Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wrestling MarketWatch: WWE Hall of Fame 2013

There's no doubt about it, the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013 is shaping up to be the biggest of all-time.  With two of the all-time greatest world champions and three main eventers of the past decade announced thus far, there's no denying the star power.  Whether or not this is a good thing for the future of the Hall of Fame being an annual event remains to be seen.  While Bruno Sammartino could've been THE inductee of 2013 and Bob Backlund, Booker T, Trish Stratus, and Mick Foley easily could've "headlined" their own years, it's only a matter of time until the talent pool of inductees runs dry.  We'll let WWE worry about that, however.

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.

*There's absolutely nowhere better to start than with "The Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino.  It's still surreal to think that we are just weeks away until Sammartino returns to WWE programming.  Scheduled for the Hall of Fame, WrestleMania XXIX, and Raw the next night, it's about time that members of the "WWE Universe" who are unfamiliar with "The Living Legend" begin brushing up on their history. 

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.

*Around ten years ago I used to tell everyone that Trish Stratus was "the next Fabulous Moolah."  While she didn't go for the career longevity that Moolah enjoyed, I still feel that Stratus will be remembered in the same class.  Trish took what could've been a forgettable career as a valet, manager, and generally generic blonde Diva and became an accomplished and entertaining wrestler.

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.

*Mick Foley was the first legend announced for the Class of 2013 and figured to be the "main event" induction of the evening.  This changed with the announcement of Bruno Sammartino, but Foley's induction will still undoubtedly thrill his legions of fans who remember the glory days of his hardcore madness.  Sitting at about eye level to the roof of the cell that June night in Pittsburgh 15 years ago, my own unique vantage point of Foley's immortal "bumps" will always be seared into my brain.

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.

*The Celebrity Wing is about the only true disappointment for me regarding the Class of 2013.  While Donald Trump is very deserving due to his involvement in five different WrestleMania's, the night belonged to Cyndi Lauper.  Nonetheless, "The Donald" is going in this year, hairpiece and all.

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.

*Bruno Sammartino isn't the only member of the Class of 2013 to be champion under the WWWF banner.  Bob Backlund held that title for six long years, becoming a legend in the arena that will now see his Hall of Fame induction, Madison Square Garden.  Backlund has long been rumored to have turned down previous invitations to the Hall of Fame.  These refusals paved the way for a perfect induction in the building where it belonged.

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!

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