Pro Wrestling Crate December 2018 Unboxing / Review



Here’s part two of my wrestling box double header – The December box From Pro Wrestling Crate.

Pro Wrestling Crate always gives some of their proceeds to charity and this month is no exception. This time They donated a huge box of Micro Brawlers to Toys for Tots. The ever popular Marine Corps. charity has been delivering hope and joy to children in need for over 80 years. Pretty awesome guys!

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers. If you’d like to get your very own Pro Wrestling Crate USE THIS LINK and use the coupon code “Home” to get 20% off your first crate.

This month’s theme was:


Spoiler Card


Shirts: Cody and Young Bucks

Very colorful shirts, The Cody one is pretty solid assuming it’s a He-Man reference as I suspect – shame Cody’s title run wasn’t very long 😦


Okada Micro Brawler

One of the more colorful Micro Brawlers, love the attention to detail. 


The Elite Christmas Tree Ornament

pretty nice quality – solid wood for that rustic feel. 


Zack Ryder Autographed 8×10

Woo Woo Woo – nice autograph.


Boone: The Bounty Hunter film DVD

Boone the Bounty Hunter follows Boone, America’s favorite reality-show bounty hunter and his crew, Kat, Denny and Jackson, as they ‘Boone’ the crap out of delinquent celebutantes. Although Boone is a talented parkour practitioner, he’s a bit naïve as to how his skills translate in the real world. No matter. If you’re a celebrity and you break the law, you’re gonna get Boone’d!

After the threat of his reality TV show getting cancelled, Boone looks for a case that will be ratings gold. A friend that works at the DEA owes Boone a favor, and gives him a tip of a mysterious drug that can’t be traced. Boone and his crew think that capturing the perpetrator could save their show and they begin investigating. It’s only when they come toe-to-toe with a dangerous Mexican drug cartel do they realize they’re in over the heads and are trying to save their own lives instead. In an epic battle royale, Boone and his crew learn what sacrifice, honor and trust really mean.

The stunts alone make Boone the Bounty Hunter an American classic. This fast-paced, electrifying story is captivating and compelling. Boone is our modern-day vigilante, bent on justice at any price. A whore house! People fighting to the death! Killing bad guys and whoopin’ ass! Drug dealers, Celebs and corrupt cops beware.

America, you’re welcome.

http://www.boonethebountyhunter.com/

Fallen Angel Christopher Daniels Collector’s Pin


The Verdict – Not a bad box, just a tad weaker last Month overall – While I like Cody and the Young Bucks, the art on the two shirts is not my favorite, and shirts are usually my #1 item in these things. I think my favorite thing might be the Johnny Mundo DVD or the Okad Micro Brawler. 

Next Month, the theme is:

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Pro Wrestling Crate November 2018 Unboxing / Review

I’ve had two crates sitting on my table for too long, so I’m now behind on these! So what does that mean? That’s means everyone is getting a double dose of fine wrestling swag from the fine ladies and gentlemen over at Pro Wrestling Tees.

Pro Wrestling Crate always gives some of their proceeds to charity and this month is no exception. This time some of the money has gone to the Leukemia Research Foundation. This is, of course, very timely considering that not too long ago Roman Reigns came out to the fans with the bad news that he once again was fighting a tough battle against an old opponent – Leukemia. 

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers. If you’d like to get your very own Pro Wrestling Crate USE THIS LINK and use the coupon code “Home” to get 20% off your first crate.

This month’s theme was:


Spoiler Card


Shirts – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Terry Funk

I remember when I first got into hardcore wrestling during the VHS days of the attitude era / Monday Night Wars period. I had a buddy that used to get FMW tapes featuring Terry Funk, and immediately became enamored with this crazy old dude that didn’t care what anyone thought and kicked ass despite being like 54 at the time. I noticed he always had this awesome “Funk U” shirt that seemingly was never on sale anywhere so I figured that was that. That is until now! The Austin shirt is pretty slick as well. Amazing shirts this month.


Eddie Guerrero Micro Brawler figurine


Dustin Rhodes – Goldust Pen

Pretty cool that it actually has gold leaf (or a reasonable facsimile) floating inside it.


ACH autographed 8×10


Booker T’s Best of Reality of Wrestling DVD

At one point, Booker T was constantly on a ton of wrestling podcasts hyping up Reality of Wrestling, so having a DVD of some of their matches is going to be fun. 


Booker T collector’s Pin


Lance Archer: Killer Elite Squad Sticker


Promos


Pretty solid box as always! For me, the highlight was easily that Terry Funk shirt, but everything in here was pretty good. 


Next Month’s Theme is

Lucha Loot September-October ’18 Treasure Chest Unboxing / Review

I mentioned this weekend that I was behind on these boxes, and here we go – yet another box review. This time it’s the quarterly Lucha Loot Crate that I subscribe to. 

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers.


Spoiler Card



Best of the Best Mask Assortment – L.A. Park mask

It looks like they did something interesting this month and assembled packages with mask and shirt combos – I’m not sure who was available, but I got one of my favorite Lucha Stars in LA Park aka the Original La Parka. As you can see I’ve adopted it as my new look!


Best of the Best Shirt Assortment – L.A. Park Shirt

I received a flag with this same design in one of the very first boxes I got, glad to get a shirt of this as the design is VERY cool, and you really can’t go wrong representing the Chairman himself.  


Lucha “Perler Bead” Style Keychain

It looks like this was another randomized item, this time I got Tinieblas!


Lapel Pin: El Mesias Ricky Banderas

This is the same design as a shirt I received a few boxes ago – great large full colored pin. 


Comic Book: The Masked Republic Luchaverse: Lucha Brothers #1 Variant Cover

NICE! I haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but this is actually the limited edition cover version of this comic – funny thing is I received the normal one in my Pro Wrestling Crate two crates ago, so I’m all set! Be ready for my review very soon! 


Destino Negro Autographed 8×10


Lucha Libre AAA Sticker Pack

I remember these sticker albums like this from when I was a kid – you’d see these at supermarkets and would involve picking up an album and buying sticker packs to go through and fill the album in. cool to see stuff like this still going around, just wish the sold these here!


This was a solid box overall, If I were to rate them I’d say that of the three boxes that I ended up with in October, this is easily the best one due to me being such a big fan of LA Park and getting a mask and shirt of him. I’m surprised to see designs getting re-used, but it was done in a good way, and it’s not like I got duplicate items or anything.

Considering the comic alone with the shirt could easily be the price of the entire box, I’d say that this was well worth the cash. If you’d like your very own box like this, please go here. 

This isn’t an ad or anything as I purchase these with my own cash, but here’s what they’ve done in the past…

Pro Wrestling Crate October 2018 Unboxing / Review

Here we go again! yet another month and yet another set of crates to dig into! This week I have a Pro Wrestling Crate and Lucha Loot that I’ve been sitting on, time to stop being busy and get these reviewed! 

Pro Wrestling Crate always gives some of their proceeds to charity and this month is no exception. This time some of the money has gone to Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, in his attempt to save his home. It appears that he was in dire need of some help as he was sitting on $10k worth of debt and was about to lose his house. Fans stepped in and he is (hopefully) all good now. 

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers. If you’d like to get your very own Pro Wrestling Crate USE THIS LINK and use the coupon code “Austin” to get 20% off your first crate.

This month’s theme was:


Spoiler Card


Ultimate Warrior Shirt


Guerrillas of Destiny Shirt


Papa Shango Micro Brawler


Lucha Mask for Dr. Wagner Jr.


