Thursday, February 26, 2015

WWE Network--The First Year

Let's go back to one year ago.  The Winter Olympics had just ended, winter weather here in the northeast was beginning to wane, and WWE Network was born. In the weeks leading up to the launch, all wrestling fans were discussing just exactly how WWE Network would impact their wrestling viewing.  Even here on the blog I brought up the ways that it could possibly impact collecting. The first day was rough, with servers crashing due to volume of sign-ups. I, myself, even lashed out at a friend when he accessed the page and I didn't! Even after one was finally able to become a subscriber, various problems kept the always complaining Internet wrestling fans well stocked with ammunition.  On my end it was the inability to watch any on demand programming without the shows coming to a crashing halt.

After the first few weeks the initial kinks were fixed and focus shifted to WrestleMania paranoia.  How would the biggest show of the year fare as the first such undertaking on the Network? Would the servers be able to handle the high number watching? What would WWE do in case of a mishap? Rumors even circulated that some fans would purchase the event via traditional pay-per-view "just in case."  Needless to say, WrestleMania XXX on WWE Network went down without any widely-reported problems.

One year later and WWE Network has proven to be well.worth the ever-pushed $9.99 per month.  No matter what you look for in wrestling, you'll find something worthwhile.  Even the most jaded fan, still holding onto their grainy, Clash of the Champions videos taped off of TBS should find solace in the Network.  They can see those specials, and tons of other shows, in unheard of quality.

Even with all of the pluses, there are still areas that could use some major improvement.  There is still an untapped, albeit small, market that wants nothing but old territorial shows and matches. We've seen a recent trend towards these shows, but if the Network started regularly airing some of these shows in order (some may be a tad incomplete due to condition), they may very well latch onto some new consumers.

Another area that needs addressed is the live feed.  With everything available at any time on demand, is there really a need for a 24/7 live feed?  Why not just "switch it on" when actual live content is being presented?  Is it an ego thing?  Was it such a dream of the company to have a nonstop network that they keep it up for vanity?  At the very least, I would put more thought into the programming than what goes into it now. Sure, WWE will throw past WrestleMania events up at WrestleMania season and that sort of thing, but that isn't enough. Triple H recently referenced the first Clash of the Champions event.  Why not air that?  If events in the current product can be accentuated by things out of the past, program them for the Network and have a programming note during Raw that you can "relive" this reference or that moment.  It's not that difficult.

Most everything that has been added has stayed (I hope that the treasures in the Black History Month section don't disappear in March) and some things have even been improved upon.  Many WCW shows were "fixed" once WWE fully had the rights to certain themes.  It would be nice if they would go back and do the same for some WWF shows with the same issue.

My last, but least worrisome gripe is with the search function.  As it stands it is incomplete, difficult to navigate, and generally worthless.  Most of the time I watch full shows anyway, but with the addition of more and more episodes of various shows, it would be nice to know who pops up.  Along the same lines, a "Newly Added" menu wouldn't be a bad idea either.  I can only see so many "Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan welcome the WWE Universe to more Prime Time Wrestling" descriptions before I forget if I've seen the episode or not.

So far, WWE Network has been doing a whole heckuva lot right.  It's great for throwing on as background noise or settling in and enjoying an entire event.  This is how we will know wrestling for the foreseeable future.  I wouldn't toss those DVDs just yet, but hopefully WWE Network keeps all of this content available to us for a long, long time. Originally, this entry was to end with a question as to why us early adopters have not been rewarded for our loyalty. After all, newbies have had a ton of "#FreeFreeFree" deals. Just before press time, WWE began to send out gifts via e-mail to us "lifers." Icing on the cake for those of us who have been pleased with the product.

On a note unrelated to the Network, this week also marked a sad anniversary in professional wrestling.  February 22, 2015 was forty years to the day of the tragic plane crash that killed Bobby Shane and injured Buddy Colt, Austin Idol, and Gary Hart.  By and large, Shane's contributions to the wrestling world are unknown to fans my age and younger.  Some of us have sought out to learn more about him, and I dedicated an entry of this blog to him late last year.  Hopefully, the original "King of Wrestling" will never be truly forgotten.

