efforts in the Memphis wrestling promotion that included the birth of "the gimmick table" and many other merchandising concepts. This time around our spotlight is on an individual star. From his look to his charisma, both of which were shrouded in mystique, it's no wonder why the man became one of the first big merchandising stars of the wrestling business. That man is Mil Mascaras.
The Man of 1,000 Masks is said to have begun his career simultaneously as a Mexican movie star and luchador. With that being the case, one could argue that his merchandising began as soon as his career did. With his colorful masks and costumes plastered on movie posters and lobby cards, the Mexican public was already becoming enamored with the man formerly known as Aaron Rodriguez. Though this took place in the mid-1960's, it was the following decade when Mascaras became a true worldwide name in wrestling.
Domestically, Mascaras became best known in the '70s for his work in the IWA and the WWWF. It was in the latter promotion that wrestling magazine editor and photographer Bill Apter shot so many iconic photos of the masked star. For decades now, Apter has deemed Mascaras as his favorite wrestler and can be seen at ringside for many of the masked star's matches in old Madison Square Garden films. It's no coincidence that in 1979, Apter chose Mascaras along with Dusty Rhodes to star on the cover of the first issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
In 1983, Mascaras along with Bernie Lopez Enterprises released "Mil Mascaras Pro Wrestling Game." The board game is a complicated early wrestling "simulator" that can even be played solo. Using dice, numbers, and many, many rules, players can "promote matches in the wrestling capitals of the world--New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Hong Kong, etc." according to the box. The game is certainly an interesting novelty, probably the first of its kind, and features two box photos credited to wrestling's other top photographer, George Napolitano.
Mascaras is just one third of a trio of brothers who became stars of lucha libre. Dos Caras and Sicodelico (who in my opinion had the coolest mask of the three) also ruled rings around the world, although never with quite the amount of fame as Mascaras. In 2012, Mascaras was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his nephew, Alberto Del Rio, the son of Dos Caras.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Ever since WWE purchased the Mid-South Wrestling Library, fans have been clamoring for something to come of it. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the purchase was a smart buy. From Junkyard Dog to Ted DiBiase to Jim Duggan to Jake Roberts, so many wrestling stars of the '80s had some of their best years in the business as part of either Mid-South Wrestling or the Universal Wrestling Federation when the promotion changed names. Seeing as how WWE enjoys showcasing the stars of what many fans between the age of 30 to 40 years old consider to be the company's "glory years," this release practically built itself.
Although I'm not a home theater expert, to me this classic footage is particularly crystal clear in Blu-Ray format. Though the occasional imperfection from the source material cannot be helped, someone did an absolutely remarkable job restoring these tapes. Rumor says that the tapes were restored for the Watts family's own marketing of these matches before WWE purchased the library.
The segments and matches presented each revolve around a key player in Mid-South's history and often include stars such as Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, and Dusty Rhodes who passed through. In my estimation, the match listing is phenomenal. Despite collecting quite a bit of footage through the years, the only match I had previously owned was Andre, Dusty, and JYD taking on Ladd and The Wild Samoans. Six Hall of Famers in one match gives you just a hint of the star power involved here.
As is usually the case when comparing formats, the DVD packaging is a bit more attractive than the Blu-Ray version. The latter format, however, contains several bonus segments and matches. These extra features are absolutely worth picking up the Blu-Ray version for. Cantankerous old "get that WWE logo off of my classic wrestling!" fans will be happy to see that the company's logo is very small in the over all packaging design. In comparison, the classic Mid-South Wrestling logo is featured much more prominently as a whole.
