Before the Internet, online dirt sheetz, Reddit and constantly updated wrestling-related social media feeds, wrestling magazines were the glue that held fans together. Sure, classic wrestling mags were 90% made up, but that didn’t matter. They were what kept folks speculating, obsessing and arguing about pro wrestling between the actual events and TV shows — today’s wrestling fan community was born from their pages.
Since I am a man of considerable means and resources, not to mention knowledge of local pawn shops, I’ve managed to get my hands on a number of classic wrestling mags. I thought it would be fun to look through their pages to see what fans really thought about major events that have since been clouded by revisionist history, and maybe have a few chuckles at some of the crazy crap Bill Apter and pals were pulling out of their asses on a monthly basis. I think you may find no much has changed in the past 30 years.
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Pro Wrestling Illustrated (September, 1985)
The Wrestling World That Was
So, what were the hot topics in world of wrestling as of September, 1985 according to Bill Apter and boys and girls of Pro Wrestling Illustrated?
Well, the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection was in full swing, and the first Wrestlemania just went down, both of which were totally obnoxious circus garbage sure to be the ruination of this beautiful sport of ours according to PWI. Ric Flair was gearing up for a title match with Nikita Koloff, who was training in a literal dungeon for the bout. Meanwhile Kerry Von Erich and Chris Adams were having strap match battles to the death in Texas. Also, you could win Dusty Rhodes’ boots in a trivia contest! It was an exciting time, in other words.
Weekly Cranky Wrestling Letters
To listen to the last 30 years of WWE propaganda, the 80s were an unbroken golden age for Hulkamania, and Wrestlemania was a universally beloved, unquestioned triumph. Well, don’t tell that to 1985 PWI readers. About a solid third of this magazine is made up of letter columns, and the general consensus was that Wrestlemania was a lot of empty hype, and Hulk Hogan was a bland, untalented corporate construct everyone was sick of. Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar.
Check out these fans insisting that it’s time to move on from this stupid, played-out Wrestlemania concept only months after the very first one ever…
This issue has an entire section devoted to fans bickering over whether Hulk Hogan is garbage, as moderated by anti-Hogan heel character, Peter King. Here’s a few choice snaps from the height of Hulkamania…
Hogan is all hype. He is a showman and performer, not a wrestler. I’ve seen all three champions wrestle in person. To see a classic wrestling match with holds and ability, you have to see Martel and Flair. – Mary Beth McCarthy
“Top Guy X is an entertainer, not a WRESTLER. He doesn’t know HOLDS or HAVE WORKRATE. To see real wrestling, watch [insert other lower profile promotion].” Oh, wrestling fans, never change.
I think Hulk Hogan is the perfect champion for The WWF. The WWF has based itself on this ridiculous rock-wrestling connection, allowing musicians and actors to enter into a sport they have no business being in. They have disgraced wrestling and all true wrestling fans. — Julie Grace