Kayfabe Code-Breakers: The Fabulous Ones and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
Beltmaker Neal Snow of All-Star Championship Belts (with an assist from Suicidal Philly Sports Fan), continues his mock-ups of Apter mags that threaten to break the Kayfabe code.
When an unknown wrestler with apparently no background, experience or past calling himself “Harley Race” (frankly, it sounds phony) made his professional debut in the WWF in 1986, he was considered a longshot to win the Former Fed’s inaugural King of the Ring tournament. After dispatching former WWWF champion Pedro Morales (the original “Latino Heat”) to win the event, Race had the audacity to wear a crown and cape a la the very man who lifted the gimmick from Bobby Shane in the first place: Jerry Lawler. When the WWF invaded the King’s backyard for a show in Memphis, Lawler got a court injunction preventing Race from not only being billed as the King but also from wearing the royal regalia. (Lawler had a point, as WWF had been billing Race simply as “The King” in newspaper ads.) I believe the litigation stopped there, with Race allowed to be announced as King in every state but Tennessee. Vince and Co. were truly a royal pain in the arse to the struggling territories in the late ’80s.
Wrestling history might have changed–or least been delayed–had Jim Crockett’s Starrcade ’87 been cleared for more PPV markets; however, the WWF juggernaut put a stop to that. Vince mandated that any cable outlet that carried Crockett’s event could not broadcast his Survivor Series; coming off the heels of the wildly successful WrestleMania III, the cable companies caved, with JCP only getting a fraction of the clearance they had hoped for. Crockett was crushed, as he had been counting on PPV revenue to pay off the balances on several “balloon contracts” he had secured his top stars with. That was a shrewd move by McMahon; however, by this point, JCP and Dusty were their worst enemies with bad booking (Ron Garvin defeats Ric Flair for the World title and the dreaded “Dusty finish” at Starrcade that killed the Chicago market) and ballooning egos (to match those worthless contracts).
The healing power of the Von Erich Christian Coalition was legendary in the Apter mags; tragically, they couldn’t save themselves.
With good looks, MTV-style music videos, flashy outfits and the creative juices of Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler behind them, the Fab and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express knocked the socks of female fans in the Memphis territory, attracting a whole audience demographic: pubescent girls who had no idea had to please them. (Never you mind, Southern girls learn pretty fast.) While both teams worked Monday nights at the Coliseum, the promotion cleaned up on weekend spot shows, sending the Fabs (the A team) to one area on Friday and Saturday nights, and Morton and Gibson to the other. Think Beatle-Mania on a smaller, Southern scale. Even Paul, Ring, John and George would have been envious of the action the Fabs were getting in their van.
File under Apter mags