This column will normally appear on the weekends, but since I will be away this weekend and could not upload it, I figured that I would just post it today.
The first magazine drawn is the October 1999 issue of WWF Magazine. This was during the time when Vince Russo was still editing the publication and this was one of his last projects for the company. Our cover wrestler for this month was Hardcore Holly, in the midst of his Super Heavyweight gimmick:
This cover was pretty unique because it is the only one that I can recall that actually folds out for another page. This may also be the only time that Viscera was ever on the cover of the magazine. The magazine concept is also flawed in real life, as Kane is actually about 6’7”, as is the Undertaker, and the Big Show is really about 6’10.” This cover makes it seem like all three men are 7’ and over. I am not sure of Viscera’s legit height. Obsessed with Wrestling tells me he’s 6’6”, but he’s destroying that barrier on the cover.
The letters to the editor section is what leads off the magazine and, as can be expected, it is full of laughs. First, Jessie Bowman of Lebanon Junction, Kentucky demands that Mick Foley get his own section in the magazine and that she is just going to renew her subscription just to see more! “Steve” from Minneapolis complains about Billy Gunn’s attitude, but not his push, so he is barking up the wrong tree. Lauren Danek, location unknown, is mad because the magazine did not feature Val Venis and the Godfather as future tag team champions in its August issue. One fan, a guy named Dann Cunningham, challenges an August article that claimed that Prince Albert – the future Tensai – has a Bachelor’s degree. WWF Magazine does its own form of a burn by picturing Albert with his diploma:
Albert proceeds to let Mr. Cunningham know that his “picture speaks louder than words” and reminds him that “If you can grab it, pierce it!” Wiser words have never been spoken. A female fan criticizes an August article about women in business since the article implied that women need to use their sexuality to get ahead. The response given is that Debra uses sexual charms to her advantage and “If your boss-to-be [in an interview] screams ‘We want PUPPIES!’ – you know that Debra got to him first!” Seriously? What boss does that in an interview? Probably this guy:
By the way, how much was WWF Magazine during this time? Well, according to a subscription card that I still had in the magazine, you could get two years of it for $35 and one year for $19.97.
One of my favorite parts of the magazine was the “Rookies to Legends” section, which usually broke down a new act. Very few of the acts profiled became legends, such as our profiled stars this month: The Mean Street Posse.
You know, Shane McMahon’s buddies from the “mean streets” of Greenwich – Rodney, Pete Gas, and Joey Abs. The article tells us that they helped Shane McMahon beat down punks in the streets and in the classroom. It then chronicles their federation exploits and you can clearly tell this was during the Russo era as they were kicked out of the company after losing to Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco and yet e-emerged when Shane took control of the company “for a short time.” These guys never quite lived up to the hype, as they were supposed to bring their “money, power, and brute force” to bear in the WWF.
During this time, WWF Magazine was also rotating Vic Venom’s “The Bite” column out to a guest superstar. Venom was Vince Russo’s alter ego and was his impression of Dave Meltzer within the pages of the magazine. Our guest this month is Stephanie McMahon, who recounts her troubled relationship with Shane. She tells us of Shane ripping up her stuffed animals – one of which was a stuffed giant pink animal named Big Dog – how he called her a slut when she wore makeup at school, and how he sent the Mean Street Posse after her when she went to a party. Unfortunately, we do not get any stories of Shane mixing it up with Randy Savage. But beyond that, we get a photograph that you will not be seeing on the WWE Network anytime soon!
As Scott conducts the David Crockett Memorial Tag Team Tournament, the next major piece is fitting as we get a profile of the Undertaker-Big Show tag team. Their name? The Brothers Grim. Yes, that is the name writer Bill Banks assigns to this team. At least they are better than the Grimm Twins, the repackaged Blu Twins that graced our screen in 1996!
We are informed that Kane is a target of the so-called Brothers Grim because “he cost the Big Show his destiny as the 1999 King of the Ring.” So before Alberto del Rio was proclaiming his long last search of destiny, reminiscent of Ponce de Leon’s quest for the Fountain of Youth, the Big Show was complaining about his. It predicts that the Undertaker will eventually turn on Big Show to become WWF champion yet again, a puzzling conclusion when the Big Show had already turned three times in 1999 up to this point. Of course, Mr. Banks hedges his bets by saying that Big Show may one day challenge the Undertaker for the title, a match that would have sent posters here running for the ticket offices immediately!
