Professional wrestling is capitalism at its finest. It is an art form as American as jazz, but is more importantly a business originating from old carnivals where carny wrestlers earned their keep by working marks out of their money. Take a moment to reflect upon all the revenue streams that WWE collects on: live events, television rights, advertising, pay-per-view, the WWE Network, magazine and web, in addition to the endless barrage of merchandising that ranges from t-shirts to action figures to video games to even talking-soap and pizza prints.
WWE does at least separate itself from legitimate sports in the sense that its playing field is void of advertisements. While the boards of a hockey rink are typically marked with advertising, and NASCAR vehicles are decked out with corporate logos, the WWE ring is essentially a blank canvas and the focus is always centered upon the superstars. However, there are plenty of cases in current wrestling and from the past in which product placement has trickled onto a wrestler’s tights, into ridiculous backstage segments, or onto the announcers' table. In addition to a PPV being “brought to you by” a corporate sponsor, corporate sponsors will sometimes seamlessly work their way into the show itself. Thus, the following is a list of fifteen instances of subtle or not-so-subtle product placements in pro wrestling. Know that this list only concerns itself with third party sponsors, so concern yourself not with ICO-PRO and WWF Ice Cream Bars but do take pleasure in blockbuster movies and salty snacks.
16 WWE Raw and Kentucky Grilled Chicken
15 Rick Steiner vs. Chucky from Child’s Play
14 Larry Zbyszko, Morphoplex and TNA Wrestling
13 12.WWF Raw, Jerry Lawler, Sunny & Karate Fighters
12 Arik Cannon, Official Pabst Blue Ribbon Wrestler
10 CM Punk & Colt Cabana’s official merchandise
9 The Kiss Demon
8 Triple H’s Terminator Genysis Entrance at WrestleMania 31
7 Ric Flair & The Marriott
6 Stone Cold Steve Austin & the Coors Light beer truck
5 Joey Ryan and YouP***
4 X-Pac & Hansen’s Energy Drink
3 WCW & SURGE
2 Robocop saves Sting at WCW Capital Combat: The Return of Robocop
1 Slim Jim & Macho Man Randy Savage
As if any other product placement could take #1 on this list. One of wrestling’s greatest of all time Macho Man Randy Savage was well known for his endorsements of Slim Jim, America’s favourite gas station meat stick. Not only was the Macho Man star of many Slim Jim commercials that were nothing short of mind blowing, he sometimes wore Slim Jim themed ring gear, and even gave away an actual Slim Jim monster truck to a lucky contest winner on WCW Halloween Havoc 1996. Macho Man made Slim Jim, without question, the most memorable corporate sponsor in wrestling history. The relationship between the two was so important in fact that Lanny Poffo, Savage’s brother, claims that rift created between McMahon and Savage when Savage left WWF for WCW was largely due to Savage taking his Slim Jim sponsorship with him to the rival company. Randy Savage was money for Slim Jim, and many people to this day cannot disassociate these meat sticks with the Macho Man.
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