Bobby Shane * August 25, 1945-February 22, 1975

Thursday, February 19, 2015

From The Musty Yellowed Pages--Japanese Dusty Rhodes Album

There's just something about "The American Dream."  I may have five all-time favorite wrestlers, but I've often said that if I had to choose one, it would be Dusty Rhodes.  From the first time that I saw him, his charisma drew me in.  Looking at his drawing power over his long career, apparently I wasn't the only one!  Glittery robes, cowboy hats, or polka dots, it doesn't matter which incarnation of Rhodes you preferred.  Once "The Dream" had you drawn in via "hard times" or "Dusty B. Goode," he likely had you for life.  And despite being "The American Dream," it's fairly obviously that he was beloved elsewhere, too.

In the late 1970's-early 1980's, a publisher in Japan put out pro wrestling albums, each with a different top star featured.  From favorite gaijin such as Terry Funk, Mil Mascaras, and Stan Hansen to national heroes like Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba, and Rikidozan, a number of these over-sized magazines were produced.  With the rabid enthusiasm towards anything wrestling by Japanese fans, it's no surprise that these glossy, well-produced publications were a big hit in the country. 

The 13th album in the series was on the topic of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.  One thing that stands out immediately when thumbing through one of these albums is the amazing photography.  Many of these decades-old photos look as if they could have been shot just yesterday.  The cover here is a great example.  Rhodes and his curly blonde afro jump from the glossy cover.  The "260 pounds of blue eyed soul" never looked better.  Listed on the cover are various points that will be visited inside including Dusty Fashion, Elbow Drop, Contemporary Rhodes, Crossover Rhodes, and Private Rhodes.

Although the inside is largely in Japanese, any fan would enjoy this publication.  The photos are seemingly endless, and most were likely never published in the United States.  Despite that, many of the matches shown are indeed from America, including one of Dusty's legendary Madison Square Garden battles with Superstar Billy Graham and a Bayfront Center brawl with Terry Funk.  The Funker is even clad in his famous "Dusty Sucks Eggs" t-shirt.  Now you can see the result of the talented Japanese photographers seen ringside at many old wrestling matches.

The magazine is a biography of Rhodes, complete with photos of even his earliest days in the sport as "Dirty" Dusty Rhodes and his "Outlaws" partnership with Dick Murdoch.  Dusty is also shown at home with his wife Michelle (mother of Cody), in a rare glimpse of the private side of "The Dream."  In one great picture, Rhodes is depicted serenading Michelle by guitar.  The couple is situated in front of a wall plastered with various photos of Dusty and even a movie poster from "The Wrestler."  I would expect no less a shrine to exist in the Rhodes home!

Most of the book is in color, but there is also a bit of black and white.  The latter includes some interesting cartoons of "The Dream" which most likely originally appeared in other Japanese publications.  In one of the cartoons, it looks like Dusty is passing gas, or at least wiggling his behind, onto a Japanese wrestler.  In another "The Dream" is shown showing off his "Stardust-studded" robes.  In yet another, "The Dream" has suddenly become a roly-poly superhero!  The Japanese flavor of this magazine is especially evident in these illustrated portions.

Throughout the book we are treated to various Dusty-themed magazine covers from here in the United States, likely to demonstrate how big of a superstar he was worldwide.  Perhaps my favorite photo is a shot in what is likely Dusty's office.  "The Dream," wearing his cowboy hat, photos of himself and Eddie Graham hang on the wall, can of Tab on the desk.  It's a great representation of the business side of Rhodes, who had a long and storied history on the business side of wrestling.

It's interesting to see how back in the territorial days of wrestling, stars were able to become as big abroad as they were in their home country.  Legends like Dusty Rhodes often have nothing but wonderful things to say about their tours of Japan.  It isn't hard to believe, from items like this, that these stars were treated like kings by the promotions and fans alike.  Simultaneously becoming a superstar on both sides of the pond, yet another bygone idea from a bygone era of professional wrestling.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Defining Moment For Mattel...Hulkamania Lives

 I can still remember the hype and hoopla surrounding Hulk Hogan's arrival to the Jakks Classic Superstars line.  Both "red and yellow" and nWo versions were planned, with the former being hyped as the best Classic Superstars figure in the line.  While my love for that line is well-documented, it's more for the guys and gals who had few or no figures before that time.  Although some great figures of "The Hulkster" would hit that line later on, those debut offerings didn't live up to the hype.  Now Hogan has made his debut in Mattel's WWE line.  Similarly to Jakks, Mattel has rolled out the red carpet.

