Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wrestling MarketWatch: WWE Hall of Fame 2017

WrestleMania weekend is upon us. The grandest stage of them all has become much more than just the show on Sunday, and has even stretched beyond the borders of WWE, for better or worse. Regardless if the main featured content is up your alley or not, there truly is something for everyone. For many of us, the highlight is the WWE Hall of Fame. There's enough debate elsewhere on whether or not the WWE Hall of Fame is "legit." Around these parts, we simply enjoy it for what it is: a celebration of the past.

This is not the first time that the WWE Hall of Fame and our recurring Wrestling MarketWatch feature have come together. The last time was in 2013 for the Hall of Fame ceremony that I had the honor of attending in person. I'm still biased toward that class, headlined by Bruno Sammartino, as being the best, but 2017 is very solid. The names include Kurt Angle, The Rock N Roll Express, Teddy Long, Diamond Dallas Page, Ravishing Rick Rude, and Beth Phoenix. All of the stars have plenty of memorabilia, and as always in MarketWatch we're about to take a look at the recent auction selling prices for some of those items.

*Holla Holla Holla! Teddy "Peanuthead" Long has had a long career in the business performing just about every duty aside from being an actual wrestler. I was always a fan of Long as a manager in WCW. When his run there came to an end, I never imagined that he would almost completely restart in WWE, but after a return to refereeing Long once again became a villainous manager. Arguably, Long's biggest fame came as the long-reigning general manager of Smackdown. His best piece of merchandise commemorates that run, in the form of a Mattel WWE Build-A-Figure. That figure, with all pieces included, has been selling for an average of $30.

*Another man who made his name in WCW and only later joined WWE is Diamond Dallas Page. A "late bloomer" in wrestling, Page became one of the most popular names in WCW during the "Monday Night Wars" and is fondly remembered by even casual fans to this day. More recently DDP has earned real-life kudos for helming his DDP Yoga wellness program and essentially helping to save the lives of many people including Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Scott Hall. DDP also holds the distinction of appearing on the cover of the final issue of WCW Magazine, cover dated May 2001. That edition recently sold for $15.

*When you're talking the tag team ranks, you have to mention Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson. The Rock N Roll Express have been thrilling fans for over three decades with no end in sight. If you haven't heard a pop for the "R N R X" with your own ears, what are you waiting for? Their battles with the Midnight Express are legendary, but it always seemed that manager Jim Cornette was their true nemesis. One of the biggest highlights of Mania weekend will be seeing, and hearing, Cornette induct Morton and Gibson into the Hall of Fame. As for merchandise, the Express saw loads of it. Their only action figures came under the Jakks WWE Classic Superstars banner. Notorious for having the boys hair colors swapped, the figures are still high in demand. A carded set recently sold for $140.

*Another highlight of the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony will be the return of Kurt Angle to the company. Sure he's going into the hallowed Hall, but what will his future hold from here? A regular return to WWE programming? Maybe a match or three? Time will tell, but this fellow Pittsburgher is simply happy to see Angle back "home" where he belongs in WWE. Another star with endless merchandise, Angle should be receiving more in the coming months. Mattel figures from all eras of Angle? Yes, please. Angle is also a gracious signer, and a signed Impact Wrestling 8x10 promotional photo of the Olympic medalist recently sold for $20.

*A long time coming, the WWE Hall of Fame is about to get a Rude Awakening. Posthumously, Ravishing Rick Rude will be inducted this year by WCW nemesis Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. Rude is still rather underrated in my book. Do enough searching and you can watch his work in and out of the ring get better and better as he floats from the territories, Jim Crockett Promotions, WWF, and WCW. His WWF-era promos were as believable as any wrestler to come along, despite the over-the-top gimmick. That gimmick has given way to a number of great action figures. Even though the first was more of a statue than a figure, it's part of the infamous WWF Wrestling Superstars '89 series, the last group of the legendary LJN line. That figure recently sold out of package for $87.

It's a stellar group of names that actually fills some gaps that fans have complaining about for awhile now. Will Cornette's return open the door for a Midnight Express induction in 2018? Will Angle make an impact on WWE's future? Will Theodore R. Long book a tag team match? There's only one way to find out, playa.

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