I love a bit of merch. We all do; we want to show our support for our favourite wrestlers and promotions. The problem is that there’s so much beautiful merchandise out there, yet so little money in my wallet. Yet, no matter how light they may leave our pockets, we just cannot resist treating ourselves from time to time.
Being a British fan can be a little arduous at times: we have to stay up later for shows, we don’t always get every show broadcasted over here (I’m looking at you, Lucha Underground), and if we want to support our favourite American wrestlers, we have to shell out an extortionate amount for delivery and customs fees. So, when I found out at the beginning of this year that there is now a service on my home shores that provides high quality grappling goodies at an affordable price, I was one happy hairy fan.
Wrestle Crate UK is a monthly service that sends out a random box of collectibles, clothing, DVDs, and an assortment of miscellaneous, yet wonderful items straight to your doorstep. Although you may not know what you’re getting in advance, the small price tag in comparison to the gifts you receive is always well worth the mystery. Plus, it feels like you’re getting a mini wrestling Christmas every month, which never fails to get me a little excited. With prices starting at £11.99 a month (plus postage and packaging), it costs SIGNIFICANTLY less than WWE’s new Slam Crate, and although their content is not approved by Vinny Mac, it is just as good, if not better. Month after month, I have been consistently impressed by the awesome stuff that arrives at my door, and even when money has been tighter than the ECW payment department, I still cannot resist this little monthly cardboard box of awesomeness.
This month marks their one year anniversary, so what better time than now to look through the past twelve months of awesome wrestling merch. Here are my Top 15 Wrestle Crate UK Items (so far).
(Note: This is not a sponsored piece. I haven’t been asked to write this by Wrestle Crate UK, I simply just love the service so much that I felt like it deserved a dedicated list.)
15. Selection of Wrestling DVDs
Let’s start the list with a must-have for any wrestling fan’s collection – DVDs! But these aren’t just random, lacklustre WWE PPVs, or low quality indie promotions, Wrestle Crate includes at least one high quality DVD every month, most of which are exclusives or have exclusive extra content. Highlights include the Chikara UK Tour DVDs, the Best of Progress DVD that came with a month’s free access to the company’s on-demand service, ROH PPVs that some UK wrestling fans may not know how to access otherwise, and many, many more. Even if you’ve not heard of the promotion, or perhaps a few of the wrestlers’ names on the back of the box have you scratching your head a little, you can be sure that if it’s included within a Wrestle Crate, you know the in-ring action is guaranteed to be top quality.
14. Hunter Water Bottle
Possibly the most unique piece of wrestling merch on this list, this metallic water bottle has such a cool, simple design whilst also being extremely practical – I take this to my shoot job every shift, and it always gets me funny looks because nobody has any idea what it means, but at least I love it. The sledgehammer, the skull, everything about it just screams out awesome. Drinking water has never looked so cool. Also, I love this because it has as many Triple H references as possible without actually being able get sued over it, nice work, guys.
13. Wrestling Arcade Comic
@WrestlingArcade is one of my favourite Twitter accounts; it tweets charming 16-bit style gifs of famous wrestling moments. In a short period of time, they’ve garnered a lot of popularity, and they have even started creating work for WWE, so when I discovered that their first publication would be included inside of a Wrestle Crate, I was excited. Full of humour, beautifully printed images in the signature Wrestling Arcade style, and of course, a whole lot of gimmicks, this is such a fun little read, and definitely worth checking out.
12. Extreme Wrestling Cap
Something I love about Wrestle Crate’s exclusive merchandise is the designs are always so clean and simple. Rather than going all-out with the extreme theme as most would be tempted to do, the guys at Wrestle Crate instead stuck to what they know with this basic, stylish design, whilst still paying tribute to that bingo hall in South Philadelphia with a little touch of barbed wire. You’ll feel ‘extremely’ stylish whenever you wear this out to a show.
