Like in any kind of pop culture outlet, there is always some sort of merchandising available to fans of the show, sport, or person, that they are following. Good merchandise works because it will help promote the product while also adding an additional source of income to those in charge of the product. Everything form T-shirts to video games to even things like hygiene products have been made as forms of merchandise for various shows or people. Wrestling is no different and may in fact have the largest variety of merchandise out of any area of pop culture. With action figures, shirts, and countless other products, pro wrestling definitely has the market cornered by flooding the market with a boatload of merchandise.
Yet for every good piece of merchandise a wrestling promotion has released, they have released four or five pieces of bad merchandise. Whether it is a shirt for a wrestler no one likes or horribly made Halloween costumes, there are countless examples of where the merchandising department completely missed the mark. So with that in mind, this article will rank the worst of the worst when it comes to pro wrestling merchandise. The only real way that items were chosen and ranked was their overall awfulness and how they failed as products. This list is designed to be both a shot of nostalgia with a mixture of guilty pleasure as I am sure you the reader may have owned one or two of these items, I know I did after researching for this list.
So please read, enjoy, and let us know what you think down in the comments section. How would you have ranked these differently? Are there other pieces of merchandise that you felt should have made the list or that one of the entries should be ranked differently?
16 Smokin' Gunns Giant Cowboy Hat
This item will start off the list as even though it is bad, it could technically be worn to other sporting events considering some of the things people have worn to games before. Yet for some reason the WWE decided to make the gigantic, foam cowboy hats marketed towards fans of the Smokin’ Gunns maroon and floppy, I’m sure to really sell the idea to fans to “cowboy up.” Hell those things are so big they could barely fit both members of the team and their hats in the same frame, just imagine being seated at an event behind a person wearing one of those.
19. 3D Goldberg Shirt
This item is just creepy looking. While it features Goldberg giving his signature intense look, WCW felt the need to have the shirt come out from the wearer’s chest, giving off a 3D illusion. The image looks like the painting from Ghostbusters 2 and is just plain awkward, more so when walking around I’m sure. I also have to wonder how long the illusion lasts after a few runs through the washer, leaving just a depressed image in the middle of your shirt and making the image of Goldberg look like a wrinkled monster.
15 Red Rooster T-Shirt
Easily one of the worst gimmicks in pro wrestling history, the Red Rooster is a prime example of a writing team having absolutely NO IDEA what to do with a guy creative-wise. The same thing was apparently true for the merchandise created for the character as the Red Rooster shirt was basically the Roddy Piper “Hot Rod” shirt with just a different image placed on the front of the shirt. I mean even Terry Taylor didn’t look like he wanted to be caught wearing the stupid thing, and he was supposed to be convincing fans to shell out their money to buy it.
17. Ready to Rumble
While this movie can now be considered a guilty pleasure to watch, it should not be considered an honest gift if given to a wrestling fan. From having the main characters be the two stupidest people on earth, whom also happen to be wrestling fans, to the point that they think they got a message from a higher power to help their favorite wrestler. What was the message you ask? It was when their septic truck was hit by a truck carrying toilet paper, seriously. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the star of the movie David Arquette would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in WCW’s lame attempt to garner some mainstream publicity, but it backfired greatly and was seen as the final nail in the promotion’s coffin. The only real bright spot from this whole debacle was David Arquette donating the money he made wrestling to Darren Drozdov and the families of Owen Hart and Brian Pillman.
16. Early WCW Figures
I will probably always have a special place in my heart for wrestling figures, as I could not get enough of them as a kid, especially with both WCW and the WWE releasing new ones on what seemed like a weekly basis to allow me the chance to create dream matches between my favorite wrestlers. Unfortunately WCW’s figures were not as well made as the WWE’s, much to my, and other kids’ dismay. While the WWE figures in the 90s were made by Jakks Pacific and were flexible enough for kids to perform various moves with them, WCW figures were made by Toymakers and were a hard plastic which did not allow for much movement, outside of the arms. The figure quality would improve over the years, but those early figures were truly awful.
