Retro Reading Vol. 10: Inside Wrestling – June 1985
Mike Campbell dives into Inside Wrestling June 1985 magazine!
SINCERELY YOURS: Veto from Franklin, LA loved Stu Saks’ article about Bruno Sammartino from the March issue. But, he thinks Ernie Ladd should also be considered a living legend. He just recently lost the Mid-South North American Title to Brad Armstrong, and, before his loss, he was an example of a true champion. Oluyinka from Baltimore enjoyed Matt Brock’s “Plainly Speaking” column in the March issue, she thinks Ric Flair is the number one wrestler in the world today. She recognizes true champions, and Ric Flair fits the bill. Lori from Camas, WA reports on that February 9th, Billy Jack announced that he would no longer go by the name Billy Jack, but by his real name Billy Haynes. This is to honor his father. He chose the name “Billy Jack” because he was a big fan of the Billy Jack movies. She feels that this took a lot of courage and conviction, and the fans in the Northwest will support him, no matter what his name is. Jeff from Knoxville, TN agrees with the article from the March issue regarding the Koloffs. He feels that they are a disgrace to wrestling, along with the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, and things that happen now will affect wrestling for years to come. If wrestlers like them aren’t stopped, then the sport will fall into the fans of wrestlers like them, and ruin it for the Americans who worked so hard to make it great. Robert from South Gate, CA is happy to see that Bob Backlund is still wrestling. After the title was stolen from him he thought that Backlund would leave the sport. Jerod from Luray, VA has a problem with Dan Shocket calling Dusty Rhodes “The American Disgrace.” Dusty is one of the best wrestlers today, and, if Shocket has a problem with that, then he ought to talk to Dusty face to face.
EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: Peter King recently saw Rick Martel defend his AWA World Title in the Meadowlands against Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin. He always saw Martel as a good young wrestler, but realized that he’s a superstar. The crowd was used to WWF Wrestling, but gave Martel some of the loudest cheers of the night. Rick Martel isn’t the type to flex his muscles, talk jive, and then mingle with celebrities. He’s an athlete who wants to use his talents to be a wrestling star. Not someone who wants to use wrestling to be a movie star. Rick Martel would look like a gorilla in a tuxedo, standing behind Cyndi Lauper at the Grammy Awards. Rick Martel combines strength, speed, and agility, and nobody is more exciting to watch. He’s an athlete and a World Champion. He is a real star.
BEHIND THE DRESSING ROOM DOOR: In the name of journalism, Stu Saks is appalled. In the name of professional wrestling, he’s outraged. Given the names John Stossel and Eddie Mansfield, he isn’t surprised. The sport has survived Stossel’s piece on 20/20, which is more than can be said about the credibility of Mansfield or Stossel. Stossel’s piece was a shoddy piece of journalism. But, he admitted that he’d always wanted do a wrestling expose piece, but never found anyone who would tell him wrestling was fake. So, he found two disgruntled ex wrestlers, hardly reliable sources. Every active wrestler he’d interviewed told him the sport was real. Stossel knew what he wanted the report to say ahead of time, and that’s not journalism, it’s biased reporting. Stossel made the mistake of posing his question to one of the toughest men in wrestling, David Schultz. When Stossel told him he thought it wrestling was fake, Schultz slapped him on the ear and he fell to the floor of the Madison Square Garden dressing room. When Barbara Walters asked how his ear was doing, he said it still hurt when people talk loudly or busses go by. She neglected to ask if he was planning legal action, so Peter King called him for a comment, and was told to speak to his attorney, who said that Stossel is filing suit against Schultz and the WWF. The slaps that caused him so much “pain and suffering” weren’t nearly as forceful as the punches that he tried to tell the world were being pulled. Stossel’s piece is an insult to the term investigative journalism. He didn’t prove wrestling is fake. He knows that. We know that. And now, anyone who watched the show will know that too.
