Induction: Barry Didinsky – Life’s a pitch, and then you buy an Undertaker jean jacket

57 Submitted by on Thu, 24 April 2014, 20:00

WWF, 1995

Hulk Hogan. Steve Austin. D-Generation X. The nWo. What do they all have in common? All of them generated huge merchandise sales. Also, unfortunately for Vince McMahon, none of these entities were wrestling in the WWF in 1995. So what could a promoter do when none of his stars were exactly raking in the cash at the merch stand?

Well, for one thing, he could hire an annoying pitchman to do a hard sell each and every show!

bd01

Enter Barry Didinski, the so-called Mayor of Merchandise (probably because “Sheriff of Shill” was too brutally honest).

Every Monday night and Saturday afternoon, Barry would not only try to shove the WWF’s crappy merchandise down viewers’ throats like a Ted DiBiase dollar bill, but he’d do it right damn there at ringside. bd02.1
bd02.2 bd02
bd99 And what merchandise it was! For some reason, the WWF was really into gawdy t-shirts with the wrestlers’ faces plastered all over the damned things, assuring that the gear would be unwearable in public. Listening to Barry Didinsky pitch these things, you’d think every wrestling fan wanted Razor Ramon or Bret Hart “all over” them.
Is it any wonder that the two best-selling wrestling shirts would take a minimalist approach?  bd04
bd05 If a hideous shirt weren’t enough to get you dialing 1-800-TITAN-91, Barry would try to sweeten the deal with a “free” Lawrence Taylor poster thrown in for good measure. Hey, an LT poster doesn’t sound so bad, you might be thinking, until you realize that this was an LT wrestling poster commemorating his Wrestlemania XI match with Bam Bam Bigelow. And it was designed to look like a WWF Magazine.
And just to add insult to injury, Didinsky would offer a box of Stridex pads with your purchase. bd06
bd07 Apparently, an ugly shirt was just the distraction the typical WWF viewer needed to draw attention away from his pimply face. And hey, it’s even got targets all over it so the bullies would know just where to punch you!
You’ve got to wonder who exactly was Barry’s target audience with deals like this. Clearly, someone old enough to appreciate Lawrence Taylor’s career and own a credit card, but young enough to need acne wipes and to wear, say, Adam Bomb’s face and chest as a fashion statement. bd08
bd09 WWF seemed to be trying to hit any demographic it could, which might explain why all the kid-oriented Federation gear was available in sizes up to extra large, and of course, Double XL. That, and the occasional “one-size-fits-all” option, might also explain the oversized shirts all the preteen girls wore as they cheered on Shawn Michaels’s latest striptease.
Some of this junk even tried to double as a reference book, like this Bret Hart tee full of factoids that are sure to entertain and educate the guy waiting behind you in line to see Batman Forever. bd10
bd11 I mean, if I wanted an encyclopedia on Bret Hart, I’d buy the Hitman’s autobiography (which, for the record, I did).
Barry was dubbed, “The Monty Hall of the WWF,” which was highly appropriate, because, like the “Let’s Make a Deal” host, Didinsky made people dress up like morons just to get on TV. bd12
bd13 For instance, there was this collection that incurred fines from the FCC for exceeding the limit on denim allowed on screen at any one time.
It’s hard to believe Undertaker never wore this jacket during his “American Bad Ass” days, huh? bd14
bd15 At one point, a human female model assisted Barry, but Didinsky, a full-grown man,  took it upon himself to be the one to wear not only these heart-shaped HBK glasses…
…but also this red-and-pink number with a bare-chested Shawn Michaels leaning over for some pillow talk. I suppose this shirt would have come in handy when having a serious talk with Mom and Dad, who would be too confused about who exactly “The Heartbreak Kid” was to even fully process the fact that they’d never have grandkids. bd16
bd17 But at least someone bought those HBK specs, perhaps hoping that Shawn was a fan of a demographic I like to call, “MINLFs.”
Then there was the “Mad Capper,” Barry’s “tag team partner” against the Smoking Gunns, who was either a huge fan of the Mad Caps milk cap game or, as I like to believe, simply left out an “r” in his nickname. bd18
bd19 Mad Caps, as you may have guessed, was a knock-off of the popular 90s fad, Pogs, and boy did Barry think they were the best thing since sliced bread!
In fact, the only thing better than Mad Caps (and, I suppose, sliced bread) was unsliced Mad Caps! Barry was always trying to pass off this sheet of uncut cardboard circles (along with the precious 18 karat slammer) as some kind of valuable collector’s item, which it better have been, since by design it was impossible to play with. bd20
bd20.2 bd20.1
bd21 But don’t think it was just t-shirts, cardboard, and zit care products that Barry was hawking. There was also this official WWF backpack, which looked too small to hold the books of anyone but a grade-schooler…
…but for some reason came with more Stridex pads, I guess for all those seven-year-olds and their break-outs. bd22
bd23 There was no mystery about why it came packed with a free “Big Daddy Cooler” lunch bag, though. Clearly, someone at Titan Towers had come up with a play on Kevin Nash’s nickname and commissioned thousands of these bags before realizing that no one would ever, ever order one without it being given away for free.
Still, Diesel puns aside, the most unmistakably “1995” of all the WWF’s bound-for-impoverished-Africa-as-a-tax-write-off clothing that Barry pitched on TV would have to be the In Your House t-shirts. These shirts came emblazoned with Diesel and Sid’s faces and the exact date the customer proved mentally incompetent to continue having a credit card in his or her name. bd24
bd25 As if it weren’t bad enough having Todd Pettengill try to sell you on buying an off-month 1995 pay-per-view…
…Barry was trying to squeeze an extra 16 bucks out of you for a commemorative t-shirt, which in today’s money comes out to more than 24 dollars. And besides, the crappy pay-per-view only cost $14.95 to begin with! bd26
bd27 The first In Your House shirt proved so popular, claimed Barry, that he started selling the next batch before the show even aired. People can’t be wearing out-of-date duds, and after all, no one wearing a shirt advertising a shirtless man and a guy in only a leather vest in something called a “lumberjack match” would want to get ridiculed by people on the streets.
And what Savio Vega fan could say no to a King of the Ring 1995 shirt? bd28

