The fifteenth edition of the series highlights the September ’97 Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine. Lets take a look.
Stan from New Jersey believes that Bret Hart hasn’t been treated very well since returning to the WWF to compete. After all, Bret remained in the WWF while top names like Hogan, Savage and others left the WWF for WCW. Bret defended the WWF World Championship against top challenges like Diesel, Ric Flair and Owen Hart. Instead, people root for Shawn Michaels and Sid Vicious but they will not come close to Bret. Brian from Alabama is happy that the Road Warriors returned to the WWF where they have found their kill instinct and think it’s just a matter of time before they beat Owen Hart and British Bulldog for the WWF Tag Team Championships. He felt that the Road Warriors came across like an old tag team in WCW, but they have found their groove upon their WWF return.
Bonnie from Sacramento is glad that Nick Patrick has finally realized that the New World Order was just using him. She saw Patrick as a court jester for Eric Bischoff. She hops that everyone in WCW is willing to give Patrick another chance. Gorgeous George III (who’d be known as the Maestro in WCW) wrote in to complain about the lack of coverage he gets in the magazine. He takes credit for the creation of Hogan, Flair and the PWI magazine. Without Gorgeous George, none of this exists! Gene from Philadelphia believes ECW should get ECW World Title credentials all because of the success of their pay per view. Barely Legal. Gene also believes that it will be just a matter of time before Stevie Richards arrives in WCW or WWF.
RINGSIDE: written by: Bill Apter
JJ Dillon recently sent a memo out to the New World Order threatening to ban them from television if they aren’t able to conduct themselves in a more sportsmanlike manner. Of course, Eric Bischoff responded telling Dillion to bite him and that people tune into WCW programming for the NWO. Without them, WCW would die. Paul Bearer has said that he won’t file legal papers against Undertaker for the fireball at the April In Your House, as long as Undertaker signs a new contract to allow Bearer to manage him. Undertaker responded saying he won’t rest until Bearer’s career is buried.
Tod Gordon is thrilled with the numbers Barely Legal did. It’s reported that the pay per view got 44,200 buys and that ECW made $350,000 in revenue. They are hopeful that their audience will grow from 17 million to 28 million for their August pay per view. Bill Alfonso looks forward to all the fame and fortune he will have now that he manages Rob Van Dam and Sabu instead of Taz.
Owen Hart won the WWF Intercontinental Championship on April 28th defeating Rocky Maivia all by himself and dedicated the match to his brother, Bret. Bret Hart’s main goal upon his return is to win the WWF World Championship so that the Hart Foundation has control of all the titles. Steve Austin tried to attack Bret Hart, but Jim Neidhart returned to the WWF and saved his brother in law and joined the Hart Foundation.
Bubba Ray Dudley has a broken ankle that he suffered at Barely Legal. Billy Gunn is quite excited for his future with the Honky Tonk Man as Rockabilly. He’s honored that Honky chose him over thousands of others. Mike Samples wants to be a movie star and sent a tape out to several studios. He got some responses but they weren’t interested in Samples, but rather his opponent Bobby Bolton. Disco Inferno is feuding with Buddy Landell in New Jersey. Grizzly Smith returned to the ring to fight One Man Gang. Smith said that Gang made his life miserable in the UWF and that the match was well worth it despite it ending in a double count-out.
Any rumors of Rey Misterio Jr. being involved with Jennifer Aniston are false. They are just really good friends. Debra recently confronted Vincent to not bring a lead pipe to the ring. Vincent ignored her and now she wants Steve McMichael to challenge Vincent to a match.