ON THE ROAD: Craig Peters confesses that he was never much of a wrestling fan. He loves the sport now, but during his formative years, he rarely watched on TV, never went to live matches, and never paid much attention to it. In those years he was an avid comic book fan and collector. He became aware of comic book fandom, such as newsletters, which were written by, for, and all about comic book fans. When he became involved with wrestling, he learned about newsletters by and for wrestling fans as well, some of which were written by people who’ve gone on to be involved with this magazine. One group that people should be aware of is the Wrestling Fans International Association (WFIA). They will hold a convention this year in Kansas City in August, which is slated to have tables selling back issues of wrestling magazines and other merchandise, as well as a slide show of wrestling fan photography set to rock music. There will be an awards banquet and it will feature three cards of wrestling, and Ric Flair has already signed to appear. The WFIA also puts out a very nicely done newsletter. His years of comic fandom let him witness some comic fans newsletters and clubs grow, and he thinks the WFIA can also do so, if enough fans get involved. He ends the column by providing the contact info for WFIA president Jim Ross, for those who want to inquire about the group, order a newsletter, and get more info about the convention.
NAMES MAKIN’ NEWS: Big news from the Sunshine State. The PYT’s won the U.S. Tag Titles from Mark and Chris Youngblood in Tampa on 2/26. Jesse Barr also won the Florida Title from Brian Blair in Tampa, two weeks earlier. Brian Blair has filed a protest and wants the decision reversed. Blair claims that Bill Irwin handed Barr a weapon that he used during the match. Sergeant Slaughter won $100,000 in a tag team Battle Royal at “Star Wars ‘85″ in the Meadowlands. Slaughter’s partner, Jerry Blackwell, couldn’t compete due to injury the night before. Slaughter outlasted eleven other teams. It was down to Slaughter versus Kamala and Billy Robinson, Slaughter was bloody and tired, but he threw Kamala over the top rope and pinned Robinson to win the money and a four foot tall trophy. There also a tag team battle royal in Memphis. The final two teams were Steve Keirn of the Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane was on crutches due to injury), and Jerry Lawler and Abdullah the Butcher. Lawler asked Abdullah to leave, so it wouldn’t be two on one, but Abdullah refused. At one point Abdullah was choking Keirn with one hand and Lawler with the other, and other wrestlers had to rush the ring to save Lawler and Keirn. Butcher Vachon’s daughter, Angelle, is now wrestling. Brian Adidas is back in the World Class area. Captain Lou Albano is now managing Hillbilly Jim, but Hogan will continue training him. Hogan and Jim, recently won a tag team battle royal in Landover, MD. Ric Flair scored a clean pinfall victory over Rick Steamboat. The Road Warriors went to Montreal and defeated Joe Le Duc and Gino Brito. Leilani Kai won the WWF Women’s Title from Wendi Richter on 2/18 in Madison Square Garden. Chris Adams is the World Class American Champion and wants to open a Nightclub called “The Pink Grotto.” Mid-Southern Champion Jerry Lawler will challenge Rick Martel for the AWA World Title. Johnny Rich is the current U.S. Junior Heavyweight Champion. Captain Lou Albano will star in an upcoming film called “Wiseguys” with Joe Piscopo and Danny Devito.
BODYSLAMS AND PINFALLS: During the 1960’s Phil Ochs advised Bob Dylan to not appear in public, because he’d become inextricably involve in so many people’s lives, than one of them might be driven to kill him. He knew that if someone makes a bold enough statement, then others will be out to get them. Roddy Piper also knows this, that’s why he has a bodyguard, “Cowboy” Bob Orton. Piper has been making quit a name for himself by running down cowardly worms like Sergeant Slaughter, who need to be taken down a few pegs. He’s used his show Piper’s Pit to attack the beloved people in wrestling, like Jimmy Snuka, and because they aren’t accustomed to such treatment, they seek revenge. But, Piper has also branched out and condemned rock music, the women’s movement, and Captain Lou Albano’s charity. People may disagree, but, nobody can say that Piper is attacking hapless victims. The people involved in them would cheer any wrestler that attacked Piper. Hogan is nothing more than peasant scrapping for fame. If he had to choose between wrestling and Johnny Carson, he’d never step foot into an arena again. Given these circumstances, Piper is brave to only have one bodyguard. Most wrestlers aren’t fit to share a ring with Piper. Fans should be ashamed to boo him. Hulk Hogan should be ashamed to not be Roddy Piper.