By the end of 1995, Barry had stopped loitering in the aisles of WWF Superstars and Monday Night Raw before he even got a chance to promote the commemorative Hog Pen Match blazer. Somehow, the World Wrestling Federation got along just fine without him. So what is our friend Barry up to these days? Why, professional poker!

bd29

And really, could you think of a better profession for the Mayor of Merchandise? Anyone who could feign enthusiasm for a Bob Backlund for President pin

bd30

…pretend like cardboard cut-outs of The Undertaker and Diesel weren’t the most impractical and useless decorations imaginable to have around the house…

bd31

…act completely oblivious to the pot shots the announcers took whenever he was introduced, and hype up without a trace of irony the kind of tacky garbage the WWF was pumping out in 1995…

bd32

…surely has poker face worthy of the tables of Las Vegas.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He currently runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws and Hasbro WWF figures. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
57 Responses to "Induction: Barry Didinsky – Life’s a pitch, and then you buy an Undertaker jean jacket"
  1. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    Great, great job, Art! So many awful, tacky, UGLY pieces of wrestling merchandise there! Oof!

  2. Peter says:

    Very cool induction. I really never knew this guy’s name but I do remember the constant shilling. The WWF finally realized they didn’t need him though because they could just have “Dok Hendrix” do this.

  3. Raven7309 says:

    Why in the blue hell do I not remember this geek??!! Todd Pettingill, no prob’. Dok Hendrix, sure. But this guy?!! WTF??!!

    Seriously though, with the WWE Network up and running, (IMO, WWE should switch to using the network logo not just on NXT, but Raw and Smackdown as well), they should bring this goober out of retirement and have him hawk their products on a “Home Shopping Network”-type show. Based upon that recent photo of him, it sure looks like he could use some type of steady employment.

    The LT poster looked pretty cool. I like the fact that it has a photo of him wearing his Giants uniform on it.

  4. Scrooge McSuck says:

    Remember ALF? He’s back! In pog form!

  5. Jerichoholic Ninja says:

    Most of those shirts suck….. But that Bret Hart shirt with the targets is actually kind of cool.

  6. Brian E says:

    If ANY of these end up on a Somebody Bought This (or perhaps some of them already did), then this induction earns immortality. Excellent work.

  7. Raven7309 says:

    I just realised something, with that headset, he reminds me of Vince from the “Sham Wow” commercials. :-D

  8. Richard Pruitt says:

    That guy sold me those stupid pogs.

  9. Moronic Mark says:

    “Hey guys. Thanks a lot.
    What a catchphrases.

  10. Colonial92 says:

    I remember going to a WWF house show in the Meadowlands in 1995. Midway through the show, Howard Finkel announced a “very special guest” was here to talk to us. It was Barry Didinsky, shilling something that I can’t remember. The entire crowd booed Barry throughout his shtick, and he didn’t return.

  11. The Doctor of Style says:

    Didinsky may have been WC’s most overdue induction! Nice job.

    During the Attitude Era, I’m surprised they didn’t drag Didinsky back to hawk Durex instead of Stridex.

    PS: that smiling woman next to Barry seems to be thinking, “So glad *I’m* not the one wearing the HBK/porn star outfit.”

  12. Alan says:

    Barry Didinsky, Charlie Minn, Dok Hendrix, Todd Pettengill. Four of the reasons you want to forget from mid-90s era WWF. Oops, I almost forgot Stephanie Wiand. My bad.

