Thursday, March 31, 2016

WrestleMania Week: Random Wrestling Cards

It's the last day of March and another day in WrestleMania Week. Today I thought I would share some of the better wrestling cards I have in my collection.

I'll start off with some cards of one of my all time favorites, Rob Van Dam. From the first time I saw him wrestle in ECW, I was blown away by how unique his style was. The wild moves like the Van Daminator (where he would spin kick a chair into his opponents face) that was then followed up by the Five Star Frog Splash was usually the end for many opponents. 

This card is from the WWE Raw vs. Smackdown set from 2003. I can't remember where I got this from but if I had to saw, it was probably from the card shop I worked at during this time. The owner would get in wrestling boxes here and there and I'd always partake in a few packs. I'm not sure if I pulled this from a pack or bought it out of the case. I always liked this card because of the die-cut gears on the bottom right.

When I first started watching ECW in the fall of 1999, RVD's main rival was Jerry Lynn. Fast forward to 2001, when WWE (then WWF) brought in RVD and paired him up with Jeff Hardy in a series of matches. Their first was in 2001 at the Invasion pay-per-view and people raved about it. They wrestled each other on and off over the next year or so until Jeff Hardy was released in 2003. I've never been a huge fan of Jeff Hardy but the only reason I bought this card back in the day was because RVD was on it.

These two cards are from the 2003 Fleer WWE Aggression set. Again, another RVD card but this will segue perfectly into the Steve Austin cards in my collection (well, actually my wife's collection). 

I like this card because of the filmstrip design on the top and bottom. It's also a WrestleMania flashback card to the Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels match from WrestleMania 14 in 1998. The match itself has become pretty historic, mostly due to the involvement from Mike Tyson and the fact that Austin won the WWF Title, but also because it was Shawn Michaels' last match for over four years.

The last Steve Austin card is from the 2004 Fleer WWE Chaos line. Honestly, it's a pretty plain card aside from the fact its got a relic on it.

Finally, one of my best pack pulls from last year, this Bruno Sammartino refractor #'d out of 75. I didn't buy a lot of Topps Chrome last year, maybe only about 3-4 packs but this was a really great pull of a true legend. Sammartino is the longest reigning WWE World Champion of all time with two reigns totalling 4,040 days over 11 years. In 2013, after being away from WWE for many years, he was officially inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Hope you enjoyed these random wrestling cards! I'm back tomorrow with more WrestleMania week fun!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

WrestleMania Week: Old Ticket Stubs

I've been to plenty of live wrestling shows in my life, both big and small and I've honestly lost count of how many I've been too. Since it's WrestleMania week, I figured I would share some ticket stubs from events I've attended over the years with a revolving cast of characters including my friends Tim, Brian, Jessie, Geo, and my wife Katie and reminisce a bit about each one. Enjoy!

As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of the original ECW. This originally was supposed to be a house show but was changed to a live TV special on the USA Network to help launch the "new" ECW brand under WWE's auspices. Before the show went on the air, there were a few dark matches just for those in the arena. The only one I remember of those matches was Jimmy Yang against Tatanka in what had to be the debut of Yang's "asian redneck" character. Dusty Rhodes also did an appearance for the live crowd shilling his DVD. The televised portion had Rob Van Dam vs. Rey Mysterio, a 20-man battle royal, and a John Cena vs. Sabu main event.

On a late summer day, my friends Brian, Jessie, and I hopped in the car and headed 90 minutes west to Indianapolis to catch this show and what a show this was. There was Undertaker vs. Edge in a Hell in a Cell Match, John Cena vs. Batista, and HHH vs. Great Khali for the WWE Title. Even though our seats weren't the best, we still had a blast. Driving back from the show, we stopped at a Denny's in the middle of Indiana at 1:00 in the morning, ate, laughed, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

What a night this was. My wife had just moved to town the fall prior and while we hadn't officially started dating yet, it was this show that eventually spurned a relationship between us. On the way to pick her up, my friend Brian puked in the front seat of the car just and we were pulling into the parking lot of her workplace to pick her up. I did a quick clean up and while she chatted with my friend Geo and Brian went to the restroom to clean himself up. After a bit, we all piled into the car drove a hour in the snow to get to the arena. When we got off the freeway to the arena, the line to get a parking spot was literally five miles long! Eventually, we got a parking spot, took a shuttle into the building and got our seats literally as Raw was coming on the air.

