If you’ve been ’round these parts of any length of time, you are familiar with my utter love for ancient wrestling magazines. I still have stacks and stacks of them in my closet that I peruse…at least from time to time. But when I was in my late teens/college years? I lived (not loved, but lived) to go to the drug story or grocery just to hit the magazine rack and see if the latest PWI, Inside Wrestling, or The Wrestler had hit the shelves.
And yes, you did read that right. When I was in COLLEGE, I wasn’t going to parties, drinking beer, or chasing girls – I was going to the local food mart to BUY WRESTLING MAGAZINES.
What can I say? Me being a total nerd is nothing new.
To that end, when I was booked for Starrcast, do you know who I was most excited to meet? It probably wasn’t any of the folks you might expect. No, it was THIS MAN:
BILL FREAKING APTER!
The man behind the legendary “Apter Mags”, although he’d be the first person to tell you (repeatedly, I should note) that he did not own the magazines but was merely a writer/photographer for them. Didn’t matter. He was my hero in so many ways and I was thrilled to get to sit and talk with him for hours. They always say don’t meet your heroes, but I’m glad I never paid any attention to that supposed wisdom. Bill is an awesome guy and someone I am honored to call my friend.
But hey, enough of kissing his tail. Let’s get back to the subject at hand, those incredible magazines. Now if you weren’t around at that time, you really can’t comprehend what they meant not only to me but hardcore wrestling fans in general. When I first started devouring these gems in the late 80’s, there was no internet from which to get the latest insight on what was happening in our favorite sport, and honestly, even the onslaught of wrestling hotlines were still years away. The only wrestling you could get were syndicated shows, the WWF and the NWA on cable, and…well, honestly, not much else.
And that wasn’t anywhere near enough for me. And I am guessing for many of you reading this right now either.
The wrestling magazines helped cover that need. They’d have tons of photos, ‘interviews’, rankings, match results, and columnists who wound up feeling like old friends after a while. Maybe you liked Bill, maybe Stu Saks was your guy (and I was thrilled to sit right next to him at the first ever Double or Nothing too!), or perhaps you were a heel and Eddie Ellner was your jam.
These magazines were comfort food for wrestling fans.
Of course, they also had tons of feature articles too. Sometimes they’d detail a feud and debate who would finally win the battle, or they might go behind the scenes and fill us in on a nefarious plot a villain had in store for his foe. It was pretty much the Wild West and there were no real rules – the guys at the magazines pretty much just wrote about anything they thought would be interesting.
It wasn’t every issue, but often they’d do an overview of a wrestling promotion itself. Which brings us to a little article from the 1995 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated:
While I’m sure some of you are hoping for me to dive into why precisely Hulk Hogan “can’t take it anymore” (or maybe you freaks want to download that full color centerfold of Bam Bam Bigelow, who knows), we are going to instead focus on what is in small type at the very top of this periodical, namely this story:
Wait, you mean to tell me that Vince’s company needed help even back then?
How could that possibly be?
What could have been wrong with it?
Yes kids, your current WWE being kinda boring is nothing new. I know that’s hard to believe, but seriously, this company going into snooze mode is something that has happened repeatedly ever since I can remember. Let’s see what the issues were back then and how they compare with today.
One of the first things brought up is that perhaps the company should limit the number of rematches it presents. In the photo above, we see Owen Hart taking on his brother Bret. Today most people would gush over the matches the two had…and trust me, I would as well, as I am one of the biggest Bret/Owen fans there is.
With that said, I have to tell you…that was a feud that never, ever seemed to end. And by the time I’d seen the two battling for what seemed like the better part of my life, I was ready to see something – anything – else.
Keep in mind, that was back in 1995. Fast forward 26 years and what does WWE give us? How about Big E vs. Apollo Creed fourteen times? Let me clarify a bit.
That’s not fourteen times ever.
IT’S FOURTEEN TIMES THIS YEAR.
A year, as I write this, that isn’t even HALF OVER!
And I’m pretty sure they didn’t start this never ending battle until like March!
I don’t even want to go back and see how many times other wrestlers and tag teams have been stuck in their own never-ending stories. You all can probably rattle them off even better than I.
Suffice to say this whole thing is nothing new as this article proves.
To their credit, while the WWF ignored this advice in the mid 90’s, they did in fact try to do this with the Mae Young Classic. And good for them! Those tournaments were a lot of fun and gave women a chance to shine in the world’s largest company.
But what, pray tell, happened to the most recent victor in one of these tourneys? Her name is Toni Storm, and despite being incredibly talented, she is stuck seemingly forever in NXT purgatory.
Yeah, I’d be ticked too, kid.
Seriously, you have THIS and what do we get instead? Alexa Bliss hypnotizing people and ten thousand Natalya-Tamina vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke matches.
So let’s see, repeating matches? Check.
Women not being utilized properly? Ah yup.
Let’s see, what else could there be…how about stupid tag teams?
By golly, look at that. And I am not lying when I tell you I have no clue who the current Raw or Smackdown tag champs are. I would have to go look, but I can almost assure you they are not life long partners like we see elsewhere in the world. As I recall, I THINK it’s AJ Styles and Omos on one brand and just like it says above, that’s just two guys that were single wrestlers and honestly probably better off apart.
No idea who Smackdown champs are. I’d go look, but honestly I just don’t care that much.
And obviously, the writer of this article felt the same!
Let’s talk the biggest bane of my existence..the thing that really, truly makes it impossible for me to watch current day WWE for any extended period. That would have to be the announcing. I HATE the weird language the announcing crew is forced to use. It just completely pulls me out of the action, action I should note which a LOT of times is fantastic. I know I cannot be the only one, and what’s completely absurd is that, again, this is NOTHING NEW as this magazine clearly shows.
You see, it was during the period this article was penned that a man named Joey Styles was in ECW and let me tell you, he was GREAT. He brought excitement to a show and didn’t sound like everyone else. He was unique, and it just makes sense that PWI was championing him to come into the company and save the day.
The funny thing was Styles would eventually come to WWE…and he was sapped of anything that made him awesome to the point that he more or less just quit.
And finally, let’s look at the one thing that I COULD see Vince doing…churning that nostalgia crank one more time, as that seems to be the only thing that gets anyone interested in the current product. It was no different in 95 than it is today.
So yeah, there you have it kids. Further proof that today’s WWE is really no different than the dark ages of the dumpster fire of the mid 90’s.
After all, if you can’t trust twenty five year old wrestling mags, who can you trust?
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