Thursday, March 28, 2013
I've always wondered if some fans of today don't quite grasp that WrestleMania was huge from the get go. While the crowd from the first event is perhaps more maniacal than any audience of today and the card is definitely star packed, the look of the event doesn't give a hint as to how the WrestleMania's of today are presented. The inaugural WrestleMania has the appearance of a standard Madison Square Garden show of the day. With the low lighting, lack of screens, and curtain entrance, it's the kind of setup that many old school fans still yearn for today.
Part of the promotion involved a company named Bozell & Jacobs Public Relations. This firm created a rarely seen WrestleMania item known as a press kit. Press kits are very common in the movie industry, often including photos, press releases, and other forms of media that can be used by other media agencies to promote the event.
There are other WWF and WrestleMania press kits out there including examples from the past decade or so, but none capture the greatest wrestling extravaganza of all-time in its infancy like this one does. It's artifacts like this that show exactly why in a number of days we will be celebrating the 29th edition of this great event, and why it still grows and thrives today.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
We're here, as always, to talk about memorabilia. In this edition of "Wrestling MarketWatch," we'll take a look at some of the recent selling prices involving several of this year's Hall of Fame inductees. As I frequently remind collectors, recent selling prices are the only way to gauge the monetary value of an item. Of course, value to you as a collectible is much more important than a sale price.
Being the icon that Bruno is, it's no wonder that he has tons of classic memorabilia available. Two decades ago he was personally involved in the production of one of my favorite card sets, the Legends of Wrestling. The trading cards were produced by Imagine Inc. in Pittsburgh which is the same company that originally published Sammartino's autobiography. The card set was available in three variations with the third variation including autographed cards of legends such as Buddy Rogers and Lou Thesz. The set has not always seen the selling prices which it deserves due to the fact that the autographed cards aren't "certified" as pre-signed cards are today. The autographs are obviously very authentic and it was actually Bruno who was instrumental in getting the other legends to sign. Bruno's autograph card recently sold at a still-undervalued $35.
Perhaps these accomplishments are the cause of her solo DVD release to be soaring in demand as of late. The FYE exclusive collector's edition of "Trish Stratus--100% Stratusfaction Guaranteed" has recently sold for between $130-$150. Earlier DVD releases will sometimes randomly see a rise in price and demand, but this one has done so at a time in which its star is about to shine as bright as ever.
Foley's crazy characters have made some great action figures, but Cactus Jack has never been captured quite as well as in the Jakks Classic Superstars version. The "1 of 3000" version which was exclusive to Toy Fare magazine is especially sought after and includes Cactus Jack's most famous hardcore "toys." Recently this figure (unsigned) sold for $100, which is about four times the original cost.
After hosting two WrestleMania's on his properties and appearing ringside at two others, it was WrestleMania 23 where Trump got involved in the action. The 2007 event saw Donald back Bobby Lashley against Vince McMahon's Umaga in a "Battle of the Billionaires." Mainstream media attention was gained due to the "Hair vs Hair" stipulation involving the coif's of McMahon and Trump. The program for this event recently sold for $30, an average price for the roller coaster values of WrestleMania programs.
A king of 1970's magazine and program covers, Backlund has had little in the area of action figures. The Jakks WWE Classic Superstars line produced his best figure, and one that has appreciated in value since its release. Both carded and loose examples have been hot at auction as of late, with the former selling for around $50 (unsigned) and the latter bringing in around half of that.
New York City. Madison Square Garden. The Legends of Wrestling. An unbeatable trio that will come together to form one of the most amazing nights that WWE has ever produced. Congratulations to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013!
Thursday, March 14, 2013
An idea borrowed from action figure lines of other genres, Mattel began the WWE version around one year ago. The concept is simple. Mattel produces a series of four figures that are exclusive to Toys R Us. Each of the figures come with specific parts of a fifth figure. When all of the figures are collected, the parts combine to produce a brand new character to the line. Thus far Mattel has used this route to release figures of non-wrestlers. The company feels that these characters wouldn't sell well on their own, but still want to appease collectors that desire them.
It isn't always the easiest thing to buy four figures just to get one that you really want, but so far it's worked. For someone like me who usually holds off on most character repaints until something like this comes along, I'm fine with it every so often. It's better than repeating Hasbro's blunder and not getting any non-wrestler figures released at all.
You betta believe that, playa!
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Moody, known to the wrestling world as Percival Pringle III and Paul Bearer, was celebrating at one of his favorite events, the Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion, this past weekend when he fell ill. Just days later, the legendary manager and pop culture icon to a generation had passed away at just 58. A blood clot is being reported as the cause.
As Percy Pringle (the third man in wrestling named as such), Moody began to make a name in the last decade of the wrestling territories. While Pringle saw success in areas like Florida and Texas, the fame would come nowhere near that of which a 1991 trip north would eventually bring.
I often discuss how certain wrestlers from the '80s are known by nearly everyone who grew up in that era. As for the '90s, The Undertaker and Paul Bearer are near the top of the list. Every child ran around the school yard doing his own impressive of the portly manager with a high pitched "Ohhhh Yeeeees!" to top it off. Because of this, it's no surprise that The Undertaker and Bearer appeared on tons of merchandise over the years.
It was in a mid-1990s issue of WWF Magazine that sharp-eyed fans were let in on a secret about Paul Bearer. A kayfabed article was written about Paul Bearer's history in the mortuary. Accompanying the article was a series of photos of a much younger Bearer in the embalming room and funeral home. The photos were obviously not faked. It turns out that in his younger days, Moody did indeed become a licensed mortician. It has been said that the WWF was completely unaware that the man chosen to play Paul Bearer had the matching background.
As the WWF phased out the concept of the manager, Bearer began to take other positions within the company including talent scout. Even a return to his real-life role as a mortician came about around ten years ago. Can you imagine attending a real funeral only to see Paul Bearer presiding?
Moody did have his share of rough times post-wrestling, including a well-publicized battle with his weight and the tragic death of his beloved wife, Dianna, from cancer. Despite these troubled times, Moody kept a very upbeat and public face throughout.
Paul Bearer also became a very popular name on the fanfest and convention scene. He had the personality that truly resonates with the fans. While having a strong, old school opinion on keeping times with his friends within the industry and fans separate, anyone who had the opportunity to meet the man has nothing but fantastic memories.
My own particular "Paul Bearer Moment" took place several years ago at the NWA Fanfest in Charlotte, NC. Posing for a photo with Paul London, I began to hear laughter. As soon as the photo was taken, I turned around to see none other than Paul Bearer in a baseball cap. In that unmistakable voice, Bearer loudly proclaimed, "You got a BONUS!" I sure did. I probably wouldn't even remember that photo if it weren't for the "Bearer Bomb" in the background.
Moody embraced technology and frequently kept up with his website and blog. He even had one of the coolest Twitter handles--@wweurniverse. Around one month ago I Tweeted to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Paul Bearer character. Bearer responded that it "just don't seem possible." I agree. A few weeks later and those are the feelings of so many regarding his passing. Just don't seem possible.
As mentioned above, the news of Moody's passing has garnered attention from around the globe. From friends and fans to news agencies and of course the wrestling industry, it's become quite clear that the Paul Bearer character is one of the solid icons of his era. Thank you, Mr. Moody, for all of your contributions to the wrestling business and so many of our childhoods. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Rest in Peace.