FROM THE DESK OF…: written by: Stu Saks
Stu talks about how Lawrence Taylor isn’t going to continue his wrestling career and has a better chance of asking Bill Parcells for a tryout with the Jets. However, with the recent amount of athletes competing in a ring and realize that he is indirectly responsible for professional athletes getting brutalized in the ring. Ernie Ladd commented saying that it is a thrill to compete in front of millions and only has to focus on one person instead of eleven. Ladd believes that when LT defeated Bam-Bam Bigelow it was just a fluke. Ladd thinks that Bigelow would win the other ninety-nine matches had they wrestled one hundred times. Ladd is greatly disgusted by Dennis Rodman getting involved in wrestling because he doesn’t compete in a contact sport to begin with. Saks is annoyed with athletes jumping into wrestling rings lately, as well.
Saks believes that the day LT pinned Bigelow was a dark day in the business because Bigelow wouldn’t do well on a football field. Saks is upset with athletes who just show up and wrestle only to get beaten up and then we’re supposed to feel bad about it. Saks hopes that LT feels responsible for what happens to an athlete like Rodman, Kevin Greene or Reggie White.
IN FOCUS: written by: Dave Lenker
Lenker wonders how we’ve gotten to a point in pro wrestling where a foul mouthed man like Steve Austin is deemed a favorite while the honorable Bret Hart isn’t. He also wondered how a guy like Rey Mysterio Jr. could be seen as being boring. So, he studied some matches of Rey’s and noticed that he was hardly boring, but maybe predictable. He notes that while Rey has spectacular moves, if he continues to do the same moves and doesn’t switch it up, he is going to be prone for losses. He would like to see Rey compete against the bigger names in WCW. When asked about competing against Rey, the top names didn’t deny the challenge but suggested they might do it in the future. At the end of the day, Dave believes that Rey is too good for his own good.
JJ Dillon is the new chairman of the WCW Executive Committee to combat Eric Bischoff being the head of the New World Order. Dillon, the same man who was a rule breaker in the NWA and leader of the Four Horsemen, is going to be responsible for fair and equal competition. Lenker thinks that Dillon may have a favoritism towards the Horsemen considering he was talking to the group about being an advisor for the group months prior.
OFF THE TOP ROPE: written by: Brandi Mankiewicz
Donald from Ontario is happy that Bret Hart has turned on the American fans and hopes that Bret takes out Shawn Michaels and wins the WWF World Championship to rename it the WWF Canadian World Championship. Brandi responds with that she can’t possibly disagree with a Michaels detractor, but she just destroys anything Canadian in her response including the mentally system having an awful exchange rate in Canada.
Kathy asks what Brandi thought about Prince Iaueka winning the WCW Television Championship. Brandi thinks there should have been a Hulk Hogan like parade for Ultimo Dragon winning the championship. Iaukea was a novelly champion and his challengers were easy ones given to him to defeat.
Stephen from Wales asks what could be causing Vader to struggle in the WWF when he was so successful in WCW when Harley Race was his manager. Brandi suggests that Vader shouldn’t have traded Jim Cornette for Paul Bearer and needs to get back to his vicious style. She thinks that Vader Time could be running out.
Luke wonders why Bruno Sammartino hasn’t been inducted into the WWF Hall Of Fame. Brandi notes that the WWF is vastly different than it was at the time that Bruno dominated it. She believes that Bruno will get inducted but it’s just a matter of Bruno accepting the invitation.
James thinks that Brandi should get several other editors of the magazine to turn on Apter and Saks to run the PWI magazine. Brandi appreciates her adoring fans, but it’s time for James to go back to the Star Trek re-runs.
RODDY PIPER & RIC FLAIR: THE GLAD TALK WILL TURN TO MAD TALK!: written by: Dave Rosenbaum
Dave sets up the article with a description of a humid night in North Carolina in the early 1980s where Roddy Piper and Ric Flair battled for over thirty minutes and fought to a double disqualification when both men knew neither would get a pin fall. Piper recalls saying that night “I respect this man, but could never like him.” They have the same enemy in the New World Order at this point. Piper wouldn’t say they are friends, but they have a common goal and they are having a lot of fun to defend their turf and pride against the NWO.
