Yes, you read all that correctly. There is a section of our basement that is referred to as The Lair, for short, and it’s where I have an old TV set up with a DVD player and VCR, and all my wrestling shit. OOH YEAH, DIG IT. It’s partly a place to watch old tapes and discs, away from the regular folk, but also a bit of a creepy fan’s museum. Photos, books, tickets, a piece of ring canvas that came with the WrestleMania 22 DVD, and all the doodads that I’ve been given as gifts over the years. Since people know me to be into the wrestling, I receive a lot of wrestling-themed gifts: some are gag gifts picked up from the flea market or eBay, while others are pretty meaningful and cool.
As I am away this week and writing this in advance, I thought it would be fun to take you on a tour of Wrestling Gifts Past as we near Christmas. Maybe something will catch your eye that you can buy for your favorite fan, or put on your own wish list. In the Comments below, please share some of your own stories about wrestling-themed gifts!
Squinkies are tiny, squishy, rubbery figures. According to the website, they can be collected, used as pencil toppers, worn as accessories (you can buy bracelets and rings that they mount onto as charms), or just played with. But there must not have been much of a market for the WWE Superstars version of Squinkies, because my sister got 3 sets of them for five bucks and a box of spiders at Kmart. I was like, “Okay, these will make a cute addition to The Lair,” but before I knew it, my kids had swiped them and were setting them up in formation:
So they loved them, and we had a good time looking at the back of the packaging to figure out who some of the Squinkies were supposed to be, because it wasn’t always obvious. Alberto Del Rio has to be the most disjointed likeness. He kind of looks like Tommy Dreamer, but with gold trunks (the only way I knew it was Del Rio). They also had more obscure guys than one would expect to be immortalized in Squinkie form (like Brodus Clay, Zack Ryder, and Yoshi Tatsu – they just don’t fit in with Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker).
I like the Squinkies because everyone who sees them just has to pick them up and try to figure out if they recognize any. Thanks Jenn!
Homemade Boxer Shorts
In university, I became fast friends with Hilary when we carpooled to Ottawa to apartment hunt. We spent the 6-hour drive talking movies and food, and ended up getting an apartment together, where we’d watch wrestling every Saturday morning. It was very cool to have a friend that was funny as hell and could get down with the antics of pro wrestling.
For Christmas that year, she got her Mom to MAKE me a pair of boxer shorts using old-school WWF fabric. Check ‘em out:
This is special occasion wear, only for big events and as a good luck charm for exams. The boxers must be preserved! In a quirky touch that speaks to her awesomeness, Hilary’s mom sewed clown-shaped buttons on the fly. I don’t know if they still make this fabric; I’m shocked she found it in the first place. The rare material, coupled with it being handmade, makes this gift super special.
Wrestler Names Poster
So Hilary has lived in England for many years now, and we get precious little time together. In 2009, we met up in Houston for the ultimate experience: we got to see Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ricky Steamboat inducted into the Hall of Fame, and WrestleMania 25. I must also mention, because it is one of the highlights of her trip, that Hilary stood beside Randy Orton at the zoo (at the lion enclosure, if you must know).
We try to Skype for Christmas gift-opening every year, and I’m so happy that I got to open this in her virtual presence. This is ART. This is wrestling geekdom at its finest. It is a print called “The Titantic Taxonomy of Wrestler Names”. I have it up in The Lair, but it’s hard to capture the detail so I’ve used an image from the website she got it from.
It categorizes all the different types of wrestler names, indicating where there are sub-types and related types. For example, “The Model” Rick Martel falls under “Professions > Fashion” but is cross-referenced with “Physical or Metaphysical Attributes > Of Comely Visage and Form > Handsome” (sharing the “Handsome” category with Handsome Harley Race, Adorable Adrian Adonis, Beautiful Bobby, and Gorgeous George. Whoever made this poster is crazy detail-oriented (the website also does Rap Names and Beers, but not together).
You can probably guess how I feel about this gift.
