Thursday, July 30, 2015
Most 1980's wrestling fans remember the ad in WWF Magazine. It loudly proclaimed that "Outrageous Conduct" was available via mail. Even though the order blank was there, I just wasn't convinced that it really existed. Why did it never show up anywhere as "The Wrestling Album" and "Piledriver" so readily did? As I said two years ago, I was finally convinced that it did in fact exist when I had a copy of my own. But it didn't end there.
My copy of this earlier version included a letter "from" Jimmy Hart on Rockin' Rasslin' Records letterhead. The statement indicates that a different cover had been pictured from wherever the album was ordered from and includes instructions on how to exchange it or own both. Could this be from the era of the 1986 WWF-released version? Were these earlier editions shipped out at first? The letter also displays an address for a Jimmy Hart Fan Club out of Ramsey, New Jersey.
It seems that everyone knows a piece here or there of the "Outrageous Conduct" story, but no full tale of the various versions and spin-offs has ever come out. I think that Jerry Lawler's often-told joke about his own album ("It wasn't released, it escaped!) also holds true for this effort. Most record collecting sites seem to list one version or the other, and rarely if ever the single. Whereas mainstream releases like the two aforementioned WWF albums are remembered by most, "Outrageous Conduct" is still a hidden treasure. Or more truthfully, when looking at the dual versions and other related items, a hidden treasure trove.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Fans always wondered how the WWE marketing machine would treat Sting. So far, it's exactly how we imagined. To be honest, WCW and TNA used the Sting persona correctly as well when it came to merchandising. Masks, shirts, and baseball bats have long been available in the image of "The Man Called Sting." Nevertheless, it's still a bit odd, even after WrestleMania, to see Sting associated with the WWE logo. Now, thanks to Mattel, we're seeing a grand roll-out for the first figure of The Stinger to be released under the WWE banner.
This first WWE-released Sting is based on "The Icon's" appearance at Starrcade 1997. That was the first match that Sting actually wrestled in his "Crow" look. For a year prior, Sting would appear brooding after, usually, dropping from the ceiling. The picture used behind the figure inside of the box is the recent Sting "sneer" face used on a t-shirt release. The combination of styles used really proves that the man has changed very little over the years, another reason why there's no reason for his WWE career to end after just one match and a handful of appearances.
The facial likeness is well done here. I've often said that even with face-painted stars, you still need a good likeness underneath. This is clearly Sting, and a morose one at that. Remember, Sting felt scorned by all sides at that point. He was not a happy camper due to the rise of the nWo and the "rumors" that he had joined the outlaw faction. The wrestling outfit itself is well done, too, and my often-lamented torso joint is barely visible. I really like the heavy-looking boots used for the figure, and Sting is even wearing the necklace that he wore at the time. While Sting is still in amazing shape at his current age, I see no reason why he still isn't wearing an outfit like this one. With how little he has changed, the figure honestly doesn't look at all out of place with those of more modern stars.
The Defining Moments Sting is in fact my current pick for "Figure of the Year." Although I did not review it here on the blog, the Elite release of Rusev had been my previous choice. Will something come along to blow Sting out of the water? Time will tell, but it's going to be an awfully big challenge.
Two further Mattel releases of Sting have been announced. Another "Crow" Sting will be in the Basic line and an Elite release of the 1990 Great American Bash Sting is also in the works. The Basic version looked a bit underwhelming, but the Bash entry could be promising. I'm interested to see just how many different Sting looks Mattel will end up giving us. I would not object to multiple Basic releases of Sting's many "surfer" styles as they've done with The Ultimate Warrior. It's very wishful thinking to even entertain the thought of a Blade Runners two-pack, but I'd hope that it would at least be considered for an exclusive of some sort. Two huge names in a style that's never before been done in figure form for either man. But, we are dealing with Mattel here...
"Think of the children!"
