This is the goal of Hunter Hearst-Helmsley and Stephanie McMahon’s archival museum and premises to this program, WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures on A&E. Trips and Stef wish to create a mobile WWE museum and bring back the items that made the company what it is, reconnecting them with the fans.
I was asked to review the debut episode on A&E because of my experience in hunting down rare items and collecting and my passion for wrestling. According to the show 95 percent of WWE used memorabilia has disappeared into obscurity and the hands of private collectors.
The series debut episode starts by sending Mick Foley and WWE field collector AJ Francis to source and find iconic pieces of Mick Foley’s career: The original Mankind shirt, Cactus Jack vest and Mr. Socko.
At the home of “The GCW Collector” in Detroit, the pair found one of the ring-used Mr Sockos but not one designed by Richie Posner who created the iconic piece. This Socko was handmade by Mick Foley and looks much different in style. For a trade of the collector simply having met Mick the owner happily donated the sock to the collection.
But they didn’t find the original.
The duo then went to the home of David Chudy in Bridgewater, NJ, who apparently owns the original Cactus Jack flannel jacket — the very jacket that defines the character and connects Foley to the sacrifice he made for the fans.
Chudy owns some amazing pieces including ring worn items, boots and various gear. He produced a Raw 15th anniversary Foley worn shirt, shoes worn by Mick but the highlight was the very vest. It was won at a charity auction and the owner was hesitant to part with the piece. After some monetary negotiating the owner refused to give it up.
They negotiated a private tour sneak peek of the upcoming historical museum with the owner to try and entice him to part with the iconic vest.
Then we see the pair travel to Hobart, Indiana, to seek the original Mankind shirt. They visit the collection of Tim Jameson who owns basement museum of beautiful gear worn by Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart and indeed the first Mankind shirt. Foley himself authenticates the piece based on tears caused in famous matches.
The same drama ensues with monetary back and forth with an eventual deal to acquire it for $7,500 and a private appearance in the seller’s home by Foley at an upcoming PPV.
The episode ends with Chudy visiting the museum in Stanford. CT. Archivist Ben Brown curates the space to butter up the seller. They explore costumes, coffins and other pieces of WWE history, giving us a peek at the future museum and it’s content.
They all agree to trade the vest for $2,500 and a ring-used barbed wire 2×4. I suspect when the cameras were not rolling they paid him more, it seemed too little.
I would be interested to see where the direction of this WWE archive show goes. Are they going to dive into the history of wrestling itself and include items from the 1950s and Capitol Wrestling for the diehard buff? From what I see they are not rewriting history to fit the WWE narrative but that remains to be seen.
An appearance by Vince McMahon at the end of the episode seemed forced as if he didn’t even care and was dismissive. Foley presented the Mr. Socko in a silly vignette that could have been left out.
Episode one was fun to watch and well put together. I enjoyed that it focused around the journey of one superstar and reliving (in this case) Mick Foleys career to give the lay viewer context to the items being sourced.
The running theme is that these items are priceless, both to the collector and WWE itself. Good show, I’m eager to see where it goes and I suggest checking it out.