I used to LOVE wrestling magazines when I was younger. They were a big part of my life growing up. There was nothing I loved spending my parents money on more than wrestling action figures, wrestling video rentals, and wrestling magazines. Combine that with living very close to a shopping mall, and I spent a LOT of my parents money!
I STILL dart straight to the magazines when I go into a bookstore or supermarket because of those days. Sadly, whereas I would be met by up to a dozen wrestling titles in my youth, these days I’m lucky if I find the latest WWE Magazine.
Back then, I loved the so-called “Apter Mags”, the family of publications distributed by the London Publishing group. They were slightly anti-WWF and wrote a little more intelligently. How funny it is that now we all know that most of the articles were fiction. We all feel dumb for reading the intelligent stuff!
Then there were the Napolitano magazines put out by George Napolitano, who I thought was cool because he was balding and was once seen in a picture alongside the Road Warriors while wearing a Late Night with David Letterman t-shirt. I wonder if he and Bill Apter ever had any heat? An indy show should book them in a hair vs. hair match! These magazines weren’t as well written, but always had some great pictures, and in later years would have awesome shots from ECW and Japan.
I always thought it might be cool to grow up to be a writer for a wrestling magazine. I even helped run my own wrestling magazine for a while. Later, I would realize how lucky guys like Bill Apter and George Napolitano were to able to actually make a living covering wrestling. Most other publications seemed to rely heavily on low-paid contributors and ficticious material.
My father will always go down in history as the greatest Dad ever for the day he came home from work with a huge bag of no less than ten of the latest wrestling magazines. He could write me out of his will and I wouldn’t care after something like that!
But there was more to the wrestling mag scene than just those two groups…
Wrestling World was a good publication that went back to around the 1960’s, I beleive. It didn’t have the slick production values of the other mags, but the articles were more lengthy, and would occasionally border on exposing various elements of kayfabe. I remember an edition of Stately Wayne Manor’s column mentioning Dave Meltzer. Adding to the fun was the occasional pot-shot thrown at the Apter-penned Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I think WW may have been one of the first publications to go under when the internet really took off. Wrestling World also taught me how to illegally duplicate videocassettes!
One of my favourites was Wrestling’s Main Event. This publication had cool pictures, good articles, and really had a “tell-it-like-it-is” attitude. I still have some great issues from the mid-1980’s. In the early 1990’s, when WCW was really starting to stink it up, they were downright brutal in their criticism of using guys like Van Hammer. I was sad when the publication ceased operations in the mid 1990’s due to changles in the corporation that owned the title.
Finally, there was the magazines put out by Mike O’Hara, like New Wave Wrestling, and Wrestling Power. One of the lamest names for a magazine I may have seen is Gold Belt Wrestling. Huh? These magazines were a little hit or miss, but sometimes included articles and pictures by some great contibutors. One issue I still have has a special editorial by “departing editor Paul Heyman.”
Of course, later, you had W.O.W. (World of Wrestling) magazine, which was good for a while and brought a different approach, and a few others. In the 1990’s I would occasionally check out the odd issue of the British Power Slam magazine.
It would seem the internet and the smaller wrestling environment/WWE monopoly are to blame for the lack of quality wrestling publications. I don’t see a market for a new publication, either, with most people seemingly going online for their wrestling news. Sadly, I just think it’s another part of wrestling’s past that is pretty much gone.
So here I am…30 years old, and stuck with boxes upon boxes of old wrestling magazines that I think are great, but don’t seem to even get .99 apiece on eBay.