Retro Reading Vol. 9: Wrestling 85 – Spring 1985
Mike Campbell is back with a new volume of Retro Reading!
OPENING BELL: Stu Saks received a phone call from a very angry Angelo Poffo, telling him that he’d better not run a story about the match in Memphis between his two sons, Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo. The brothers had a match inside the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, TN to determine who the better wrestler was. The only people in the arena were the two wrestlers, Bill Apter, and Jerry Lawler who served as the referee. Being a responsible journalist, Saks contacted both Savage and Poffo, who gave their blessing to let the magazine move forward with the story. Angelo wasn’t happy with his sons either, and had threatened to give them both a whooping.
Stu also thanks the readers of Wrestling 85 (formerly Wrestling 83, and formerly Wrestling 84) for all of their kind letters. Wrestling fans are some of the smartest fans in the world, and they’re going to do everything they can to make the magazine even better.
FEEDBACK: Mike from Bronx, NY has been a fan for twenty years and has read a lot of magazines, and thinks that Wrestling 84 is the finest publication he’s ever read. He really enjoyed the feature on Dusty Rhodes in the previous issue. It had nothing to do with money or fame, it was about Dusty and his fans. Mike from Johnstown, PA found the Head to Head column in the Winter 1984 issue to be interesting. He agrees with Ivan Koloff and Superstar Graham, Hogan would kill “Howdy Doody.” Victor from Verona, NJ commends Stephen Medwid for his feature on the Freebirds from the last issue. He’s seen plenty of wrestlers succeed in entertainment, like Hogan, Bruno Sammartino, Terry Funk, and Larry Zybyzsko. There’s no reason that Michael Hayes can’t do it too. Wendy from Black Creek, WI found the Winter 1984 issue of Wrestling 84 to be the best one yet. She especially liked the feature on Rick Martel. She was able to meet him in Green Bay, after a title defense against Nick Bockwinkel. He was very nice and signed autographs and talked to fans afterwards. He’s not just a champion for himself, he’s a champion for all the people. Marshall from Forest Park, GA is writing in response to the Scoreboard feature from the Winter issue about the match between Nikolai Volkoff and the Masked Superstar. The Superstar simply outclassed Volkoff for the whole match. He’s one of the best pure wrestlers in the world. Mr Wrestling II is old, the Spoiler has no ability, and the Medics and Assassins aren’t even in the discussion. Antonia from San Antonio, TX thinks Nicola Roberts aka Andrea the Lady Giant should be barred from World Class. She doesn’t understand why anyone would associate themselves with Gino Hernandez, and all she does is interfere. Sunshine and her aunt Stella Mae only interfere after someone else interferes first. Bruno from Penn Hills, PA thinks that all the arguments about who has the best body in wrestling overlook the fact that someone like Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis can move around the ring just as well, and probably have the same amount of strength as Jesse Ventura and Tony Atlas. Instead of who has the best body *IN* wresting, the question should be who has the best body *FOR* wrestling. He’ll take Kamala over Atlas seven days a week.
NEWSLINE: Things are coming along very nicely for Jerry Blackwell. He recovered from a savage attack from Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher in St. Paul, MN after a battle royal. His former manager, Sheik Adnan Al Kaisee put a “hit” on him, and has been regretting it ever since. Blackwell has evened the score in several matches with Brody, and also extracted some revenge on his former manager. Blackwell teamed with King Kong Bundy to win a tag team battle royal in Chicago, IL, which many said was the climax of a great half-year. But, on 11/16, Blackwell defeated Harley Race at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, MO to win the Missouri State Title. Later on, he attacked Brody during his match with Ric Flair for the NWA Title, causing a disqualification, and Flair to lose the match, but not his title. This Missouri State Title has been seen as the stepping stone to the NWA World Title, but Blackwell isn’t interested in that. He plans on teaming up with Bundy to challenge the Road Warriors for the AWA World Tag Team Titles. Jim Neidhardt has been the target of criticism for his joining forces with Krusher Khrushchev in Florida, which some are calling an unpatriotic act. During an interview with Gordon Solie, Neidhardt spoke about his atheltic background, holding a world shot put record at age eighteen, and playing football for the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders. Dutch Mantel, a proud American from Bucksnort, TN, says that if Neidhardt doesn’t like being paid to do what he loves, then he ought to move to Russia. He can stand in long lines for shoes and toilet paper. The offices of the Mid-Atlantic, Mid-Southern, and Georgia areas have agreed to a merger that would their wrestlers work in the other areas as well. So, if U.S. Champion Wahoo McDaniel (currently in the Mid-Atlantic) wanted to, he could defend his title in the Georgia or Mid-Southern areas. Mid-Southern promoter Jerry Jarrett says this is the most exciting development in pro wrestling in at least ten years. The merger will be reflected on all the local television programs of all three areas, and “Championship Wrestling from Georgia” is broadcast on WTBS at 9:00 AM eastern on many cable systems nationwide.