THE INSIDER: Eddie Ellner tells a story about Joe, a veteran from Korea running into an old friend from the war Big Al. Big Al brags about his fame, and Joe is skeptical. They go to the Mayor’s mansion and Ed and Mrs. Koch are thrilled to see their friend Big Al. They fly to Washington D.C. and President and First Lady Reagan are thrilled by a surprise visit from Big Al. Then, they go to Rome to see the Pope, while Big Al goes on stage and speaks to him, a lady in the crowd taps Joe on the shoulder and asks who the man on stage standing next to Big Al is. What’s the point? Who is the woman standing behind Hulk Hogan? Mr. T is an actor, he has no place in wrestling. If he wants to watch Mr. T on TV, he’ll get up early on Saturday and watch cartoons. Celebrities intermingling with wrestlers is unprofessional. His advice to promoters is to leave wrestling to the wrestlers, it’s been that way for all these years and it’s worked just fine.
NEWS FROM THE WRESTLING CAPITALS: Magnum TA defeated NWA U.S. Champion Wahoo McDaniel by disqualification when McDaniel threw Magnum over the top rope in Columbia, SC. Dino Bravo won the Canadian International Championship from King Tonga in Montreal, Quebec. Bob Backlund defeated Masked Superstar by countout in Westbury, NY. Ronnie Garvin beat Ox Baker in Huntington, WV. Bob Armstrong and Ric Flair had a double pin in Montgomery, AL, which allowed Flair to retain his NWA World Title. Kevin Von Erich defeated Chris Adams in Honolulu, HI.
MATT BROCK’S PLAINLY SPEAKING: The events of the “Star Wars ‘85″ card at the Meadowlands might revolutionize wrestling. There were many darlings of the fans on the card, including Bob Backlund, Rick Martel, and the The Fabulous Ones. But, it was the Road Warriors who got the biggest ovation. Either the crowd was made up of sadistic Nazi sympathizers or the fans are getting more refined in their tastes. He likens it to Larry Bird scoring 45 points and causing the Celtics to rout the New York Knicks in MSG, but the fans still give him a standing ovation. Although he was instrumental in the home team’s loss, the fans respect his skills.
John Stossel’s 20/20 piece makes him think of a match between Killer Kowalski and Don Leo Jonathan. They fought for over forty minutes, and the fans in the first three rows were all splattered with blood, and Kowalski suffered a broken nose, and his ear bled profusely. He didn’t think to ask Kowalski if wrestling was fake, he’ll try to remember to ask Stossel, provided that he can hear him.
He recently watched Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez defend their NWA World Tag Team Titles against Ivan and Nikita Koloff. Nikita wrestles very similarly to the Road Warriors. Dusty and Manny seem to be slowing down due to their heavy schedule catching up with them. But, just when he was ready to count Dusty out, he drew on his years of experience and turned the tide. Dusty Rhodes makes you proud to be his fan.
Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo are the new WWF Tag Team Champions. With fan favorites holding both singles and tag team titles, the WWF is now a rulebreaker’s paradise, since the WWF never puts fan favorites against one another. He’s happy to see that Windham and Rotundo stuck around long enough to win the titles, since they left the NWA before they could challenge for their titles.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The Tonga Kid has left the WWF and is wrestling in Canada, with his friend Rocky Johnson. Reggie Parks has retired and lives in Tuscon, AZ. He’s very much active in wrestling though, he makes the championships belts for both the NWA and AWA. Pvt. Terry Daniels is currently wrestling in Texas, and if his friend Sgt. Slaughter needs reinforcements, he only needs to call him. Kevin Kelly has moved to the Mid-South region and hopes to get a title shot at North American Champion Ted DiBaise.
