Induction: Apartment Wrestling – Our most alabaster induction ever!

19 Submitted by on Thu, 03 November 2022, 20:01

Magazine feature, 1970s-1980s

Shortly after Sports Review Wrestling’s debut publication in 1972, the magazine began covering not just the professional wrestling, but a different sort of wrestling altogether. This women-only genre was “an athletic event — the newest and most popular sporting craze in America — known simply as Apartment Wrestling.” And by the end of the decade it had become “the symbol of the 1970s.”

Not just a symbol, but the symbol.

Despite the sport’s uncontrollable popularity, you could be forgiven for never having heard of it, and for good reason: unlike mainstream professional wrestling, apartment wrestling matches could not be found in any arena or gym…

…but instead, as the name implied, in luxurious penthouse apartments. Vince McMahon may take credit for taking wrestling out of the smoke-filled halls (Madison Square Garden) and into the big arenas (Madison Square Garden, post-smoking ban)…

…but he never brought the sport directly into the homes of the crème de la crème of society, where spectators sipped champagne instead of beer.

Rather than numbering in the thousands, audiences for apartment wrestling were limited to just a few dozen business tycoons, wealthy playboys, entertainment bigwigs, world-renowned authors, academic elites, and paparazzi. And there were no tickets — attendance was by invite only, though no one ever turned down the offer. Hotbeds of apartment wrestling ranged from New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Vail stateside, to Rio de Janeiro and Munich internationally.

Needless to say, the events were high-brow affairs. That’s not to say that apartment wrestling was a purely intellectual affair. As in any “erotic sport”, spectators were “treated to views that aroused their most primitive senses”. 

In other words: nekkid women.

Neither of them look like Dusty to me, frankly.

Placed awkwardly on the front of each issue, the bikini-clad catfight girls made for unlikely cover stars alongside the likes of Bob Backlund or Ricky Steamboat. 

Even more unbelievable was that, like all the other so-called “Apter mags” (actually Stanley Weston mags), Sports Review Wrestling specialized in fake quotes from world-famous wrestlers. Readers were thus expected to believe that Mr. Backlund would share his on-the-record thoughts on the Boston crab…

…with the same publication that once printed the phrase, “sweating mass of feminine odor, perfume, and body”.

The presence of half-naked ladies on a wrestling magazine cover may seem like a cheap marketing ploy, but fans buying an issue off the news stand got their money’s worth. Though a typical issue of Sports Review Wrestling contained only 60 or so pages, a dozen of them were reserved apartment wrestling. That’s nearly as many pages as were dedicated to ads for miracle height extensions…

…psychokinetic chest hair growth…

…male girdles…

…fake IDs…

…thievery handbooks…

…and piano lessons.

While the main draw of the apartment wrestling features was to see sexy women in full, living black and white, these weren’t simply pictorial spreads. Instead, the articles went into elaborate detail about all the competitors, their backstories, and their motivations for competing. They were nurses, stewardesses, heiresses, actresses, and mistresses, all wrestling for different reasons (none of which were money). 

Along the way, readers were treated to TS Eliot quotes…

…reflections on the Spanish Civil War…

…and the absolute horniest prose ever found in a wrestling publication. Under the guise of play-by-play, the writer called the action with colorful — though often repetitive — terms for the ladies’ anatomy.

A competitor might possess any of the following types of mammary glands:

  • firm breasts
  • firm, luscious breasts
  • firm voluptuous breasts
  • full, delicately rounded breasts
  • lush breasts
  • a “lush breast” [singular]
  • magnificent chest
  • magnificent orbs
  • a “perfectly formed breast”
  • a “pert breast”
  • an “exposed, supple breast”
  • a “stiff-nippled breast”
  • voluptuous breasts

…and, my personal favorite, “fulsome breasts”.

If those breasts were any more fulsome, Johnny Cash would have recorded a live album on them!

A pair of wardrobe mishaps even led one spectator to reflect that “he had never seen two women with such identical breasts in his life”. Them’s some identical breasts, I tell you what!

If you’re into gams, Sports Review Wrestling had you covered again. Legs were described alternately as powerful, long and powerful, exquisite, luxurious, shapely, splendid, and velvety. Sometimes the women didn’t sport legs, but “shanks”, as in the phrases, “splendid shanks” and “velvety shank”.

Various apartment wrestlers had “lithe legs”, a “lithe leg” (singular), or a “beautifu [sic], lithe leg”. One wrestler even transformed her poor opponent’s legs into “two shafts of aching pain”.

“Hey, I need a synonym for ‘arms and legs’, preferably one that alliterates with ‘lithe’.”
“No time for that, Stu. We’ve got a deadline to meet!”

As far as backsides go, the writer had a clear blind spot, referring to them only as “muscular”, or sometimes “muscular and pale”. 

Looking at the photos, there wasn’t a lot of variation of body types, but their descriptions fared slightly better:

  • beautiful, lithe body
  • curvacious [sic] body
  • exquisite body
  • fulsome body
  • long, lithe body
  • lush body
  • magnificent body

And sometimes, the wrestlers used their bodies as an “exquisite torture machine”, or a “writhing machine of punishment”. “Writhe” was perhaps the writer’s favorite verb. “Spasmodically” was his favorite adverb, as in the phrase, “Her body jerked in hideous, spasmodic writhings”.

