Counting Days' Charlie Wilson explains pro wrestling's appeal

a picture of charlie wilson with his memorabilia
(Image: © Kevin Nixon)

How did you first get into wrestling?

“I remember really old stuff like Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior and Undertaker vs Undertaker at Summerslam ’94, but I didn’t get really into it until a couple of years later. I was about nine, watching Wrestlemania 13 round a friends’ house. I was completely blown away by the I Quit match between Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin – the storytelling, the brutality, how real it felt. The way Austin refused to submit in the Sharpshooter with all the blood pouring down his face inspired me, and was an image that really helped me through some tough times as a kid. After that, I watched it every week!”

When did you first turn a hobby into a collection?

“As a child I was always more into figures than big trucks or big playsets. As I got older I gave all my childhood toys away to friends that had kids, but I could never part with the Attitude Era stuff. I picked up the odd thing from time to time over the years but I started collecting all the figures again around three or four years ago. A lot of my friends collected Pop! Vinyls and I always thought they were cool, but it wasn’t until I saw a Steve Austin one while travelling through California with some friends that I was fully sold. Since then I started to buy more stuff, and I also get stuff bought for me as gifts from friends and family, so my collection keeps growing.”

You’ve got a huge range of figures and memorabilia now. What are your favourite bits?

“My favourite piece of old memorabilia has to be my lifesize cut out of Stone Cold. I’ve had it for almost 20 years now! My dad surprised me with it when I came home from school one day and it has been in my room ever since. Which, as you can imagine is a huge hit with the ladies, ha ha ha! Out of the modern pieces based on the 90s era, I’d say the Defining Moments Ministry Of Darkness Undertaker figure. It’s just metal.”

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Why do you think wrestling was such a pop culture phenomenon in the 90s?

“I feel it just went hand in hand with what was going on at the time. It was just the right moment for everything to loosen up. Everything in society was turned up to 11, everything from the music to the movies was extreme, and wrestling was no different. It was like a lovechild of Jerry Springer, EastEnders and a Marilyn Manson concert.”

It seems like a lot of metalheads have a real affinity with the 90s era of wrestling – why?

“Because it was the best! It was most genuine wrestling has ever been and was that much more believable. Plus, the music has to be a big part of it. I know a lot of my friends, including myself, got into heavy music through wrestlers’ entrance themes. For me, it was Sting coming out to Seek & Destroy by Metallica that got me hooked on metal. People that like extreme music often like other extreme things, and 90s wrestling was pretty extreme!”

Who are the most metal wrestlers ever and why?

“The Undertaker. His gimmick is being dead. It doesn’t get more metal than that. You would have to give honourable mentions to The Brood, Vampiro, Sting, Kane, Steve Austin and everyone that wrestled for ECW.”

How metal is wrestling on a scale of one to 10?

“Twenty.”

Get involved

The merch: www.wwe.com is the official stop point for WWE merch – and they have a great range of retro 90s material – while www.extremewrestlingshirts.com has an unbelievable array of designs based on Attitude Era classics. Get on it.

The figures: Let’s be honest, Funko Pop! Vinyls are fucking everywhere right now, but head to www.popcultcha.com.au for the full WWE set to date, while figures from various eras can be found on Ebay, Amazon and all reputable flagship toy stores.

The belts: If you want your collection to look a little shinier (and more expensive), head to www.wwe.com to browse their collection of replica classic title belts. But be warned: these are the real deal and come in well over £300 a pop.

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