This was a pretty big night in wrestling as well as not only was Bret Hart returning to WWE for the first time since 1997, there was also a live edition of TNA Impact going head to head again Raw that featured the debut of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Eric Bischoff among others that night. I think I got home about 2:00 in the morning that night and it's a night I still remember fondly.

CZW is an independent promotion based out of Philadephia know for their violent matches and this was their first show ever in Indiana. Geo and I decided to make the three-hour trip to West Lafayette for a show called "Dragon Night". I purchased tickets ahead of time and managed to score front-row ringside. The building was a local rec center/bar that we drove by twice trying to find. When we parked, we hoped we were at the right venue and our suspicions proved correct after seeing a few people lined up with wrestling shirts on. Outside, the place looked like a dump, inside, it was one of the best venues for an independent wrestling show I've ever seen. While the majority of the card was straight wrestling, there were a few "ultraviolent" matches at the end of the show, best one being Masada against Drake Younger who absolutely tore the place up.

For everything that CZW is with the violence, blood, and weapons, CHIKARA is not. They are a family friendly "fun filled lucha supershow" according to their website and I couldn't agree more. At the time they had wacky characters like The Colony (Fire Ant, Green Ant, and Worker Ant), Tursas (a 6'8", 300-pound viking) and they still have wacky characters today. The main reason Katie, Geo, and I went is because the recently released from WWE Bryan Danielson (aka Daniel Bryan) was doing a big tour of the independent circuit and he stopped here to wrestle CHIKARA mainstay Tim Donst. The four-hour road trip was blast, we stopped a restaruant and bar in some sort of office building near downtown Cleveland for some grub and had blast overall.

I'm not even sure where to start with this event. It was held down the street from the house I grew up at and at the time my mom still lived there. Instead of trying to squeeze into the lot at the venue, Geo and I dropped my car at my mom's house and walked over. The venue was a run down skating rink that looked like it hadn't been updated in 20 years. We met up with Tim and his college buddies Brandon and Robert in line and once the doors opened everyone just sort of wandered in and found a place to stand. Brian and Jessie joined us right before the show started. The event was a fan-fest to meet wrestling legends Greg Valentine, Brutus Beefcake, Demolition, Dan Severn, and Sunny. The matches themselves on the show were downright horrible but the atmosphere was raucous and we all made it fun. I can't really do this show justice so I'll let our live report that we wrote on our old wrestling blog Never Hand Over speak for itself. Click here to read it (if you dare).

This was the second CHIKARA show that Geo, Katie, and I went to. While it wasn't as good as the first show and the venue was completely different, we still had a good time. I just recently found the photos I took from this event and one day I'll write an article talking about the show. As usual on a CHIKARA show, the cast of characters was wacky such as Los Ice Creams, Tursas, Ultramantis Black, and The Colony. During intermission, Tursas was taking pictures with fans at his merchandise table and The Colony was taking pictures in the ring with fans. Geo and I decided to jump in the ring and get a picture ...

My friend Geo (L) and I with the Colony
We haven't been to a CHIKARA show since as we're still waiting for them to run a show that's within driving distance since most of their shows are in the Philadelphia area.

