INDUCTION SPECIAL: Can A 1995 Wrestling Magazine Tell Us How to Fix Today’s WWE?

30 Submitted by on Thu, 01 July 2021, 20:00

Pro Wrestling Illustrated –  July 1995

If you’ve been ’round these parts of any length of time, you are familiar with my utter love for ancient wrestling magazines.  I still have stacks and stacks of them in my closet that I peruse…at least from time to time.  But when I was in my late teens/college years? I lived (not loved, but lived) to go to the drug story or grocery just to hit the magazine rack and see if the latest PWIInside Wrestling, or The Wrestler had hit the shelves. 

And yes, you did read that right.  When I was in COLLEGE, I wasn’t going to parties, drinking beer, or chasing girls – I was going to the local food mart to BUY WRESTLING MAGAZINES.

What can I say?  Me being a total nerd is nothing new.

To that end, when I was booked for Starrcast, do you know who I was most excited to meet?  It probably wasn’t any of the folks you might expect.  No, it was THIS MAN:

BILL FREAKING APTER!  

The man behind the legendary “Apter Mags”, although he’d be the first person to tell you (repeatedly, I should note) that he did not own the magazines but was merely a writer/photographer for them.  Didn’t matter.  He was my hero in so many ways and I was thrilled to get to sit and talk with him for hours.  They always say don’t meet your heroes, but I’m glad I never paid any attention to that supposed wisdom.  Bill is an awesome guy and someone I am honored to call my friend.

But hey, enough of kissing his tail.  Let’s get back to the subject at hand, those incredible magazines.  Now if you weren’t around at that time, you really can’t comprehend what they meant not only to me but hardcore wrestling fans in general.  When I first started devouring these gems in the late 80’s, there was no internet from which to get the latest insight on what was happening in our favorite sport, and honestly, even the onslaught of wrestling hotlines were still years away.  The only wrestling you could get were syndicated shows, the WWF and the NWA on cable, and…well, honestly, not much else.  

And that wasn’t anywhere near enough for me.  And I am guessing for many of you reading this right now either.

The wrestling magazines helped cover that need.  They’d have tons of photos, ‘interviews’, rankings, match results, and columnists who wound up feeling like old friends after a while.  Maybe you liked Bill, maybe Stu Saks was your guy (and I was thrilled to sit right next to him at the first ever Double or Nothing too!), or perhaps you were a heel and Eddie Ellner was your jam.  

These magazines were comfort food for wrestling fans.

Of course, they also had tons of feature articles too.  Sometimes they’d detail a feud and debate who would finally win the battle, or they might go behind the scenes and fill us in on a nefarious plot a villain had in store for his foe.  It was pretty much the Wild West and there were no real rules – the guys at the magazines pretty much just wrote about anything they thought would be interesting.

It wasn’t every issue, but often they’d do an overview of a wrestling promotion itself.  Which brings us to a little article from the 1995 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated:

While I’m sure some of you are hoping for me to dive into why precisely Hulk Hogan “can’t take it anymore” (or maybe you freaks want to download that full color centerfold of Bam Bam Bigelow, who knows), we are going to instead focus on what is in small type at the very top of this periodical, namely this story:

Wait, you mean to tell me that Vince’s company needed help even back then?  

How could that possibly be?  

What could have been wrong with it?

Yes kids, your current WWE being kinda boring is nothing new.  I know that’s hard to believe, but seriously, this company going into snooze mode is something that has happened repeatedly ever since I can remember.  Let’s see what the issues were back then and how they compare with today.

One of the first things brought up is that perhaps the company should limit the number of rematches it presents.  In the photo above, we see Owen Hart taking on his brother Bret.  Today most people would gush over the matches the two had…and trust me, I would as well, as I am one of the biggest Bret/Owen fans there is.

With that said, I have to tell you…that was a feud that never, ever seemed to end.  And by the time I’d seen the two battling for what seemed like the better part of my life, I was ready to see something – anything – else.  

Keep in mind, that was back in 1995.  Fast forward 26 years and what does WWE give us?  How about Big E vs. Apollo Creed fourteen times?  Let me clarify a bit.  

That’s not fourteen times ever.

IT’S FOURTEEN TIMES THIS YEAR.

A year, as I write this, that isn’t even HALF OVER!

And I’m pretty sure they didn’t start this never ending battle until like March!

I don’t even want to go back and see how many times other wrestlers and tag teams have been stuck in their own never-ending stories.  You all can probably rattle them off even better than I.  

Suffice to say this whole thing is nothing new as this article proves.

To their credit, while the WWF ignored this advice in the mid 90’s, they did in fact try to do this with the Mae Young Classic.  And good for them!  Those tournaments were a lot of fun and gave women a chance to shine in the world’s largest company.  

