Category: Retro Wrestling

M.U.S.C.L.E. Men Wrestling Toys

M.U.S.C.L.E. Men started out as a manga comic in the late seventies in Japan called Kinnikuman. It proved to be so popular, that an anime series of it was adapted and ran from 1983 – 1986, and focused around an intergalactic form of professional wrestling. Toy company Bandai quickly started producing the little two-inch figures as the show’s popularity soared. And like so many other things, when it became popular there, toy companies in the United States took notice, and Mattel launched its own line of the little pink warriors. Since the name Kinnikuman translates to “Muscle Man”, Mattel named the line M.U.S.C.L.E., as an acronym that stood for “Millions of Unusual Creatures Lurking Everywhere”. M.U.S.C.L.E. Men were produced from late 1985 – 1988 before finally fading from store shelves. Although their popularity was short-lived, it was impressive, as M.U.S.C.L.E. was listed as one of the 10 Best Selling Toys of 1986.

The little pink M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors were not really posable in any way, and were so small that you couldn’t really do much with them. But the fact that they came in multi-packs, and that they were marketed as “wrestlers” was enough to hook me initially. It was intriguing to see who would win in a fight between someone with a motorcycle for a body or a human with a ripped body and the head of a wild boar. Of course, who won that battle was up to the kid in control of the action. That is, until the Hard Knockin’ Rockin’ Ring Wrestling Arena came on the market.

It was a small yellowish-orange contraption with glorified rubber bands for ring ropes, and a plastic arm that held the two combatants. You and a friend would do battle by moving your wrestler side to side, Rock ’em Sock’em Robot style, in an attempt to knock your opponent off if his plastic control arm. If you did, you were the winner. The key was to find one whose body was slightly too big to fit in the controller, and then force him into it anyway. He would then be almost impossible to beat. My best friend and I would play this for a while, and each match, we would select a combatant. The winner would win the losing figure from its owner. Both his and my collection of these increased and decreased, depending on who had the better day of competition.

 

The big drawing point for me was two-fold. First, their small size made them easily transportable. It was quite easy to stuff several in each pocket and head off somewhere and take the action with me. The second part was the cheapness of the toys. For a kid with a light allowance, being able to pick up multiple little M.U.S.C.L.E. warriors in one package was quite the draw. They were typically available in cardboard and plastic pack of four figures for around $1. Then there was the clear trash can stuffed with 10 mighty M.U.S.C.L.E. Men for the low price of $3. So as you can see, a kid could grow their collection quickly with minimum allowance spent.

 

I Miss Fat Pro Wrestlers

I miss the gold old days of pro wrestling. I miss when guys like Dusty Rhodes were at the top of the sport. The bygone era when guys who didn’t look like your typical star could still get a chance to shine. Guys like Terry Gordy, Big Bubba Rogers, “Playboy” Buddy Rose, and numerous others were on top because they were the best at what they did. Days when having a great muscled up physique didn’t automatically make you a star. In short, I miss fat pro wrestlers.

Back in the days when wrestlers earned their checks by how many tickets they sold, the emphasis wasn’t so much on looks. It was a combination of their actual skill in the ring, along with their charisma out of it. If they could use their words to rile the fans up to the point that they would buy a ticket to see him get his butt kicked, that was enough. If he was good enough in the ring to make the fans believe what they were seeing, that was enough. Looks were just a bonus. Some of my favorite wrestlers would never be offered a cover spot on a men’s magazine, but they sure could make you believe they would whip whoever DID appear on the cover.

Terry Gordy

I use the term “fat wrestlers” loosely here. I’m not just talking about fat guys, I’m talking about guys who just don’t fit the “fitness” profile that you see with most guys in the ring today. Guys like Arn Anderson may not have gotten a chance in today’s wrestling world because he was not muscled up, and didn’t have six pack abs, but he could talk, he could express emotion, and he knew how to tie guys up in a pretzel to get his point across.

You turn on WWE programming today, and you’re sure to find plenty of guys that are ripped and look like they’ve stepped straight off the pages of Muscle and Fitness. What you won’t find however, are guys wrestling who look like you’re dad, or the tough guy down the street who works on cars.

The loss of the average looking, but tough son of a gun, in favor of hiring muscle bound freaks who sometimes have trouble with the basic concepts of wrestling, has hurt the suspension of disbelief of wrestling to a degree. I want to see a guy who looks like my uncle fighting a guy who looks like your uncle.

A lot of the best wrestlers to ever come along were great examples of what I’m talking about. Mick Foley never looked too imposing physically, but because he knew how to connect with the fans through his interview style, and his brutal style in the ring, you always knew he was a threat. He didn’t have to rely on being muscled up with baby oil dripping off of him to become a star.

