Thursday, November 15, 2018
The program itself is very much like the other ones that have come along in this era. It's oversized and glossy with thicker-stock pages than a magazine-style program would have. This design first appeared in the very early 2000's. It is also more of a roster guide for the women rather than displaying actual match-ups. Again the pay-per-view lineups change too much for them to be accurately printed too far in advance.
The first page is a shot of the folks who brought you this show, Triple H, Stephanie, and Vince McMahon. Let's all thank them. Then, of course, we get to Ronda Rousey. Obviously she will begin the program being the center of the women's division. So far, she seems to have dedicated herself to the business in a way that many of us wouldn't have imagined. She has largely been a plus for the product, or so it has seemed in the little that I follow the weekly product. All of the larger stars such as The Bella Twins, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch get their own pages, as well.
My favorite portion, of course, is the section featuring the legends. Not only do we get Wendi Richter, Mae Young, and my friend Leilani Kai, but also shown are Cyndi Lauper, Sapphire, Bull Nakano, Rockin' Robin, Mildred Burke, Bertha Faye and Velvet McIntyre just to name a few. The biggest shocker? An inclusion that shouldn't be shocking at all. In fact, she should be front and center. Yes, folks, The Fabulous Moolah is here. Did somebody call Snickers? I think we have a program to burn. Get Twitter on it...
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Dude Love joins several releases of Mankind and Cactus Jack, not to mention a modern day Commissioner Foley figure. He's part of the Elite collection and definitely the highlight of his particular series. I still love the current packaging for the Elite figures. It's basically a showcase for the figure. No more, no less. Let the figures themselves do the selling. A standout figure will have no issues in that department. Dude Love does just that.
Dude Love had several looks and shirts, but the latter portrayed here
definitely has a tinge of blue. Any fan will remember when this shirt was readily available from the company at the height of Dude Love's initial run. Dude's pants are also blue and I don't necessarily recall him wearing any other ones. Who remembers the shot of his boots "strutting" in the back just before his debut? The Summer of Love for the WWF, indeed.
Last but not least, the facial likeness is on point. I believe that it is a completely new one for Foley, and captures Dude Love perfectly. In a year of great figures, we have another challenger for the title of best. I don't know that Mattel will give into temptation and do a Three Faces of Foley set, but I could see more of Dude down the line since he did alter his look a bit as the character went on. Needless to say, the fact that this long-awaited figure finally saw the light of day can be summed up in one word...
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Meet John Cena, children's book author. Random House recently released the first book penned by the champ, entitled "Elbow Grease." Per the back flap, Cena was a big fan of Richard Scarry (as was I) and his beloved line of books for children. The illustrations do remind me a bit of the late author's works, but I don't remember as much dialogue in those. This is a story very reminiscent of Disney's Cars, in looks anyway.
I won't ruin the ending for you, but it is a cute tale with a positive message. You can hear John's voice reading the text in your head. "Elbow Grease" is coffee-table book sized, but otherwise a nice short, children's story in length. The size of the book itself lends to large illustrations, some of which you can lose yourself in while picking out all of the details. Be sure to hunt around in the back of the book for a funny little Easter egg, too.
"Elbow Grease" is a fun little tale. I'm not sure if John has anymore children's stories in him, but the characters introduced here could easily be seen on a cartoon series or even feature. It's easy to imagine John doing the voice of Bo, though I'm not sure that he would have the time. I never got the "hate" for Cena, though I'm not sure that was every really the case, either. Aside from a few instances, I think the crowd booed him because it was the thing to do rather than any real dislike. Again, in my opinion, the only missing ingredient from the career of John Cena was a breakout beyond the squared circle. Now that he's put a little elbow grease into it, the sky may be the limit...
Thursday, October 25, 2018
To be fair, a box full of resold wrestling trading card packs isn't exactly new, either. Various incarnations have popped up at retailers, most notably Wal Mart and Target, over the years with varying results. From my own experience, usually you're left feeling rather ripped off if you made the purchase yourself. This time, despite really scaling down my trading card purchasing aside from the WWE Heritage hobby boxes, I thought the plunge may be worth it.