But what, pray tell, happened to the most recent victor in one of these tourneys? Her name is Toni Storm, and despite being incredibly talented, she is stuck seemingly forever in NXT purgatory.

Yeah, I’d be ticked too, kid.

Seriously, you have THIS and what do we get instead?  Alexa Bliss hypnotizing people and ten thousand Natalya-Tamina vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke matches.

So let’s see, repeating matches? Check.

Women not being utilized properly? Ah yup.

Let’s see, what else could there be…how about stupid tag teams?

By golly, look at that.  And I am not lying when I tell you I have no clue who the current Raw or Smackdown tag champs are.  I would have to go look, but I can almost assure you they are not life long partners like we see elsewhere in the world.  As I recall, I THINK it’s AJ Styles and Omos on one brand and just like it says above, that’s just two guys that were single wrestlers and honestly probably better off apart. 

No idea who Smackdown champs are.  I’d go look, but honestly I just don’t care that much.

And obviously, the writer of this article felt the same!

Let’s talk the biggest bane of my existence..the thing that really, truly makes it impossible for me to watch current day WWE for any extended period. That would have to be the announcing.  I HATE the weird language the announcing crew is forced to use.  It just completely pulls me out of the action, action I should note which a LOT of times is fantastic.  I know I cannot be the only one, and what’s completely absurd is that, again, this is NOTHING NEW as this magazine clearly shows.

You see, it was during the period this article was penned that a man named Joey Styles was in ECW and let me tell you, he was GREAT.  He brought excitement to a show and didn’t sound like everyone else.  He was unique, and it just makes sense that PWI was championing him to come into the company and save the day.

The funny thing was Styles would eventually come to WWE…and he was sapped of anything that made him awesome to the point that he more or less just quit.

And finally, let’s look at the one thing that I COULD see Vince doing…churning that nostalgia crank one more time, as that seems to be the only thing that gets anyone interested in the current product.  It was no different in 95 than it is today.

So yeah, there you have it kids.  Further proof that today’s WWE is really no different than the dark ages of the dumpster fire of the mid 90’s.

After all, if you can’t trust twenty five year old wrestling mags, who can you trust?


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30 Responses to "INDUCTION SPECIAL: Can A 1995 Wrestling Magazine Tell Us How to Fix Today’s WWE?"
  1. Rose Harmon says:

    1995 is a fascinating time. How did they ever get out of that blah period into what it became within two years?

    • Johnathan Barnes says:

      They were forced out, kicking and screaming, that’s how.

      The idiotic company that barely did anything right down south struck gold with an invasion angle that captivated audiences (as well as providing quality TV, even if Nitro was still The Hogan Show), and suddenly Vince couldn’t just shove Shawn Michaels in people’s faces anymore as the only reason to tune in.

    • Vulpius says:

      They got blessed with one of the greatest superstars of all time because Bischoff thought he couldn’t draw.

  2. Johnathan Barnes says:

    The funny thing about “bringing back Ric Flair” was that in 1994, the WWF ran a series of ads about “the New Generation” depicting “the Old” as hapless, outdated, and unwanted for the modern audience while “the New” was vibrant, dynamic, and just what the fans of today were wanting. The argument was that fans weren’t interested in older wrestlers from the past because they were old, and in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “old people are useless”… and one of the major storylines of ’94 involved the return of 47-year old Nikolai Volkoff (The Somebody Bought This mascot), which was the genesis of one of the most useless stables in WWE history; the Million Dollar Corporation. Not to mention, the 1994 King of the Ring was main evented by two 40 somethings at a time where Vince McMahon, who himself was way over 40, believed that going past 40 meant you deserved to be taken out back and put out of your misery for a long, long time.

    Obviously, “The Death of WCW” has a tangent describing how a chronological age shouldn’t dictate where you stand in a wrestling promotion. Today, 40 is the new 30, and we are seeing wrestlers in their 50s still going strong, even if we can agree it’s thanks to improvements in diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits compared to the partying and chugging Pabst Blue Ribbon & beef jerky way of living back when most of us were young fans. Going back to the book, let’s look at how in 1996 and 1997, WCW dominated with a main event scene of guys in their 40s and even early 50s, but two years later, people were effectively running away from WCW in terror at the thought of going to Nitro because it was the same guys on top. Meanwhile, most of the WWF’s top guys were in their early 30s when they took control of the wrestling scene in 1998, and by 2000, not only had what made them successful, but most of WCW’s appeal. Three years later, as mentioned in the book, and long after WWE acquired both WCW & ECW, WWE was losing both audience members and TV ratings. While they had, for the most part, the same top guys from 2000 and even brought in most of the big names from WCW as well, nothing had changed from a presentation standpoint. The wrestlers only got three years older and by & large were still having good to great showings, but you can’t have the same shtick. I know I’m rambling a bit, and the conclusion to the thesis statement was regarding “TV Age” (how many times people are presented before the audience gets tired of them), yet when you think about how desperate a lot of the so-called “Ruthless Aggression” era was with shock value like anything with Torrie Wilson, HLA, Billy & Chuck getting married, the Katie Vick storyline, it sort of mirrors the “New Generation” where the company trotted out failed gimmick after failed gimmick that, while it wasn’t the Gooker that spawned the website, gave you an embarrassment of riches to look back upon. In both cases, it’s the company trying to vicariously live through glory days, unwilling to accept that those days are long gone, and it’s best to dust yourself off and peek your head out the insular world of pro wrestling for just a moment.