INSIDE WRESTLING CAPSULE PROFILE: Rick Rude began wrestling cleanly in Georgia, and almost left the sport for a modeling career. He moved to Tennessee, with Jimmy Hart as a manager and teamed with King Kong Bundy. He split with them, which gained him the fans’ support, but he went back with Hart a few months later. He’s currently wrestling in Florida as part of the Pringle Dynasty with the PYT’s and the Missing Link. He won the Southern Title from Pez Whatley, and would like to team with the Link.
PAUL ELLERING SQUASHES THE RUMORS: “THE ROAD WARRIORS ARE NOT BREAKING UP!” The Road Warriors are considered one of the greatest teams in the sport, thus, it should only be a matter of time before they split up and try to achieve singles titles. Jerry Blackwell says it’s the natural progression. He teamed with Ken Patera fora long time, and eventually, the personal conflicts become too much for their manager Sheik Adnan Al-Kaisee to manage. If 50% of marriages end in divorce, then why wouldn’t 50% of tag teams split up. Paul Ellering scoffs at the notion. Blackwell is simply jealous that his team split up and that he’s suffering an identity crisis, not to mention his obvious jealousy at Hawk and Animal’s physiques. The day may come when Hawk or Animal challenges for a singles title, but, if it comes, they will still be a single unit, not a disorganized set of individuals. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.
SGT SLAUGHTER TOPPLES RIC FLAIR – SO WHY ISN’T HE CHAMPION? At a Pro Wrestling USA event at the Baltimore Civic Center, Sergeant Slaughter challenged Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Slaughter came to the ring to the sound of the Marine Corps Hymn, and Flair came out to “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top. It wasn’t easy for Slaughter, he had to deal with some of Flair’s underhanded tactics, like being thrown out of the ring, and being prevented from getting back in, Flair also choked Slaughter when he had the chance. But, Slaughter escaped a sleeperhold and hit Flair with his “Slaughter Cannon” for a two count. He followed that up with a big bodyslam, throwing Flair over the top rope to the floor, and when Flair got back into the ring, he gave Flair a vertical suplex and pinned him to win the title. Except that, the referee informed him that he’d been disqualified for throwing Flair over the top rope. Jim Crockett met him in the locker room and said “Sorry, Sarge. NWA rules.” But, it was only Slaughter’s first match with Flair, and now the Sarge knows that he’s able to beat him. Slaughter vows to get a rematch and win the title, not just for him and not just for the fans, but, for America.
RUSSIA’S FINEST vs. AMERICA’S FINEST? THE KOLOFFS AND KHRUSHCHEV CHALLENGE THE VON ERICHS: Some confrontations seem destined by fate, a battle that nobody wants to happen, but seems unavoidable. That’s the best description of the challenge set forth by the Koloffs and Khrusher Khrushchev to Kevin, Kerry, and Mike Von Erich. It’s too soon to say if this match will even happen, the Von Erichs are based in World Class and the Koloffs and Khrushchev in the Mid-Atlantic area. But, the idea intrigues Kevin Von Erich, he says training to wrestle them is different, because you have to train against brawling, and you’d have to prepare to be just as dirty as they are. The Russians seem intent on their goal to disgrace American wrestling, and by challenging the Von Erichs, they’ve chosen to attack the very core of what honorable competition means to our country. Ivan Koloff is the brains of the trio, he’s a longtime veteran of the mat and there isn’t anything evil about the sport that he hasn’t mastered. Kerry Von Erich says that if he was twice as strong, but half as smart, he wouldn’t be a problem, but, it’s his genius that makes him so dangerous. Nikita is the strongest of them, and his youth also gives way to recklessness. That’s why Ivan is so important, he makes sure his nephews recklessness doesn’t turn into stupid. Khrushchev is an American from the old school, who has adopted Soviet tactics. Get into a fight with him and may the toughest man win, and, thanks to Ivan’s tutelage, he’s become even more brutal. The Von Erichs didn’t ask to become the saviors of America or the sport, but, they’re happy to step up and do so.
