Magazine Review: Inside Wrestling - November 1998

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Contents
Inside Wrestling was a magazine that promised to "rip the lid off pro wrestling." Yet rather than revealing any major insider secrets or backstage gossip, what it really did was reported on the world of pro wrestling as if it were a legitimate sport, reporting on kayfabe stories with genuine seriousness.

Sure, that may sound a little corny to some, but I used to love this kind of stuff and, to be honest, still do. 

There's something quite nice about getting sucked into kayfabe again and just enjoying pro wrestling as it's presented without getting sucked into things like workrate and five-star matches.

Besides, magazines like Insider Wrestling often did a great job at enhancing and explaining what we were seeing on our televisions each week, sometimes even better than the actual promotions the magazine was covering.

Don't believe me? Let's dive into this magazine review of Insider Wrestling from November 1998 and take a closer look.

Into the Apter Mags 

You'll notice from the image above that my copy of this magazine doesn't have a front cover. I've had this magazine in my collection literally since it first came out and I honestly don't now whatever happened to the cover.

The rest of the magazine is in good condition though, so we can easily browse through the contents and note all of the features, including Names Makin' News by the one and only Bill Apter, whose name -and frequent work on these type of kayfabe-keeping 'zines'- gave them the name Apter Mags.

You'll also notice that this is the November 1998 edition with the next edition due on September 29th, 1998 which, let's be honest, is a bit weird.

Anyway,  that pre-amble over, let's turn the page and see what's inside:

Sincerely Yours 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Sincerely Yours letters (1)

A lot of magazines -wrestling or otherwise- would start off readers' letters, and Inside Wrestling was no different.

One of the main topic in this month's letters was the Best of Seven series between Booker T and Chris Benoit which culminated in their match at WCW The Great American Bash 1998.

One reader, a Maurizio Cassani of Milan, Italy felt that it was a waste for the two to battle so hard with only the lowly TV title at stake, while Michelle Johnson of Scranton, PA hoped -much as we all probably did at the time- that WCW would see their epic series as a wake up call and focus more on the two of them than the never-ending saga of the nWo.

Elsewhere, there was praise for Savio Vega for kicking Brakus' (remember him?) ass in Brawl for All from Gerald Hookings in Houston Texas, while elsewhere, there was a lot more hate for the New World Order, though again this was more of the "we're tired of seeing them" variety than the "boo these are the baddies" variety.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Sincerely Yours letters (2)

Reporter's Notebook

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Stu Saks Reporter's Notebook

Over the page, Inside Wrestling publisher Stuart M. Saks opened his Reporter's Notebook to tell us about the opening of the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa. 

Saks was excited about the opening of the museum, which focussed mostly on amateur wrestling with a bit of a nod to the pro stuff, and about the fact that all-time legends Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne and Dan Dodge were all going to be there.

From what little research I've done, I gather that museum has since moved to Waterloo and is now called the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum

Over the page, you could save a whole bunch of money by subscribing to all of the Apter Mags - including Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler, and Pro Wrestling Illustrated in one bundle.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Combine and Save When You Subscribe to Pro Wrestling Illustrated

Names Makin' the News 

Oh man, there's all kinds of good stuff in this two-page section where the one and only Bill Apter himself tell us all the juicy gossip about our favourite superstars. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Names Makin' the News with Bill Apter

Some of the highlights include:

  • Diamond Dallas Page insisting that he and Karl Malone were at least partly responsible for Goldberg beating Hulk Hogan for the title and thus believing himself  to be deserving of a title shot.
  • Jerry 'The King' Lawler feuding with Giant Silva of all people in Memphis and also staring in Man on the Moon.
  • Sunny getting a viral infection in Mexico (I bet she did) and thus not being on TV with LOD 2,000
  • Tully Blanchard coming out of retirement to feud with Buddy Landel on the indies (and later to compete at the awful Heroes of Wrestling 1999 PPV)
  • Scott Steiner telling Apter that he regretted not getting into movies but insisting that we'd see him on a movie screen near us in the future. Seriously, could you imagine that? 

On The Road With Dave Lenker

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - On the Road with Dave Lenker talks about The Road Warriors

Honestly, doesn't On The Road sound like it should be match reports from house shows or something? 

Nope, instead, it's a spot in which Dave Lenker recalls a great conversation he had with Paul Ellering about how Hawk and Animal had ignored his advice not to hire Sunny, leading to him siding with the Disciples of Apocalypse.

