During the late 1980’s and early 90’s, I spent every spare penny I had on wrestling magazines. I “couldn’t afford” my college text books, but I made damn sure I begged or borrowed enough money each week to pick up whatever rag hit the newsstand. Pro Wrestling Illustrated, The Wrestler, Inside Wrestling, Wrestling USA, WWF Magazine, Wrestling Eye, Wrestling Wrap Up…I built up a collection of over 1,000 of the stupid things in just those four years alone. In fact, when people ask me about my college days, I think back not to a brisk fall day watching the Ball State Cardinals taking on a gridiron rival, or a professor who taught me valuable life lessons. No, I think of Bill Apter’s in depth analysis of the Zeus-Hogan feud.
No wonder I get so pissed every month when I send in the check for my student loan.
The great thing about these magazines is that they had a plethora of stupid wrestling memorabilia competing for your hard earned cash. Almost every item had cartoonish logos or stupid sayings that no one in their right mind, wrestling fan or no, would bury their worst enemy in. Not only that, the shit (and make no mistake about it, this stuff was SHIT) could not have been more cheaply made. For example, I remember buying a Bret Hart tank top that wouldn’t fit a 6 week old baby. You can just imagine how cool I looked strutting around campus with it stretched over my bulbous midsection.
That was by no means the only idiotic item that promotions attempted to pawn off on fans. Both WCW and the WWF had tons of crummy t-shirts, hats, posters, and other stuff that they offered up for sale in catalogs which were stuffed into their monthly publications.
Looking back, the only question should have been which item would you be less embarrassed to wear, and that is how I shall judge this most unique fantasy showdown between Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation and the Turner owned World Championship Wrestling!
Let’s start off with a confrontation between the men who were arguably the highest fliers during this era. For WCW, we have “Flyin'” Brian Pillman, who you will recall went onto great fame by becoming one half of the Hollywood Blondes with Steve Austin. The WWF counters with Koko B. Ware, who went onto fame by wearing the world’s baggiest pants with Owen Hart.
Koko’s shirt is rather plain – nothing more than a shot of his bird Frankie and his trademark sunglasses. WCW, on the other hand, decided to turn Pillman into an airplane, flanked with B1 bombers. Well, I think that was their intention, but truth be known the figure of Pillman more closely resembles a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Balloon.
Even the dorkiest 10 year old would be embarrassed to wear either shirt, and I will go so far as to guarantee that any child that wore one of these to school came home with his underwear over the back of his head. Being forced to choose, I’ll go with the Koko shirt, for no reason other than the fact that I once had a pair of those sunglasses (and yes, I did look like a total dork, thanks for asking).
WWF 1, WCW 0
Nothing says “pro wrestling” to me like a teddy bear. And give both companies credit, as they slapped tiny t-shirts on the cheapest bears they could find. Gund these ain’t. Still, it was something they could shill to parents who brought their 3 year old daughters to events in which grown men sliced their heads open with razor blades. Say what you will about both companies, but you have to give them credit for not missing out on any potential customers.
WCW had a teddy dedicated to WrestleCrap inductee Norman, which actually made sense as the babyface Lunatic threw teddy bears to the crowd, and they would often give him stuffed animals in return. Of course, since Norman was getting over with this character, booker Ole Anderson turned him into a truck driving bozo at the first opportunity. (Sadly, that was actually better than what Vince came up with for poor Mike Shaw, that being the nose picking Bastion Booger.)
The WWF bear, on the other hand, features a miniature shirt of the Hulkster himself, in an attempt to capitalize on his fanbase of little Hulksters the world over. There is even a matching night shirt for girls who went to sleep each night dreaming of the day when they could become a ring rat.
A tough call for sure, but I will go with the Norman doll, the logic being that I may be able to convince anyone who saw it that I was just a big fan of Mr. Roper from Three’s Company.
WWF 1, WCW 1
Back in the late 80’s, two colors were most cool: silver and bright pink. Catch a rerun of Miami Vice one night and you will see what I am talking about. Though this fad took place during my college days when I was dressing to impress the ladies, even I thought it was a horrible look and therefore never wore such fashionable duds.
Come to think of it, I am sure that is the reason I never scored. I mean, yeah, I suppose it could be feasible that it may have had something to do with the fact that I was a grossly overweight nerd who would go off at any moment into an in-depth analysis of pro wrestling. It’s POSSIBLE that had something to do with my zero batting average, but I think that’s highly unlikely. I mean, what red blooded American woman wouldn’t get all hot and horny by a forty-five minute discussion of the ramifications of Richard Morton joining the York Foundation?