  3. Sean Bateman says:

    Mr. Apter is a global treasure

  4. #OPC says:

    I feel like you could only recall AJ Styles as tag champ was because his surname popped up below with Joey Styles.

  5. Mr Boing says:

    One way to fix wrestling is to have the women’s wrestlers fight bare legged
    And without that ridiculous fishnet they must seemingly wear, Toni Storms
    Legs are way to flawless to be wearing them

  6. Andrew says:

    You sure that’s not a photo of TONY Storm? Yeesh.

  7. Alex says:

    Well most of these could apply to AEW too which is stil waiting for its first induction two and a half years into its creation!

    • Johnathan Barnes says:

      Revolution 2021’s explosion is going to be a strong Gooker contender, and I can sure tell you people will not look back at the Librarians fondly especially now that Peter Avalon has crafted his band of misfits that actually are getting over with the audience.

      Creating a bad gimmick on purpose via online show is still a bad gimmick.

    • RRA says:

      Maybe the site is afraid of enraging that AEW fanbase? They’re the same bunch who gave Jim Ross death threats for that “WWE Dynamite” slip-up, gave him hell on Twitter for picking Orton as the best wrestler in the world instead of some guy who’s name rhymes with Lenny Ortega.

      I mean, who can blame them? (The site, not those knucklehead fans.)

    • James Austin says:

      Well, I dunno about the “endless rematches” thing (I think that they rotate their guys just enough) or the tag teams issue (they have more tag teams than one can shake a stick at; thank the Bucks for that, I guess. The quality of each one is an entirely different issue, though) but the women’s issue… oh dear that is so true (remember that women’s tag team tournament? I barely do).

      Oh, and that “Matt Hardy concussion” thing HAS to get inducted, some day.

      P. S. “Lenny Ortega”. Heh. It’s much funnier that “Kenny Oliver”, “Tweedledee” or whatever the hell ”that guy” calls him.

  8. Larry says:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    The sad thing is that WWE actually DID address all these during the Attitude era. You had rotating main eventers like Stone Cold, Rock, HHH, Mankind, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Undertaker. The Women’s Division, while admittedly eye candy, did have legitimate wrestlers like Trish, Lita, Jacqueline & Molly and were prominently featured along Stacy Kiebler & Torrie Wilson. The tag team division had the Hardys, Edge & Christian, the Dudleys & Bob & Crash Holly, among others – mainly long time duos. Then the announcers – gool ol’ JR & the King were as good as it gets. It’s sad that they reverted back to the boring, uninteresting, nameless product today.

    • Wally Kovacs says:

      Ironically enough, injuries actually helped the WWF in a lot of ways.
      Shawn’s back going out put pressure on to not just pull the trigger on Austin, but also to build new main eventers for him to face. Austin’s neck meant that they had to build not just Rock, but guys like Mankind and later HHH as well.

      In addition to the nWo on their necks, and everything else, the fact that their main eventers needed time off on occasion, for injury or movies, etc, forced them to build up a large enough group of them to juggle things around.

  9. Michael Weyer says:

    “Bring back Ric Flair.”

    This entry brought to you by special guest contributor Dave Meltzer.

  10. jey says:

    Man, what a nostalgia trip just those covers are. I had a particular love for the fantasy matches (complete with backstory!) in Wrestling Superstars.

  11. Chris says:

    Geez, saying that “WWE today is no different than WWF at its lowest point in history” doesn’t seem like a positive way to spin the current malaise being felt towards wrestling!
    At least there’s no Mantaur…

    Well, I can certainly get behind PWI’s final point.
    Bringing back Ric Flair to wrestle right now would definitely increase fan interest.

    I was very fond of the “Apter mags” when I discovered them.
    I had grown out of them by high school, but I used to love going to the local drug store every month to (hopefully) pick up Pro Wrestling Illustrated (as that one was easily my favourite).

    I remember one magazine that my cousin and I had lots of fun laughing about, which was a column attacking Hulk Hogan. It was one of the columnists who solely praised heels.
    I think it was an issue from 1990.
    We had both grown out of the Hulkamania phase and were more interested in Flair (me) or Macho Man (him).
    The columnist had changed the lyrics to “Real American”.
    It had a line something like, “Fight for the money of Vince McMahon” (in place of “fight for the rights of every man”). I wish I could remember more of the lyrics.
    We thought it was so scathing.