"They called me one day a few weeks before Wrestlemania XIV," Ellering started, "and Hawk says 'we're thinking of taking Sunny as our manager.' I said 'who?' and Animal says "You know, Sunny. One of the smartest young minds in this business. She knows what she's doing."

How can you not love that?

Lenker's report was accompanied by an add for the weekly Pro Wrestling Illustrated Weekly newsletter that you could get either in print or via email, all for the low cost of $19.99 for 17 issues. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Pro Wrestling Illustrated Weekly Email Ad

Behind the Dressing Room Door 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Dave Rosenbaum writes about Paul Bearer being Kane's dad

This has got to be one of my favourite pieces in the whole magazine. In it, Dave Rosenbaum takes an entertaining look at the whole "Paul Bearer is Kane's Father" angle, questioning who in their right minds would ever even date Bearer, let alone conceive a child.
"Truth: As of press time, I had not been able to find a single woman who would admit to having ever dated Bearer. In fact, the general reaction when I asked 'Have you ever dated Paul Bearer?' was 'Do I look that desperate'?"
That's just one of the gems in this brilliantly-written piece, but it gets even better, and the next few paragraphs are even better:
"Some of them looked pretty desperate, but obviously not desperate enough to have dated Bearer. Or, perhish the thought, to have kissed him.
"But Undertaker's mother? A woman who owned a funeral parlor? Seducing the hired help? I can believe that. Let's face it, funeral parlor workers are not reputed to among the best looking women in the world."

Something about that really tickles me. It really never occurred to me that women who work in funeral parlors might have a reputation for being ugly, and I'm really sure that's not the case! 

Still, this was fun. 

Over the page, they really, really want you to subscribe to Pro Wrestling Illustrated. So much so, in fact, that this time they'll give you a free copy of the PWI Almanac. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Get The PWI Almanac With Your Subscription to Pro Wrestling Illustrated

Get yours now, wrestling fans!

The Insider, by Brandi Mankiewicz

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - The Insider by Brandi Mankiewicz bemoaned Nash turning face

It's been a long time since I read this magazine, but I get the impression that Brandi Mankiewicz was the resident heel, as she dedicated her Insider column to ragging on Kevin Nash for turning babyface and forming the nWo Wolfpac.

Though I was only a wee 14 year-old at the time and loved the Wolfpac, I do have to agree with Ms. Mankiewicz's assessment that Sting donning an nWo shirt of any kind after his hellish war with the group throughout 1997 was baffling, as was the whole idea of a babyface New World Order in the first place.

Over the page, we got an ad for the WBC Welterweight Championship pitting Julio César Chávez against Oscar De La Hoya in an "ultimate revenge" rematch.

This was personal! 

On Assignment, by Liz Hunter 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Liz Hunter went on assignment to talk about Bret Hart's crap WCW run

Moving on, Liz Hunter went on assignment to say what we were all thinking at the time:

Bret Hart's run in WCW was a bit crap. 

Like many fans have done since, Hunter argued that The Hitman was underutilized -and often completely ignored- during his run with the Turner outfit.

"Heck, even Waldo was easier to find in a group than Bret in the sea of WCW talent," she writes, and wasn't wrong at all.

On the opposite page, an ad suggests that there might be something mentally wrong with us if we didn't subscribe to The Wrestling Analysist, a new publication promising...well...let me show you the description:
"In each issue, eight of wrestling's biggest stars are thoroughly evaluated. For each wrestler, you get an in-depth analysis covering 20 different categories, including offense, defense, experience, conditioning, stamina, power, ability to absorb punishment and much, much more."

I don't know about you, but I'd buy that. 

Inside Wrestling Profile - Sable  

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - The profile on Sable claimed she and Mero were "close friends"

What I love about this profile on Sable is that it suggests that she and Marc Mero were only ever "the closest of friends"  and not, you know, an actual couple.

There's nothing especially new here. It's essentially a cliff-notes outline of her career so far, from the day she debuted alongside Triple H at Wrestlemania 12 to her siding -and ultimately falling out- with her "close friend" Mero, being forced to leave the WWF after losing a match to him and eventually returning just a few weeks later after a nice little vacation.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Sable

The first piece not to be accompanied by an advertisement, this one instead featured a nice, full-page picture of Sable in all her catsuit-clad glory. 

Where Are They Now?

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Where Are They Now?

If you were enjoying the Monday Night Wars back in 1998 but couldn't help wonder where Dirty White Boy Tony Anthony, 'White Lightning' Tim Horner, Bill Dromo, and Paul DeMarco were at, The Wrestling Insider had you covered. 

