Professional wrestling is a hugely popular branch of sports entertainment that is performed by athletes in countless promotions around the world – most notably the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), which was formerly the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), but also in other promotions like TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) and ROW (Reality of Wrestling). Household name stars like Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin have all made their names in the business.
With it being such a huge industry – again, particularly when it comes to the global brand of the WWE – professional wrestling merchandise is hot property. Toys, clothing, video games, lunch boxes, DVDs, posters, books, stickers, ornaments and everything else you could possibly think of have all been given the professional wrestling treatment. In the majority of cases, they’re great – especially for children who are fans of the industry.
However, some wrestling merchandise is just terrible. Whether it’s shoddy in quality or pointless with regards to its usage, various professional wrestling products that you can buy are just a waste of money – and this article is going to list just a small portion of the absolute worst cases.
Here are twenty utterly terrible examples of professional wrestling merchandise…
20. The Bizarrely Proportioned Action Figures
There have been literally hundreds of wrestling figure toy lines over the years – with many of them being pretty terrible – so limiting this list to one generic entry prevents it from being full to the brim with them.
To differentiate one toy line from another, WWE figures are often ridiculously out-of-proportion in comparison to what the wrestlers really look like and, quite often, it just makes the toys look absolutely stupid. And yes, that hideously out-of-proportion figure in the picture above – from the Maximum Sweat 4 toy line – is meant to be Road Dogg. It comes with real sweating action, no less…
19. The Absolutely Terrible Video Games
Like the toy lines, there have been so many terrible professional wrestling video games that picking the single worst is almost impossible. It seems clear, after failure upon failure, that the general concept of terrible wrestling games should really just die.
A prime example could come in the form of WCW Backstage Assault – a game which opted to exclude wrestling rings from its gameplay. Genius huh? It was released on the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation back in 2000.
Other wrestling games that should be avoided at all costs include WWF Royal Rumble, which was released on the Sega Dreamcast in 2000, and WWE Crush Hour, which was released in 2003 on the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube.
When you try to discern a scent that would represent the wrestling industry, what do you imagine? Sweat? Meat? Being on the end of a “Stink Face” from Rikishi? Regardless of what first comes to mind, you certainly didn’t imagine the kind of fragrance you’d like to douse all over your face and chest on a daily basis.
And that’s what makes this so strange. Both the WWE (the WWF at the time) and WCW once released colognes for men – using the brands of “Attitude” and “Nitro” respectively. Unsurprisingly, they were horrible.
17. Talking Soap
Soap is, of course, a daily essential in the life of every normal person who lives in a civil society. How it looks isn’t really relevant, though soap companies do tend to try to make it look appealing. Soap with a wrestling superstar on it is all well and good (albeit pointless). Soap with a wrestling superstar on it, which also talks, is absolutely ridiculous.
WWE released a number of soaps with superstars (including The Rock and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin) on them – but the soap actually spoke. It was the absolute definition of merchandise taken to the point of absurd, but it was evidence that some wrestling fans will literally buy anything with their favourite wrestler’s face – and voice – on it.
16. Pizza Prints
Who doesn’t like pizza? It’s fantastic as it is, with a dough base covered in cheese, tomato sauce and whichever other delicious ingredients you decide to top your base with.
A topping any given pizza absolutely doesn’t need, though, is a picture on it – and yet the WWE saw fit to make edible prints to put on them! Yes, really!
Made from various starches and food colourings, the prints depicted guys like the Undertaker, John Cena, Kane and Rey Mysterio, Jr. and were the epitome of pointlessness. One can only imagine that they actually worsened the pizza eating experience, rather than improving it.
15. Ice Cream Bars
Like pizzas, pretty much everyone loves ice cream and, also like pizzas, ice cream doesn’t need a picture on it to enhance the experience. However – surprise, surprise – the WWE fancied its chances in the ice cream market and decided to release chocolate-covered ice cream bars with wrestling superstars on them.
It won’t come as a shock to anyone with a brain that these have now been discontinued, but the bars depicted wrestlers like CM Punk and Hulk Hogan on them – and they were advertised by wrestling industry figures like WWE owner Vince McMahon and legendary manager Jimmy Hart.
14. Daniel Bryan Beard Merchandise
Daniel Bryan is, undoubtedly, one of the most popular superstars in professional wrestling today – and indeed of all time – with his legions of fans (known as the “Yes! Movement”, in accordance with his trademark quote of “Yes!”) who adore him unconditionally, due to his likeable character and near-unrivalled in-ring technical ability.
He’s known for his beard and, as a result, his fans want to have a beard too, so the fake Daniel Bryan beard that they can buy is sort of understandable. But then there’s also the Daniel Bryan beard hat – which really is an actual a thing – and that’s just utterly horrible.
13. WWF Superstars Shoot-Out Hockey
You know what wrestlers do? They wrestle. This means they do not play hockey – and yet a game was released which saw the WWF roster depicted as hockey players on a mini rink; WWF Superstars Shoot-Out.
The game was reminiscent of a number of variations of other sports-based battery-powered games around the world, like soccer. It allowed two human players to play mini-hockey against each other, using basic battery-powered controllers to make two teams of wrestling superstars (including the likes of Hulk Hogan, Earthquake, Ultimate Warrior, Tugboat, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Mr. Perfect) play hockey against each other.
12. Christmas Ornaments
Christmas is a time when we all decorate our houses with tinsel, Christmas trees, Christmas cards and festive ornaments. The latter generally consist of trinkets in the form of things like Santa Claus, reindeer, red-breasted robins, elves, snowmen and nativity scenes – so who in the right mind would want ornaments with crudely drawn images of wrestlers on them or baubles with “RIC FLAIR” written on them in big capital letters?
