Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TNA's New Era...In Cards

Back in the late '80s and early '90s when collecting sports cards was at it's peak both as a hobby and for monetary gain, wrestling wasn't really in on all the action. Sure, there were some great card sets produced both domestically and abroad, but by and large they simply didn't have the collector demand that those McGwire and Jagr cards did.

In the past decade, the trading card market has both died and been reborn. Most hobbyists point to dealers and collectors who took the fun out of the cards and simply saw dollar signs instead of stats and sticks of bubble gum you could break a tooth on.

Sets that include autographs, pieces of memorabilia, and other "chase" cards have seemingly helped bring the hobby back to a happy medium. While kids still get to collect their favorite stars, the adults get something to "chase," and if they so choose, make some money on.

Wrestling has caught onto this, with both WWE and TNA producing sets featuring autographs, Diva and Knockout "kiss print" cards, pieces of tights, shirts, and even ring mats. While WWE had a nice multi-year showing with their various Topps Heritage card set releases, a company called Tristar has nicely handled TNA's trading card offerings.

Tristar's latest release has gotten attention in both the wrestling and card collecting worlds. A 90-card basic set (featuring Hulk Hogan in the first 7 cards) combined with seemingly countless autograph and parallel cards have had collectors fighting over both packs and boxes.

Tristar has even limited the number of "hobby boxes" (the boxes containing packs that you would purchase individually at a hobby store) which contain a guaranteed two autographs as well as several other chase cards.

For those simply into the autographed cards, there's a better solution. "Blaster" boxes which are sold for around $20 at both hobby and major department stores each contain 24 basic cards and 1 autograph card. Seeing as that a hobby box only contains 2 autograph cards and cannot be found for under $80, it's much more economical for the autograph collector to buy up these Blaster Boxes. With cards like one featuring the autographs of all three of The Beautiful People and former leader Angelina Love or another featuring the autographs of Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, and Kevin Nash, it's quite the fun hunt.

With the basic set featuring both the TNA standbys and new faces such as Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, Orlando Jordan, and Generation Me, there really is something for everyone in this set. I have noticed a smaller amount of Knockout cards in this set, most likely due to the popularity of the separate Knockout card series. Another interesting note is the fast time frame Tristar produced these cards in. Some of the pictures used in the set date only two months prior to the sets' release.

While this isn't one of my MarketWatch updates, I will leave you with this: if you were to ask me to name some wrestling collectibles that I feel will rise in value, you've got them right here. Between the autographs, subsets, limited run, and buzz around this set, you couldn't do much better.

New era in TNA? Yes. New era in wrestling cards? Absolutely.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gimme The Mic!!!

While there are exceptions to the rule, most of the biggest stars in the wrestling business have been just as good out of the ring as they are in the ring. Being good out of the ring means being good on the mic. After all, it's those classic promos that drew people to the arenas years ago. Even today a compelling story told in an interview, as rare as it may be, can theoretically bring up a pay-per-view buy rate.

It only makes sense that children, so often wanting to emulate their favorite wrestling moves, would want to imitate wrestling catchphrases. Who wouldn't want to challenge the brat next door to a loser-leaves-town match?

While both the WWF/WWE and WCW have had toy microphones as part of various toy lines over the years, the coolest version is one that rarely shows up these days.

The WWF Microphone, produced by PlayTime Products in 1990, is a near-perfect replica of the classic World Wrestling Federation prop.

Featuring the famous WWF yellow block logo on all four sides, the microphone also makes six wrestling sounds when a nine volt battery is inserted. Body Slams, Slaps, Grunts, Crowd Cheers, Bells, and Super Sounds can all be heard at the push of a numbered button. The toy will also enhance the voice of the person using it to imitate the performance of a real microphone.

For whatever reason, this item rarely shows up for sale. Maybe because it really is a nice piece! To find it in it's original box featuring Mean Gene and the Hulkster is even rarer. While it was released to coincide with the debut of the WWF Hasbro toy and action figure line, it should be noted that it is not a part of that collection.

(Clockwise From Top: Gene Okerlund, Sean Mooney, Mike McGuirk, &
Howard Finkel "Interview" Me With The WWF Microphone by Playtime.)

With the all the crazy props, costumes, and foreign objects of pro wrestling, it's a wonder that more "role playing" toys weren't produced over the years.

Then again, if you take a Stormtrooper helmet and some glitter...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

J\/\/'s Big Adventure

Not really an informative entry tonight, but rather some follow-ups and "bidness...if you weeeeeeell..." as "The Dream" might say.

