The first edition of a new series I’m doing is called Inside The Magazine, which is rather self-explanatory. I have way too many magazines, and that number continues to grow. I thought it might be interesting to take a look inside some of the old magazines and look at what was written about, maybe something crazy happened at the time. Perhaps in the results section of a PWI there was a shocking match or something along those lines. I think this will be fun…
I have plenty of magazines to choose from, so it’s really just the first one out of a pile. For this first installment, I’ll be looking at The Wrestler Magazine from June 1995. The cover of the magazine is the British Bulldog who is hyped as barking and is ready to bite. Mind you, this is before his heel turn on WWF television. There appears to be quite a lot about Big Bubba Rogers, as well.
They have a section dedicated to fans letters, which is also in Pro Wrestling Illustrated, though not as humorous. Readers named Bryan and Lauren Berson chimed in suggesting that it would be just a matter of time that Big Bubba Rogers would return to dominance after he had an identity crisis. Apparently, to them Rogers was most successful under that gimmick. I don’t recall Rogers amounting to much in WCW after this, though. So, that was a swing and a miss there. Jamie Wilson is pissed that the Undertaker isn’t getting any title shots from WWF World Champion Diesel or WWF Intercontinental Champion, Jeff Jarrett. I would think the answer to why Taker wasn’t getting any title shots at the time would be answered by the reader when they said “I guarantee he’d win.” Makes sense as to why Jarrett and Diesel wouldn’t give up a shot.
Kurt Schulz sent a letter in letting the editors know they were insane to give Dave Sullivan a thumbs up in a previous issue. Schulz let loose on a rant hoping that Ted Turner could sleep well at night for what he had done to WCW. He insisted that he wanted I Quit matches and great wrestling back instead of “playground feuds”. I don’t think Turner ever lost any sleep in regard to anything WCW.
Eric Hodges also sent a letter putting over Kwang saying he delivered better kicks than 1-2-3 Kid and Shawn Michaels. He thought that the only reason Kwang didn’t take off was because of his manager, Harvey Whippleman. I remember watching a Kwang/Kid match fairly recently and it was a lot better than I was expecting, so maybe there’s some truth to this.
WHAT’S HAPPENING – by: Bill Apter
Could you imagine Sgt. Craig Pittman in a WCW World Championship feud with Hulk Hogan? There was a little bit of a tease that Pittman was going for the gold. Oh boy, that would have been brutal and it wouldn’t have made much sense, anyway.
According to Jim Cornette, he had the perfect team to dethrone WWF World Tag Team Champions, the Smoking Gunns. His perfect team? Well, that would be Mantaur and Bruiser Bedlam. Mantaur was a failed performer who was a buffalo of some kind, while Bedlam was a bully who had minor success in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, which was ran by Cornette. Perhaps this was an example of two bad wrestlers forming together to make one great tag team. That’s how it would work, right? Anyway, that never happened.
Speaking of Cornette, he was causing a divide between Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, the SMW Tag Team Champions. Morton was in favor of Cornette being their manager since he hadn’t screwed them over…. yet, and Gibson was not wanting Cornette because he didn’t trust him. It’s kind of funny considering Cornette made their lives a living hell for ten+ years. I wouldn’t ever want someone to be my partner.
A wrestler named Chainz, who wrestled in the Tennessee area, wrote into Apter complaining about not getting coverage while Hogan, Vader and others did. I never heard of Chainz prior to this and never heard about him afterward.
The last interesting tidbit from this section is that Terry Taylor was coming out of semi-retirement to battle Jake Roberts in a series of matches. Apparently, they had several issues they needed to resolve from many years ago.
THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN
Randy Savage got a thumbs up because he has remained loyal to Hulk Hogan upon his arrival in WCW. Jerry Lawler got a thumbs up as well, despite cheating to win the SMW Heavyweight Championship from Dirty White Boy. Apparently, his honest ways to defeat Brian Christopher and Bill Dundee in a marathon match to get a shot at and defeat USWA Heavyweight Champion Sid Vicious outweighed the bad he had done. British Bulldog being a roll since beating Bob Backlund numerous times and almost winning the Royal Rumble. Lastly, Rick Martel got a thumbs up for saving Pierre from an attack by Shawn Michaels. There was interest in a face run for Martel going after Michaels, I guess.