The final show I'll talk about today is this CZW show that was run literally 20 minutes from my current house. CZW came out and did a show in Hamilton at a since closed venue and everyone in our wrestling group (myself, Brian, Geo, Katie, Tim, and a few others) met up there and really had a wild time! Since this was in conjunction with local promotion HWA, some of their guys were on the card as well but everyone was really there to see CZW. There was a wild fans bring the weapons match that saw the competitors fight nearly into the street, a show-stealer of a match between AR Fox and Alex Colon, and Jake Crist, a local wrestler, in the main event against CZW owner DJ Hyde. After the show, we went over to the Steak N Shake down the street, and had a great night out reminiscing about old times and chatting about everything we could think of.

I hope you enjoyed reading about these old event and the nostalgia it brought back for me. Come back tomorrow for more WrestleMania week goodies!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

WrestleMania Week: WWF Wrestling Figure Commercials From YouTube!

Image found via Google Search
If you grew up watching WWF Coliseum Video tapes in the late 80s and early 90s, you might remember before the feature started. On seemingly every tape, there was a small block of ads for wrestling figures featuring either Jesse Ventura or Roddy Piper. So, I thought as a fun feature for WrestleMania week, I'd show some of the old wrestling figure commercials I found on YouTube.

This ad is probably one of the first ads that ran on TV for WWF figures. You've got Jimmy Snuka diving off the landing of the stairs, Iron Sheik coming out from behind the living room curtains, and Hulk Hogan barging in from the kitchen, presumably after downing some sort of protein induced madness. The voiceover guy also mentions Big John Studd, but he is nowhere to be found in this house of mayhem. Perhaps he was upstairs napping or outside mowing the lawn.

Judging by the roster of wrestlers in this commercial, it appears to be from 1987. Here we have two kids talking about a "big match at my house" and to be honest, it sounds like a pretty good match with Junkyard Dog, Ricky Steamboat, and George Steele against Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine, and Roddy Piper. Yeah, it's cheesy but it's fun and brings back memories from being a kid again.

The other commercials I was going to feature here ended up getting pulled from YouTube but I did manage to find a compilation of all of them. Hopefully this video doesn't get pulled by the time you see this post and starts at the right spot I linked up to as well, if not, just fast forward to 1:18. Anyway, there are three commercials here, the first is for the regular line of figures with Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage showing up, next is for the tag team figures and be sure to watch Roddy Piper's reaction to getting licked by the Bushwhackers. Finally, there's a commercial for talking Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior figures.

These are the ads I have strong memories of as they're on every Coliseum Video tape from the early 90s and they're just so ridiculous, especially with Piper screaming over the top of kids playing with the figures. To be honest, I always preferred the one's with Piper over the ones with Jesse Ventura. Nothing against Ventura, but Piper selling these really made me want to go out and buy them. It didn't hurt either that he talked at the speed of the Micro Machines guy from the early 90s as well.

Hope you enjoyed these old wrestling figure commercials. More stuff tomorrow as WrestleMania week continues!

Monday, March 28, 2016

WrestleMania Week: 1998 Topps WCW/nWo Cards

It's WrestleMania week on the blog and since it's the biggest pro wrestling show of the year, each day the whole week leading up to WrestleMania on April 3rd will have some sort of pro wrestling tie-in. Today, we'll kick off WrestleMania week with a look at some 1998 Topps WCW/nWo cards!

In 1998, WCW was at its peak with mega stars like Goldberg, Sting, Hollywood Hogan, Ric Flair, and Kevin Nash along with a great roster filled with other people like Bret Hart, Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon, and Chris Jericho. Topps put out a set in 1998 with 72 cards featuring some of the biggest names in the promotion and lots of the people on the undercard.

I've got all but one of the cards in the set, the only one I'm missing is card #41, Jay Leno. So to kick off WrestleMania week, I wanted to show all the cards in the set I have and comment as I go.

Most of the top names on this first part. Of these, Giant is the only one who is still currently active. You can also see three different designs. These cards had to have come out towards the end of 1998 as there were two different nWo factions depicted.

Getting into some of the second-tier guys now, along with fading stars like Roddy Piper.

