Thursday, June 7, 2018

Wrestling MarketWatch: Pro Wrestling Illustrated

Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Nearly forty years after the first issue, the title remains on newsstands. I often preach the fact that we need to enjoy the magazine while it lasts, as we all thought that a WWE-branded monthly would go on forever. Sadly that was not the case. Many modern stars will never see a magazine cover in their careers, so when an issue of PWI pops up with Charlotte Flair, Braun Strowman, or Kevin Owens featured, it feels like a tradition that still lasts. Fans may no longer live and die by the rankings, but there is still a lot to love in the pages once dominated by the likes of literary luminaries such as Matt Brock and Liz Hunter.

As always in MarketWatch entries, we're looking at a few examples of recent selling prices for items of a specific theme. This time, it's obviously PWI. We'll go back in time for a few issues, and check in with a more recent example, too, just to see how collectibility has held up with the title. As usual, prices featured are for unsigned items unless otherwise noted.

*There's no better place to start than where it all began. Probably one of the most featured magazine covers on this blog over the years, the September 1979 issue launched the title with Dusty Rhodes and Mil Mascaras most prominently featured. The two had been staples of the Stanley Weston wrestling magazines for a decade prior. "The American Dream" was in a singlet-wearing phase at this point, and we can't forget that Mascaras is editor Bill Apter's favorite wrestler. The selling price of the issue has had highs and lows over the years, but recently sold for $110.

*From Issue #1 you go to Issue #2. Another Weston magazine legend, The Living Legend himself, makes the first of several Pro Wrestling Illustrated cover appearances. Although I'm sure that the magazine tries to stick to current stars to appeal to younger fans, it would be nice if the next issue in 2018 featured Bruno Sammartino as a final tribute. As the magazine was still coming into its own, this November 1979 cover gives off a very Inside Wrestling feel. The issue recently sold for $23.

*Moving onto November 1983 we find a legend making one of his last cover appearances. In an extremely cool shot that just screams "wrestling," Harley Race holds the NWA World Heavyweight Championship proudly and regally. Many collectors love the covers that feature crisp photography of the many championship belts from the past. PWI would become known for these portrait-style covers featuring champions, especially those in the NWA. This issue recently sold for $40.

*September 1985 features another great portrait, this time sans belt. The subject is often said to have been in line for the aforementioned NWA World Heavyweight Championship, but due to his career-ending accident it was not meant to be. Still, Magnum T.A. holds a place in fans hearts to this day. Attend any autograph appearance of his, especially in the south, and you can still witness this popularity. Here, Magnum is positioned as a cross between Tom Selleck and James Dean. At least that's what I'm getting from it. Needless to say, both PWI and Jim Crockett Promotions knew to market Magnum to the female fans. This issue recently sold for $32.

*We can't forget about the more recent issues, even if this female spectacular is already a decade old. The November 2008 issue was the first "PWI Female 50," ranking the top fifty female wrestlers at the time. Featured on the cover are Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix, "The Beautiful People" consisting of Angelina Love and Velvet Sky, and Awesome Kong. A stunning and talented group, for sure. Who would have guessed where these ladies, and the women's wrestling divisions, would be ten years later? This issue recently sold for $16.

My hope is that PWI lasts forever. In my opinion, there will always be room for some tangible, print media. Does the rest of the world agree with me? Not usually. But it's important that fans and the stars themselves have these items to pass down and remember. It's called memorabilia. On this blog, for nearly a decade, it's always been the name of the game.

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