First off, I have to thank my good friend Bob Colling for not only giving me the forum for this column, but, also for giving me the OK to piggyback off of his concept for recapping magazines.
While “Inside the Magazine” is something of a catch all, featuring whatever magazines Bob has access to. Retro Reading is going to focus specifically on the 1980’s.
As a young fan in the 1980’s and 90’s, the wrestling magazines were intrinsic to my childhood. Even before I could actually read, I would just look at the pictures whenever my father, grandfather, or uncle would get one, or would just have one lying around. Then, later on, when I got older and got an allowance, I would not only buy them for myself, but I would order back issues. These were the days before eBay, when I had to order them directly from the publisher, and wait 4-6 weeks. The kids today have it too easy!
OPENING BELL: Stu Saks welcomes the reader to the first edition of Wrestling 83, and explains that it’s going to be the magazine for “Today’s Wrestling Fan.” Until recently, the sport was regional, but now with World Championship Wrestling, from Georgia, being shown nationwide on WTBS, and Southwest Championship Wrestling, from Texas, being shown on USA Network, fans from all over the country now have exposure to areas they’d have never heard of otherwise, and they want to know about other wrestling outside of their home area. That’s the sort of fan that Wrestling 83 is going to cater to. Also, because it’s being published quarterly, this is going to be the first and last issue of Wrestling 83, because in three months, they’ll be releasing the spring edition of Wrestling 84.
Note from Mike: Fittingly enough, this magazine lasted for exactly ten years, Winter 1983 was the first, and Winter 1993 was the last.
FEEDBACK: Being the first issue, there isn’t any feedback about the previous one, so the letters are just general topics. Frank Morris from Brooklyn is upset at Ron Bass turning on Dusty Rhodes to cost him the NWA Title. Ralph Carpineta from Bellmawr, NJ thinks that Bob Backlund is still champion because he only wrestles challengers that he knows he can outwrestle.
NEWSLINE: Bruno Sammartino recently finished filming commercials for Bally’s Park Place Hotel-Casino. Gino Hernandez has abruptly left the Southwest area, after a bloody match with Tully Blanchard. Gino is rumored to be trying to land a major film in Hollywood. Tully doesn’t think he’ll be coming back, but he hopes he does, because he’d like another match with him. Gordon Solie continues showing why he’s considered the best announcer in wrestling. Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell are training for a rematch against Crusher Blackwell and Ken Patera for the AWA Tag Titles. The Grand Wizard of Wrestling has brought the Masked Superstar into the WWF, because he assured him that he could make a lot of money.
SCOUTING REPORT: This quarter’s subject is Kevin Von Erich, who gets a B- in speed, B+ in strength, C+ in technical knowledge, A+ in physical condition, B in ring intelligence, and an overall grade of a B. It notes that his issues aren’t uncommon with wrestlers as young as he is, and if he keeps progressing at the rate that he is, he’ll be one of the best in the world by the end of 1985.
RATINGS & ANALYSIS: There are listings for an overall top ten, a tag team top ten, and then separate categories for the various territories (NWA, AWA, WWF, World Class, Georgia, Mid Atlantic, Florida, Mid South, Southwest, and Northwest), and then a most popular and most hated. The analysis explains the concept of certain rankings, such as title holders getting an automatic spot, and the others being based on win/loss records.
IN THIS CORNER: Craig Peters discusses the growing number of titles in wresting, and whether or not it’s a bad thing. He doesn’t feel it is, because it gives wrestlers something to strive for, and competition is what makes wrestling great.
MANAGERS FORUM: Paul Ellering commends Wrestling 83 on choosing him for the first edition, and replies to a letter that he received criticizing him for his recent string of failures, including Arn Anderson leaving him, the Road Warriors beating him up, and Iron Sheik losing a loser leaves town match. Paul replies that if Arn was stupid enough to listen to Ole, that’s his own problem. The Road Warriors are nothing without him, and that Sheik is already back in Georgia and wrestling with a newfound vengeance.
SCOREBOARD: Recaps of recent big matches from around the country. In Las Vegas, NV Wahoo McDaniel beat Nick Bockwinkel, but it was by disqualification, so Wahoo didn’t win the AWA Title. Larry Zybyszko was also disqualified against Mr. Wrestling II in Johnstown, PA, and retained his National Title. Rick Martel and Billy Robinson beat the Wild Samoans by disqualification at the Montreal Forum, and, David Von Erich won the Texas Title from Jimmy Garvin, and Garvin and Sunshine also had to work on his ranch for the day.
INTERVIEW 83: An interview with Andre The Giant, discussing his wealth, his home life, and how he feels about his success in wrestling, as well as his lack of success in winning a major title.
YOU DECIDE: Should the Claw be banned? Pros include the fact that it’s a legal move, it’d be unfair to the wrestlers who already use it, and it adds a level of excitement to the matches. The cons are that it carries a significant risk of injury, that it wouldn’t be the first time that a dangerous move was banned, and that it may be exciting, but there’s also some level of disgust. The reader can fill out the ballot and mail it in, and results will be in the next issue.
