A huge factor for any wrestling business is merchandise sales. It gives companies their widest margin for profit, so coming up with cool t-shirts to sell at events, or now on WWEShop.com is crucial for business. It’s a way company officials measure a wrestler’s popularity and it’s very likely that the more merchandise your name sells, the higher regarded you are in the company.
The WWE in particular has produced some amazing shirts that we fans aren’t embarrassed to show off to our friends or even strangers. Releasing a shirt that matches a wrestler’s persona is of the utmost importance in getting them over with the audience and convincing fans to line up and purchase them. If a wrestler’s t-shirt is flooding the stands, the buzz about them keeps spreading and it does wonders for the business’s bottom line. Here are the 10 best wrestling t-shirts of all time. It may not be a bad idea to add some of these to your collection.
10) Rated R Superstar
Look on WWEShop.com in Edge‘s section. You’d be hard pressed to find a bad looking shirt. People may not recognize the Rated R Supserstar shirt as iconic yet, but that’s likely just because Edge has only been retired for three years. Give it some more time and when the current generation of wrestling fans grow older, they’ll look back at the best of their era and this is a shirt they’ll want to collect.
Foul language, violence and sexual themes all written on the same shirt? Maybe you shouldn’t wear this to work or school, but it’ll definitely look good when walking around on the street. The shirt matched the Edge character of the mid 2000s perfectly, as he was never afraid to push the envelope and quickly became the WWE’s best heel of his time.
9) CM Punk: Best in the World
While CM Punk and WWE’s relationship is strained, the company has not pulled Punk’s merchandise off its website. You know why? It still sells like crazy and why shouldn’t it? Even before Punk’s famous pipe bomb promo, he typically had some of the coolest looking merchandise in the company. While children were begging their parents to buy them the newest colourful Cena shirt, the men were lining up to buy the shirt of their new hero.
Punk’s “Best in the World” shirt theme had many incarnations, but we’ll stick to the original. The most common main colour for a wrestling shirt is black, but Punk’s logo of a fist holding the lightning bolt, planted in front of the design of the Chicago city flag looked really sharp in white. It stands out from other shirts. There’s no doubt that in the last few years CM Punk has regularly had some of the best merchandise WWE has to offer.
8) Hot Rod
The flaming words of “Hot Rod” captured the Rowdy Roddy Piper character perfectly. This shirt came along in the era that was a huge boom period for professional wrestling, so it’d be crazy not to include a few from this time period.
Piper was the era’s best villain, so the shirt wasn’t scattered around arenas, but as he transitioned into a fan favourite, fans started to appreciate just how good he was. Even today, if you don’t just want to go the generic route for nostalgia by buying a Hogan shirt, why not go for the Hot Rod? Heck, if you want a great Halloween costume, go for the matching red kilt.
7) Cactus Jack: Wanted Dead or Alive
It was a toss-up between the Cactus Jack: Wanted Dead or Alive shirt or the beloved Dude Love rainbow hippie shirt. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that close.
This badass Cactus Jack shirt followed Mick Foley every time he reincarnated the Cactus Jack character. Why would he go to a different shirt? It’s pretty hard to follow this one up. When you think of Cactus Jack, you think of a loose cannon, with no regard for his or anyone else’s safety. One who loves violence and pain. The king of hardcore wrestling. He was easily adaptable as both a ruthless heel and a brave babyface. To those who think Mick Foley is all corny jokes and loveable teddy bearness, watch some old Cactus Jack promos and you’ll see why you would print this slogan on a shirt with Mick Foley’s face on it.
6) Macho Man
The shirt looks good in every colour in which it was sold; light purple, pink, green, orange, yellow, etc…
A relatively simple design, just printing the words, Macho Man and some images of Savage behind the design of his famous sunglasses.
Hogan was the most popular and recognizable face of his era, but Randy Savage wasn’t far behind. In fact, looking back now, Savage’s work probably resonates better with fans today, given the fact that he consistently delivered in the ring, on top of his larger-than-life persona and promos that every fan attempts to imitate today.
If you have some nostalgia for the Golden Era, getting this shirt will surely give you your fix. However, if you’re going to cut the sleeves, please ensure that you have some biceps to show off. Otherwise the Macho Man words on your abdomen will just look out of place.
5) D-Generation X
Do you want something you and your friends can all do together? Why not go around in this iconic shirt and show how rebellious and care-free you are? Okay, maybe that won’t help your social life all that much, but there’s nothing wrong with parading it around at the right time.
The most popular faction in WWE history had to have cool merchandise to go with their rebellious nature, and we’ll stick with the most recognizable one. The grey D-Generation X words with the big X backdrop.
These were common to see on the school playground back in the day and many of us probably still have one of these around the house somewhere. Why wouldn’t you?
4) nWo: new World order
Whether you liked it, or whether you didn’t like it, it was the best shirt going back then! The n…W…o!
A WCW wrestler who started sporting these colours was branded nWo for life, and fans quickly lined up to be branded nWo themselves. What started out as an outsider trio quickly took off as its own establishment and the nWo shirt became WCW’s best selling shirt. It was so simple, with just a plain white print of ‘nWO: new World order’ outlined with a white box on a black t-shirt, but what it represented was the look of a badass, which was what fans of the era wanted.
3) Brahma Bull: Just Bring It
Here’s a hint; the next three wrestling shirts on this list are going to be from the industry’s three biggest stars of all time.
Okay, so we start with The Rock. He had so many shirts to choose from, but we’ve got to go with the ‘Just Bring It’ on the front and the Brahma Bull on the back. The modern adaptation of the shirt is actually an improvement over the retro one, as the Brahma Bull on the back is far crisper and grabs your attention a lot more. The text on the front is sharper as well. Whether you want the nostalgic look or the modern one is up to you; you can’t go wrong with either one if you’re one of the millions… and millions of The Rock’s fans.
The Rock has become the biggest star to come out of the wrestling business in its history, when you’re talking about fame in the mainstream. His shirts helped connect fans with The Great One.
2) Hulkamania / Hulk Rules
Why break our heads trying to decide between Hulkamania and Hulk Rules? Hogan always ripped them off anyway. The red and yellow shirts remain iconic and forever will.
The shirts helped all the little Hulkamaniacs connect with their hero. It brought the wrestling business to unprecedented heights and added to the legend of Hulkamania. To this day, you see these shirts in wrestling venues and have even started seeing kids of this generation wear them; kids who only have their parents’ stories and WWE’s video library to know who Hogan is. It just goes to show you that Hulkamania will live forever and Hulk will always rule.
1) Austin 3:16
How can a shirt that had Austin 3:16 in simple white text and a skull on the back be the highest selling t-shirt in the history of professional wrestling? Well, probably because it represented one of the coolest lines in history, “Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!”
Stone Cold was the king of merchandise not only in his day but of all time. He shattered Hogan’s seemingly unbreakable merchandise records and even to this day, he is still among the top sellers on WWEShop.com.
Perhaps no superstar in WWE history reached the popularity within the industry that the Texas Rattlesnake did. He was the biggest star in the most lucrative era and anyone who calls themselves a wrestling fan needs one of Stone Cold’s shirts in their collection. You can’t go wrong with this one. Fans rallied behind Austin like no other, and his fans remain loyal to him to this day. It’s hard to imagine a t-shirt coming along that will top the iconic, revolutionary Austin 3:16.