It was just a few short months ago that Mattel restarted their WWE Defining Moments line.  The figures represent top stars as they appeared in some of their definitive career milestones.  Around four years ago the line was originally launched and included legends such as Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, and The Ultimate Warrior. Despite being a hit with collectors due to high detail and unique packaging, the line was dropped around the same time as Mattel's separate Legends line. Since then, select Legends have been included in Mattel's Elite line as "Flashback" figures.

One Defining Moments figure planned before the cancellation was Ric Flair.  In 2014, the line was relaunched starting with The Nature Boy himself.  This was Flair's Mattel debut, and following shortly thereafter was Hulk Hogan.  Hogan sticks out like a sore thumb on store shelves, but it in a good way.  The packaging is designed to look like one of Hogan's shirts.

It's been seemingly hard for manufacturers to nail down Hogan's physique, but Mattel does a very good job. He isn't overly pumped up, nor is he wimpy looking.  His unique style of wearing the famous yellow trunks is well captured here, too.  The facial likeness is good for the Hogan of the '80s, and the hairline matches perfectly. If the hairline on a Hogan figure does not match the era that it's supposed to represent, the likeness suffers greatly.  After all, Hogan's hair has long been a talking point, for better or worse.

This Hogan is based upon the icon's appearance at WrestleMania III where he famously slammed Andre the Giant inside of the Pontiac Silverdome.  Red and yellow were the colors of the day, and at that time Hogan was wearing his headbands with the extra material hanging down the side of his face.  Mattel loves to produce rubber shirts and other clothing.  The Hulkamania shirt here is no different and has a cut down the center where it can be "torn."  It doesn't really have anything to hold it closed, but it works.  The headband "clips" into the hairline and can easily be removed or replaced.

For their first foray into Hulkamania, Mattel brings us some never before included accessories.  The first is the belt that Hogan wore for much of the mid-1980's.  This design has never before been created in figure form.  It has the shiny finish and though it is not completely painted (the flags on the side are colorless), it is an amazing centerpiece for the figure.

A second brand-new Hogan accessory is his famous cross necklace. No fan will ever forget Andre ripping the shirt and crucifix from Hogan's chest on Piper's Pit.  Although it isn't clearly visible while the figure is in the.package, it is indeed included. I don't know that I'd recommend removing it too many times, as the chain has to be a very thin material in order for it to look right and has to be stretched a bit to make it around Hulk's mullet, but it's a very welcome addition.

Well folks, we have a winner here.  Even at brick and mortar stores, this figure is at a higher price point.  I think that, in part, caused the original demise of this series.  If the releases are limited to new-to-the-line names like Hogan and future planned stars like Razor Ramon and Sting, I think the Defining Moments could keep coming.  Now, if we could only get that Magnum T.A. figure released...

Don't forget about my new second blog, #JoshCulture!  This week I take a look at NXT and some of the stars featured on NXT TakeOver!  Have a taste of the "Culture" at: http://joshculture.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The State of Wrestling Collecting Address--2015 Edition

After a solid month of nostalgia with the 25th anniversary of Hasbro WWF, February seems like a good time to look at the present and future.  The last time that I did a "State of Wrestling Collecting Address" was back in the summer of 2012.  WWE was focused solely on their upcoming 1,000th episode of Raw.  We had yet to hear the battle cry of "...for just $9.99" but trends and hashtags were already status quo.  Tout it out, anyone?  Regardless, 2015 has already opened with a lot of promise as far as the future of the business and, of course, its merchandising.

While any numbers have yet to surface, New Japan Pro Wrestling's WrestleKingdom 9 got quite a bit of buzz here in the United States.  That buzz was, in part, due to Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling presenting the show on American pay-per-view with Jim Ross and Matt Striker on commentary.  It seems that NJPW may finally gain a wide audience in the US with a new television show in the states as well.  I would love to see a WrestleKingdom 9 Blu-Ray release as well as a new line of NJPW figures.  I don't think that there has ever been a better time for the latter.

On the American front, Mattel's WWE line won't be the only new wrestling figures available in 2015.  Figures Toy Company has announced that their Ring of Honor figure line should debut this spring.  Series are expected to have four figures each and will have plenty of accessories, including gold-toned belts.  The company has also expressed interest in producing a new line featuring wrestling legends.  This could greatly fill the void left when Mattel decided to focus on more recent "Flashback" figures.

