My First WWF Magazine
What was going through the mind of Vince McMahon in the summer of 1986? How should I know? Absolutely no idea - what a dumb question! But I can tell you what was in his magazine at that time.
Now, due to the ravages of time, I no longer have that sweet magazine cover with Hulk Hogan as an oil painting. I'm guessing that I went to photocopy the cover at some point for a project that I was working on and never put it back. Either that or my cocker spaniel (Beauregard) ate it.
So opening the magazine nearly 30 years later, the first item I laid eyes on was this - an advertisement for a 976 line where people get to talk to Captain Lou Albano? Ewwww....
Oh, wait, this isn't that kind of 976 number. Instead, Lou and others (including "The Voice Of Wrestling" Vince McMahon) give us the latest updates on what's going on in the WWF, Hulk Hogan propaganda, which squash matches will be on television this week, and whom on the active roster is and isn't currently cycling on anabolic steroids (spoiler alert: everyone).
The first article was on Terry Funk, the Modern Day Desperado, as he's called here. WWF Magazine actually traveled to his Double Cross Ranch in Amarillo, Texas (or possibly somewhere that looked like a ranch in Texas) to photograph Terrible Terry and his manager, Jimmy Hart.
It was a great way to introduce the character to WWF audiences, but unfortunately, he was long gone from the promotion by the time this issue hit newstands. And that's a crying shame - Funk's first WWF run was criminally underappreciated. He had decent matches with Hulk Hogan and even Junkyard Dog and could have been a top guy for many years there.
I'm not sure why he left (this could have been the time he left a note for Vince McMahon he had to leave because his horse was dying?), but they quickly replaced him with Jimmy Jack Funk (Jesse Barr wearing a lone ranger mask) and his legit brother Dory "Hoss" Funk Jr. And no offense to either of them, but neither were nearly as valuable to the WWF as Terry would have been.
The next profile was on Ted Arcidi. I know what many of you are thinking - "who"?
Arcidi was a weightlifter who looks surprisingly similar to current WWE star Rusev, now that I think about it. WWF pushed the hell out of him, had him squash a bunch of nobodies, even made an action figure of the guy (and no, Ted Arcidi has not yet made it to the prestigious Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame - but stay tuned!).
The problem was, once Arcidi got past beating the crap out of guys like Rene Goulet, he'd shown about as much fire as he was ever going to. I saw him in Toronto at "The Big Event", which was originally billed as a Battle of the Strongmen between Arcidi and WWE Legends House alumni Tony Atlas. Unfortunately, Atlas was gone from the company by then and Arcidi ended up squashing veteran Tony Garea in an absolutely terrible match.
Ted Arcidi was never seen or heard from after that, and I'm not exactly complaining about this.
Another Captain Lou Albano advertisement? Seriously? Was this guy the face of the company's merchandising at that point?
I honestly don't remember there being a book entitled "The Wit and Wisdom of Captain Lou Albano" and by looking through Bulldog's Bookshelf, you can tell I've read a ton of wrestling-related books. I certainly would read it if I came across it at a used bookstore somewhere.... but perhaps the fact that it sold for $5.95 and was only available via mail-away tells me everything I need to know about it.
In actuality, it looks less like a "book" and more like a magazine, similar to those WWF Spotlight magazines they used to have (and rest assured, a review of those is definitely on the "to-do" list for Canadian Bulldog's World). A bunch of pictures, a bit of text and a foreword by "The Voice of Wrestling" himself.
Of note - Albano's nickname of The Fabulous Fat Man never seemed to quite take off in the mainstream...
Hey, look - WrestleMania 2 is here! Or at least, it was technically held three months before, but that's the way magazine publishing worked way back then.
In full color, WWF Magazine gave us all the results of the three-location event. The NFL vs WWF battle royale. George Steele vs. Randy Savage. British Bulldogs vs. The Dream Team. Corporal Kirschener vs. Nikolai Volkoff. Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy. I'm not going to bore you with the details, as chances are pretty good you've seen them before, or watched the show, or whatever.
