Friday, December 25, 2009

We Wish You A...

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Not The Grammy's...It's The Slammy's!

While tonight's Slammy Award broadcast on Raw may not quite have the feel of the Slammy ceremonies of yesteryear, I'm sure it will still contain the WWF/E style humor that the pseudo-awards show has been built on since its inception in 1986.

With such a fun concept and the marketing prowess the WWE has shown over the years, it's always been surprising to me that very little merchandising has been done using this particular idea.

Sure, video tapes of the 1996 and 1997 Slammy Award ceremonies are available, with snippets of the '86 and '87 events on various Coliseum Video releases. Several Owen Hart figures from 1996 featured Owen in his "Slammy Award Winning" tights. However, one would imagine that with the craze of replica title belts, surely a replica Slammy Award would be available. Or possibly a figure-sized Slammy Award included with various action figures over the years? Neither ideas have ever made production.

Two of the lone Slammy items in my collection are actually direct mementos from the '96 and '97 ceremonies themselves...

Both ceremonies had a program which was only available to attendees of the dinner/ceremony of those particular years. My own examples are both autographed by a Superstar who made her mark both of the years, the one and only Sunny. Each are beautifully done and while they do not include photos, they do feature an embossed rendition of the comical Slammy trophy itself. These do not show up very often at all and are most likely all but tucked away into collections worldwide.

I leave you with a photo of your favorite blogger, yours truly, and the Queen of the Slammy's herself, Sunny, holding her Slammy Award for "Best Buns." One can only imagine how much more desirable the recent limited edition Sunny WWE Classic Superstars figures would be had they included little Slammy's...

Enjoy the show!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

There are two types of wrestling fans...

...Demolition fans or Road Warrior fans. Personally, I've long been a Demolition guy, but I have to admit this is quite the cool piece.

This is the original NWA Road Warriors bandana put out by Jim Crockett Promotions in 1988. Some would argue that the lack of merchandising is part of what helped to put JCP out of business. The truth is, there were very few products offered by the promotion, therefore what is out there is coveted by collectors.

In addition to various programs and videotapes, some of which have been shown in previous entries of this blog, t-shirts, bandanas, and pennants of the promotions shows and stars were among the few items produced.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Thanksgiving Tradition--Starrcade or Survivor Series?

Depending on where you lived, it could be either! Of course, the first several editions of each event were presented on Thanksgiving. Due to the happenings of the wrestling business, which can be elaborated on another time, Starrcade eventually moved to December while Survivor Series moved to Thanksgiving Eve, and later to a regular Sunday night in November.

Some would argue that with either shows move, they each lost their uniqueness and charm. Regardless, Thanksgiving is a holiday that was long capped off with a great wrestling show...and the purpose of this entry is to remember that. Shown above are some great collectibles, past and present, that highlight the Thanksgiving tradition...regardless if you were an NWA fan or a WWF fan!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I finally gave in...TOUGH GUY!

Yes, it's been done many times before. It's unoriginal. It kinda goes into the one aspect of wrestling collecting that has never intrigued me (props/tights/costumes) enough to get into. But I did it. A signed 2x4 from one of my favorite "guilty pleasures" of the sport over the years, Hacksaw Jim Duggan.


Friday, November 13, 2009

The "MVP" of the WWE Classic Superstars Line?

His hat may not fit and he may be sans pinstrips, but it is still absolutely shocking to me that I now own a figure of Abe "Knuckleball" Schwartz.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NWA Legends Fanfest 2009: The Greatest of All-Time

When one anticipates a period of time or event, often a great disappointment follows. After all, time marches on. With an event like the NWA Legends Fanfest, however, the days, weeks, months, and years that follow are just as exciting as the days a fan will spend there. That's because the event is all about one thing--making memories that will last a lifetime.

Three of my friends and I have been looking forward to the event for the better part of a year. It's a huge undertaking for both the folks involved in making the weekend happen and the fans themselves. For us, an eight-hour drive and four full days isn't easy. We're not rich, just a couple of guys looking to celebrate the sport we love and the hobby that grew out of it. Saving the money for the tickets, spending money, lodging, food, and travel expenses is no small chore, but I think we can all was 110% worth it.

Ric Flair. Harley Race. The Four Horsemen. Dusty Rhodes. These are names you think of when you think classic NWA Wrestling, and these are names that converged on Charlotte, North Carolina this past weekend for Fanfest.

