While I am not a voter in the Observer Hall of Fame and the voting may already be done for this year, I still want to make a statement in support of inducting famed magazine writer Bill Apter
Apter, of course, being the recognizable wrestling journalist and photographer for the Stanley Weston family of magazines like Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Inside Wrestling, and The Wrestler. The magazines were written in a kayfabe style as if pro wrestling was real and were commonly referred to as the ‘Apter Mags’.
The Apter Mags term was not always meant to be complimentary. As wrestling newsletters, most notably the Wrestling Observer, that showed no pretense to what pro wrestling actually was, the Apter Mags lost relevance.
In terms of the Observer HOF, it is tough to rate people who don’t fit under the criteria of wrestler. The referees, managers, promoters and journalists cannot be judged by working ability or drawing power. However, they can be judged upon their historical significance and impact. Bill Apter made an impact.
While the magazines kayfabed the business, Apter should not be looked down upon for that. In the Sixties and Seventies, a newsletter like the Observer, may not have been able to survive. The Apter Mags and other similar publications were the only news source for many fans.
I grew up in Minnesota, which was AWA Territory and the only wrestling I got on TV was the AWA and the arena shows were AWA. The Apter Mags provided me with an outlet to see what was going on in other promotions like the WWWF, the NWA, the IWA or NWF. I always knew who the Women’s and Midget World Champions were as well.
This was a time with no internet so the monthly magazines was the only source fans had to info outside their area.
Apter also was trusted and respected by wrestlers and promoters because his magazine group helped keep the illusion of the wrestling business and helped support storylines. The magazine also helped create national stars even though national promotions did not come until the mid-1980s. Depending on the period, those regularly featured on the magazine covers became bigger stars. In the 1970s, Sammartino, Brisco, The Sheik or Mil Mascaras could be seen on the cover. In the 1980s, Flair, Rhodes, Hogan or the Road Warriors could be seen.
For promoters and wrestlers, it was free advertising. Being featured in the magazine was what happened before a new wrestler in a promotion did filmed vignettes. After years of seeing Pedro Morales or the Valiant Brothers in print, many of us AWA fans already knew who they were when they made their first appearances in the AWA. That was the way it was for any new guy coming into the promotion. If they were a star, they had already been featured in the magazine numerous times.
After seeing the popularity of the weekly newsletter, Apter and his group attempted to do a weekly version of PWI in the early nineties that lasted for about a year. Apter eventually changed his reporting style to portray the business as it actually is.
Apter made an impact on this business. People today who grew up with the internet and the non-kayfabe wrestling journalism tend to look down on Apter. Apter made an impact on this business and played an important role that brought the wrestling universe to us before we were able to get it by clicking a mouse.
St. Paul, MN