Rick Rude was the special referee for a match that saw Jerry Lawler capture the Mid-Southern Title from King Kong Budy, Bundy is going by the name Boom Boom Bundy in the AWA. Jay Youngblood pinned NWA Champion Ric Flair in a non-title television match in Florida. The Fantastics, Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers, won the World Class Tag Team Titles from Bill and Scott Irwin. The Irwins moved on to Georgia and won the National Tag Team Titles, they now call themselves The Long Riders. Billy Jack Haynes left the WWF after only one match. He’ll be going to Florida soon. Is Skandar Akbar has his way, Kamala is headed to the Mid-South area, and Tim Horner is also headed there from Georgia. Bob Backlund is wrestling in Florida, teaming with Dutch Mantel. Jimmy Garvin is wrestling in the AWA, with hopes of challenging Rick Martel. The Road Warriors wrestled Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr. in St. Louis. Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo have reunited as a team in the WWF.
IN THIS CORNER: Dan Shocket knows that he isn’t the most popular journalist in the world, or even writing for this magazine. He gets plenty of hate mail that call him despicable names, and the fans show themselves to be totalitarian fascists by doing so. They claim that he’s unpatriotic, and point to someone like Sergeant Slaughter as an example of a real patriot. A man who was kicked out of the Marine Corps for being too tough on new recruits. He used to be a good wrestler who didn’t care what the fans thought. But, now he’s shown that he lacks the guts to be his own man, wrapping himself in the flag and declaring himself to be America’s first line of defense against other wrestlers not smart enough to be born in this country. He targeted the Iron Sheik because he’s from Iran, and the fans cheered him because Iran and the U.S. aren’t friendly and therefore the Sheik is bad. This is lynch mob thinking at its finest. He also attacked Nikolai Volkoff from behind while he was singing the Russian National Anthem. If Slaughter can openly display his patriotism, why can’t Volkoff? Slaughter is not only a disgrace to wrestling, but he’s a disgrace to the principles that make America great.
MANAGER’S FORUM: When Jimmy Hart was asked to pen this column, he thought long and hard about what he wanted to say. Then, he realized that he’d been saying plenty to the fans, and they never listened to him. So, this is their last chance to learn something. He gives his four philosophies for success.
1. Life is a carnival, and whoever walks away with the most prizes wins.
2. When you see something you want, make it yours at any cost.
3. A hundred years from now, nobody will remember how you got there, just that you got there.
4. Never put moldy bread back in the box.
As an example of his success with these ideas, he points to King Kong Bundy, who he saw wasting his career by being a fan favorite. It cost him a lot of money, but he was able to get Bundy to join the first family, and it’s been paying off ever since. Rick Rude was too concerned with himself instead of the family. In their tag team matches, Bundy gave 100% and Rude went through the motions. So, he got rid of him before the mold spread. Hart only agreed to allow Rude to be the referee in Bundy’s match with Lawler because he thought he’d be fair. But, he was openly favoring Lawler, so, Hart showed him his favorite thing, money, and told him that if he let Bundy win, he’d get it all. Then, Rude took the money and double crossed Hart, proving why Hart was right to remove him in the first place. What about philosophy number one? Well, Hart is on his way to the midway to collect all his prizes.
CROSSFIRE: Two misfortunes have struck Ivan Koloff, the loss of the NWA Tag Team Titles, and the loss of his partner, Don Kernodle. Koloff only counts the title loss as a misfortune. He’s glad to be rid of Kernodle. He foolishly agreed to a title match against Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez in a steel cage. Nikita gave Kernodle a foreign object, which he dropped, resulting in Dusty using it on Ivan to win the titles. Koloff is disgusted that people cheer Dusty for winning by cheating, when it’s an injustice. Ivan and Nikita sent Kernodle to the hospital as a result, for which there is justice in punishment. Ivan hoped to turn Kernodle into a Russian Wrestler, but he wasn’t good enough. When asked why he wrestles in the U.S. if he loves the Soviet Union so much, it’s because he wishes to break the backbone of American wrestlers. There can be no greater insult to Americans than proving that Russians are the best wrestlers in the world. He and Nikita plan on winning the tag titles back, and don’t think any team can beat them.
