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.
‘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.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you struggle reading any of the pages, then brother, don’t worry about it – I’ve linked through to bigger versions of them, so just give the pics a click to see the recipes properly.
Good ol’ JR’s our host and he supports the crazy gimmick of the recipes being sourced straight from the wrestlers in his introduction:
“You’ll enjoy a wide variety of recipes from all the Superstars.” YEAH OKAY BUDDY IF YOU SAY SO. Honestly, the visual of guys like Gangrel, Viscera and Kane all honing their culinary craft in the kitchen is incredible, so let’s get to suspending our disbelief and just go with it.
Looking at some of the recipes now and… well, it’s from the Attitude Era, so you should expect a little lewdness, right? The WWF Cookbook gets a little fixated on one thing though…
…BALLS. To be fair, it’s possible that Edge’s Cocktail Party Meatballs recipe isn’t meant to refer to testicles. However, given that the cookbook also features…
…Hardcore Holly’s Big Beefy Meatballs and…
…Vince’s Big Broiled Grapefruits, I’m less inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.
If you think the WWF Cookbook’s obsession with male reproductive organs is the only example of wordplay in the recipe titles though, then brother, you are 100% wrong. Sometimes, it pays off…
…with Tasty Trish-Kebabs probably being the best example; I especially like it because they managed to show a little restraint and not name the recipe ‘Tasty Trish-Ke-boobs’ or something dreadful. Other times, the wordplay relies on some familiarity with recent storylines…
…because why wouldn’t you want to be reminded of that time Big Bossman tricked Al Snow into eating his beloved pet chihuahua when you’re flicking through a cookbook? Granted, they do feature a ‘real’ recipe for pepper steak on the next page but man, it’s hard to be in the mood for it once you’ve read about the proper technique to skin and gut a dog.
Speaking of poor Al, his recipe is an amazing example of how few fucks WWE gave about him at the time this was published:
Al Snow Peas. That’s it. Nothing else to make it sound more exciting or colourful, just Al Snow Peas, that’s your lot. Poor Al Snow.
Another thing that stands out about the WWF Cookbook is that, in the 14 years since it was published, a lot of the featured wrestlers have since passed. Now, this isn’t intended to make light of the dead or anything like that; it’s deeply depressing that they died so young, and it’s another reminder of all the issues that plague the wrestling business.
Having said that though, I will admit to becoming morbidly obsessed with the idea of having a dinner party using only these recipes, in an event that would be titled…
The Dead Wrestler Banquet
God, I’m so sorry. It’s too late now though, so let’s just get on with it, yeah?
You want your banquet to be a classy affair, right? That’s why you need to greet your guests with a delicious apéritif once they arrive; something dignified to set the tone for the entire evening, like Crash Holly’s Jell-o Shooters.
“This is a refreshing XFL tailgate party beverage” declares JR, just in case this book didn’t feel dated enough already.
Once everyone’s suitably unwound, what next? Something light but with a little flavour, just to set the tastebuds off. Test’s Tostados with Chicken and Black Bean Guacamole is a solid choice:
JR’s line in the introduction that he could see Test ‘whipping this up for one of his lady friends’ is… I don’t know, man. I just don’t know. Are ladies super into avocado? Is that a thing?
A sex thing?
Now you’ve got everyone sat down, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Having said that, you don’t want anything TOO heavy yet, so why not serve up the healthy option of Paul Bearer’s Tuna-Stuffed Tomatoes?
What makes it especially satisfying is that, during his time managing Kane where he’d wear a red blazer, Bearer sort of looked like a stuffed tomato.
Moving onto the main courses, and we have Eddie Guerrero’s Mexican Tortilla Casserole:
There’s another reference to the XFL, as Jimbo declare that it’s a “great dish to enjoy while watching XFL Football”. Sorry JR, probably not.
You can’t beat a slab of steak, and who better to give you cooking tips than… oh. Oh, crap.
I… uh, yeah. I’ve got nothing here, but JR’s line about how “if you’re ever at the Benoit home for a cookout, don’t be surprised if this is your main course, prepared by the Wolverine himself”… well, it’s unfortunate.
MOVING SWIFTLY ON. Man cannot live on meat alone though, so what could you have as a side? Bulldog’s Green Beans with Garlic, of course!
(Sadly for the Bulldog, William Regal’s the Brit who got to have the fish and chips recipe, and since Americans are idiots who don’t know anything else about British culture, Bulldog was saddled with green beans.)
By this point, people will probably be feeling completely terrible / throwing up from over-consumption, so it’s best to keep it light with Big Bossman’s Refrigerated Dough Cookies:
You can’t choke down cookies dry though, so to wet everybody’s whistle and perk them up a bit before you kick them out, Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young’s After-Dinner Speciality Coffees will be the ideal accompaniment, making for the perfect end to a perfect evening:
And that’s that! If you’re not feeling completely bummed out by all the death, why not try it yourself sometime? Though really, you SHOULD be feeling completely bummed, it’s a total downer! The wrestling business is the actual worst.
As for me… well, I’m lucky enough to be married to a woman who has taken it upon herself to cook all the recipes from the WWF Cookbook and review them on this very website, so I’m sure I’ll be getting round to trying all of these dishes myself eventually. Will any of them be good? PROBABLY NOT. Will some of them be edible? HERE’S HOPING. See you next time!
– @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.