HEAD TO HEAD: Bob Backlund vs. Jimmy Snuka. Four experts, familiar with both men comment about the match and possible outcome. Referee Dick Kroll thinks Backlund would win. The Grand Wizard says that key to beating Snuka would be to take out his legs, and that’s not the way Backlund wrestles, so Snuka would win. Magnificent Muraco says Backlund would win, because the champion has the advantage. Pat Patterson, thinks it’s too close to call.
FEAR OF FAILURE – WHY RIC FLAIR CANNOT REGAIN THE TITLE FROM HARLEY RACE An article by Dusty Rhodes that sums up why he doesn’t believe that Flair can win the title back from Harley, reasons include Harley’s experience and Flair’s youth, which natually makes Flair more reckless. The fact that the figure four is Flair’s best hold, but isn’t something he can do by surprise, and that, deep down, Flair is afraid of winning the title again.
HULK HOGAN – WHAT’S HOLDING BACK THE WORLD’S STRONGEST ATHLETE? An article discussing the reasons that Hulk Hogan hasn’t been able to defeat Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA Title. Reasons include his recent trips to Hollywood after his role in Rocky 3, his frequent trips to Japan, and his willingness to get sidetracked into petty feuds, like his recent one with Mr. Saito. The writer thinks that Hogan is fully capable of winning the AWA Title, but, until he sorts these issues out, his power alone won’t get him there.
KABUKI’S SADISTIC MISSION: “I’LL MAKE JIMMY VALIANT SHARE MY PAIN” An article about recent feud between Jimmy Valiant and the Great Kabuki in the Mid Atlantic area, which recently boiled over when Valiant went too far in an interview and mocked Kabuki’s scars. Kabuki is so enraged that even Gary Hart cannot control him. Jimmy admits that he went too far, but refuses to think about having it to do over again because it’s too late.
TOMMY RICH: THERE IS NO FUTURE – HE MUST WIN NOW Tommy Rich recently failed to win the National Title in Georgia, and it’s becoming a recurring thing with him. Tommy seems to just think that there’s always next time, but he’s running out of next times, and his friends like Mr. Wrestling II and Stan Hansen agree that, despite being hugely popular with the fans in Georgia, that they’ll lose faith in him if he doesn’t start winning.
CROSSFIRE: The same concept as that awful CNN show, an interview conducted by two reporters with very different views. Bill Apter respects clean, scientific wrestling. Dan Shocket supports the views of rulebreakers. This month’s guest is Angelo Mosca, who is fresh off leaving J.J. Dillon’s camp in Florida, and changing his ways after seeing Kevin Sullivan and the Purple Haze attack his young son. Apter commends Mosca’s choices, while Shocket (humorously) condemns him, and talks about him turning soft and how that is going ultimately hold back Mosca’s son, because his daddy will solve his problems. They veer away from Mosca’s son, and talk about the Florida territory in general. Apter believes that Mosca made a good career move, while Shocket things he betrayed his old friends, like Bobby Duncum, and there have been more and more wrestlers joining the fan favorite side, and Mosca decided that he couldn’t beat them, so he joined them.
THE PRIVATE SIDE: A look at a wrestler’s life outside the ring. This is about Mr. Wrestling II, and includes photos of him reading by the pool, taking a swim, chopping some wood, and cooking some dinner. All while wearing his mask!
BEST BET: A short profile of an up-and-comer that Wrestling 83 predicts big things for. The first subject is 23 year old Brett Wayne, whose biggest match was a draw with Ronnie Garvin. His short term goal is to get a win over a top ten heavyweight, and his long range goal is to win the National Title.
INFOCENTER: An area where fans can ask general wrestling questions. The first edition includes whether or not the NWA Title has changed hands in the Northwest, it hasn’t. Why over the top rope is allowed in WWF, but not AWA or NWA. A recent fan asking why Ted DiBiase turned into a rulebreaker, questions about Jack Brisco’s NWA Title reign, and, how old Bruno Sammartino was when he started wrestling.
GOLDEN MOMENT: A photo containing historical significance, this one is of the cage match between Fred Blassie and the Sheik from 1970 in Los Angeles.
THIS JUST IN: A sort of breaking news column, the Freebirds have won the World Class six man titles from the Von Erichs. AWA President Stanley Blackburn turned down Bobby Heenan’s request that Wahoo McDaniel not get any further title matches. Ric Flair denies any rumors of challenging for the NWA Tag Titles. He’s been teaming with Ricky Steamboat recently, but only as a favor while Jay Youngblood is hurt. Kevin Sullivan and Purple Haze area headed to Mid Atlantic to help their friend Roddy Piper. Piper, the most popular wrestler in the area, denies being associated with them.