Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wrestling MarketWatch: What The World Was Watching!

It never ceases to amaze me how every fan of wrestling has a different era that they consider "golden." This can be said for many different forms of entertainment and sports, however wrestling fans seem to be the most loyal to their respective favorites.

Fans of the '60s and '70s often find the '80s to be the decade marking the end of their fandom. The same can be said for fans of the "Rock 'n Wrestling" era that find the infamous "Attitude Era" a dark spot on the colorful legacy of the previous decade.

No matter which decade you prefer, dating back to the 1960's you will find a glorious selection of mat memorabilia sure to bring back memories and keep your favorite stars alive. Discussing those great collectibles is why we're here, and more than likely why you're here, too.

According to the WWF, the 1980's is when the world was watching. Of course, present-day WWE will imply the same thing (today it'd be the universe), but back then they actually came out and told you. In fact, it was none other than my "good, close, personal, longtime friend" Mean Gene Okerlund that informed us all of that. Give me a break! Are you putting me on?

Humorous "Gene Mean" quotes aside, if you talk to any child of the '80s they will prove to you that indeed the world was watching. Names like Brutus Beefcake and Koko B. Ware are just as well remembered as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. The figures we all know as the LJN WWF line are known by every male currently between the ages of 25-40 as "those big rubber wrestlers." In 1987, Christmas was the second most looked forward to event of the year. For so many, March 29 took precedence.

Yes indeed, the world was watching.

In this installment of MarketWatch, we look at just how valuable some of those great '80s WWF items currently are. A little of this, a little of that, and a word as to why personal value is more important than monetary gain.

*What better way to start than the most recognizable star of the era (and probably the entire industry) and the architect behind it all. The much discussed LJN WWF figure line often seems to follow a roller coaster ride of value. While carded examples of the figures don't usually fall below $40 for the most common, recent selling prices for Vince McMahon and the first release of Hulk Hogan have skyrocketed. Hogan recently sold for $195 while Vince saw a selling point of $96. The McMahon price is particularly striking as the manager and announcer figures often sell for $40-$50. This is due to the figures largely being "shelf warmers" in stores during the 1980's. Some Toys "R" Us stores were known to have had LJN manager figures on clearance as late as 1992!

*With the advent of digital entertainment, many of the WWF Coliseum Video VHS releases dramatically dropped in price. The Coliseum Videos were often also clipped leaving fans hungry for the full-length events that they originally viewed. Easier access to copies of the full-length events diminished demand as well. Nonetheless, some fans just have to have "official" copies with the original packaging. Who can blame them? The WWF's first advertised pay-per-view (WrestleMania I *was* available in a few trial markets) known as The Wrestling Classic recently sold for $45.00. The event features a tournament including The British Bulldogs, Ricky Steamboat, Junkyard Dog, and Randy Savage as well as a Hogan-Piper championship match.

*Programs of events are often as desirable as actual footage. WrestleMania programs are another animal that go up and down in price. WrestleMania IV was the event that ultimately introduced the "What The World Is Watching" slogan and therefore that is the program highlighted here. The program recently sold for $25 marking a higher trend than usual. The programs from WrestleMania's I thru IX are plentiful and are simply in higher demand at certain times.

*Another great publication of the era worth mentioning is the Superstars magazine. This was a yearly WWF publication featuring photos and text of most of the roster. This series continued into the '90s and similar magazines are produced to this day. Again, while the magazines are plentiful they often command a higher price than their monthly counterparts. The third installment, featuring a great cover shot of the Macho Man, recently sold for $25.

While I do enjoy providing info on the value of these items that so many of you own, I always like to take the time to remind every collector that personal value is what these things are truly worth. I always advise to collect what makes you happy, not something that you only like because others have it and/or want it.

While the items above are some currently higher priced examples, so many great collectibles from the 1980s WWF and any other era in professional wrestling can often be had for very affordable prices. This is especially true now when it's a buyers market. Items that sold for extreme prices during the "Monday Night Wars" can now be had for but a fraction. what YOU like!

****"From The Musty, Yellowed Pages..."****

WWF Magazine, December 1988, Merchandise Catalog

The merchandise catalog? What could possibly be in there? A ton of merchandise. But besides that, a humorous look at two members of wrestling's royal family. These "cameo appearances" are a bit more circulated than Taz's appearance that we highlighted awhile back, but still certainly worthy to be shown here.

The WWF Merchandise catalog was often as fun to look at as the rest of the WWF Magazine. Those great photos showing the wrestlers modeling their t-shirts. The sought-after wall posters. The Ultimate Warrior suck-cup. (Dusty's words!) All of that pales in comparison to the two models we'll be showing today.

Take a look at this page from the late '88-early '89 catalog. Take a good look. Who's the stern-faced Hogan shirt model? Who's that little girl wearing the Hogan cap? Why, it's the McMahon children! I believe their names are Shane and Stephanie. I wonder whatever happened to them?

And of course, no child is complete without a t-shirt of their favorite wrestling mascot, Matilda. There's little Stephanie again, showing allegiance to her favorite pooch. If Matilda ever gets kidnapped by a bleached blond manager and two island boys, you should send her a "Get Well" card. I bet that she'll compile a list of all of the nice children who send her a card and have lil Steph mail one of these catalogs as a "thank you."

The world was indeed watching. How could they avoid it?

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