Wednesday, 13 August 2014

From the loft: WWF Raw Magazine - March/April 1997

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE - MARCH/APRIL 1997 COVER ft. GOLDDUST AND MARLENA
Want Golddust and Marlena covered in gold paint and posing in a bizarre photo shoot? How about a fantasy dream match between WWE legends 'Wildman' Marc Mero and Flash Funk? Or how about a war of words between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Shawn Michaels over six months before Montreal? It's all here in WWF Raw Magazine, For the Mature Fan!

I'm getting ready to move house soon, and had to clear out my loft of all my old wrestling junk. Before I threw away most of my worn-out, well-thumbed wrestling mags, I thought it might be nice to take one last look through their pages and share what I find with you.

Let's start here, with the March/April 1997 edition of the World Wrestling Federation's WWF RAW magazine. 

What was WWF Raw Magazine?

For those who weren't around, or just simply forgot about this gem of a publication, RAW magazine, was the WWF's attempt at providing a more adult version of their kid-friendly WWF Magazine.
It regularly contained pin-ups and centerfolds of the Divas of the Day (namely Sunny, Sable and this issue's co-cover-star, Marlena) along with features that focused on stars older audiences would remember from their youth and a tone much more befitting the new 'grown-up' phase of the WWF. You know, the one they would eventually call The Attitude Era.

I only remember it being around for a few years, though history tells me it was probably a lot longer. 

Anyway, with that out of the way, let's take a look at what's inside, shall we?

WWF Raw Magazine - March/April 1997

Remember those awesome World Wrestling Federation comic books featuring superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker doing battle in all kinds of otherworldly...erm...worlds?

Nah, me neither.

Though I do remember them being promoted heavily in WWF publications like this one. Thus, throughout this Raw magazine, we got comic-book like renderings of Stone Cold, Mankind and other stars, promising that something big was going to happen.

This Austin ad was on our inside cover, right next to the contents page with half of it cut out when your writer, at 13 years-old, decided to make a wrestling scrapbook.


The Informer

The Informer column, a kind of backstage gossip, rumour-mongering piece came next. In this edition, we found out that Hunter Hearst Helmsley may or may not have a new bodyguard, that Stone Cold apparently got in a backstage fight with Crush, and that Mankind still thought Sable was his mother. 

Don't believe me? Here's what it says:

'Remember the bizarre Mankind-Goldust-Sable "MOMMY" incident from a few months back? You know, the one where Goldust convinced Mankind that the leggy Sable was his mommy. Well, whereas it indeed turned out to be yet another mind game concocted by the masterful movie man, one source recently told me that Mankind...may still believe it!!!
       BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
That same source went on to also inform me, the Informer, that as you read this, Paul Bearer may be brewing a devious plan to deliver...MOMMY BACK TO HER SON!!! Stay tuned to this one-Same BATTY time, same BATTY channel!!!'

Honestly, here in 2014, I remember absolutely NOTHING about this. Any readers shed some light on what happened? Moving swiftly on....

Sycho Killer?

WWE - WWF Raw Magazine - March/April 1997 - Letters to the editor ft. Sycho Sid
Next up, we're treated to some fan letters, including praise for past WWF announcers like Sean Mooney, Craig DeGeorge and Lord Alfred Hayes from some guy with the e-mail HEADJUG@aol.com (I'm not making that up.)

We also had a rather irate letter from a James Padilla of Austin, Texas, who claimed that WWF Champion Sycho Sid was an ATTEMPTED MURDERER for his attack on Jose Lothario at Survivor Series 1996. Mr. Padilla couldn't believe that WWF fans would cheer for such an absolute bastard. 

The response from Raw magazine's New York based editor, Vince Russo? 'Without a doubt, New Yorkers are THE most interesting fans in the world!'

World Wrestling Federation's Official Rankings

When this rag went to print, Sid was our WWF Champion and a pre-DX Triple H held the Intercontinental Championship. Beneath them, Raw Magazine's esteemed staff saw fit to outline who they thought were the Top 10 contenders to each title. 

