Thursday, May 12, 2016

WWWF Wrestling Action #3

A new World Wide Wrestling Federation Champion helps us celebrate Wrestling Action Vol. 1 No. 3! Bob Backlund, in all his wholesome, straight-laced glory, graces the cover of this issue complete with an American flag background and the nickname "All American." Due to the Yukon Lumberjacks being shown and touted as being the WWWF Tag Team Champions, we can determine that this issue was printed in mid-1978, long after the last. As we'll soon see, the magazine was open and honest about problems with publication.

We open the cover with several announcements. Escalating costs are cited as to why this issue is not the full-color spectacle that the previous installment was. The staff still hopes to be able to return to that format in the future. Another notice indicates that the magazine will not be published bi-monthly, but subscribers will receive their balance. Limited back issues of the first two editions are available for just $2.50 each. Can I take a dozen? The "As I See It!" column this month is penned by Vincent Kennedy McMahon, who is actually referred to as "Vince McMahon Jr." here.

The main features begin with a half-color, half-black & white story on the new champ himself, Bob Backlund. One of the images included was obviously used the cover art reference photo. Following that is a question that many of us are still asking to this day, "What Happened To Victor Rivera?" Back in 1978, the question was why Rivera, a popular Puerto Rican star, had aligned himself with Fred Blassie. Since the late 1980's the question has been just where the man has gone. Rumors of various nefarious activities, time in prison, and even death have surrounded Rivera, but no one seems to have concrete evidence as to exactly where he is.

A bit on Superstar Billy Graham's work out routine is followed by a feature on the good deeds of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. Juvenile Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy, and the Big Brother program are all listed as some of The Dream's charitable causes. All in all, Dusty is quoted as saying that making us, the fans, happy makes his dream fulfilled. You did just that, Big Dust. You did just that and much, much more...

The next several pages give us black and white photographs of The Dream as well as various ring villains of the day. One great photo depicts Dusty, flanked by a young Vince McMahon Jr. and Howard Finkel, receiving an award from the Big Brother program in New Haven, CT. The Fink has a great comb-over going on. I'm assuming that the gentleman between McMahon and Finkel is from the Big Brother program. Despite similar attire, it is not Fred "Rerun" Berry.

We get even more American Dream goodness in this issue's centerfold. In an absolutely classic pre-match photo, Andre the Giant is pictured with his buddies Rhodes and "The Man of 1,000 Masks" Mil Mascaras. Dusty is wearing his cactus robe which made various program and magazine covers over the years. There's definitely no box under the feet of Andre, and he looks positively massive regardless. As of this writing, only Mascaras remains with us in this life.

Features on Chief Jay Strongbow, Ivan Koloff, Dino Bravo, and Tony Garea fill the remaining pages, but perhaps the coolest article covers the aforementioned Yukon Lumberjacks. Pierre and Eric, managed by Captain Lou Albano, held the WWWF Tag Team Championship for several months in 1978. The rough-and-tumble duo wrestled the titles away from the popular tandem of Bravo and Dominic DeNucci, the latter previously known for his association with Bruno Sammartino and now remembered as the trainer of Mick Foley. Yukon Eric was better known as Scott "Hogg" Irwin. Irwin would later team with his brother Bill as "The Long Riders" in the AWA before tragically passing away from cancer in 1987.

We're now over halfway through the Wrestling Action run. This is the first issue to not feature Bruno Sammartino. The WWWF was looking to a new era with Bob Backlund at the helm. We now know that it would end up being a Helluva run for the "All-American Boy." A different division takes center stage in the next issue, along with five new cover stars. The "wrestling action" of the WWWF continues here next week!

No comments: