It's interesting that the biggest promotional crossover of the 1980's involving wrestling took place without the endorsement of the WWF, just as the company was branching out into similar avenues. Indeed, Sgt. Slaughter becoming the face of Hasbro's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy line is the stuff that Madison Avenue dreams are made of. Although other real life names such as William "The Refrigerator" Perry and Rowdy Roddy Piper have become G.I. Joe figures since, Sgt. Slaughter is still the icon of the line. Many stories have gone around as to why Slaughter left the WWF as the deal was being done, but the one regarding a conflict of interest does make sense. Hasbro owned G.I. Joe while LJN produced the WWF figure line. Some LJN WWF figures made it into an ad for the mail-away 8 inch Sgt. Slaughter figure, but that was the extent of any crossover.
Stanback Headache Powders earlier in the decade. Life-sized cardboard Dusty's made their way to stores, and it's hard to forget "The Dream" and his "million-dollar smile" in the tv commercial for the promotion.
NWA endorsements didn't end when "The Dream" departed the organization and Ted Turner took over. You may remember Jim Ross endlessly mentioning Roos Shoes on NWA programming, and the company name even appearing on ring posts. Although the shoes may be long out of style, some of the promotional materials are still very cool. Roos obviously took the endorsement of the NWA stars very seriously and got their moneys worth by plastering the likenesses of Ric Flair, Sting, Lex Luger, and The Road Warriors in shoe stores nationwide. A variety of posters and cardboard standees came out of the promotion, featuring a WWF-level of stardom for the NWA wrestling stars.
With John Cena and Fruity Pebbles and WWE's new partnership with TapouT, these deals continue to fill advertisers pockets, store shelves, and our consciousness today and far into the future. Did you save that very first Cena cereal box? I did. It's a great reminder that the stars and faces of our favorite pastime can continue to place right up there with celebrities of other genres. Who knows what a wrestler will endorse next? In the meantime...wash those Pebbles down with some Mello Yello, slip on your old Roos, snap into a Slim Jim, and tune into an old G.I. Joe cartoon. Maybe Andre the Giant singing about Honey Comb will come on during a commercial break. Then all would be right in the (wrestling) world.