TNA is still a great unknown.  Although the company is back to regularly taping television, it still feels as if nobody is at the wheel.  Is their relationship with Jakks continuing?  Time will tell, but more waves of repainted figures won't satisfy anyone.  Now that Awesome Kong is back with the company, it's time to get her a full-sized figure.  Rockstar Spud and his act seems to scream "action figure," as well.

Of course, nothing stops the WWE merchandising machine.  Even though they no longer have a monthly magazine, I counted four different publications in January that featured WWE talent on the cover (The Authority and Eva Marie each on a different version of Muscle & Fitness, Brock Lesnar on PWI, and The Undertaker as shown).  One of those was the annual WWE Photos Of The Year issue.  That, coupled with the release of a WrestleMania preview magazine in recent weeks, shows that the company is still producing in-house specials.

Mattel seems to be churning out more product than ever, just in time for WrestleMania season.  Hulk Hogan, Rusev, Doink the Clown, Paige, Bo Dallas, Emma, and Razor Ramon are just a few of the names making their Mattel debut in the next few months.  The upcoming unveilings at Toy Fair should only add more exciting names to that list.

Mattel has also seemingly found a new retail partner for exclusives.  After their exclusive Rocky Maivia during the holiday season, Target has received a special series paying tribute to the WWE Hall of Fame.  Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter, and Trish Stratus comprise the set.  Packaged in Hall of Fame-styled packaging, the series includes the first figure of Stratus as a brunette.

We're only into February yet already have a ton of new wrestling merchandise to look forward to. Our wallets can share in the excitement, as they look to lose more and more weight as the year progresses.

Speaking of new things for 2015, I now have a second blog!  Josh Culture is an off-the-top-of-my-head look at the things that I enjoy, adventures, food, and yes, even wrestling. This week, my first wrestling story, a trip to Abdullah The Butcher's House of Ribs & Chinese in Atlanta, debuts on the blog. For the many of you who have wanted to hear my stories interacting with wrestlers, trips, events, and more, this is where they will be posted!  Don't forget to follow the blog's twitter @JoshCultureBlog, as well!  Now there's two times the blogging fun!  Check #JoshCulture out at http://joshculture.blogspot.com!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The 25th Anniversary of Hasbro WWF--Part 5

What a month it's been!  Twenty-five of my favorite Hasbro products in honor of the 25th anniversary of the line.  Like any list, it's all objective! Fans are always getting riled up over WWE "Top" lists, but it's all a matter of opinion.  The various incarnations of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart didn't make my list, but Andre the Giant and Greg Valentine may not have made yours.  As a kid, you may have buried Demolition or Razor Ramon in your Hasbro rings while they reigned supreme in mine.  Everyone has their favorites, and from 1990 to 1994, Hasbro gave all of us a lot to choose from!

*My list was in no real particular order, but if I was forced to pick a favorite, it may very well be the Doinkster. Hasbro went above and beyond with the Clown, complete with newly sculpted parts and, best of all, real rooted hair.  This is definitely a "heel " Doink the Clown, based on his well-remembered early days as portrayed by the late Matt Borne.  It was always cool when the announcers would tout what a great technical wrestler Doink was despite his clownish appearance.  It added another layer to the already sinister character.  For the record, Matt Borne is the Doink pictured on the cardback.  I'm thankful that I was able to have one signed before his untimely death.

*Another item that disappeared from shelves as quickly as it arrived was the Royal Rumble mini-ring.  The three mini-figure four-packs were plentiful in the Summer of 1992.  Unfortunately for those who missed out, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Ted DiBiase were among those that were available only with the ring.  For whatever reason the ring only seemed to ship once and wasn't available very long thus leaving the figure packs to rot on shelves for years.  Retail disinterest was the likely culprit, but had the ring been released at the same time as the figures it may have been a different story.

*Cool, cocky, bad, and another great figure from Hasbro.  Honky had long passed his days as one of the top heels in the WWF, but his figure was still planned and released.  He wouldn't have been the same without his trademark guitar which, coupled with his "Real Wrestling Action," came crashing down on many other wrestlers.  Even with other figures of Honky from LJN, Jakks, and Mattel, the Hasbro is probably still my favorite.  It even has the jumpsuit belt that other manufacturers "forgot."