Fanfest is more than just autographs and photos. Fanfest had question and answer sessions with Flair and Race, as well as legendary manager/promoter/booker/announcer Jim Cornette. Fanfest had two southern-style wrestling shows. Fanfest had the Hall of Heroes banquet and ceremony where we had the opportunity to see Lance Russell, The Fargos, Wahoo McDaniel, Nelson Royal, Gary Hart, and Blackjack Mulligan inducted into the Hall by their peers, friends, and family. Fanfest is the all-inclusive package.

While I'd love to go on and on about Fanfest, the name of this blog is Wrestling Memorabilia, so that is what I shall give you. Keeping to the topic, in this entry I shall present to you my top five favorite items I had signed and/or purchased at Fanfest.

NUMBER FIVE--The Glamour Girls & Jimmy Hart Photo

This item is the most personal to me, most likely because I made it. For a number of the NWA Fanfest guests, there simply isn't a lot of merchandise out there. While I go out of my way to find items for most of the guests, this year I went a different route for some and made my own photos. With each guest on the main Fanfest lineup, you receive two autographs on the autograph stage. While many of the guests will sign other items for you during the weekend, it is limited to two on the stage to ensure that all of the guests get at least two from each star.

When Judy Martin was announced for the lineup, I was elated. I've taken a particular interest in the '70s and '80s women's wrestling stars in the past few years, and Miss Martin was always one of my favorites. She was always believable in the ring, produced hard-hitting entertaining matches, and is even rumored to be one of the first to do the powerbomb on American soil. In the late '80s in the WWF, the Japanese Jumping Bomb Angels took the WWF woman's tag team ranks by storm. Their main opponents were Judy Martin and Leilani Kai--The Glamour Girls--managed by "The Mouth of the South" himself, Jimmy Hart.

Despite their great matches and popularity, neither team got much recognition as far as merchandising. A promo photo of the Girls and Jimmy does exist, but due to its rarity even I could not locate it. In lieu, I did the next best thing. I found a small copy of the photo, and that, coupled with seperate photos of Martin and Kai put together a photo I felt would look great signed. Despite promoter Greg Price's best efforts, Kai could not be found to complete the reunion. Martin, however, was my favorite of the team and did not disappoint. Both her and Hart gave me contact information to obtain copies of my work for themselves, and we "recreated" the picture in my photo with them.

NUMBER FOUR--Fanfest Event Programs

Each year, a host of items commemorating the Fanfest weekend are available. From photos of the stars appearing, to posters, to t-shirts are the norm, however this year fans were treated to the return of the NWA Fanfest program. Make that...programs. A beautiful full-color program was produced for each days events, as well as a special fourth program dedicated to the Hall of Heroes event. Each individual day book featured pictures of the legends who would be signing autographs that day, as well as other classic action photos. I will treasure my full set of these as much as I would a vintage program. I made sure to have my Hall of Heroes program signed by one of the inductees, in this case, the voice of Memphis wrestling himself, Lance Russell. (Thanks, Rick!)

NUMBER THREE--Inside Wrestling March 1979

Originally, Blackjack Mulligan was scheduled to attend Fanfest and be inducted into the Hall of Heroes in person. This was not to be, however. Nonetheless, I found a way to ensure Blackjack sign a few items I had specifically for Fanfest.

This magazine has in my opinion one of the greatest "Apter Mag" covers of all-time. Mulligan and Harley Race in a bloody battle for the ages. Mr. Race signed it at the event, and it's become one of my all-time favorite signed magazines.

Please say a prayer for Mr. Mulligan, as he is not in the best of health right now.

NUMBER TWO--Starrcade '86-The Skywalkers Event Program

From one great collection to another, I acquired this item at the show from Mr. Jim Cornette himself. It is signed by Mr. Cornette and Midnight Express members Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey. Normally on an item like this I would try and get as many autographs on it as I could from the stars within, however I believe I will let this one remain as is. Nearly everyone who paid to see Starrcade '86 paid to see Cornette and MX get theirs in the infamous scaffold match. The program included the original lineup sheet (with info on the next month's show at the Atlanta Omni) and inset is a picture of Mr. Cornette and myself with the piece.

NUMBER ONE--AWA Remco Ric Flair vs Larry Zbyszko Action Figure Set

In all my years of collecting, I've never actually owned a carded AWA Remco action figure. Most of them came in two packs like these, and cost in the three digits to purchase. When I saw this one only a few minutes after entering the vendor floor, I knew I had to have it. The price, which I will only say was a bargain, motivated me as did the fact that I could have Flair sign it just a few hours later. Getting Zbyszko to sign it should be relatively easy as well, and I'll be very happy once it is a "complete" piece.