Nah, I’m sure it was the clothes.
Here WCW offers us a fuchsia Sting sweatshirt, which looks like something you would wear to a gym in an attempt to let everyone know those three simple words: “I AM GAY.” The WWF counters with a shiny silver jacket that Liberace himself wouldn’t be caught dead in, despite what the smarmy dude wearing it would have you believe. (And is it just me, or does his head look exactly like the head of a match stick?)
Hmmmm, another tough call. I think the pummeling I would receive for wearing either outfit would be severe, and for that reason I pick the Sting shirt, as it is probably fluffier and could help soften any blows to the midsection.
WWF 1, WCW 2
All right! One of my favorite shirts once again makes its way onto WrestleCrap.com. In fact, the Captain Mike Rotunda shirt my be the best single piece of merchandise in the storied history of pro wrestling.
For those who don’t remember, Mike Rotundo (or Rotunda – it changed on a seemingly weekly basis) was known as evil Captain Mike, who was the “captain” of the Varsity Club, a heel contingent that featured collegiate athletes such as Rick Steiner and Kevin Sullivan. For no good reason, WCW decided to turn Rotundo babyface, but inexplicably they had him keep the “Captain” name, now explaining that he was the captain of a BOAT.
God how I miss WCW.
The WWF counters here with what is, quite possibly, the LEAST original shirt of all time. I mean, COME ON – you’re just going to print “Super Star” on a shirt in honor of Billy Graham? Lame. Kinda like Graham’s comeback at the time. In fact, the only thing I can remember about this specific return was that during one segment, he was attempting to climb a hill with his walker, and fell down, rolling right back to the bottom.
Now a cartoony recreation of that – there’s an idea for a t-shirt.
WWF 1, WCW 3
Here’s a match up worthy of being covered here at WrestleCrap, as two of the worst wrestlers ever square off in fantasy fashion warfare. I mean, I have been working on this site forever, and I cannot, for the life of me, come up with two men who were anywhere near as bad as these guys were. It’s fortunate that they never actually faced each other in the ring, as the black hole of horribleness created would likely have not only consumed the world of pro wrestling, but the entire universe as well.
For the record, I never knew the El Gigante shirt existed until I started doing research for this induction. It wasn’t because I had blocked it out of my memory (I don’t think), but rather due to WCW’s incredibly lame interpretation of the Argentinian giant. This isn’t quite as bad as that Super Star shirt above, but it’s damn close. In fact, it kinda looks like an old Skyscrapers shirt was retrofitted for the Giant. Who knows, who cares.
The Outback Jack garb, on the other hand, shows just how wise Vince McMahon is. Instead of going to the trouble of designing a new shirt, they simply found the cheapest “Visit Australia” shirts they could and slapped Jack’s name on it. You know, I get tons of mail each week bitching about how Vince is an idiot, but look at that shirt above and tell me that he is NOT a genius.
I would find it impossible to believe that both of these shirts combined sold more than a dozen units. Still, I go with the Outback Jack shirt, if for no other reason than Jack winking at me makes me feel happy in a heavily medicated kind of way.
WWF 2, WCW 3
There are no words in existance that can even begin to describe the sheer terror coursing through my veins as I stare at the Steiner Siamese Twins shirt, so I won’t even try.
WWF 3, WCW 3
And here we are in the main event of the evening, as the top two stars of each promotion battle it out in a tie breaker, painter’s cap style. Believe it or not, painter’s caps were considered very chic back in the day. What the heck is a painter’s cap, you ask? Well, it’s a hat that…ummm…painters wear. Yep.
WCW has the Total Package Lex Luger hat, which is sadly lacking the stamp insignia that was plastered on all his crappy merchandise of the era. That’s right, their number one guy’s logo was a POSTAGE MARK. Can you believe people actually question how I can write an entire BOOK about WCW’s stupidity?
Over to Titan Sports we go, and “Hulk Rules” is the phrase of the day. This stylish red hat has yellow letter…hey, wait a minute. Isn’t that a young NIPPLE H? My GOD, it is! So now we know where she got her start – as a child model for a crummy Hulkster painter’s cap!
Damn you, WWF marketing department – DAMN YOU STRAIGHT TO HELL!
WWF 3, WCW 4
And so, WCW very narrowly edges out a victory in this round of the Catalog Wars. But remember, there really were no losers here today.
Well, except for the poor saps that bought this shitty merchandise.