REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS CHRISTIAN
Although I've been a longtime fan of the WWE, I haven't really been in the habit of collecting their action figures. I don't really know why, offhand, except to say that I had other action figure priorities, and decided to give greater emphasis to G.I. Joes and super-heroes than to wrestling superstars. No offense intended to any of those wrestling superstars. Not a group of people I want to tick off, y'know?
Certainly there has been a long history of WWE action figures. LJN was the first to produce any figures based on WWE superstars, although theirs were pretty much large lumps of non-poseable rubbery plastic. Hasbro turned out an interesting and well-received line, even though the figures were rather exaggerated in appearance and limited in articulation. Jakks Pacific, after a somewhat less than impressive start, enjoyed a healthy run of impressive figures for quite a few years. And now, it's Mattel's turn.
I've been impressed with Mattel's 6" scale products in recent years, mostly in the form of Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe figures, so I decided to have a closer look at their WWE line. And I was impressed with what I saw, so I decided to start bringing a few of them into my collection.
Mattel's basic line of WWE figures, essentially known as the Superstars series, is their most affordable, and pretty much any current WWE Superstar is likely to be found in it somewhere along the way. The price is very agreeable, especially given what toys can cost these days. One recent addition to my collection, and the focus of this review, is a longtime WWE Superstar who goes by the name of CHRISTIAN. I have no idea if he actually is one, that's just what he calls himself. Let's have a look at the man's career, and then his action figure.
William Jason Reso is a Canadian professional wrestler signed to WWE, better known by the ring names Christian and Christian Cage. He is also an occasional actor in films.
William Jason Reso was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada on November 30, 1973 to an American father and a Canadian mother. Reso played hockey and was a wrestling fan as a child. After moving to Orangeville, Ontario when he was a youth, Reso met Adam Copeland, who became his best friend and later tag team partner throughout his early career as "Edge".
Reso was trained by former professional wrestlers Ron Hutchinson, Dory Funk, Jr., and Tom Prichard, and made his wrestling debut in June 1995. Reso wrestled in Canadian independent promotions early in his career. During his time in these promotions, he competed in singles and tag team competition, the latter with Edge, his storyline brother.
In September 1994, Reso enrolled in a wrestling school at Sully's Gym, ran by Ron Hutchinson. One of Reso's early ring names, "Christian Cage", was a combination of the names of the actors, Christian Slater and Nicolas Cage.
Christian's wrestling career began in June 1995. In 1997, he was a part of THUG Life, a group that included Joe E. Legend, Zakk Wyld, Rhino Richards, and Copeland. As a tag team on the Canadian independent circuit, Copeland and Reso were known as "High Impact" and later "The Suicide Blondes". The duo held titles in numerous professional wrestling promotions and competed in gloversville ny, the United States, and Japan. Reso won East Coast Wrestling Association's (ECWA) Heavyweight Championship on July 18, 1998, which he held till October 15, 1999.
When Copeland received a tryout match with the WWE, Reso went with him. Reso and Copeland faced off in an untelevised tryout match which Copeland was booked to win. After the tryout, Copeland signed a contract with the WWE. Once Copeland was promoted from his developmental status to touring with the WWE, he put in a good word for Reso, getting him invited to the WWE affiliated Dory Funk, Jr.'s "The Funking Conservatory" training camp in 1998. After completing the training at the conservatory, Reso signed a contract with the WWE to become a full-time performer, and began competing for the company the following year.
After signing with the WWF, Reso made his debut and captured his first title with the company, the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. When Reso came to the World Wrestling Federation, he shortened his ring name to Christian. Reso made his television debut on September 27, 1998 at the Breakdown: In Your House pay-per-view event distracting Edge during his match against Owen Hart to reveal his allegiance to Gangrel.
In 1999, Christian and Edge parted ways with Gangrel, who associated himself with The Hardy Boyz. As a result, they began feuding with The Hardy Boyz, and went onto compete in a ladder match at the No Mercy PPV event on October 17, 1999 for the managerial services of Terri Runnels and $100,000, which The Hardy Boyz won. At the WrestleMania 2000 event on April 2, 2000, Christian and Edge defeated The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz to win the WWF Tag Team Championship in a Triangle Ladder match.
He and Edge went on to win the WWF Tag Team Championship on seven different occasions. During this time, they gained notoriety in the tag team division, partly due to their participation in Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches. In 2001 the team parted ways.
Christian began a singles career by winning the WWF European Championship from Bradshaw in October 2001, though he would later lose the title to Diamond Dallas Page in January 2002. After a series of defeats, Christian announced he was quitting the WWF, but Page persuaded Christian to reconsider, and adopted him as his protégé. Christian betrayed Page and faced off against him for the European championship at the WrestleMania X8 event on March 17, 2002, in which Page defeated him. During the same event, Christian won the WWF Hardcore Championship, but lost the title to Maven later that night.