Shawn Michaels was deemed number one contender to the Sid's belt, while Goldust was poised as the main challenger to Hunter's. 

What this writer fails to understand, is is how Ahmed Johnson can be the third-ranked Intercontinental contender, with Farooq behind him at number four, and yet in the WWF title ranks, Farooq is place sixth and Johnson languishes in the number 10 spot.

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: WWF Rankings

I was about to tie myself in knots trying to figure that out, but then I remembered that this is the same company that made Harvey Wippleman, and quickly turned the page instead.

Oh, and I should point out that this same ranking system also placed Jerry 'The King' Lawler as eighth in line for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.

Moving swiftly on then.

The Superfly's Last Hurrah!

A couple of short features follow, profiling Stone Cold Steve Austin's destructive streak, The Undertaker reinventing himself for the 21st Century, and the first episode of Shotgun Saturday Night, the WWF's first attempt at capitalizing on the success of ECW by promoting adult-oriented shows in a New York nightclub.


WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Jimmy Snuka's last hoorah!


I'd go into details about these, but back in 1997, I had no idea I'd be writing a blog about this magazine 17 years later, and cut out half the contents for my scrapbook. Instead then, let's look at this feature from Keith Elliot Greenberg, looking at the caeer of Super Fly Jimmy Snuka, his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 1996, and his return to the ring, the following night, at the WWF Survivor Series '96. There, Snuka teamed with such luminaries as Flash Funk, Savio Vega, and former WWF Champion Yokozuna to take on the mismatch team of Vader, Farooq and Fake Diesel and Razor Ramon

To be honest, I'd totally forgotten about that match, and probably for good reason. 

All the same, this was a nice, sentimental piece paying tribute to an all time favourite. 

Who's worse? A Sycho or a Madman?

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Mankind rips Sid's face off!
Up next, we got a nice little Raw Exclusive Photo of Mankind trying to rip Sid's face off, apparently taken at a recent 'Federation live event'. 

I may be alone in this one, but I think I would have enjoyed the insane verbal duels that would have resulted from some kind of feud between these two. 

'You may be twice the lunatic that I am, but I am only half the man that you are!'

I know he was the WWF Champion at the time and everything, but there sure is an awful lot of Sid in this magazine.

Still, I suppose it's better than the amount of freaky Goldust pictures, which we're about to see next. 

Goldust and Marlena - A Love Story for the Ages

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Goldust and Marlena poster
As we discussed earlier, most WWF Raw magazines included centerfolds featuring bikini-clad divas like Sunny and Sable. Not this edition. Instead, we get lots of weird pictures of Goldust and Marlena, wearing nothing but thongs and gold body paint and erm, well, I'm not even sure what they're supposed to be doing here.

Rather than trying to figure it out, I'll just get on and show you the pictures, but before I do, I just want to point that the pic where The Artist Formerly Known as The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust seems to have the world's longest legs (and biggest feet to boot), that's more the angle I snapped the pic at than anything else. 

I'd try and take another one, but Goldy Long Legs amuses me far too much.


WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Goldust and MarlenaWWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Goldust and Marlena WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Goldust and Marlena
WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Goldust and Marlena


WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Goldust and Marlena

 When you've sufficiently recovered from whatever the hell it is we all just went through together, let me know and I'll turn the page. 

Bret vs. Shawn
"I tried to say I love you, but the words got in the way"

Here we have a simple war of words between arch-rivals Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. This was prior to Bret's full-on heel turn around Wrestlemania 13, but even still he comes across as a bit of a self-righteous ass.

'I really don't like his [HBK's] message and I never did,' says Bret.

'I don't consider it my job to send 'messages' to anybody. What I do is go out and work hard' replies Shawn.

'I didn't like Shawn pulling his pants down at the Royal Rumble,' bemoans Bret.
'I do what I feel like doing because I'm having fun. Bret doesn't have fun, he goes out there stone-faced, beats everybody up and then wants to go home,' Shawn insists.

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Bret vs. Shawn war of words


And on they go, Bret says Shawn is a terrible role model, Shawn says he doesn't want to be a role model at all. Bret says the WWF has started to abandon kids by presenting HBK as their top star, Michaels responds that viewing figures among 5-14 year-olds were the highest they'd been in over ten years with him on top. 