14 APA Pounding Shirt
Known as a duo of rough and tumble brawlers who were ready to fight at the drop of a hat, the Acolyte Protection Agency may be one of the best cult WWE tag teams in the promotion’s history. Unfortunately the WWE decided that the best way to promote these two brawlers was to have a shirt with an unfortunate acronym. Using the team’s acronym, the WWE made a shirt with the tagline “Always Pounding Ass,” which does not have the same intensity as their actual name. It was only made worse by a promo picture featuring Bradshaw giving a drunken look while wearing the shirt.
13 Maximum Sweat Action Figures
One of the big things that separated Jakks Pacific wrestling figures from other wrestling figures was the level of detail that they put into their product. Unfortunately, the next bit of realism that the company felt was needed in their figures was the ability for them to sweat. So with that they made the Maximum Sweat line of figures which featured various WWE superstars who looked roided out of their minds who would not sweat, but pour. There was a little compartment in the figures back where water could be poured in and it would seep through various holes in the figures skin. Thankfully this line only lasted for three releases before it was ended.
12 S.T.O.M.P. Figures
While the sweating action figures may have been over the top and cartoony, at least they were figures featuring wrestlers as they were in the ring. The S.T.O.M.P. line went a completely different direction by having you favorite Attitude Era wrestlers decked out like members of The Expendables. Everyone from main eventers like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker to midcarders like Crush and the Headbangers were included in the few series released under the heading, each coming with a variety of body armor and weapons. I can only assume that the WWE was attempting to create a Saturday morning cartoon which combined elements of G.I. Joe and the promotion’s superstars, but no one seemed to care for these figures and the quickly disappeared from the public eye.
11 Titantron Playset
Next up on the list is an item that I actually had and could have been an interesting addition to a toy collection if not for a few glaring issues. In an attempt to create a larger environment for kids using WWE action figures, Jakks released a Titantron playset that included banners and a ramp for kids to have their figures walk down, with an additional touch of playing entrance music for certain figures who had special microchip in them that would cause the music to play. Unfortunately the figures were hard plastic as to protect the microchips and could barely move and only a small few were ever released for the playset. Worse the music only played for about ten seconds and the quality of the music was as if it was coming from under water.
10 WWE Talking Soap
For some reason a big aspect of pop culture in the 90s was having a brand of bathing or personal hygiene products. The WWE was no different and had its own brand of bath soap for its fans to purchase and use. Unfortunately, the soap talked to you while you washed. Shaped like a WWE Title, the soap also had the image of any number of superstars and would begin talking as soon as the bar made contact with water. So imagine you are trying to get ready for school and you hear “wash your ass” from inside the shower with you. Another flaw with the bars were that they could not really be turned off, so you were stuck with the repeating catch phrases from your soap until you threw it away.
9 WCW Halloween Costumes
Another big pop culture milestone outside of cleaning materials were Halloween costumes and masks. Yet the costumes made for WCW wrestlers were horrifying for all the wrong reasons. The costumes consisted of a top and bottom to represent the full attire and/or body of the wrestler and a mask. The bad thing was that the masks were cartoonishly big to the point you are wondering who typed in the big head cheat code. The good thing is that there are quite a few images online of these horrible costumes so that they can be enjoyed ironically for years to come.
8 EY Beard
When Eric Young was pushed to the main event scene in TNA and became the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, what do you think would have been the best way to create merchandise for him? Maybe a new T-shirt or perhaps an action figure? No, TNA decided the best way to promote Young through merchandise was to create a hard plastic beard that looked like Young’s. The product made no mention of Young or TNA and just makes the poor sucker wearing it look crazy. The mask would eventually be paired with an Eric Young shirt, assumingly as a way to get rid of the beards, but still the chances of wearing this mask at anywhere but a TNA show are slim and none.