HOTSEAT: Bill Apter sits down with Kevin Von Erich to discuss Chris Adams, who had recently defeated Kevin’s brother, Kerry, for the World Class American Title. If you’d asked Kevin seven months ago how he felt about that he’d have answered “Great!” But, seven months ago, Chris Adams was as much a part of his family as Kerry. If Chris had beaten Kerry cleanly, Kerry would have been the first to congratulate him. But, not now. Kevin hates Chris Adams, and he also hates himself for hating him. Part of the reason is that he doesn’t understand why Chris did what he did. People point to Gary Hart, but’s not enough for Kevin. He understood that Chris wanted to develop an identity away from the Von Erichs. But, he didn’t have to do what he did.
Kevin defeated Chris in a scientific match at the Cotton Bowl, only to be layed out for forty-five minutes after Chris hit him with a chair. Kevin tried to take his eye out in retaliation and almost succeeded. He doesn’t like feeling that way about anyone, let alone a man he once called his best friend. The family is also having issues dealing with things. There’s no love lost between Kerry and Chris. Fritz says it’s their responsibility as a family to run him out of Texas. Mike has issues, because he once looked up to Chris. But, in the meantime, Kevin has to focus on defending the World Class Six Man Titles with his brothers, Rip Oliver wants to team with the Midnight Express and challenge for them. He keeps taking matches against Chris Adams though, hoping he can beat the truth out of him.
ANDRE THE GIANT AND JUNKYARD DOG: A GREAT TEAM, BUT NO MATCH FOR STUDD AND PATERA: The one thing that the fans love is a team born out of righteousness, and there is no better example of that than Andre the Giant and Junkyard Dog. Andre is wrestling’s equivalent of a Saint Bernard. Fans are upset because John Studd, Ken Patera, and Bobby Heenan cut his hair. They did what the EPA ought to have done, and made Andre more pleasant to look at. The way the fans jeered and the announcers cried, you would have thought they sacrificed his first born instead of making him more visually acceptable. Junk is the perfect partner for him, his wrestling style is mindlessness over matter. His finisher is called the Thump, which must have been named after the sound that a thought made when it accidentally went into his head one day. If the match happens, it won’t be fairly contested. Studd and Patera can wrestle circles around Andre and Junk, but fans won’t be happy if they lose, and happy fans by tickets. So, Studd and Patera will be lucky if the WWF referees don’t try to hit them with a chain. Ken and John have the ability to thrill the crowds and be the best team in the world, but they will ultimately be deined that opportunity. It’s a disgrace that they’d even have to get in the ring with Andre and Junk. Because of official aid before and during the match, Andre and Junk would be considered a great team, but, if the match is fair, they would pose no real challenge to John Studd and Ken Patera.
HEAD TO HEAD: Lou Thesz is a legend in the world of wrestling, he held the NWA World Title at various times from 1937-1963. He was considered a gentleman champion, always considerate of the fans and aware of the image he was giving to the youth of America. Ric Flair is the current NWA World Champion, who enjoys all the perks that come from being champion, and living life in the fast lane.
Thesz has seen Flair wrestle several times, and feels like he’s developed a disrespect for the title. Flair disagrees, and says nobody respects the title that he does, and that nobody can match his skills and ability. Thesz isn’t denying Flair his skills, but takes issue with the attitude. He considers Johnny Unitas, Bill Russell, and Joe Louis to be real champions, not Joe Namath, Wilt Chamberlin, or Muhammad Ali. In addition to their skills, they had an image worth looking up to. Flair retorts that he respects Thesz, up to a point, and that he’s proven himself time and again, and that Thesz is jealous that he sees Ric enjoying the life that he missed out on. He also points out that he won the title from Harley Race, who has more title reigns than Thesz. Thesz concludes by telling Flair that he thinks he owns the world right now, but it will all diminish in time, and in a few years Ric Flair will be forgotten about.