• The Merch Table

    The Merch Table: WWF Cookbook Special

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: WWF COOKBOOK SPECIAL.

    wwf-cookbook-cover

    ‘Can You Take the Heat? The WWF Is Cooking!’ by Jim ‘JR’ Ross and the WWF Superstars is one of those relics of the Attitude Era that could only been made during the most popular and ridiculous period in the history of the wrestling industry.

    That’s not to say a wrestling-themed cookbook isn’t a fun concept, but ‘Can You Take the Heat? The WWF Is Coo… look, I’m just going to call it the WWF Cookbook from now on, that title’s ridiculous. Anyway, it’s a fun concept but not only does this have each recipe themed to individual wrestlers, it takes the extra step and pretends that the wrestlers themselves actually came up with the recipes.

    It’s as crazy as it sounds, and since it’s kind of slipped through the cracks of merch history, I think it’s high time it was highlighted. LET’S GET STARTED. Continue reading

    The Merch Table: Highspots Ultimate Novelty Item Grab-Bag Special

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: HIGHSPOTS ULTIMATE NOVELTY ITEM GRAB-BAG SPECIAL.

    As mentioned in a previous Merch Table, we love Highspots. It’s really easy to lose half an hour just clicking through their site and looking at all the wacky merch from days gone by but there’s always been one thing on their site that stands out above all the others – their ‘ultimate novelty item grab-bag‘.

    After the fun I had with the TNA brown bag special, I was ready for another challenge to test my abilities as the Internet’s foremost merchologist. However, I really wasn’t prepared for the sheer volume of stuff Highspots would send – seriously, check it out:

    highspots-crap

    How am I even meant to tackle that? It took a lot of thought, but ultimately, it seemed like the best way to hold onto my sanity was to follow the example of Dante and descend into my own personal Inferno. With that in mind, join me now as I take a journey through The Nine Circles of MerchLET’S GET STARTED.

    First Circle of Merch: VHS tapes

    wrestlemania-vhs

    Okay, we’re off to a shaky start, since I have literally no way of watching this. As a result, it’ll remain suspended in its plastic wrapping for eternity (or at least until I offload it on an unsuspecting Goodwill store).

    If I was going to really go with the whole Dante’s Inferno metaphor, then this’d make for the perfect ‘limbo’… but look, that’s too much work, so forget it. Just forget it.

    Second Circle of Merch: Back-to-School supplies

    Everything you’d need to cement yourself as ‘that creepy wrestling kid’ in the new school year, including:

    ya-dumb-sumbitch

    A Stone Cold Steve Austin notepad with a wacky lenticular thing on the front so you can see Steve Austin’s face turn into a SPOOOOOOOKY SKULL YA DUMB SUMBITCH.

    hhh-folder

    A Triple H folder, perfect for holding your notes on which guys aren’t ready, as well as a fifty page dissertation on how that one match with Randy Orton was actually a really worthy Wrestlemania main event.

    wolfpac

    Two nWo Wolfpac pencils, which could double as chopsticks, should you need to show your allegiance to the red and black while eating sushi. Spicy tuna rolls f-f-f-f-f-for life.
    Continue reading

    The Merch Table: Top 10 Worst Holiday Gifts for Wrestling Fans

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: TOP 10 WORST HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR WRESTLING FANS.

    First things first, this week’s column is inspired by (i.e. shamelessly rips off) Chris Sims’ excellent 10 Worst Holiday Gifts for Comic Book Readers over at Comics Alliance. It’s a very fun read, and it’s a great reminder of how tricky the holiday season can be when you’re known to be a fan of something like comics or wrestling.

    Simply put, there’s an awful lot of rubbish out there that well-meaning friends and relatives could gift you because “this is the kind of thing you like, right?” and… well, if I can do anything to stop people from receiving any of the following items, then my life will finally have some meaning. LET’S GET STARTED.

    1) Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come DVD.

    tripleh

    The only possible reason you’d buy this is to put the final nail in the coffin of somebody’s Triple H fandom. The match selection is mostly fine, but it’s the documentary that’s guaranteed to grate, given that it consists solely of a cycle of sycophants explaining how important and revolutionary Triple H was to the wrestling business while the man himself tells us he was ‘never meant to make it’ (because we all know how much Vince hates big muscly guys with well-conditioned hair and a dickish sense of humour).

