Much like many things that WCW did in the 1990's, WCW Magazine came off as a cheap imitation of what the WWF was doing at the time.
In fairness, the magazine certainly wasn't without its charm. Like WWF Magazine, this was an obvious company-sponsored publication that sought to advance its characters and storylines while getting fans excited about the product. It accomplished that through glossy photos and exclusive access to the WCW roster, but still fell short of what the folks in Titan Tower were coming up with at the time.
The first six to eight pages were often taken up with commentary by WCW announcers and wrestlers, quizzes and games and the always-present "Have You Heard?" section.
This feature always bothered me, but I could never quite put my finger on why.... Years later, I think I've figured it out: they would always present 10 "hot topics" about the promotion that month, but only five or six photos. So the other developments - including Sting, Diamond Dallas Page and Williams and Gordy didn't warrant photos, but JT Southern and Magnum TA on commentary did? Just a very odd layout to kick things off...
One of the aforementioned commentaries was "Missy's View", allegedly penned by commentator Missy Hyatt. Hyatt comes off here as almost a stereotypical ditzy blonde (although in the age of social media and Wrestling Observer commentaries, we now know that Missy is a far better writer than people give her credit for, so why not let her write in her actual voice?).
But the part that bothered me the most this issue is the photo of Ricky Steamboat's faux "crimson mask," which looks more like a Hawaiian Punch mask. Was The Dragon hit in the face with a Cherry Kool Aid Slurpee? Forget Richard Blood. This is more like Richard Fake Blood.
WCW Magazine also featured at least two interviews a month, with seemingly their least-popular superstars. For example, this month's interview subjects were "Heavy Metal" Van Hammer (P.N. News must have been unavailable for comment) and "Z-Man" Tom Zenk.
Now... no one was expecting this be hard-hitting journalism in the style of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated "Press Conference" (although -- here's a fun fact -- did you know that the editorial staff for this incarnation of WCW Magazine were Craig Peters and many others who also worked at the so-called "Apter Mags" at the time? It's true!).
But surely they could have hit the Z-Man with harder questions that "What was your worst subject in high school?" and "What would you do if the dropkick was banned?"
I mean, no one was even TALKING about banning the dropkick - it just seemed like a softball question, planted there by the PWI editorial staff so that Zenkie could offer an off-the-cuff remark about how good his dropkick was and all that crap.
The other questions weren't much better, such as "Would you like to be WCW World Champion?", "How do you keep your hair so silky smooth?" and "Have you ever kissed a girl? Like, on the lips?". I may be making some of these up, but they're really not too far off the mark from the Tiger Beat-esque fluff that Zenk was getting thrown his way.
Towards the end., WCW gave up on the interview concept altogether, inviting fans to ask random question, and then throwing three of them at a variety of WCW wrestlers, stuff like "What item would you take with you if stranded on a desert island?" and (I'm being serious here) "Who is your favorite Backstreet Boy?"
Um.... I'm not trying to be too harsh here, but WHAT THE HELL???
I need to know - I mean, I really need to know - whose idea it was to run a "sexiest wrestler in WCW" contest, and why WCW Magazine was left as the official caretaker of this project?
First and foremost, I would have to think (and this isn't me being sexist or anything; just making an honest assumption) that the primary readership for WCW Magazine in 1992 was (a) pre-teens and (b) dudes. Not everyone who picked one up; sure, but most of them.
So I suppose I'm just wondering how much interest they would really have in determining the sexiest wrestler in WCW? Maybe some use the Write-In Choice option to nominate Missy Hyatt or Madusa, but you'd have to think that not many folks would really go through the trouble of following that strategy. You know?
And let's look at some of the choices on the "Official Ballot", shall we? When you think of 'Sexiest Wrestler', do you think of:
Arn Anderson, a fantastic technician, but nonetheless a pudgy, balding man who looked to be in his late-30's/early-40's at this point?
Johnny B. Badd, whose entire gimmick was that he was a makeup-wearing Little Richard impersonator, and one of his catchphrases was "I'm so pretty, I should have been born a little girl?"
Bobby Eaton, one of he most accomplished tag team wrestlers of his era, but still kind of a bloated, mumbling mess with a bleached-blond mullet, often wearing pink, red or lime green trunks?
Richard Morton, who had been a teenybopper hearthrob over a decade ago, but by now had clearly aged considerably, even though he sometimes wore the old Rock 'n' Roll Express trunks, despite now playing the role of a stuffy corporate executive?
Dustin Rhodes, who was being pushed to the moon at that point because he was Dusty Rhodes's son but whose most provocative piece of ring wear was a leather "8 Ball" jacket?
Again.... who the hell thought would be a good idea?
If memory serves, the two-sided posted in September was of contest winners Rick Rude and Madusa.
One the main articles in this month's issue chronicled the rivalry between Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and "Ravishing" Rick Rude - a rare example in those days of WCW capitalizing on a match-up that the WWF really didn't when both men were in the same company.
And hey, the Rude-Steamboat War (as it's listed here) was tremendous, and paved the way to an absolute classic 30-minute Iron Man match at WCW's Beach Blast PPV, which Steamboat won by a 4-3 pinfall advantage.
But two things stand out for me on this page:
Yet ANOTHER photo of Steamboat with the really, really fake blood! Sure, the first picture I showed you is much more telling, but once you've seen that one, the picture to your left leads you to believe that they're from one and the same "incident".
In fact, you can see that fellow Sexiest Men In Wrestling candidates Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes are tending to Steamboat here while he tries desperately to remove the red food coloring off of his nose and mouth. A very serious photo for something that's so obviously fake.
And the second thing is the fan sign right underneath that pic - "Rick... your face is a Rude Awakening". BURRRRRRRRRRRRRN!
"Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul.... E. Dangerously." The "Danger Zone" column (typically the last opinion piece in any given edition of WCW Magazine) never began that way, but perhaps it should have.
For two pages each issue, Paul Heyman.... er, Dangerously, would bulk up the credentials of his Dangerous Alliance stable (Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko and Sexiest Man In Wrestling candidate Bobby Eaton) while answering fan questions and posting new and old pictures of himself and his faction.
One of the best ones was a teenaged Paul hanging out with a Bruno Sammartino-era Zbyzsko - it was especially interesting given they would be paired together in WCW storylines so many years later.
Dangerously's responses to fan questions were often snide and condescending - the magazine clearly needed a heel columnist character - and also seemed as though they could have been written by PWI's Eddie Ellner. But I have a tough time thinking even a younger version of Paul Heyman wouldn't write his own material.
In truth, "The Danger Zone" was often one of the brighter spots in what was otherwise, in many other respects, a cheap knock-off of WWF Magazine.