For every reason mentioned above and more, go out and buy this one. WWE releases from their vast "vault" are always worth a purchase due to being able to get these gems in pristine quality, but this set goes above and beyond. Very rarely in viewing the discs was I not completely entertained. Going back to my earlier pondering, I think that it did have a lot to do with "The Cowboy" and "The Big Cat." Not only did they know how to build a promotion, but they knew how to build the talent to keep us enthralled. Thanks to WWE, we now get to treasure that greatness forevermore.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Produced independently from any other wrestling publication of the time, GLOW Magazine is a surprisingly well done product. Tons of color, mostly glossy pages, and high-quality photography isn't something that you might expect from this magazine, but it's all here. This particular issue, April 1988, is from later in GLOW's television run but is apparently only the third issue of the magazine. A cross between Mad Maxine and the Road Warriors, the mohawked and painted Beastie is this month's cover girl. This proves that the folks behind GLOW, while obviously interested in marketing the sexier members of their roster, had no problem highlighting the more vicious of the bunch as well. GLOW's top star, Mt. Fiji, was both intimidating and one of the biggest fan favorites of the company. She's featured several times throughout the magazine including a full page color photo with fellow fan favorites Tara The Southern Belle and Debbie Debutante.
While the company was initially exclusive to their own television show, the girls eventually began touring. A two-page full color spread in the magazine announces the GLOW World Premiere Tour which was to begin in January 1988. Towns in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Florida are listed as stops on the tour. By this point, the company was dealing with a lot of new talent which could have made these live shows interesting to say the least.
As mentioned earlier, this was the era of GLOW in which the company was deciding to go on tour. Near the end of the magazine, a GLOW Tour Program page is included with a complete rundown of the live events. All seven matches, participants, and even the intermission are listed here. This does not seem to be a show-specific program and I'm guessing that GLOW ran the same lineup every show. In wrestling, the same house show night after night is not a big deal, but it's the openness of it here is sort of shocking, even twenty-five years later.
The GLOW Magazine issues aren't easy to find, but are worth picking up for a trip back to the neon, spandex, and so-bad-it's-good comedy from all of those crazy Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling!
Thursday, September 5, 2013
This set is actually already about six months old. Since I had a rather "ho hum" feeling from previews of the set, I decided to wait until boxes were reduced in price a tad until I acquired one. Although Tristar makes no claims to it, recent boxes of their TNA product have contained a complete set amongst the packs. TNA Live is no different, so at the very least you should be able to build the 99 card base set with the purchase of a hobby box, in addition to seven hits. Those hits include three autograph cards (one will be a multi-autograph), one memorabilia relic, one short-print card, and two parallel cards.
I'm not one to believe in internal "power plays" over merchandising, but it is rather funny that the first three cards in the base set are Hogan, Hogan, and Hogan. Yes, the Hulkster, Brooke, and Hulk and Brooke together are cards #1, #2, and #3, respectively. If you've read this blog before, you should automatically know that I don't have a problem with that. I'm a fan of the Hulkster, although not necessarily in his current role, and I don't even have much of a problem with Brooke. She may not have much business being a focal point of storylines, but she's a more believable promo than Ziggler, the Internet darling.
As usual, we're presented with some nice rookie cards including some Gut Check competitors. A personal favorite of mine, Taeler Hendrix, makes her debut as do Kenny King, King Mo, Joey Ryan, and Sam Shaw. Sam who? I must've missed that week of Impact Wrestling. I could forgive Tristar for giving a card to someone who totally fell below my radar, but then I noticed that Jessie Godderz has two cards in the set. If it weren't for his brief association with a talent like Tara, I wouldn't have a clue as to his identity either.
Overall, I'd recommend to wait until the price drops even further on these cards. While there are some cool rookie cards, all could be obtained individually. Tristar is very big on autograph cards and other "hits," and that is definitely the market that they try to focus on. They know that many are, sadly, buying the boxes just to score a big "hit" and make some money. This has caused the company to get very complacent on the base cards. I'm still begging for a "Heritage" style set. Obviously they couldn't use classic designs like Topps does, but I'm sure that they could produce a very vintage looking set, without gloss, for the many fans who prefer such styles.
The next TNA series from Tristar is to be called "Glory." This set, coming in October 2013, will feature on-card autographs. Any Topps WWE or Tristar TNA product that has featured autographs have utilized autographed stickers that are then applied to the cards. On-card autographs, which are obvious right on the card, are popular with collectors across the board and the set should be a hit based on these hits alone. While they'll definitely be something to look out for, I doubt that we'll get an item quite as amusing as the TNA Live Hector Guerrero card. Not since the 1988 Wonderama Ole Anderson "Dancing Queen" card have we had such an unintentionally (?) hilarious photo inserted into a set. "Latino cheesecake?"