*Bam Bam Bigelow always came across as a perfect action figure. Flames, tattoos, and a whole bunch of "mean."  I found the figure on the day of the 1994 Royal Rumble.  Much to my surprise, Bigelow ended up having a singles match that night as he took the place of Ludvig Borga in a bout against Tatanka. Bigelow and Tatanka, both graduates of Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory, were always well-matched opponents. Though he never quite made it as far as he should have, Bam Bam had his moments and, in my mind, is a great future WWE Hall of Fame candidate.

*Speaking of those who should be in the WWE Hall of Fame brings us to
my favorite tag team of all-time, Demolition.  I still remember being so conflicted about how to purchase Smash.  His single figure was fairly plentiful along with Ax, but the same Smash also came in a tag team set with Crush and their pre-match masks.  The two-pack became difficult to find, so for awhile Ax had to fend for himself in my Hasbro ring. Perhaps just a lonely Masked Superstar?  Eventually, thanks to a lone Demolition set at my local Service Merchandise store, the trio was united and took on the LOD, The Bushwhackers, Doom, The Horsemen, and The Steiner Brothers (thanks to Galoob for the last three).  I even remember an epic singles struggle over the Intercontinental Championship between Smash and Marty Jannetty that mysteriously ended when Hasbro released a sneaky fellow known as Repo Man.

Twenty-five items for twenty-five years.  A revival of the Hasbro style would be a no-brainer.  It would couple the secondary "action feature" lines that are made to appeal to kids with figures that older collectors would snap up in an instant.  Why hasn't it happened?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Maybe the manufacturers just want to "leave the memories alone..."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The 25th Anniversary of Hasbro WWF--Part 4

The Hasbro WWF line was a ton of fun to play with.  Growing up with them as I did, I ought to know.  The lack of non-wrestler figures in the collection was a bit frustrating, but Hasbro was likely looking at LJN sales records where some manager and announcer figures performed worse at retail compared to the wrestlers themselves.  Even without the extra characters, the Hasbro figures remain a favorite all of these years later, and here are five more of my own favorite products from the line...

*Macho Madness makes my list twice!  Although he was the "Macho King" for less than two years, it was a very cool extension of the Randy Savage character.  Coupled with Sensational Queen Sherri, the duo is well-remembered for their feuds with Dusty Rhodes, Sapphire, Miss Elizabeth, The Ultimate Warrior, and Roddy Piper.  Despite not being in the title scene of the time, Savage's matches with the aforementioned foes headlined cards around the country.  The Hasbro Macho King figure had a regal purple and gold color scheme and came complete with removable crown and a sceptre for bashing opponents ("Ding!"--Jesse Ventura).

*Earthquake and Typhoon weren't a couple of fat slobs, these were two gigantic and powerful men.  I was always a fan of the larger-than-life wrestlers, and the very first tag team match that I saw live pitted the Natural Disasters against Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter.  Just a few months later I was again thrilled when the Hasbro Natural Disasters hit the stores.  By this time, Hasbro was no longer producing tag team sets, so Earthquake and Typhoon were sold separately.  My parents were as watchful for new product as I was, and one afternoon my mother surprised me with Earthquake.  She even went as far as to suggest that I team him with Akeem until I could purchase Typhoon!  In case you were wondering, that extra large team never came to be.  A short time later I bought Typhoon at Children's Palace with some money from my grandparents.

*The Hot Rod!  Though the Hasbro version of Piper is wearing entrance gear, I.wouldn't have it any other way.  Roddy has always been among my favorites in the Hasbro line, and it's actually a version that we haven't seen since.  The red elbow pads indicate that Hasbro was trying to capture the look from early in his 1989 return.  I have also always appreciated the effort that was taken by combining his "pre-ring" kilt attire with a no-nonsense action pose.  And of course, this figure is perfect for recreating his 1992 Saturday Night's Main Event match with The Mountie.  You remember.  "Shock Proof!"

*As most companies do with major licenses like the WWF, Hasbro branched out.  None of the other toys were nearly as successful as the action figures, but a few were just as fun.  The Jake Roberts "Snake" toy is a cool spin-off, but it was released at a bad time.  To begin with, it was simply marketed as his "snake" as opposed to Damien or Lucifer.  Whether or not this had to do with the names themselves or the fact that it was designed/released around the time of the transition is anyone's guess.  Add that to the fact that Roberts himself was gone from the WWF not long after release ensured that the snake would have a short sales window.

