Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Roode Awakening

He's "glorious" and he's your new WWE United States Champion. Even with most TNA/Impact Wrestling standouts seemingly finding their way to WWE, did anyone predict that they would thrive as they have? The company has not always been extremely open to those who've made their name elsewhere. But thrive they have, and Bobby Roode has been no exception. Bursting onto the scene via NXT, Roode debuted with a spectacular theme song (said to have been considered for Shinsuke Nakamura) which evolved into a great, grand, and yes, glorious nickname. As with any superstar, the in-ring talent must match the showmanship. Thus far, Roode has proven to have both.

Many of us have been Bobby Roode fans since his days as part of Team Canada and Beer Money. The latter team often heard chatter that a WWE run could be in their future. Roode's partner in the team, "Cowboy" James Storm, did have a cup of coffee in NXT, but has yet to see the full WWE experience. It would be fun to see the two former partners collide in the major spotlight of WWE, especially with Roode's current persona.

The buzz surrounding Roode did not begin with NXT or SmackDown Live. I can still remember the atmosphere at the 2011 Bound For Glory fanfest. It was Roode's largest hyped run for the TNA Heavyweight Championship, challenging Kurt Angle. Though Roode would not take the title on that particular occasion, it was the point where many began to view him as a bonafide singles star. Roode did go on to be a two-time TNA Heavyweight Chanpion as well as the longest reigning to date.

Due to his TNA stardom, Roode also saw a nice chunk of merchandise during his long tenure with the company. Action figures representing his time with both Team Canada and Beer Money were produced as were trading cards, t-shirts, promotional photos, and other assorted items. Roode even made one of the last covers of "The Wrestler" magazine in a great shot including the TNA Heavyweight Championship belt over his shoulder.

Roode has already debuted in the Mattel NXT figure line which is exclusive to Target. The "Basic" version will be followed by an "Elite" in a subsequent NXT-Target release. That figure will include the new NXT Championship. I've always envisioned a "Glorious" Defining Moments figure release for Roode, complete with robe. There is definitely still room and time for it to happen.

At age 40, Roode has little to prove in professional wrestling yet he has so much more to do. He fits into WWE so well, yet carries on the feeling of being an outsider, similar to Rob Van Dam when he first arrived in the company. It's another unique situation brought about by WWE allowing non-homegrown talents to thrive.

It's a glorious thing...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Wrestling MarketWatch: Royal Rumble

As "WrestleMania season" kicks off and the storylines go into high gear for WWE, so goes the Royal Rumble. Arguably still the most exciting match in the company due its unpredictability, 2018's edition will actually feature two versions of the famous match, one for the men and one for the women. It will be interesting to see if this concept stays as that of the whole match has, or if it is a one-off deal like the 40-man Rumble of a few years ago. In any case, the Rumble is full of history and, as we like to point here on the blog, memorabilia. This MarketWatch entry will display some of those items and their recent auction sale prices. As always, prices are for unsigned items unless noted.

*Although you can dial up any Royal Rumble on the WWE Network, there was a time when visiting events past was not so easy. In 2007 fans were treated to the beautiful Royal Rumble Anthology DVD boxed set. Handsomely packaged, the set featured every Rumble up to that point as well as collectible "film cell" cards and more. The square box full of Rumbles may be outdated, but it still featured many of the best examples of the event. Holding its own, the set recently sold for $100.

*The first Rumble event to hit pay-per-view was in 1989. This star studded Rumble featured Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Ted DiBiase, Demolition, The Twin Towers, Big John Studd, and many more. The event also included a "King's Crown" match pitting Haku against Harley Race, and Judy Martin even challenged Rockin' Robin for the WWF Women's Championship. The show did yield a program which previewed much of the action that evening. The program recently fetched $35.

*Even in a Rumble, some order needs to be kept. Jakks knew this, and thus included Earl Hebner in their WWF Royal Rumble figure line back in 2002. The set still holds value today. Interestingly, Earl's twin brother Dave is shown on the packaging. This figure recently sold for $26.

*The most famous Royal Rumble figures were produced by Hasbro in a much smaller form. Infamously, the Hasbro Royal Rumble ring saw limited distribution in 1992. Because of that, it has long been in demand with collectors. With the rabid interest in Hasbro's WWF product in recent years, the value has only sustained or grown. The ring recently sold for $350.

*Do you remember being bored by the Rumble? Sure there have been some that were not as great as others, but I can't say that I've ever been bored by one. Pamela Anderson can! The buxom '90s star appeared to be bored to tears at ringside throughout the match where the likes of Shawn Michaels, Davey Boy Smith, and even Dick Murdoch did battle. The program from the event has always been scarce, but it recently sold for $100.

It's wild, it's unpredictable, and so are the going prices of its collectibles! The Royal Rumble has it all, which is why it remains a favorite to most any wrestling fan. It's time to Rummmmmmble...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Year, New Retro

There's no better way to kick off the blog in 2018 than with a line that was a major highlight of 2017. Mattel's WWE Retro action figures have pleased both modern and nostalgic collectors alike. As most already know, these figures are based upon the legendary Hasbro WWF figure line. With a mix of current and past names, the first two series were a major hit. With Series 3 hitting stores late last year, the line saw a few changes.

Series 3 brings Goldberg, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose to the line. Four figures is two down from the six in both previous series. Each figure is now packaged with a display stand featuring their individual logos emblazoned. While the original Hasbro line was designed to utilize "peg" stands, nothing ever developed from it. The stands are packaged right where the "Real Wrestling Action" of each figure should be advertised. This change takes away from the overall nostalgia, introducing a concept that was not present originally.

The boarder color on the cardbacks has changed from the first two series, which does jive with the Hasbro style. On the other hand, the inclusion of an ad for WWE Mayhem, an app game, is worse than the addition of the stands. The ad completely cramps the superstar photo on the cardback which was a Hasbro staple. For those of us who enjoy having figures signed, this is extra disappointing. Save the gaming ads for the standard figure lines, not a niche one aimed primarily at collectors.

As for the figures themselves, it is also a mixed bag. Glaringly, Goldberg is missing gloves. Has "The Man" ever wrestled without gloves? Certainly not in his WWE return on which the figure is based. The Goldberg "action" should also be switched with that given to Ambrose. Dean is hardly the slamming type, even if Renee would beg to differ. Goldberg should match many of the other "power" figures in this style.

The highlight of the series is unquestionably AJ Styles. Tied (with Series 2 Kane) for my personal best figure of 2017, one of the greatest of this generation translates well into being a "Hasbro." And just as was the case in the original line when the figure "action" matched the real life signature move of the star, one of the best "Real Wrestling Action" moves from Hasbro returns once again as "The Phenomenal Forearm."

While Series 3 wasn't quite as disappointing as I'd predicted, it isn't perfect. More colorful characters are still needed. How about the first female in the Hasbro style? More legends would be welcome as well, as is always the opinion on this blog. In both cases, how about a "Woooooooo!"?