I had no idea how talented he was, since, like The Honky Tonk Man, he always seemed on the verge of losing. When I started to see that underneath the gimmick, he could really work, I was pleasantly surprised. He would go on to be the first wrestler after Wrestlemania 1 to close out a Wrestlemania with no prior Wrestlemania experience, with very few wrestlers in the club to this day.

Next, an article about Ron Bass: Bushwacker with a Bullwhip by Frank Henson. (I don’t recall Bass licking the fans on his way to the ring.) “I want people to know I’m ready to do some damage to no-accounts like Tito Santana, Junk Yard Dog, Outback Jack, and anybody else who tries to cross me,” he says. Frank tells us Bass is 275 pounds, carries a whip named “Miss Betsy,” and is a mean, ornery Texan. His finishing maneuver is the “Texas gourd buster” which is a blend of the piledriver and a suplex. “Bass grabs his opponent’s head between his legs and then smashes it to the mat.” (Someone should steal that.)

Onto Private Eye, where we see photos of the Ricky Steamboat with his wife, Bonnie, and newborn baby boy, Ricky Jr.

WWF Lowdown: There’s a new tag team in women’s wrestling called The Jumping Bomb Angels. Apparently they’re so innovative, both The Hart Foundation and The British Bulldogs have been watching their matches and taking notes. (Hopefully the Angels can showcase their skills on some kind of pay per view in the near future.) In other news, Siva Afi is upset with The Islanders’ new mindset. “It’s pretty hard to respect somebody being managed by Bobby Heenan,” he says. “The Islanders have let down all the fine people in the South Pacific.” (And then he’d go on to join The Islanders in 1988.) Moving on, Superstar Billy Graham is back, jack! They said he’d never walk again, but now he’s chasing after the WWF Championship once again. And lastly, newcomers Bam Bam Bigelow and “The Million-Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase have been making a lot of noise. One foe likens fighting Bam Bam to battling a safe tossed off the Empire State Building. As for DiBiase, everyone seems to be overlooking his valet, Virgil. “The man is built!” the article says. “Wrestlers used to smacking around Slick and Jimmy Hart better take notice. Virgil appears to be a fellow who can take care of himself. (Sadly, old Virgil isn’t doing very well right now.)

Wrap Up: Hillbilly Jim will be appearing in an upcoming episode of Hee Haw, the hit syndicated Country & Western show. (I actually attended a taping of Hee Haw back in the 1980s. I even ran into Roy Clark backstage. The show is somewhat a joke today, but those guys were super-talented people that worked their tails off. I remember watching them do a song over and over again about 40 times. And it wasn’t that they were doing anything wrong, they just wanted a wide selection of takes and angles to choose from.) Meanwhile, some UCLA graduate named Reggie Miller was recently drafted by the Indianapolis Pacers basketball team and was spotted at a WWF event at Market Square Arena. (Hopefully he has some success in the NBA.) Elsewhere, extra security was requested when Ken Patera and Bobby Heenan were both scheduled to appear at the Video Software Dealers of America (VSDA) convention in Las Vegas. The VSDA has voted Coliseum Home Video’s Wrestlemania videos the top sports tape two years in a row. Moving along, in my homestate of Wisconsin, Hulk Hogan took the blue ribbon at the Wisconsin State Fair. “No, Hulk Hogan wasn’t milking cows or baking pies. He was doing what he does best. Defending the strap.” (Strap? STRAP? Don’t you mean championship title?) Anyway, I have no memory of this, and now I’m sad I didn’t attend. (For the record, Hogan  successfully defended his title against Sika, father of a future WWE champion.)

Sika, Roman Reigns, and Hulk

In other news, the WWF is working on a new record. More details are to come, but the album will be called Piledriver and will be released on the Epic label. And finally, Dave Winfield (whom, I would like to mention, was drafted by MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the ABA) stopped by Madison Square Garden to cheer on Hulk Hogan in the champ’s bout against King Harley Race and engage in some color commentary with Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes.

In Wrestler’s Rebuttal, B. Brian Blair explains Why Masks Are Fair:

We also get a Crossword Puzzle (which I haven’t actually filled out)…

And finally, Caught in the Act features George Steele…

That’s it for this week! See ya next time for the next issue of WWF Magazine, where we learn more about the Piledriver album, we get details about Andre the Giant’s upcoming movie, we’re introduced to a new team named Strike Force, and Bam Bam Bigelow, the hottest free agent in wrestling, chooses a manager. In the meantime, be sure to take a look at my books at my website: www.jwbraun.com.