Marty Scurll autographed 8×10


War Machine Pin


Glacier Shoot Interview DVD


This was all around one of my favorite boxes in a while due to me being a fan of Dr. Wagner and Bullet Club, and getting a Lucha mask is always a plus. I was honestly worried we’d get a ton of Ultimate Warrior stuff, which despite his legendary status, I was never a huge fan of nor did I enjoy some of his post-wrestling antics and political views. what we did get was pretty subdued and decent enough for me to consider wearing.

For this being one of the more vague themes, I feel like it was put together well, and I always love getting more micro brawlers – which reminds me that they have single figures up for sale now!

And now, here’s next week’s theme:

Pro Wrestling Crate September 2018 Unboxing / Review

If you thought last week’s WWE Slam Crate was all for this week, YOU WERE WRONG, BROTHER!

Pro Wrestling Crate always gives some of their proceeds to charity and this month is no exception. This time some of the money has gone to the Tracy Caddell Funeral Fund, the father of Impact Wrestling star Trevor Lee. Caddell passed away unexpectedly in July. He was the co-founder of the OMEGA promotion in the early 90’s and he played a big role in launching the careers of Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and Hurricane Helms.

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers. If you’d like to get your very own Pro Wrestling Crate USE THIS LINK and use the coupon code “Warrior” to get 20% off your first crate.

This month’s theme was: pro wrestling crate best of indies 4


Spoiler Card


AJ Styles Shirt

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Another sort of retro-styled shirt,  surprised they could do one for a currently contracted WWE guy. 


Wrestling for Free Speech, Colt Cabana Shirt

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After Colt finished off his recent, widely publicized, legal trouble with the WWE – I’m glad he can keep going and help make sure others don’t get nearly sent to the poorhouse due to another man’s ego. 


Zack Sabre Jr. Micro Brawler Figure

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I’m not a huge fan of ZSJ, but this is a solid add for my collection of Micro Brawlers. 


Luchaverse: Lucha Brothers #1

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Last time, I reviewed the Rey Mysterio comic and it was pretty cool, since the Lucha Brothers are two of my current favorite wrestlers, I’m excited to see where this one goes!


Dalton Castle Autographed 8×10

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Another big get for these guys in the autograph game! usually you rarely get any main-eventers in these, but PWC always steps it up.


Bruiser Brody DVD

From the back: 



“Wrestling’s Last Rebel” is the definitive look at the life and career of Bruiser Brody told by the people who knew him best. Bruiser Brody was the most unpredictable and charismatic wrestler of all time. Independent, blood, guts, and box office, no one matched Bruiser Brody. Many have tried but there will never be another like him.

From becoming a star in the United States to an international mega-star in Japan, Bruiser Brody marched to the beat of his own drum and did things his way. With a rebellious spirit running through his veins, Brody carved out a niche as an independent wrestler before the indies ever existed.

In this documentary you also get to learn of the other side of this complex man as his wife and closet friends talk about what Frank Goodish, the man who portrayed Bruiser Brody, was really like outside the ring as a friend, husband, and father. For the first time you get to see and understand one of wrestling’s most explosive personalities.

Bruiser Brody was tragically taken from his family and wrestling fans in Puerto Rico in 1988. But with this 3 Disc Set full of matches, interviews and more, you get to learn and know that Frank Goodish or Bruiser Brody was so much more than his final day.

“Wrestling’s Last Rebel” is the story of one of wrestling’s most well known names, Bruiser Brody, and this documentary puts his place in wrestling history into perspective.


Flip Gordon Pin

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After his awesome match at last month’s All In Pay-Per-View I’ll have to check Gordon out more, he really impressed me, especially his lead up to the show in Being the Elite. Another solid pin for my collection.


PWI 500 Magazine

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This is awesome, I used to read PWI all the time as a teenager, but haven’t really picked it up in absolute ages. what a solid pack-in – kind of hope this keeps up in future crates.


Yet again, PWC blows WWE Slam Crate out of the water – while both are good crates, this one is always curated in such a way that you definitely feel like you are getting your money worth, I’d I’d definitely recommend it to everyone. This month’s MVP item was probably the comic or magazine, but I’m always a sucker for that sort of stuff. 


Here’s the spoiler for next month, not sure of the whole crate is Warrior themes or if it’s just a big item, but here goes!

warriorpwcpop.png

 

WWE Slam Crate September 2018 Unboxing / Review

wwelootcrate_3x2

Alrighty folks! It’s once again time to take a trip down to the mailbox and get all that wrestling goodness that I get each quarter! Today, we’ll be looking at yet another edition of WWE Slam Crate, and this one was largely on time after The last few Loot Crate boxes have not been so lucky. After ranting a bit last time, I’ll keep this short and sweet and jumped to the point.

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers.

The theme this time was:

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They’re big, they’re bad, and they don’t mind letting you know it. Bow down to the supreme Superstars who think they are BETTER THAN YOU! Celebrate the big egos of the WWE Universe with items featuring Alexa Bliss, Elias, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and The Miz!


Spoiler Card / Alexa Bliss Interview

This time the large pull-out includes your standard spoiler card and a large magazine style article with multi-time WWE Women’s Champ Alex Bliss.


Elias T shirt

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Elias has one of those characters that really doesn’t have to do much to infuriate the crowd, this undoubtedly always cracks me up a lot so this shirt will be a proud addition to my shirt rotation despite it being a “wrestler’s face on a shirt” styled shirt that I don’t like as much as simpler ones.


WWE Slam Stars Alexa Bliss Figure

I always talk about how much I enjoy exclusive merch like these Slam Star figures, and I’m really glad that you really can’t get these anywhere else.


Miz Embroidered Patch

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I have a vest that I wear to metal concerts, but have amassed a decent amount of wrestling patches to a degree that I might have to make a “wrestling vest” one of these days. Maybe I’ll start a new trend at wrestling shows, who knows.


Bret Hart Vs Shawn Michaels Pillow

To commemorate one of the most notorious feuds in all of wrestling history, Slam Crate tossed a small decorative pillow in this box. I’ll hand it to Loot Crate, they always keep me guessing as to what goodies come in here, and it’s usually a pretty diverse assortment from month to month.


WWE Women’s Championship Pin

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My biggest gripe with this is that there are apparently two randomly inserted pins this month. I know that this will eventually mean they will both be available on Loot Vault, Loot Crate’s online store, at some point. I just wish they weren’t at the point of going for a cash-grab on these for people like myself that try to collect stuff like this. Hopefully, this isn’t a new normal for this. Otherwse solid pin, and a great addition to the collection.

 


 

The Verdict:

This crate is hard to review as it’s pretty diverse from other crates, as mentioned earlier, but doesn’t really have a great stand-out item. To be honest, The previous crate was a bit better. That doesn’t mean this was bad, and believe me, I’ve had some bad crates from this company in the past – most notably from the anime line that I briefly dabbled in. It was just sort of there. I guess if I’d have to choose, I’d say I like the Elias shirt the most.


For Next time: A spoiler –

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The Masked Republic Luchaverse: Rey Mysterio #1

“The current in a family line of Mysterios that dates back centuries, each one trained to be a champion of the people and to take on a great evil that has been prophecised to return and plunge the world into darkness. Rey Mysterio is on a quest, aided by the military clandestine group known as “The Ambassadors”. The mission is clear: retrieve the one thing Rey will need to take on this returning evil…..THE MASK OF THE FIRST MYSTERIO!”

To be honest, when it comes to comics related to wrestling, I never really picked up too many, not even back in my heaviest comic reading days. So aside from the Joey Ryan comic I got a while back (which I should review on here) I haven’t really read too many. Luckily Masked Republic had my back recently by tucking one of these bad boys into my recent Lucha Loot Treasure Chest (Review here) via Chido Comics.