Next time--My Top Five Items Of My #1 Favorite Wrestler!

...till then..."Dream" about it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

NWA Fanfest & The Horsemen Reunion Is Only Two Weeks Away!

August is near, and that means it's time for the annual NWA Fanfest in Charlotte, North Carolina. This year my crew and I will be returning for what is already the biggest Fanfest of all-time. With over EIGHTY wrestling superstars appearing over the four day event, some who have done little to no appearances in a convention/fanfest/signing atmosphere, this will be an event long remembered.

While Fanfest always causes a major buzz among wrestling collectors and convention goers, this years event is garnering even mainstream wrestling coverage due to the COMPLETE reunion of the Four Horsemen, more notably the ORIGINAL Horsemen. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Ole Anderson and manager J.J. Dillon will all be appearing at the event, not to mention later Horsemen members Barry Windham and Lex Luger as well as their valet Babydoll. For a myriad of reasons, not one hyperbolic, this could very well be the last time all of these stars appear in one place.

Add to that the names of Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Austin Idol, "Purple Haze" Mark Lewin, Jackie Fargo, The Steiner Brothers, Bob Backlund, Vader, Diamond Dallas Page, Jeff Jarrett, The New Age Outlaws, Sunny, Abdullah the Butcher, Sir Oliver Humperdink, Jimmy Hart, "Number One" Paul Jones, "Glamour Girl" Judy Martin, Jerry Jarrett, The Killer Bees, The Nasty Boys, Haku, The Barbarian, Jim Cornette & The Midnight Express, Susan "Tex" Green, Bugsy McGraw and legendary announcers Bob Caudle and Lance Russell among many others and it truly is an event like no other.

Fanfest, however, is more than just autographs and photos. It's also wrestling matches, question and answer sessions, and the Hall of Heroes banquet and induction ceremony, where promoter Greg Price will induct a handful of wrestling legends into the NWA Fanfest Hall of Heroes.

Perhaps the one event I myself am looking forward to the most is the "25 Years After Starrcade" question and answer session. This session will see Ric Flair and Harley Race up on the stage taking questions from the convention goers. Folks, I think I can truly die a complete wrestling fan after this one.

I get no kickback for this, but if you are a fan of wrestling, you owe it to yourself to join us at this once-in-a-lifetime event. It's an eight-hour trek for my crew, but we always said we would return to the NWA Fanfest when the stars aligned, and there is no better year to go than this one. Tickets are still available at You will not regret it.

I've peppered this blog entry with some of my favorite autographed Horsemen-related items from my own collection. I'm sure there will be a few more in two weeks!

Pictures Include: Horsemen signed photo, WWE Hall of Fame 2008 signed program, Starrcade '88 program signed by Flair, Luger, Rhodes, signed WWE Classics of Flair, Anderson, Blanchard, Luger.

Monday, June 8, 2009

June Update

Long break between posts, but that doesn't mean I've disappeared!

Due to a couple of no-shows not everything in the last entry ended up getting signed, but I still came home from the Legends of the Ring convention with more autographs than I bargained for and some new items to boot!

For the figure collectors out there, Jakks released some of the final series lineups before they cease production on the WWE line. The good news...Jack Swagger WILL get a figure. The bad seems the Blackjack Mulligan Classic figure has been canceled.

My friend and reader Big Chad has requested an entry on my top five favorite Dusty Rhodes collectibles, after he asked me how many total I had. While a few have already been seen in here, that's upcoming!

Now, it's off to Charlotte, North Carolina in August! For those of you into the autograph world, you may be interested in joining us. It's the NWA Legends Fanfest, and this year it will be the place to meet some of the truly, truly classic wrestling greats that you may never get another chance with. Blackjack Mulligan, Barry Windham, "Purple Haze" Mark Lewin, The Fargo Brothers, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Big Van Vader, The Steiner Brothers, Magnum TA, Harley Race, Judy Martin, and many, many more! Check out for more details.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Legends of the Ring VIII Prep

This weekend, for my crew, the Spring wrestling convention season ends with Legends of the Ring VIII on Saturday. Legends of the Ring is in Monroe, New Jersey and will feature a plethora of stars including (but not limited to) Pat Patterson, Eric Bischoff, Lex Luger, Taz, Hillbilly Jim, Zeus, Kurt Angle, and many, many, many more.