11. Wrestling Colouring Book
Not only do Wrestle Crate create their own merch, they also include a wide range of products from other companies, everything from the big dogs down in Stanford, Connecticut, right down to small independent business you’ve probably never heard of. Case in point, this rainy day activity book courtesy of Pizza Eaters. This small Bristol-based business (try saying that five-times faster) creates original colouring books based on films, TV shows, and even cities that they love, and although it is no longer available from their store, this one is definitely my favourite. Full of the Attitude Era’s biggest stars, this little book is guaranteed to put a smile on any wrestling fan’s face.
10. Strong Style T Shirt
One of the signature themes in Wrestle Crate’s merch is that they always seem to keep the design simple, whilst still being able to pack in so many references and details (as we’ve seen previously with the Hunter Water Bottle). This Strong Style T Shirt is a loving tribute to the king himself, complete with stylised font, Japanese characters, and his signature crown, set on a background of Nakamura red. Although this is the first t shirt to feature on the list, it is a clear example of how Wrestle Crate’s t shirts are always worth the price of the box alone; everything else included is just a free bonus.
9. Big Gold Belt Pin Badge
As a man who has a ridiculous amount of pin badges on his denim jacket, I really appreciated this one. A big flash of gold is what any jacket needs, and what better gold to have that the Big Gold Belt, held by the likes of Ric Flair, Sting, and Goldberg…well, not this little pin badge version, that’s only held by Wrestle Crate subscribers.
8. One Fall to a Finish Documentary DVD
In 2015, I saw the One Fall to a Finish documentary on television, and I immediately wanted to see it again. So when I opened up my Wrestle Crate one month and found a DVD version of it lying in my cardboard box, I was ecstatic.
It chronicles the history of British wrestling, everything from the World of Sport era high points, to the less documented dark days of the 1990s. It offers so much information and insights from so many British legends and modern-day stars, including Robbie Brookside, Zack Sabre Jr., and Marty Scurll. No matter how much of a clued up fan you are, I guarantee that you are bound to learn something by watching this fantastic documentary, and thanks to Wrestle Crate’s exclusive extra DVD content, you’re certain to discover even more. Not only is it enjoyable to watch, it also gave me all the information I needed to write my World of Sport article. If you were unlucky enough to miss the crate this finely crafted documentary was in, then you can still buy it online from the film’s website, yet this DVD is proof of why you should never miss another Wrestle Crate again.
7. Women’s Wrestling T Shirt (Ultimate Crate Exclusive)
As a standard subscriber, this t shirt makes me hate myself for not committing to the ultimate crate. Not only am I a huge fan of women’s wrestling, as is everyone who is reading this list (hopefully), I am also a massive fan of Black Flag (I even have the logo tattooed on my foot). So when a t shirt combines two of my loves in one beautifully designed package, it crushes me that I don’t own it. The t shirt parodies the former punk band’s iconic logo by using symbols that represents three of WWE’s biggest female stars today. If you ever need evidence as to why you should shed out a little extra money for the ultimate crate, it’s right here.
(Also, if you are a women’s wrestling fan, check out my list of 10 Women’s Wrestling Matches You Need to See, featuring the likes of Manami Toyota, Bull Nakano, Lita, and the three women referenced in this wonderful t shirt.)
6. WWE Pop Vinyls (Ultimate Crate Exclusives)
Speaking of ultimate crate exclusives…
Yet another reason why I hate myself for only being a standard subscriber, from time to time, Wrestle Crate likes to treat those who pay a little bit extra with one of WWE’s pop vinyl figures, made by Funko. As a collector of both wrestling merchandise and pop vinyl figures, it kills me that I don’t have any of these adorable little guys in my possession. What’s more, the ultimate subscription is £10 extra a month, and as these wide-eyed figures usually cost at least £10 each, you’re bound to get your money’s worth whenever you see one of these in your crate. Maybe if I start getting paid for this whole writing gimmick then I’ll finally be able to afford to upgrade I so desperately want.