SCOUTING REPORT: Ronnie Garvin gets a B in speed and strength, an A+ in technical knowledge, an A in conditioning, and a B+ in ring intelligence, giving him a B+ overall. While he’s not lacking in any categories, he also doesn’t stand out in a particular one, which shows him to be a very well-rounded wrestler. Being the National Champion gives the title a chance to regain some of the honor and respect that was lost when Ted DiBiase was champion.
HEAD TO HEAD: Rick Martel vs. Ric Flair. Bob Backlund thinks Martel would win, because he’s champion 24-hours a day, while Flair has numerous outside interests. Paul Ellering picks Martel. Flair has been champion three times, and tasted both victory and defeat and has obtained everything he ever wanted. Martel simply wants to wrestle and be successful, therefore, Martel needs the title more. Tommy Rich chooses Flair. Martel has all the qualities of a great champion, but Flair is more aggressive, and is willing to do whatever it takes to win, which he doesn’t think Martel has in him. Harely Race has wrestled both men. He picks Flair, because he’s lost to Flair, but never lost to Martel.
SCOREBOARD: Rick Martel wrestled to a one-hour draw with Harley Race in St. Louis, MO. Martel commented that, even though he didn’t win the match, he still considers it a victory, because not just anyone can last an hour with the former seven-time champion. Kevin Von Erich narrowly beat Jake Roberts in Ft. Worth, TX. They were brawling on the floor, and Kevin barely beat the count, whereas Jake didn’t. Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner challenged the Hollywood Blondes (Rip Rogers and Ted Oates) for the National Tag Team Titles in Marietta, GA and were disqualified when Horner lost his temper and shoved the referee. Superstar Graham and the Purple Haze wrestled a bloody match in West Palm Beach, FL where Haze used a chair and the hammer used to ring the bell. Kevin Sullivan tried to assist the Haze, but Mike Graham came to Superstar’s aid and Sullivan and Haze ran to the back. Juykyard Dog and Sgt. Slaughter defeated the team of Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff in Columbus, OH to chants of “USA!”
INTERVIEW 85: To say that Kerry Von Erich had a big year would be an understatement. In the year end voting for Pro Wrestling Illustrated, he won Most Popular Wrestler of the year, his match with Ric Flair in Texas Stadium won Match of the year, he was the first runner up for Inspirational Wrestler of the year. He was second runner up for Wrestler of the year, and his team with brother Kevin and Mike were second runner up for Tag Team of the Year. All totaled, Kerry got approximately 38,000 votes. Hulk Hogan received about 24,500 total votes. While it shows the bond that Kerry has with the fans, it also adds the pressure, which is something that all the Von Erichs feel. His brother Mike is feeling it right now. He felt a lot of pressure on that day in May when he won the NWA World Title. He lost it back to Ric Flair a few weeks later, but, he doesn’t have any different feelings about the situation. He respects the title much more than he respects Flair. Kerry has also recently regained the World Class American Title from Gino Hernandez. He feel like Gino didn’t bring the title the respect in deserves, and he hopes to bring that respect back. When asked about Chris Adams, he says that it makes him very angry. If you cross one Von Erich, you cross them all. He doesn’t think Chris will come to his senses, as long as Hart is around. Chris will do what he thinks he needs to do, and Kerry, and the family, will do what they think they need to do.
THE MEN WHO CAN DEFEAT HULK HOGAN Hulk Hogan is approaching his first anniversary as WWF Champion. But, any given man, on any given day could unseat him. Wrestling 85 has profiled ten men, whom they think would be able to beat him.
Andre The Giant: Hogan rarely wrestles anyone bigger than he is, and he would need to rely on speed to defeat Andre. They actually wrestled several years ago, an Hogan wasn’t able to defeat him then.
Bob Backlund: Only Bruno Sammartino has held the title longer than Backlund. They also wrestled quite a few times during Hogan’s first WWF run, and Hogan wasn’t able to defeat him, but that was due to Hogan’s rulebreaking tactics getting him disqualified. But, Backlund’s wrestling skill could compensate for the size differential.
Nick Bockwinkel: It can’t be forgotten that Bockwinkel arguably drove Hogan out of the AWA. Hogan’s inability to take the AWA Title caused Hogan to make a formal apology to the fans. Although Bockwinkel wasn’t able to pin Hogan either, he would have a clear psychological advantage.