Tonight is loading up the gimmicks for the big trip tomorrow, and below is a picture of some of the items I will be bringing. Some items you may have seen before, some you may not have known even existed, but once they are autographed, many will find themselves part of entires on this very blog.

If you're going, see you at LOTR!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Signed Classic Superstars

Since the line began in 2004, Jakks WWE Classic Superstars collection changed the entire landscape of wrestling collecting. Some collectors who had never entertained the notion of collecting "toys" suddenly changed their tunes. After all, who would've thought old school wrestling legends such as Bruiser Brody, Harley Race, Ron Bass, The Midnight Express, and The Rock & Roll Express, to name a few, would be made into action figures in the new millenium?

Say what you want about the company, Jakks Pacific changed that. Getting off to a rocky start in this collectors opinion, as each new series was announced, thoughts of future figures to be produced began forming in the heads of fans everywhere. "If such-and-such gets a figure, why not this guy?" Into 2005 it was clear that the lame initial lineup featuring stars who'd already had a host of figures produced, not to mention many product inaccuracies, was not going to be the standard.

Hundreds of figures and five years later, we are nearing the end of the line. It's uncertain as to whether or not Mattel (who will take over the WWE line) or Jakks (who will start producing TNA Wrestling figures) will try to tackle or some sort of "Legends of Wrestling" series.

One major concept that came out of the Classic Superstars lined was getting the figures autographed. While getting items signed is obviously nothing new, getting the Classic Superstars signed has been a goal of many collectors. Personally, I have around one hundred of them signed, and I've always felt one of the appeals of getting them signed is the visual aspect. There's no question as to WHERE these things should be signed. The plastic bubble or window encasing the figure is the end-all be-all spot.

For examples, I've peppered this entry with various examples of a few signed pieces from my collection. I hope you've enjoyed this very brief history of the line as well as the photos, as I plan on doing a lot more features on the Classic Superstars in the future. And now, onto my personal if you had to guess by now...

I have all of the Dusty Classic figures signed, but this, by far, is my favorite because of the signature. It's the full Dusty signature and is also personalized to me, both concepts that used to be fairly rare in a Dusty autograph.

Again, like you had to guess?

Other Pictures Include: Superstar Billy Graham "Black & White" Exclusive signed, Akeem & One Man Gang signed, Demolition Tag Team Set signed (the singles are more visually appealing, however this is the first one that Bill "Ax" Eadie had ever signed), and "The Outlaw" Ron Bass signed (one of the ones I never thought would get a figure, and was very pleased about).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Love Memphis Wrestling

Of the old school wrestling territories, Memphis ranks among my top favorites. While the wrestling may not have been "scientific" enough for some fans and the characters and feuds too "goofy" for others, to me Memphis had a perfect blend of everything I look for in wrestling.

And "The King."

A package full of old Memphis wrestling items came in the mail today, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about it. This stuff is great, and I even got some things I didn't bargain for. One of which, was this...

It loses a LOT in the photo (it's a bright yellowish gold with an almost psychedelic '70s effect to it), but I've never seen one of these before. How cool is that? Some of the other items fit into categories of separate entries I've been planning on doing, but I promise a lot more of these great Memphis items will show up here. So for those of you Lawler, LeDuc, Idol, and Jimmy Hart fans out there...stay tuned!

Wayne "The Fonz" Farris, anyone? :-)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Signamania Signed Goody...And A Lesson!

As promised, a look at one of the pieces I had signed at Signamania IV. Arn enjoyed seeing and signing this figure, and even showed it off to Dean Malenko. He commented that they "got the right bodytype," which I took as a jab at the slightly over-buff Arn Anderson Classic Superstars figure which he had been signing throughout the day.

At first glance, this is like any other WCW Galoob figure released in the United States. As any collector worth his or her salt knows, in 1990 Galoob released a series of 12 WCW figures in the United States. The series included Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, Sid Vicious, Sting, Lex Luger, Ron Simmons, Butch Reed, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Brian Pillman, and Tom Zenk. The figures were also released in two-packs as seen below.

Later on, a second series was released in the United Kingdom only. This series included Big Josh (Matt Bourne--the Original Doink), El Gigante (Giant Gonzales), Dustin Rhodes, Michael PS Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, and Sting and Luger in entrance gear. Different colored variations of the United States released figures were also released in the U.K.

The lesser known variant on these figures was actually a part of the original United States release. Infact, the Arn Anderson figure above is a variant. Can you spot it?

