2020 has been… well let’s just say it’s been interesting. But at least we have the holidays to look forward to, right? And this year you will have some expert help from SlamWrestling.net for all the pro wrestling enthusiasts on your list! Our honorary Slam secret Santas: John Powell, Dave Hillhouse, Jamie Melissa Hemmings and Rasslin Merch Machine have collaborated to provide their ultimate gift recommendations. So if you are stressing about gifts, you can now relax and you’re most welcome! You’ve got this! Now, let’s all raise our glasses of eggnog, preferably spiked, and toast about the day when we can all get together and laugh about this debacle of a year. I’m sure that’s only a few decades away at most. Happy Holidays!
Movie gift recommendations by DAVE HILLHOUSE
Slam Wrestling’s Hollywood Headlock is mainly focused on three things: movies about wrestling, documentaries about wrestling, and wrestlers in movies. With that framework in mind, this Slam Secret Santa has prepared a selection from each category to bring joy and visions of sugar holds dancing in the heads of your favourite wrestling fan.
Let’s start with a movie about wrestling. It’s a blast from the past that just so happened to receive a Blu-Ray re-release treatment earlier this year: It’s GRUNT! The Wrestling Movie. Released in 1985, this mockumentary co-written and directed by Allan Holzman has been hailed as wrestling’s This is Spinal Tap, which had been released just one year prior. The set-up is simple: a former champion wrestler named “Mad Dog” Joe DeCursohas, who had faded into obscurity and disappeared from wrestling, has seemingly returned to the ring under the guise of “The Mask.” A documentary filmmaker journeys to uncover the truth, encountering time-period wrestling matches that bring you back to the last days before WrestleMania.
While there’s only so much that can be done with original material, the Blu-Ray release presents about as clear and crisp of an audio/video version as you could ask for. There are wrestlers and personalities galore in this one, from Adrian Street to Dick Murdoch and more. If you’re shopping for someone who pines for the 1980s in the ring, this just might be your ticket. It’s also available on DVD. Buy GRUNT! The Wrestling Movie on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
Next up: if you’re going to talk about wrestlers making their way onto the silver screen, then you are bound to talk about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. We don’t need to get too deep into his “lightning in a bottle” twice-over career, but after The Rock electrified the WWF, Johnson went on to dominate Hollywood. While you have a number of choices of big films by Johnson (though slightly fewer than millions and millions), you might as well think big like the big man himself. The Fast & The Furious 8-Film Collection offers about as big a spectacle as you could ask for, and is a great way to tide your wrestling/racing fan over until the ninth installment with John Cena arrives sometime next year. Not all of The Fast & The Furious films, of course, feature Johnson, but it’s probably no coincidence that the ones that do, showcase the most eyebrow-raising stunts and fight scenes. This set is available in Blu-Ray, DVD, and a 4K Ultra-HD version. Buy The Fast & The Furious 8-Film Collection on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
Lastly, it’s another new release, and one that was featured on Slam earlier this year. The documentary Nail in the Coffin: The Rise and Fall of Vampiro is available on Blu-Ray and, as stated in our review, it is an emotional tale of wrestling, family, and the battle between the two. Directed by Michael Paszt and featuring an exploration of Vampiro’s career, his deteriorating health, and his relationship with daughter Dasha, it fits best on this gift-giving list as something you can give to a wrestling fan, but it’s also something that you can give to someone who doesn’t follow the sport/spectacle and will give them an engaging look behind the curtain. The cinematography is lovely to watch, and the film manages to press in at the right times, while also capturing some bittersweet moments by giving its subjects some space. Buy Nail in the Coffin: The Rise and Fall of Vampiro on Amazon.com.
Book gift recommendations by JAMIE MELISSA HEMMINGS
Sabu: Scars, Silence & Superglue by “Sabu” Terry Brunk and Kenny Casanova from Walking on Hot Waffles (WOHW) Publishers
Is there someone on your holiday gift list who likes their pro wrestling more hardcore? Well it doesn’t get any more hardcore than the Sabu autobiography! The book literally starts off with a bang – as Sabu recalls being shot in the face in his younger days. It’s the Sabu book after all! What did you expect? From there, the book doesn’t let up as readers are taken along as Sabu decides to pursue a career within the squared circle. From the hilarious training techniques of his uncle, the original Sheik; to his infamously bloody bouts in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW); his aversions to hospitals and gas station chili; the notorious story involving Sunny (Tammy Lynn Sytch) and even his unfiltered and often controversial Twitter musings, it’s all here folks! There’s also contributions from plenty of Sabu’s peers including Tommy Dreamer, the Blue Meanie, Kevin Sullivan, Mikey Whipwreck, Taz (Yes you heard right! After he and Sabu feuded both inside and outside the ring, Taz still wrote one of the book’s forewords!), Raven, Al Snow and Rob Van Dam. This book is the strongest offering from ghost writer, Casanova, yet. Not every reader will have the stomach for this, but for those who do, they will get further insight on one of pro wrestling’s proudest journeymen. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Keep reading Slam for an upcoming, fuller review story on this book!) Buy Sabu: Scars, Silence & Superglue on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com or through the WOHW website.
