Friday, 17 October 2014

From the loft: WWF Magazine - January 1998

WWF Magazine - January 1998 - Triple H & Shawn Michaels DX cover
What did World Wrestling Federation magazine predict would happen in 1998? Who did they vote as their favourites of 1997? What were the Legion of Dooms secret talents? We found out all that, and more, in the January 1998 edition of WWF magazine.

Due to all sorts of complicated reasons to do with moving house whilst trying to recover from knee surgery, I'm currently separated from my beloved WWF pay per view collection, meaning it may be a week or two before I get any new event reviews up here. That said, I do have access to the old wrestling magazines I dragged out of the loft a few months ago, so let's go back and look at another one of those, shall we?

WWF Raw Magazine - January 1998

Ah yes, remember when DX were so far on the cutting edge of cool that Triple H came to the ring in polo shirts and slacks? Yep, that was the same time when the World Wrestling Federation were so bold that they could vaguely hint at naughty words on the front cover of their magazine by asking things like Where the @#$%! are we going?

Indeed, as 1997 came to an end and 1998 ushered in the height of the Attitude Era, things were all change for the boys and girls of the WWF, and our first magazine of the year promised us a look at just what to expect. 

Let's turn the page and find out what Editor Vince Russo and his chums predicted for the year ahead, shall we?

Choose your cover - Sable or Sunny

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - SUNNY AND SABLE AD
At the same time that this mag came out, the company also published the January 1998 WWF Raw Magazine, featuring Diva blueprints Sable and Sunny as the star attraction.

I covered this edition back in August, but there's no harm taking another peek.

Basically, fans had a choice of two covers, a special centerfold in which Brock's missus and the former Body Donna frolicked and cavorted wearing very little clothing.

We also got a pictorial essay depicting the violent feud between Mick Foley and Triple H, a behind-the-scenes report from the night Brian Pillman passed away, and more love for Jim Cornette than could ever be healthy.

If you want to take a look at that Raw magazine, go here. Otherwise, let's move on.

Talkin' The Talk

We'll skip the contents page -which lists familiar names such as Howard Finkle (Technical Advisor), Kevin Kelly (Managing Editor) and Bill Banks (Staff Writer) among its credits- and instead skip right to our first feature, the letter's page.

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Letter's page



Among this months fan chat, we had Ms. Marcy Olsen from Tyler, Texas bemoaning the lack of wrestler-penned columns in the magazine. In response, our editor tells us that one particular wrestler has been asking for a column, and wanted to call it OBITS. 

Maybe it's just that too much time has gone by now, but I have no idea what that's about.

We also had Shane Kiplinski from Biloxi, Mississipi, who sent a fax (yes, a FAX), who was mad that Kane didn't speak, and a picture of a crybaby Bret Hart (who by this time was working for WCW), courtesy of one Michael Tyback.

Taka Michinoku signs with the World Wrestling Federation

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Taka Michinoku signs with the World Wrestling Federation
In a feature called 'All you need to know: Tales from the Turnbuckle,' we learned about the recent signing of Taka Michinoku.

The man from Japan had already been making sporadic appearances for McMahon's company since the previous summer but now we were told that a long-term deal had been signed, and  that the light heavyweight star was set to move to the USA to pursue the American Dream.

OK, so the shot I took of this page wasn't exactly the best of quality, but basically we're told that Taka managed to overcome the language barriers to say 'Thank you, Mr. McMahon.

We also got a nice shot of Taka with McMahon, Bruce Pritchard and some random guy with a mustache whom this writer fails to recognise. Any hints, folks?

More Tales from the Turnbuckle

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Jarrett shoots, WWF tour dates
Under the same Tales from the Turnbuckle feature, we were reminded of Jeff Jarrett's recent return to McMahonland and, of course, the worked-shoot interview he delivered on Raw. You remember the one, right?

That was the night Jarrett lambasted both Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff, and ripped into Debra McMichael. I wonder how he expained that one when Mongo's ex-wife joined up with him in the WWF later down the line?