Thursday, July 16, 2015
This year, Fanfest is focused on live shows and experiences with the centerpiece being the premiere of the documentary "Mid-Atlantic Memories." This project has been years in the making and will tell the story of the fabled Mid-Atlantic Wrestling territory as remembered by the wrestlers and fans who lived it. The legendary Jim Ross will not only narrarate the film but also host the live premiere. In addition, "Good ol' J.R." will also hold his first "RINGSIDE With Jim Ross" show ever in the South as part of Fanfest. Those of you who listen to "The Ross Report" podcast have heard many glowing comments about the event from both Ross and Jim Cornette in a recent guest appearance.
If you've never attended Fanfest, now is the time. With so much going on and every sense of your wrestling fandom being appealed to, it's often hard to decide what to do next. As a longtime "veteran" of the event, I offer the following tips for you to get the most of your experience. All weekend you will be given the chance at once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that most wrestling fans only dream about. The following list is just a few helpful hints for first timers or for those who have already been and want to relive those great memories made over the past eleven years.
*Arrive early! The festivities begin on Thursday. The mad dash for the vendor room is usually rather peaceful, just keep your eyes open. You never know when that "Holy Grail" that you've been wanting for decades will be hiding in a corner or in a box under a table. Merchandise old and new will be available, with many of the names having new items not normally found in stores.
*Mingle! Rarely do so many fans of classic wrestling gather under one roof. Many have great stories from past Fanfests as well as the days of territorial wrestling, especially in the Mid-Atlantic area.
*Visit with The Louisville Lip himself, Jim Cornette. The legendary manager is one of the most accessible stars throughout the Fanfest weekend. Why? Because he's a fan, too! In addition to his live show, Cornette will have his "Cornette's Collectibles" booth in the vendor room all weekend. Mama Cornette's boy is always more than willing to chat, swap stories, give an autograph and photo, and sell you some wrestling treasures. Memphis historian and author Mark James will be by his side with all of his great book titles available, some co-authored with Cornette. My recommendations for a first-time Fanfest attendee? "The Midnight Express Scrapbook" and "Rags, Paper, & Pins: The Merchandising of Memphis Wrestling."
*Attend the Hall of Heroes banquet and ceremony. Some of my favorite moments as a fan have been at the HoH banquets. It's a special, intimate evening to celebrate many of the stars who have entertained you over the years.
*Keep one eye on the action at all times. You truly never know who is going to pop in throughout the weekend. Whether it's out of curiosity, to play some Cribbage, or just to say "hi" to old friends, many familiar faces from the world of wrestling are drawn to Fanfest. From referees like Charles Robinson and Mac McMurray to wrestlers like David Isley, Bill White, and Princess Victoria. Even former wrestling "royalty" like David and Jackie Crockett have shown up unannounced over the years, more than willing to meet their fans.
*Celebrate the past...and the future. Although Fanfest was built on the glory days of pro wrestling's past, promoter Greg Price has opened the doors to the future as well. Between a weekend-long training camp for indy wrestlers helmed by Dr. Tom Prichard and Les Thatcher to including many future talents on the live Fanfest cards (which are held on Saturday night and Sunday), you will get a chance to see many up-and-comers. With the rise and mass exposure of WWE NXT in the past year, you're sure to get another view of just how true the "Future is Now" catchphrase is.
*Take some time to enjoy Charlotte! This is one tip that I wish I had utilized more often on my various trips there. Friendly folks, great food, and an absolutely beautiful area. Explore!
Each year, I devote some blog space to Fanfest. It isn't a commercial, it's just something that I believe in. So often I am asked about the various conventions and wrestling related events that I attend, but I hesitate to discuss them too much. No one wants to read something that appears to be a shill, and this certainly isn't. It's a notice that if you have yet to go for the Fanfest experience, now is the time. I may never have gotten as deep as I have in the wrestling autograph and meeting scene if it weren't for Fanfest. I hope that some of the fun that I've had over the years comes through in my words, and the only way to experience it all for yourself is to make that trip to Charlotte. More information on how you can do that is at NWALegends.com.
They'll know I sent ya!
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Since this is the version of the Horsemen inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, included in the set are Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and Barry Windham. We simply aren't going to see a J.J. Dillon figure in a WWE lineup. Despite being inducted with the group, it was just a month ago that I heard the famous "Dillon was on Vince's 'not-to-be-made' list" rumor straight from the legendary manager's mouth. Unless another company picks up his rights, we aren't getting a J.J. Nonetheless, Mattel likes to focus on wrestlers and not managers, so here we are.
