Saturday, July 24, 2010

Canon Magazine Review: Pro Wrestling Illustrated, January 1998

Some might say that I've got a bunch of junk in my room. To be honest, I'd be hard pressed to disagree with them. I have boxes and boxes of magazines, baseball cards, books, and who knows what else. It's gotten bad enough that I don't have enough room to put anything else in there at the moment. So why am I telling you and what does this have to do with a wrestling magazine, you ask? Well, I've decided to look back at some of the stuff I've accumulated over the years and review them from time to time. Up first is the January 1998 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, a magazine that covered wrestling as if it were real, and which featured Chris Jericho, Buff Bagwell, and the immortal Alex Wright on the cover with the heading "The Real New World Order: WCW's Hot Young Studs" That headline makes the magazine sound a bit like a porno rag, but nevertheless I will press on and turn the cover, which you can see right here, courtesy of

We start with my favorite part of any magazine, the reader letters. Uggh, this is always death. One man condemns Ken Shamrock for his actions at Summerslam 97, where he attacked the British Bulldogs and a bunch of WWF Referees. Another person is disgusted by wrestling audiences throwing trash into the ring, which, during the height of the nWo days, happened quite a lot. Nowadays, you hardly see anyone throw stuff from the crowd, but every once in a while, a fan will get rowdy and throw something to show their disapproval.

Up next are a few columns by some of the writers of PWI. In Ringside with Bill Apter, the then recent death of Fritz Von Erich is touched upon. We also learn that Reckless Youth beat American Kickboxer for the IWA Lightweight Title, and Akira Hokuto had to vacate the WCW Women's title due to chest pains. Clearly, the pressure of being WCW Women's champion was just too much for Hokuto to handle. In other columns, Stu Saks calls Hollywood Hogan a gutless wimp for submitting to Lex Luger's torture rack, Dave Lenker says that Arn Anderson should get back involved with the Four Horsemen after the events of Fall Brawl 97, which you can read about just below this post, and he also has a note about the then recent in-ring death of Joshi worker Plum Mariko, who died at the young age of 29 after taking a Liger Bomb on her head. Well, that sucks.

Now we get to the meat of the magazine, the feature articles. The first article is about The Giant, and how his focus on beating up nWo members may be hurting his career because, well, they really didn't decide on a reason. At one point they say he's being to passive, and then two paragraphs later they say he's be too reckless and aggressive. I guess this type of thing happens a lot when you have to try and make sense of wrestling storylines. Up next is an 'interview' with Shane Douglas, although from what I've heard over the years, the interview is actually a work of fiction. Douglas had recently won the ECW Title at Hardcore Heaven 97, so a lot of the story deals with that victory. At one point, Douglas, or whoever it is, says that he'll hold the ECW when he's 53, if he so chooses. I am willing to bet 9 million dollars that won't happen in 2017, when Douglas turns 53. Shawn Michaels and his recent attitude change is the subject of the next article. Not long after this issue went to press, Michaels would use his new attitude and form DeGeneration X with Triple-H, Chyna, and Rick Rude, but at this point nobody was sure of exactly what was coming other than a heel turn from HBK.

Next is the cover story, which talks about how Jericho, Wright, Bagwell, and Stevie Richards are the future stars of WCW. First of all, I think Richards had about five matches in WCW before he left/was fired, so I would qualify that as a misfire. Second of all, of the four, only Jericho really became a superstar, even if Buff had his moments. It's kind of hard to believe there was a time that Alex Wright was considered a future main-eventer, but by golly, there was. In fact, there's still time, as Wright is only 35, so come on WWE. Sign up Alex Wright, match him up against John Cena, and watch the cash flow in like wine. Surely Wright would be a better champion than that Sheamus character you've got holding the belt now. After that, the last feature article deals with Ahmed Johnson, which means I will skip it. Actually, it talks about how Ahmed Johnson feels regret over joining the Nation of Domination for the three weeks he was a part of that group, and how his decision may have led to Rocky Maivia joining the N.O.D. Then again, the Rock established himself as a big time star after joining the Nation, so maybe he should be thinking Ahmed for leading him on the path to superstardom.

Finally, there a couple of columns and features towards the end of the magazine. In the WWF vs. WCW section, the recent announcement of WCW adding a new prime-time show is discussed. That show turned out to be WCW Thunder, which was the best show in the history of television, if you discount all the other TV shows that have ever existed. In "The Steel Cage", Dave Rosenbaum argues that Curt Hennig's joining of the nWo is a good thing, because it will lead to Hennig and Ric Flair having a long feud full of great matches. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but the Hennig-Flair feud lasted a couple of months and kind of fizzled out without any memorable matches. In "Win Lose or Draw" Andy Rodriguez writes about Vader's recent face turn and his teaming with the Patriot against the anti-American Hart Foundation. Vader kind of sucked during this time, and he always was much better as a heel, so that wasn't exactly a time full of fond memories of the Man They (who're they?) Call Vader. Also, there are some recent results of wrestling cards around the country, as well as rankings of the top contenders in PWI's mind for all of the big companies. According to their rankings, Jeff Jarrett was the number one contender to the WCW World Title, even though he had been exclusively been wrestling in the middle of the card against guys like Mongo McMichael. I fail to see the logic behind that choice. Also, Phil LaFon was ranked no. 2 in the ECW Top Ten. I have no idea why, considering LaFon barely spent any time in ECW, but if I spent my time questioning the ratings of a magazine that writes about wrestling as if it's a real sport, than I think it would be a colossal waste of time. At the end, there's a "Wrestling Enquirer" section, which discusses the dismissal of ECW's Tod Gordon, who supposedly was trying to send a bunch of the ECW wrestlers to WCW behind Paul Heyman's back or something. Also, Tommy Dreamer's appearance in the USWA and Ricky Morton's appearances in FMW were discussed. Wait a minute, Ricky Morton was in FMW? I wonder if any video exists of this awesome occurrence.

Overall, this magazine wasn't a bad way to waste 20 minutes of time, even though some of the ideas discussed seem kind of ridiculous today. I'll give it a 6 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading a review of me reading, and if you have any thoughts about this or other posts, or ideas for future reviews, than share them either by leaving a comment or by e-mail at  Here's a video of The Giant chokeslamming Eric Bischoff for you, because I couldn't find any FMW Ricky Morton footage, yet.

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