Anthony and Horner had, of course, both spent time in Smoky Mountain Wrestling and were still plying their trade in the indies, though Horner was also working on a silk-screening business in Tennesee. Meanwhile, Dromo and DeMarco had both retired, the former running a Polish delicatessen in Smyrna, Georgia, and the latter running a wrestling school near Sacramento. 

Over the page, there's yet another advert offering to give you a free copy of the 1998 Pro Wrestling Illustrated Almanac if you subscribe to The Wrestler. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Subscribe to The Wrestler

Man, these guys were relentless with the subscriptions, weren't they?

News From the Wrestling Capitals 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Match reports in News from the Wrestling Capitals

Dave Lenker's On the Road piece may not have had anything to do with house shows, but this one does.

Here, we get match reports from the three major promotions that were around at the time (ECW, WCW, and WWF), as well as an indie show in Memphis.

The Mempis card, naturally featured Jerry 'The King' Lawler taking on Tracey Smothers. 

Elsewhere, the WWF gave us Ken Shamrock vs. Owen Hart and The Undertaker vs. Kane, the WCW match reports featured Goldberg vs. Konnan and Sting vs. The Giant while an ECW show in York, PA featured Mikey Whipwreck vs. Sabu.

There's nothing much of interest to note about any of these other than the fact that they happened and that a lot of the house show cards looked awful around this time.
Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Match reports in News from the Wrestling Capitals (2)

If you went to the same show that The Undertaker faced Kane on, for example, you could see exciting matches like Bradshaw vs. Savio Vega, while WCW were genuinely charging people money to watch Chris Adams vs. Barry Darsow and Marty Jannetty vs. Scotty Riggs

Matt Brock's Plain Speaking 

Harder than nails, veteran wrestlign reporter Matt Brock has logged more miles covering wrestling than any other jouranlist. Every month, Matt will travel to the sport's hotbeds, reporting on everything  he sees without fear or favor.

So more stuff from the road, basically. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Matt Brock's Plain Speaking

In this piece, we first went to Memphis, where Power Pro Wrestling promoter Randy Hales was trying to rid the territory of Jerry Lawler and even appointed Paul 'Giant' Silva as the new "King of Memphis."
Obviously, Lawler was having none of it and refused to be usurped.

In Cleveland, Steve Austin regained his title from Kane after losing it to him at King of The Ring 1998, while Elmhurst, New York played host to an ECW card that Brock didn't like too much because it was too violent and didn't seem to have much going on that interested him. 

Finally, Atlanta was, of course, the home of WCW, and it was here were Brock saw Goldberg "fight like a man" to beat Hulk Hogan for the WCW title. Seriously, this piece really wants us to know just how manly Big Bill is. 

HHH vs. Shawn! The Inevitable War Nobody Wants to Talk About 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  HHH vs. Shawn Micahels - The Inevitable War Nobody Wants to Talk About (1)

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, you can be sure of this fact: If shawn Michaels returns to the WWF, Hunter Hearst Helmsley will be his first target.

Yes, this was a piece written after Michaels had dropped the title to Austin at Wrestlemania 14,  leaving Triple H to pick up the slack as the new leader of D-Generation-X. 

As you've probably gathered, this report by Dan Murphy looks at how HBK wouldn't have taken kindly to the Hs suggesting that he'd "dropped the ball," and would no doubt go after his one time friend as soon as he returned to action.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  HHH vs. Shawn Micahels - The Inevitable War Nobody Wants to Talk About (2)

Sure enough, four years after this magazine was published, Shawn did return to action and, yes, his first opponent really was Triple H.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  HHH vs. Shawn Micahels - The Inevitable War Nobody Wants to Talk About (3)

You have to imagine that, on that night somewhere in America, Dan Murphy was sat there beaming "I told you so."

Bret Hart's Startling Revelation: "Hollywood Hogan's Obsessions Will Be His Downfall"

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Bret Hart's Startling Revelation: Hulk Hogan's Obsessions Will Be His Downfall

In another feature article, Andy Rodriguez talks about Bret Hart's short-lived partnership with Hollywood Hogan. 

A compelling piece that actually added a level of depth to WCW's storylines that even WCW themselves didn't bother to do, this one sees The Hitman questioning whether it was wise for Hogan to focus so intently on arch-rivals Randy Savage and Roddy Piper when there was "the rest of WCW" to contend with.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Bret Hart's Startling Revelation: Hulk Hogan's Obsessions Will Be His Downfall (2)

According to Hart (or at least the writer pretending like he'd spoken to Hart), Hogan's obsession with his long-time adversaries was sure to be his demise.