Here we have the "Wrestling Mystery Box." It's sold by MJ Holdings (formerly Beckett) and retails for $20. I picked up my box at Wal Mart, although it would not be unheard of for these to show up at Target as well. The box advertises five factory sealed fat packs and four factory sealed regular packs per box. The former, also known as jumbo packs, usually retail for around $5 each. That right there brings you over the $20 price point. The other four packs seem to be remainder from blaster boxes and don't look to have a chance to include any "hits." The box DOES, however, advertise that 1:4 boxes will have hits seeded. Sounds good to me.
Ultimately there were packs from Road to WrestleMania 2017 and 2018, Then, Now, Forever, Heritage 2017, and WWE 2017. A nice and rather current variety. Seeing as that I had approximately zero cards from at least one of these sets, many were brand new to me. Even with the Heritage cards, which are my yearly favorite sets, I rarely buy much beyond my traditional hobby box. Although I'd like to complete the sets, I simply don't have the time, patience, or will to do it anymore. Here I pulled some great subset cards that I previously did not have, as well as many with signing potential.
Am I glad that I took the risk? Absolutely. No one is trying to pull one over on anyone here. The jumbo packs make the price point worth it alone, and I pulled two relics when you're truly not even guaranteed one. Would I give it another try? I do believe that I might. It was fun and interesting to see exactly what I would pull as it's even more of a mystery than a hobby box. These also make great gifts. Hint, hint. Why not surprise your favorite blogger today?
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Seeing as that they increase and decrease in price perhaps more than any other form of wrestling memorabilia, we're once again looking at magazines. There are many wrestling magazine collectors out there, and for this edition we'll look at a variety of issues from various time periods that have recently seen movement on the market. As always, prices listed are for non-autographed versions.
*Where better to begin than 52 years ago this month? Batmania had swept the country thanks to the magic that was being created by Adam West and company on television every Wednesday and Thursday evening. Wrestling capitalized on the craze, though it was most prominent in Pittsburgh where strongman Tony Marino became "The Battman." Though he played the character for several years (and has the hair on the back of his head shaved into the Bat Signal to this day), his tag team partner dressed as Robin was short-lived. Both were captured in full costume on the October 1966 issue of Wrestling Revue magazine. While Batkids of the day probably readily scooped the magazine up from newsstands, it's a less common issue nowadays and recently sold for $31.
*Around 25 years later another colorful character would capture America's interest, that being Bart Man aka Bart Simpson. Bret "The Hitman" Hart made a cameo on The Simpsons right around what many consider to be the best era of the long-running cartoon. This appearance was immortalized on the cover of the May 1997 issue of WWE Magazine. Bret and Bart recently sold for $50 which is unusual for this particular edition.
*Going back to the late 1970's we see the fourth issue of the short lived Wrestling Action Magazine. The first in-house WWWF publication, this magazine has widely been featured here on the blog over the years, and thanks to editor Les Thatcher we've been able to chronicle the history of the highly collectible run. This issue features the war of the tag teams that was going on at the time pitting The Valiant Brothers and manager Captain Lou Albano against Larry Zbyszko and Tony Garea. The issue recently sold for $24.50 which is actually trending low for this magazine.
*Another titled to come from wrestling renaissance man Les Thatcher was the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine. One of my favorite covers in a run where it's hard to choose just one is from Issue Vol. 4 No. 5 featuring "Number One" Paul Jones and The Masked Superstar. If there were ever two stars who embodied wrestling in the Carolinas for Jim Crockett Promotions, it's these two gentlemen. The issue recently sold for $51.
*Finally we head back north in August/September 1984 with the World Wrestling Federation. "Rock N Wrestling" was at full steam and in the center of the mayhem were Rowdy Roddy Piper, Captain Lou Albano, and Cyndi Lauper. The three took the cover shot here, obviously on the set of Piper's Pit. As with many of the early WWF Magazines, secondary market value has rarely waned. This classic recently sold for $49.
From cartoon characters to pop singers to wrestling versions of Caped Crusaders, these issues embody the fun of collecting wrestling magazines from the past. What do you have socked away in "Mom's attic?" There could be great reading material up there...and a lot of value in it.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
JJ is the latest Build-A-Figure, an unsurprising but satisfying way for Mattel to release the legend. In the second "Basic" style WWE Flashback series exclusive to Wal Mart, we get JJ and four figures that coincide with a World Championship Wrestling theme. To build Dillon you have to buy Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Sting, and Booker T. While it would have been cool to have all Horsemen members from the Dillon era of the group rounding out the set, it's still a suitable lineup. We can't forget that JJ was back with the company when Booker T and this particular representation of Sting were current.