Women Love Wrestling edited by Jason Norris, independently published
I know, I know. I have championed this book A LOT this year. In fact, it is hands down my favorite pro wrestling book of 2020! You must keep in mind, for us female pro wrestling fans, we have gone through a lot. Some would say we have even suffered for our passion. We endured The Attitude Era, a pillow fight match at WrestleMania, and the vomit-inducing antics of the late Mae Young including flashing her prosthetic chest to the crowd and giving birth to a hand. I, for one, was questioned many times over how I could possibly still be a wrestling fan with all this garbage going on. I honestly sighed with relief when I picked up this book. This anthology is a tremendous and soul cleansing book for the female pro wrestling fans on your list and for those wrestling fans who truly appreciate women’s wrestling. Coming in at 30 chapters, this book features a plethora of enthusiastic and expert contributions that unexpectedly and thoroughly cover a treasure trove of topics. We’re talking discussions running the gamut from skirts to stereotypes to Shakespeare and writing styles that vary from sheer fun to academic to investigative. The book also assertively tackles something a lot of wrestling fans haven’t been exposed to and what is for some the last taboo in pro wrestling: intergender wrestling. And if you still need another reason to buy this book: none of the writers were paid, instead the profits from the publication of the book and its merchandise are being split between RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and Women’s Aid. Buy Women Love Wrestling on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
Friday Night in the Coliseum by Geoff Winningham, from Dancer Press
Proving 2020 wasn’t all bad: old school wrestling fans were delighted to hear that Winningham was reissuing his acclaimed 1971 coffee table book, which many a fan previously and desperately sought out online. The photo book is a visual compilation of Winningham photographing the weekly Houston-based live pro wrestling shows. To complete the book, Winningham would attend 35-38 of the shows and was given unrestricted access to the matches and the grapplers by promoter, Paul Boesch. Along with taking photos, Winningham also carried a portable tape recorder to conduct memorable interviews with the fans and wrestlers. Winningham also spoke with Boesch at every show he attended and dedicated five pages of the book to one such interview with Boesch from November 20, 1971. This new edition is expanded from the original and now runs at 180 pages instead of 144. The book includes stunning black and white photos of such wrestling stars as Johnny Valentine, Mil Mascaras, Thunderbolt Patterson, Wahoo McDaniel and Tim Woods. In addition to having some new photos not in the first edition, Winningham also polished some of the existing text and contributed an afterword. Buy Friday Night in the Coliseum on Winningham’s website.
Collectible recommendations by RASSLIN MERCH MACHINE
WWE Topps 2020 Trading Cards
Double dipping gift alert: A single pack of these cards also make a great stocking stuffer! A box comes with a guaranteed artifact inside. Purchasing autographs can be expensive, and how do you know if they’re real or not? Autograph cards provide a collectible that you know is authentic. Or go vintage with a rookie card or complete base set. A versatile choice for the pro wrestling fans on your list! Available wherever cards are sold.
All Elite Wrestling (AEW) Action Figures
Almost every pro wrestler imaginable has been made into an action figure from the WWE’s roster and the Mattel line has been around for over 10 years. Here’s your opportunity to start a completionist collector off with some of the figures from this brand new series of highly detailed and articulated figures. You can purchase them here.
WWE Funko Pops
Pop icons of all ilks including most of the WWE roster grace this highly stylized line of vinyl display pieces. Seamlessly mix WWE favourites alongside movie, television and other sport figures. These guys look at home on desks, shelves, and even car dashboards. You can purchase them here.
Gaming gift recommendations by JOHN POWELL
With so many people staying close to home this year the gaming world has exploded whether it is casuals picking up Animal Crossing or die-hard gamers loading up Ghost of Tsushima or Cyberpunk 2077. Although the wrestling offerings have been few and far-between, here are some gift ideas for those wrestling and gaming fanatics in your life.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds : PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Personal Computer/PC
The most high-profile release of the year WWE 2K Battlegrounds lived up to the hype of introducing a new way to play. The cheeky presentation and uncomplicated gameplay made it a solid replacement for the vacationing WWE 2K series which did not see a new installment released this year. The best part is that Battlegrounds is the gift that keeps on giving. 2K has been releasing free new content including The Ultimate Warrior and Goldberg as playable characters on a regular basis. Add a holiday price drop into the mix and you have the perfect gift for a gaming, wrestling fan. You can purchase the game anywhere games are sold.
Total Extreme Wrestling 2020: Personal Computer/PC
The eighth installment of this booking simulator has been the best yet. If you want to really know what it is like to manage your own wrestling promotion, book the matches and manage talent, this is the ultimate simulation for you. The base, core game is further enhanced by free fan content which injects real world promotions and superstars into the experience if you know were to look for them. You can purchase the game on Grey Dog Software’s site.
For your tabletop gamer Champions of the Galaxy is your best match. The leading wrestling RPG game has been around for 34 years introducing a colourful roster of real world and fictional wrestlers to select from when forming your own federation, promotion. Scores of additional wrestlers are available to expand the game and you can even create your own following the rules laid down by the creators of the game. A fantastic bonus is that unlike other tabletop games there is no math or pen and paper required to keep score of the game’s stats and there is an online version that automates dice rolls without taking away any of the fun. The game and expansions are available on the Filsinger Games site.
If you are looking for a gaming gift for someone who is not so technically minded you can always go old school with the WWE Legends Royal Rumble Card Game. In this Royal Rumble simulation there are 30 WWE superstars to choose from. You can pick from Randy Savage, Rick Rude, Mark Henry, Steve Austin, Andre the Giant, Ted Dibiase, Mankind, Jim Duggan, Ric Flair, Booker T, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Eddie Guerrero, Dusty Rhodes, Goldberg, Honky Tonk Man, Hulk Hogan and others. Play your cards right and your superstar will be the last one standing. You can purchase the game at Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.