*Who would've believed, even in 1992 when his first figure hit shelves, that The Undertaker would be one of the longest lasting creations to come from the company?  The aura of the character may only be matched by the likes of Andre the Giant.  The evolution of the character helped keep "The Deadman" alive for nearly a quarter of a century.  The original look and feel of The Undertaker, an old west mortician, was never better captured than in the Hasbro figure. In his second release, it was the inclusion of the cloth overcoat that truly made the figure fresh and unique.

Up next...my final five!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The 25th Anniversary of Hasbro WWF--Part 3

 As we roll on in the month-long 25th anniversary celebration of Hasbro WWF, it's interesting to note two other silver milestones in wrestling for 2015.  WrestleMania VI, my personal favorite edition of the event, will be celebrating the big 2-5 and in November, the character of The Undertaker will have been tombstoning his way through WWF/WWE rings for twenty-five years.  Who could have imagined that the latter, what easily could've been a throwaway character, would be iconic a quarter of a century later?  I have a feeling that "The Phenom" will show up in our Hasbro remembrances eventually, but for now here are the five for this week...

*For as big as they were, the Von Erich family did not see an action figure until "The Texas Tornado" hit shelves in 1992.  A great likeness coupled with a "Real Wrestling Action" that fit his actual finishing move, the Tornado was a great addition to the Hasbro lineup. The sad reality was that the figure was released less than a year before the untimely death of Kerry Von Erich.  That being said, Von Erich did several known autograph appearances in that time period and was known to be a gracious signer regardless.  Does a signed Texas Tornado Hasbro figure exist?  Time will tell should one ever surface, but until then we have a great figure of one of wrestling's most storied and charismatic legends.

*Kamala may be beloved now, but in his ring days "The Ugandan Giant" was terrifying.  The mask, paint, spear, and wailing battle cry were enough to scare any young fan and make the big man fascinating at the same time.  From Andre the Giant to Hulk Hogan to The Undertaker, Kamala was a formidable foe for all. Hasbro brought collectors the second action figure of the headhunter, and I can still remember the day that I found it.  A small mob of kids were crowded around the Toys "R" Us Hasbro WWF section, so I knew something good had to be there.  It didn't take me long to notice the yellow borders of the newest figure set. It took even less time for me to decide that Kamala was joining my collection that day.

*Hasbro was no stranger to Sgt. Slaughter.  His deal with Hasbro's bread and butter, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, is legendary and made him a household name and pop culture celebrity.  However, this figure was his first to officially be produced under the WWF banner.  It has an interesting design, as his attire is patterned after gear wore in a photo shoot and not actually in the ring, but it fits the Hasbro style perfectly. I doubt a more perfect facial likeness of Slaughter will ever be captured.  Sgt. Slaughter was the first wrestler that I ever met, was in the first tag team match that I ever saw live, and the first (and only) male wrestler to sit on my lap.  At ease!

*There's no doubt that the One Man Gang would have made a cool looking Hasbro figure, but Akeem was absolutely made to be in the line.  As "The Gang" himself tells it, Vince McMahon wanted a more colorful character than the "OMG," thus Akeem was born.  "The African Dream" hasn't been seen in WWF rings since shortly after the figure was released in 1990 and it's a shame. The One Man Gang has made a few token appearances, but with all of the goofy WWE humor, we need at least one more appearance from the former Twin Tower.  Rumor has always been that Akeem was to have been in the WrestleMania X-7 Gimmick Battle Royal, but that Gang had lost too much weight to fit the costume.  These days, the big man is once again large and in charge.  It's time for Akeem to jive down the aisle, one more time.

*Talk about having the "look" of a wrestler, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart fits that bill.  The Hasbro figure captured that.  Though many of us would have preferred "The Anvil" in original Hart Foundation attire, instead we got him in the baggy pants of The New Foundation.  His partner in the latter team, Owen Hart, did not come along until a year later.  If ever you could hear an action figure verbalizing his catch phrase, it's this one.  The Hasbro "Anvil" is screaming "Yeah Baby!" and cackling just as he performs one of his flattening clotheslines.  Hasbro also captured the oft-jiggling paunch of Neidhart as well as they did his facial features. 

A tornado, an anvil, a Ugandan headhunter, an African dream, and a real American hero.  A battle royal if there ever was one is forming among these Hasbro elite, and next week we add another five to the fray!