Although Sting was briefly a Horsemen, it was after JJ had departed for the WWF. This Sting is also well after his time in the elite faction as far as design. This is the second Sting figure to reflect his time right before he completely changed to the "Crow" look that many fans still covet today. The orange and black are striking and conjure up thoughts of Halloween Havoc, though I'm not sure that he wore this particular style there. Booker T is a very nice figure, though fairly close to the Harlem Heat "Elite" figure released not long ago. Putting him into the black tights would've been something different, but as usual with a set this fun, I'm not complaining.
The body used is standard for many of these Build-A-Figures and, like with the Mean Gene Okerlund figure which was originally released as such, I've had issues with the left arm staying attached. Tinted glasses are also included, though he works without them as well since he didn't constantly wear them back then. Could we have asked for more with this figure? I really don't think so.
For us fans of the legends, we finally have JJ. He'll fit in with the Mattel releases of the Horsemen or even Jakks figures such as the pre-ring Horsemen, Ron Bass, Abdullah the Butcher, or anyone else that he managed. Who else is going to have the upcoming Dusty Rhodes Elite figure drop the Bionic Elbow onto JJ? That leads me to think that someone will be obtaining an extra JJ head to make a custom ring gear version. In any case, this is one that I cannot fathom being re-released. Go out and buy the set now. It's worth it to complete the Horsemen and celebrate not only a tremendous talent, but a great guy as well.
Have I mentioned over the years that he also authored my favorite wrestling book...?
Thursday, October 4, 2018
I've always liked this cover. The yellow border is eye-popping and goes well with the baby bluebackground that Sheiky is standing in front of. This era of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine had a chrome, almost Star Wars-like frame to the cover photos. Very '80s, but a style that would be fresh and welcome today. The Sheik is in a classic pose, hoisting one of his infamous pointed boots and wearing the coveted Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Heavyweight Championship. His ownership of the championship coupled with some other photos inside of the magazine place this issue between June and September 1980.
Immediately, it's clear that no one involved with the production of the magazine knew how to spell "Sheik." On the cover and throughout the magazine it is misspelled as "Shiek." By and large, this is one of few mistakes in an otherwise high quality publication. While this series of publications considered itself a magazine, you could argue that these are more like programs. Featuring only around fifteen pages each, a high volume of photos, and very short articles, these issues were sold solely at shows. All of these factors combine to make them highly collectible.
Like most vintage wrestling publications, each of these magazines is a time capsule. Anderson's Army was a stable managed by Gene Anderson who, at the time, was recovering from health issues and had to continue outside of the ring. He obviously had a successful run boasting both Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion The Iron Sheik and NWA Tag Team Champions Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka as being under his tutelage. Seeing Snuka as a more civilized heel than his better known WWF run as a savage would be jarring to some fans. On the flip side we have the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions in the form of Matt Borne and Buzz Sawyer. No clowning around when it came to that duo.
As with most magazines of the era, you get a centerfold. Despite it being Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, there's no Penny Banner or Susan Green here. Instead, yes, it's once again The Iron Sheik. Humbling, to say the least. Following the poster is a short black and white profile and photo gallery of the worldly Iranian. His legitimate Olympic background is discussed. Fans always enjoy seeing a young Sheik, complete with hair. Speaking of hair, check out the long locks on The Sheepherders. Luke Williams and Butch Miller were a simply bushwhacking team of crazies.
At the end of the day Mid-Atlantic Wrestling prided itself on presenting second-to-none ring action. Here we have a small photo feature on a bloody tag team match pitting Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan against Bobby Duncum and Greg Valentine. Can you think of four harder-hitting competitors? Of course Flair and Valentine were no stranger to tag team wrestling in the area, at one time teaming together. On the other end we have a full color shot of Sweet Ebony Diamond. Wherever Diamond wrestled, you can be sure a little Rock was rolling right along behind him.
And of course no Mid-Atlantic Wrestling feature is complete without stalwart Paul Jones. The passing of Jones earlier this year was sadly overshadowed by names more familiar to the modern fan, but there's no denying that it was one of the biggest blows to the business in 2018. From the sound of the article, it appears as if "Number One" was once again wrestling on the side of the fans. We all know that didn't last long.
And there ain't nothin' humble about that!