In 2003, after receiving advice and endorsement from The Rock, Christian self-proclaimed himself as the new "People's Champion", and began calling his fans "The Peeps". He went on to win a nine man over-the-top-rope battle royal at the Judgment Day PPV event on May 18, 2003 for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship. The following night on Raw, he appeared on Chris Jericho's talk show, sporting a new haircut and ring attire. Christian would later lose the Intercontinental Championship to Booker T on the July 7, 2003 episode of Raw. Christian, however, regained the title at a live event on August 10, 2003.
Christian's gimmick became that of a cocky, overconfident villain, dubbing himself "Captain Charisma" in October 2004. Later, he was given his own interview segment on SmackDown! called "The Peep Show."
On October 31, 2005, Reso's contract with WWE expired. His last match occurred during the tapings for the November 4 episode of SmackDown!.
Reso made his debut in the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotion on November 13, 2005 at TNA's Genesis PPV event under his old ring name "Christian Cage". Following his move to TNA, he won his first of six world championships, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, in February 2006. He recaptured the title in January 2007 and established his Coalition, which disbanded a year later. Reso left TNA in late-2008 and re-signed with WWE.
In April 2009, Reso won his first world championship in WWE, the ECW Championship, which he would win again in July of that year. He became the longest reigning ECW Champion in the WWE era and later went on the SmackDown brand capturing the World Heavyweight Championship in May 2011, and again in July of that year.
Following being sidelined with several legitimate injuries, Christian returned on February 19, 2012 at WWE's Elimination Chamber PPV event, and then returned on the March 16 episode of SmackDown, hosting an episode of the "Peep Show" and given a spot in a 12-man tag match at WrestleMania XXVIII.
On the March 26 episode of Raw, Christian was injured once again after aggravating his shoulder in a match with CM Punk. Despite the injury, Christian still appeared at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony to induct long-time friend Edge.
Christian made his pay-per-view return at Over the Limit, where he won a Battle Royal to receive a title match for either the Intercontinental or United States Championship. He went on to defeat Cody Rhodes later in the show to win his fourth Intercontinental Championship, returning to good-guy status again in the process. Christian would later explain his turn as inducting Edge, who had had to retire as the result of an injury that could have been easily aggravated, into the Hall of Fame in 2012 made him realize that his career could end any time in an instant and wanted to end his career with the fans' support, wanting to win multiple championships, and leave having a Hall of Fame career, much like his best friend
As of this writing, he is currently inactive due to shoulder surgery, but I imagine he is likely to return almost anytime.
Overall, Reso has won 22 total championships in WWE and TNA, which include being a six time world champion (two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, two-time ECW Champion, and two time World Heavyweight Champion), as well as a one time WWF Light Heavyweight Champion, one time WWF Hardcore Champion, one time WWF European Champion, four-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, and a nine-time World Tag Team Champion. In addition to these accolades, Reso is the twenty-third Triple Crown Champion and the fourteenth Grand Slam Champion in WWE history.
And believe me, I just hit the highlights. The man has an impressive career, and I hope will continue to do so.
So, how's the figure? Excellent. I have found that one of my main criteria for bringing one of these WWE figures into my collection is how good a likeness I think it is of the actual individual. I suspect this can be a rather tricky thing for the sculptors to accomplish.
It's one thing to sculpt a figure of Superman or He-Man. Of course, one wants a nicely-detailed figure, and there are certain expectations of what these characters look like. But there's still a little bit of leeway there based on artistic impression.
But the WWE Superstars pretty much look the same inside the ring as they do anywhere else in life. The days of masks and face paint are relative rarities these days. What you see in the ring is what the individual really looks like.
Then you get the ones with the weird facial expressions. I don't mind if a figure has a serious expression on his face. I don't mind if he's smiling. But if he's been given some weird extreme expression like he's yelling, or is having some sort of intestinal problem, allergic reaction, or facial tic, I'm going to take a pass on that. I know some of these guys have trademark expressions. Some translate into action figure form better than others...
Christian passes muster across the board. The headsculpt is an excellent likeness of the character, and the facial expression, with a moderate smile on it, is very agreeable. The smile is very slightly upturned on one side, evincing Christian's usual cockiness without being overstated. The short-cropped hair has been nicely sculpted and painted, and there's just a very slight indication of facial hair, more painted than sculpted. I think it helps that Christian's hair color is a dark blonde, so the paint color blends in well enough with the skin color.
Overall paintwork is excellent. Now I will say this. When I bought Christian, there were two other Christian figures on the shelves. And they gave evidence that Mattel could still stand to improve the aim of their factory painters. One of them had one eye that looked like it was rolling back in its socket, and the other one was nearly cross-eyed. Now, the Christian that I bought is just fine, but clearly, there's some quality control issues, and I would recommend a good visual inspection of any WWE figure you plan to buy before doing so.