Elsewhere, there was also a shot of Sunny and Mosh of The Headbangers at a recent baseball game, and the latest WWF schedule, including house show dates, TV tapings and the Royal Rumble. 


Remembering Brian Pillman and other news

Turning the page, the Tales from the Turnbuckle news pages continued with a piece about the upcoming special edition of World Wrestling Federation magazine paying tribute to the then recently deceased Brian Pillman.

The mag was set to feature a letter from Vince, articles from Jim Ross and Jim Cornette, an interview with Pillman's former Hollywood Blondes partner, Steve Austin and more, with all proceeds going to support the Loose Cannon's widow Melanie and their children. 

On a less sober note, the You Don't Say box claimed that the only person to recognize Sunny in public was Bruce Springsteen.


From rookies to legends: Max Mini

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Max Mini - From Rookies to Legends
Never let it be said that WWE don't have any original ideas. Before the days of Hornswoggle and El Torito, we had Max Mini and a completely different El Torito. 

In this Rookies to Legends feature, we learn a little bit about the resurgence of the World Wrestling Federation minis. 

The main focus here was on the rise to prominence of Mr. Mini, starting with his victory over the original El Torito at In Your House: Ground Zero and working his way through other 'tiny sticks of dynamite' (the writer's words, not mine) on subsequent episodes of Raw is War.

Of course, as we all know now, the late-90s fascination with mini wrestlers didn't last long, but that hasn't stopped the WWE reintroducing them lately in the form of the little leprechaun guy and Los Matadors' buddy.

Vic Venom bites on Brian Pillman

In just one of many published tributes to the late Brian Pillman, Vince Russo's normally evil alter-ego Vic Venom took time to pen a tribute to the Loose cannon. 

Russo -sorry, Venom- tells us that he was dreading penning this particular article for weeks, before going on to recount his admiration of the former Hollywood Blonde. 

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 -  Vince Russo's tribute to Brian Pillman


Of course, it wouldn't be a Russo article without his beloved !@#%!, and he's sure to throw one of those in before referencing the night Pillman shot on Kevin Sullivan, those tight, tigerprint tights he used to wear in WCW, and his higflying style. 

A nice tribute, though it would have perhaps been nicer if Russo hadn't kept up his trashy, lazy style of writing.

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 -  Brian Pillman 1962 - 1997

Duke Nukem - Playstation Powerhouse

Remember when Duke Nukem was the biggest gaming hero in the world? Before we get on to any new wrestling content, we had a nice two-page ad for the latest Nukem games, Duke Nukem: Total Meltdown and Duke Nukem 64

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 -  Duke Nukem game advert

WWF 1997 Awards

Up next, the staff of World Wrestling Federation Magazine gave us their picks for the best of 1997. Somewhat embarrasingly, thanks to publishing schedules and a lack of hindsight, this January 1998 magazine saw Bret 'The Hitman' Hart voted Wrestler of the Year by all but two staff members, a long two months after he split from the Federation on bad terms.

For the record, the two who didn't vote for Bret both gave the nod to Steve Austin. 



Others who did well in these awards were Brian Christopher (voted Rookie of the Year by Russo and Most Underrated Wrestler of the Year by Kevin Kelly), Triple H (Comeback of the Year from Kelly and Most Improved Wrestler from Bill Banks) and the Legion of Doom, who got three picks for Comeback of the Year.

D-Generation-X - The New Recruits

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 -  Triple H and Shawn Michaels
On to our cover story next, as Vinny Ru discusses the rise of DX and the roles of Hunter and Shawn's hired muscle, Chyna and Rick Rude. 

From there, the story is less about DX themselves, and more about which then-current members of the WWF roster would fit nicely into the fold. 

The New Age Outlaws, an obvious choice which eventually came to fruition the night after Wrestlemania 14, are Russo's first pick, followed closely by Brian Christopher ('Christopher has DX written all over him, but he has to prove himself,') and Sunny. 

OK, so the latter may have been an oddball choice, but Russo claimed that she would be good for Triple H and Hunter thanks to her skills in manipulation and managing tag team champions. 

Quite.