This comic reminds me a lot of the old-school luchador films from the 60’s starring El Santo and Blue Demon in that it exists as a way to create a rich mythology behind a wrestler that can’t easily be conveyed in the medium of wrestling as it would come off as VERY silly and far too over the top (well maybe not in Lucha Underground). In this comic, for instance, we find out that Rey was in fact trained in an old Mexican monastery by an old man that would not be out of place in a stereotypical Kung Fu film (I’m sure that this is 100% factual :P). he is prophecised to be a sort of messianic figure – a man that will eventually save the world from impending doom.

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This comic features a handful of references to other well-known Luchadors such as Konnan (who seems to be Rey’s boss or something) and Tinieblas (who apparently took an off-page trip to the Himalayas specifically to get a map to the location of the foretold ancient mask for Rey). The mask itself is a reference to none other than Rey Mysterio Sr. While actual cameos would have been cool, I really like that this is building what I hope to be a full-on comic universe featuring luchadors. I assume that;s something that has existed in Mexico, but over here not so much.

Perhaps my only gripe was that the members of The Ambassadors serve very little purpose in the story (so far) aside from standing there and looking scared or wise-cracking while Rey beats the crap out of Zombie mountain lions using his super-powers. I would have almost preferred for the team to me made-up of actual wrestlers, but we’ll see if these guys pop up again.

The final page is an advertisement for a second one-shot featuring The Lucha Brothers (Fenix and Pentagon Jr.) Since these two are basically my favorite wrestlers at the moment I’m pretty excited to see where this goes and get my next Lucha Loot assuming that will be in there. This was a fun read for what it was and a must buy for any Lucha Fan that’s been wanting something like this for a while. Chido Comics is something that could be on the cusp of something cool, I’ll definitely keep an eye on them!

Lucha Loot July ’18 Treasure Chest Unboxing / Review

A few months ago, we were informed that Lucha Loot was going through some changes including losing the ability to pre-pay for future boxes and a switch to a bi-monthly schedule instead of monthly. I suggested that this was likely for the better as getting too many loot boxes all of the time would probably get stale, and with three subscriptions (WWE Slam Crate, and Pro Wrestling Crate) it’s possible. So here we are, two months later, was it worth the wait?

Oh, before we move on….If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers.


Spoiler Card

Not much to say here, but I’m glad to see a spoiler card because I sometimes am not sure what person an item relates to with this box.


Sangre Chicana Mask

This one was pretty interesting for me as I’m not really familiar with the Sangre Chicana  Family. Reyes made his professional wrestling debut in 1973, wearing a red mask with a gold stripe, under the name Lemus. A year later he changed his name to Sangre Chicana but kept the mask with the golden stripe. He rose to prominence in a feud with El Cobarde and Fishman that led to a Lucha de Apuesta, mask vs. mask match where Reyes lost his mask. His two sons “Lemus, Jr.” and “Sangre Chicana, Jr.” have carried the lineage on, wearing variations of this same mask.


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Luchaverse Ancient Medallion pin

It was announced a while back that Masked Republic (who produces this box) decided to get into the comics industry by creating a brand initiative called Luchaverse. This pin by Lapel Yeah is basically the “logo” of the brand. Even without knowing what it ism this pin is pretty cool!


Marty “The Moth” Martinez Sticker

While the fans might chant “creepy Bastard” to old Marty here, nobody can deny how great he has been on Lucha Underground these past 4 years. While I’m not sure I’ll be tossing this sticker on anything prominent of mine, the art is cool and it’s cool to add to my folder of swag that I have.


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Luchaverse – Rey Mysterio Comic Book

This is the first release of the aforementioned Luchaverse line of comics from Chido Comics.

“The current in a family line of Mysterios that dates back centuries, each one trained to be a champion of the people and to take on a great evil that has been prophecised to return and plunge the world into darkness. Rey Mysterio is on a quest, aided by the military clandestine group known as “The Ambassadors”. The mission is clear: retrieve the one thing Rey will need to take on this returning evil…..THE MASK OF THE FIRST MYSTERIO!”

I have decided to do a full review of this Comic HERE.


El Mesias Ricky Banderas T-Shirt

Ever since seeing him in the short-lived and somewhat baffling Wrestling Society X, I’ve thought Banderas was pretty cool. This is especially true now as his Mil Muertes character on Lucha Underground has become one of my all-time favorites.


Masked Republic Keychain

This is a fun little take on the Masked Republic logo in Perler bead form – not sure I’ll be using this as Perler bead scultures always seem somewhat fragile, but it’s cool none-the-less.


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Black Danger Autographed 8×10

Solid autograph from the former Junior Champion from The Crash Lucha Libre.


All in all, solid box with the stand-out items being the El Messias shirt and Rey Mysterio comic book. If they keep tossing the comics in each box, I’ll be very happy and hop this acts as a subscription of sorts. Really, this is a great way to keep up with Lucha Libre here in the US, now it’ll be hard to wait two months for the next one.

If you’d like one of these, check this out here

WWE Slam Crate June 2018 Unboxing / Review

Before going into any review for a box from Loot Crate, I wanted to touch base on a bit of controversy they seem to be perpetually embroiled in lately. Since I actually pay for these boxes, you won’t see any fake glowing reviews without criticism on my site. You see, I have been a member of WWE Slam Crate since the very first box and recently signed up for Star Trek Mission Crate (well about 6 months ago). Until recently, I had absolutely no issues, but this spring – Summer has been ridiculously bad for the company for many reasons. It seems that, for whatever reason, Loot Crate can’t keep any of their boxes on schedule lately. This WWE crate, for example,  was supposed to be shipped well over a month ago, apparently a Firefly Crate is really far behind, and my personal annoyance being Star Trek Mission Crate. The first STMC was supposed to ship sometime in January with the second arriving in March. If I recall we received #1 in February sometime and have YET TO RECEIVE #2!

Apparently the reason behind this is allegedly the shipping materials getting messed up or something, but I honestly could care less if my swag shows up in a model of a Star Trek shuttle craft (as the first one did) because after the initial novelty it will proudly be residing in my recycling bin because it’s a shipping box. I’d rather the money go to making sure delays like this don’t happen again. Allegedly, these will be shipped in about a week, but we’ll see :/

Star Trek crate update

sigh…

Well, without further ado, lets actually talk about this particular crate instead of ranting! This quarters theme was “Larger Than Life” and promised items from some of WWE’s biggest superstars, let’s see how it stacks up with my other wrestling crates like yesterday’s Pro Wrestling Crate.


The Box

WWE Slam Crate 1

I already mentioned that I never keep these boxes or anything, but this one was pretty cool – Wish there were more people on this like Kane or Giant Gonzalez, but for what is basically getting thrown away, I won’t worry too much.


The spoiler booklet/Poster

While I don’t really hang these posters up, it’s a cool way to make the spoiler card something to hold onto.


Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase Money Clip

Hilariously, this is not the first Ted Dibiase money clip I’ve got from a subscription box, although this one’s a bit classier. Well, at least flashier.


Undertaker Shirt

Not much to say other than this is a really cool shirt, and I absolutely love that there is nothing printed on the back which 9/10 times ruins most WWE shirts.


WCW World Heavyweight Championship Pin

These pins are always so cool – I have amassed quite the collection of these these past few years, and this is already one of my favorites seeing how big of a WCW fan I was. We’ve already received a pin version of the infamous NWO spray painted version of this belt, so it’s nice having the clean one as well.

