By Adam Zimmerman
One type of wrestling memorabilia that I've always liked to collect most is vintage wrestling magazines. Partly because fewer people seem to collect those compared to wrestling figures. Partly because I loved reading them so much as a kid because they had pictures and articles about wrestlers that you wouldn't necessarily get to see in your hometown territory (which for me was Jim Crockett Promotions) and, partly because it amazes me that various people have taken such great care of paper products that are 40-50 plus years old at this point.
Regardless of the reasons; magazines are my favorite thing to collect and today, I wanted to take a look at this issue of Wrestling Monthly from May, 1972. It touts itself as "The Official Magazine Of Wrestling" and the original cover price was 60 cents so, let's see what it has to offer.
Taking a look at the cover, we can see that inside, there are articles about a bloody chain match from Tennessee, Bobby Heenan's new team (at the time), The Black Jacks, and future Freebird, Buddy Roberts, alongside his then-current partner, Jerry Brown. I'm not very familiar with Jerry Brown but I gotta say, forgive me but, he's got to be one of the ugliest sum' bitches that I've ever seen.
The first article I come to is the one about the Tennessee chain match. This is actually the main reason why I picked up a copy of this magazine - This match features East Tennessee legends Ron Wright and Whitey Caldwell. I've heard so many legends and stories about these guys' battles but almost zero footage exists and you barely even see a picture or article about them. Some folks may remember Ron Wright as the heel manager for the "Dirty White Boy" Tony Anthony in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He was always a heat magnet, even then. I assume all of the blood in this gory match comes from Ron Wright's "chisel". Ron disagreed with traditional blade jobs. He created this chisel, this "piece of equipment", in order to make his matches more "real". The chisel was sort of like brass knuckles but it had a little triangular blade welded to it so when you put it on your hand and punched someone; that blade would sink into their forehead and they'd be bleeding like a stuck pig within a second. You really gotta love East-Tennessee wrasslin'.
The next article is about the newly formed Black Jacks managed by Bobby Heenan. I had always thought the Black Jacks were teamed up and then given their names but this article (which may be kayfabe) makes it sound like both wrestlers were doing their own thing in different parts of the country; both using the name "Black Jack". Then, they teamed up with Heenan as their manager.
You always see strange ads in these old wrestling mags and this one is no exception. There's an ad that shows a slightly portly man in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask promising to teach us the secret, deadly art of Kung Fu. You can also just about guarantee that you'll see a pic or two mentioning "apartment wrestling". For the uninitiated, apartment wrestling is girls in bikinis rolling around on someone's living room floor. Sketchy to say the least but as a young man, back in the "dark days" when eye candy was hard to come by, I always appreciated these pics and articles.
Finally, we come to what may be the most interesting part of this magazine. Most people know that Jerry Lawler has a knack for drawing. Well, after he started wrestling but before he became "The King"; he drew a few issues of a comic strip for this very magazine called "The Patriot". The Patriot was an excellent amateur wrestler whose father was a professional wrestling champion. His father got killed in the ring and now he dons a mask and seeks revenge. Pretty interesting storyline. It's a shame that it quickly got discontinued for one reason or another. In this issue, they even take time to give Lawler himself a spotlight.