Been a while since I’ve done a post on a book and in reviewing my Kindle notes, I completely missed one. I read Bill Apter’s book “Is Wrestling Fixed? I Didn’t Know It Was Broken!” on vacation in the Outer Banks at the same time I read the Pat Patterson book, which consumed many more posts than this will.
Apter was a staple of my childhood as the main guy at a group of wrestling magazines (The “Apter mags”) led by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. As I lived in the northeastern US, I would see WWF but those magazines introduced me to NWA, AWA, World Class and all the territories or at least the ones that remained in the late 1980s. So in a way, Bill Apter is partly responsible for this blog. Let’s peek at the book, though I didn’t highlight very much.
The book is not written in perfect chronological order and is based more around the many anecdotes of Apter’s career:
I was told that I would be doing three different segments: one with Dusty Rhodes (topic: Starrcade), another with Terry Taylor (subject: Mid-South Wrestling) and the final one with Larry Zbyszko (about: Bruno Sammartino).
For a very long time, Apter wasn’t on the greatest terms with WWF/E. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Apter and his associates could be seen at Madison Square Garden and other shows taking pictures of the matches. Things changed when Vince Jr. took over the operation. Because he was starting his own magazine (Victory Magazine, soon to be WWF Magazine), he prohibited competitors at ringside. PWI and other publications clearly held a grudge because their coverage of the NWA and other promotions was more favorable. At one point, they stopped recognizing the WWF Title as a world title.
Apter was still very connected to the wrestlers, who of course wanted their own publicity. Hulk Hogan is the biggest example of it and he would defy Vince’s wishes and would pose for photos in a hotel room for the magazines.
Later on when the WWE became the dominant promotion in the 2000s, Apter would be used as a talking head on documentaries and in topical roundtables as he described in the passage above.
Most of the bars we went to, as per Curt’s choice, were country music establishments. He was a huge country music enthusiast.
Curt Hennig was one of Apter’s closest friends in the business and they hung out together a lot. The “West Texas Rednecks” was not some made up thing to cram a guy from Minnesota into an odd spot since Curt genuinely was a fan of the music. And the “Rap is Crap” stuff is definitely my favorite thing from 1999 WCW, not because I hate rap music but because it was hilarious.
“Randy [Savage] had wanted to do a series of matches with Shawn Michaels in WWF,” Lanny [Poffo] told me. “Rather than agree, the powers that be decided that Randy was too old to be a wrestler and should remain as part of the broadcast team. This made him highly bitter and caused him to seriously consider leaving.”
It’s fairly well known that the WWF mostly phased the Macho Man out after his 1992 run, which was not particularly successful at the box office due to many factors beyond his control. The business in the U.S. took a tumble after the sexual misconduct allegations in early 1992 and the steroid scandals preceding that. Savage only turned 40 at the end of 1992 and had been around for seven years.
As for a potential Savage-Michaels feud, supposedly an idea was floated for them to have a year-long feud culminating at WrestleMania. They did have a match in Munich, Germany in 1992 but it wasn’t as good as you might think. Since Macho’s former manager Sherri was there, you would think it was tailor made for a program. I think a potential issue was that Ric Flair needed to be in the main event mix to keep him happy.
For some reason I recalled Andy’s dead-on imitation of Elvis and said to him, “I know one of the promoters in this area,” pointing out the photos to him. “Maybe you could go there as an evil Elvis or something,” I suggested. My brain was racing.
Apter was friendly with Andy Kaufman and assisted in setting him up in the world of wrestling. He approached Vince McMahon Sr. with the idea, who turned it down as he didn’t want to be involved with any Hollywood business. (This of course being the man who fired Hulk Hogan in 1981 for being in Rocky III)
Jerry Lawler in Memphis was receptive to the idea and ran with it. Instead of being “Evil Elvis”, Kaufman became more of a show business elitist who spoke down to the Tennessee crowd, and Lawler would defend the honor of the fans.
Interesting to note about that feud: on the famous 1982 Letterman appearance, Lawler was definitely playing the heel. The reason for this is it would allow him to be a heel going to other territories but still be popular in Memphis where he was untouchable.
Haku explained to me that there were karaoke bars all over Japan. He said it’s a very polite form of entertainment.
I want to see Haku do karaoke. My request is “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and it can be either the Bonnie Tyler or Nikki French version. He can decide. Apter describes his love of karaoke in the book, and he would always perform Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” when up on stage.
DEAN AMBROSE: I always joke that if Terry Funk and Dick Slater were wed and they had a kid, it would be Dean Ambrose.
Toward the end of the book, Apter provided some quick hit thoughts on current wrestlers. This book was written in 2015, though Ambrose’s character hasn’t changed much.
Personally, the Terry Funk comparison isn’t fair to Ambrose because he could never possibly live up to that. I definitely see the Slater comparison, though I think Ambrose is a bit more dynamic in the ring. With promos being more scripted in this era, it’s kind of hard for Ambrose to approach being the kind of character Funk was at time, or even Brian Pillman in his Loose Cannon days.
This book is available for $8.99 on Kindle at Amazon.