11. Little Stone Cold
If you want guaranteed nightmares for the rest of your life, please feel free to purchase one of these terrifying little monsters.
It’s hard to imagine where there could possibly be a market for this thing. Surely you either like dolls or you like wrestling – very few demographics leak into the crossover area. And yet WWE (then WWF) saw fit to make a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin doll in the style of the classic dolls associated with little girls.
10. Character Finger Rings
All jewellery – even costume jewellery – is meant to have a touch of class to it. However, class and professional wrestling aren’t two things that really go hand in hand – so when the WWE decided to bring out a range of brass finger rings with wrestlers’ faces on them, it was pretty much asking for trouble.
The rings in question come in the shape of the faces of various WWE superstars and former superstars – including John Cena (pictured above), Hornswoggle (also pictured above), Triple H and Rey Mysterio, Jr. – but they bear very little resemblance to the people in question.
9. Sting Hat
You know what really wouldn’t make a cool concept for a hat? A latex model of superstar wrestler sting riding on a rocket ship, that’s what.
So why on earth did anybody ever see fit to make exactly that? That’s right, what you’re seeing there is a hat depicting the man now known as “The Vigilante” holding onto a rocket for dear life.
It really is beggar’s belief that someone actually even conceived this idea, let alone the fact that they actually decided to go ahead with making it a reality.
8. Sheamus Headgear
You know what wouldn’t make a good piece of merchandise in any walk of life? A head band accompanied by an attached big ginger wig – and yet the WWE have seen fit to mass produce exactly that.
Based on the fighting Irishman Sheamus, this horrible bit of kit lets fans of the wrestler have hair just like him. And it comes complete with the slogan “Brogue Kick Hooligans” – the name of his followers, which makes reference to the fact that his finishing move in the ring is the Brogue Kick, and the fact that he’s a bit of a hooligan.
7. A Cook Book
“Can You Take The Heat? The WWF Is Cooking!”
That was the name of this 2000 book, which combined the-then WWF with culinary skills – because every wrestling fan wants to cook like their favourite in-ring superstars… Right?
Granted, Jim Ross might have his own range of delicious sauces and The Rock’s catchphrase is, of course, “if you smell what The Rock is cooking” – but the link between the two things is still tenuous at best, and a prime example of trying to make money in the most desperate way possible.
6. Power Grip Squirts
When it comes to having fun with water, kids love it. Water pistols have been popular toys since the 1890s and the most popular brand – the Super Soaker – first made its appearance on shelves in 1989.
Super Soakers hold varying amounts of water, but even the smaller ones are generally enough to give your friends… well… a super soaking. And the force with which they fire water out is generally quite excessive.
5. Sting Masks
Sting is one of the most iconic figures ever to have graced professional wrestling, so it’s understandable why fans of the industry would want to look like him and pretend to be him. However, in order to do that, nobody should ever wear one of these rubber Sting masks.
They are horrific and, frankly, look like the vacant faces of a depraved, cheap sex doll. At best, they are a sure-fire way to scare the living hell out of somebody you don’t like very much. Still, if you insist on wearing one of them, at least you have the choice of two different colours!
4. The John Cena Nutcracker
The John Cena Holiday Nutcracker is exactly what it sounds like – a nutcracker, themed for the holidays (even stupider than the WWE-themed festive ornaments), with a vague reference to John Cena emblazoned on it in the form of the superstar’s trademark quote “You can’t see me”.
It’s a prime example of merchandise for the sake of merchandise, as it really has nothing to do with either wrestling or Cena himself – in fact, it’s actually a black-haired soldier with a curly moustache who just happens to have the aforementioned slogan on his hat.
3. The Ultimate Warrior Comic Book
Back in 1997, Ultimate Comics published the first Ultimate Warrior comic book – simply titled “Warrior” – and it was, as you would probably expect, absolutely insane.
It was written by James Brian Hellwig – the late, great Ultimate Warrior himself, no less. It delivered some truly crazy scenes, such as the Ultimate Warrior giving birth to himself, the Ultimate Warrior fighting against himself, the Ultimate Warrior acting like a total douche after having his body taken over, and the Ultimate Warrior getting into the Christmas spirit in some very bizarre ways.
2. The APA “Always Pounding Ass” T-shirt
The APA – the Acolytes Protection Agency – consisted of Farooq (Ron Simmons) and Bradshaw (John Layfield). They were a tag team in the Attitude era whose theme was simple – they liked kicking ass and, if you could afford them, you could pay them to kick ass for you.
With that in mind, a number of phrases developed as part of their gimmick – one being questionable to say the least. “Always Pounding Ass” could certainly be interpreted in more than one way, so when it was put onto a T-shirt, anyone who bought it was really asking for trouble.
Various other T-shirts have been terrible too, including the Trish Stratus “Blow Me” T-shirt and the one that looks like Sin Cara has his private parts out – but “Always Pounding Ass” will take some beating.
1. The AJ Lee Ponytail Hat
The now-retired AJ Lee – real name April Jeanette Brooks (she’s married to Phillip “CM Punk” Brooks) – was one of the most popular Divas in WWE for around five years. She spawned a lot of merchandise through her popularity but none were quite as ridiculous – or as inexplicable – as this particular example.
It’s a baseball cap with a ponytail attachment and it’s undoubtedly terrible, but it’s made even worse by the fact that AJ Lee was hardly even renowned for having a ponytail.
Wearing one of these is a sure-fire way to make yourself look like an idiot – especially if, you know, you’re a man.