Thursday, April 27, 2017
Interestingly, Prime Time Wrestling is the show that I saw the most of as a kid, especially in my years as a casual fan. I was out with family during the day on weekends, so I really didn't partake too much in the classic "Saturday morning wrestling." Instead, I most recall catching Saturday Night's Main Event (after all, it was an event) and Prime Time. And even though the show went through a variety of hosts and formats, my brightest memories revolve around the Gorilla Monsoon-Bobby Heenan version.
I still prefer Monsoon with Jesse "The Body" Ventura as a commentary team, but the two didn't do too much hosting of Prime Time beyond some early episodes. The majority of the run featured "The Gorilla" and "The Brain" providing an often hilarious look at the goings on in the World Wrestling Federation. The chemistry between the two has never been matched in wrestling, obviously aided by their real-life friendship that was completely hidden on television. Okay, maybe a few times you got the feeling that Gorilla didn't completely hate "The Brain," but this was still the era of kayfabe.
Most wrestling television shows at the time didn't yield much memorabilia themselves. Heenan and Monsoon did have a few promotional photos together, but the merchandise of the time more or less centered around the wrestlers themselves. That being said, Prime Time Wrestling featured an absolute plethora of WWF items available in the era.
The late, legendary WWF Magazine was also prominently featured. If Gorilla wasn't egging Heenan on about his men not being featured, the two would often cite photos and articles from the latest issue. And who could forget..."From the pages of the World Wrestling Federation Magazine, here's 'Update!'" That segment, which always displayed the latest magazine cover ("...on newsstands now!") was usually hosted by Craig DeGeorge, Lord Alfred Hayes, or Mean Gene Okerlund and spotlighted a recent major happening. And when Bobby finally made the cover in 1987? I'm sure "Miss Betty" was never happier!
We all know how few took the company up on that offer. The musical albums produced by the company were pushed heavily, as was the movie "No Holds Barred" upon its release. Posters, banners, and even Hasbro figures and Tonka Wrestling Buddies would eventually show up as set decor as the years went by. When the show changed formats in 1991 and started to feature a live audience, the merchandise faded away almost overnight. Advertisements were still there, but it just wasn't as fun without the camera focusing in on an LJN or Hasbro as the commercial break ended. And it certainly wasn't as entertaining without the Monsoon-Heenan pairing.
By 1993, Prime Time Wrestling was replaced with Monday Night Raw. No one can deny that Raw has had hundreds of memorable moments as the flagship show of the company and changed the way that wrestling was presented on television. Prime Time rarely advanced angles, as it was mainly a magazine/recap style show. Nonetheless, that was part of the magic. Prime Time featured matches that really didn't fit in anywhere else in the WWF lineup at that point. Some were good, some were bad, but Gorilla and Bobby always made it entertaining. Now that we know how much fun they were really having, it makes it just all the sweeter. And speaking of sweet, I'm sure that somewhere, in a place far greater than we know, our late, beloved Prime Time host knows that we did eventually get a "Gorilla doll"...
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Although I began collecting the line shortly after it hit shelves, The Nasty Boys were some of the last figures to join my collection. Part of the second series of tag team sets, the Boys were shipped along with the Legion of Doom. Initial cases did not include The Nasty Boys, and in my area they never seemed to arrive. While Hawk and Animal, despite their popularity, warmed the pegs, I started to believe that The Nasty Boys set just wasn't produced. In 1994, my dad and I saw an ad in a magazine for a company called Figures Inc. (now known as Figures Toy Company). They advertised that they had the figures in stock for a price of what I remember to be around $16. My dad took the number down and when I had saved up enough money, we ordered Knobbs and Sags.
Arguably two of the most unique figures in the line, I'm as thrilled with the twosome now as I was then. Like all of the Hasbro WWF figures, The Nasty Boys each utilize a "Real Wrestling Action" to pound their opponents into submission. Indeed, Sags has the "Punk Pounder" while Knobbs has the "Nasticizer." The body/mechanism types fit well for the style of wrestling that this team was known for: pure brawling.
The detail level was high. Hasbro was usually pretty good in this category with a few exceptions. The graffiti look of the shirts was captured well. The facial likenesses were a bit easier to pull off since the Boys are wearing their trademark shades, but there's no doubt that this is Knobbs and Sags. The mullets and Sags' famous gap tooth look are here, too. Remember, this is before accessories were included with every figure. No trench coats in this first "Nasty" incarnation.
