We continue my Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration with the knowledge that it’s not exactly a great time to be celebrating anything. In one of my most awkward segues of all time, which is saying something, 1992 wasn’t a big year for celebration in the wrestling business.
The WWF was in the news for all the wrong reasons. Sex scandals. Drug scandals. The popularity of the company took a big hit, one that took several years to recover from. One amazing thing about it is that as a young fan, I was completely oblivious to all of it. Pro wrestling was all over the news & tabloid shows, and somehow I managed to avoid it. I was deeply embedded in what was going on inside of the ring, not outside of it.
To me, 1992 was a pretty fun year! Looking back, I still get a good deal of enjoyment out of it. Ric Flair’s Royal Rumble win doesn’t make the list because I didn’t see it. It wasn’t until years later that I saw it, and realized it was my favorite match of all time. I also had the chance to expand my fandom into promotions I’d never heard of before, and discovered something at the grocery store that would become an addiction for several years.
No, not Brownie Bites. I think those came along later.
Anywho, here are my top 5 Wrestling Memories from 1992.
5. Ultimate Warrior is Cursed by Papa Shango
We’ve all heard the question “When did you figure out that wrestling was fake?”. I hate to use the word “fake” because we all know the very real consequences of what wrestlers do in the ring. But that’s the question people ask, and I’ve never had the patience to correct them on it. The sooner one of these conversations ends, the better, so I just tell them “When I saw Papa Shango place a curse on the Ultimate Warrior, and it worked”.
I could believe Warrior being locked in a casket by Undertaker. I could believe a lot of things that the WWF presented during this time period, which in hindsight look completely ridiculous. Papa Shango’s curse? Warrior oozing black liquid out of his head? Warrior randomly going into convulsions after a match and vomiting on a medical attendant on the May 16th episode of Superstars? Not to mention all this other stuff with Shango setting peoples’ boots on fire after matches, or Mean Gene Okerlund having his own black liquid incident, or anything else Papa Shango did during his run.
Don’t get me wrong. The character had an awesome look. Charles Wright seems like one of the coolest people to ever set foot in a wrestling ring. But I was eight years old and even I wasn’t buying into all of these voodoo shenanigans. They are pretty funny to watch now, though.
4. Nailz Assaults Big Boss Man
On the opposite end of the spectrum was the vicious attack Nailz committed on the Big Boss Man. This thing looked legit as all get-out. A mysterious voice had appeared on previous editions of Superstars talking about how Boss Man had mistreated him in the Cobb County prison, but he was out now and looking for revenge. Boy did he get it! Nailz beat the living crap out of Boss Man on the May 30th episode of Superstars in one of the biggest beat downs I’d seen at the time.
It still holds up pretty well. Though, to be honest, when I was re-watching it on WWE Network awhile back, I couldn’t help but think that maybe the Boss Man had it coming. Dude was a babyface, but he’d still slap around people after beating them, put handcuffs on them if he was in a mood, all for the sin of being booked to wrestle against the Big Boss Man. Who’s to say he didn’t abuse Nailz unfairly in prison? I think Mr. Perfect was onto something in his description of the incident.
3. Renting SummerSlam 1992
Any of you in my general age group will surely have stories about how you would rent wrestling tapes at a video store. Mine was a Blockbuster next to the grocery store. Once my parents got their Blockbuster card, the world was my oyster. Video games & wrestling shows were mine to be had for three days, and I made as much usage out of those three days as possible.
My store had a WWF-heavy selection, which makes sense because I don’t think most other companies figured out video distribution until the DVD age. This was how I got to see most of the early WrestleManias, Summer Slams, Royal Rumble & Survior Series. Sure, it would have been nice to see them live, but renting them was good enough for me. SummerSlam 1992 was the first show I remember watching pretty close to when it happened.
2. Clash of the Champions XX
I mentioned in the previous two columns that I had yet to be introduced to other wrestling promotions & watched the WWF exclusively. That changed in 1992. First, my local TV station started airing WCW Worldwide at 12 PM after Superstars & Wrestling Challenge. That was usually a busy time of the day for me, as I was still either playing baseball or being drug out of the house to go somewhere. My interest was piqued a bit more by what we’ll talk about at #1, and once I found out that Jake “The Snake” Roberts & “Ravishing” Rick Rude had gone to WCW, I was ready to jump on the bandwagon.
I just missed the peak of the Dangerous Alliance, as the first show I really remember watching was Clash of the Champions XX. They did a really good job of presenting themselves as the tradition of pro wrestling, with all sorts of guest appearances, some old clips and some pretty solid matches too. Once I figured out WCW had multiple shows on TBS, that changed my TV viewing schedule. WCW wouldn’t reach its peak until a few years later, but I grew to love their more wrestling-centric presentation.
1. Discovering wrestling magazines
As much as I loved renting wrestling tapes, I’ve always been a reader at heart. I’m not talking the kind of stuff I do either. I’m talking hardcover. Pages with ink on them. Maybe a paperback if I’m in the mood. Give me some good books and I can survive this whole coronavirus thing pretty easily.
Give me some magazines. Come to think of it, I’ve got boxes & boxes of old wrestling magazines somewhere. It was in the fall of 1992 when I was at my grocery store and happened upon the magazine section. The first types of magazines I noticed? Wrestling, of course. Including that WCW Magazine with Big Van Vader on the cover. I’d never seen Vader before, and he looked so cool towering over those smaller guys. So naturally I made my mom buy it for me, and that was how I learned about WCW.
WWF Magazine was a big one too, of course. I subscribed to that one for years. I’d eventually discover all the Apter mags. Pro Wrestling Illustrated was the biggie, then you had The Wrestler, Inside Wrestling and some other ones that were hit or miss depending on the subjects. I remember Wrestling’s Main Event having tons of information about stuff I’d never heard of, but I only caught the tail end of their run. Wrestling magazines were among the height of my childhood, and it makes me sad that they’re almost extinct now. Pretty sure PWI is still hanging in there but I haven’t seen a wrestling magazine in a store for ages.
It’s a dying medium. But I wish I had my own monthly column in a magazine starting on page 18 and with the ending on page 65.
Thanks for reading and looking back with me to the good ol’ days! Join us next week as we look back at 1993…