    However, it’s not all bad – there’s some fun footage of Stephanie and Triple H’s wedding, featuring Linda McMahon wearing what looks like one of those giant spiders from Resident Evil:

    linda-spider

    2) Autographed Dixie Carter action figure.

    dixie-autographed

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: there is no good reason for anyone to own a Dixie Carter action figure. Shockingly, these ‘exclusive’ items are still in stock at ShopTNA even though it’s been months since they were first released – could it be that all of TNA’s current financial woes are thanks to them investing too heavily in pieces of plastic shaped like their president? I don’t know for sure, but it sounds about right to me. Expect to see these in a landfill near you soon! Continue reading

    The Merch Table: Commercials Special

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: COMMERCIALS SPECIAL.

    Commercials for wrestling merchandise are often more interesting than the products they’re meant to be advertising, especially when the wrestlers are starring in them – when you get wrestlers doing anything but wrestle, you’re really rolling the dice.

    Obviously, the undisputed king of shilling merch is and always will be Don West. I haven’t featured him in this column, if only because a) it’d make all the others look terrible in comparison and b) his merch-selling masterpieces tend to be, like, 12 minutes long. With that disclaimer out the way, LET’S GET STARTED.

    WWF catalog commercial, starring Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire

    This is the BEST. I could watch Dusty sell anything – anyone who’s not in the market for an ‘Ultimate Warrior SUHCK CUHP’ after watching this is DEAD inside.

    His dynamic with Sapphire is also something that makes me laugh every time – he’s clearly frustrated by her being completely clueless, but he’s so locked into the happy-go-lucky Dusty character that it’s just bubbling under the surface. Continue reading

    The Merch Table: Halloween Special (Part 2)

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (PART 2).

    If you haven’t read last week’s Halloween Special, then you should probably get yourself up to date. Done that? Cool. Now bring on the terrible wrestling masks and costumes! LET’S GET STARTED.

    Bret Hart mask

    bret

    Here we have Bret Hart in mask form, looking more like a “40-year-old mother of three who had a really rough night” than Adam Cole ever could (and if you’re not familiar with that reference, here’s the appropriate scene from Kevin Steen’s Weekend Escapades to help fill you in):

    Anyway, yet another example of how the wrestling business screwed Bret. I’m surprised we didn’t see three chapters in his book dedicated to the ‘Halloween Mask Screwjob’.

    Kurt Angle TNA costume

    kurt-angle

    That’s a disturbingly accurate depiction of Kurt Angle’s face (i.e. INTENSELY CRAZY), but what’s up with that pose? Is that meant to be… like… an amateur wrestling stance? Is amateur wrestling all about standing with your legs really wide apart? Please reply ASAP, amateur wrestling fans (har har, just kidding, there’s no such thing as an amateur wrestling fan). Continue reading

    The Merch Table: Halloween Special (Part 1)

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (PART 1).

    Everybody loves Halloween, especially wrestling fans! But how are you supposed to dress as your favourite in-ring competitor when all most of them wear is a tiny pair of spandex panties? You ain’t got the body to pull that off, and brother, it’s COLD outside.

    The easiest solution is to just go as Cena (t-shirt, jorts, buzzcut) or Punk (t-shirt, basketball shorts, magic marker tattoo sleeves) but if you want to try something else, then wrestling companies are there to help, with all sorts of costume ideas! And by ‘all sorts of costume ideas’, I mostly mean ‘really horrific vinyl masks’! I’ve run out of ideas got a lot of love for Halloween, so this’ll be a two parter. LET’S GET STARTED.

    Goldberg mask

    goldberg1

    RIGHT, jumping straight into the deep end this week. There’s something to be said for how (relatively) lifelike this is, assuming it’s a version of Big Bill from his period spent being tortured in the fifth layer of hell.  Maybe it looks a little less horrific from another angle though:

    goldberg2

    THAT ISN’T BETTER. Maybe from a side-on perspective?

    goldberg3

    NO. Okay, one last try, maybe it won’t be terrifying if we zoom in a little?

    goldberg4

    FORGET IT. Continue reading

    The Merch Table: Wrestling Foods Special

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: WRESTLING FOODS SPECIAL.

    If there’s one thing wrestling fans like, it’s watching wrestling. Obviously. If there’s two things they like, it’s watching wrestling and buying shitty merch. And if there’s three things they like, it’s watching wrestling, buying shitty merch and stuffing their faces with terrible food. That might be a generalisation, but… look, I need an introduction to this column, so let’s just go with it, yeah?

    Sadly, wrestling branded food and drink isn’t as common as it once was, possibly because there are just too many rules these days about food having to be ‘edible’ and ‘definitely not harmful to children’. THANKS A LOT, OBAMA. Anyway, it’s a shame, since there used to be some fantastically insane stuff. LET’S GET STARTED.