“Hitman” by Bret Hart
This gift was a game-changer. At Christmas 2007, I had two children under the age of 3 – it was the stage of life when having a shower feels like a victory. I didn’t even know that Bret Hart had written a book, and I’d only been watching the occasional Pay-Per-View as a treat (and nothing else, in terms of wrestling). My sister thought I’d enjoy this book because I started watching wrestling in 1986, and Bret covers everything. My mind was blown. I don’t think I moved from the couch for two days straight. I just cuddled my baby and read my book. I was completely engrossed, and the first thing I wanted to do after reading the book was watch wrestling. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I became a fan again, but this time with even greater fervor like a born-again Christian.
Six years later, I’ve probably read this book three times cover-to-cover, and several times more skipping the first quarter of it. It is very well written, and divulges so much insider information that you find your jaw dropping while you read it. I’d rank it as one of the Top 3 wrestling autobiographies. Bret’s an excellent storyteller, and no detail is omitted (though the truth of the details has become more suspect as the years have passed).
A few months after I got back into wrestling, I had some health issues. Wrestling gave me something to watch in the middle of the night, when I had insomnia and was desperate to pass the time. I often listened to Wrestlecast as a way to fall asleep. And wrestling just gave me an escape from my frenzied thoughts. I think it’s why I get overly sentimental in these columns sometimes. It was a great escape as a kid, and it saved me again as an adult. Whenever people tease my husband, “So what do you think about Heather being into wrestling?” he just says, “Hey, there are worse things to be into”.
Bret Hart captured the brotherhood and the art of wrestling in his book. I was so happy that I was able to get him to sign it at an ROH event in Toronto a few years ago. It’s a must read, put it on your wish list!
WWF Wrestling Stars Game
On a lighter note, here is another gift from my sister. I believe she found it at a yard sale, and knew that no one else should have it but me. The object of the game is to “Win matches by pinning opponents and be the first to win the championship”. I think we tried to play the game, but it was so convoluted that we gave up quickly. I’ve set it up a bit for the sake of a photo. This is journalism at its finest!
I like how the character pieces are just candid photos of the wrestlers in the middle of doing something, other than Orndorff, Steamboat, and Volkoff who are posing. This would never fly in the current WWE, where everything is so staged and polished. It’s like Vince sent the game company an old wrestling magazine to cut out the pictures from. I also really like how the spaces on the board are marked with wrestling moves of yesteryear, such as “Airplane Spin”, “Back Squeeze” (and how is that different from the also-present “Bear Hug”?), and “Head Butt”. My third favorite thing about this game is that it’s made by Hasbro Canada, so it has to be bilingual. The official name of the game, plastered everyone on it, is “Wrestling Stars De La Lutte” which is super fun to say all together.
Now that I’ve got it all spread out, I think I’ll use some of the pieces as decorations for The Lair, and I could put the game board out on the coffee table as a giant coaster of sorts. See, this was a very practical exercise!
Shawn Michaels Action Figure
Imagine my surprise to find this in my Christmas stocking, which meant my husband picked it out. Since he’s not a wrestling fan, I really appreciate when he picks out something like this for me. He knew how much I loved going to WrestleMania 25. Being a Shawn Michaels fan since The Rockers, I felt privileged to have seen his match against The Undertaker in person. This is the “Defining Moments” line of figures, in this case to commemorate HBK’s ring attire for that match.
I can still remember how they raised him up on that crazy hydraulic lift, with his arms outstretched and a starburst of white light behind him. It was a little much, but yet exactly enough for the Reliant Astrodome. Thankfully, he removed the gigantic white hat and coat when he came down that aisle. I just got a shiver thinking about the level at which those two men wrestled that night. Both around 43 years old!
I’ve never opened the package, not because I want to preserve the doll, but because the package is part of the charm. Hmmm, looking at it closely, the doll’s face doesn’t look like HBK at all. It could be John Cena, or Randy Orton. Funny.
I’m not kidding, as soon as I took this picture, my thumb accidentally squeezed the box, it started to fall out of my hand (I was holding my camera in the other hand), and I ended up crushing the corner of the box in an effort to not drop it. This is why I can’t have nice things.
No matter what form this time of year takes for you, I wish you all good health and happiness. Thanks for reading!