  12. Rob aka Mediancat says:

    Hey, I’d’ve loved to see Big E face Apollo Creed 14 times.

    Then bring in Clubber Lang and have him face Kevin Owens.

    Rocky, of course. has already done his time facing a wrestler.

  13. Gresley says:

    What were the other five points?

  14. mfm420 says:

    and now in 2021, WWE seems to stand for “What’s Wrong? Everything!!!!”.

    well, outside of conning tv people who should really know better out of 3 billion dollars (but at this point, if the numbers keep dropping, there won’t be a second golden parachute).

  15. Chris says:

    If you’re curious, the current SD tag team champs are Rey and Dominik Mysterious

  16. Erich says:

    Man, it’s eerie how the Apter mags were so prescient.

  17. Christopher Haydu says:

    Hey RD, are you going to tell us the other ideas that could revitalize the WWF? How come you started at six? Anyway, Ric Flair should be avoided. He shouldn’t be wrestling at his age. Even if he was brought in as a manager, I don’t think younger fans would respond much. Plus, it goes against what made things so great in the Attitude Era. There were no older guys and nostalgia characters. The Attitude Era put an emphasis on new, younger wrestlers. If WWF hadn’t done that, Austin and Rock would’ve never taken off like they did.

    As for the women, I think WWE gets undeserved credit for the women’s division. Yes, it’s good that there’s lmore women’s wrestling and less sexualized storylines, but the women are still treated as eye candy and the male wrestlers are still the stars primarily marketed to the fans. The one thing that makes it obvious is that there are no really unattractive women in the division. They probably have no chance of making it to television because of how they don’t look. Until this changes, I wouldn’t call the woman’s division equal with the men because it’s not treated seriously as wrestling the way the men’s division is. E#@d##dď$w5⁵⁵⅚u

  18. Mr Forth says:

    The more things stay the same.

  19. Doc 902714 says:

    POINT #11

    GET BETTER BACKSTAGE INTERVIEWERS; (ones that viewers would actually care for). In 95 you had the annoyance of Todd Pettengill and Stephanie Wiannd. In 2021, you have (but you certainly never wanted) Kevin Patrick and……………..who am I kidding? just Kevin Patrick. That o=douche (not a typo) nozzle is so bad he would need to suck to get better. I immediately tuned out from RAW Talk and Main Event mainly because he hosts it.

  20. Gerard says:

    RD are you ready to write the book not the death of tna-impact…but…the death of wwf-wwe?? You go to the wwemarks and say so wwe is looking alot like the titanic and they will flat out deny anything is wrong even though everybody else can plainily see wwe is suffering!! both nbc&fox are mad at wwe because the shows aren’t doing as well as they are supposed!! marks will say”oh wwe is just cutting off a bunch of fat getting rid of wrestlers and divas they don’t want anymore thats all!!” meanwhile rumours are going around that Vince&the family have started whispering this company is suffering and we don’t know howto fix it!! Maybe we should sell it off to the highest bidder?? So yes RD be ready to start writing that book cause wwe is a sinking ship and shes going down fast!!

  21. Mitchell Colburn says:

    I’d pay to see Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke. I would never pay to see Asuka or Io Shirai or generic joshi chick #6,745.

  22. Dan says:

    The problem with building up the woman’s division is they just jeep giving Charlotte every opportunity while burying the rest

    insane number of rematches is an unfortunate consequence of 50/50 booking, no decisive victor for the fued

    Hopefully with live shows returning an not canned noise they can finally start listening to the fans again

  23. Jason Ramirez says:

    Seriously.

    AEW is just bad. WWE is frustratingly boring and bland with not as much objectively bad shit that AEW has.

    The first Moxy-Omega was such a greasy-horror show and they somehow figured to make that shit more laughable in the rematch.

    And to the fans that say, “Take it easy, it’s fake!”, yeah, no shit, genius. That’s such a cop-out for neck-bearded fanboys.

    It’s no secret it’s fake. So are movies. It’s a performance. You don’t see neck-bears throwing shit at the screen because StarWars are fake.

    You’re basically admitting your an idiot and can’t master the Obvious when you use such silly rhetoric to justify stupidity.

    AEW has no stars, ruined could-be-stars and found ways to make terrible WWE wrestlers even worse.

    There’s a reason the WWE gets $2.5 billion for a TV deal while AWE is getting a paltry $25 million and no measureable growth. Just fortunate that Turner is one of the few dinosaurs riding out cable TV and is in need of original programming and the WWE is really that bad.

    To have no AWE inductions by now is reasonably suspect because it’s Russo-TNA levels of bad, objectively.

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