The other day I posted about a nice care package from my buddy Brian at PopPop!It's Trash Culture! , which contained a lot of fun pop culture treasures. One of those treasured items was a pack of WWF trading cards from 1989 which, obviously I opened because I can never follow the rules set by society about ancient trading cards. So instead of just using them to decorate my end table like I originally planned, I figured I'd review them here instead. Because, boy oh boy, these are some real goofy characters...
The difference between other hillbillies, he had a lot of charisma as well as the ability to read cue cards, which made him popular with a lot of fans.
Greg The Hammer Valentine:
Greg Valentine is a pretty legendary figure in wrestling. A second generation wrestler who is more known for moving around the ring like a moldy bag of potatoes. I'm not saying he's bad, but he just never really known for his spectacular and flashy maneuvers. Which worked for him. He was a no-nonsense kinda guy that had a pretty lengthy career.
Now, with that said, WWF saw him as a valuable asset in his later career, so they paired him with Elvis impersonator, The Honky Tonk Man to form "Rythym and Blues". It was actually a pretty good tag team. Honky was charismatic and flashy and Valentine...wasnt. Like. At all.
He also has the distinction of having one of the most legendary wrestling figures ever. Why? Well, Hasbro showed off a sweet prototype but never released it. So, from WWF's Hasbro line, here's the prototype that never got released but was much desired by fans and collectors:
Judging by him not wearing the title belt, his was around the time that Hogan was feuding with Randy Savage over the lovely Miss Elizabeth and went from forming the MegaPowers with Randy and teaming with the mega boring and untalented Brutus Beefcake, his new best friend. See, at that time, Hogan went through friends and allies like water. It seemed every PPV, Hogan had new backup and then just threw them away. He was kind of a jerk in that sense. But, hey, he was our hero so we forgave him. Plus he took on Tiny Lister in No Holds Barred. So there's that too.
Leaping Lanny Poffo was known for his mega athletic in-ring ability but more known for his goofy poetry. It wasn't bad poetry, it was pretty good stuff but more of "HUH?!?!?" variety. It would usually involve his opponent or a big happening in the WWF at the time. In fact, one of my favorite poems involved him in a Kmart-quality knight armor and babbling about Hulk Hogan...
Big BossMan logo card:
Time for a quick break. Instead of stickers, the Classic company decided to print up logo cards. I mean, I would've preferred a sticker but oh well. What are you gonna do? There's a lot of logos I could've received, but I got the Big Bossman. I always liked the Bossman. He wasn't as talented as say Mr. Perfect or Bret Hart, but hey, he was still pretty fun to watch. He'd talk fast, he'd sweat through his shirt and beat people with a nightstick. What's not to like?
However, by 1989, he was given a gimmick in which he was now known as the "WidowMaker" which was kind of like an evil cowboy. That's it. He didn't stick around too long due to him leaving to help out with family issues at the time. In fact I don't think he appeared on any PPV's at all. He'd come back as an aggravated stalker wearing camo face paint while he hid behind a bunch of bushes and threatening people with a fake knife. Top notch stuff. Definitely a step down from his 4 Horsemen days.
The Hart Foundation(Jim Neidhart and Bret Hart):
A goal of mine as a kid was to find all the cards of my favorite wrestlers, including tag teams. Sometimes it wasn't as easy. I'd have to go through a lot of cards to find both members of a team. It was really frustrating. But in this pack of cards? I not only got a great looking Bret Hart card, but his partner the Anvil, Jim Neidhart, with a cool Hannah Barbera-looking logo.
The Hart Foundation was one of the most successful and popular teams of any era. Big Jim was the muscle with an awesome goatee and Bret was the master technician with even more awesome glasses. They had great team work and it lead to a few tag championships. After splitting up, though, both men would take seperate paths. Bret would go on to be one of the biggest stars and most respected world champions ever and Jim would go onto wearing MC Hammer pants with Bret's younger brother Owen in a team that looked more like a TGIF commercial than anything, The New Foundation. Don't believe me?
