In this edition of the roundtable, The Wrestling Estate staff get in the holiday shopping spirit.
What’s the first piece of wrestling merch you remember getting?
Anthony Mahalis: “A Brahma Bull foam finger from a live event I went to. My dad wouldn’t let me get the middle finger one because ‘Mom will kill me!’”
Evan Cross: “I didn’t get into wrestling until college, so it wasn’t a Stone Cold action figure or a DX lunchbox like most kids my age. It was, uh, a Ryback shirt. I don’t know why either.”
Jack Goodwillie: “If we’re counting video games, WWE Day of Reckoning. Otherwise, it was probably this Mr. Kennedy shirt or this CM Punk shirt. Though it’s possible I had Eddie Guerrero’s book Cheating Death, Stealing Life before I had any of this stuff.”
Troy Taroff: “I was never really a big merch guy but I remember I had an entire DX action figure set. Pretty sure it included all of the members, and yes, it even included Road Dogg.”
Calvin Gibbon: “So this one’s a little cringe-worthy to me now but may be funny in hindsight: My mom & dad got me the Shawn Michaels HBK all-over shirt & HBK red heart glasses (ah, the 90’s). Yes, I did do his whole entrance along with HBK or HB-Shizzle when he did it on TV. I was supposed to be the next HBK.”
John Corrigan: “My grandmom got me the classic WCW wrestling ring set for Christmas one year. I didn’t even watch WCW but the ring was badass.”
What’s the greatest wrestling T-shirt ever?
Mahalis: “Picking the greatest wrestling T-shirt is tough. So many great ones to choose from, but I would have to say the classic Austin 3:16 is the GOAT. Have to give it the slight edge over the NWO shirt.”
Cross: “The original nWo shirt edges out Austin 3:16 for two reasons: the nWo shirt spawned a few cool variations, and it didn’t have anything on the back.”
Goodwillie: “While I’m not the Piper mark that many are, I don’t think you can do much better than Hot Rod.”
Taroff: “Austin 3:16 without a doubt. It’s a classic and super subtle, but has been a mainstay with wrestling fans long after Austin’s era.”
Gibbon: “There are two I absolutely loved but never owned: Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ‘Arrive. Raise Hell. Leave.’ which I thought was perfect and bad, and Daniel Bryan’s ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!,’ which interestingly predates his Yes Movement days and actually came out during his heel title run. But even then it proved Daniel Bryan was over!”
Corrigan: “The Hulkamania T-shirt is a staple of an entire generation’s youth, everybody going bananas as the Hulkster’s 24-inch pythons tore that sucker apart night after night.”
What’s the greatest wrestling book ever?
Mahalis: “Honestly, I have never actually read a book written by a wrestler. I read small books about Stone Cold and The Rock when I was in grade school but they were written by someone else. At some point I would love to get into any of Y2J’s books. I also plan on reading JR’s book. Any other recommendations fellas?”
Cross: “Chris Jericho’s A Lion’s Tale. All of Jericho’s books are required reading for wrestling fans, but his first one takes the cake as it covers more of his career than any others and is the most personal.”
Goodwillie: “Playboy Gary Hart: My Life in Wrestling is extremely rare and expensive because it’s out-of-print. Gary Hart might be wrestling’s greatest storyteller and is often overlooked as his big runs as manager and booker came pre-Monday Night Wars. It’s an in-depth look at one of the greatest wrestling minds of all time and Gary holds nothing back. An honorable mention, for those who are not as much into autobiographies, is The Death of WCW by Brian Alvarez and R.D. Reynolds, in which the authors go to great lengths reporting on the laundry list of reasons and events that led to WCW’s demise. It even has a 10-year anniversary edition which includes expanded chapters on the parallels between WCW and TNA.”
Taroff: “I’m going to be honest (and feel free to crucify me), I’ve never read a wrestling book. But I hear that Y2J guy has written a few good ones.”
Gibbon: “Ric Flair’s To Be The Man is a complete classic and very open-minded WWE-released autobiography. There are tremendous stories in it. This is where Ric first talked about how the Jim Herd fiasco made him feel! If you haven’t heard that one, it’s crazy.”
Corrigan: “There are so many to choose from, but if this is going on the record, I’ll say Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day. It ignited the pro wrestling autobiography market and launched the Hardcore Legend’s extensive writing career. Foley’s brutal honesty, wit and riveting storytelling have made him my favorite author. Ever.”
What’s the greatest wrestling DVD ever?
Mahalis: “Wow, really a lot of great ones here – WWE rarely misfires on the DVD sets. I guess I would say my favorite has to be Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Bottom Line The Most Popular Superstar of All Time. However, I really love HHH: Thy Kingdom Come, For All Mankind and Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story. Let’s call those honorable mentions.”
Cross: “The only one I own that isn’t solely one PPV is Straight To The Top: Money In the Bank Anthology, so I’ll go with that. But many that I haven’t seen, like the Royal Rumble history, look very good.”
Goodwillie: “CM Punk: Best in the World and Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman have to be considered 1A and 1B as far as thorough, well-put-together documentaries are concerned. Nearly every Kayfabe Commentaries release gets an honorable mention for me, particularly the six-hour long Jim Cornette YouShoot, Lost Questions DVD included.”
Taroff: “DVDs are extinct, who cares. You can watch everything on the WWE Network now, only $9.99. You get your first month free if you sign up today!”
Gibbon: “I’d pick Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman. It’s a pretty comprehensive documentary of his career, spoken by the man himself. I could listen to Paul Heyman read bedtime stories and it would pop me. This DVD is a must see, his career resurgence has been a great success and definitely well-deserved.
Corrigan: “The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection still gets played at my house, most recently after The Brain passed away and I needed Royal Rumble 92.”
What’s your favorite wrestling merch that you own?
Mahalis: “My purple Macho Man tee. It was between that and my Daniel Bryan shirt, but the Macho Man shirt is much more comfortable so it gets the nod.”
Goodwillie: “Back at my mom’s house I’ve got a program that I picked up from a 2006 Smackdown/ECW live event at the Sovereign Center in hometown Reading, Pennsylvania. It’s not so much that there’s anything special about it, but looking through it never ceases to fill me with nostalgia, not to mention that it’s 11 years old. Let that sink in: ECW on Sci-Fi debuted over 11 years ago. Feel old yet?”
Taroff: “My ‘I’m a Paul Heyman Guy’ shirt that Paul gave me himself when I was wasted off vodka Red Bulls in Vegas.”
Gibbon: “My ‘Yes Movement vs. The Authority’ Wrestlemania 30 shirt. It did help that I bought it at the event in New Orleans. Wrestlemania became Yeslemania and it’s one of the greatest moments ever. That shirt means a lot to me.”
Corrigan: “My grandmom (different one from mentioned above) actually took me to Suncoast Video and bought a Trish Stratus DVD. If only my sweet, innocent Gram knew about my Stratusfaction.”