Phil Hickerson

Take Phil Hickerson as an example. Phil spent a lot of his career wrestling in the Memphis area. While he certainly didn’t look like a star by today’s standards, he was one tough son of a gun and you had no problem believing what he did was real. Below is a  video to help get my point across, and if you’ve never seen much of these guys I’ve mentioned, I urge you to search out footage of them and see just how some of these less than stellar looking athletes were some of the better workers in the business.

GRUNT! The Wrestling Movie Review

 

I’ve always been a movie fan, but for just as long I’ve been fascinated by the world of professional wrestling. In fact, during my weekly visits to the video store I often stacked a copy of Royal Rumble 1991 or The WWF’s Most Unusual Matches on top of the latest Jim Carrey film.

 

 

There was just so much to love about intensely sweaty tough guys threatening each other and then backing up those threats with cartoonishly violent attacks in the squared circle. Let me put it this way, the day I inherited my teenage neighbor’s LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars figures and ring, it felt like I had won the lottery.

Getting back to my video rental history, while Hulk Hogan’s star vehicle No Holds Barred was a frequent watch, there was one wrestling tape I never dared to take home for fear of the horrors that were promised by the VHS box art. That film is the very subject of this review, I’m talking about GRUNT! The Wrestling Movie.

 

 

Just look at that masked psycho on the cover, clamping on a vice like headlock and forcing the veins on his opponent’s head to pulse to the point of bursting. That’s terrifying. Luckily I had a friend who was willing to help me face my fears, you know him as the Retro Rambler.

When Mick reached out to suggest the wrestling film Body Slam! as a possible subject for an episode of my podcast SequelQuest, I laughingly said, “Not GRUNT! The Wrestling Movie?”, fully unaware that I would soon be challenged to watch and review this seemingly nightmare inducing piece of celluloid.

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The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem – June 8, 1988

 

The Chrononaut Chronicles
NWA Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem – Wednesday, June 8, 1988

– It’s Mayhem in Miami as the Four Horsemen run wild at the second Clash of the Champions! Ric Flair and Lex Luger sign a contract for an NWA World Title bout at the 1988 Great American Bash, Sting & Dusty Rhodes challenge Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard for the NWA World Tag Team Title, Barry Windham defends the NWA US Title against Brad Armstrong, and much more!

 

Miami Mayhem

– LIVE from Miami, Florida! Jim Ross is stationed outside the James L. Knight Center as limousines arrive to the building eight years before the nWo made it their gimmick. JR claims that a host of celebrities and dignitaries will be in attendance, and the disappointment is immediate as the first limo contains Lyle Alzado, Frances Crockett, and a dude who has some affiliation with the ownership of the Chicago Blackhawks. The star power doesn’t stop there, though, as the next limo opens up and out come NWA promoters Gary Juster and Elliot Murnick. Somehow, this qualifies as a pretty big deal.

 

Lyle Alzado
Man, they’re really pulling out the big guns tonight!

 

– Tony Schiavone and Bob Caudle are on commentary. No offense to Bob, but is there some reason he can’t be standing around the parking garage while JR handles the play-by-play?

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30 Years of Royal Rumble Statistics

Royal Rumble

29 Years of Royal Rumble Statistics

On January 24, 1988, the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) presented their first ever Royal Rumble match.  The event was held in Hamilton, Ontario Canada and kicked off what has now become a yearly tradition.  On Sunday January 28, 2018, WWE will present the 30th annual Royal Rumble on the WWE Network.

The Royal Rumble match itself is a unique wrestling match concept.  It is a battle royal type match, where wrestlers are eliminated from the contest when they are thrown over the top rope, and their feet hit the floor.  To add intrigue to the contest, the match starts with only two wrestlers in the ring.  Then, every two minutes, another superstar joins the match.  The match continues on in this way until all 30 competitors have entered.  A wrestler can be eliminated at any time.

With the nature of the match itself, and with 29 years of history behind it, it’s obviously going to have some interesting historical statistics associated with it.  So here today, we’re going to take a look at some of the more interesting statistics from this great event!


First Man to Win the Royal Rumble:  “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan – 1988

Jim Duggan

The very first Royal Rumble match only featured 20 competitors, and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan was the 13th entrant to the match.  He became the first man to win a Royal Rumble match when he eliminated the One Man Gang.

 

Multiple Time Royal Rumble Winners:  7

Royal Rumble Winners

Hulk Hogan won the event in 1990 and 1991, Shawn Michaels was the victor in 1995 and 1996, Triple H claimed the top honor in 2002 and 2016, John Cena won in 2008 and 2013, Batista claimed victories in 2005 and 2014, Randy Orton claimed the top spot in 2009 and 2017, but “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is the only man to have won three Royal Rumble matches with victories in 1997, 1998, and 2001.