Legion of Doom vs. Disciples of Apocalypse

What would happen if the Legion of Doom and the biker squad led by Crush got into it? And why should the two supposedly fan-favorite teams want to brawl anyway? Bill Banks had the answers in this commentary piece. 

From the L.O.D costing Demolition the tag team titles at Summerslam 1990 to their mutual distain of The Nation of Domination, Banks seemed to be clutching at straws to give these two factions a reason to fight, even suggesting that D.O.A maybe jealous of the Road Warrior's success and thus want to kick their ass.

As commentary pieces go, there wasn't much to this, but it did give Banks and his team an excuse to put together a Legion of Doom personality profile, more of which next.

The Legion of Doom: In profile

A couple of interesting facts from this LOD profile:

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Legion of Doom personality profile
Both Hawk and Animal listed their favourite band as Black Sabbath and their favourite sport as football, yet beyond that, the two were split on lots of things.

Hawk didn't watch TV or play video games, whilst Animal's favourite show was Tales from the Crypt and his favourite game just happened to be the last WWF game featuring he and his partner.

We also learned that Hawk is a 'funny guy' whilst Animal was 'A shrewd and sucessful businessman.'

Favourite movies?

Hawk: The Godfather
Animal: Terminator

Thrilling insights into the personal lives of the legendary team here, folks.

Legion of Doom poster

Turn over from the personality profile, and Legion of Doom fans could have their very own poster of the Chicago tandem to pin up on their walls. 

There isn't an awful lot to say about this poster except that it's here, it exists, and if you loved Hawk and Animal back in the day, it would have made a nice spot on your wall. 

Filling out this L.O.D feature, the opposite side gave us some career highlights, including the night they beat The Nasty Boys at Summerslam 1991, their triumphant return to the WWF in February 1997, and erm, their Chicago Street Fight against the Nation at Wrestlemania 13.

I'm not sure about you guys, but when I think about Road Warrior highlights, that last one sure isn't up there.

Badd Blood 1997 pay per view results

Bypassing an ad for the WWF Travel Club, we next got results from a pay per view which took place at least two months before January 1998, Badd Blood 1997.



Featuring the first ever Hell in a Cell match (a classic war between HBK and The Undertaker), the debut of Kane in that same match, and less memorable moments such as a 'flag match' between Bret Hart and British Bulldog against Vader and The Patriot, and a tag team title match between The Godwins and The Headshrinkers, this feature really made Badd Blood sound like the best event ever. 




1998 WWF Predictions

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - 1998 predictions
We've had our look back at the best of 1997, now it was time to look ahead to 1998 with some seemingly off-the-wall predictions courtesy of Russo. 

Some, such as The New Age Outlaws joining DX, Sable and Marc Mero going their separate ways, and Goldust and Marlena doing likewise, would all come true in some form or another.

Others, such as predicted octagon match between Ken Shamrock and Ahmed Johnson at Wrestlemania 14, The Hart Foundation expanding, and Rick Rude turning on DX to feud with them, clearly didn't.

Elsewhere, our wrestling crystal ball wrongly predicted the rise of The Truth Commission, Flash Funk reverting to his real name of Charles Scaggs (close, we got Too Cold Scorpio instead) and Brakus feuding with Bret Hart who, need I remind you, was already in WCW by the turn of the year.

Marc Mero: Fighting his way out of Sable's shadow

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Marc Mero and Sable
By 1998, Sable was well on her way to becoming a fully fledged top attraction for the World Wrestling Federation. As the pin-up girl for the early days of the Attitude Era, it's arguable to say that her popularity was, if not quite on par with Steve Austin, then at least not far behind.

Of course, this didn't bode well for her husband, former Golden Gloves Champion and Little Richard impersonator, Marc Mero.

As Sable's stock rose, Mero's continued to plummet. and by late 97/early 98, magazine writer Kevin Kelly was pondering whether the two had any chance of success as a duo.

The answer, as we all know now, is a no.

Mero would align with Jacqueline for a while, participate in Brawl for All, and after that, I doubt anybody remembers.