WWE Slame Crate 15


Andre The Giant Fleece Blanket

It was astonishingly hard to take a picture of this for some reason, but here it is draped over my couch in perhaps the worst pictures on this entire post. It’s about 6 feet tall and has images of Andre’s actual hand and foot size which is cool. This is possibly the standout item of this box.


Braun Strowman Figure

I wasn’t too sure about these figures when they first started sending these as the last thing I need are a bunch of things like Funko Pop Vinyls cluttering up my nerd room, but these aren’t too bad. They are definitely better than the heavy die cast metal figures that the first few crates had.

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And that’s it! all-in-all this was one of the better crates from these guys as I can see myself using that blanket and shirt and I LOVE the belt pins. In the past, this crate has send some sort of “meh” things (a problem with Lootcrate as a whole) and I believe I would rather have these larger items instead of a ton of small stuff if that’s the route they are taking. Perhaps my only issue with this selection of items is that it didn’t really take too much advantage of the theme of “big guy” wrestlers as it could. Now, here’s hoping the companies issues get ironed out.

Next up is going to be a crate called “Better Than You” which could be fun as it appears to be a heel crate.

slam crate better than you spoiler

They’re big, they’re bad, and they don’t mind letting you know it. Bow down to the supreme Superstars who think they are BETTER THAN YOU! Celebrate the big egos of the WWE Universe with items featuring Alexa Bliss, Elias, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and The Miz!

 

A Look at EVEN MORE Cameos in Tiger Mask W

 

One of the more popular things I’ve posted on here in a while was a look at cameos (true or implied) found in the recent pro wrestling anime Tiger Mask W.

A Look at All the Cameos in Tiger Mask W

Since I did that, more episodes have been released and there are even more cameos! Some of the funnier cameos are the “homage cameos” like characters that are obviously WWE wrestlers slightly tweaked to avoid copyright issues. If you’re a new fan of wrestling or not a fan at all, a lot of these references might be over your head, so that’s why this guide is here!


Tiger Jeet Singh / Gorilla Jeet Singh

The Tiger Mask W character Gorilla Jeet Singh is a barely hidden homage to the real-life professional wrestler Tiger Jeet Singh. Singh was a legend in Japan, and made his way over here by way of tape and DVD releases of various Japanese feds. I remember seeing him for the first time when he was teamed with a young Sabu in Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (FMW) the fed that ECW owed a lot of their influence to.


Tiger the Black / Keith Lee

This is one of those cameos that is just implied rather than being really obvious. Tiger the Black has the same appearance, body type, and moveset as former PWG champion and recent WWE signee Keith Lee.


Gedo

While a popular tag team wrestler all over Japan, Gedo is most notable (now) for being the head booker of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Karl Anderson is quoted as saying the reason Gedo and Jado got these positions, and it involved cleaning up a mess from somebody who didn’t really know how to book wrestling leading to a huge downturn in sales. Gedo was railroaded basically into an office job, and excelled in his new role. He started giving guys more American-style gimmicks while keeping the matches important and the rest is history, now NJPW has a ton of merch in places like Hot Topic – something that would have been unheard of years ago.


The Candy Pair / Mizuki and Saki

Character designer Hisashi Kagawa has said that they are modeled after Japanese female pro-wrestlers Mizuki and Saki. And yes, they do look exactly the same.


Bosman / Michael Elgin

I’m actually not sure why Elgin isn’t officially in this series, seeing that he works for NJPW, but Bosman will have to do. He is signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he is a former NEVER Openweight Champion. In NJPW, he was also a one-time IWGP Intercontinental and a one-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion. He is also known for his work in Ring of Honor (ROH), where he is a one-time ROH World Champion. He has also worked for the Southern California-based company Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, where he is a one-time PWG World Tag Team Champion with Brian Cage.


Red Death Mask

This is another case of a wrestler being portrayed in real life to advertise the anime Tiger Mask W. This has been done before with Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark, so here we go with Juice Robinson in a red suit! In the anime he is one of the earlier opponents for Tiger Mask.


Kota Ibushi

Ibushi actually plays Tiger Mask W in real life, so here he is in anime form as well. Ibushi is probably best known for his work in Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) where he has had several videos go viral including a series of matches he had with a blow-up doll. In 2009, Ibushi started working for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and eventually signed with the promotion in 2013. In NJPW, he is a former three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and a one-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. He resigned from both DDT and NJPW in February 2016 and has since been performing in several different organizations as a freelancer, including both DDT and NJPW as well as WWE.


Odin / Gene Simmons

This is one of the sillier ones, but the art designers have said Gene Simmons of Kiss fame was the Model for Odin!

Lucha Underground Returns: Thoughts on Season 4 so far

For a while now, my favorite wrestling promotion has NOT been WWE or Impact Wrestling, but Lucha Underground. I’ve always been a fan of lucha libre, ever since one of my friends and I attempted to watch AAA on Galavision in the late 90’s with VERY minimal Spanish language skills. The problem is that watching this style of wrestling was always largely ignored by most magazines and tape trading companies (the outlet at the time before the internet was useful). Yeah, you could get ahold of tapes of translated Japanese wrestling easily, but Lucha was somehow ignored. MTV tried to bring it over twice with Wrestling Society X (which had a LOT of lucha talent) and Lucha Libre USA, neither lasting very long. Then there was Lucha Underground.

On paper, the entire idea behind the show was destined to be like it’s spiritual predecessor Wrestling Society X – a show with decent matches overwhelmed with so many gimmicks it fell apart and looked silly. Viewers used to the wrestling product produced by WWE are used to a lot of conventions that haven’t really changed in decades. Yeah, the addition of constantly harping about social media and elaborate entrance ramps are new, but the core has not really changed much – and I think a lot of that is due to casual fans getting mad when chances are made.

So here we have a show that fundamentally changes what a wrestling show is, in fact one can argue that it’s not a wrestling show, but a show that uses wrestling to drive the drama of a narrative. The entire thing is produced like a film, with slick backstage promos produced by Robert Rodriguez. Throwing out the “realism” that modern wrestling has embraced for the last 20 years or so, Lucha Underground revels in silliness that would be commonplace in a comic book. Just thinking about common tropes in the show illustrate this well: there have been a handful of on-screen deaths, there have also been on-screen resurrections due to magical powers. There are a few immortal characters, at least one time-traveler, a tribe of half-dragon people (not guys in suits, real dragon people), a couple of undercover cops trying to investigate a murder spree, and a shady organization seemingly trying to bring about the end of the world by way of Aztec gods or something.

This embracing of the fantastic is one of the main reasons that I treat this as how many would treat something like Game of Thrones. While other shows can be predictable, there are some SERIOUS surprises with Lucha Underground.

Another major difference is the filming schedule. Instead of airing as a continually-running weekly show in the vein of WWE or TNA programming, Lucha Underground films episodes in batches and airs episodes on a weekly basis under a seasonal structure. Matches are taped first, then out-of-ring story segments are filmed later; this method allows for tighter control of storylines and helps the production team when it comes to writing around injuries. What this means, is that there is a far less likelihood of a meandering storyline that the audience forgets about. There is also less of a chance of hostile micromanaging from a promoter i.e. not letting someone become popular because they aren’t the person you decided should be popular. Each storyline climaxes when they should, and it makes the final shows of the season, Ultima Lucha, seem far more important than many WWE Events, even WrestleMania!

