Interview - Bill Apter

Interview: Bill Apter, Editor, Total Wrestling: 14th July 2003

We interview Bill Apter, king of the mainstream wrestling magazines that many wrestling fans grew up with.

He may not be comfortable to admit it, but Bill is probably one of the most influential people in modern pro wrestling history.

Bill discusses the wrestling business, how he broke into the business, the business today, Total Wrestling and more.

How did you get your break in the wrestling industry?

I was a fan since I was five years old. I started my own wrestling newsletter while in High School and then after graduating went to broadcasting school. What that schooling ran its course, I bought time on a New York City radio station and the first week there was given some press tickets to a wrestling show. I interviewed a few of the wrestlers and photographed them and sent them to the publisher of a magazine called Wrestling Revue. After that was published, it opened a door for me to meet Stanley Weston, the man who was publisher of The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling.

We met, hit it off great, and he started teaching me the wrestling publishing business (and I did some boxing photography in those days too as he published several boxing magazines). Stanley Weston was the man who made it all happen for me and it was one of the saddest days in my life when he died last year. I miss him very much.

What are you aims and objectives?

To make the magazine I work for both informative, entertaining, and graphically appealing.

What have been the biggest changes in the wrestling business, from both a fans and publishers perspective?

The admission that wrestling is "staged." That changed the entire world of wrestling. People looked at it more as a sport before Vince McMahon Jr. proclaimed what it really is, and that is entertainment.

How has the Internet been good and bad for the wrestling magazine publisher?

Good in terms of being able to get the news very quickly. Bad in the fact that most Internet writers mainly hound on all the negative aspects when there are a lot of positives out there too.

What do you consider the highlights of your career?

That's easy. In 1985 I had the pleasure to CO-host, along with the "Dean of wrestling broadcasters" Gordon Solie, wrestling's very first commercial video titled Lords of the Ring. What a thrill to sit next to "the man" and be able to work alongside him. He was amazing.

The other highlights were hosting a weekly segment on the old NWA Jim Crockett promotions show on the worldwide Ted Turner network WTBS. Fans from all over the world got to know me because of those segments as well as the syndicated "Pro Wrestling This Week" where I had a segment on that show hosted by Joe Pedicino.

Another top moment I can't ignore was introducing Jerry Lawler to comedian Andy Kaufman and helping set up that entire angle. Lawler did a chapter in his book on that and didn't forget to put me in it. It was quite flattering to say the least!

What publications have you edited (PHOTOGRAPHED) and written for over the years?

The PWI group of course for 28 years. I moved from there to WOW (World of Wrestling) and now to Total Wrestling.

When and why did you start covering more than the "big 2" wrestling promotions in the U.S?

Since I started in 1970 the magazines always covered more than the "big 2." At one time of course there were the "big 3!" That was the WWWF, NWA, and AWA.

How was ECW a good thing for the wrestling business?

It had a more modern "hip" sensibility to it. It helped bring the business to a new level that you see the WWE has taken pieces of and uses it even to this day.

How did Total Wrestling Magazine come about?

After the mother company of WOW went out of business the company in England -- WVIP/Highbury House -- which was doing the British version of WOW, began their own publication called Power of Wrestling. That magazine had a short run and ceased publication. A month or so later we entered into discussions again and the company decided to launch a new wrestling title with me as Senior Editor and that's how Total Wrestling was born. Publisher Steve May and Editor Steve Ganfield along with me, veteran writer Steve Anderson and others feel we have put together the best independent wrestling magazine on the planet!

What is the readership?

Various .. can't really pin that down.

Why did Pro Wrestling Illustrated and its associated "sister" magazines cease?

They have not ceased. (that will teach me - Greg Tingle, for being on the www, and not in the news agents enough) - answer left in as per Media Man Australia policy.

What do you look for in a good writer?

Someone who can tell a story in the same manner they can tell it orally! It's also horrible when people send story submissions with spelling errors! I cannot tell you how often that happenzzz ... I mean hjappends.... lol!

What motivates you?

Waking up every day and knowing that I have one of the best jobs in the world!

What do you do on a day to day basis?

Assign photographers and writers to their various duties. Discuss upcoming plans with Steve May and Steve Ganfield. Some days/nights I do interviews with wrestlers and photo sessions. Some days I do things like this interview. I also go to wrestling conventions when they are happening, and anywhere where I can meet with and talk to the fans.

Has "traditional" media been fair to the wrestling business over the years?

Not really. They also mainly look at the negative side of the business. It's rare that you'll read a "this is great" story no matter how good the event really was.

Who have been the best folks to work with over the years, and why?

In respect to the wrestlers, the "bad guys" are the best. Many of the "good guys" have primadonna attitudes and I run away from that. The top five best folks that come to mind through the years are "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Terry Funk, Hulk Hogan, Bruno Sammartino, and Mr. Wrestling II. The primadonnas, well I won't mention them this time (and aren't you glad Billy Gunn)!

What do you think and know about about the pro wrestling scene in Australia?

I lived for 3 years with Susan Sexton -- from Perth -- as my roommate MANY years ago. She painted the most beautiful picture of Australia with her words. It's one of the few places I have never been so let's get a Bill Apter to Oz movement going already!!! I get a ton of email from Aussies (and they can write to me at and it's time I met them already!

What is the biggest misconception about you?

That I am TOTALLY bald. I do have some hair on my head!

What else should we know about you and your business activities?

Just that I love what I do and do it 24/7. More so than taking photos or writing, my main job has always been being the "connection" between the magazine and the wrestlers. It's a dream come true for me.

I also must do karaoke at least once a month!



Editors note: A true professional who still makes time for the fans. Bill has seen and done it all in wrestling, and we wish him continued success.