The combatants themselves were referred to as the following:

  • Amazonian blonde
  • beauteous Olivia
  • curvatious [sic] brunette [they never did learn how to spell, “curvaceous”]
  • exquisite nurse
  • fabulous brunette
  • fabulous vixens
  • lithe blonde
  • lovely brunette
  • lush beauty
  • nubile blonde
  • sexy blonde
  • shapely Jacqueline
  • sultry foe
  • sumptuous brunette
  • two magnificent specimens of womanhood
  • well-endowed nurse
  • wonderful specimens of womanhood

The writer loved to call the women “voluptuous”, as in a certain “voluptuous combatant”, a “voluptuous grappler”, or one wrestler who turned herself into a “voluptuous projectile”. Any wrestler might have a “voluptuous body” or a “voluptuous and exquisite figure”. In one rare bout, both competitors had “voluptuous frames”. And in a single article, the writer once referred to both competitors as a “voluptuous blonde” and a “voluptuous brunette”, respectively.

One of these ladies, who may or may not have also been voluptuous, had a mouth that was “slightly too sensual to be considered perfect”. Whatever you say.

But there was perhaps no word the writer loved more than “alabaster”, whether it be alabaster thighs; long, alabaster arms; alabaster skin; and even an alabaster throat.

The apartment wrestling industry frequently fell victim to controversy. Once, a crooked executive drugged a competitor with a tranquilizer, telling her it was actually a performance enhancer. This allowed him to collect on a six-figure bet and flee the country.

Sleazy businessmen would try to cash in on the craze, missing the point entirely by objectifying the wrestlers.

Once, the four most powerful figures in the industry had to meet and decide whether to pull the plug on the whole sport. It seems the matches had become too dangerous and prone to savagery — “erotic savagery”, but savagery nonetheless.

Sports Review Wrestling’s coverage of the sport backs up this claim; it seems that every few months, a match would go “too far”. 

Though excessive violence could be deemed, “too far”, nudity was not. In fact, it was simply an occupational hazard — at any moment, wrestlers risked “exposing nearly all that women is about [sic].”

And while Sports Review Wrestling never featured nudity in its pictures, its sister publication, Battling Girls did.

Due to the topless pictures, both Battling Girls and its commemorative photo sets were available through mail order only. As responsible publishers, TV Sports, Inc. even recommended that children get their parents’ permission before ordering the nudie magazine.

By 1984, Sports Review Wrestling stopped covering apartment wrestling.  

In 2002, Stu Saks, the editor of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, came clean about the “sport”. To the surprise of no one, none of the “matches” ever took place.

Instead, Saks himself would caption photo shoots to go along with writer Dan Shocket’s fictitious articles.

Long-time readers were surprised to learn that Dan Shocket was a real person, but not an ass man.

Saks admitted that the features were a mistake, alienating the magazine’s core wrestling fan base to appeal to a broader (hornier) audience that eventually got bored. Sports Review Wrestling folded in 1995.

It just goes to show you that you shouldn’t sacrifice your hardcore fans to appeal to softcore fans.

Written by

Art has been writing inductions for WrestleCrap since 2012. He also writes reviews of old Monday Night Raws, posted here every other Sunday. You can find his old reviews at the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
19 Responses to "Induction: Apartment Wrestling – Our most alabaster induction ever!"
  1. Andy PG says:

    Ha! We TOLD you wrestling was fake!

  2. Linda says:

    “As responsible publishers, TV Sports, Inc. even recommended that children get their parents’ permission before ordering the nudie magazine.”

    I cracked up reading that one.

  3. Richard Phillips says:

    Haha those captions are so hilarious!

    Where uh…

    Where did you source them?

    Asking for a friend.

  4. Jeb says:

    There’s something poetic about Bob Backlund staring back at you, judging you, as you appreciate the art of Apartment Wrestling.

  5. Al Boondy says:

    With today’s news, why do I get the feeling that Elon is just ITCHING to bring this concept back?

    (also, I never realized that apartment wrestling was supposed to be a “spectator sport” … Whenever I saw the ads in the wrestling mags as a young kid, I assumed it was just some lecherous photographer alone with two comely lasses in his own apartment)

  6. Gerard says:

    so wait your saying Apartment wrestling doesn’t really exist?? i thought it was a sexy sport like mud wrestling, oil wrestling or foxy boxing!! next thing you’ll be telling me is there’s no such thing as santa claus or the easter bunny!!

  7. James says:

    When I got into wrestling in the early 90s, I think you could still find ads to buy videos like this in these kind of magazines.

  8. Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

    Exquisite Torture Machine is my favorite Nine Inch Nails album.

  9. Dan Moorman says:

    These matches were tawdry exploitation, practically pornography. Shame on anyone who watches one. Unlike JAPANESE apartment wrestling, which is a totally legitimate art form that all can respect and enjoy. 6.25 stars.

    -Dave Meltzer

  10. HY says:

    I like that in the screenshot near the top for Olivia vs. Claire, the caption describes Claire as a blonde, but both women look like they have black hair. Maybe blonde had a different meaning at that time?

  11. Statistician says:

    STATISTICALLY…

    This is the 2nd induction from 1972! 1972 is the first pre-1980s year to get more than one induction.
    Yeah… I’m not touching the rest of this one. Feels too skeevy. Women’s wrestling had a long way to go. We still had 15 years before the previously inducted Foxy Food Fight, after all.

    Tune in next time for something that makes me feel less dirty. Please.

  12. Big says:

    I hadn’t heard Dan Shocket’s name in forever. The original “stick up for the heel guy”. He was always a hoot in the Apter mags.

  13. Doc 902714 says:

    Might I detect a bit of FORESHADOWING from the past 2 week’s Inductions climaxing. . . i.e. leading to this INDUCTION.

    First you give us Mankind’s guest appearance on Boy Meets World where he refereed an “apartment” match.

    Next week you give us Elvira naked in the shower [sic] in pure comic book form.

    Tying the first two together, this week we get what we all REALLY bought those Apter Mags for….Classic Apartment Wrestling

    Nice move.

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