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INSIDE THE ROPES    
WWE's Niagara Falls SuperStore:
An ItR Travelogue 

July 14, 2005

by the Canadian Bulldog    
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

This past weekend, I made a last-minute decision to get away from everything in my blessed life, and spend a couple of days in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the shlocky tourist-friendly capital of the world.


 

If you've never been, I do encourage you to visit at least once (I end up taking my son at least once a summer). In addition to the falls itself, the whole area is family-friendly, tacky and the air of the main "Clifton Hill" tourist stretch is as sticky-sweet as the waffle cone ice cream and fudge shops conveniently located every 15 feet or so. Perfect for a juvenile mind such as my own. 

 
The main attraction to the tourist area seems to be, and has always been, wax museums. Wax museums dedicated to films, Frankenstein, Dracula, famous criminals, musicians -- you name it. It's hard to take more than a few steps up the hill without bumping into some wax-related attraction: 

However, in recent years, the mighty Niagara has expanded its wings, adding Times Square-like "superstores" that extol the virtues of everything from Hershey's Canada to Coca-Cola.

Now, as luck would have it, I ended up staying at the Sheraton hotel that is right at the bottom of Clifton Hill. It truly is a nice facility, although the parking situation was a pain-in-the-butt (if anyone out there is considering driving to this particular hotel, drop me a line and I can explain how to avoid the mess I went through.) But after enough complaining, they upgraded me to a HUGE suite that overlooked the Falls. Not bad!

Adjoining the hotel is a series of these "superstores" -- one for Marvel, one for MGM and one for… you guessed it, our friends at World Wrestling Entertainment.

You can tell as you're about to enter the complex that this will be a big deal to wrestling fans, judging the oversized novelty belt (commemorating former WWE champion "Niagara Falls") that adorns the entranceway…

Now, I have been to this complex a handful of times before, but this time, decided to photograph the entire place to give you, the gentle reader, an illustrated account of all things wrestling. Also, in the true spirit of the Internet, to explain to you all why this place sucks.

First of all, it is a decent-sized shop. Not massive or anything, but large enough to carry a pretty wide selection of WWE-related merchandise. 

Television screens are everywhere, showing a variety of entrance videos, vignettes and segments from WWE Confidential. Oddly enough, my hotel had a "WWE channel" which showed the exact same feed as the store. Cool! It's basically a 90-minute loop of stale-dated WWE programming (2003 is about as current as it gets), but while you're shopping in the store, it's not a bad distraction.

Now, the main merchandise here is definitely T-Shirts. Unfortunately, I couldn't find too many that were wearable, and as someone who owns one of the shittiest Ric Flair shirts in history, that's saying something. To wit: which of the following is the least likely piece of clothing to wear on that big date?

 

 

 

Okay, okay, the Flair one (which has "Wheelin', Dealin', Kiss-Stealin'" etc. on the back) isn't too bad. But each T sells for $30 (Canadian), which I'm sorry, should be criminal to be charging for a shirt with Eugene's mugshot on it.

The other problem is that they seem to have very few current shirts (though my brother swears he picked up a "Captain Charisma" shirt a few weeks earlier), which I'm guessing is what people would want if they came into a WWE store. I just checked out the T-Shirt section on Shopzone, and guess what? Not one of the featured shirts were on sale here. Nothing for John Cena, nothing for Batista, no ECW or Carlito T's. Folks, your OWN website is telling you what items are popular - how about carrying some of those?

Those of you who remember WWE's other merch store (the one in New York besides the ill-fated Times Square restaurant) will remember that at least they were current.

Speaking of dated, one of the aspects I enjoyed during my last visit was being able to pick up older shirts for a song. For example, last year I picked up a Hurricane T for something like $14, simply because they had since produced a new T-shirt of his to pimp.

Well, they had a section of older clothing this time, but it was still $30. Okay, I can understand not dropping the price for Matt Hardy (after all, he still has some box-office appeal because of the way he left the company), but Rikishi? $30 for that? You have to be kidding me!

Now, to be fair, the older shirts were "Buy two, get one free", so technically they are cheaper. But unless you have three children named "Rikishi", I can't see too many people wearing these.

There is also a small collection of autographed shirts, which, unfortunately, aren't for sale. Though truthfully, who would want to buy a Lita or Maven autographed shirt?

