Friday 27 April 2012

Yo, do you remember the Apter mags? By Darren Rogers

Younger fans might not know what I mean when I use the term ‘Apter mags’, so I’ll explain. Before the internet, and yes there was life before it, information was harder to come by. Especially information about pro wrestling. Especially if you were a fan in England!

For me, a wrestling fan, all my pro wrestling information came from the magazines published by Bill Apter. Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler – these were just a few of the many titles that they published monthly. It was all storyline based, no inside scoops or kayfabe, and as WWF or WCW was not yet on terrestrial TV (I think Screensport – which would later become Eurosport – showed some NWA/WCW and Sky may have shown some WWF, but ITV in the London region didn’t show WWF until 1989 I believe) I had no way of seeing wrestling, of following storylines or knowing who was even the champion!

And it’s not as if these magazines were readily available in WH Smiths. There was one vendor that sold them, and he was outside the train station 3 miles from my house. I was still in high school at this time, so every Sunday I would cycle up to the station to see what he had. Disappointingly, I would often arrive to see the same magazines as the previous week. But there were other occasions when I would see several new issues – I remember finding out that Hogan had beaten Andre 2 months after Wrestlemania III – and I would buy everything that he had (still got them, in my loft).

It wasn’t just the big two federations that were covered though – these magazines gave me glimpses of wrestlers and federations that I had never heard of. Jerry Lawler’s Memphis territory was covered like it was a big deal, as was the AWA and World Class but as the WWF didn’t allow anyone to talk to Bill Apter, his bread and butter was the NWA\WCW promotion and as such they were more regularly featured. This might explain why I have a fondness for the NWA in the late 80’s as the Apter mags covered them so well.

One thing that I didn’t know at the time, but I found out recently, was that a lot of the columns in the Apter mags weren’t written by the people themselves. Apart from Bill, there was Eddie Ellner (a heel writer), Craig Peters (face) and Jill Hunter (token woman) and several others. But Bill only had a small staff, so they would write as different people apparently. This made me laugh as I used to skip reading certain people if I didn’t like what they said (always preferred the heel writers) but they were all coming from the same pen, Bill Apter's I reckon. Who knows, maybe he was writing them all by himself!

Is there a market for print media nowadays? I used to buy Powerslam regularly, and I’ve bought a few issues of FSM, but not in the past few years. Storylines move so fast, that by the time the issue gets to you the wrestlers involved have moved onto something else. Print media is dead, thanks to the internet, but Bill Apter and his range of magazines will always have a place in my heart – thanks Bill!

Hit me up on twitter @DarrenRogers71

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