One thing that impresses me about this WWE line is that not everybody has the same body. You can get away with reusing body molds in lines like DC Universe and Masters of the Universe, and given the expense of creating new molds, I certainly don't blame Mattel (or any other toy company) for doing so. But the WWE superstars are not super-heroes, and they don't hail from Eternia. While generally speaking they're in good physical shape, and look it -- they have to be if they're going to compete in the ring effectively -- they certainly do not all have the same physique or body type.
It's fine and well for He-Man and Skeletor to have the same basic musculature, or the Flash and Green Lantern. These are entirely fictional beings open to any amount of artistic interpretation. But when you start talking about people like John Cena, The Miz, Alberto del Rio, and Christian, that's another matter. In-ring character portrayals aside, these are real people.
That's not to say there isn't some parts reusage in the WWE line here and there, when it's workable. Christian has the same upper body as The Miz, and perhaps a few others that aren't in my collection -- yet, anyway. But that's all right. It's a good, basic body type, that works well for both men, who are, as wrestling superstars go, of relatively standard size, if that term is even applicable.
Christian stands just a meager fraction under 7" in height. This makes him the same height as my figures of The Miz and John Cena, very slightly shorter than my figure of Sheamus, who's a pretty tall fellow, and as for comparing any of them to Big Show, well...
Christian has a small tattoo imprinted on his left shoulder. In this respect, Mattel got off easily. Tattoos seem to be quite popular with any number of WWE superstars. Rey Mysterio must drive the toymakers nuts. Every time he takes an extended leave from the WWE, he comes back with more tattoos. Jakks Pacific had to deal with this, and now it's Mattel's turn. Then you've got people like the Undertaker, Randy Orton, and CM Punk, who have extensive tattoos all the way down their arms, so these not only have to be replicated as much as possible, but they have to cross multiple points of articulation.
But not all WWE personnel have tattoos, or at the very least, tend to be rather limited with what they've had drawn across their bodies. Christian's got the one and that's it.
The figure is wearing large black elbow pads, that are separately molded and put into place during assembly. They're reasonably flexible, so they're not too great a hindrance to the articulation. He also has black wrist bands, which have been painted on.
Some wrestlers wear trunks. Others wear tights that cover the entirety of their legs, and are generally colorfully decorated. Christian fits into the latter category. He is wearing black rights, with colorful decorations that have been nicely imprinted onto the figure. These include a yellow and magenta "belt" around his waist, really part of the tights, with a fancy design in the center and the name "Christian" on either side.
The sides of the legs have ornate oval emblems, yellow with magenta borders, and an ornate, script-like "C" in the middle of it. I'm not entirely sure it's the same font, and it probably isn't, but it's awfully close, because the "C" reminds me quite a bit of the fancy script used by Cadillac for their logo on their cars.
I'm impressed with Mattel's work here, because painting, or I assume, imprinting, any bright color onto black plastic is never easy. And yellow seems to be the toughest color of all, even more than white. The number of action figures I have here, in several lines, where yellow has had to be applied over black, and it's obvious that it took several coats to do it, or an undercoat of white, is staggering. Christian gets away with his tights decorations astoundingly well in light of that.
The figure is wearing black boots, very nicely sculpted and detailed. One would think that any sculptor wanting to work on the WWE action figure line should be well-versed in sculpting a lot of shoelaces, because he's going to be doing plenty of them on these boots.
Articulation of the figure is excellent. Christian is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. Now, there are a few seeming omissions in the articulation. The legs move forward and backward, but not outward. And there is no mid-torso articulation. But keep in mind, this is pretty much the basic WWE Superstars line. If you want more articulation, it can be found in the Elite Collection. But you'll be paying quite a bit more for it. For myself, I'm content right here.
So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely glad I've decided to bring some of these WWE Superstars into my collection. Now, I have no intention of being any sort of completist. There's literally dozens of Superstars figures, and that doesn't even begin to get into the Elite Collection, the Legends Series, and so forth. But these Superstars figures are as well sculpted and designed as their higher-priced "siblings", and from time to time, I expect I may well add another individual or two, and you can look forward to reviews of them at that time.
In the meantime, if you're any sort of WWE fan, and have been a fan of Christian over the years -- which I certainly have been, and I also think he's got one of if not the best ring-entrance music of anybody -- then you'll certainly want to have a look at his WWE Superstars figure, and bring it into your collection. Mattel is really doing an outstanding job with these, and Christian is a superb representation of the individual.
The WWE SUPERSTARS figure of CHRISTIAN definitely has my highest recommendation!