Ronnie Rugged Garvin:
So this guy was kind of a boring schlub. But, he had the distinction of being an NWA champion at a time that the NWA title was even more prestigious title than the WWF title. Well...until he won it. He lost it a month or so later. He seemed boring in the ring and really did nothing of note other than stomping by his opponent with "The Garvin Stomp".
So, eventually, he left and WWF scooped him up and barely did anything with him other than put him in a feud with Greg Valentine over shin guards. Yup. They actually had a battle over something you'd use for soccer. You can see why my enthusiasm is going down at this point. Much like his NWA title run, I've officially bored you. Move on quick. This next one is really good.
Classy Freddie Blassie:
Ahhhh...now we're getting somewhere. One of the most legendary managers and figures in wrestling history. By the time I started watching, Blassie was a manager. He'd yell and scream at people and call the fans Pencil Necked Geeks before hitting a good guy with a cane. But in his prime? He'd incite riots. I mean start fights with fans just because he could. If you ever want to see a true villain in the business, go look up some of Blassie's legendary moments on Youtube or the WWE Network.
He'd cluck and cock his head back and forth like a rooster. Oh but that wasn't it. He even spiked his hair up in the front to look like a real rooster too. Oh yes. He went there. I don't think a worse gimmick can be given. Even by 1989 standards. He stuck around for a while but fans would ridicule him for his stupid chicken-like mannerisms and clucking. Thankfully, WWF felt mercy and told him to cluck off and back to WCW he went.
Known as one of the toughest men in the wrestling business ever, Haku was no joke. Well, until they made him a goofy looking king where he was carted out to the ring on a giant wooden throne by a bunch of local jobbers. He would also feud with others over who the true king of the WWF truly was.
Um...I'd continue with a sarcastic remark or two, but quite frankly, I'd be terrified he'd find me and bite my nose off, which he was known to do in bar fights. So, let's just say he's one of the most terrifying guys you could ever meet.
Pretty Paul Roma:
This musclehead became known as a jobber to the stars pretty quick. He really didn't have a lot of ability, which sometimes I believe was a requirement at the time. He was good looking guy that would pose and act like he was important. His major fame would come in a tag team with Hercules called "Power and Glory" which has a weird cult following like no other tag team.
He'd also become a member of the legendary Four Horsemen but...the less said the better. Years after leaving the business he'd talk about how Ric Flair wanted to be him and how he was better than half of the Horsemen. Truth is, he wasn't even better than El Gigante.
Virgil-Mania is indeed running wild at a shopping center near you. I suggest to avoid all eye contact, because if you walk by, and he sees you looking at his photos, he'll hop on up and try everything he can to sell you a photo of him and Andre the Giant. And if you play your cards right, you can negotiate. Yessir, the Virg-Man will take all offers. I suggest offering him a dollar for a photo with him. It'll be funny to see his reaction, because he thinks he's worth a lot more.
Screw Hogan or the Harts, this is the MVP of the pack. Demolition is my favorite tag team of all time. I rank them over Road Warriors, New Age Outlaws, Uso's, whoever. Stack them up to Ax and Smash and they all look The Mulkeys. To me, Ax and Smash are tag team royalty.
Since I got Smash, I'll focus on him. Smash would go on to play one of my all time favorite characters ever: The Repo Man, a thief in the night that would steal kids bikes and the Macho Man's hat. He'd then go on to WCW to play a bully and an evil golfer who didn't even use his golf club to cheat. But to me, Smash it is. Not that I didn't enjoy him giggling like Frank Gorshin as the Repo Man, but to me Demolition will always represent the best of tag team wrestling. Two guys in assless chaps, studs and face paint...nothing says wrestling like a very frightening Village People.
So there you have it. 15 amazing cards from 1989...well...amazing may be stretching it, but they're fun nonetheless...Of course this pack would've been better if there was a sticker, but hey, I won't complain! I can;t think of a finer representation of WWF in 1989 than this set.
Now who has a Ax or a Macho Man? I'll trade my Hart Foundation for them...