A lot of back and forth bitching, basically, all heading, many months down the line, to Montreal. 

Vote on the 1997 Slammy Awards

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Slammy Award voting
Thought the Slammy Awards were just another gimmick? Think again, buddy! These things are the real deal, and to prove it, we're next asked to vote on some of our favourite superstars and matches from 1996.

I like the fact that the Slammy for 'best finishing maneuver' is called 1,2, He's Got him! and like to think that, in true Vince McMahon fashion, all the runners up in that category get their own No, he didn't! prize.

I also like the idea that the famously-bald Stone Cold Steve Austin is the first name to choose from in the 'best hair day' category, and that any match involving Savio Vega could be in the running for match of the year.

To be fair, it was his Caribbean Strap Match against Austin at In Your House.

What's next then?

Jose Hospitalized!

As eluded to earlier in our letters page, that evil bastard Sycho Sid beat up Shawn Michael's manager Jose Lothario at Survivor Series and put the aging manager in hospital. 

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Adrian Adonis profile

For the morbidly curious among us, Raw Magazine were kind us to give us some exclusive pictures of the incident, which I'd show you if I thought they were actually any good.

They're not.

After the image above, we got three or four pics of HBK, EMTs and WWF officials crowding round Mr. Lothario, along with a blow-by-blow recap of what happened. 

Interesting.

Yo, do you remember Adrian Adonis?

Why, of course you do! He had that absolutely awful match against Uncle Elmer at Wrestlemania 2! What, you mean you purposfuly blocked any such thing from your mind? Well don't worry, because Raw Magazine have got a full overfiew of the Adorable One's career, so that new fans can remember the wrestler Keith Elliot Greenberg calls 'As street-wise as Savio Vega, as gifted as Owen Hart, and as flamboyant as Goldust.'

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Adrian Adonis profile

Quite.

The Night the Belt Changed Hands

More retro ramblings come next courtesy of Bill Banks and his look back at the night The Honky Tonk Man started his infamous Intercontinental Championship run by dethroning Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: The night Honky Tonk Man beat Ricky Steamboat 1


After a quick discussion about what a cheating little weasel Honky was, and how he didn't really deserve a title shot, Banks proceeds to go through all the action that led to the Elvis impersonator's victory on June 2nd, 1987.

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: The night Honky Tonk Man beat Ricky Steamboat 2

Fantasy Warfare: 'Wildman' Marc Mero vs. Flash Funk

Wow, talk about a dream match!

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Marc Mero vs. Flash Funk Fantasy Warfare
Ever wanted to know who would win between the former Johnny B. Badd and the former Too Cold Scorpio? Nope, me neither, but Bill Banks apparently thought we did.

Not only that, but before we get down to the details, Banks suggests that Mero/Funk would be up there as a five-star classic along the lines of Bret and Shawn's Wrestlemania 12 Iron Man match. 

Seriously. 

The best part of all this is that we never actually get to find out who Banks thought would win such an epic battle for the ages.

Rather, we got a look at each men's strengths, weaknesses and key victories, namely an IC title tournament win over Farooq for the Wildman, and a debut win in the aforementioned Survivor Series match, which actually ended up in a double DQ. 

'Til next time!

WWE - WWF RAW MAGAZINE 1997: Coliseum Home Video ad
And that was just about all Vince Russo and his crew had for us in this edition, apart from this ad for the latest Coliseum Home Video releases. I've got to to admit that the 1996 Year in Review cassette, which apparently featured The Hitman in matches against HBK, Diesel and Undertaker, along with Michaels vs. Mankind, does seem like it would have been worth a watch.

So, what am I going to do with this cut-up, tatty old mag now? Probably throw it away. There's so many bits and pieces missing thanks my younger-self's tendency to cut everything up, that it really isn't worth anything to anybody. The Goldust/Marlena pics are still in good condition though, so who knows, I may hold on to them.

I've got a bunch more magazines like this one that I plan on posting here before I get rid of them, so do stay tuned!

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.