Bruiser Brody: His wild fearlessness and scientific knowledge would be a big obstacle for Hogan. He outweighs Hogan, and has a significant experience edge.
Ric Flair: Hogan is bigger, but Flair has much better stamina. Flair also has a lot more experience in being a champion. Hogan’s matches rarely go much longer than ten minutes, while Flair’s can last up to an hour. In a match between them, Flair would likely have Hogan exhausted and beaten within thirty minutes.
Billy Jack: While wrestling in the Northwest, Billy Jack pinned Ric Flair several times. He’s also got Hogan outmatched in the strength department. Add in the maturity he gained throughout 1984, and it could be what he’d need to topple Hogan.
Ken Patera: He and Hogan wrestled several times in the AWA. Hogan is a master of strength holds, but, it was Patera who made Hogan scream in pain from the force of his bearhug. His strength easily matches Hogan’s, and could possibly overcome Hogan’s size.
Dusty Rhodes: Another former champion, who weighs close to the same as Hogan, but isn’t as well proportioned, and also has the edge in speed. The big question here would be who the fans would side with.
John Studd: He’s been Hogan’s biggest threat. He’s shown that he can absorb a lot of punishment, and he has sixty pounds on Hogan. He also has a new manager, Bobby Heenan, who has observed Hogan hundreds of times in the AWA.
Kevin Von Erich: Hogan is stronger, but Kevin is quicker, and his agility could easily catch Hogan off guard. Kevin has several notable victories over much bigger opponents like Kamala and Killer Khan.
Between the feature on Hogan and the feature on Dusty Rhodes is supposed to be a feature on the Road Warriors called “United States of Destruction” – unfortunately, my copy of this magazine seems to be missing that story. – Mike
DUSTY RHODES LOOKS HEAD: “THE DREAM WILL COME ALIVE IN ‘85″ Dusty Rhodes recalls a man he knew from childhood. He didn’t get along with adults, so he used to spend time with the kids, and give them advice. He thinks about how lucky he was to have that man in his life. Now, as a professional athlete, Dusty strives to be that kind of man. When Ric Flair is the NWA Champion, he makes the title better for himself. When Dusty Rhodes is the NWA Champion, all the fans knew that they had a share of the title themselves. Being a pro athlete may not make him like other people, but he considers himself one of them. He know that they all have dreams, and he’s living out that dream for them.
HOW MUCH CAN ONE MAN DO?
Dusty Rhodes is currently one half of the NWA Tag Team Champions with Manny Fernandez. Can Dusty also take on the responsibility of holding the NWA Title. Manny Fernandez thinks so. He says that Dusty is a special kind of wrestler, he’s in awe of the way the crowd reacts when Dusty is in the ring, but he’s also a very instinctive wrestler. Manny thinks Dusty is the best tag team wrestler in the world, and people don’t realize it, because they always sees Dusty being praised as the best singles wrestler in the world.
BROTHER VS. BROTHER WHY WE HAD TO PROMOTE THIS SAVAGE BATTLE Randy Savage chose not to use the Poffo last name because he wanted to be his own man, and find success on his own, before telling the world that his father is Angelo Poffo. His brother Lanny started wrestling a few years later, and they both agreed that, no matter where their careers take them, they will always be close as brothers. As wrestlers, they are very evenly matched, at the moment, Randy Savage is ranked at number seven in the Mid-Southern rankings, while Lanny Poffo is ranked at number eight. They decided that this match was necessary to determine who the better man was. The referee, Jerry Lawler, thought it was stupid of them, but he agreed to go along. It was an honestly contested scientific match, but they certainly didn’t take it easy on each other. At one point, Randy grabbed a headlock and Lanny’s agony could be seen on his face. Lawler wanted to stop it several times, but, knew that he had to let them continue to decide who the better man was. Lawler finally did stop the match, telling htem that it was over, and that at the rate they were going, someone was going to be injured and that the guilt of that would outweigh the pride that came with winning. They agreed, and walked to the back together.
THE PRIVATE SIDE: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express are Mid-South Tag Team Champions, but, recently took a trip to Florida for some rest and relaxation. They visited Zack’s, which is known as the Rock ‘N’ Roll department store, in Orlando. They also managed to get some sun on the beach, take in a few meals, and Ricky Morton got a hair trim.