What the section did show was some behind the scenes footage, including a picture of Rowdy Roddy Piper following his boxing match with Mr. T, looking like something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Seriously, this picture needs is the XX over Piper's eyes:
Who's ready for a poem by Leaping Lanny Poffo? Wait.... where are you going? Come back!!!
Poffo's poetic prose about The British Bulldogs (no relation) is so basic and contains pretty much every stereotype about England that you can think of (Winston Churchill/The Beatles), you'd almost wonder if a grade-schooler wrote it.
And I can actually prove this point! In eighth grade, for some strange reason, my friend Harold and I came up with a "rap" about The British Bulldogs that was just as creative as Poffo's offering. I don't remember the entire lyrics, but I remember the chorus being "Move to the left/move to the right/it's Davey Boy/and Dynamite". We performed it in front of our class, for some reason. Yes, I need a life; why do you ask?
Poffo also talk a lot about how muscular The Bulldogs are. Is he jealous of their physiques? Impressed? Aroused? We never found out for sure, although I have my theories. I can definitely picture Davey Boy and Dynamite pulling some sort of violent rib on Leaping Lanny backstage after he wrote one complimentary poem too many...
Since I still have a bit of space in this section and no photo to accompany these, the June/July issue also had features on Luther Vandross, who apparently was a lifelong wrestling fan, and a long-form interview with Jimmy "Mouth of The South" Hart.
And speaking of incredibly campy.... WWF Magazine also covered the first ever Slammy Awards!
This was done to promote the first Wrestling Album (as opposed to the next Slammys, which featured Hacksaw Jim Duggan and King Harley Race fighting in a chicken coop and The Bolsheviks winning an award for sharing a toothbrush and then both tripping each other on stage when accepting the award).
Junkyard Dog, dressed as a "hipster" according to the equally hip folks at WWF Magazine, won the Slammy for the Best Single Performer. Even though his song "Grab Them Cakes" was technically a duet with Vickie Sue Robinson.
Still, it's cool to see photos of Nikolai Volkoff dressed in a "cheesy burgundy pin-striped suit and fur fedora" for an evening out .
And hey, look, here's "Mr. WWF" Captain Lou Albano worming his way into a photo op! Again!
One of the last features in this month's magazine was called "Sign of the Times" and looked at some of the best fan signs. To be honest, I'm thinking the four signs in the above picture were audience plants. Otherwise, what are the odds of four fans coming with four signs for different wrestlers and all (fairly creative)?
The article began with a narrative about Randy "Macho Man" Savage - having an increasingly bad day - became livid when he saw a sign badmouthing him. Which makes sense given what we now knew about Savage's personality, I suppose. Did I mention there was also a feature about how Savage had recently captured the Intercontinental Title from Tito Santana? They even snapped a photo of the foreign object he used on Chico - but I forgot to scan it in for this...
One of the anecdotes I remember from this particular article was how a group of fans in nearby (to me) Hamilton, Ontario had created a fan club for jobber Gino Carabello. That's odd that fans would do that in the first place, but doubly odd because Hamilton is the home of one "Iron" Mike Sharpe. If you're going to idolize a jobber, why not go with the recognized industry leader from your home town, you know?
The final pages of the magazine (excluding the cover that was missing) are dedicated to an "Out and About" type feature that was a staple for many years in WWF Magazine, taking note of whenever one of their superstars gained anything close to mainstream publicity.
First we have the NATPE licensing convention, which has always been a big deal for the television industry, and the WWF was smart enough to capitalize on it by bringing in Hulk Hogan, Jesse "The Body" Venture and Ernie Ladd to sign autographs. In the top left corner of the page, we see The Hulkster posing with the cast of Silver Spoons and if there's a more 80's photo out there, I'd like to see it.
The column also goes into great detail about the film career of Tiger Chung Lee, who was never more than a jobber during his WWF run, but seemed to be around forever. Chris Jericho goes into great detail in his book A Lion's Tale about how Tiger (later wrestling as Kim Duk) would bug everyone on the New Japan tour bus to watch the films he had cameos in.
And of course, how could the column be complete without one more picture of CAPTAIN LOU ALBANO?!?!?
What's interesting to me is how, even 30 years later, WWF Magazine is still a decent-enough read. Look at some of the PWI's from the same era and they don't have as much re-read value.