Proving that you can teach an old dog a new trick, tonight I launched my first-ever NFT (Non Fungible Tokens), making it one of the few available to wrestling fans ever. And to think, a year ago, I didn’t know what an NFT was!
The one I am most proud of comes from Andre the Giant’s debut at Madison Square Garden in 1973, as I know how unique it is — as far as I know, and as far as WWE knows, I’m the only one that owns footage of that historic moment, which I shot from my seat on 8 mm film. And, I believe it is the first time the name Andre the Giant was ever used, being given the name by Vince McMahon Sr. for his WWWF in ring debut.
It’s not often that things that we do at age 16 turn out so well decades later!
The NFT space is fairly new, and I became interested in getting into the field because of these rare pieces of history I have in my archives. I see it as a chance for others to own a digital print of this historic, mythical figure in not just pro wrestling, but in pop culture as well. There are few legends as big as Andre — literally and physically! — in the history of pro wrestling, and these NFTs can now be owned as an investment, or for the collector.
Naturally, I timed it to go live as A&E’s WWE Lost Treasures show turns its attention to Andre the Giant this week, with “Big Show” Paul Wight and Mark Henry trying to track down Andre collectibles. A&E/WWE licensed some of my Andre footage from MSG for this episode.
The match itself, on March 26, 1973, was against Buddy Wolfe.
Slipping into salesman mode — if you have read my book, Mat Memories: My Wild Life in Pro Wrestling, Country Music and with the Mets, you know sales is my thing — but wait, there’s more!
Two other NFT mini movies of Andre are also being offered. One is from Andre’s second match at the Garden on April 30, 1973, against Professor Tanaka, and the other is from later in the year, November 12th, when the Giant teamed with Chief Jay Strongbow to battle Stan Stasiak and Blackjack Lanza.
The NFTs are all 30-day auctions, with an entry point of under $275 for a bid, using the NFT platform Open Sea for facilitating the purchases. I’ve partnered with the NFT guys out of New York, who have done several of these, most notably with a few of the World Series Champion 1986 NY Mets (another reason I felt this was the right fit, the Amazin’ tie-in to my beloved Mets). They are good, reputable partners in this venture. If they didn’t have experience in this new growing space, or facilitate with Open Sea, I don’t think I would have agreed to do this.
Part of me thinks it’s a crazy idea, but I’m always willing to try something new.
Who knows what’s next?
I plan on taking a careful look at the developing NFT marketplace for wrestling. With the WWE now active in the space, and selling a series of Undertaker NFT, including one which sold for $100,000, I figured my never before seen, only known footage of these matches from almost 50 years ago should have some value as investment collectibles.
There are plenty of other neat things from my archives to perhaps do something similar, especially from the 50 or so films from 1973 and 1974 that I filmed at ringside at MSG featuring such legends like Bruno Sammartino, Don Leo Jonathan, the Funks, Mil Mascaras, Pedro Morales, Freddie Blassie, John Tolos, among others.