    Hulk Hogan cake pan

    hulk-cakepan

    Yikes, that’s a lot of icing. I think it’s a fair assumption that a couple of slices of the Hulkster would send you into sugar shock, but type 2 diabetes is a small price to pay for taking a bite out of one of Hogan’s tasty pythons.

    Also, I spent a while searching for the Macho Man / Big Boss Man variations until I realised that you can make them all with the same pan! Check out the icing instructions below:

    wwf-cakepan-instructions

    The Boss Man’s never looked better than in cake form! Either he or Macho would also make the perfect dessert for my Dead Wrestler Banquet, but… look, that’s another feature for another time. *FORESHADOWING* Continue reading

    The Merch Table: Plush Toys Special

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: PLUSH TOYS SPECIAL.

    Plush interpretations of wrestlers have always been a bit troubling. These are big sweaty dudes who typically aren’t particularly cuddly or cute, so they’re generally not the best candidates to be made into plush forms (PLEASE NOTE, THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS).

    However, kids need merch so wrestling companies found a way to make plush toys, regardless of how unsuitable and horrific they are! LET’S GET STARTED.

    Val Venis teddy bear

    val1

    OH NO, VAL VENIS MERCH. As far as I can tell, the bear isn’t meant to be Val Venis, he’s just a wrestling bear who happens to be the number one Val fan. Also, he’s a champion of some description (UNSURE WHICH ONE BECAUSE THE FRONT OF THE BELT HAS RUBBED OFF, PLEASE DON’T ASK ME HOW IT RUBBED OFF, DON’T REALLY WANNA THINK ABOUT THAT).

    Anyway, long story short, this is why you never ever ever make Val Venis merchandise for kids:

    val2

    Continue reading

    The Merch Table: TNA Reviews Special

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: TNA REVIEWS SPECIAL.

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – the TNA online shop is complete anarchy. To log on to ShopTNA.com is to tumble down a rabbit hole into a fevered wonderland of bewildering merch and shill videos. However, one of the most fascinating and insane things about the site is something I’ve not really covered before – the customer reviews.

    Now, they call them reviews, but that’s a little misleading. It’s completely unmoderated, so the comments range from personal messages meant for the wrestlers and rants aimed at the TNA creative team to fan-on-fan bickering and ramblings which just make no sense at all. It’s incredible, so I’ve collected a few of my favourites below. LET’S GET STARTED.

    Velvet Sky t-shirt

    velvet-shirt

    velvet-shirt-review

    The best way of proving to the world that you don’t care about what they think is always to go out of your way to tell everyone just that. Good job, Steve! You’ve demonstrated you’re definitely not a perv. Continue reading

    The Merch Table: Foam Finger Special

    Wrestling companies make merchandise. It’s usually pretty bad, but sometimes, it’s terrible. Welcome to The Merch Table.

    Every week, @TomBlargh will look at some of the awful merch that someone expects you to buy. Up this week: FOAM FINGER SPECIAL.

    There’s no item of wrestling merchandise that’s rendered so immediately useless once you leave the arena quite like a foam finger. Think about it; while you might not be waving your Joseph Park rally towel once you leave a show, it can still become a serviceable face towel or dish cloth when you get home. DX glow sticks come close to being as worthless, but at least they might come in handy if you’ve got plans to go to a rave later that evening.

    A foam finger though? Well, short of being used by Miley Cyrus for entirely unseemly purposes (OH SNAP, TOPICAL REFERENCE), there’s really not much you can do with it unless you’re actually at the show.

    However, that gives foam fingers a certain pointless purity that I admire as a professional merchologist, so I think it’s worth looking back at some of the best (but mostly worst) foam fingers in wrestling history. LET’S GET STARTED.

    Hulk Hogan foam finger, torso and ear

    Hoganfinger

    This is almost a fun little microcosm of the differences between WWF and WCW way back when. Above, you see the Hulk Hogan foam finger that WWF sold. Pretty much what you’d expect, right? Yellow and red, ‘#1’ on the finger, Hulkamania on the palm. Simple but classic

    However, once Hulk jumped ship to WCW, they started producing their own foam novelties for the Hulkster and… well, this is what happened:

    hulk-pose

    Your first option was a foam representation of Hulk’s torso, so you could stick your hand up inside him and pretend you’re a twisted giant who likes to tear professional wrestlers in two and use the top half for puppet shows. It’s nothing on the second option though:

    hulk-ear

    That’s right, it’s a giant disembodied ear and hand that looks COMPLETELY UNSETTLING. Whenever there was an option to mess with a working formula to make things terrible, WCW took it, and that’s why we miss them. Continue reading