Wednesday, July 4, 2012

SIGnificant Cards - 2010 TNA Xtreme Tara Autograph

I have pretty much watched wrestling from the time I was about 13 to the present. To many of my friends, that probably explains a lot. At first I was fascinated by the funny gags and personalities of the wrestlers. My first taste of wrestling were the vignettes Roddy Piper, Bob Orton and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff did for the very first Wrestlemania. They were training in a gym and Gene Oklerland was trying to get an interview with them as they prepared to face Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. It was so ridiculous I couldn't stop laughing when they tossed Gene out and beat up some bystander trying to help him.

From there I was hooked. I thought Orndorff was the best heel on the planet. He was physically intimidating, spoke well and was a great wrestler. I didn't like Hulk Hogan, even as a kid I thought he was forced onto fans.

 As I grew older, I tired of watching grown men in their speedos grabbing each other. Yeah, I know might be a bit phobic, but I much prefer looking at women. Call it a phobia, I call it the human nature of a red-blooded American man. At the time of Wrestlemania there really were slim pickens for females in Wrestling. You had The Fabulous Moolah who was the iconic WWF Women's Champion that carried the torch for decades. Along with her, you had up and coming Wendi Richter. Richter was the future of women's wrestling. She was tall, muscular and looked every bit of the rock n' roll part she played when the WWF brought in Cyndi Lauper to forge the Rock N' Wrestling connection. Richter fought Lelani Kai at Wrestlemania and with her victory, her look, her skills, and the adoration she had from both men and women fans, she paved the way for the ladies that wrestle today. But by 1985 she was gone and Moolah was back at the top of the WWF.

The championship was phased out of main event status and there really was no female presence in the WWF until Miss Elizabeth came in with the Macho Man Randy Savage. Elizabeth paved the way for a different kind of WWF woman -- The Diva. She was truly the first lady of wrestling. Being classy, beautiful and elusive became the standard for years in the WWF and she had no competition until former AWA Champion Sherri Martel entered the federation. Sherri wrestled. She was awesome on the mic and she was great in the ring. She eventually took the title from Moolah in 1987.

Soon after, the title was in limbo once again, only to be brought back in 1993 when Madusa Miceli, then known as Alundra Blayze came to the WWF. After two title reigns, she took the title to WCW with her and tossed it in a trash can. It wouldn't be seen on WWF TV for another three years. That's when women's wrestling got really, really good.

Sable, a former valet and wife of Marc Mero became the new WWF bombshell. She was good looking, and they tried to transform her into a wrestler. At the time, another hard-working, and amazingly talented woman named Jacquelyn Moore was tearing it up in the USWA and WCW. She eventually moved to the WWF and became Mero's valet, feuding with Sable. The feud revitalized the Women's Championship. Both women would become champions.

At this point Vince McMahon realized that men liked wrestling, but they also liked women, especially scantily-clad women that were fighting and hot. All of a sudden there were plenty of women in the WWF. Joining Jackie and Sable were Debra McMichaels, Ivory and many others. The women's title began to blossom with all of the competitors. More and more ladies were becoming wrestlers. That leads me up to this particular card. At the height of its Attitude era the WWF/E really delivered some of the finest women wrestlers on the planet. It's not like today where they throw a bunch of divas in the ring and they get tossed out in a few seconds.

Ladies like Gail Kim, Lita, Chyna, Molly Holly, Jazz, Trish Stratus and former fitness competitor Lisa Marie Varon lit up the ladies division and spawned a whole new revenue stream for Vince. Varon was known as Victoria in the WWE and she now competes as Tara on Impact Wrestling. Lisa is perhaps the most gifted women's wrestler today. She has the size, the skills and the athletic ability to go in a squash match or 60 minutes. Her workout regimen is incredible and she is in the best shape of her life. She is part of a Knockouts crew that in my opinion is the real reason to watch anything with the TNA label on it. They make the show worth watching. With Gail Kim, Mickie James, Winter, Sarita, Velvet Sky, ODB, Tara, and new champion, the constantly improving Brooke "Miss Tessmacher" Adams, it's the only reason I tune in on Thursdays.

Check out this match when she made her TNA debut:

 I remember meeting her the first time at a THQ/WWE event for the Raw Vs. Smackdown video game in Times Square. We got to meet many of the Divas that night and by far Lisa and Trish were the most personable and friendly. You could see that they loved what they did for a living and talking with fans. We got a short interview for the show that was then known as the Sportsology Locker Room.

 It wasn't until some years later that I had a chance to meet her again at Chicago Comic-Con and then again at the National Sports Collectors Convention. When we saw her at the National, we asked if she'd be our guest on Cardboard Connection Radio, and she graciously agreed. Now get this... I missed the show! I was going on vacation that week and missed the interview. Rob and Russ took care of business though and you can listen to the show anytime with our archives or on iTunes.

Luckily I caught up with her a few weeks later at C2E2 in Chicago. I try to collect autographs of every celebrity, athlete or person that has a trading card that appears on my show. This one was a no brainer. I had to get one for my collection. It comes from the 2010 Tristar TNA Xtreme collection and is one of many TNA autos I have compiled. This one though has a special place, because Lisa is by far the coolest TNA Knockout on the roster.

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