Far more than anything else, the real strong point of Lucha Underground is that it has taken a handful of midcard talent, some discarded by bigger federations, and grown them into bonafide stars. Pentagon Jr., Aerostar, King Cuerno (El Hijo De Fantasma), Drago, and even Fenix were small time players in Mexico until hitting Lucha Underground, now they call the shots much to the dismay of AAA who would have liked to keep them under cheap contracts and quiet. When people are trying to find “this generations ECW” – I would say that you should ignore feds like ROH and PWG – while solid federations, they lack the edge and game-changing mindset that ECW did for wrestling during the Attitude Era. Look no further than Impact Wrestling to see how influential Lucha Underground is, as it’s basically starting to have the same roster.

You can only imagine how excited I was to see the start date for season 4 to finally roll by considering how unlikely it seemed that there would ever even be a season 4. Here we are two episodes in and I have some thoughts to share:

New and returning Heroes:

Season 4 starts out with a bang immediately with Aztec Warfare – This is Lucha Underground’s answer to battle royale style matches like The Royal Rumble. The match starts with two people in the ring and new wrestlers are introduced frequently until a winner is determined via pinfall. The premise this year is that Antonio Cueto (more on him later) is trying to clean up messes his son made and wants a different world champion. Hopefully this sets up a Pentaagon Jr. VS Antonio feud.

New entrants included ECW legend Tommy Dreamer, Mr. Pectacular Jessie Godderz, and King Cuerno. Cuerno was returning from a long absence, as was Shawn Hernandez and Vinnie Massaro. Sadly, we are missing people like Dante Fox, Dr. Wagner Jr. and Texano Jr. so far, I really hope that doesn’t last all season. All in all, this was a solid Aztec Warfare and considering the final two were Pentagon and Marty Martinez, “The Moth” was shown to be a potential main even player of they want everyone’s least favorite sleaze ball to run for the gold. My favorite AW match is still AW 2 and the introduction of Matanza, but this was solid.

Episode two introduces new members of Infamous Incorporated (managed by Famous B and Beautiful Brenda) in Jake Strong, Big Bad Steve and Sammy Guevara. Jake Strong is the real standout here as he is the former WWE star Jack Swagger. It was cool seeing him get such a solid reception by fans in The Temple considering how crappily he was used in WWE towards the end.

New Villains:

I mentioned Antonio Cueto up there, you read that right as Dario is gone. In fact, he is currently dead due to being killed by his father’s goons. I say currently because anything can happen in Lucha Underground (I’m waiting for an undead Dario face-turn). The funny thing is, that the two characters are both played by Luis Fernandez-Gil but could not be any more different. The bombastic arrogance of Dario has been replaced by the cold-hearted no-nonsense demeanor of his father. Instead of constantly putting folks in bad situations like winning a match only to be placed into a second match right after, Antonio states that “he is a far better promotor than Dario” and sets things up for the following week. Let’s see how long that lasts before he also goes off the deep end as all Cuetos do. We saw a bit of this when Matanza lost against Pentagon Jr. only to be berated by his father to a point where he cowered in fear.

Confusion?

Really my only quibble with the start of season 4 was a bit of a continuity glitch wherein, they completely ignored that Vampiro (on commentary) cheated to harm Prince Puma (now in WWE as Ricochet) to help Pentagon yet again. This caused Matt Striker to rip into Vampiro for it. This week? No tension at all – I know time heals all wounds, but the lack of a call-back seems like an afterthought.

While this season was allegedly made with a budget slash in mind, and was touted to be different than different seasons in the press lead-ups to it in such a way that it seemed like it would be worse – This feels just like previous seasons of Lucha Underground. Perhaps there were less backstage vignettes than what we’re used to, but that’s about it. Great job so far, can’t wait for more!

Pro Wrestling Crate June 2018 Unboxing / Review

Looks like it’s that time of the month again! Time for yet another subscription crate un-boxing. I know I seem to do a lot of these, but truthfully it’s just a few each month and the ones I usually get are awesome. As you may or may not know, I’m an avid collector of wrestling memorabilia and signed autographs, and as someone that usually doesn’t care for receiving gifts on holidays and other special occasions, these boxes seem to give me the same feeling most people get on their birthday or Christmas. Now before I start a therapy session, it’s time for the main event: This week we’re taking a look at the Pro Wrestling Crate June 2018!


Spoiler Card

This month’s theme is “Ladies of Wrestling” with some of the proceeds of this crate going to an organization called Womankind. Womankind is a UK-based organization that helps support other organizations in developing nations that help women’s rights. I’m not actually sure how long PWC has been donating to charity in these, as I may have been insanely unobservant in the past, but either way it’s cool to see them helping others with some of the money they receive.

With women’s wrestling in what many would consider to be it’s highest point in many decades, it’s fun to have one of these boxes devoted exclusively to the division.


Shirt 1: Sugar Skull Amy Dumas / Lita Shirt

 

Cool distressed sugar skull shirt from WWE’s Lita / Amy Dumas.


Shirt 2: Join the Hive – Rosemary

 

Easily Impact Wrestling’s biggest female star of the last few years and one of the cooler babyface gimmicks in the entire company.


Candice LeRae Micro Brawler

 

I absolutely love these little figures we get each month exclusively in this subscription box. This one will be proudly displayed next to my Joey Ryan figure to recreate the World’s Cutest Tag Team or holding a spot for a possible Johnny Gargano figure I hope we eventually get. I have started amassing quite the collection of these:


Barbie Blank / Kelly Kelly Poster

While not my favorite wrestler, Kelly Kelly sure makes a nice pin-up poster. Granted, I have very few places I could actually put this without looking like a total sleazeball. Maybe I can hang it near my exercise equipment.


Vickie Guerrero autographed 8×10

Another solid  addition to my collection. I really need to post some of those on here one of these days.


Shayna Bazsler Playing Cards

 

What better merch for the “Queen of Spades” than a deck of playing cards!


Tessa Blanchard collector’s Pin

 

Impact Wrestling’s latest female star and former Mae Young Tournament competitor Tessa Blanchard is the exclusive pin this month, very nice!


In the Ring DVD: Luna Vachon

I am woefully behind on my wrestling DVDs, but this looks pretty cool. Perhaps most well known for her work in WWF in the 90’s, Luna was one of the few female wrestlers at that time, that I was legit scared of.  Here is part of the blurb on the back on the DVD:

Shot on 6/6/06 at a wrestling school behind a mental institution, Luna and Vampire Warrior covered all the wrestling basics such as bumping, selling, and working for the camera as they weaved in stories from being on the road and working with WWE! This was an amazing performance that needs to be seen to be believed. Everyone remembers Luna’s insane promos and on this exclusive DVD she takes the time to work with the students on their promo skills. We even got a chance to watch Luna cut some of her most infamous promos and explained to us where they came from emotionally.


Tenille Dashwood’s aviator sunglasses

 

Emma was one of the most criminally underused characters in the last decade in WWE, I’m very glad she’s been doing well in the indies, and especially her work in Ring of Honor. Cool sunglasses as well.


All-in-all another great box from Pro Wrestling Crate – as always the autograph is always a highlight for me, but the shirts (especially the Rosemary one) were great, and I love my Micro Brawlers! pound for pound, this is the best wrestling crate out there. It usually has the most diverse selection of items, and the coolest themes. To get your own, head on over to Pro Wrestling Crate at the following link: Pro Wrestling Crate!

Next month’s box is all about the bad guys

The Monday Meme: BOOOOOOOOO

Lucha Loot May ’18 Treasure Chest Unboxing / Review

I occasionally partake in the subscription box craze that seems to be going on right now, mostly gaming and wrestling related. There’s been some good ones and some bad, but the wrestling ones are largely my favorite ones to get. As an avid collector of wrestling memorabilia and signed autographs, these things are always a pleasure – well aside from that time WWE unloaded a ton of Enzo Amore merch on everyone before he got released for being an alleged rapist.

