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Foreign Objects: Savio Vega and his Crazy Expensive T-Shirt

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In addition to his duties as a writer and journalist, Nicholas Grooms also owns and operates Badguywrestler Toys & Pro-Wrestling Collectibles. He has been a pro-wrestling toy and memorabilia collector for over 25 years and in that span of time has become a revered expert and appraiser with a knack for locating and identifying hard to find or extremely rare wrestling items. He has bought and sold to collectors, museums, promotions and sponsored/appeared at a range of events and boasts such superstars as Hulk Hogan, “Wildman” Marc Mero & Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero) as past buyers.

“Foreign Objects” will be a regular column focusing on Pro-Wrestling Collectibles, memorabilia and the people who collect and create these items in an effort to educate, enthuse and help collectors network with one another no matter how amateur or advanced they are in understanding. Got a cool item you want to show off or have something worthy of being shared in this column? Be sure you follow @NicholasGrooms on Twitter and share your collections! Please enjoy this installment of “Foreign Objects.”

WWE’s “New Generation” campaign was not exactly the biggest success story. While it made stars out of guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, it mostly buried the careers of many under the terrible guises of characters like garbage men or race car drivers. For every star the new generation spawned, it sent three careers careening out-of-bounds as we all shook our heads wondering how some of these characters were expected to get over.

Chris Candido became a “Body Donna”. Bob Holly was a race car driver. Triple H was far from being “the game” and dressed like a snoot, complete with ponytail and curtsy. One of his biggest feuds at the time was against a pig farmer where he competed in a “pig pen” match. Needless to say, it was a learning experience for the WWE as viewers began to tune out.

From the ashes of the new generation’s dumpster fire comes a lot of unique merchandise. Around this time a lot of shirts and items were either short run or relegated to being sold at the booths of live events, making them hard to find items in the current collector world. Certain figures, promo photos and foam fingers can command a higher price tag but every now and then you will find an item so rare and unusual that it commands an unheard of amount. One of those items is the extremely rare Savio Vega shirt which has commanded between $75-$140 dollars in the current market.

Savio Vega is one of those stars I remember well. He debuted as a Kwang in a masked ninja gimmick whose high points were a televised RAW loss to the Undertaker and an ability to blow green mist into the faces of his opponents. This is literally all I can remember about that gimmick. Later on, WWE repackaged Kwang as “Savio Vega” and saddled him in a good guy role as WWE wrote his storyline in an effort to push him using a kayfabe friendship with perennial Intercontinental championship contender Razor Ramon.

Savio apparently got over with the fans well enough that he was given a t-shirt and two decades later it is one of the most sought after WWE shirts on the market. While the average expensive wrestling shirt spans between $30-$60 dollars for a piece of vintage, this one hangs steady at even higher price tag. In a recent online auction, one of these sold for almost $130. That is absolutely unheard of when it comes to wrestling shirts aside from ring worn items or shirts so incredibly unseen that they command that “buy it now” type of prestige. This shirt is rare, yet at any given time I can always seem to find 2-5 of them listed online for sale, which makes the incredibly high price almost unfathomable in how it ever made it that high.

Savio did far more than his Kwang gimmick during his WWE tenure. Goldust has credited Savio as the idea man behind his rubbing the chest of his opponents and Savio did manage to make it to the King of the Ring finals in 1995, only to be defeated by Mabel. He had a memorable feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin in which he gave Austin his first WWE singles loss and even had a memorable bout in the dark with Austin at the infamous pay per view where the lights went out. He led the team of “Los Boricuas” at the tail end of his WWE career and also appeared on the WWE’s ‘Super Astros” program in the late 90’s. Vega later went on to be a road agent with TNA and continues to work with promotions in his native Puerto Rico where he is a star of immense proportions.

In the WWE, Vega was a mid card star who never really received the proper push and never really got a chance to be red-hot in the eyes of the fans. The demand of his vintage shirt is one that has many collectors scratching their heads but regardless it is definitely collectible. I managed to find one and haggle it down to $25 about five years ago and have had it displayed in my collection ever since. If you see this shirt, the time to buy is now. It is one of those items that will only go up in value.

Have a cool piece of merchandise to share or have a collector question? Be sure you follow me @NicholasGrooms on Twitter or @OfficialNicholasGrooms on instagram and lets talk wrestling!!!

Nicholas Grooms is an accomplished writer, journalist and hip hop artist with many writing credits to his name. He is best know for his work creating songs for the Kansas City Chiefs football organization and is author of the book "Me, Myself & I Hate You: Stories of Adventure, Lust & Shi**y Paychecks". He regularly writes for FightBoothPW, SteelChair Magazine, Vulturehound Magazine and freelances elsewhere. He is also host of the "Nick is Pissed!" podcast which is based on his misadventures in life. You can find him @NicholasGrooms on Twitter or @officialnicholasgrooms on Instagram.

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