YOU DECIDE: Who’s the Greatest Intercontinental Champion? A different sort of question this time around. Rather than simple Yes or No issue, it’s deciding amongst the merits of the six men who have held the title. Pat Patterson, Ken Patera, Pedro Morales, Don Muraco, Tito Santana, and Greg Valentine.
The votes are in and the readers have voted, by a three-to-one margin, that managers should not be allowed at Ringside. Toby from New York, NY spoke for the majority by saying that when the bell rings, it should be wrestler versus wrestler, to see who the best man is. Darren from Oak Forest, IL spoke for the minority, saying that managers add excitement to matches, and, although they interfere sometimes, the wrestlers usually pay them back for it. Without managers, wrestlers like Kamala may not be wrestling.
BEST BET: Keith Larsen is twenty-six years old, and has been wrestling for three years. His biggest match was challenging Wahoo McDaniel for the United States Title. His short term goal is to get revenge on the Koloffs for injuring his brother, Don Kernodle. His long range goal is to form a team with his brother and win the NWA World Tag Team Titles.
GOLDEN MOMENT: Bob Backlund defended his WWF Heavyweight Title against Peter Maivia in a steel cage inside Madison Square Garden in January of 1979. It was their third match, and the most brutal and bloody of them all. After winning, instead of simply going to the back, Backlund found the energy to scale the cage and raise the belt, in salute to all of the fans.
INFO CENTER: Jim from Fresno, CA wants to know whatever happened to Ken Mantell, and, if a junior heavyweight wrestler has ever won a heavyweight title. Mantell is currently an official in the World Class area, and only Verne Gagne has been a junior heavyweight and heavyweight champion. James in Bloomington, MN wants to know who Nick Bockwinkel defeated to win his second AWA World Title. He didn’t defeat anyone. He was awarded the title when Verne Gagne retired. George from Woodhaven, NY wants to know if it’s true that Gene Kiniski once took the WWF Title from Bruno Sammartino? Yes, it’s true. In November of 1964, they wrestled in Madison Square Garden, and Kiniski took the title and ran to the dressing room with it. Joy from NY wants to know what year wrestling was first seen on TV and who was the first announcer. The first wrestling TV program aired on the old Dumont Network on July 30, 1948. The announcer was Dennis James. Dave from Cleveland wants to know why Ron Bass was stripped of the Southern Heavyweight Title. It’s because he failed to defend the title within thirty days. He was on a tour of Japan, and wasn’t able to defend it within the time frame. The NWA does allow an exception to the thirty day rule, but they deemed Bass’ situation to not warrant that exception.
RATINGS AND ANALYSIS: The two categories that the readers of Wrestling 85 are in complete control of are the Most Popular and Most Hated. It’s determined by the letters they receive from readers. This quarter has been a huge outpouring of letters regarding Chris Adams, and his decision to sign with Gary Hart and turn his back on Kevin Von Erich. Vicki from Bryan, TX wrote that she ran up to him and tore up his poster right in front of his face and threw it at him. Daniel from Allentown, PA sent in a letter in support of Junkyard Dog, saying that he’s a lot of fun and there’s a special bond between him and the fans. If comments like these are multiplied by a few thousand, then it’s easy to see why Adams ranked second for Most Hated and JYD is ranked sixth for most popular.
THIS JUST IN: Ric Flair retained his NWA World Title, when referee Joe Frazier awarded him a controversial decision over Dusty Rhodes on Thanksgiving night at “Starrcade ‘84.” Frazier stopped the match due to a cut on Dusty’s head. Dusty is protesting the decision. Complete coverage of the event can be found in the March issue of Sports Review Wrestling. Chris Adams got a pinfall victory over Kevin Von Erich at Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX, also on Thanksgiving night. Afterwards, Kevin hit both Adams and Gary Hart with a chair, in revenge for Adams causing Kevin to require eighteen stitches to close a cut from Adams hitting Kevin with a chair the month before. Billy Jack has decided not to wrestle for the WWF. He’s chosen to stay with the NWA, in hopes of wrestling Ric Flair. Billy Jack gave an interview that can be seen in the March issue of Inside Wrestling, detailing that he’s always wanted to wrestler for an important title, and nothing is more important than the NWA World Title. Rocky Johnson and Paul Orndorff both won steel cage battle royals on Thanksgiving night, in Andover, MD and Atlanta, GA respectively. The winner was the first one to leave the cage, and the last man in the cage would be “Turkey of the Year.” The Iron Sheik was the Turkey in Atlanta, while Greg Valentine was the Turkey in Andover.