Thursday, June 8, 2017

Some Favorite (and Least Favorite) Items of the Stars

As the season where I do most of my wrestling-related trips draws near, it brings back floods of memories. An interaction, a moment, a word, an item. This is a hobby where nearly every piece of memorabilia has a story, especially those that bear autographs. Did the star have anything to say when he or she signed that particular item? Sometimes even the most silent stars will comment on certain treasures. It may surprise some that a man of few words like Harley Race would know the history of his own action figures, but he absolutely does. Many can pinpoint the exact time and place where a photo was taken. And some will even make sure to note when a figure, card, or photo is their favorite.

One of the first stars that I can recall commenting on something being their "all-time" favorite is a man who is no stranger to classic photos. "The Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino does indeed have a preference in the absolute library of photography that exists chronicling his career. The photo features Sammartino sitting in a posed studio shot. The black and white photo also features a hint of the classic WWWF Championship belt, the original of which is missing in action. The photo has been distributed many ways, but even appeared as a trading card in the 1991 Wrestling Legends set.

Speaking of cards, a man who is still active in WWE has his favorite, dating back to the WCW days. While you might think that Dustin Rhodes would choose a card of his legendary Goldust character, it's actually the opposite. Showcasing the classic southern style of "The Natural" Dustin Rhodes, the card is straight from the WCW Main Event card set produced by Cardz in 1995. Though Dustin has other cards in the set, this one is from a number of cards produced that highlight individual moves. At that point in time, no one was more associated with the bulldog than Rhodes. The photo is an amazing action shot from his match with Blacktop Bully at SuperBrawl V.

One of the top enemies of the Rhodes family once commented to me on his favorite action figure. It was as the Jakks WWE Classic Superstars figure line was in full force, and Arn Anderson was signing many examples of his new figure on that particular day. While Jakks made several figures of Anderson, they did tend to be a bit more buff than "The Enforcer" actually was. While signing my Galoob figure of himself, he commented to Dean Malenko and me that he preferred the vintage figure due to it having a much more lifelike look to it. Seeing as that it's one of my all-time favorite wrestling figures, I could not have agreed more.

Another favorite figure of mine, maybe more so due to presentation factors, did come from Jakks. This one is of a legend from both ECW and WWE, Rob Van Dam. Limited to 5,000, this particular RVD figure not only features the classic "Rob-Van-Dam" pose, but also reflects the brief period when the high-flying star held both the ECW and WWE Championships. Also included is a soft goods ECW t-shirt to fit the figure and a briefcase to reflect RVD's time as "Mr. Money In The Bank." What's also nice is that the figure was packaged in a style where the figure and accessories are showcased as opposed to the packaging itself. At a signing in Atlanta, RVD told me that this was indeed his favorite figure of himself. Who could disagree?

Of course, a few stars have "least favorite" items, too. One that really sticks out to me is from former TNA Knockout SoCal Val. How the beautiful redhead could have any "least favorite" pieces is beyond me, but she does have one photo that she doesn't particularly care for. In the promotional Impact Wrestling 8x10, Val is wearing a blue polka dot bikini. Val has told me several times that she doesn't care for the photo as she feels that she looks "12 years old" in it. Well, I know most fans would agree with me in that she looks like a full-grown woman in the photo, but you can be the judge with the provided image. Just don't take too long "examining" the photo. It is there solely for science.

And while many might think that Ole Anderson would only have "least favorite" items, I've only ever heard him gripe about two. Those are his two cards from the 1988 NWA trading cards series by Wonderama. To be fair, neither picture used is particularly great. especially the "dancing" card, as he put it. I paraphrased the rest of his description to keep the blog family friendly. Oh that Ole!

Thankfully, most wrestling stars embrace their merchandise. It's a record of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into their careers. Learning of all of these favorites listed here was solely by accident. Maybe I should start asking about more for future reference? Stay tuned...

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