In the lower right corner of the packaging, the card reads "Presents Superstars of the NWA" as opposed to the MUCH more common "Presents Superstars of the WCW."

This variation has been little-talked about over the years in discussions of this line among collectors. The printing of these cards had to have been relatively short, as every example I can remember seeing and opening back in the early '90s read "WCW."

On this carding, in theory, this is the ONLY NWA action figure line featuring a cast of the classic NWA wrestlers.

In this collectors opinion, the NWA carded figures are much more desirable then their later altered counterparts and will undoubtedly rise in popularity as the years go by.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Signamania IV Is In The Books

As I mentioned early on in the life of this blog, autographs have become a big part of my wrestling collection over the years. There are several (sane) ways to obtain these autographs, one of which is the recent trend of wrestling conventions/fanfests that have popped up along the east coast in the past decade or so.

This past weekend was the fourth offering from the fine folks at Signamania. Signamania is a convention held by George's Cards and Collectibles in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Starting in October of 2007, Signamania has quickly become one of the "Big Three" of sorts, in regards to wrestling fanfests. George Nahm and Marc Rapport have worked hard to build a reputation among not only the fans, but the wrestlers themselves. With names such as Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, Harley Race, Roddy Piper, and most recently Dusty Rhodes among many others appearing at Signamania, their hard work has obviously paid off.

This past Saturday was Signamania IV with Rhodes, Hart, Jim Neidhart, The Dudley Boyz, The New Age Outlaws, The Midnight Express, Matt Bourne, Bob Holly, Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton, Trevor Murdoch, and Colin Delaney all appearing as Superticket guests. In the world of conventions, a Superticket will usually get you an autograph and photo from each of the guests included. Vendor guests included Cowboy Bill Watts, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, Ron Simmons, Victoria, Sunny, The Rock n Roll Express, Jim Cornette, Jimmy Hart, and The Nasty Boys to name a few. Vendor guests are stars who are at the show separate from the main ticket, meaning there is a fee for autographs or photograph opportunities (also known as "photo ops"). Often, a "combo" is offered for each guest, offering an autograph and photo at a reduced price. Others, especially stars who attend the shows themselves without the middleman of a dealer or agent, will offer bulk prices on multiple autographs.

The above picture shows the items I had signed at the show. All but two (The Rock & Roll Express and Victoria figures) were items I had brought with me. While there are vendors selling photos and various other items to get signed, a lot of the more serious collectors already have items. I, personally, usually bring a variety of items ranging from action figures to promo photos to magazines and programs. In the coming weeks I will be highlighting some of these items in separate entries. In the meantime, please check out Signamania for information on Signamania V, which is scheduled for this Fall!

Last but not least, I present my personal favorite item that I had signed at the show...

The Bunkhouse Stampede '88 Program

Usually when I get a program signed, it's the beginning of a "project." A project consists of an item, usually a poster, magazine, program, book, or vhs/dvd cover or box, that you get signed by the stars who are featured on that particular item. When I purchased this program off of NWA Fanfest promoter Greg Price (more on his Fanfest weekends in a future post) a few years ago, I knew immediately there was only one signature I wanted on it--"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.

In all, I had seven items signed by my all-time favorite wrestler, Rhodes, at Signamania, and this was by far my favorite. The fact that he signed it with a full signature and was in great spirits made it all the more special.

I leave you with what is, to me, the most special photo op in my hundreds of pictures with wrestlers. Myself, and The American Dream, recreating Dusty's famous "Million Dollar Smile."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who Remembers...Mad Maxine?

As I promised early on, one of my goals is to showcase some of the rarest and obscure wrestling goodies that ever existed. When you're talking rare and obscure in the WWF, you definitely can't forget about Mad Maxine.

Or can you?

During the 1985 "Rock & Wrestling" era headlined by Hulk Hogan, Cyndi Lauper, Mr. T, and others, a greater emphasis was placed on women's wrestling. This was due, in part, to Lauper managing then-WWF Women's Champion Wendi Richter. For a few months, Richter's popularity was near that of Hogan's. The Fabulous Moolah and Leilani Kai were Richter's main opponents at this time, but for a few weeks there was yet another...

While she only had a handful of matches, Maxine was actually originally intended to appear in the Hulk Hogan's "Rock & Wrestling" cartoon. There are varying stories as to why she disappeared so quickly, but nonetheless she has been forgotten by many fans.

Above is the only piece of merchandise I've ever seen featuring Maxine. The photo itself, along with Moolah who managed her, was used in magazines, however I've never heard of or came across a promotional photo using it.

