It's a scene out of Anytown, USA. Saturday morning wrestling is over and it's a lazy summer weekend afternoon. As any good tv show should, the crazy ring action you just watched left you wanting more. At 6:05 tonight, there's a chance you'll see more. That doesn't do anything to satisfy your need at this moment.
A walk to the local convenience store sounds like a fair idea. A Coke or slushee may be just the distraction necessary to forget the squared circle and its crazy combatants. A peak beyond the refreshments, however, unveils something far better. Something epic to a 10-year-old wrestling fan and even ones far older. Behold...the wrestling magazine.
A great action packed (and if you're lucky--blood splattered) cover. Color pin-ups. Rankings. Results. Wrestlers and promotions from not only far-off lands but from the next county! These are the tools that turned so many young wrestling fans into readers. I recall using the word "sabbatical" to my mother as a youngster. I was immediately questioned, out of joy, as to where I'd learned such an advanced word. I immediately came clean. From a wrestling magazine, of course!
Everyone profited from these great periodicals. The fans got an exciting look into wrestling beyond what they could see at an arena or on television. The wrestlers and promoters got the publicity and fame that they hungered for. It was a win-win situation, and one that makes these classic titles such valued pieces to so many collectors.
It should be no surprise that many collectors are looking to acquire titles that they didn't own as children or perhaps reaquire ones that were thrown out by overzealous parents. As with all of my MarketWatch features, I will now highlight some of the recent going prices for specific magazine titles. Maybe one will be a title that you picked up in a newsstand long ago.
*A favorite of many collectors, including myself, is the November 1970 issue of The Wrestler magazine. This issue is a favorite as the cover is filled with a photo of Bobby Heenan's face covered in blood. The photo is accompanied by the caption "My God, Bobby! What Happened To Your Face?" As anyone involved in the old school wrestling magazine industry will tell you, a bloody cover almost always ensured a sell-out issue. This particular one has always enjoyed a great secondary market value, but recently a copy sold for a whopping $76. Various factors could have had a hand in this selling price, including the fact that Mr. Heenan has recently started back into the autograph signing circuit, making this an item that many collectors would love to have autographed. A picture of this magazine will appear in my upcoming Pro Wrestling Illustrated article.
*Another title that always does well on the secondary market is the April 1957 issue of Sports Illustrated featuring legendary wrestler Danny Hodge. Various copies of the magazine have recently appeared for sale averaging between $20 and $40 per issue. Hodge is the first of two professional wrestlers to make the cover of Sports Illustrated, the other being Hulk Hogan in 1985. Autograph seekers will also be seeking out this issue over the summer months as Hodge is scheduled to appear at the NWA Legends Fanfest in Charlotte, NC this August.
*A copy of the first issue of the WWF's Victory Magazine featuring a great action shot of Superfly Jimmy Snuka recently sold for $36. The Victory Magazine only lasted for a few issues before the title morphed into the long running WWF Magazine. Current WWE publishers claim that Victory Magazine is the first in-house WWF publication, which is not the case at all. The WWWF (and for its last issue WWF) Wrestling Action magazine is the actual first in-house publication. The magazine had but a mere five-issue run however is, to many collectors, one of the finest wrestling magazines ever produced. In the future there will be an entry in this blog dedicated solely to Wrestling Action.
*How about those great magazines from Japan? They aren't as far out of the reach of American collectors as one would think. Most issues, even from the golden age of puroresu, can be had for $20 or under. Don't read kanji? No problem! These magazines are chock full of great photography covering the Japanese stars as well as those from other countries. If you're a fan of the Funk brothers, Stan Hansen, Abdullah the Butcher, or even Hulk Hogan, you will not find better, rare photos of these stars than you will in a Japanese publication from the '70s or '80s.
Looking to start collecting wrestling magazines? A trip to a flea market or garage sale just might turn up some treasures. Even today you can find Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Inside Wrestling/The Wrestler, and the various WWE publications on store shelves. It's never too late to start.
And for the record, it was Kamala who took that sabbatical...