They've had their share of figures since, but I do believe that the first remain the best. As "primitive" as the Hasbro designs may appear to some modern collectors, that has always been a big part of their appeal and charm. Action figures are toys, and the Hasbro WWF line is exactly what the colorful, larger-than-life, World Wrestling Federation roster of the early '90s should look like as toys.. Now that Mattel is producing newer figures in a similar style, the tradition continues. What does that mean for the modern WWE superstars? They may just have to make a pit stop in "Pity City."
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Admittedly, I became a Hardy "fan" in an odd way. I always respected what they brought to the business, but during their rise to the top I really wouldn't have described myself a fan of theirs. I didn't dislike the duo, but I wasn't rushing out buying their latest t-shirt, either. They weren't really in my demographic, although their female companion Lita certainly was. It took actually meeting the "Boyz" and seeing how genuine they were with their fans for me to truly come around.
When I did finally start counting myself a fan of the male side of "Team Xtreme," I found that there was no shortage of great items for the pair. Magazines, action figures, trading cards. From the glory days of the Attitude Era through what were some truly great times for TNA/Impact Wrestling, The Hardy Boyz were part of several great periods.
Lita was included in my favorite magazine cover featuring "Team Xtreme." The magazine of the same name was a special put out by the WWF at the height of their popularity. Featuring articles, centerfolds, and even a fold-out cover, looking at it may remind you of something that Jim Crockett Promotions would have released for The Rock 'N Roll Express. Initially, I probably picked up the magazine simply because it was something new on the newsstands (and for Lita). As I later got into having so many of these items signed, I was glad that I had picked it up.
Of course, a return to one of the biggest marketing machines in the world only ensures a plethora of new items for the Hardy Boyz. New shirts! New trading cards! New...action figures. Infamously, a Mattel Jeff Hardy figure was produced early in the license in some shape or form but never officially saw a release. Will we see that figure? There's no doubt in my mind that we will see both "current" and "retro" figures of the brothers. I'm sure that a set coupled with Lita isn't out of the realm of opportunity, either. The Boyz would also make great additions to the Hasbro-styled "WWE Retro" figure line.
And how about those who want to see the "Deleted" and "Broken" Hardy characters? My opinion? It's been done. It was a gimmick that revitalized the pair. It would never have dominated an entire WWE show as it did elsewhere. Will we see hints of it here and there? Absolutely. But right now you're getting a nostalgia run for two superstars who highly deserve it. Enjoy it!
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Thankfully, many of those fans saved much of the classic Von Erich and WCCW memorabilia of their youth. Those are the same fans, a large percentage of which were female, that you can still see on any episode of World Class Championship Wrestling. Aside from the board game and apparel, much of what was saved could be classified as ephemera. Photos, programs, and even newspaper clippings. If a Von Erich boy was even mentioned, you can bet that the article or blurb was clipped and saved.
Today we're looking at some programs, but not of the traditional style that many are familiar with. These three programs are from cards held at the W.G. Thomas Coliseum and benefited the local high school band. I must admit, I love these things. Not only are they different from most wrestling programs in size and shape, but they capture the fact that, as big as World Class became for a time, the biggest names in the promotion were still working local shows like this.
What a time capsule these are, maybe even more so than a standard wrestling program. Not only are they full of good quality WCCW promotional photos, there are endless advertisements from the sponsors. An eatery called Clown Hamburger certainly makes their "Double Meat Hamburger Plus French Fries And Medium Drink - Only $2.19" sound delicious. How about BOGO mesquite smoked chopped bar-b-q sandwiches from Buff's Bar-B-Q Barn? And I'd be remiss not to mention that all three programs include a $1.00 off coupon from the local K-Mart Pharmacy on your next prescription.
And as with so many items from the era, you never know when
Vintage items like these are what continue to remind me why I love pro wrestling. A few old, wrinkled pieces of paper stapled into a pamphlet can contain a treasure trove of memories. A split second decision could have found these being hauled off to a landfill years ago. Certainly that was the fate of many of these items, but thankfully examples like these have survived. That K-Mart Pharmacy coupon may no longer be valid, but the rest of the value found in these pages will last for eternity.