The box is, to put it simply, large. There won't be many in-store shenanigans as far as dishonest folk ripping these things open, as these boxes are sealed tight. You pretty much have to destroy one side of the box to get it open, so once you've let these guys out, they're out for good. The Hall of Fame 2012 backdrop is big and, with a little support added underneath, could be used as a display stage. The back of the box features the standard Mattel artists renderings of familiar photos of the four. The Flair photo used is from the mid '90s when "The Nature Boy" looked nothing like the figure included. Windham's image is from his brief 1989 WWF stint as "The Widowmaker."
This is the second Mattel release for "The Enforcer," and it very much reminds me of one of my all-time favorite figures, the Galoob WCW Arn Anderson. The body is just about right and the facial likeness carries the intensity of the rough grappler. Anderson is clad in red and white (just like the Galoob) with the famous "Double A" monogram on his tights. If I had any issue with the figure, it would be that the legs seem just a big too long and thin for Arn, but it's not a huge deal and might just be in my head.
Finally, we get to "The Lone Wolf" himself, Barry Windham. This is the figure from the set that is likely to be most in demand in the future, as I don't see Mattel likely producing him again. Despite being one of the greatest in-ring performers of the 1980's, this is likely the one and only shot. Again, this figure reminds me very much of the Galoob WCW release from 1990. It also reminds me of his stint as "The Widowmaker" that I mentioned above. BW's red and black cowboy boots look really cool, and Windham is the only one in the set to include entrance gear. The vest is removable and was not present when we saw the prototype. Opinions will differ, but Windham is the star of the set in my book.
This is an interesting set for many reasons. Scalpers scooped this up when early shipments hit Target. They likely won't be making more than a few bucks, if that, on each as the sets hit more and more stores. For whatever reason, my set even rang up $5 less than the advertised price at $44.99. I would imagine that sales will dictate whether or not we see more sets like this.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
With so many great memories comes some great memorabilia. As is always the case in Wrestling MarketWatch, we'll take a look at several of those items and their recent selling prices on the secondary market. Prices listed are for unsigned examples.
*Where better to start than the creator of the Bash, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. There were several NWA-licensed collector cup sets over the years, but one from a chain called Fast Fare were actually branded with The Great American Bash logo. Listed on the cups are tour stops in Atlanta, Washington D.C., Charlotte, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Greensboro, Chicago, and Dallas. The Dusty cup features artists renderings of two familiar pictures of "The Dream" as well as a facsimile signature. This cup recently sold at auction for $15.
*Also in the realm of VHS collecting is the tape of what many consider to be the worst wrestling pay-per-view event of all-time. 1991 was a transitional period for WCW, especially with the then-recent loss of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair to the World Wrestling Federation. The 1991 Great American Bash greatly suffered from this down period. As any wrestling collector will tell, quality never equals demand. This tape, featuring Lex Luger and Barry Windham on the cover in a great shot, is another that has always been highly desired and remains so despite other ways to view the show these days and it ultimately being a poor event. Recently the VHS sold for $77.
*Thanks to the WWF producing their own magazine, Pro Wrestling Illustrated and its sister publications often gave more press to Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1980's. Most issues from the decade can be had for around $10 each, but the December 1985 issue of PWI has always been a bit more in-demand and thus often sells for a higher price. The cover story is a great montage of the action of the 1985 Great American Bash tour. Many fans seem to favorably remember this particular issue from their childhood, and looking at it leaves no question as to why. A copy of this issue also recently sold for $25.
WWE eventually quit using the Bash as an annual pay-per-view event but the name has resurfaced as a special episode of Smackdown in the last few years. With WWE looking to have more Network exclusive events, it wouldn't be the worst idea to revive the Bash yet again, especially in remembrance of "The American Dream." If just one classic, hard fought match is held on the show, you can bet that there will be yet another "Million Dollar Smile" in Heaven.