More lower card guys. Hey, what's the British Bulldog doing in there? He was only around for about a month or two and still managed to get a card in the set? Rick Rude would make history during the Monday Night Wars appearing on both Raw and Nitro at the same time on the same night.

Mostly cruiserweights in this batch. If you look on the back of the Eddy Guerrero card, his last name has four Rs in it, not three. Nice to see Jimmy Hart get a card.

One of my all time favorites, Meng (or Haku for you WWF people) is on top right. If you've never seen any of his matches, the dude meant business in the ring and just beat the crap out of everyone. The announce team also got a card. I always felt that Tony Schiavone was a really underrated announcer. I think finally, with the advent of the WWE Network, people are going back and discovering old WCW stuff and finding out how good the guy really was.

There's a Ric Flair sighting! Unfortunately, it's stuck in the middle of the pack. Wait, Gene Okerlund gets his own card but the rest of the announce crew has to share one? And how did Jim Neidhart get a card? He was around less that the Bulldog!

The last few base cards and moving on to the Nitro Girl inserts. The Nitro Girls were basically cheerleaders that would come out and dance during broadcasts of Monday Nitro and during pay-per-view events during this time to help energize the crowd.

More inserts. I really like the idea of having inserts showing the current champions when the cards came out. The Goldberg and DDP cards on the bottom are actually stickers.

Finally, the last batch of stickers.

Overall, this is a pretty fun little set and provides a nice glimpse back in time to when there was a viable alternate to WWE. Only a few short years later, the assets of WCW would be sold to WWE for less that $3 million. I highly recommend reading the book "The Death of WCW" for the complete story of how they reached tremendous heights in the mid-90s, only to have in crash down in the span of a year and a half.

Come back tomorrow for more WrestleMania week goodies! This is just the tip of the iceberg of the fun stuff I've got lined up!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Four Packs of 2016 Topps Series 1

As I mentioned in my latest Card Shop Chronicles post, I picked up a nice variety of packs during my recent trip to the card shop. I'll detail each group in a separate post so here are the highlights of four packs of 2016 Topps Series 1.

When these were first released, I couldn't wait to get my hands on them. My happiness over the first new product of the year soon faded as the reviews came in and most everyone didn't like the design. I went into these packs with low expectations, really expecting not to like the design. A funny thing happened, I kind of like it. I'll give Topps their props for thinking outside of the box and experimenting with a new design. 

I picked out the best cards from all the packs combined just to show them off. I think that the Goldschmidt is my favorite of this trio.

I like the style of the Reds cards this year, as the black nameplate compliments the red logo very well.  Guerrero and Calhoun are the only two "Future Stars" cards I got from the packs.

I'm not a big fan of Giancarlo Stanton, not sure why but there's just something about him I don't like. Team cards are always cool no matter what team they are. Oh yeah, there's Clayton Kershaw too.

Time for the inserts! I really like the Pressed Into Service cards and the Back to Back cards are pretty cool too. I'm not exactly sold on the Perspectives inserts yet but maybe they'll grow on me.  I like the concept of the Wrigley Field inserts but I think they're a year too late on that.

There's my thoughts on 2016 Topps. For two bucks a pack, you can't really go wrong, unless you get a pack full of nobodies. Will I buy this retail? Not really but if I'm in the card shop and I feel the need to rip some packs for cheap, I'll definitely reach for a few of these.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

You've Got Mail #20: Great Sports Name Hall of Fame

Early last month, Tim from the Great Sports Name Hall of Fame blog reached out and asked if I would be interested in a trade. Not being one to turn down a trade offer, I gladly obliged. A few weeks later a big envelope arrived at my door loaded with lots of fun stuff.

First up, we have Headliners! There are two Jari Kurri figures, Martin Brodeur, Wayne Gretzky, and a Matt Williams. I had to rescue the Brodeur from the clutches of my wife who absconded with it as soon as it fell out of the package. I showed the rest of them to her and her exact reaction was "screw that! Brodeur is the only one that's important!" I had a few of these as a kid at my grandparents house but never saved them when we were cleaning out the house after my grandfather passed a few years ago. These are super cool and I may pick up some more up they're cheap at a flea market or yard sale.