Not sure how it came off on television, but the final wrestling show at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, this past Monday's Raw telecast, was a lot of fun in person. The shirt was nice, although I'd have liked images from the Arena rather than stock photos of current WWE stars. No video package to speak of, although John Cena did have a nice speech after the dark match main event of Cena vs Batista.

A pensive looking fan models the shirt at the conclusion of
Monday Night Raw's Main Event on 5-10-10.

This weekend is the bi-annual Legends of the Ring convention in New Jersey. This is the tenth such event and it will feature a heavy TNA presence. Jeff Jarrett, Dixie Carter, and Jeff Hardy are just three TNA names that will be there. Myself and my crew, the legendary Pittsburgh Posse, will be on hand as well. If you see us, please say hi!

On a final note, I feel it's time to make a rather huge announcement. Growing up, friends and family who knew my passion for pro wrestling always asked if I wanted to be a wrestler. I never had that urge. Even at a young age, I knew that I simply couldn't take the pain, training, and lifestyle. I did have a feeling, though, that someday I'd be able to contribute to the business in some form.

I started this blog because it combined so many of my interests. Writing. Wrestling. Wrestling collectibles. I had no idea if anyone would want to read it, but so many of you did. You all enjoyed it, and apparently I did a decent job at it. I thank all of you for that. If you guys didn't like it, I wouldn't have been motivated to continue it.

Due to a few chance happenings, I caught the attention of a magazine I grew up reading. That magazine is the one and only Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I'm very happy to report that in a short time, some of my work will begin to appear in that very magazine, and possibly it's sister publications The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling, as well. For once, I cannot put into words how exciting this is for me. It was torture not to be able to share this when I found out, but I simply wanted to iron out all of the details first. Keep your eyes on these pages, and of course our Facebook page, for the latest info on when J\/\/ hits the pages of the greatest wrestling magazine of all time.

Again...thank you, and I hope to meet some of you this weekend!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Blog Gets Written Up!

John over at Johngy's Beat has featured my blog in his Friendly Encounters feature today. I'm greatly honored, and so is Mae Young, I'm sure! Johngy's Beat is full of info on celebrity encounters, sports cards, and more. While you're there, check out the "jersey" cards John made of Lanny Poffo and Trish Stratus. Pretty cool! Hey, if King Kong Bundy endorses it, you know it's good!

Tonight is also the night of the final wrestling card at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Early word is that I was indeed wrong, and that there will be a video package celebrating the Igloo and a commemorative t-shirt being sold. No word yet if the video will be aired on television or just for the live crowd.

Whether you're attending as I am or just watching on tv...enjoy!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Heating Up The Igloo...One Last Time...

This coming Monday Night marks the end of an era. Despite it being the site of Monday Night Raw, the WWE will probably not acknowledge the fact that it will mark the final time a wrestling card is held in the legendary Igloo.

Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Mellon Arena. The Igloo. Whatever you choose to call it, the building is full of history from many areas of sport and entertainment. The legendary Mario Lemieux. Elvis' final New Years Eve. Sudden Death. But what about Bruno? Kurt? Even Mick Foley?

Opening nearly fifty years ago, the Arena was the site of many classic bouts of yesteryear. Bruno Sammartino, Gorilla Monsoon, and Killer Kowalski were just some of the classic grapplers who poured their blood, sweat, and tears under the Igloo's bright lights. Legendary Pittsburgh broadcaster "Chilly Billy" Cardille lent his voice to the Steel City's own Studio Wrestling show to entice fans to the arena in droves.

In the '80s, both the WWF and NWA brought their brands of pro wrestling to the building. In 1987, the famous NWA Bunkhouse Stampede cage match final was held here. The bloody brawl, featuring "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes and Big Bubba Rogers, is still talked about by both fans who were there, and those who were turned away outside due to filled capacity.

February 28, 1992 brought a main event of Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper taking on Ric Flair and Sid Justice to the Igloo. It also brought yours truly to his first live wrestling show.

Later that decade, the WWF would bring SummerSlam, various television tapings, and King of the Ring 1998 to the arena. The latter, most memorable for Mick Foley's performance in a Hell in the Cell match with The Undertaker, was recently deemed one of the most memorable moments in Arena history by fans.

An assortment of memorabilia highlighting
Pittsburgh wrestling and it's many stars and events.

It's said about so many venues, but there really isn't a bad seat in the house. From attending with my family, to my dad, and now with close friends, the old building will always hold a special place in my heart. I'll be there Monday Night...and I may just shed a tear.

I know I'm not the only one.

With a pierogie on my fork and an Iron City in my fist...Igloo...I salute you.

Thanks for the memories.