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
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:
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:
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.
Cactus Jack foam gun and cactus-person-thing
More crazy WCW foam novelties! They were really pushing the boat out on these back in the day, huh? So the first one they made for Cactus Jack is a straight-up firearm. You know, for kids! That’s what they like to play with, right?
That wasn’t enough for old Cactus though, as they also came up with this:
A completely horrific cactus-person-thing! Imagine being Mick Foley and seeing hundreds of people waving these monstrosities at you when you made your entrance. I don’t think that’d feel like support so much as your own waking nightmare.
Attitude Era foam finger insanity
If there’s one company that could top early ’90s WCW when it came to going merch crazy, it’s the WWF during the Attitude Era. However, they actually did a pretty fun job of using different foam hand gestures for each wrestler, including:
STONE COLD’S SIGNATURE MIDDLE FINGER! Buy it for your kids and then have them flipping you off all the way home, until you get fed up and declare NO MORE WRESTLING FOR ANYBODY.
THE ROCK’S OPEN HAND FOR DOING THE ‘JUST BRING IT’ POSE! You could also use this to slap five people at once, provided you had them all stand in the same place.
THE HARDY BOYZ’ZZZZZ DOUBLE POINTY GUN FINGER GESTURE! As a fun bonus, you could modify this into being Nigel McGuinness’ ‘flicked V’ pose by separating the index and middle finger.
There was also this foam finger for Shawn Michaels, which made me laugh a lot:
Was this from the ‘Two Dudes with Attitude’ era of Shawn’s career? I’m not sure, but just writing ‘ATTITUDE’ on the index finger is an amazing example of the marketing team having a concept for how they want to present a guy but ZERO good ideas on how to do it.
“So we want to push Shawn as a guy with attitude, but how do we represent that in foam finger form?” “Hey, why not just write ATTITUDE on the index finger! Can’t get clearer than that!” “FUCK IT, THAT’LL DO.”
Finally, there’s this little number:
Oh, to live in the Attitude Era again, a simpler time when even guys like Road Dogg were over enough to warrant their own foam novelties. The more I look at this, the more it creeps me out. I think it might be the weird jowls they gave the foam canine version of the D-O-Double G.
Undertaker foam urn and finger
Haha, this is clearly before they decided on the weird crucifix as Undertaker’s symbol and decided that a picture of a lily would be just fine to represent the Dead Man. I mean, it kind of makes sense, but it’s also super weird.
This is another one that made me laugh a LOT when I first looked at it. It’s the “I’LL BURY YOU” on it that just kills me, it’s such a crazy declaration to have on something meant for kids. It’s one step away from being “I’M GOING TO MURDER YOU”.
Awkward TNA Picture of the Week
The star of this week’s Awkward TNA Picture of the Week is…
…the guardian of the SERIOUS sport of professional wrestling, GUNNER! Prove to everyone that you care about professional wrestling the most by wearing this ugly t-shirt and projecting INTENSITY just like stupid old Gunner.
Tatanka foam tomahawk
Cool, another foam representation of a tool used to murder people! What I like about these is that they were put out just last year by CWI, a Canadian wrestling federation. That’s right, in 2012 there were NEW foam novelties being made for Tatanka. He looks pretty happy about it in the accompany pics, as he should!
Tatanka: livin’ the dream.
Bret Hart foam heart and finger
HA HA BECAUSE HIS NAME IS HART WHICH IS ALMOST HEART. Hey, it’s wrestling, I’ll take what I get when it comes to wordplay. The other foam novelty they made for Bret Hart was a little more interesting though:
That’s pretty much the hand signal The Kliq used, isn’t it? Or at least it’s pretty close! So why is it branded as a Bret Hart thing? I have very fuzzy memories of Bret using this, but how did Shawn Michaels and all the others get away with basically stealing it? I’m sure there’s an explanation in Bret’s autobiography (likely in Chapter 27: Another 150 Reasons Why Shawn’s a Prick, Not That I’m Bitter About It), but if you have a quick explanation or a link, let me know. THANKS.
Razor Ramon foam razor
And it’s yet another foam representation of something that kids could use to do some serious harm to themselves and others! What are you even meant to do with a foam razor when you’re in the crowd? Like, do you wave it around? Pretend like you’re cutting your throat / wrists with it? These things need to come with instructions.
TNA foam finger
THIS IS SO CRAP, though it does make me miss the ridiculous ‘Wrestling Matters’ vignettes and tagline. I mean, TNA’s ALWAYS kind of ridiculous, but the failed ‘Impact Wrestling’ rebranding attempt made it feel even moreso than usual.
Jeff Jarrett foam guitar
And once again, the Russo era of WCW wins the day with this gem. Jeff Jarrett’s a fool for not using ‘slap nuts’ more in TNA, it’s so fun to say. Go on, say it to yourself out loud right now. “Slap nuts”. It just rolls off the tongue! More slap nuts in wrestling, please.
– @TomBlargh WILL return with another new Merch Table next week. Until then, be sure to tweet him @TomBlargh or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any terrible merch scoops. Want more Merch Table? You can check out our archive of past Merch Tables here. Tom is also the chairman of the WCW Comic Book Reading Club, if you want to read his thoughts on the greatest comic in the history of our sport.