here, but for now we're going back twenty years to 1995. It must be long ago, as the champion going in and coming out of that WrestleMania is going into the Hall of Fame this year. Yes, the WWF was running on "Diesel Power."
The WrestleMania XI program is the first one to be over-sized. It was also not sold on newsstands. Technically the program from the year before was not either, although a variation of what was offered did show up. Since it wasn't sold outside of that weekend's events, it's the first of the WrestleMania programs that has seen a rise in demand. A complete version will include a poster stapled in the center. For the record, the poster is just a larger version of the logo/cover design.
Upon opening the program, we are treated to celebrities before we see any actual WWF Superstars. Nick Turturro, Salt-N-Pepa, Jonathan Taylor-Thomas, and Jenny McCarthy all appear. Even twenty years ago, I was very underwhelmed by this grouping. Though I may have raised an eyebrow or two at McCarthy, it wasn't until a few years later that she was singled out on my radar. Regardless, this was a fairly relevant cast of characters for the era, even if I was personally unimpressed.
The last match of the show is next in the program, and certainly garnered the WWF a ton of mainstream attention at a time when the company was failing in that regard. The grudge match between Bam Bam Bigelow and football legend Lawrence Taylor was standard at best, but the angle itself was well-crafted and, as mentioned, gained the company the press that it wanted...then, now, and forever. The poster was placed right here, blocking out Nikolai Volkoff, Steve McMichael, or any of the other teammates of the participants that you might want to see.
Our last two pages finish up the event with three more matches. Mr. Bob Backlund battled Bret Hart in an "I, Quit" match, The Undertaker faced King Kong Bundy, and The Allied Powers (Lex Luger and Davey Boy Smith) went up against Jacob and Eli Blu. King Kong Bundy receiving another WrestleMania match eight years after his last was yet another highlight for me, a kid always fascinated by monster heels. On the other foot, Luger's final WrestleMania match is as lackluster as his first two. Dutch Mantell makes his WrestleMania debut here managing the Blu twins as Uncle Zebekiah. He would return to the big show eighteen years later as Zeb Colter.
In any event, grab yourself a copy of this years program and enjoy WrestleMania XXXI!
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
For WWE 2015 I opted to go with a blaster box. Those are the $20 boxes found in retail stores. Wal Mart is the place to pick these cards up. In each jumbo pack, there is a coupon for $3 off of a blaster box. Wal Mart's jumbo packs and blaster boxes also include exclusive Sting cards and a chance at Sting autograph cards. If you're a fan of "The Vigilante," it's the only way to go.
The main subset that you'll be seeing the most of in a pack or box is titled "Crowd Chants." There are seventy cards in this subset, with ten cards for each of seven different chants ranging from "One More Match" to "You Still Got It" and yes, the one that makes so many of us cringe, "This Is Awesome." It's a new and different idea that allows cards for a wide array of stars.
NXT is back once again with its own subset. You have to believe that the hottest "brand" in WWE will soon have its stars integrated into the main product. I'd like to see Topps take the risk and release an entirely separate NXT set, but who's to say if that will happen. I think it'd be a great seller, and if they're worried about not having "main roster" talent involved, just throw some NXT Alumni cards into the set. Sadly, this subset is limited to just ten cards, but includes the NXT rookie card of Hideo Itami, formerly known as KENTA.
The Commemorative Championship Plate cards that debuted in 2014 are back this year. These cards are well-designed and honestly are a bit more attractive to me than most relic cards with a bland shirt or mat swatch. You can argue that Bruno Sammartino shouldn't be on a card with the current design WWE Championship and so on, but Topps simply isn't going to create plates for every design that each championship has gone through, not to mention rights issues in doing so. My blaster box pull was the Nikki Bella Divas Championship Plate card. I don't need to once again go through what a female "pull" means as far as being more desirable, so I'll leave that to you, eBay, and the creepy collectors. Nonetheless, I was satisfied with that, especially after using the $3 coupon for the box itself.