This week I’m going to look at the Lucha Loot May ’18 Treasure Chest from Masked Republic. First thing’s first – the spoiler card:

Looks pretty solid, a bit heavy on the Masked Republic branded Merch, but I have a possible answer for that later.

Mask – Huracán Ramírez

 

One of the forefathers of Lucha Libre, Huracán Ramírez, aka Daniel García, was one of the handful of luchadors so popular that he was given his own feature films. He was an active wrestler for more than 30 years, and passed away in 2006.  During his career, his true identity was a closely guarded secret except to the closest family and friends, more closely guarded that any other luchador of that period. Following his retirement the “Huracán Ramírez” name and mask has been used by others, primarily because García did not own the rights to the name and the mask.

Pin Set: Juventud Guerrera

Solid pin set, instead of one enamel pin (as usual), we get two buttons this time.

Sticker: Masked Republic Japan X Haoming Logo Sticker

About the size of a baseball card.

Masked Republic Beer Koozy

I have more wrestling Koozies (that looks weird) than any sane person needs.

Shirt: MAD

I need to get caught up with recent happenings in AAA, as I had no idea that MAD had reformed or that Konnan had buried the hatchet with the promotion. The logo is really cool, and doesn’t scream WRESTLING SHIRT (not that I care like some folks) but it legit looks cool. It’ll definitely get added to my rotation!

Autograph: Mascarita Dorada

Better known in the US as El Torito, the diminutive Bull character that used to accompany The Colons a few years back when they were dressed up as Spanish bull fighters, Mascarita Dorada is awesome! one of the better autographs from this subscription.

Dr. Wagner Keychain

Solid keychain currently residing on my keys. Or other way around…whatever… Plus Dr. Wagner Jr. is one of my faves, so this was cool.


Here’s what I was talking about earlier:

Looks like Lucha Loot will be switching to a 6 boxes per year model instead of a monthly model as it now stands – I assume this is why this box had a lot of in-house swag as they are rebuilding for some reason. I hope it’s not some sort of monetary issue as I love these guys and their customer service is pretty awesome.

All in all, solid box with the stand-out items being the shirt and autograph. If you have some spare cash laying around, give these guys a shot – it’s like a lucha filled Christmas in your mailbox every month. I would say that you could set aside money for the pre-paid subscription like I did, but that’s no longer an option.

Anyway, check this out here

Tales of Masked Men (2012)

About the same time Netflix added the first two seasons of the hit Robert Rodriguez show, Lucha Underground, it seems they have also added a couple of Lucha Libre documentaries to their ever-expanding library of great stuff. Tales of Masked Men (2012) is the first one I decided to watch, mostly because it was super late and the whole thing was just about an hour-long. I’m not certain if it premiered there, but I know this film was aired on PBS at some point, which shows the sort of program that it is. The documentary is both a historical analysis of the origins of the sport, starting in the 1930’s with such men as El Enmascarado (purported to be the first guy that wore a mask in Mexico City), Masked Basque, and Masked Marvel, but it also stands as a sociological film, looking at the society in and around Mexico City.

Described by cultural anthropologist Heather Levi as “a sport in the key of melodrama,” Lucha Libre springs from the same root as American professional wrestling (i.e. Olympic and Greco-Roman style competitive wrestling), but has taken on the unique characteristics of Mexico and the country’s long-standing fascination with masks. Masks conceal faces but not feelings, allowing luchadors to transform themselves into either the character of a rudo, the rule-breaking villain, or a técnico, the fair and square, technically proficient hero. Practiced in large and small arenas throughout Mexico and the U.S. as well as other countries, this “working class” sport is truly interactive, with multigenerational fans passionately involved in the high drama of the ring.

–The website for the film

As one lady in one of the “on the street” interviews states, “For Italians there’s opera, For Mexicans there’s lucha Libre”, which really goes to show how the sport is regarded by many people in modern-day Mexico. Sadly, just like in America with its own strand of professional wrestling, Lucha Libre is often looked down upon by those that seem to think that the whole thing is a bait and switch act played to fools, but they are the real fools because fans know exactly what is going on. Nobody, apart from small children and perhaps the mentally challenged, think it’s real guys – get off your arrogant high horse.

I liked some of the discussions of this ever-popular “you know it’s fake right?” question that folks seem to always have – and anyone that says this has to be ignorant of just how physical the whole thing is. yeah, outcomes are pre-determined, and there are pulled punches, but I’d challenge any of the naysayers to step in a ring and jump from ropes, do flips, and entertain a crowd. It’s a melodramatic live-action comic book, full of real-life superheroes.

elsanto

After a bit of this cultural discussion, the film shifts into a series of profiles of prominent luchadors (wrestlers). The legendary El Santo (The Saint) is the first Luchador profiled. debuting in around 1934, Santo was a largely poor journeyman wrestler that toiled around dingy independent arenas until he decided to don a silver mask and become a “Rudo” (bad guy). Despite his penchant for cheating and getting disqualified, Santo easily became the most popular wrestler in all of Mexico (turning him into a “Technico”, or good-guy), a fact that landed him numerous film roles. Eventually he transcended the sport and became a living legend and symbol of Mexico until his death in 1984.

Many anecdotes were shared for Santo (born Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta (September 23, 1917 – February 5, 1984)) including the fact that he seemed to never lose sight of the fans, and did everything in his power to make them happy. It was said that he would even forgo pay, if the show he was attending did not have enough money to pay the rest of the talent, he would have rather they split his guaranteed sum than let his brothers go home penniless. I know it’s bad to speak ill of the dead, but it legitimately seems like Santo was a truly good person.

One of these days, I need to try to get some of his films, such as one where he and another Luchador named Blue Demon fight werewolves and vampires because wrestling is serious business.

tales of masked men doc mascarita sagrada and gulliver

Next up was Mascarita Sagrada (Little Sacred Mask), perhaps the most famous Mini-Estrella in all of Mexican wrestling. While many see “midget wrestling” as exploitative here in the US, it’s as popular as ever in Mexico with many of the mini counterparts to normal sized wrestlers becoming more popular than their larger namesakes. One of the more interesting things said during the interview is that Sagrada originally hated Lucha Libre, he saw it as a sport for uneducated people much in the same way that people up north sometimes look down at pro wrestling as a sport for rednecks. He wanted to get into Kung Fu, and used Lucha Libre as a way to train until he fell in love with it.

He was trained by two prominent little people wrestlers named Gulliver and El Gran Nikolai, two men that pretty much started the division in Mexico in the 1960’s. At one point he relays an anecdote of a class he was in as a small boy, one where a teacher asked him to get some folders from a high shelf. Friends and enemies alike mocked him for not being able to reach said shelf, so he set a chair up in front and grabbed the folders. He knew that in that moment, much as in life, if he had said “I can’t” his entire life would have been stunted from that point forward. That’s how he lives his life – never letting his size get in his way.

There is a version of Mascarita Sagrada currently on US Television on Lucha Underground, however it is very likely that it’s not the same guy as the original one here, as he is older.

tales of masked men doc solar and solar jr

Finally the film shifted to another dynamic – a father and son tag team. Solar is one of the last working wrestlers from the “silver era” of Lucha Libre, and while many of his contemporaries have long since retired, he is still there running the ropes at 60+ years old. I recall seeing Solar in the short lived Lucha Libre USA show that ran for three seasons on MTV2 and Hulu, where he even won the Lucha Libre USA Heavyweight Championship at one point. I had no clue how old he was on there, as he can still move like a man much younger!