My how the Reds have changed. I remember when Kearns and Dunn were predicted to be centerpieces of the Reds outfield for years in the mid 2000s. More often then not, these three were the primary outfielders for the Reds. Kind of strange that the swatch from Kearns would be next to Griffey's picture though. Also, look at the lineup on the card, that got to be from at least 2003.

Here are couple nice Bengals jersey cards. I think my favorite of these two has to be the Jordan Shipley card.

Speaking of the Bengals, here are few early-90s Bengals. The Munoz card is probably right at the tail end of his career. Now, he appears in commercials for a local furniture store.

Sweet! My first wrestling card received via trade! This looks like it could have been from a magazine. Judging by the photo (and the size of Crush's mullet), this is probably from sometime in 1993. This one goes right into the wrestling binder.

Here's a really cool Devin Mesoraco RC. Despite losing nearly all of last season to a hip injury, he's still one of my favorite players on the Reds. I just hope they don't decide to send him out via a trade this summer. The darker background on this (I'm guessing it's a foil background), really makes him pop out, almost like a 3D effect.

Speaking of foil, these nice hockey cards were included for my defunct teams collection, two Whalers and a Jet. Even though they scanned like crap, this was the best I could do as the picture I took of them wasn't that much better. You'll just have to believe me when I say they look much better in person.

I about fell over when this awesome vintage Killebrew card fell out of the package. I love vintage cards of any player and getting this a trade is awesome, especially since its a pre-Minnesota card for Killebrew. 

Thanks Tim for the great trade package! I know it's taking me a while, but I'll get something out to you when I can.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Road Report: HorrorHound Convention 2016!

Every year, I get invited by my friend Tim to go to the HorrorHound convention and every year something comes up, be it an unexpected expenditure or otherwise, and I can't make it. However, this year I made sure my calendar was clear and set aside some extra cash to head down and take in the convention. I would have taken more pictures but the convention center was absolutely packed and you had to keep moving otherwise you'd get run over.

The main draw of the convention were autograph guests and horror icons such as Doug Bradley (Pinhead from "Hellraiser), Elvira, Nick Castle (Michael Myers in the original "Halloween"), Charles Cyphers, Kane Hodder, Ari Lehman, and WWF legends Demolition (Ax & Smash) and Chyna. While I didn't feel like dropping $50 per person on autographs, I wandered around the vendors room and checked out the Horror Host Hall of Fame Ceremony.

Elvira (R) with Count Gore de Vol
The Hall of Fame ceremony kicked off with an lifetime achievement award presented to Elvira. While she didn't stay for long (as the event was running late to begin with and she had to get to her autograph signing), I was able to get a somewhat decent picture of her accepting the award. The other reason I wanted to attend the ceremony is because my friend's girlfriend's step-dad (known on TV in the Dayton area as A. Ghastlee Ghoul) was being inducted as well. It was pretty cool to see clips of all the inductees such as The Adviser, Count Cool Rider, Dr. Morbius, and Ghost Host among others.

After the Hall of Fame induction was over, my friends and I wandered around the vendors area. There was a ton of stuff there that I was really could have bought, but my budget wouldn't allow it. So instead, I found some good stuff that wasn't too terribly expensive.

Funko dolls are an addiction and these were the best of the Funkos I could find from the one vendor that didn't have a horrible markup on them. I'm a big fan of anything Ghostbusters and this Slimer was perfect to grab there, too bad I couldn't find the other characters. Another thing I enjoy are the original Universal Monsters (The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.). Again, this was the best of the batch that I felt like getting.

Michael West is a local author that was peddling his wares at the show. My friend, his girlfriend, and I each bought a book for $10. This particular one called "Spook House" jumped out to me simply because the cover looked really cool. The old saying is to never judge a book by its cover so hopefully it's good but if it's not then at least I didn't pay that much for it.