The item above is a vending machine "puffy" sticker. It's actually much smaller than it appears, but it was part of a small set that also included another individual devoid of merchandise--David Sammartino. This one is on its original backing, and seeing that it is so small, I doubt many still exist.

So, while many stars have action figures, magazine covers, and video game likenesses to immortalize their career...Maxine, wherever she is, has a puffy sticker.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

Easter always reminds me of the classic Hasbro WWF figure line. This could be because my collection of them began with Easter 1991. These are the four original figures I had, as well as my original ring. As evidenced by their condition, a lot of "events" were held with these toys, and rightfully so. Shortly after my Hasbro collection started, my WCW Galoob figure collection started. Seeing as that the figures were relatively similar in height, you could have dream matches such as Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair, Sting vs The Ultimate Warrior, and Dusty Rhodes vs Arn Anderson among others.

Good times from the Bunny...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Personal Favorite WrestleMania Item

For WrestleMania Sunday--my personal favorite WrestleMania collectible. Being that WrestleMania VI is my favorite 'Mania, it's fitting that the item depicts "The Ultimate Challenge."

This is a promotional cardboard standee. Since it touts the show being on pay-per-view rather than ticket sales, I imagine this was something that stood in cable company offices...back in the days when you could go in to your "local cable company" (an antiquated idea) and pay your bill right then and there.

I acquired a number of items from my local cable provider back then, but this actually came to me only a few years ago. It's nicely die-cut, and not very large (I positioned it infront of some carded LJNs to give an idea of the size) so it's easy to display.

I've never seen another one, although I'm sure there are more out there, and you can't help but hear Vince McMahon's voice-over open to WrestleMania VI while staring at it...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

WWE Legends of WrestleMania--The Poster

I've never really cared much for my day job, but when I get cool stuff like this, it doesn't seem all that bad. This thing is huge, and I'd definitely consider it for at least a Jimmy Hart signature someday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

IWC Night of Legends 2009

As you may remember from my first entry, wrestling fanfests and conventions up and down the east coast are something that myself and many other collectors look forward to each year. It's become quite the experience, both good and bad, but my crew (dubbed "The Pittsburgh Posse" by the fine guys that run Signamania) has attended quite a few of the major shows over the past five years or so.

In the coming weeks, with the Spring shows fast approaching, I'll most likely post an entry acting almost as a guide to the ever-growing world of these shows. However, this entry is actually about a show that took place just last night. While it is actually a wrestling show with actual matches, due to the names featured it has become somewhat of a kick-off point each year for my wrestling autograph opportunities.

The IWC has long been one of the most well-kept secrets of the independent wrestling scene. Promoter Norm Connors has been running the Pittsburgh-based company since 2001, and it was in August of that year that one of his posters caught my eye. Jerry "The King" Lawler was advertised for a show no more than ten minutes away from my home, and I've been following the company ever since. With names like Dusty Rhodes, Eddy Guerrero, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, Matt Hardy, Chris Candido, The Midnight Express, Demolition, Christopher Daniels, and CM Punk (as a regular from '01 till his signing with WWE) appearing for Norm, how could I stay away?

As a result, IWC provided many early autograph opportunities I otherwise would not have had. That, coupled with a great array of local talent made for great show after great show. In 2004, the IWC started running an annual show to benefit the Little League in the town of Franklin, Pennsylvania. This show, dubbed "Night of Legends," has indeed featured many of the all-time greats still active on the independent scene. Last night was the fifth Night of Legends show (2006 was run by a different promoter who produced less than half of the talent advertised and subsequently skipped town) and the fanfest "feel" of the show was in full force. The show is proceded by a question and answer session with several of the stars, followed by an autograph session. This years legends included George "The Animal" Steele, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Kamala (replacing Greg Valentine), The One Man Gang, Cowboy Bob Orton, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Mr. Hughes, and the ubiquitous Virgil. Yearly mainstays The Patriot (Tom Brandi...not Del Wilkes) and Pittsburgh legend Lord Zoltan (early '80s WWF jobber Ken Jugan) were also on-hand.

Yearly, these shows draw on average of 1,000-1,500 fans, which is nothing to sneeze at. Also, when I use the word "fans," I mean FANS! I'm not talking of sit-on-your-hands-pretending-I'm-in-Japan fans who only clap at flippity-flop moves, I'm speaking of true blue "It's still real to me, damnit!" fans who see live wrestling once a year--at this show! Add in the mix of a ton of children and older fans, and you have the type of crowd that many of the younger guys will never have the opportunity to work infront of again.