One of our feature articles this month is on Chyna’s relationship with Triple H. This magazine is the gift that keeps on giving. This article will probably never see the light of day out of Titan Towers ever again as it blatantly states that “Without her [Chyna’s] support Triple H might have failed in his bid to earn a top spot in the business.” According to Banks, the Chyna-Triple H relationship is much like another political power couple:
Great parallel, that is if Bill, after he cheated on Hillary, tossed her to the curb and Hillary went into the adult film industry. On second thought, let’s not think about that. More hilarity ensues in the article as it questions whether Triple H could “swallow his pride” and give Chyna credit for helping him win the title. Even more, it asks “If Triple H were to monopolize the spotlight and keep all the glory for himself, how would his female counterpart react?” Shoot comments…
We even get a photograph of Teddy Long, serving as a referee at the time, pleading in vain with Shane McMahon to book a tag team match!
Does anyone remember these toys? I never owned one of these because I did not get the appeal. Who wants action figures that sweat? Maybe Vince will reintroduce this idea based on Big E’s alleged sweating problem:
The next piece, entitled “The Christian Spirit,” describes Christian’s career with the Brood up to this point. It heralds Christian as the spiritual force behind the group, while Edge is the intellectual and Gangrel is the physical. It says his spirituality reflects a higher being who does not have a name and posits that he might heal the recent rift between Edge and Gangrel that split the Brood apart. However, it says that his negotiating position might be compromised because – get this – Christian has become a sex symbol and Gangrel is jealous! The piece becomes quasi-homoerotic in stating that “There is nothing sexier, more desirous, more compellingly delicious than a man of mystery.”
Or one could say that nothing is sexier than this month’s pin up calendar. I remember my mother prohibiting these in the house:
The feature piece of the month is about “Big Shot” Hardcore Holly’s cult following among WWF fans, especially those of the Internet variety. You see, these fans have been campaigning for him on wwf.com, but this is awful because it is forcing Holly to take unnecessary risks! Everything in this magazine has some kind of parallel, so this one says that he is going to end up like Napoleon at Waterloo, who was too confident in his abilities and lost everything. Shockingly, they even reference Holly’s prior gimmick as a stock car driver. Holly also had a quasi-partnership with the Big Show during this period that I do not remember very much. This is the most rationally written piece yet in the article, probably because it came from Kevin Kelly. And who knew these articles could be educational? Waterloo?
Next, we get the results from Fully Loaded 1999. WWF Magazine was always late with the pay-per-view results, typically by two months, so you have a magazine from October giving a summary of events that took place from a pay-per-view that is a distant memory by this point. The pay-per-view recaps used to be my favorite feature, but over time the writing staff put little effort into talking about the play-by-play of a match. For example:
Back in 1995, the magazine would have given a page of coverage for each of these matches. Instead, we get a mere two paragraphs about the Edge-Jeff Jarrett Intercontinental title match and the “Acolytes Rules Match” between the Hardy Boyz, the reigning champions at the time, and Michael Hayes and the Acolytes.
This month’s “Private Eye” feature, which followed a WWF superstar outside of the ring, covers Steve Austin’s weekends with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. Austin threw out the first pitch in a Subway Series Game between the Yankees and the Mets in July. Evidently, Austin was a good luck charm as three teams he threw the opening pitch for that year – the Phillies, Mets, and Royals – all won their respective home games. The article credits Austin with giving some pointers to Mets pinch hitter Matt Franco, who drove in the winning run in a “dramatic” 9-8 victory.
My other favorite column was always “The Informer,” which provided gossip, rumors, and legitimate backstage news about the company. This month’s section includes Paul Bearer in makeup and a wig, a legitimately horrifying sight:
The article blasts Internet fans for saying that Billy Gunn was not main event material after winning the King of the Ring. It promises that Gunn will prove “BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT that he is a main event man.” Sadly, this is where the lag time between the magazine and reality worked against the Informer, as Gunn had been promptly and soundly dispatched by the Rock when this issue hit newsstands. And why is Paul Bearer in a wig? Well, evidently the Godfather taught he and Prince Albert all about being a ho and how “pimpin’ ain’t easy!”
The magazine ends with fans writing their favorite superstars and asking them questions. Road Dogg says that his toughest opponent is an attorney, because you see he and X-Pac were in an angle in the summer of 1999 where they fought Chyna, Triple H, and Billy Gunn over the rights to the D-Generation X name. A feud about trademarks! The Rock makes fun of a fan named Terrence before telling him that he will not waste his time disclosing where he buys his clothes because Terrence cannot afford them. The Rock recommends that Terrence “Stick to the Fruit of the Looms and work your way up…!” And lastly, Christian rebuffs a fan request to divulge his idea of a perfect woman with a bunch of cryptic language that makes little sense. For example, he says that in his “world ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are both four-letter words that cause pain…They only serve to feed the inner demons that consume [him].” Deep stuff.
And so ends the October 1999 issue of WWF magazine. The next magazine drawn from the box is the first issue I ever owned: the June 1995 edition of WWF magazine. Inside are the recap of WrestleMania XI, the reunited partnership of Diesel and Shawn Michaels, and some whacky 1995 goodness!