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The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA Clash of the Champions 1

I’d like to introduce Joel Geraghty to Retro Ramblings with his Chrononaut Chronicles, where he goes back in time and reviews old wrestling shows!  I’ve been a fan of his work for a while, and I’m sure you’re going to be as well.  He’ll be dropping his great reviews on us on a regular basis, so take a minute and help me welcome to the family.

Along with his actual reviews, I’ll be popping into them as well with little comments of my own personal memories of what he is reviewing to add another level of nostalgia.  You’ll see my comments in bold wherever I drop them in.  With that said, I proudly present to you the first edition of The Chrononaut Chronicles here on Retro Ramblings, as Joel takes us back to the very first Clash of the Champions show from 1988…..

 

 

 

The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA Clash of the Champions – Sunday, March 27, 1988

– The Clash of the Champions was the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions’ answer to Saturday Night’s Main Event and came as a result of the intense promotional war with Vince McMahon and the WWF. Riding high on the success of WrestleMania, McMahon had added another PPV event in 1987 entitled Survivor Series and scheduled it on the same night as Starrcade, pressuring cable companies to drop the NWA’s signature supercard. Not satisfied with that major victory, in January of ’88 the WWF presented the first televised Royal Rumble for free on the USA Network opposite the NWA’s Bunkhouse Stampede PPV. In response, the Clash of the Champions was conceived as a special TV event broadcast live on TBS the same night as WrestleMania IV, featuring PPV caliber match-ups.

This was a huge deal and proved so successful that the Clash became a Superstation staple, spawning thirty-four more broadcasts over the following nine years. By 1997, the introduction of weekly two-hour shows such as Nitro and Thunder rendered the Clash obsolete. In this series, I will take a look at each Clash in chronological order. Let’s go all the way back to the very first Clash of the Champions as it aired opposite the WrestleMania IV tournament for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. Years before the Monday Night Wars, it was WrestleMania vs. Clash of the Champions live and head-to-head!

 

 

– LIVE from Greensboro, North Carolina! Bob Caudle and Tony Schiavone welcome us to the Clash live on the Superstation, but it’s actually Tony and Jim Ross who handle commentary at ringside.

– NWA World Television Title – Amateur Rules: “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious) vs. Mike Rotunda © (w/”Gamesmaster” Kevin Sullivan)

I never understood what kind of connection the occult-minded Gamesmaster had with a group of standout collegiate athletes like the Varsity Club. Sullivan as a brutal taskmaster of a coach would be logical, but he was still wearing black robes and being billed from Singapore. In accordance with the stipulations of the match, three five-minute rounds are scheduled with a one-count sufficient for a pinfall, so more emphasis is placed on Rotunda and Garvin staying off their backs. The first round is pretty even, ending with Rotunda using his considerable amateur skills as he struggles and fails to pin Garvin’s shoulders to the mat. Rotunda sneaks in a quick cheapshot during the 30-second rest period and assumes control in the second round, but Gorgeous Jimmy mounts a comeback and hooks up the champ for the brainbuster.

Before he can execute the maneuver, Sullivan and Precious get into an altercation on the apron and Garvin gets distracted. Making Syracuse proud, Rotunda rolls Garvin up for the one-count to retain the NWA World Television Championship at 1:10 of the second round. Afterward, Garvin brainbusters Rotunda and punches Sullivan, but another Varsity Club member strikes in the form of Rick Steiner. Precious swiftly makes the save and completely emasculates her husband by whacking Steiner with a 2×4 and garrotting Sullivan with a coat hanger. Seriously. She strangles the Gamesmaster until Garvin drags Precious off of him and out of the ring. I knew Precious was spunky, but damn girl.

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Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Supercards ’87

Growing up in the mid-late 80’s, one of my greatest joys would come when I would go to the grocery store with my Mom and be able to pick up a new wrestling magazine.  It never mattered to me which one I got as long as I got one.  If you know anything at all about the glory days of the Apter magazines, you know that the Cadillac of wrestling magazines was Pro Wrestling Illustrated.  One reason it was considered the best was because of it’s full-color coverage of various events.  One of the things I rally looked forward to each year was their coverage of the spring supercards like Wrestlemania.

Well I recently picked up some old wrestling magazines from ebay, and one of them was the Pro Wrestling Illustrated with coverage of Supercards ’87!  After salivating over the 19 pages of greatness multiple times, I thought I would share them with the world so others who used to enjoy this stuff could relive how great it was.  So what follows is all 19 pages of PWI’s coverage of Wrestlemania 3, Crockett Cup ’87, Parade of Champions ’87, and UWF Super Blast.  Enjoy!

 

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