Thursday, September 17, 2015

From The Musty Yellowed Pages--WCW Wrestling Wrap-Up: Sting Wins The Title

My annual "WWE product funk" has finally hit. Usually it settles in just after WrestleMania, as it seems that WWE can't make as an exciting of a post-Mania product as they do with the build to the big one. With many recent deaths and negativity emanating from the world of wrestling in recent months, I must admit that my fandom has been in the back of my mind. If someone can "go through the motions" of being a wrestling fan, that has been me in a nutshell. Nevertheless, there is one item of note that WWE does have me interested in, the first ever WWE Championship shot for Sting at Night of Champions 2015.

It's been twenty-five years since The Stinger won his first World Championship. That was at the 1990 Great American Bash where he bested Ric Flair for the "big gold belt" while clad in the colors of his country. It was a great moment that isn't as well-remembered as other title victories, but has every right to be. Will he make history again a quarter of a century later? That remains to be seen.

When I first met Sting years ago, I knew what the number one item that I wanted signed would be. It's an issue of WCW Wrestling Wrap-Up, Vol 2, No 8 of 1990 to be exact. The cover features Sting just after his big title win at the Bash. The champion is proudly holding the title belt that is a favorite of many, including myself, with his red, white, and blue face paint mostly lost to the rigors of the match. It's the biggest moment for the Sting that many of us grew up on. This was the Sting that was, for the most part, WCW's answer to Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior.

Looking inside, we see that Wrestling Wrap-Up is very much like the WCW Magazine that would take its place in 1991. Wrap-Up was not available on newsstands, however, just at events or on a subscription basis. The pages were all-color, all-slick, and featured some very nice photography. The first big feature goes over the results of Bash 1990, including the WCW debut of a man who would be very instrumental in the next few years of the company, Big Van Vader. I don't think that there was ever a more impressive "big man" wrestler as far as in-ring talent, and he is one example of WCW using a wrestler much better than the WWF.

Next up is an interview with Sting, along with photos of his then-recent milestone victory. Sting's red, white, and blue motif can be seen here as well, with a good shot of his matching pre-ring outfit. This look was captured a few years ago in Jakks Legends of the Ring figure line. Mattel looks as if it will be producing their own version of this figure as well, although it's unclear as to which series it will be released in. Again, "surfer" Sting is the version that captivated many a young wrestling fan. While he was able to very successfully change with the times by using the "Crow" look later on, it's that early Sting that still produces the most nostalgia.

In the center of the magazine, an El  Gigante poster and WCW Merchandise Catalog are featured. A lot of now-very rare apparel is featured, and even a "Norman" teddy bear was offered. The shirt page is directly copied from the WWF Merchandise Catalogs of the time, although there isn't much different that you could actually do. If you want to sell the shirt, have the talent himself wearing it. In the case of The Great Muta, he'll just be holding the shirt.

Next up are one-page capsule articles on young talent such as Mean Mark managed by Paul E. Dangerously (long before they could ever fathom the headlines that they would make twenty-four years later), The Wild-Eyed Southern Boys, and, again, Norman. There is also a letters page. Occasionally, letters pages in wrestling magazines will yield the name of someone who later made some sort of impact on the business. In this case, I'm not seeing anyone that I recognize. If Radhica Ramharak of Hillsboro Beach, FL did go on to wrestling glory, I will very humbly stand corrected.

We wrap up the Wrestling Wrap-Up with a monthly calendar of events, NWA Top Ten, current champions, and Quotes of the Month. We also get photos of Jim Cornette on four pages in a row, two with the Midnight Express and two in ads for the magazine, respectively. I've acquired some of these Wrestling Wrap-Up issues from "The Louisville Lip" himself, and I do believe that he had a hand in production as he did with other behind-the-scenes aspects of WCW at the time until his departure later in the year.

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