His son is training to follow in his father’s footsteps as El Hijo de Solar or Solar Jr. At the point of this film, he was still very much a greenhorn – not ready to be a star, but he was learning from one of the best. who knows if he’ll be as good as his father, hell he may even surpass him in every way – it’s just cool to see them together. The documentary went a bit into the succession of masks and how luchadors will usually pass their persona down to somebody else – for instance, there is now a THIRD El Santo, Dr. Wagner, and second Blue Demon out there – keeping the whole thing alive for years to come. We don’t really have that much in American Pro Wrestling, I can honestly only think of a few times where a moniker might be passed down – like in the case of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, or “Gorgeous George”.

All in all, this was a very good, albeit short documentary. It’s tailored in such a way that total newbies can watch for the human drama unfolding, others will love seeing cameos from a ton of their favorite wrestlers in the background of shots.


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Easily the Best Part of Tonight’s WrestleMania 33!

After weeks and weeks of legal issues, and claims of medical tests delaying a return, it looks like many were caught off guard with tonight’s most talked about moment –  The Return of Team Extreme / The Hardy Boyz to the WWE. If you missed it, there was a six man tag match scheduled at WrestleMania where the defending champions The Club were set to face Enzo and Big Cass and Sheamus and Cesaro. WrestleMania hosts, The New Day, seemed to be injecting themselves into the match when this happened:

Still no word on whether they’ll be able to use the popular “broken” gimmick, but this is a good first step!


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Barbed Wire City: The Unauthorized Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling (2013, BWC Films)

Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) has been dead for well over a decade. People involved such as Paul Heyman, the cultish former owner, have moved on and seemingly distanced themselves from their one time passion, thus leaving multitudes of fans clamoring for something to whet their appetites. In a post-Benoit world, professional wrestling has sort of lost its way, alienating a lot of its former fans that kept it going in the late nineties. People have tried to replicate the magic of the extreme wrestling movement, but a lot of others have tried to merely capitalize on it. Since 2001, there have been many promotional imitations, direct to DVD lamentations, and even historical revisionism released to the masses. It seems that ECW is the “dead horse” that everyone has their clubs ready to beat the hell out of. When I saw that there was yet another ECW documentary in the works via Kickstarter, I was skeptical. I thought “what else can be said?” Boy was I wrong, Barbed Wire City: The Unauthorized Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling is exactly the sort of DVD that any wrestling fan should have on their shelf.

ecw-logo-e1453567257471

I think my main problem with a lot of posthumously made ECW media, is that people have a tendency to use the whole thing as some sort of political device. WWE’s Rise and Fall of ECW, once thought of as the ultimate tribute of the company, reeks of a Vince McMahon victory lap over the failed venture. Another documentary, Forever Hardcore, was seen as a “counterpoint to WWE’s slightly revisionist offering, but was plagued by bitterness by those interviewed and suffered from a lack of actual ECW video footage. Possibly the most egregious misuse of ECW comes from a company that I am very fond of. TNA, the current number two wrestling federation in the United States, even did a “reunion show” called Hardcore Justice. While it had a solid card, they really had no business doing it as they were founded well after ECW’s demise and had no pony in the proverbial race. The whole thing seemed like a cashgrab.

The reason Barbed Wire City is different is that it comes from a different viewpoint; we’ve had the victorious billionaire, we’ve had the wounded former employees, and we’ve even had the copy-cats, now let’s hear from a fan. John Philapavage, the man behind the documentary, was like so many other rabid ECW fans: he lined up in long lines in the snow, huddled in crowded bingo halls, and got to meet some of his heroes. The thing that really set him apart from other fans is that he had the sense to record interviews of himself talking to the people involved. These interviews are combined with wrestling footage, and the odd Ken Burns-esque still photograph with a nifty 3D effect added in.

funksabuECW_crop_north

I have to tip my hat to Mr. Philapavage on the quality of his interviews. Mostly taken around the time that ECW was on its last legs, these interviews are both entertaining and heartbreaking. Considering the decade worth of interviews here, there are some insights that many documentaries simply cannot hope to achieve. Sometimes you would see an interview from 2001 followed by a snippet of one made more recently to compare someone’s attitude change. Take, for example, Angel Medina in 2001: as he watched the company crumbling around himself with guys jumping ship left and right, he stayed positive. More recently he talks about why he stayed in there, and the mistakes he made by doing so. Balls Mahoney was another notable interview that really got to me. He goes from very optimistic in 2001, saying that there was no way the company could go under, to a very different man a decade later. He talks about some really dark times such as a bout with depression, an episode that nearly cost him his life.

It isn’t all sadness in modern times, as the film is bookended by clips of an upstart federation out of Philadelphia called Extreme Rising ran by ECW alumni Shane Douglas. From meager beginnings, the story of Extreme Rising seems to both mirror and be haunted by its connections to ECW right from the get go. By the end of the film we are left wondering if Douglas can really recapture the magic from a decade past. I liked seeing this stuff in here because it acts as the anchor to our modern world, and really shows how much the wrestling world has changed. While one is left with a little glimmer of hope that we really could see this style of professional wrestling come back, there is a lot of shadows there as well. What was once cutting edge and trendy almost seems depressing today.

tumblr_inline_mlzpavJHbR1qz4rgp

I commend the documentarians discussing the dark times when ECW was said to be “taking it too far”. They were on the cusp of being so big that the glamorized violence and dangerous stunts were causing problems, but too small to chance upsetting loyal fans by toning it down. Some ECW documentaries have a tendency to not talk about bad things aside from the occasional reference to Paul Heyman’s poor business decisions. By having wrestlers discuss their personal issues, and problems within the company, the documentary seems more “balanced”. Instead of having an agenda, John Philapavage has stayed fairly neutral. He discusses the good things, the bad things, and the downright ugly side of professional wrestling here.

My one real quibble with the film is that there was no footage of the “Mass Transit Incident”. This was a notorious controversy involving an untrained and underage wrestler that got hurt during a match, then tried to sue ECW out of existence. The man in question lied his way into filling a slot in a show and was “cut open like a stuck pig” when he allowed a wrestler named New Jack to cut him. One thing most casual wrestling fans don’t realize is that wrestlers used to have small strips of razor blades hidden either on their person or some other strategic spot to cut themselves open. This was done for dramatic effect, as the “fake” nature of the violence needed to sometimes be “spiced up” to tell a story. “Mass Transit” was not comfortable doing this himself, and asked New Jack to “help him”, which was a bad idea. This controversy was a main talking point towards the end of the film, and there was no footage, or even a stock photo of what happened. I felt that this was a missed opportunity, and could have confused someone that did not already know about it.

041813_barbed-wire-city_600.jpg

On a technical standpoint, the DVD is a class act; it even has its own composed music. While I would have LOVED to see this in HD on my widescreen TV, the standard definition print is very professional and looks great. There were no stutters or other anomalies, something that can’t be said for other fan productions. There are extended interviews and deleted scenes in the special features tab including a series of clips involving Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. Despite many appearances on many wrestling shows, fans don’t seem to realize how much of a wrestling fan Corgan is, to the point that he owns his own federation. This special feature was cool because you really got to see his passion for ECW, and how it got him into the business. One thing I would love to see is an eventual “Director’s Cut” edition of this film with more outtakes, deleted scenes, and maybe some more interviews. I bet the guys at BWC films are sitting on tons of footage for this, why not get it out there!

All in all, I loved this DVD. For years Beyond the Mat was seen as one of the few great wrestling documentaries out there; now we can add Barbed Wire City to the same level of prestige. The RF video footage, the interviews, and the 3D still images all mesh in such a way that I could really see BWC Films going somewhere in the world of independent filmmaking, and I can’t wait to see what they do next. So if you are even a small fan of ECW, do yourself a favor and watch this DVD, you won’t regret it.