7 AWA Cage Playset
There are just times that logic seems to escape those in charge of decision making for wrestling promotions at any level. One such case comes by way of the cage playset for the AWA’s line of wrestling figures. But rather than just asking kids to play with the set by having their hands over the top of the cage or with one wall off, the AWA set used a pair of plastic clamps that were placed around the hips of the figure. From there you and your friend could bash the figures into each other until someone got pinned or one of you said this was stupid and threw the set across the room, I’m assuming it was the latter more often than not.
6 WWE Shootout Hockey
Now, these games sure were fun to play, but if you were to play with a foosball table hockey game, wouldn't someone want, I don't know, hockey players on it? The WWE must have been at a point where they felt anything with Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage on it would sell. Were fans supposed to be made to believe that this is what wrestlers do in their spare time?
5 WWE Pizza Prints
In the history of dumb products, there may be nothing dumber than Pizza Prints. Basically various starches and food coloring and made to look like various images and logos, someone felt that people would love to place an edible picture on their pizza as they ate. So of course the WWE had to jump onto the nonexistent bandwagon and create a line of pizza prints of its own. Featuring various superstars and show logos, WWE Pizza Prints allow any WWE fan to take a bite out of pizza while staring eye-to-eye with the Undertaker. Unfortunately these are still for sale in the WWE Store, though I can’t image that they are flying off the shelves and into countless ovens.
4 Black Layla Figure
One thing I always looked for when getting a wrestling figure as a kid was how good the figure looked in comparison to its human counterpart. Many times the figures are a good representation of the performer while other times not so much. This entry falls under the latter as the WWE felt it was okay to release a figure of a black woman with curled hair and say it was a Layla figure. Now while Layla did start her WWE career with curlier hair, by the time the figure came out she had straightened her hair out completely, and the skin tone is much darker than Layla’s actual skin.
3 Punjabi Prison Playset
Imagine yourself as the head of merchandising for the WWE and were tasked with creating and marketing a new playset for WWE action figures. You decide to use a certain stipulation as the basis for the playset, one that hasn’t been up to that point. Maybe you choose something like a Money In the Bank playset or one based around the Buried Alive match. No, instead you choose a match that has been done only twice in WWE history and was reviled by fans, the Punjabi Prison match. While the set was fairly big, the match was terrible and the huge price tag for the set makes this item a must-not-buy.
2 Kevin Nash Comic
When it comes to comic books, it takes quite a lot to make a completely unreadable comic. Yet somehow, pro wrestling has never been able to really get a foothold in the world of comics for one reason or another. One such series was the one created and co-written by WWE Hall of Famer Kevin Nash. The overall story involves a barren wasteland where food is in high demand and short supply and Nash is the kind of character that can take on all comers and all the ladies want. The series only lasted a few issues but its overall futility will never be forgotten.
1 Ultimate Warrior Comic
While Nash’s comic was a play on his ego, the Ultimate Warrior’s comic series delved into how completely crazy the man was. There is no rhyme or reason for why things happen in the course of the five issues of the comic but it all apparently centers around “Destruncity” which is explained in the comic as:
In its design, Destruncity represents a constellation existing in the heavens which symbolizes the 'Eight Disciplines' by which Warriors chose to live their lives.
If you still have no idea what the hell that means, trust me you’re not alone. The series would get most of its recognition from its Christmas issue which featured Warrior joining up with Santa, apparently slipping him a roofie and stealing his clothes in order to deliver the message of Destruncity to the masses.
1. Katie Vick Outfit
One of the most shocking and controversial storylines in WWE history involved Kane, Triple H, and a woman named Katie Vick. Triple H would tell the audience that Kane had been in a horrifying car accident which killed Vick, but did not stop Kane from sleeping with her corpse. This was all enacted with a video of Triple H wearing a Kane mask and dry humping a mannequin in a cheerleader outfit inside of a coffin. The angle was toned down leading up to their match as fans unsurprisingly acted negatively to the necrophilia storyline, but the legend of Katie Vick lives on to this day. Well, the WWE still felt the need to milk the angle for all it was worth and decided to sell the cheerleader outfit that was on the mannequin, which was ultimately bought by the guys at Wrestlecrap.com for $200.
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