Magazine Of The Month hasn't really covered any of the off-brand (read: non-wrestling promotion or Apter Mag created) magazines in the past, but it's high time they are recognized in this forum. Chock full of questionable photography, spelling, facts and layouts, they are almost a category on their own.
Case in point: TV Wrestlers, a independent publication edited by George Napolitano, a well-known writer and photographer who has contributed copy to Wrestling All-Stars, Wrestling's Main Event, Wrestling Scene and dozens of other magazines over the years.
Nothing screams "off-brand wrestling magazine" like this cover. There's a mishmash of information, stories and claims that no one will likely buy into, and even the magazine's tag line that has been obscured by Bret Hart's head (What is supposed to say, even? Gloomiest North American Wrestler?).
But my favorite part of this cover is, by far, the number of exclamation marks unnecessarily scattered all over the page. I count TWELVE exclamation marks; can you spot all of them?
TV Wrestlers kicks off its July 1994 issue with a gossip-style column known as "Boob Tube Brawls!" (of course it has an exclamation mark after it), penned by someone named Max Maxine.
While someone who writes under the name "Canadian Bulldog" is in no position to call into question someone else's pen name, I will point out that Mad Maxine does not appear on the publication's masthead the way, say, George Napolitano does. To be sure, it's a little thing, but it's a strange thing.
This month in Boob Tube Brawls!, Maxine offer expert analysis on a range of tough topics, including the recent WCW Clash of the Champions special ("When they said the name of the show was Clash of the Champions, whew! They weren't kidding!") and the recent losing streak of Tatanka ("After putting together a nearly unbelievable two-year winning streak, his last two matches have put him in the hospital!")
But perhaps Maxx Maxine's biggest scoop is stating that, if she were a "gambling lady, I'd bet that this was the year of the Luger!" Before she goes running to Vegas with that one, let me outline Luger's 1994: After co-winning the Royal Rumble (which took place before this magazine was published), he choked in the title match at WrestleMania X, was turned on by Tatanka at SummerSlam, and lost his team's match at the Survivor Series. Good thing she isn't a gambling lady!
She also asks about The Undertaker: "Did he die?" as though that was even a possibility when he disappeared at that year's Rumble, and signs off with the catchphrase: "We'll catchya next time. XXXXXXXO. Maxine."
Exclamation Mark count in this article: Eight
These off-brand magazines ALWAYS seemed to feature wrestler Magnificent Mimi (who, for the uninitiated, is NOT the prostitute pictured on the right).
Don't get me wrong: Mimi was VERY attractive, especially in an era where there were more Fabulous Moolahs than Miss Elizabeths, if you catch my drift. But Mimi never competed in a major promotion, so her constant coverage is kind of a head-scratcher.
This month, Mimi was filming a movie, which included Napolitano playing "a john who rejects this hooker because he feels she isn't old enough." WTF??? Why would he even PROMOTE that fact???
The "TV LETTERS" (no exclamation mark) section contained some doozies this month, including one fan who equated Owen with Ass.... although, to be fair, that may be have been the editorial decision of TV Wrestlers and not the auth....
WAIT A SECOND! The author of this letter is Jonathan Stewart..... as in The Daily Show's JON STEWART?!? Perhaps not. A quick search of Wikipedia suggests that Stewart would be in his mid-thirties at the time of this magazine's publication. Also? He was born in New York City, not Lilington, North Carolina. Oh well...
Other letters were about The Undertaker, Razor Ramon and some dude named Dr. Johnny Wildside.
Exclamation Mark Count: Six
From there, we go to "Artist's Corner!" (yes, with an exclamation mark) that, if we're being completely honest, is anything but. Among the, ahem, highlights:
Tiffany Tatham of Hampton, Georgia's rendering of "The Boss" (Big Bossman in WCW), which looks more like a disgruntled gingerbread man than anything else.
Billy Gray of Vonore, Tennessee's "version" of a comparatively-anorexic Yokozuna standing on a Japanese flag, and a similar-sized Mr. Fuji, accentuated by the words "THE MAN FROM JAPAN" in bubble letters, for some reason.
Billy Gray's brave artistic choice to draw Too Cold Scorpio, Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Teddy Long as blurry blobs, with the words "THE GOOD MEN OF THE 90's" (never their team name, btw) etched in bubble letters.
The scary part? Billy Gray is legally allowed to vote these days. Yes, for Trump.
Of course, TV Wrestlers was about far more than editors posing for pictures with underaged hookers and shitty fan art. They also tackled hard-hitting stories that "the man" (presumably, in this case, Bill Apter, although possibly Stuart M. Saks) was afraid to cover. To wit, an article titled "THE BLACK-BALLING OF MR. HUGHES!" and subtitled "What are the WWF & WCW Afraid Of?"
According to the article, Hughes was wrestling's biggest outlaw and fan favorites such as Bob Backlund, Lex Luger, Tatanka and The Steiner Brothers "have banded together to put the squeeze on Federation President Jack Tunney to put Hughes out of championship contention." WCW didn't want a piece of the former bodyguard, either, according to the article.
The piece, penned by an unnamed TV Wrestlers journalist (who probably to had protect his or her identity in case the government ever got ahold of them and demanded they reveal their sources) claims that Hughes is the victim of a conspiracy theory, with his personal attorneys lobbying to get him back into the employ of WWF or WCW as soon as possible.
This would all be well and good, but.... MR. HUGHES? The guy who didn't last as the bodyguard for The York Foundation? A man who is known in real life to literally fall asleep during his matches? Call me crazy, but I feel as though TV Wrestlers needs to double check their information on this one.
Exclamation Mark Count: A mere two, which is quite understated for gossip this hot.
Overall, this edition of TV Wrestlers was short on actual current and relevant information about the North American wrestling scene. But it did have tons of color photos, plenty of advertising for women's wrestling videos and Magnificent Mimi 8x10's, and of course, exclamation marks.
Speaking on which.... check out the back cover of this month's issue.....