JoshCulture) and these cards will sell.
But if there's one card that we can all agree should be here, it's the gentleman who rounds out the base set with card #100. A legend in every sense of the word, it's hard to say which of his many personas should have been included. Soul Train Jones. Vincent. Shane. Curly Bill, perhaps? Regardless, he is here in all of his glory, and as much crap as he gets from fans, I'll always have a soft spot for the guy. If you do pick up some of these cards and luck upon pulling him from a pack, never leave home without it. You may be at a convention, home show, RV show, subway platform, public library or McDonalds, and there will be standing with a smile, the one and only Virgil...
Thursday, March 12, 2015
For whatever reason, Mattel has seemingly gotten back into the swing of things regarding legends over the past few months. The "Flashback" Elite figures have increased in number, and even the "Basic" figure series are often peppered with a legend or two. I recently took a look at the return of the legend-based Defining Moments line and the incredible Hulk Hogan figure that recently hit shelves. Even the Wal Mart exclusive Superstar Entrances series now includes Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Also in that series is a Flashback figure of X-Pac. While the Attitude Era isn't necessarily nostalgic for me, I do appreciate this figure. The Jakks version was a disappointment, being way too tall and bulky. If Mattel does one thing right, it nails the smaller wrestlers down perfectly. The same could be said for the Flashback Rey Mysterio Jr. figure from the previous Elite series. Each of those figures included a "classic" belt as well, being the European and Cruiserweight championships respectively.
Although both received the "Elite Flashback" treatment last year, a modern
representation is now one of Mattel's latest "Battle Packs." I particularly like the Road Dogg from this set, complete with short hair and "New Age Outlaws" t-shirt. It was a treat to see the two regain the WWE Tag Team Championship last year live at an otherwise lackluster Royal Rumble. And yes, even though I was not always a fan of the "schticky" duo, I have been known to throw a crotch chop or two in their presence.
Does it get any better than that? It could, but we're a step in the right direction. As I've said time and time again, Jakks Classic Superstars line was the ultimate because it included superstars from all facets of the business. For every figure of Bret Hart and Dusty Rhodes, we got figures of men like Ron Bass and Danny Davis. It was a wide variety covering all levels of the business. Whether it be Mattel or a company such as Figures Toy Co. (who recently expressed interest in producing a new legends line), the "unsung" heroes of the business deserve their figures, too.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
An interesting Class of 2015 is being assembled, including a posthumous "headline" induction for "Macho Man" Randy Savage. As of press time, the most recent announcement is the induction of Alundra "Madusa" Blayze. The former women's champion has been said to have been on speaking terms with WWE for a few years now, so her induction isn't quite as surprising as Bruno Sammartino or other stars who have been long estranged from WWE.
It's also no surprise that a certain moment was included in Blayze's Hall of Fame video package, that being the WCW Monday Nitro segment where the female grappler dropped the WWF Women's Championship into a trash can. The inclusion of that clip or of Blayze into the Hall of Fame itself should really shock no one. With their ownership of WCW and constant glorification of the "Monday Night War," WWE loves featuring and spotlighting an individual who starred in one of the most replayed moments of the era.
Madusa didn't do much headlining in WCW beyond the infamous belt drop, but she did have a storied career beforehand. A good female hand with a great look, Madusa competed in the AWA and Japan before becoming the WCW valet of Ravishing Rick Rude in 1991. The twosome was part of Paul (Heyman) E. Dangerously's "Dangerous Alliance" stable. Madusa eventually broke away from Heyman and left WCW shortly after.
Following her wrestling career, Madusa made the successful transition to monster truck driver. Her pink and white Madusa truck is featured at Monster Jam events worldwide and has been replicated as Hot Wheels toys of various sizes produced by Mattel. Now that Alundra Blayze is entering the Hall of Fame, perhaps that very same toy company will produce the first figure of the ladies legend? It's on my Hall of Fame figure wish list, for sure!
Could that signing have featured two members of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015? We're only a WWE Tweet away from finding out!