 

Now the place does get some WWE stars coming through town once in a while, and they often turn it into autograph signings. For example, Gene Okerlund, Bobby Heenan and Roddy Piper will be stopping by next month after hosting a Blue Jays game in Toronto.  And judging by the frames hanging on the wall, they at least have some decent, current names.

What else is there to buy besides crappy T-Shirts? I'm glad you asked. There is a WIDE selection of other items that no department store, convenience mart or concession stand would be caught dead carrying. For example, a series of piggy banks that makes Triple H look like he's 350 pounds. BANK ON IT!!!

There's also valuable shelf space dedicated to Good Ol' JR's barbeque sauce, which I honestly thought was just a joke before seeing it in person:

If you're like millions of people who collect bobbleheads (oops, wait, that's a "Bobbin' Head". My mistake.), then this is the section for you. Especially if your collection is missing a non-bald Kurt Angle and a clean-shaven Booker T:

If stuffed animals are more your speed, then why not check out two of the ugliest bears in history (at least I think they're bears)?

 

One unique item I found here were porcelain bears that looked (kind of) like WWE stars. Though its hard to see, from left to right, starting in the top row: Steve Austin, Triple H, Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Kane, Big Show, Goldberg (yes, Goldberg!) and Kurt Angle. I can't remember offhand who the others were, but I do see a mini-Hurricane peeking out near the front.

There are a handful of DVD's and books for sale, as well. But guess what? Their collection isn't all that recent (I was legitimately SHOCKED to see "The Rise and Fall of ECW" there) and the prices are more expensive than virtually any other place you could pick them up in.

Are you one of those freaks who carries around a championship belt to live events? Then this is the store for you, bucko! Now, come on, who would pay roughly $150 to pretend to be Orlando Jordan? If you're out there, I want to hear from (and run psychological tests on) you!

There are also some action figures for sale. Not too many, mind you, and certainly none of the latest ones I've read about. I was in New York City last month, and the collection they had displayed at the Times Square Toys R Us puts this collection to shame. Although… maybe these aren't actually WWE "legend" action figures. They're simply leftover from the last time someone bothered to stock the shelves, back when Big John Studd and Jake The Snake were still part of the active roster.

Wow, this is a great poster. The top superstars of WWE (in early 2003) all lined up together. What, no nWo or Goldust here? Hell, maybe if they keep the poster up for sale long enough, Brock will be back with the company again.

There is also an upstairs floor to this place, and on the way up, there are some pieces of (legitimate) WWE memorabilia, such as a jacket from the old Federettes and the coat Jimmy Hart wore when he managed The Natural Disasters. I think this is a great concept, and I have some other ideas for wrestler-owned items to be encased behind glass:

  • The Barbarian's antlers.
  • Jamie Noble's steroid needle that he couldn't get reimbursed for.
  • Kevin Nash's bad knee.
  • A collection of Andre's crushed beer cans.
  • Vince McMahon's toupee (complete with loogie nested in it) from when he screwed Bret Hart at Survivor Series '97.
  • Lita's discarded STD test results.

Moving right along… you head upstairs and there's, well, nothing, unless you count the merchandise I've already catalogued. Or these lovely carboard cutouts of "current" WWE kingpins Hulk Hogan and The Rock.

Also upstairs is the entrance to WWE's very own ride -- aptly named "The Piledriver" (in the infomercial I saw at my hotel, Val Venis was arguing the ride should be called "The Money Shot". Yeah, I'm sure that would go over really well…)

It's just your standard-fare "drop" ride, and I've been on it once before. It's not bad, and certainly better than any other ride you can find near the Falls. But is it worth the money? Probably not.

Just to give you an idea of how high a drop we're talking, I've framed the ride (the little yellow-orange blob to the right) against the hotel I was staying it. Like I said, it's a decent drop, but doesn't really enhance the WWE experience or anything.

So would I recommend this particular store? Not really. I mean, if you're in the Falls anyways and have a WWE fan on your souvenir-shopping list, then sure, stop by for a few minutes. But this place certainly isn't a destination or anything.

The "Movieland Wax Museum", on the other hand…

E-MAIL THE BULLDOG    
BROWSE THE ITR ARCHIVES

CANADIAN BULLDOG  is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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