Thursday, July 21, 2016

Totally '80s! Wrestling Merchandise Magazine Ads

It was the golden age of merchandising in professional wrestling! Gone were the days where you had to attend an actual wrestling event to snap up whatever items you could get your hands on. Photos, programs, and the occasional bumper sticker or pennant were great, but now the world had action figures, watches, videotapes, and even record albums! Best of all, you could order them straight from the pages of your favorite wrestling magazine. A decade earlier, kids were sneaking peeks of stuff that "older brother" or "creepy, lonely neighbor" were ordering from these same publications. By 1989, the younger market was being completely taken care of with (usually) age-appropriate items from various wrestling companies.

The ads that you're about to see all emanate from the pages of the February 1989 issue of Inside Wrestling, featuring a great cover shot of the newly-christened Brainbusters--Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. I'm not including this as an edition of our "From The Musty Yellowed Pages" series, as we aren't really looking into the magazine but rather just the ads. Most of these ads can be found in multiple magazines of the time, but this seemed like a good issue to look at with a wide variety of merchandise spanning several promotions.

Right inside of the front cover are two fantastic ads. The first is one of two ads in the issue from "The Wrestling Ring" company which was based out of Baltimore, MD. A search on any Internet wrestling forum will likely yield at least a couple of nostalgic stories from fans who ordered from "The Wrestling Ring." No longer in business, the mail-order company seemed to have capitalized on the time of the "Rock N Wrestling" era. This ad focuses on WWF digital watches. You can choose from Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Miss Elizabeth, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Koko B. Ware, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, who was already gone from the WWF. Also in this ad are two early NWA foam belts which are relatively in demand these days. Note the wrestling ring that the fist is "bursting" through is fashioned using posts and turnbuckles from the LJN WWF ring.

 On the first actual page of the issue is an ad for "A Von Erich Extravaganza!" This ad is direct from the publishing company itself which must have had an overstock of the Von Erich's "Front Row Ringside" VHS video and "A Family Album" book. The album itself has been featured before on this very blog, and the "Front Row Ringside" video can be viewed as of press time on a very popular online video site. The original video as well as the book both prove to still be popular whenever the show up on the market today.

Later in the issue we get an ad from the other side of the World Class Championship Wrestling saga, that being Michael Hayes and the Fabulous Freebirds. Although the glory days of the promotion and its stars had passed by 1989, the merchandise was still there. The full page ad straight from "Badstreet" features a plethora of items celebrating "The Baddest of the Bad and The Meanest of the Mean." The legendary "Off The Streets" album by Hayes himself has been featured here many times and was available in this ad for just $9.95, including the infamous "Michael Hayes Exposed" poster. You could also join the fan club, hang Hayes on your wall, or wear a Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy "Bad To The Bone" t-shirt!

The Weston or Apter Mags were never shy about ads for back issues of their various publications. Here we see that for a time the company was even bundling back issues together focusing on one particular superstar. This time we get "A Special Offer For All 'Hulkamaniacs'" featuring ten different cover stories of Hulk Hogan. Pictured is a somewhat husky young Hulkamaniac, decked out in a 1985ish "Hulkster" headband, Pro Wrestling Illustrated t-shirt, and one of the aforementioned foam NWA Championship belts. He's representing '80s rasslin' to the max. Just $19.95 got you all ten issues. In 2016, the smart wrestling collector could obtain those same ten issues for just about the same price with enough searching.

The full-color back page features one of the best remembered ads of the era, again from "The Wrestling Ring" company. This ad features many of the LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars figures that had been released up to that point. Also shown are the large figure of Rowdy Roddy Piper and the wrestling ring and cage also all from LJN. We even get yet another cameo by one of those foam NWA Championship belts. It's great to see the LJNs in all of their glory. The colors of the figures look particularly rich in the main photo, too. As 1989 progressed an even more famous ad was run in these magazines by "The Wrestling Ring." That ad featured mentions (but NOT pictures) of some of the unreleased figures such as The Barbarian, Demolition Smash, and Bad News Brown.

What a collection of '80s gems! It all goes back to the old saying "If I only knew then what I know now..." That, of course, gives way to another phrase, "Hindsight is 20/20." Nevertheless, even if we don't own all of these great items, we still have these great advertisements to look back on. Perhaps one day we'll take a look at some wrestling magazine ads from even earlier decades. Then again, maybe not. After all, I prefer to keep this blog "family friendly."

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