    • Raven7309 says:

      Fun fact: Stephanie Wiand is married to Shane McMahon.
      You know what that means? In an alternate universe, they’re the Authority instead of Trips and Nipple H. Let that sink in for a moment.

  13. Mr. Glen says:

    Much better this week. Great work Art. This was truly Wrestlecrap.

  14. MIB says:

    This sort of thing would have been cut from UK airings of WWF programming and we never got the PPV pre shows either which would explain why I’ve never heard of this guy. Not that I was missing much…

  15. Bagelz says:

    The sunglasses were kind of cool and have a bit of a retro quality to them, like those ones with the shades over them or star-shaped Elton John rims. Everything else was either completely charmless and unnecessary, or actively soul-destroying and humiliating. Still, you can’t really criticise Didinsky for it, he actually did a pretty good job of sounding enthusiastic towards this rubbish.

  16. W.M. Pump says:

    Hogan should have taken acting lessons from this guy.

  17. Zeedeevel says:

    That wasn’t a poster designed to look like a magazine cover, that actually was a magazine cover for one of the issues in 1995.

    • Scrooge McSuck says:

      I bet Vince didn’t get the expressed written consent of the NFL, New York Giants, or Philadelphia Eagles for that, either.

    • Doc 902714 says:

      This is my second post for this induction.

      It was for the April 1995 issue of WWF Magazine. But in Canada, I got the same issue with a different cover featuring Shawn Michaels and Pamela Anderson

  18. RD Reynolds says:

    One of my favorite inductions in years. Thank you, Art!

  19. Hashington says:

    Ahh 1995, truly the greatest year in the history of this industry.

  20. Kareem Ofweet says:

    I called the #. It’s now GE credit services fraud prevention dept.

  21. Scrooge McSuck says:

    I wonder what kind of mind altering drugs Barry had to use to sell this stuff with such energy. Did anyone here buy any of this crap? Except the pogs (uncut). Those were awesome… I wanted them. Then pogs died.

  22. Sean Bateman says:

    Behold Todd Pettingill 2.0

  23. Anonymous says:

    Awesome induction.

  24. AK says:

    Why wasn’t Barry Didinski in the Wrestlemania X-7 gimmick battle royal?

    Failing that, why wasn’t he in the audience trying to shill the 1995 WWF merchandise catalogue?

    Failing that, who is Barry Didinski?

    • Scrooge McSuck says:

      Is that the sequel to the “Who is Lex Luger” interviews building up his match against Yokozuna at Summerslam ’93?

  25. Escape says:

    I really wanted that entire pog collection. I did manage to buy a small stack (sadly not the entire uncut sheet) and I still have a bunch of ‘em, featuring such 95 luminaries as Mantaur and Aldo Montoya.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I don’t get the MINLFs joke.

    • Thun says:

      Take the original meaning of the term MILF. Add “never” or “not” at the appropriate place. Tadah.

      • E-Squared says:

        I tend to disagree with the term regarding the image. I personally wouldn’t mind having someone like her. She was kind of cute.

  27. Mattie says:

    Do you guys actually like anything in wrestling at all?

  28. E-Squared says:

    I really wonder if there are people out there who actually bought of those T-shirts and actually wore them in public. If so, then that person has balls. I mean, sure, these days, hell, even in the late 1990s, I remembered seeing guys wearing wrestling shirts with a picture of the wrestler on it (I am guilty of doing that once or twice with a Goldberg shirt that I was somewhat embarrassed of wearing in public). However, these shirts were just plain loud. If I recall, didn’t some of those have a big WWF logo on the back?

  29. DarthPitch says:

    I barely remember this guy. I seem to recall that the WWE brought in Lance “Hype Central” Wright from ECW to replace him, though. He lasted about a month, I think. I guess going from promoting cool merch to crappy merch was too much for the poor guy. He then went back to ECW for a brief run as a Harvey Whippleman-style Manager of Jobbers before falling off the face of the earth. Sounds like that could be another induction all on its own.

  30. 80's Guy says:

    I always wanted them to sell Shawn Michaels dangly cross earrings….

    • neverAcquiesce says:

      They did at one point. One spelled out SHAWN, the other MICHAELS. Guaranteed to get you laid or a free In Your House on us!

  31. Nate M. says:

    Random, completely useless tidbit of info: Just out of curiosity, I dialed 1-800-TITAN-91 to see what it leads to all these years later. Turns out it’s the number for the fraud prevention division of GE Credit Services; the company that handles credit cards for Walmart, Home Depot, etc.

  32. Tokyo Gaijin says:

    “And just to add insult to injury, Didinsky would offer a box of Stridex pads with your purchase.”

    Proving that, at the very least, the man knew his audience.

  33. Guest says:

    Todd Pettigil’s mullet…..damn.

leave a comment