Despite all that, Bret wanted to stay in the NWO Hollywood camp.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Bret Hart's Startling Revelation: Hulk Hogan's Obsessions Will Be His Downfall (3)

"Have no doubt that NWO Hollywood is the place to be," he apparently said. "I still have more options and choices here than I'd have in WCW, and definitely more than in The Wolfpac. I'll be with Hollywood for a long time."

No, Bret, you won't.

Expert Analysis: Austin vs. Goldberg! Who Would Win - And Why?

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Who Would Win and Why?

They were the two biggest stars of their respective organisations around this time, so it makes sense that Inside Wrestling would do a bit of fantasy booking to try and work out who would win.

Of course, had Austin's retirement in 2003 not happened roughly around the same time that Goldberg joined WWE, we might have actually seen this match. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Who Would Win and Why? (2)

Alas, it was never to be, so we'll have to settle for what the Inside Wrestling editorial staff thought about how such a match might go.

Dave Lenker, Bill Apter, and Harry Burkett all gave the nod to Austin, while Stu Saks and Frank Krewda were both adamant that The Texas Rattlesnake would eventually succumb to the Jackhammer. 

Is Stevie Ray Trying to Sabotage Booker T's Career?

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Is Stevie Ray Trying to Sabotage Booker T's Career? (1)

Up next, Steve Anderson wonders f Stevie Ray might be jealous and resentful of Booker T becoming a five time..five time...five time... Dubyaseedubya Television champion  and was threatened by his success.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Is Stevie Ray Trying to Sabotage Booker T's Career? (2)

Would the two brothers end up battling it out in the ring?

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 - Steve Austin vs. Bill Goldberg - Is Stevie Ray Trying to Sabotage Booker T's Career? (3)

Of course they would, this is pro wrestling after all. 

Hotseat: Dude Love - "Vinnie Mac Ruined the WWF!

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Dude Love Interview: "Vince McMahon Ruined the WWF"

Oh yeah, now this is the good stuff. The magazine's reporter had scheduled an interview with Mankind only to get a mixed-up Mick Foley in his Dude Love attire instead.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Dude Love Interview: "Vince McMahon Ruined the WWF" (2)

As such, we got a great, back-and-forth Q&A with plenty of gems like:

Q: Wait! I thought I scheduled Mankind for an interview! What's this?
A: (Mick Foley, adorned in his typical "Dude Love" attire, pulls up a chair) Hey, don't look so glum, chum "His royal Dudeness" is ready to create some malice in the palace!


Q: Are you still angry at Vince McMahon for firing you?
A: Sure, I might be a hippy-dippy, FM-type longhair, but I've got feelings, too. I really thought Vince was my Mc-main-ma, you know what I'm saying? Over the Edge was the place were dreams were supposed to come true....Yeah, Steve Austin beat me, I  was too busy thinking about the chicks by my dressing room, that Three Dog Night eight-track I just bought, and those fancy finger sandwiches I had at The McMahon's pad the day before.
Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Dude Love Interview: "Vince McMahon Ruined the WWF" (3)

To sum up:

Yes, Dude Love was pissed at McMahon for firing him.

No, he couldn't comment on Mankind now teaming with Kane and Paul Bearer in a feud against Austin and Undertaker because he wasn't Mankind.

And yes, he thought "The Big Mc-Mac" (brilliant) was showing signs of early Alzheimers and might possibly destroy the very foundation of the World Wrestling Federation.

How can you not love things like this?

Junkyard Dog: A Tribute to a Unique Breed  

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Junkyard Dog Tribute 1

On June 2nd, 1988, Sylvester Ritter -better known to the world as the Junkyard Dog- sadly passed away after getting into a car accident. 

Here, Dan Murphy pays a fitting tribute to JYD, tracing his journey from a childhood in North Carolina up to his last in-ring appearance at ECW Wrestlepalooza '98 via stints in Stammpede, Mid-South, and yes, the WWF.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Junkyard Dog Tribute 2

This is a nice tribute to one of wrestling's most enduring personalities.

One on One: Sting vs. The Giant  

On a lighter note, next, we were apparently being treated to an unedited transcript of a telephone conversation between Sting and The Giant. 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  One on One: Sting vs. The Giant

The two had beaten The Outsiders for the tag team titles at WCW Slamboree '98 when Scott Hall had betrayed Kevin Nash to join nWo Hollywood. Shortly after, The Giant had followed Hall, leading to a Sting vs. Giant match at The Great American Bash '98 in which Sting beat Giant for the right to chose a new tag team champion partner.