They both like a good fight and they will find that from very few people outside of each other, which my harm their current alliance. Flair put over Piper’s strength and how he would feel bad for a few days after their battles, but would look forward to the next time they fought. With Flair out due to injury and returning to action, there could be a reason for the the alliance to crumble. With that, Piper wouldn’t be opposed to a match with Flair at some point. Piper believes they haven’t had a definitive outcome in their matches. On the other side, Flair claims he is a multiple time champion and Piper hasn’t won anything, thus that is a definitive outcome.
PRESS CONFERENCE: TERRY FUNK
Apter congratulates Funk on his ECW Heavyweight Championship victory. Funk thanks Apter and notes that he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the feat unless it was for unselfish young man Tommy Dreamer. Funk doesn’t have a timeframe for his retirement since winning the championship and that’s a decision that will remain between himself and his family. He knows that his wife wants him home, but after awhile, she’d just want Funk out of the house. She knew what she was getting into when she got married to him. He’ll always be involved in wrestling in some form. Funk doesn’t believe his feud with Ric Flair in ’89 was his last stand as he finds his winning the ECW Heavyweight Championship to be a big deal.
As long as his blood is pumping he’s still going to go out and do what he has to do to prevail. His wife had the choice of whether or not to stand by him through the blood, scars and broken bones. She’s immune to it all now since he’s survived so much at this point. Funk notes that retirement in wrestling is never official and he’s came out of retirement once and could do it again. You just never know for sure in this business. He thanks Dreamer at the end of the interview and thanks the fans again for their support.
IT’S GETTING HOT AT THE TOP: THE SIZZLING WWF WORLD TITLE SCENE!: written by: Bryan Ethier
Through the first quarter of 1997, the WWF World Championship has changed hands four times between Psycho Sid, Bret Hart and the Undertaker. The issues between Steve Austin, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels have allowed guys like Ahmed Johnson, Vader, Faarooq, Mankind and Rocky Maivia have stepped up as challengers for the championship. Some fans think that the WWF has been the most interesting at this time because at any given time anyone could win the WWF World Championship. Sid retired last year due to a neck injury but came back to win the gold. Undertaker is determined to have a lengthy reign and nobody should underestimate him.
Ahmed Johnson had gotten sidetracked with his feud against the Nation of Domination and is now determined to win the WWF World Championship. Vince McMahon has to enjoy a motivated locker room and the uncertainly that surrounds the WWF World Championship each week.
N-W-OVER?: written by: Steve Anderson
It was inevitable that there would be infighting amongst the New World Order as the group got bigger and more powerful. Kevin Nash notes that for a Dennis Rodman movie premiere, Hogan, Bischoff and DiBiase were getting ready for the glamor, which is not what the NWO is about. The NWO is about domination. Hogan believes that the NWO is going to dominate the world and not just WCW. His leadership is needed since it has been just mayhem with Nash leading the charge. Eric Bischoff joining the NWO was a calculated risk, but he can’t be tied to just one promotion. He brought WCW to number one and now everyone wants to tear down the NWO. Bischoff downplayed the friction between Nash and Savage recently and assures everyone that everything in the NWO is fine.
Some in the group find the Hollywood desires to be a bad distraction, but it could also be hurt feelings that they didn’t get an invitation to attend the event. The group is being split into a Nash-group and a Hogan-group. There is no way to stop that, and it is inevitable that the NWO may destroy themselves.
“THE FANS ARE TURNING STEVE AUSTIN INTO A WIMP!”: written by: Brian Pillman
There is a history lesson with Pillman teaming with Steve Austin in WCW and their demise thanks to Col. Robert Parker managing Steve Austin in a singles role. Recently, they both arrived in the WWF and they were on good terms until Pillman put over Bret Hart in an interview with Steve Austin which led to Austin breaking Pillman’s ankle. PWI gave Pillman a forum to express himself in this months edition of the magazine.