5. Calling Spots Magazines
As an English graduate and a writer myself, perhaps I’m slightly bias in my number five choice, nevertheless that doesn’t take away from the fact that Calling Spots is a fantastically written fanzine filled with opinion pieces on modern-day wrestling, countdown lists, interviews with the likes of Will Ospreay and Maffew from Botchamania, articles on historic wrestling events and figures such as the legendary El Santo, quirky little pieces, and everything else you can think of. When you pick up a copy of Calling Spots, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get, but you can be sure it’ll always be entertaining. Thanks to Wrestle Crate, I’ve become an avid reader of this publication, and although they haven’t been included in a crate for quite a while, they’re still well worth checking out.
4. Progress T Shirt
Progress is one of the biggest promotions in the UK; they recently put on the largest independent wrestling show these shores have seen in over twenty years, and during this summer, they became official partners with Wrestle Crate UK. Their first contribution to the box was this incredibly designed logo shirt, full of personality and style, much like their live shows. By wearing this shirt, you can show your support for one of the best suppliers of wrestling in the UK, as well as one of the best suppliers of merchandise in the UK, whilst still looking effortlessly cool. Even if you’ve never seen a Progress show, or you’ve possibly never even heard of the promotion before, you cannot deny that this is one hell of a beautiful shirt.
3. Shinsuke Nakamura Poster
Here we have a drawing of your God and mine, Shinsuke Nakamura. The most recent entry on the list, having appeared in the October crate, is also one of the most incredible. The King of Strong Style has been captured perfectly in this beautifully striking poster. That strong Nakamura red features once again, contrasting with the white Japanese characters, and the King’s distinctive features. What I love about this work of art is the amount of painstaking detail put into it; every single hair on Nakamura’s face and head is clearly visible, and this piece oozes out personality and style, just like the man himself. If Wrestle Crate continue to feature pieces as captivating as this from now on, then I am going to be one happy subscriber.
2. Signed Artwork: Various
We wrestling fans love a bit of signed merch, and although there’s often a good old traditional 8×10 included in the box as well, personally, I adore these signed pieces of original artwork. Not only is each one hand-signed by the wrestler featured, the fine art adds an extra level of unique appeal to every crate. On top of that, these pieces have featured some of the wrestling world’s most popular stars, including Kenny Omega not long after his monumental IWGP Intercontinental Championship victory, Zack Sabre Jr. directly before his debut match in the CWC, Jack Gallagher (*heart eyes emoji*) after his popularity exploded thanks to that same cruiserweight tournament, and has even included some huge stars from the past, including Billy Gunn and Rob Van Dam. Even without the signatures, these pieces would still make an awesome addition to anybody’s collection.
Shawn Michaels T Shirt: As much as I love this shirt that encapsulates an iconic moment in Wrestlemania history, there are just too many great items that I could not find a place for it on my list. I’m sorry t shirt, I love you.
Coasters: Recently, Wrestle Crate have started a series of well-designed WWE themed coasters, and if you sign up now, you won’t miss out on the next one.
Calling spots Mini Prints: Although they may be small (which prevents them from earning a spot on the list), these mini prints are beautifully designed in the signature Calling Spots art style, and make a lovely little addition to any wrestling artwork collection. There are currently six on my wall, and I love them all.
The Dungeon Mug: This lovely little mug pays tribute to the infamous Hart Dungeon in Calgary with a simplistic design, but unfortunately, the slice of lemon cheesecake wasn’t included.
1.Kenny Omega T Shirt
Designed by @ElProfesorLucha and approved by the man himself, this shirt takes my top spot thanks to its smooth, sleek design. Although it isn’t as flashy or as colourful as some of the other pieces featured on this list, it’s the design’s simplicity that makes it so appealing. Granted, The Bullet Club member is currently one of my favourite wrestlers in the world, so perhaps I am being slightly biased towards this shirt, nonetheless it doesn’t take away from how awesome it looks. Also, the fact that Wrestle Crate UK are able to partner with one of the biggest stars outside of WWE on such incredible merchandise is a clear sign of how worthwhile their subscriptions are. Considering you’d usually have to pay $20 or more for an official Kenny Omega shirt, this is an absolute bargain. Every single item on this list should be evidence of how great this service is, but it’s my number one pick that truly shows why Wrestle Crate UK is the ‘elite’ for wrestling merchandise.
Follow me on Twitter for more wrestling – @HairyWrestling