Finally, the best thing I bought at the convention and then main thing I was looking for in the vendors room ... FRIGHT FLICKS!!!! If you've never heard or seen these cards, then you're missing out. It's only a 72 card set but features stills from the first three Nightmare on Elm Street films along with Alien, Poltergeist, Predator, Fright Night, and Ghostbusters. It's actually the only trading card series that features cards for the original Ghostbusters film from 1984. Nine cards per pack with one sticker and one stick of bubble gum (which I did not try).

The nine cards that were in the pack and I managed to get one of the Ghostbuster cards featuring Slimer raiding a food cart. The middle card of Freddy Krueger is from Nightmare on Elm Street II.

The back of the cards. There's a little story on the back and the marquee on the bottom tells what movie the still is from. I think this is a series that I'll definitely have to work on collecting, especially if I can find more packs. This pack cost me $5 but it's worth it because boxes of these go for about $70 or more on eBay.

This is definitely a convention I'll head back to next year as it was a lot of fun and for a person like me who digs horror movies, it was a great experience!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Card Shop Chronicles: Hooterville Sports Cards (Fairfield, OH)

Having an unexpected Friday afternoon/night off is a really nice luxury. Since my day job lets us out at 3:30 on Fridays, I figured I'd head over to the card shop to pick up some packs and do a bit of digging in the bargain boxes before heading home. It's also been a while since I did a new entry in the Card Shop Chronicles series (October to be exact) so I figured I would get some photos while I was there for a new entry.

A nice guy named Kevin runs the shop and he's got stuff hiding in every nook and cranny of the place, plus there is stuff literally stacked to the ceiling. Since the shop is small, long and narrow, it's probably the best way to make use of the limited space. He's got tons and tons of wax, both new and old with good prices on just about everything. The pictures above are of all the brand new stuff along with packs and boxes from about a year or so ago.

This table right as you walk in is nothing but sealed boxes of old junk wax from the late 80s/early 90s. There's some decent stuff to be had in there as well. There is another shelf that I didn't get a picture of that has semi-recent products along with popular older products for 20% off the retail price.

This is the right side of the shop. From bobbleheads to starting lineup figures to deals on old vintage cards, this place has it all. There's even a quarter box that's I've dug through a time or two. Plus, if you look closely at the orange signs, they state that every card in the showcases in 50% off the listed price.

The middle table, where there's all kinds of cards from a Reds and Bengals bargain bin to team sets and small complete sets, to gaming and wrestling cards and lots of other randomness.

Another shot of the left side of the shop with high dollar vintage cards and lots of packs and blasters ready to be purchased.

Speaking of purchases, I can't just go in a shop without buying some stuff, so I picked up a few things:

I found a few things in the bargain bins that I was interested in but also wanted to get a good number of packs. In the end up, I settled for four packs of Series 1, three packs of Heritage, and four packs of Donruss along with the Jim King and Gus Bell cards you see. Here's a closer look at those:

This 1956 Gus Bell is in fairly decent shape and for $1.99, I couldn't hardly pass it up. Bell was a fixture on the Reds outfield during the 1950s with Wally Post and Vada Pinson. He was a four-time all star during the decade, a member of the 1961 National League championship team, and played on the inaugural New York Mets team in 1962.

There were a few old 1969-70 Topps basketball cards as well. I'm not really a basketball guy but I do like to collect Cincinnati Royals cards, as they were the only pro basketball team that Cincinnati ever had. Jim King only played 31 games for the Royal during the 1969-70 season. He was traded by the San Francisco Warriors to the Royals in a deal that sent hometown start Jerry Lucas out west.

Hooterville was the first card shop I went to when I got back into collecting in 2012 and I still like to stop in when I'm in the area to get some supplies or grab a few packs. If you're ever in the area, it's worth it just to stop in and dig around in some of the boxes or bargain bins, you will truly never know what you'll find.