I’ve been catching up on classic wrestling TV shows and kick ass wrestling figures over the last month.
I’ve never been a big “fan” as such, but always had friends here and there who were hardcore lifelong fans so would hear ’bout the rasslin’ one way or another over the years.
As an 80’s kid I was aware of WWF wrestling, but never saw any of the shows on TV. Where I grew up in New Zealand, there was some late night show on when I was in primary school that was on way past my bedtime. Probably an international syndicated cut of WWF Superstars.
What I did see was kids with wrestling merch on the playground at lunchtime playing with LJN big rubber goons, and the trading cards with characters like the forgettable Red Rooster we traded back and forth before losing interest and moving on to Ninja Turtles, Garbage Gang or Batman trading cards. Oh, and those wrestling buddy pillow things that kids would chuck around.
The only wrestling TV show I did see was years later in high school, there was a weekly highlight clip show of RAW on, and the same with WCW Nitro.
Once a month we would get a free to air TV – WCW event show (3 hours total with ads) usually played on a Friday or Saturday night from midnight to 3am.
A.k.a. the TV network Deadzone – as wrestling was not popular on Television. It was not really until post-2000 when cable / pay TV would become more popular, affordable and available in Australia and New Zealand to actually be able to watch/follow the majority of the American shows without having to rely on Magazines and old Internet sites.
The WCW monthly events I sometimes watched at a school friends house, along with her brother. We would sit up from midnight to three am watching the show, trying not to fall asleep. We enjoyed the show but also enjoyed taking the piss out of Hogan’s painted on stubble, his wooden hackneyed antics and some of the lame WCW characters that filled out the roster along with the legends.
When I moved to Australia around the year 2000, a friend had pay tv and he would record the full version of the weekly RAW show, which I watched with my brother for about a year until I lost contact with that friend. This was blank VHS cassettes, and a real treat getting to see the full show for the first time and not a badly edited clip show.
My only other experience of wrestling paraphenalia was playing games like WWF Warzone and Smackdown on PS1 and the WCW games on N64. At some point I owned at Austin 3:16 T-shirt and a couple of Mankind shirts. But that was my very limited experience.
It would be more than a decade before I saw any more wrestling on TV, seeing the odd match at yet another friends house who had pay TV .
Fast forward from mid 2000’s till now in 2022 and I started a monthly subscription to the WWE app / online streaming service.
Not knowing what exactly was on there, but being pleasantly surprised to find the majority of weekly shows, special events etc on from the 80’s, 90’s 2000 etc up to the present day on there for WWF, WCW, NXT and some earlier territories era NWA wrestling. It’s fantastic value getting so much in one subscription and fairly priced.
I don’t know any of the current wrestlers, so I’m watching WWE and WCW from the 80’s and 90’s, mostly in order, and some Smackdown/ RAW from the year 2000. As well as the better full documentaries that are on the service. Later I will go back and watch some earlier to mid 80s rasslin too and all the Wrestlemania’s.
Along with the last month of classic wrestling viewing I decided to catch up on some older wrestling figures before they are gone for good.
Aside from the figures and old TV shows, I have bought several non fiction books on wrestling. Currently I’m 300 pages into the enthralling page turning 500 page or so Brett Hart Autobiography, a must read in my opinion. I also picked up a book on the history of the territories focused on the first half of century from 1900-1960s.
Of all the cool 90’s rasslers, my favorites have to be the likes of Sting, Taker, Stone Cold, Rock, Kevin Nash and Mankind. There are loads of great talented wrestlers (and hacks) in any era, the Monday Night Wars just happened to be the era where I got to see enough bits of the shows to follow the stories.
The figures from Jakks Pacific in the late 90s did some fairly decent efforts at WCW characters. I used to have a few of them – like DDP and NWO Wolf Pack Macho Man- and saw even more of them in the stores or at my mates house back in the day.
The thing about the modern WWF/WWE figures – is like the Star Wars Black Series and Marvel Cinematic Universe – you have a fairly standardized body (or buck) uses for many figures – just like the 80s and 90s toys – but the new innovation is the amazing and mostly accurate faces thanks to modern digital methods that allow more accurate true to life faces on the majority of figures. Some faces are still a bit shit and hard to do right, but most are damn good.
I’m thoroughly enjoying these mattel ‘rasslers, and got about half of the core characters on my most wanted list. There are perhaps around 30 core characters and variants I’m after (eg Surfer Sting as well as Crow Sting). Biker Taker to go alongside the 90s and post 2000 Ministry versions.