Thursday, April 2, 2015

Wrestling MarketWatch: Sting

One of the last "Hmmm...I wonder what that would be like?" moments in wrestling has finally happened. Sting has wrestled a match for WWE, at WrestleMania no less. While the result of the match surprised many, I'm sure that it isn't the last of The Stinger in the company. The painted-faced icon proved that he could still provide a quality match, and I just don't see the face of WCW going out in a loss, even under contract to Vince McMahon. The company realizes his value as a WWE Legend, and one or two more matches would only cement that. With the fantastic showing of The Undertaker also at WrestleMania, those who said that the match would never happen are already having second thoughts.

Sting's return has likely garnered many new fans for the legend. Those who are new to the party are scrambling alongside old "Little Stingers" to grab items from the long list of Sting merchandise. WCW, TNA, and now WWE have all produced items featuring the various incarnations of Sting. I would venture to say that, in one of their rare moments of being number one at something, TNA may have produced the most Sting merchandise during his times there. WWE has already integrated him into video games, trading cards, and wearable merchandise such as new masks and shirts. In a few months, the first WWE-produced figure of Sting will be making its debut on store shelves as well as on this very blog. In the meantime, let's take a look at some past Sting items and their recent selling prices.

*While the public awaits the Mattel "Defining Moments" Sting figure, some of the older efforts are selling briskly. Due to not signing with WWE until 2014, Sting was an unfortunate omission from the legendary Jakks WWE Classic Superstars line. When Jakks took over the TNA license, several Sting figures were on tap. My two favorites are in the "Ruthless Aggression" style body that was used for most of the Classic Superstars. While the packaging may have been different, the figures themselves were able to blend right in with Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and the various other legends who did make it into Classic Superstars. Both classic "surfer" and later "crow" Sting variations were made. All have remained popular, but one Sting with his black and white paint was in a set exclusive to Walgreens. The figures were dubbed "Ruthless Impact" by collectors, and did not last long on shelves. The Sting from this set recently sold for $40 in package, with loose examples going for well over $20.

*Sting's merchandising really didn't hit its stride until the early 1990s when WCW began to make deals for action figures and other toys. One of his very first cover appearances was on the 1988 Great American Bash program. Like some of the other WCW events of the time, Bash 88 had an in-house program produced as well as one done by The Wrestling News. Sting makes his cover appearance on the latter along with Ric Flair, Lex Luger, and Dusty Rhodes. This program, the harder to find of the two, recently sold at auction for $22.50.

*The early '90s were filled with colorful eye-catching neon, and Sting's look definitely lent itself to this trend. It also stuck out in the crowd at wrestling events, the perfect way for "Little Stingers" to cheer on their favorite star. Foam fingers and hands, still sold at WWE events today, date back to the early 1980's in pro wrestling and probably even longer in other sports ventures. WCW caught onto this around the time of their other merchandising endeavors, and Sting was at the top of the heap. The orange Sting foam finger recently sold for $28.99.

*WCW Magazine went through various changes over its long run, but its initial format was the best. Several special issues were also released at this time, from the infamous 1993 WCW Yearbook to a puzzle magazine. A few focused on the top star of the company, Sting, and his exploits in and out of the ring. From eating whole wheat pancakes and orange juice for breakfast to wrestling Big Van Vader and Ravishing Rick Rude, these editions made a Sting fan feel as if they had followed him around for the day. One of these magazines, "Sting's Guide To WCW," recently went for $28.11.

*8x10 promotional photos are always an interesting collectible as far as monetary value. Some will sell for hundreds, others for pennies. Is it better to be signed or left unmarked? Personally, I feel a promo photo is one item that always looks better signed. Sting has had plenty of promo shots over the years, but one very interesting 8x10 was released by TNA in 2012. This is an "in your face" depiction of Sting's famous painted mug. This promotional photo, with autograph, recently sold at auction for $42.

"The Stinger." "The Man Called Sting." "The Vigilante." No matter what you call him, he's a Hall of Famer in any argument and is indeed the face of WCW. He evolved the character throughout his career and, while many of us prefer the "surfer" look of old, he's proven to be entertaining in-ring from the '80s to the present. May Bo Dallas not be the final victim to feel the Scorpion Death Drop, for Sting still has more of a story to be told.

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