An interview with Del Wilkes - The Patriot

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Del Wilkes - The Patriot
In the last edition of this magazine, Vinny Ru spoke to The Patroit about his life before wrestling and his first forays into the profession. In this edition, we covered his brief stint in WCW, his return to Japan, and his just-as-short run in the World Wrestling Federation, where his red-white-and-blue masked hero schtick came in just at the wrong time.

Of course, Russo and Wilkes discuss that very topic in this interview, with the man insisting that he'd rather try and "fall flat on my face" than never try at succeeding in a world of anti-heros at all. 

"Certainly there's a negative attitude that a person like The Patriot Del Wilkes can actually exist in this society,' he says. 'But I still believe that there's a majorit of people out there who want him to!'

Sorry Del, not enough to keep you around I'm afraid. By early 98, the flag-waving hero was gone, replaced by a land of beer-guzzling, bird-flipping, rebelious anti-heroes, and the WWF enjoyed its greatest boom period ever. 

Don't let your plastic wrestling figures get blood on your furniture

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Jakks Series 5 Wrestling Figures Advertisement
I don't know about you, but I just love the idea that these pretty piss-poor Jakks Series 5 action figures could somehow bleed.

I mean let's face it, they don't look like they could do much more than clutter the bottom of Everything Must Go bins at your local pound shop (That's a Dollar Store for the Americans among us). 

Along with headliners like Stone Cold and Sid (who I believe was also long-gone from the WWF at this stage), we've also got crappy action figures of Rocky Mavia, Flash Funk, Ken Shamrock and a Nation-attired Savio Vega. 

But hey, they're Limited Edition and come with something called Bone Crunching Action, so that must surely count for something, right?


Were the Hart Foundation racist? The Four Horsemen in WWF?

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - The Informer
The Informer was always one of my favourite parts of this magazine as a kid, especially when the rumours he shared came to life on the screen.

Hey, little did I know that the time that the guy behind The Informer and the guy writing World Wrestling Federation programming were one and the same. 

In this month's edition, our inside informat informed us that the Four Horsemen were considering a move to the WWF, that The British Bulldog would soon be splitting from the Hart Foundation and challenging either Bret for the World title or Owen for the Intercontinental One, and that Hakushi would return and feud with Taka Michinoku. 

As much as I would have loved to have seen at least two of those things happen, none of them did. Nor did we ever really get the payoff to DX tarnishing the Nations dressing room with racist graffiti and making it look like the Hart Foundation did it. 

Sadly, this was not one of the Informer's more successful outings

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart on MadTV

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Bret Hart on MadTV
Before he got screwed over by Vince, Shawn and Earl, World Wrestling Federation champion Bret Hart took the time to appear on the popular FOX comedy series, MadTV.

In our final proper feature of the magazine, we got a few snaps of The Hitman putting the MadTV cast in sharpshooters and posing with some guy with a towel.

Over the page, we got Pin 'Em Down, a regular column in which fans supposedly asked questions of their favourite WWF Superstars, who apparently wrote back.

This month, Jerry Lawler refused to admit that Brian Christopher was his son, The Legion of Doom promised to wipe out The Godwins, and Dude Love misquoted The Beatles when responding to a question about why he couldn't get with the times and admit it wasn't the 1960s any more.

And that, for the most part, was all she wrote.

See you at The Royal Rumble

WWF MAGAZINE - JANUARY 1998 - Stone Cold Steve Austin Royal Rumble Poster
Except of course, for this poster featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin with nails driven into the back of  his bonce. 

There isn't an awful lot I can say about that, apart from yes, Austin went on to win the Rumble and dethrone HBK at Wrestlemania 14.

For now, I'm off to throw this tatty old magazine away and get on with that review of the first In Your House that I've been struggling to finish for weeks. 

I'll be back with more magazines and stuff soon. Until then, catch me on Twitter @Retropwrestling or why not read my latest articles on the very awesome Camel Clutch Blog.

Comments? Questions? Death threats? Fan Mail? Comments below or email cskoyles -at- gmail -dot-  com.

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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.