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Southpaw Regional Wrestling is one of the Best Comedy bits WWE Has Done in a While

 

While I consider myself to be a HUGE wrestling fan, I’m not always a fan of comedy in WWE. On good days, you get a hilarious segment like Mankind giving Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson the This is Your Life treatment, and on other you get crass bathroom humor that only a five year old would find funny. “Classics” of the latter category include a time when Roman Reigns gave his boss a coffee full of Syrup of ipecac, or a time when Natalya Neidhart was given a gimmick where she could not stop farting. Riveting stuff.

Despite this, WWE surprises me every once in a while – take, for instance, this weeks premiere of the four episode web series Southpaw Regional Wrestling. Easily one of the best bits of digital content WWE has ever done, SRW is a parody of hundreds of small local wrestling feds in the old territory system – you have a less than charismatic champion with a comically small belt, a ridiculous feud between two former tag champs, a literal monster heel character, and even the down home southern-fried man of the people. Check out some photo highlights, then the actual videos below.


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The Monday Meme: Party!

party

Image from: Tiger Mask W


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A Look at All the Cameos in Tiger Mask W

I’ve recently started watching the winter 2016/7 anime Tiger Mask W, a wrestling anime featuring stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling. New fans might think that all of the colorful characters are from the minds of producers alone, but I’m here to show that a handful of these grapplers are actual people! This has always been something cool when a wrestling anime comes out in Japan, as Jushin Thunder Liger had an anime show, and guys like Terry Funk appeared in Ultimate M.U.S.C.L.E. I’ll eventually review Tiger Mask W, but for right now check out some characters you’ll get to see if you start watching this.


 

 

TIGER MASK

Naoto Azuma is the main protagonist of the anime series, which is actually a sequel to a 1968 manga and 1971 anime series. While Naoto is a fictional character made for this show, many people have actually portrayed the character in real life. There have been a handful of wrestling anime characters that have spilled over into the real world, and Tiger Mask is perhaps the longest running.

  • Tiger Mask I Satoru Sayama
  • Tiger Mask II Mitsuharu Misawa
  • Tiger Mask III Koji Kanemoto
  • Tiger Mask IV Yoshihiro Yamazaki
  • Tiger Mask V Ikuhisa Minowa
  • Tiger Mask W Kota Ibushi

 

TIGER THE DARK

Takuma Fujii is a new character in the anime called “Tiger the Dark”. He is basically this anime’s version of the Black Tiger who has always been a rival of the Tiger Mask character. A lot of famous foreign wrestlers have portrayed “Black Tiger” through the years, even the legendary Eddie Guerrero once held the title! There is currently a version of the actual character of “Tiger the Dark” currently in NJPW and is feuding with the real life Tiger Mask W.


 

SPRING TIGER

Haruna Takaoka aka Spring Tiger is the female protagonist of the series. Like the previous two, she is a made up character, but is not wholly based on fiction. A female Tiger Mask iteration, called Tiger Dream, was played by female wrestler Candy Okutsu in the mid-1990s. unfortunately, Okutsu being injury-prone and having to take several sabbaticals from the ring, the character was easily forgotten by the fans and eventually abandoned.


 

KAZUCHIKA OKADA

Kazuchika Okada is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. Okada joins Naoto in his fight against GWM. In real life Okada is a very accomplished wrestler who has held the IWGP Heavyweight title on four occasions as well as a ton of other accomplishments. He did have a breif, and largely forgettable run in america in TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling.


 

HIROSHI TANAHASHI

Hiroshi Tanahashi is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. A wrestling ace who helps Naoto in training. In real life, he is a former seven-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, one-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion and two-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion. Tanahashi holds the record for most reigns as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, while his fifth reign holds the record for most successful defenses, with eleven.


 

YUJI NAGATA

Yuji Nagata is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. Aside of wrestling, he’s also involved with the management of NJPW. Most American fans will recognize him for his tenure in World Championship Wrestling in 1997-8 during the height of the Monday Night Wars.


 

TOGI MAKABE

Togi Makabe is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. In the show, he has a sweet tooth and hosts a famous blog about sweets, being so obsessed with them that he can lack motivation without sweets. One cool tidbit – The character is voiced by the real Togi Makabe.


 

KIMIHIKO OZAKI

Kimihiko Ozaki is based on a real-life ring announcer in NJPW.


 

TOMOAKI HONMA

Tomoaki Honma is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. He is currently working for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). He is a former one-time IWGP Tag Team Champion and a two-time World Tag League winner with Togi Makabe.


 

TOMOHIRO ISHII

Tomohiro Ishii is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name.Though pushed for most of his career as an undercarder without any major championship wins, Ishii gathered a cult following, until he was too popular to ignore. Since then he has gained tag championships, singles titles and even the ROH Television title.


 

YOSHI-HASHI

Yoshi-Hashi is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. While he was almost an enhancement talent of sorts in real life, he has slowly started to win occasional matches. a feat that earned him a PWI ranking of 314 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2016.


 

BILLY THE KIDMAN

Billy the Kidman is a fictional character in Tiger Mask W, but it’s funny to note that there is a real-life wrestler from the late 90’s – 2000’s named Billy Kidman.


 

 

BULLET CLUB

Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale are real life members of the gaijin (foreigner) heel stable “The Bullet Club”. Also represented is Kenny Omega who is the current stable leader. Previous members of the group include WWE’s Anderson and Gallows, Finn Balor and AJ Styles.


 

QUEEN ELIZABETH AND PAYNE FOX

While not a direct cameo, Queen Elizabeth and Payne Fox are obviously modeled after WWE women’s champions Charlotte Flair (daughter of Ric Flair) and Becky Lynch.


 

TETSUYA NAITO

Tetsuya Naito is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. Naito is currently in his first reign as the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, while also being a former IWGP Heavyweight and NEVER Openweight Champion as well as IWGP Tag Team and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with former partner Yujiro Takahashi, with whom he teamed as No Limit. In addition to those, Naito is also a one-time winner of NJPW’s premier singles tournament, the G1 Climax, having won it in 2013, and the New Japan Cup, winning it in 2016. In 2016, Tokyo Sports named Naito the wrestler of the year.


 

BLACKOUT

Blackout is a robot (sure why not) from the Tiger’s Den, he serves as the gatekeeper of the Hell in the Hole match being the last challenge to face. He bares more than a passing resemblance to WWE’s wrestler The Undertaker.


 

METAL BROTHERS

Metal Brothers I & II are a couple of masked wrestlers that make an appearance. They bare a resemblance to the WWE’s legends the Road Warriors.


 

FUKUWARA MASK

Fukuwara Mask isn’t a real character, but his “gimmick” is very similar to a number of clownish wrestlers from Osaka Pro like Ebessan, Kikutaro and Kuishinbo Kamen. He dresses with a Hyottoko mask and common clothes, giving him a ridiculous appearance. Fukuwara Mask’s focus is in providing laughs and serving as a comic-relief by deliberately acting like a fool in his matches, which the audience enjoys.


 

And More!

There are other references and mentions like Jushin Thunder Liger, Captain New Japan, Toru Yano, and members of Los Ingobernables de Japon such as Evil and Bushi. Here’s hoping they do more of this show, as I would love to see a lot of of the real life wrestlers from NJPW! Stay tuned for a full review of this show soon, I still need to finish it up and I’ll let you know what I thought!

To see more of these, check out:

A Look at EVEN MORE Cameos in Tiger Mask W


Like what you’re seeing? If you want to help support this site, why not consider becoming a patron!