Bill Apter was this week’s guest on Nick’s Rock n Wrestling podcast. The legendary professional wrestling journalist opened up his encounters with wrestling legends, the era of kayfabe in comparison to today, as well as his time with WOW Magazine and Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Highlights appear below.
(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone)
On Dave Meltzer:
That was taboo. If promoters even thought you talked to Dave Meltzer they wouldn’t have any part of you. Throughout my career, promoters didn’t know that I talked to Dave. Dave and I would talk every Monday when we put out Pro Wrestling Weekly. We would exchange results. He would give me backstage tidbits and things I didn’t know about and I would do the same thing with him. Other than people in the editorial office, nobody knew that I talked to Dave Meltzer and if a promoter would say, ‘Hey, do you talk to Meltzer?’ ‘Who’s that?’ I just had to go with the flow because it was that serious. One wrong move and all those years of taking pictures at ringside and being allowed in the dressing rooms and never repeating anything I saw back in those days just would have been gone in a second, if somebody knew that I was talking to Dave or even Wade Keller, or some of the other sheet guys.
On Being Tipped Off The Night Bruno Sammartino Lost The WWE Championship To Ivan Koloff:
Mr. Weston asked me if I was going to the Garden that night. I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Make sure you have plenty of film because something’s gonna happen,’ but he never told me. He said, ‘Make sure you have plenty of film for the main event. Sammartino and Koloff because something’s gonna happen,’ but he never said Bruno’s gonna lose tonight because as much as he trusted me, he had to kayfabe me, as well.
On Promoters Occasionally Tipping Him Off:
Once in awhile I would have a promoter who wouldn’t tell me exactly what was going on, but when I would call every week to get the rankings for the magazine, somebody would say, ‘It would be a good idea to put Ricky Steamboat probably and when is this magazine coming out? Three months from now? It might be a good idea to put Ricky Steamboat in the top contender spot of the NWA by then.
On Ric Flair Changing Title Plans:
Ric Flair was, from what I understood, scheduled to lose the NWA World Heavyweight Championship to Ricky Steamboat on one occasion. I think it might have been Chicago and when he saw me there, he came over to me and he said, ‘Who told you what’s going on tonight?’ I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ and he balked that night at Jim Crockett figuring that Crockett might have told me and he was not gonna drop that title. He figured too many people knew.
On Interviews Today:
People today find that weird, when they do in storyline interviews on podcasts. Now the wrestlers will say, ‘You know it’s just a story. I’m really good friends with this guy, but that’s our storyline.’ Back then you’d have your legs broken, if you did anything like that. Every territory had one or two guys that were enforcers where you had to be very careful to walk a fine line and never ever ever break out of the code of the business.
On Jealous Promoters:
There was some jealousy, of course, with the placement on the covers. Verne Gagne and the AWA wanted to know why we put an NWA guy bigger on the cover or a WWF guy bigger on the cover than his guy. Crockett never really asked. It depended what your saturation was, what your TV reach was. That’s how we decided pretty much, who was selling tickets, and who was getting over, as to who was getting on the cover. There were times some promoters would say, ‘Well, listen, if I’m not gonna get a cover out of this, you don’t have to cover my guys.’ There was a lot of in-fighting that way. One promoter didn’t know that from another promoter, but I knew it because I was the guy they all took it out on.
On Some Promoters Not Wanting Him Around:
There were also some promoters that didn’t want me there because they didn’t want people to know, let’s say so and so lost a match in Cleveland and then they’d bring that same match to Atlanta, and announce it as a first time match. Generally, we didn’t do results in the magazines. We did a section of results in some of them, but mainly we did feature stories on people, on wrestlers, or feuds, but yeah, you’d be surprised that there were some guys, and some promoters that didn’t want to be a part of it. That really surprised me, especially with some of the wrestlers who just didn’t care.
Apter Comments On Wrestling Today & What He Expects In The Future:
It’s going up. The new All Elite Wrestling is on the tongues of every Elite Wrestling fan at this point. I think that although the WWE is not shaking in their pants, these people have a lot of financial backing and probably a lot of good TV coming up, but I think it will help up their game again because competition is always good. See, there’s always been WWE, and some other companies, and the indies. There’s no real steady middle layer and I think that’s what All Elite Wrestling’s gonna start off becoming, that middle layer.
I look for the women of wrestling, of course, and I’m not just talking about their TV show, but the WWE: incredible athletes like Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Bayley to up their game even higher. I like that the WWE is going to start bringing more of their NXT and 205 Live guys to their main shows. I look at it very positively.
On Negativity In Wrestling Today & Staying A Fan Through It All:
You’ll rarely hear me moan about something in the business on a national forum, or a local forum, or a podcast because, for the most part, I’m still a wrestling fan. I still love it and I still like to cover it, as a sport.
It drives me crazy that there’s so much negativity out on the internet. Too many critical things. Just sit back, relax, and try and enjoy it. I find myself these days being more critical too because I’m in a whole group of people on the internet where that’s all their doing is being more critical. Sometimes I get sucked into it, but I’m hesitant to talk about it.
Readers may listen to the Bill Apter interview in its entirety HERE.