Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wrestling MarketWatch: WCW

"I stopped watching wrestling when WCW ended."  I cannot count how many times I have heard that phrase in the past decade.  For all of its shortcomings, WCW had quite a following.  World Championship Wrestling wasn't that "off brand" wrestling that some who grew up on the WWF initially thought.  WCW had its roots in several classic wrestling promotions that are still revered today. Although little remained from those days when WCW came to an end, it's a true testament to the company that each of it's incarnations and "eras" are still fondly remembered.

The mat-based "We Wrestle" beginning in 1989.  The post-Flair Watts era.  The Vader-Sting title picture and battles.  The arrival of Hulk Hogan.  Monday Nitro and the nWo.  Even the final years.  You don't have to look far into a group of wrestling fans to find someone who still yearns for the days of any or all of these eras. Most of all, these times were when there was truly a choice as far as professional wrestling branding. It's been beaten to death over the years, but the notion that "competition is best" remains true.

Just as the footage and stars of WCW remain popular well over a decade later, so does the merchandise. Although there were some lean years, products emblazoned with the familiar WCW logo are plentiful.  No one in wrestling may have ever had a bigger marketing machine than WWE, but WCW more than held its own with items that hold collectors interest to this day.  In this edition of Wrestling MarketWatch, we'll take a look at some of those items and their recent auction prices.

*Until the second incarnation of WCW Magazine, the company lacked a steady and long-running periodical.  Several previous attempts were made, including Wrestling Wrap-Up.  This publication began in 1989, just as Ricky Steamboat became NWA World Heavyweight Champion.  The original format was almost a small newspaper style, and while cool today, actually seemed almost outdated then.  Wrestling Wrap-Up eventually changed to a magazine format with some very fun covers not long into its run.  An example of the premiere issue recently sold for $15.99.

*Right around the time that the Hasbro WWF figure line hit shelves, WCW followed suit.  Galoob produced a line of WCW figures that were compatible in size with the Hasbro figures, but featured no articulation. Most were sculpted in poses that allowed the figures to provide just as much fun as their WWF counterparts.  The line was sadly short lived, and a second series was only available in the United Kingdom. Many of the figures, mainly tag team partners, were also released in two-packs.  The carded Steiner Brothers tag team set recently sold for $117.50.

*Hulk Hogan's 1995 arrival made many collectors realize that a glut of new merchandise was coming.  WCW began to show up on items that had never appeared on the company's radar before as well as some that had.  The nicest WCW trading card series appeared at this time, and it was the WCW Main Event set produced in 1995 by Cardz.  Bright photos, a variety of wrestlers, managers, and broadcasters and even mascot Wild Cat Willie were featured in the set.  You can still pull an autograph today, and hopefully the bidder that recently paid $5.99 for a pack did just that!

*Publications weren't just limited to magazines, but programs as well.  When Hogan arrived, programs were changed to the format that remains with WWE today: an oversized publication with large photos and some brief biographical information.  A black and white lineup sheet was also often included.  One of these programs recently sold at auction for $20.50.  This particular program features a great cover shot of The Hulkster wearing "Big Gold," which at the time was the WCW Championship.  As much as some complain about the days when "Hulkamania" ran wild in WCW, he looked awfully right wearing the nicest championship belt in history.

*One of the many unique ideas that WCW presented was War Games.  A holdover from the Jim Crockett Promotions days, the Dusty Rhodes brainchild of two teams battling it out in a two-ring steel cage with a roof appealed to any wrestling fan.  Many different stars left their own mark on the match over the years, but one of the best remembered versions took place at the 1992 WrestleWar event.  Sting's Squadron battled The Dangerous Alliance in a great match that ended up being the last big moment for the latter group.  The event poster featuring for the pay-per-view recently sold for $61.00.

Although it was actually only a company for about twelve years, WCW lives on.  A new generation is being introduced to the company and its stars thanks to an ever-growing presence on WWE Network.  One of WCW's biggest stars, Sting, is a featured selling point of the upcoming WWE 2K15 video game.  Who is to say what else the future holds for the brand name, but an undying love for its past will never allow it to fade into the sunset.

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