While it is amazing to see a lot of these legends still wrestling, a huge draw for my crew is the autograph signing. As with most signings, autographs and photo ops are not free, however they are cheaper than at your regular wrestling convention or fanfest. On average most of the stars will charge between $5-$10 for an autograph or photo op. Kamala was charging a flat rate of $5 to sign everything you had, while George Steele was charging $10 per item or photo.
One trick of the hobby is to politely ask the star for a bulk rate on multiple items. For example, I had five items for Jim Duggan to autograph, and he more than fairly charged only $15 to autograph the whole lot. Sgt. Slaughter, on the other hand, did me a small favor. I've met Slaughter multiple times in the past twenty-one years and he has been a complete joy everytime. A man standing at his table taking the money informed me it was $10 per item. I had four magazines in my hand and opted to only get two signed as Slaughter is a more common fixture on the scene. After signing the two I chose, Slaughter asked me to hand him my other two magazines, and proceded to sign those as well--for free. And remember, while Virgil has a "used car salesman" attitude, you can almost always haggle him down to what you feel is a fair price.
Ultimately, it was another worthwhile trip. This will be the first time I can remember talent on the show not appearing to do gimmicks (autographs & photo ops) which became the case with Bob Orton and The One Man Gang (which in the case of the latter was due to a late arrival). My crew has met with both gentlemen before, so our biggest wish in their case was getting to see them wrestle--a wish that was indeed granted.

A sample of items I had autographed at the show (clockwise from the top left): WWF's early Victory Magazine (Slaughter was surprised seeing this), WrestleMania VII program, WWF Program 192, Hasbro Hacksaw Jim Duggan #1, WWF Magazine Holiday '84, Pro Wrestling USA Program from '85, WWF Magazine 9/89, original 1984 George Steele promo photo (he loved this).

Friday, March 27, 2009

WrestleMania's Not-Quite-25th Anniversary of Programs

Quite a few different ideas flew across my mind to be the topic of the first true entry in this blog. While I'm not going to reveal them here, (to keep the suspense for further entries, of course!) I will say that I chose against one of the routes to make it clear that this isn't just a "wrestling figure" blog, but instead a resource which shall analyze all avenues of this great hobby.

With the supposed "25th Anniversary" of WrestleMania coming up, I decided to give a look at a collectible which commemorates nearly all of the "sports entertainment spectaculars" from 1985 to 2008. These items would be...the event programs.

Most likely tracing their roots as far back as the first time sporting events were covered in newspapers, event programs are one of the few standards that still hold up today. From Major League Baseball to the cult wrestling promotion Ring of Honor, programs have survived where many other traditions have not.

The WrestleMania programs began with the inaugural event itself at Madison Square Garden in 1985. Just like the other World Wrestling Federation publications at that point, the WrestleMania program is a full-color 16-page professional publication which, mirroring production values of WWF programming, blew the competition out of the water. It isn't to say that the NWA programs of the era weren't items to cherish (especially today), but Vince McMahon and crew clearly took it a step above from the cover art to the comprehensive lineup to the professional photography.

The cover featured a beautiful painting of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T behind "electric" ring ropes, while the inside featured photos of nearly every star involved on the card. It should be noted that most of the photos shown at the beginning of the pay-per-view event itself (to the commanding tones of McMahon's voice backed by Phil Collins' "Easy Lover") are taken straight from this program. This includes the extremely creepy photo of The Fabulous Moolah and Leilani Kai shown.

The WrestleMania 2 (What The World Has Come To) program continued to display the great pride the company had in their published product. The program featured many airbrushed and painted portraits of the events stars including King Kong Bundy attacking the Empire State Building, and an extremely disturbing artists rendering of ill-fated Burger King pitchman Herb and Silver Spoons star Ricky Schroeder. The piece located just inside the front cover. Due to it being even more frightening than Moolah and Kai above, I will allow you to seek out your own copy of the program to view the "art."

Starting with WrestleMania III, the programs slowly became more of the standard fare you expected out of other WWF publications of the era. While the same quality remained, artists renderings and disturbing pictorials for all intents and purposes became a thing of the past.

One point of interest to note, especially for younger readers, is that these programs would hit newsstands AT LEAST up to one month in advance of the event, yet you still generally had the whole card listed, and pictured, inside. This fact alone speaks volumes of how the booking process of these events has changed in the past two decades.

