Magazine Of The Month

Wrestle America

Spring 1995

I'm not sure the exact chronology any more (let's blame old age), but my understanding is that Wrestle America was once known as Wrestling USA, one of the many London Publishing magazine (a/k/a Apter Mag) titles on newsstands in the 80s and 90s.

 

When exactly the magazine became Wrestle America, I'm not certain, but it was kind of a catch-all for articles that didn't make it into Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Inside Wrestling, etc. In addition to all of the regular features (ratings, headline news, etc.), the publication also featured a "magazine within a magazine" section, which meant to stupid marks like me that we were getting more bang for our wrestling magazine buck.

 

And.... let's be honest, how can one NOT love that psychadelic cover?

Much like the other wrestling mags, Wrestle America had ratings, although their system was different than, say, PWI's.

 

Because the magazine was broken down into WWF, WCW and Independent sections, each grouping had its own ratings page. So in addition to the usual top ten title contenders, there were rankings for the tag team and secondary championships. Plus you had indicators on whether they'd moved up or down in the rankings, how long they'd been on the list, and how high they'd been over the course of the past 12 months. Kind of a cool feature.

 

But what I didn't like was "The Skinny" section, which was a few words on each contender, where you had to know EXACTLY what Wrestle America was talking about to get the reference. For example, the "Eight seconds? Why? Why? Why?" was in reference to Bob Backlund losing the WWF Title in that amount of time. Fine... but what if one didn't know that?

Some of the features were quite silly (in all of the London wrestling magazines; not just this particular one), but here's one of the best examples. 

 

Someone went to the trouble of clicking the "Smudge" feature on Photoshop to half of Brutus Beefcake's face to illustrate how injured he was.

 

Never mind that by the time this magazine came out, he had been wrestling without a protective mask for some time... was this supposed to be an artist's rendering of what might happen to The Butcher if he got hurt in the ring? Only author Chris Bernucca knows for sure...

From there, we got into the "magazine within a magazine" bonus section, which this month, was dedicated to independent wrestling. I don't want to knock it, because the feature was actually quite cool. Wrestle America listed something little 50 different promotions, who their top stars were, where you could find them perform and even addresses if you wanted to write them letters (this was in the infancy of email addresses and websites, kids).

 

Some of these were nothing little indy leagues where people that looked like you or I were supposedly the heavyweight champions, but some featured decent talent (e.g. Tito Santana, Superfly Snuka, Sabu, New Jack, and one group apparently even had Bastion Booger on their shows!).

There was also an article on "Why indepedent wrestling is best", according to top stars such as 2 Cold Scorpio, Sid Vicious, Chris Candido and Jake The Snake Roberts. According to them and others, the indys are for "real fans" of the business. Which of course, they may not have said had any of them been employed by WWF or WCW at the time of publication.

Wrestle America, and this issue in particular, was a fun read. It may have been missing the "big stories" exclusive to PWI and the like, but it still had some cool exclusives and worthwhile little features.

 

Oh, and by the way -- Randy Savage had another feud with Hulk Hogan in 1996... so Wrestle America's cover story was right!

For example, one of the indy promotions Wrestle America spotlighted was a group called Extreme Championship Wrestling. Perhaps you've heard of them?

This was at the point where ECW was well on its way to becoming the number three promotion in the company, but the world didn't know it yet. With a roster that included Shane Douglas, Sabu, Terry Funk, Public Enemy and others, there was definitely a night and day difference between ECW and, say, Tri-Star Wrestling (Heavyweight Champion: Jimmy Sharpe).

 

London Publishing dedicated a bunch of ink on ECW at the time, and it was the kind of thing they needed to get to the next level. For many fans, newsstand magazines were the only way to learn about an ECW or Smoky Mountain Wrestling, so this section was a great reference tool. Plus, 21 years later, it's cool to look back on which promotions and wrestlers were prominent at the time.

 

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