Every wrestling fan needs to own these.
It’s been around for decades. Most every avid wrestling fan owns at least one. The great ones have come to be viewed as an extension of the wrestler themselves.
The wrestling t-shirt.
Throughout the past thirty years, hundreds of wrestling t-shirts have been produced by various wrestling companies all over the world. Unsurprisingly, Vince McMahon was one of the first few promoters to see the value in marketing his talents’ image and likeness on various products and saw it as a strong source for additional revenue. T-shirts became the most popular item and they even played a role in Vince McMahon landing the biggest star of the 1980s. Through the mid 90s, they were usually produced only for the most popular babyfaces with a few exceptions. Today, the market has grown to include almost every wrestling star on the roster, but which ones stand the test of time?
Nowadays, some of the best t-shirts aren’t even sold by the major wrestling promotions. There are several popular websites with some very unique and creative ideas that make for great wrestling t-shirts.
10. Bullet Club
The first entry on the list is also the newest shirt on the list. The Bull Club shirt has come to be one of the most popular t-shirts of the past several years because of its unique design, whom it represents, and the number of wrestlers that have been seen wearing it.
New Japan’s most popular faction gets the list started at #10.
9. IV Horsemen
A forgotten classic, this IV Horsemen rendition was made popular during the Monday Nitro days. During any WCW broadcast in the mid-90s, this shirt was a common article of clothing for the fans seen supporting the Ted Turner owned company.
Whether it represented Flair, Arn, Tully, Windham, Dillon, Luger, Sid, Pillman, Mongo, Benoit, or any other Horsemen, this shirt stood out as one of WCW’s most popular t-shirts. While there were a couple different Four Horsemen shirts released over the years, this has been the one that resonated most with fans.
8. CM Punk
The shirt was first seen on the biggest night of CM Punk’s career. A theme with most of CM Punk’s merchandise, the Flag of Chicago’s four red, six-pointed stars appear surrounding a taped fist that has come to symbolize the current Marvel writer.
This shirt was seen by millions of fans during the Summer of 2011, or the Summer of Punk, and is good enough for #9 on the list.
7. Cactus Jack
At one time in the mid 90s, the thought of seeing this shirt featured in a WWF catalog was a mere fantasy. The real-life Mick Foley portrayed Cactus Jack in both WCW and ECW, but was given the persona Mankind upon his debut in the WWF in 1996.
By the year 2000, however, this shirt would rank as one of the most popular t-shirts of all time as Foley had resurrected his Cactus Jack character and ignited a feud with Triple H. Wearing this shirt in the two classics at the 2000’s Royal Rumble and No Way Out certainly helped its popularity, but the shirt use of an old WANTED poster really gave it a gritty feel.
6. Hot Rod
The late Rowdy Roddy Piper had a number of great t-shirts over the years. A few that come to mind from his early WWE career are the Superman shirt and the awesome Panther face, and also the No Fear style he would wear about a decade later at WrestleMania X.
As cool as they were, none was better than the classic Hot Rod! shirt. A timeless ringer, the Hot Rod shirt, along with red kilt and leather jacket, would become Roddy’s iconic look. A yearly Halloween favorite, this item has become one of the greatest wrestling t-shirts every produced.
5. Hulk Rules
The only tank-top to make the list, the classic Hulk Rules shirt has come to be THE shirt when associated with Hulk Hogan in the late 80s and early 90s. While he would wear other designs other years such as Python Power, Hulkster Rules, and even the previous Hulkamania, it’s the Hulk Rules design that fans seem to remember most.
While Hogan never kept a shirt longer than it would take to step into a ring and tear it off, fans were seen all over arenas wearing this WWF classic. This shirt was so popular and iconic that during his return in 2002 and his return in 2013, variations of this shirt were produced. In 2002, it was Hulk STILL Rules and just a few years ago, Hulk’s Rules appeared on the front with the four demandments on the back. Not many wrestlers are associated with a shirt quite like this one, and that’s enough to make this Hogan staple crack the top five.
4. D-Generation X
Two words: classic tee.
Like another entry on this list, this shirt has come to symbolize a generation. The D-Generation X shirt became a staple of pop culture beginning in late 1997 and soon was worn by young adults whether they were wrestling fans or not. What initially made this shirt so cool was that this shirt was extremely popular despite representing a heel faction.The shirt was popularized by its many TV appearances symbolizing the group formed by Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna and originally Ravishing Rick.
While the group would later grow to include the members X-Pac, Billy Gunn and Road Dogg, this shirt remained unchanged. DX would have tons upon tons of merchandise made for the next two decades, but none better than the original.
3. Macho Man
This lilac Macho Man shirt could arguably sit atop this whole list it’s become so iconic. Fans all over the world still buy this shirt from various places as it’s come to be THE shirt for ”Macho Man” Randy Savage fans all over the world. While he would cut the sleeves off, Macho wold wear this shirt during his Intercontinental Championship reign, as well as his WWF Championship reign. In a funny bit of consistency, WWE programming today matches WWF programming from the mid-late 80s in that this purple piece of merch can be seen all throughout the crowd.
For all the marchandise that Savage would have produce throughout the next decade, it was this shirt that stood the test of time. Savage would later become the ”Macho King” and lose this gem, but it will always be the first shirt fans think of when they think of Randy.decade,
2. Austin 3:16
Ths shirt helped launch the WWF’s savior during the late 90s, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Like the number one spot, this shirt’s front is simple showing just the words ”Austin 3:16”. The original shirt’s back has the old WWF New Generation logo in light blue and the signature Stone Cold smokin’ skull. Austin made his famous Austin 3:16 speech after winning the 1996 King of the Ring and soon after these shirts were the hottest selling merchandise item in wrestling arenas across the world
Austin himself would don the shirt and wore it for months after months making the shirt that much more popular. In an era where several classic t-shirts were produced, the Austin 3:16 is the only shirt that represents a single character. There can be no doubt who the fan is support while wearing this classic. It’s such a popular design that it was even re-designed later in Austin’s career with several variations on the original Austin 3:16 design. Changing the font, releasing in a different colors, and adding blood-dripping efects were all adjustments made to this classic to help update the shirt over the years. Even with all the updates and various Austin merchandise that would be released throughout the late 90s and into the next millennium, no shirt representing Stone Cold was better than Austin’s first one, the original Austin 3:16.
The top spot is taken by a shirt that is not produced by Titan Sports or World Wrestling Entertainment. As good as many of the WWE shirts have been, this t-shirt was better than anything they ever produced. This shirt started a revolution in the wrestling world.
The original nWo shirt was one of the most popular shirts of all time and can still be seen today by fans all over the wrestling world. The shirt has come to represent many superstars, but most notably the original trio of Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall. While WCW was never known for its marketing genius, they nailed this shirt design. The black and white logo is simple yet says so much and was undoubtedly the best-selling WCW shirt of all time.
Unfortunately, the WCW was not producing enough of these shirts at the onset and left tons of money on the table. Scott Hall has spoken in interviews about fans asking him for his shirt and when he would respond, ”Go buy one,” their reaction was that the concession stands were all sold out. While that type of snafu is hopefully a one-off as far as mistakes go, that was something unlikely to ever happen in the company ran by Vince McMahon. Regardless of its limited availability during the genesis of the nWo, the shirt has stood the test of time as the greatest wrestling t-shirt ever.
By Matt Davis from whatculture.com