LJN's Wrestling Superstars action figures are generally considered the first series of wrestling toys to be marketed to the mainstream internationally. And I'm lucky to have collected them all back in the 1980s! Each month, I'll look at one classic figure and explain what made them so special.
THE MAGNIFICENT MURACO
I think we need to address the elephant in the room: Magnificent Muraco NEVER actually wore a T-shirt that simply had his name on it. Do a Google search, scour the WWE Network, whatever: I guarantee all you're going to see The Magnificent One wear is his "Beach Bum" shirt or the Superstar Billy Graham ripoff tie dye one.
Errant T-shirt aside... The Magnificent Muraco was quite an imposing figure in your LJN wrestling figure collection.
Debuting in LJN's third series in 1986, Muraco was a rare "not quite main event" heel that was still fully capable on kicking anyone's ass on the active roster. Buddy was just a huge guy and looked like the quintessentially bully - even if his fake blue T-shirt and red speedos aren't necessarily reflective of that image.
Whether he was delivering his patented shoulderbreaker, eating a meatball sandwich while competing (it actually happened!) or trapping George The Animal Steele in a kind of, sort of headlock (as pictured here), Muraco was a pure badass than no one else on the LJN babyface roster wants to mess with.
The Magnificent Muraco's wrestling career will forever be linked to Ricky The Dragon Steamboat who, ironically, posed in his LJN figure pose the other week with our friend Stu Stone.... but that's another story for another time.
Anyways, Muraco and Steamboat had an epic feud in the mid-1980s, which included The Magnificent One hanging Steamer over the ropes and a series of "karate" matches throughout the house show circuit.
Maybe it's just me reading WAY TOO MUCH into a 30 year old wrestling figure, but Muraco seems to take immense pleasure in torturing Steamboat during their action figure-based matches. I can't exactly put my finger on "why", but if he were to hoist up, say, George Steele in the same pose, it wouldn't look nearly as devious.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Speaking of devious.... how can you talk about Magnificent Muraco without his long time manager, the devious Mr. Fuji?
As seen in the tableau to your left, Mean Gene Okerlund is attempting to interview The Rock (check it out, kids; Muraco was "The Rock" a good decade before Dwayne Johnson was!), but you can tell that The Magnificent One isn't having any of it. Instead, he's deferring comment to Mr. Fuji, who is practically berating Okerlund here for not extolling the virtues of his client.
Also? The two of them starred in classic television sketches together such as Fuji General, Fuji Bandito and the all-time champion of TV... FUJI VICE!
Sorry.... if you don't watch the above clip RIGHT FREAKING NOW, I don't think we can be friends any longer.
Where were we? Oh yeah, the Muraco figure. The Magnificent One had some tremendous matches with Hulk Hogan back in the day, but they're never quite mentioned in the same breath as, say, King Kong Bundy or Paul Orndorff. These two even had an epic contest on Saturday Night's Main Event!
But this is EXACTLY what LJN figures were created for. You and you alone can give the Muraco-Hogan rematch the attention it deserves. And even if Muraco loses, it will still be a "Magnificent Moment" (his short-lived talk show) for all.
By the way? LJN seriously missed the boat on not coming out with a series of Fuji Vice action figures. Us fans would have shelled out some major coin for a figure of Angelica (a/k/a The Seahawk).
Anyhoo.... welcome to the prestigious Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame, Muraco. We'll give you the shirt off our back and it won't even say "Magnificent Muraco" across it.