Even still, not every match depicted in the programs and magazines promoting the event always actually occured. Due to time restraints and other factors, occasionally a match would be shown ahead of time and subsequently scrapped, as seen to the right.

As the '90s wore on and WrestleMania entered its second decade, programs simply weren't a publication focus as they had once been. At this point, the programs get rarer as the printing runs got shorter and shorter to the point that they were no longer offered at newsstands and were exclusive to sale at the event on the day of the event.

To the best knowledge of this collector, some WrestleMania's do not have a program available at all. Some, such as the WrestleMania 2000 program, were sold at live events following WrestleMania, most likely to sell off stock not sold at the event itself.

For WrestleMania's 17 and 18 (or X-Seven and X-Eight as WWE would prefer you refer to them) a return of sorts was made to the days of the newsstand-available WrestleMania program. A few months before each event, magazines with a history of the previous WrestleMania's as well as photos of nearly ever superstar, announcer, agent, and referee on the roster were sold. These can be considered the official programs for those respective WrestleMania's.

Starting with WrestleMania XIX, the programs lept to the size of the standard WWE program, which is the size that remains today. The programs, which you can almost refer to as books, are printed on a very thick stalk paper with an extremely high gloss on the cover. These programs are available at the event and have always shown up later at the WWE's online store both seperate and as part of WrestleMania souvenir packages.

In addition to including the card, these larger program books have traditionally included full-page histories of the previous WrestleMania's as well as pages commemorating that years WWE Hall of Fame inductees. This format is the current format for WrestleMania programs and will most likely be used for the upcoming WrestleMania 25 program as well.

While some are rarer than others, the WrestleMania programs are an extremely fun commemoration of the event. Some of the most common of the lot are surprisingly among those from the earlier events, while the mid to late '90s editions will be the hardest for most collectors to acquire.

It should be noted for any so-called "completist" (a disease I'll note my displeasure for in later entries) that many of the earlier event programs that were sold on newsstands actually have two versions. As depicted with the Survivor Series '89 program, there is the newsstand version with a red bar or other sort of notation in the upper right corner as opposed to the actual version sold at the event without such graphic. These arena exclusives also feature a higher price in the upper left corner. It has yet to be determined by market value as to if either holds any significant value over the other.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? All welcome. Spread the word, and enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

After 11 Years, JWLJNs Wrestling Memorabilia Newsletter Returns--In Blog Form!

Chances are if you're reading this, you already know me. If by some chance you don't, you can call me J\/\/.

11 odd years ago, during the height of the Monday Night Wars, I ran a little online newsletter dedicated to wrestling collectibles (fittingly) titled "JWLJNs Wrestling Figure Newsletter."

The newsletter largely grew out of interactions on the AOL Grandstand forums as well as the WWF AOL site. Remember, while the internet had been in existence for quite awhile at that point (decades if you want to get technical), pro wrestling's biggest online gatherings at the time were on AOL, Prodigy, and newsgroups such as RSPW.

Over ten years later, many remnants of that era remain. For the wrestling figure collectors out there, the infamous rumored "Hasbro Orange card" series is a "concept" straight from the AOL days.

As I ventured out into the worlds of internet forums, social networking sites, and even the more recent phenomena of fanfests and conventions, I began to realize that my very own newsletter is one of the more remembered organs of that time.

It shouldn't have surprised me. I had a huge readership, actually broke news and photos which to this day are still circulated among collectors, and at one point even received kudos from the then-WWF marketing team.

Upon fellow collectors telling me how much they enjoyed the newsletter, I'm always asked to bring it back. My answer has always been the same, I simply didn't have the time, which is also the reason why it ended. Another truth is that breaking news in the hobby is covered in so many other areas, a newsletter simply wouldn't have relevance.

Finally, it donned on me. After publishing several general interest blogs over the years on networking sites, the newsletter in blog form might just do the trick.

Another idea is actually something that had been brought up to me by editors of WWE Magazine when they did a small visit with me in the magazine two years ago. They had mentioned the possibility of a collectible section helmed by me as a regular feature in the magazine. It never came to fruitition, but their loss is your gain.

Now you're getting me--absolutely free. This blog will cover every aspect of professional wrestling collecting...the new stuff...the old stuff...things you never knew existed...things you wish you had...and things you do have! The aforementioned wrestling convention scene, a current trend especially on the east coast, will be analyzed as well...complete with first-hand accounts from me and my convention-going crew, The Pittsburgh Posse.

Spread the word, J\/\/ is back!