Bret Hart got a thumbs down for attacking Owen Hart at the ’95 Royal Rumble and for not being the bigger man and ending the issues with his younger brother. Ric Flair because he got involved in the match between Vader and Hogan. Flair won’t remain retired and nobody likes a liar. Brutus Beefcake for realizing his mistakes and needing career counseling since he turned on Hulk Hogan. And, Chris Candido got a thumbs down because he wouldn’t defend the NWA Championship against any challengers.
INTRODUCING MANTAUR – by: Brandi Mankiewicz
The failed project that was Mantaur gets a highlight spot. I don’t believe the character lasted six months on WWF television, at least not presented as a serious threat to top wrestlers. They spent most of the article comparing him to Gorilla Monsoon, the famed announcer and a successful wrestler in the 60s. In the article, Jim Cornette, the man who found Mantaur and managed him, put over his strength and his fighting spirit. At the end, it was suggested that Mantaur might team with Yokozuna to take on the WWF World Tag Team Champions, the Smoking Gunns. So, now in this magazine alone, Mantaur could team with Bruiser Bedlam or Yokozuna to go after tag gold. Neither of which happened, by the way.
Q & A – by: Andy Rodriguez
The man of the hour was Avalanche, formerly known as Earthquake in the WWF. He had recently joined WCW after a successful tenure with the WWF. The main topic of discussion is his hatred for Hulk Hogan and why he joined forces with Kevin Sullivan. Simply, he joined with Sullivan because Sullivan has great hatred towards Hogan. Avalanche also suggested that Randy Savage was going to turn on Hogan, eventually. He liked the idea of teaming with Big Bubba Rogers and they could be WCW World Tag Team Champions. Avalanche called Jimmy Hart a pathetic human being who runs when the times get tough. Avalanche also acknowledged that the Faces of Fear is a short-term alliance and if he were to win the WCW World Championship he wouldn’t shed any tears if the group were to disband as a result.
The Wrestler Panel Examines… Randy Savage
The panel this time around consisted of Lou Albano, Killer Kowalski, Dory Funk Jr., Fabulous Moolah, Lou Thesz and Gordon Solie. Here’s a summary of what each person had to say about Savage in ’95.
Albano: Didn’t think Savage was the greatest wrestler ever but has great intensity and believes he had many more good moments to come despite being past his prime.
Kowalski: Felt like Savage wasted years as an announcer when he should have been winning world titles, similar to what Flair and Hogan have accomplished. Didn’t think Savage should be friends with Hogan, thinking it was a waste of time.
Funk Jr.: Thought that Savage was at the top of his game and should remain as a baby face. Confident that Savage would defeat Hogan in a singles match.
Moolah: Concerned about Randy’s temper thinking that it has cost him in the past and would do the same in the future.
Thez: Believes that Savage is an all-time great but needs to adapt his offense since everyone can expect the elbow drop. Suggests that Savage work on a submission hold. I don’t recall Savage ever winning a match by submission.
Solie: Is confident that Savage and Hogan will remain friends this time around because Savage is mature. Would like to see a face vs. face match between the two.
The classic segment was from the June 1980 edition where they highlighted Ken Patera looking to reveal to the world that WWF World Champion Bob Backlund was all about. Patera apparently believed that when he would inform the fans of what he knew the fans would hate Backlund. He claims to have followed Backlund after a show and Backlund arrived to a bad place in town and had a secret meeting with Bruno Sammartino, Ivan Putski and Pat Patterson! He witnessed seeing pictures of himself, Hogan, Blassie and the Wiz as the trio were looking to eliminate all of them. So, that was the mega secret and was confident he would be WWF World Champion. That Patera has a great imagination, I tell ya.
THE WRESTLING BOOK OF LISTS
There are a bunch of lists complied and I’m not going to write each one as they would take forever. However, I’ll share some of the more interesting ones.
SHANE DOUGLAS 10 LEAST FAVORITE NWA/WCW WORLD CHAMPIONS
1.) Ric Flair
2.) Dusty Rhodes:
3.) Hulk Hogan
4.) Tommy Rich
5.) Kerry Von Erich
6.) Lou Thesz
8.) Harley Race
9.) Jack Brisco
10.) Ricky Steamboat
The next one is interesting because Tamara was a top heel act in Smoky Mountain Wrestling and was generating some great heat for the company for nearly two years. She’d later become Sunny in the WWF and this aspect of her career wouldn’t be discussed all that much.
TAMARA FYTCH’S TOP 10 FEMALE ROLE MODELS OF ALL-TIME
1.) Hillary Rodham-Clinton
2.) Margaret Thatcher
3.) Lady Godvia
4.) Susan B. Anthony
5.) Billie Jean King
6.) Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis
7.) Jackie Joyner-Kersee
8.) Sandra Day O’Conner
9.) Anita Hill
10.) Maria Antoniette
THE 10 MOST HEINOUS ACTS IN WRESTLING HISTORY
1.) Gino Hernandez blinds Chris Adams with a caustic substance (1986)
2.) Larry Zbyszko turns on Bruno Sammartino (1979)
3.) Owen Hart turns on Bret Hart (1994)
4.) Brutus Beefcake turns on Hulk Hogan (1994)
5.) Randy Savage slaps Miss Elizabeth (1989)
6.) Andre The Giant pulls a cross off of Hulk Hogan’s neck (1987)
7.) John Tolos throws medicated powder in Fred Blassie’s face (1971)
8.) Superstar Graham mutilates Bob Backlunds WWF World Championship (1983)
9.) The Undertaker locks Ultimate Warrior in an airtight coffin (1991)
10.) Stan Hansen breaks Bruno Sammartino’s neck with a lariat (1976)
I think it is hilarious that something like Savage slapping Elizabeth is below two heel turns in ’94. Hell, the Andre moment with Hogan is probably a top one, too. A bizarre listing here, I thought.
HE’S BARKING… AND READY TO BITE: THE BRITISH BULLDOG DEMANDS A TITLE SHOT NOW! by: Steve Anderson
After returning to the WWF in the summer of ’94, Bulldog was mainly in the corner of WWF World Champion Bret Hart battling against Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart. He came close to winning the Royal Rumble, but he is ready to get a WWF World Championship match. They teased if the frustration that Bulldog has experienced lead to him turning on the fans, who have been loyal to him. Apparently, Stu Hart believed that Bulldog would never do that to the family. Would he try being a friend to the champion and then turn on him? Actually, that’s exactly what he would do one week before SummerSlam attacking WWF World Champion Diesel.
BIG BUBBA ROGERS IS A PSYCHOLOGICAL BASKET CASE: by: Dr. Sidney M. Basil
The main focus of the article is looking at Rogers to see if he has multiple personality disorder. According to the doctor, Rogers doesn’t suffer from it and there wasn’t a single drastic moment in his life to warrant this kind of behavior. Instead, Rogers is a flat-out basket case. Rogers is continually switching from four personas because he fails at being each one at some point, thus he points the blame away from himself. The doctor believes that Rogers needs counseling, rest and some therapy. Rogers didn’t take any of that and continued to wrestle for several more years, switching personas along the way, again.
ALEX WRIGHT HAS ALL THE MOVES… AND SOME OF THEM ARE DURING THE MATCH: by: Chris Bernucca
It’s quite a hype job on Alex Wright claiming to be the brightest thing in wrestling today and WCW executives are lucky to have found him in Germany. The women love him and he has overtaken Brian Pillman as the best aerial wrestler in WCW, according to the writer. His best move is a backflip where he doesn’t touch his opponent and actually avoids them. Not sure how that is helpful. It was basically just a way to talk about Alex Wright’s dancing in the ring and his potential in the ring. I don’t think he lived up to it, though.
WHEN BROTHER TURNS AGAINST BROTHER… SOMETHING’S ROTTEN IN ECW: by Dave Rosenbaum
Axl Rotten certainly isn’t happy with his brother Ian for putting their mother in the middle of their issues, again. I don’t remember that being touched upon on ECW TV, but we’ll pretend it is accurate. Ian blames Axl for their issues since Axl lost a match they had as a team which made them split up and Ian attacked Axl sparking the blood feud.
That’s the major points of the magazine, which I really enjoyed reading. They touched upon some interesting topics for the time and seemingly foreshadowed the heel turn for Bulldog. Makes me wonder how obvious that turn was to fans at the time. There was a lot of discussion about Big Bubba Rogers trying to make him seem like a top level threat in WCW. It’s a nice effort, but I’d have a hard time buying into him in that regard.
It’s good to get some exposure on SMW and USWA, but most of the magazine was featured on WCW it seemed like. I recall WCW having a working agreement with the Apter magazines, so that might have played a part in the heavy focus. But, a feature on Bulldog was solid and mentioning the blood feud involving the Rotten Brothers helps ECW standout from the other promotions.
I hope you enjoyed this first edition of a new series, it was fun reading on and thinking about what happened. Feel free to share your thoughts on any of the topics provided above!
Thanks for reading.