However, that wasn't to be the end of the war, and here, the two mouthed off against each other over the phone lines for our reading pleasure.

Sting hoped that Inside Wrestling had all their recording equipment in working order because otherwise it would be hard to understand The Giant, what with him having his lips permanently attached to Hulk Hogan's butt and all.

Meanwhile, The Giant called Sting a "pretty boy" and reminded him that The Giant had beaten Sting more than Sting had beaten The Giant.

This was fun, and the sort of thing I wish WWF and WCW magazines had done more of back in te day. 

Find Out How to Get into Pro Wrestling! 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Wrestling Book ad

The next couple of pages are given over to finishing off the regular features we started at the beginning of the magazine, so we won't cover those here except to say that on two of these pages, I'm drawn to these two ads for books on how to get into the professional wrestling business.

Whether you wanted to be a wrestler, a manager, a commentator or work behind the scenes, these books promised to tell you how to do that.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Ad for Hittin' The Mat by King Kong Bundy and Larry Sharpe

Honestly, I'd love to get my hands on one of those books for a review here on Retro Pro Wrestling.

Back Issues of Inside Wrestling 

To some, this list of all the back issues that you could order (with the obligatory order form) may not be all that interesting, but personally I find it fascinating the amount of pro wrestling history documented by this magazine over the years.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Inside Wrestling back issues

You could order the very first issue from February 1976 which looked at the night Andre The Giant had to be saved from Ernie Ladd, or yu could order the most recent issue featuring a mid-year report on the state of WCW.

In between, there were magazines that documented the rise of Hulkamania and The Four Horsemen, the Montreal Screwjob, the birth of the New World Order and everything in between.


We Sent Hulk Hogan to Cover Bockwinkel vs. Wahoo....AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE! 

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Hulk Hogan covers Nick Bockwinkel vs. Wahoo McDaniel

Speaking of excellent, this next piece is fantastic.

Back in 1983, Hulk Hogan had left the American Wrestling Association but had returned for one night only to cover a championship match between AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkel and Wahoo McDaniel and send a report into Inside Wrestling.

Instead, The Hulkster had gotten involved in the show after getting fed up with Bockwinkel and manager Bobby Heenan's relentless cheating. 

The match ended in a DQ thanks to Heenan's interference, meaning Bockwinkel kept his title but ended up getting his ass kicked by Hogan.

This gripping report tells us exactly what went down and is written by Joe Bua, the magazine's assistant editor who was there on the night.

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Hulk Hogan covers Nick Bockwinkel vs. Wahoo McDaniel 2

Official Rankings and Roll-Call of Champions 

As we reach the end of the magazine, we got our roll-call of the current champions as well as "Official Rankings" which were determined by...well..let me repeat what Inside Wrestling says:
These ratings are compiled by the editors with the assistance of promoters, wrestlers, and reporters around the country, and are based on won-lost records for the past month, quality of opposition, and the inherent skill of each wrestler. 
Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Pro Wrestling rankings

The most interesting thing about this is that the magazine still refers to The Rock as Rocky Maivia despite him not using that name for the better part of a year.

Anyway, this is pretty much what you'd expect it to be: 

Austin and Goldberg were number one in their respective companies. Rock and Sting were number two and so on. 

In the Top 15 Tag Teams, Kane and Mankind were the top-ranked tag team by virtue of being the WWF tag champions and having more experience as a team than Nash and Sting. 

And, finally...

Blast From The Past: This Month In Wrestling History - Paul Ellering vs. Jerry Lawler, November 1981

Inside Wrestling  - November 1998 -  Paul Ellering vs. Jerry Lawler

Yep, our final page is a glorious shot of Paul Ellering dropping an elbow on Jerry Lawler during their feud back in 1981. 

Apparently, the reason why Lawler never criticised Ellering on Raw commentary during the latter's run as D.O.A's manager is that he remembered how much Ellering had battered him back in the 1980s!

And that's your lot.

If you want a closer look at the magazine scans in this post, I just uploaded them all to into this album on Facebook for you. 

Reviewing the November 1998 edition of Inside Wrestling really was a 'blast from the past' in the best possible sense.

As long as magazines like this were around, it's fair to say that rumors of kayfabe's death had been greatly exaguarted. 

Sure, most of us knew what was really going on back then, but magazines like Inside Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Illustrated were doing their best to keep kayfabe alive, and this fan for one appreciates that.

This was a fun read that brought back some great memories.

Til next time, 

Thanks for reading

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  1. You should do more of these magazine reviews.

  2. Thank you :) They take a while to do but planning a few more eventually.