Thursday, May 19, 2016

WWWF Wrestling Action #4

For the fourth issue of WWWF Wrestling Action, tag teams take center stage. The Tag Team Championship struggle between The Valiant Brothers (with manager Captain Lou Albano) and the fan favorite team of Larry Zbyszko and Tony Garea is artistically depicted. The white and yellow "burst" behind the wrestlers really makes this cover pop, as does the large tag team belt that corrals the teams. I can still recall the joy on Albano's face when he was signing this issue and holding it up for other wrestlers seated nearby to see. In addition to the featured stars, I had referee Dick Woehrle sign the cover and Greg Valentine autograph an interior shot.

Starting out, we learn that the previous issue had completely sold out. Back issues of #1 and #2 were still available at just $2.50 a copy. Again, I will gladly take a dozen of each. Arnold Skaaland gets the "As I See It!" column and the features kick off with a look at a man completely missing from issue #3, Bruno Sammartino. The Living Legend had returned--with his infamous afro. The cover story follows, featuring Zbyszko (grossly misspelled "Zybscko") and Garea on their championship win against the Yukon Lumberjacks and new struggle with Jimmy and Johnny Valiant.

Hisashi Shinma becoming the new World Wide Wrestling Federation president and a bit on Ivan Putski precede a story on The Grand Wizard leading Greg Valentine to the WWWF Championship. Valentine was always one of Bob Backlund's quality challengers. Had Backlund needed to drop the title even briefly at some point during his long-planned run, Valentine would have been a great option as champion, even temporarily.

Next up is a great shot and brief story on WWE Hall of Famer Tatsumi Fujinami. At the time, Fujinami was the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Champion. That title and belt is one of the least remembered championships in the history of the company, largely being contested outside of the United States for the majority of its run. Fans of 1990's Japanese wrestling will remember the belt being given to the winner of the 1994 Super J Cup tournament. The belt even featured into advertising for the event.

In the centerfold we have the "passing of the torch" that the WWWF so desperately wanted at the time, a handshake meeting between Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund. While Backlund undoubtedly carved out his own legacy in wrestling and as WWWF Champion, he never filled the boots of "The Living Legend." Looking back in hindsight, both men stand side by side for their contributions to the WWWF and the industry itself just as they do pictured here.

High Chief Peter Maivia makes his return to Wrestling Action, this time
in a very different position than back in the debut issue. Maivia is now a rule breaker managed by Fred Blassie. The High Chief is shown, donning his villainous mustache, squeezing the life out of foes such as Bob Backlund and Chief Jay Strongbow. Heels also dominate the next few pages when Albano and The Valiant Brothers receive their own article touting their recent WWWF return.

It's here that we see photos that were used as inspiration for the drawings on the cover. Zbyszko and Garea's cover poses can also be found as photos inside of this issue. As we've seen by now, virtually all of the cover drawing reference pictures are inside the Wrestling Action issues themselves. Also here is a great shot of Jimmy Valiant perusing the debut issue of Wrestling Action in what looks to be a hotel room. Today's wrestlers return to the hotel to play video games. In the '70s, they retired to their rooms with a copy of Wrestling Action. No alcohol or debauchery whatsoever in either generation.

The fourth issue of Wrestling Action ends with a look at more of the villains of the day. Ernie Ladd gets a two-page spread featuring some great color photos and a vow to finish off Dusty Rhodes, or "The Pillsbury Dough Boy" at he calls him, once and for all. The evil members of the stable of "Hollywood Fashion Plate" Fred Blassie are also shown, including Maivia, Victor Rivera, and Spiros Arion. We finish with a brief look at "Brower Power," the return of classic brawler Dick "The Bulldog" Brower.

You could argue that this issue was the showcase of the heels. Bob Backlund saw his least coverage yet in the Wrestling Action run. Instead the focus was on many of his challengers and their devious plans to wrest the WWWF Championship away from "The All-American Boy." In the fifth and final issue we will see wrestling history right on the cover in several different instances. While Wrestling Action does not escape the 1970's, the issue is going to be all about looking forward to the 1980's. We end the five-part Wrestling Action series next week here on the blog. Don't miss it.


JoAnn Spinelli said...

Hi I know this is off topic but I have all five of these magazines in absolute mint condition and I was wondering if you could tell me what the value of this might be

J\/\/ said...

Depends on the demand at the time. I've seen them go high, other times not so much.