Pillman believes that the fans have turned Austin into a wimp. He uses the WrestleMania XIII match with Bret Hart as an excuse. Austin lost and instead of kicking Bret’s ass when he woke up, he just complained because he knew the fans would agree with him. The moment Austin heard the cheers from the fans his career was going downhill. It nearly happened to Pillman himself. Pillman believes that the fans cheering Austin should be a sign to Austin that he’s done something wrong. He believes that Austin has lost his edge and is listening to the fans.
THE STEEL CAGE: written by: Dave Rosenbaum
This month Dave has a game to play and it’s where he looks at a new item, shares his gut reaction and then his informed reaction.
NEWS ITEM #1: Scott Steiner arrested at Spring Stampede for hitting a police officer who was attempting to prevent him from entering Kevin Nash’s locker room.
GUT REACTION: Southern justice.
INFORMED REACTION: Wrestling justice. Dave thinks there is some selective law enforcement here since the NWO has done quite a bit to the Steiner Brothers, but haven’t been disciplined at all.
NEWS ITEM #2: NWO is having issues. Ted DiBiase tried to stop Kevin Nash from inflicting serious damage on Rick Steiner. Eric Bischoff warned Randy Savage not to strike Kimberly. Hogan believes the group is falling apart without their leader.
GUT REACTION: Asking Hogan to put out the fire is like asking Timothy McVeigh to find and defuse the bomb.
INFORMED REACTION: Most of the problems within the NWO is because of Hogan. When they won the tag match at WCW UnCensored that allowed the group to challenge any title, all members in the NWO were told to not go after Hogan. Which, has created friction amongst several people. Eric Bischoff might be in trouble to lose most of the power as he’d be out of a job in the NWO and likely lose his senior vice president job in WCW.
NEWS ITEM #3: ECW Barely Legal pay per view brings the company to the big time.
GUT REACTION: Big news. Can a independent company make money when WCW and WWF combined are producing 20+ pay per views?
INFORMED REACTION: Bad news. The event wasn’t available to many people and wasn’t carried by Direct TV. The event was only on Request TV. Luckily, the next pay per view, Hardcore Heaven, will be on Request and Viewer’s Choice.
NEWS ITEM #4: Former WWF “stars” The New Diesel and the New Razor Ramon have returned to the USWA.
GUT REACTION: Oh happy day! Can the old Godwinns and old Gunns please follow?
INFORMED REACTION: Credits WWF fans for being able to judge talent from a mile away. WWF’s attempt to rename talent that left for WCW is proof that WCW has a deeper talent pool while WWF is lacking in that regard.
WIN, LOSE, OR DRAW: written by: Andy Rodriguez
911 left ECW and is now part of WCW where he has changed his name to Big Al. In ECW, he had great success and was even voted 1994 PWI Rookie Of The Year by the fans of the magazine. However, now in WCW, Big Al hasn’t had much luck having lost to The Giant in 65-seconds in Philadelphia. Al was excited for the match with Giant after a year waiting to battle him. Sadly, the match lasted all of 65-seconds in Philadelphia and right after ECW’s pay per view. Al claims that he took Giant lightly and thought maybe Giant would be too distracted with the NWO, but that didn’t prove to be the case. Al is determined to be back in the ring with the Giant and is still confident that he’ll defeat Giant if given the chance again.
Vader has been released from house arrest in Kuwait after putting his hands on a television host. The whole incident was due to the host asking if wrestling was real. Luckily for Vader, he’ll avoid jail time and will likely just face a fine. Jacques Rougeau pinned WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan in Montreal and wants a title shot. However, Hogan isn’t going to give him one. New Diesel and New Razor have entered USWA and have caused the entire locker room to rally together and work together to get rid of the group in the company.
Shane Douglas isn’t all that happy with Francine due to what happened at Barely Legal where Brian Lee kissed Francine. Lee also helped Rick Rude attack Douglas at the event while Francine didn’t help. Douglas claims that if she’s not with him then there’s going to be problems in the future.
What’s your opinion on this magazine and what was going on in the wrestling world at this time? Leave your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.