Part of being a WWE fan is having an authentic superstar T-shirt, or a reproduction of one. Whether you grew up watching the Old School, Attitude, or Ruthless Aggression eras, there was a point in time when you said Damn, I want that Stone Cold / Hulk Hogan / Eddie Guerrero shirt! I remember seeing D-Generation X and classic John Cena designs here in our shores, but that was around 11 or 12 years ago. Wrestling shirts were then sold in malls; though these weren’t the same ones worn by wrestlers during their appearances. Eventually, a shop that sold authentic tees opened at Gateway Mall in Cubao – that, according to a friend. Despite selling originals however, their stocks were rather late by one or two years. The place has long folded up, unfortunately. Nevertheless, before all these – getting the shirt you want was not an easy task. You had to have a friend based in the United States who can procure the shirt for you.
Nowadays, buying authentic WWE shirts is easier – especially in today’s PG-13 era. The advent of WWE Shop opened up a lot of design choices for buyers; from the Old School era up to the current roster and developmental territory (NXT), even Divas shirts for the ladies. They even have a worldwide shipping program for your convenience. Modern John Cena designs featuring his Cenation gimmick and CM Punk’s Best In The World-themed apparel are the shop’s popular items. Philippine wrestling fans not have access to original shirts as some stores now carry a few lines or two. Take Cutting Edge, for example. Aside from Swiss knives, telescopes, and playing cards, they also sell original WWE shirts; these are offered alongside Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, and Game of Thrones tees. Here are some superstar designs I saw in stock from my last visit to their SM Megamall branch: Cena, Punk, Daniel Bryan, The Undertaker, R-Truth, The Wyatt Family, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho and “Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley.
But as much as these have advantages, so do they have limitations likewise. WWE Shop requires registration and a PayPal or credit card account before making any purchases. The prices are in dollars, by the way – and you know how much the peso-dollar exchange rate is. Cutting Edge, on the other hand, only carries a limited stock of each design – one in each size, respectively. Enter the new generation of shirt shops. They procure all kinds of WWE apparel straight from the source and deliver the goods via courier or meetups. Mostly found in Facebook, they operate without the need for a physical shop. I don’t want to elaborate on how they do it, but they seem to be doing a great job based on the comments in their Facebook pages.
One such shop is Gedric’s Toys, formed in 2009. The shop isn’t limited to selling professional wrestling and mixed martial arts (MMA) apparel as they also sell NBA items – according to co-owner and fellow Atenean Ged – but it can’t be denied that WWE items are the most in-demand ones. In fact, a large chunk of comments in their Facebook page are inquiries about wrestling shirts. I’ve bought two tees from the shop so far (original ones, mind you) and both transactions went smoothly. Ged also walks the talk; he is a WWE fan himself so there are no dull moments once you meet him to get your shirt. He’ll even chat you about current trends in the wrestling business. Speaking of physical shops, I’d like to cite a store that has caught up with the modern times. This one is located in St. Francis Square behind SM Megamall that sells WWE shirts featuring some new designs. However, this shop’s only drawback is their merchandise not being “authentic” – but their wares can go toe-to-toe with the real thing. A wide selection of designs with emphasis on John Cena and CM Punk, fantastic shirt quality, and affordable price of P400 per piece makes up for that. Plus, the owner gives discounts to avid customers who manage to catch him there. (Just a heads-up – he is currently selling some shirts at a discounted price.)
As of this typing, I have a total of five shirts – three “class A” ones bought from the aforementioned shop, and two authentic ones. I’ve got a Rise Above Hate shirt which I personally love due to its positive message. John Cena’s Salute the Cenation shirt is worth saluting at – I’ve used it for cosplay twice and it still looks good. CM Punk’s GTS shirt won’t make you go to sleep with its screaming, bright yellow color. Wade Barrett’s Barrett Barrage shirt isn’t bad news as it seems; a year and two cosplay events have passed and it’s still in one piece. And my latest purchase…the Hot Rod shirt. Speaking of the last two, let me point out something. Notice the lack of a WWE Authentic Wear patch on the Hot Rod, compared to the Barrett Barrage which has one on the lower right of the garment. Ged explained that the former is an Old School era shirt; the patches were only issued on shirts released during the Attitude Era onward.
Taking care of these doesn’t require much effort as these are low maintenance; throw them in the washing machine, pop them in the dryer, and hang. The authentic ones don’t expand or shrink, but the “class A” ones have a tendency to grow larger after a few washes. There’s no need to iron wrestling shirts (and it’s not even advised to do so – they explicitly indicate it in the care instructions). But if you’re like me who can’t stand the sight of wrinkled clothes, there’s a safer alternative. I use a garment steamer to keep the shirt wrinkle-free and smooth – and it doesn’t ruin the design as compared to using a conventional flat iron.
That ends my post for you fellow wrestling fans out there. Simple – or overpriced – these shirts may seem, they are but only one of many ways to show your support for a favorite wrestling superstar no matter what era. To quote Attitude Era poster boy Stone Cold Steve Austin: “And that’s the bottom line!”
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Cutting Edge has closed down some branches, but the ones in Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Trinoma, and Greenbelt 5 are still open. The shop at St. Francis Square, on the other hand, has closed down some years ago. Drop by Gedric’s Toys on Facebook to see their latest stocks and to place an order. If you want the real thing, head over to WWE Shop to see all shirt designs and other merchandise. Timestamp: 3 May 2017, 07:27 am.)