Merch From '93/'94
The WWF was about as far away from The Attitude Era as they were going to get back in the winter of 1993. Sure, they had some of the staple superstars from the era, but their merchandise reflected a more cartoony era.
Case in point - every other page in the catalog was adorned with an adorable cartoon of a WWF superstar, such as Bret Hart, Doink The Clown, or what have you. I don't know about you, but to a 20 year-old Canadian Bulldog, this was a major turn off.
I mean, when you go through a catalog like this, you're looking for pro wrestlers, not freaking Muppet Babies!
Beyond the whole "Wrestlers That Look Like They Should Be In The Hi & Lois Comic Strip" motif, the catalog actually found some time to sell wrestling merchandise as well!
This Hulk Hogan jacket, for example, that Jimmy Hart and Jimmy Hart alone would be caught dead wearing out in the public. I love how the text says "it has finally arrived" and by the time this catalog came out, Hogan was already gone from the company and negotiating a deal with WCW.
But "The Mouth Of The South" was hardly the only manager foolish enough to hawk a satin jacket for his client back in '93-'94. Paul Bearer did the same thing. Which, if you really think about it, is quite silly. When was the last time you saw Paul Bearer wear anyhing but a funeral director's suit to work? But in the picture below, he looks like he's headed out to a Grateful Dead concert or some shit.
Speaking of dead.... it appears that The Undertaker's merchandise was a hot seller back then, with everything from fake plastic urns to T-shirts, watches and posters of The Dead Man being sold for a reasonable price. Ohhhhh yes!
I know I mentioned "watches" in the previous section, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention this from the description of the NEW! Undertaker Watch: "...this 'deathwatch' will constantly remind you to live every moment."
WWF: Selling merchandise and handing out life lessons.
Also... doesn't DeathWatch sound like a great title for a Steven Seagal movie?
There's also a cute Undertaker Teddy Bear on sale for just 20 bones. Because what conveys "death and destruction" better than a fluffy widdle teddy bear?
But the Undertaker isn't the only tough guy with his own plush superstar. Soon-to-be WWE Hall of Famer Randy "Macho Man" Savage can be seen here playing with his official entry into the Teddy Bear Picnic. Ooooooh yeah!
Also of note: Savage has one of those idiotic satin jackets as well. I'm not saying I would never pay 60 bucks to have a windbreaker with a wrestling star on the back of it (because.... hey, anything's possible), but Savage's looks like it was made using Microsoft Paint, which doesn't exactly inspire one to whip out their credit card...
Hey, look - Bret Hart has a teddy bear, too!
Meh; this one doesn't bother me nearly as much. For one thing, the bear kind of looks like him, between the scowling expression, signature sunglasses and pink and black trunks. Contrast that to the Randy Savage and Undertaker teddy bears and you'll see what I mean. If you're going to market a wrestling teddy bear.... may as well do it right.
And then there's the Bret Hart wall hanging, which some pre-teen girl is clutching the chest of in a scene that's kind of creepy. I don't know why, but it reminds me of the Depeche Mode wall hanging I had in my basement as a kid, used mainly to cover up a hole my friend had made in the wall when he pulled a "Shockmaster" and crashed through it.
Look... during the last 30+ years, I've been an avid supporter of WWF/E. When they did silly gimmicks like Mantaur or The Goon, I found a way in my head to justify it. When they were losing in the Monday Night Wars, I was convinced they'd rebound.
But I cannot, for the life of me, explain WHY THE HELL THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION SAW FIT TO MARKET THESE RED FOAM FAUX TEN GALLON COWBOY HATS!
Short of being a cowboy-themed mascot for a minor-league sports franchise, I can't think of a single reason to own this particular item.
On this very website, I've reviewed a variety of merchandise catalogs from WWF and WCW, and I have to say..... this may be the least-inspiring collection of the bunch.
Part of it is name appeal. Sure, names like Hogan and Hart will always be huge, but at this point in time, they didn't seem like they were doing anything that exciting. Blame it on that era of wrestling, I guess.
But a bigger part of it was that the WWF was treating these guys like a bunch of cartoons, which benefited absolutely no one in the long run. Hopefully, before the current staff decided upon the PG-friendly "Slam City" direction in recent years, they at least learned the lesson that the main presentation to hardcore wrestling fans shouldn't be littered with cartoons. Or at the very least, fans should be given a choice in what they're being sold.