Call it looking back, call it nostalgia. In fact, call it anything you wish. However you choose to explain it, it has become more and more obvious that we are a society who both thrives and yearns for familiar heroes and fandoms of years past. That truth never rings louder than in the realm of wrestling fan boys and girls yearning for a new piece to add to the action figure collection and in most cases, the more obscure, the better.
Over the last few years we have seen exclusive figures of characters like Isacc Yankem, D.D.S; a corny, mid-nineties dentist character that is the exact opposite of our new favorite wrestling dentist, Dr. Britt Baker. Yankem was an early character of Glenn Jacobs who was still a few years and a “fake Diesel” role away from the comfort and safety of his Kane character’s longevity. In figure form, we have seen the many faces of Fred Ottoman.
From Typhoon, to Tugboat (complete with his thrilling wedge hat accessory) to the shocking “Shockmaster” exclusive action figure that celebrates Ottoman’s most famous wrestling moment. The figure captures Ottoman’s WCW debut that at the time, probably seemed unceremonious and flubbed. A debut that saw Ottoman trip through a wall to a botched explosion, losing his bedazzled Star Wars storm troopers helmet in the process.
Mattel has recently produced figures of Tatanka, Kamala and our favorite taxman, I.R.S. You can annoyingly scream from the apron of your tiny plastic ring with a small version of the late “Sensational” Queen Sherri or pretend to “cross face chicken wing” a few plebeians with the recently released figure of Mr. Bob Backlund. It seems that in this day in age, throwback characters and gimmicks of the past are in high demand because, simply put, we collectors love them. In my opinion, more characters should find inclusion in the Mattel collections, even if they were done in small runs or limited editions.
Yesterday morning as I poured my coffee and logged onto twitter, I was happy to learn another character of years past was once again planning to don his trademark yellow mask and return to the fold. For years, PJ Polaco has been known worldwide as “Justin Credible”; a hardcore personality and competitor that ascended to the top of the ladder in ECW, holding both its tag team and world championships at various points before finding himself back in the WWE. In 2000, he cracked Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s top 10 coming in at #6. He was inducted into the New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009 and is touted as an 8 time WWE hardcore champion. Simply stated, Polaco has had amassed an impressive resume under the guise of Justin Credible, but it was the nostalgia of seeing Polaco lobby for a return to his earliest “Aldo Montoya” gimmick that pulled in my focus.
I clicked with vested interest and spied a twitter post lobbying for Mattel and WWE to include an Aldo Montoya figure in a future line. In the picture was what I assume to be a custom made Aldo Montoya figure that was so well done that I thought it was a prototype until I read the entire post asking for fans to let Mattel and WWE know we wanted it to happen. I was immediately whisked back to the mid-nineties and the couple of Aldo magazine picture clip outs that hung on the wall above my younger brother’s bed. I remembered making our own masks and belts out of cardboard. I remembered hanging our home made belts from the ceiling fan and using a kitchen step stool in an effort to have a mock ladder match.
For me, Aldo Montoya is pure nostalgia. Sure, we all grew into the demographic enamored with the NWO and Attitude eras, but as single digit aged kids, the gimmicks were memorable and hero enough. With that, I clicked share and kept the post moving. I threw a quick message into the inbox on Polaco’s “Aldo Montoya” page hoping to get a quote to run a short news article about his action figure campaign, when I decided to poke around his twitter pages for a minute, realizing I hadn’t kept up with him much over the last couple of years. Pinned to the top of his official twitter page was a Youtube link for a trailer to a documentary film entitled “Credible” which in its description states:
“The film documents former ECW World Heavyweight Champion PJ Polaco, f.k.a. Justin Credible, as he tries to get his life back in order. The new trailer includes footage from Polaco’s September lockup.”
I was immediately sucked into the trailer. It depicted Polaco as a troubled man looking to kick his demons and win back the respect of his friends, the fans and his family. Riddled with the inner turmoils of his life, Polaco’s first line of dialogue in the trailer is:
“Justin Credible is a badass, killer, hardcore icon, professional wrestler, who will slit your throat. Pete Polaco is a scared little kid who just wants to feel at home and is running away.”
In the four minute clip, I was filled in on the whereabouts of one of my favorite ECW wrestlers of all time. One thing became very evident to me in a hurry. PJ Polaco was not only a man lost to me for a few years, he seemed to have been a man lost to himself. There have been arrests. According to the documentary trailer, at least three at the time of its release. What was playing before me was a story deeper than a man trying to spread the word about an action figure campaign, it was the literal real life campaign to get his life back on track.
“I became a world champion. Kids looked up to me. They wore my t-shirts and played with my action figures. I was their hero. But I should be no one’s hero. Drugs and addiction beat me worse than any opponent. It messed up my life, bad. It broke me beyond what any ring could ever do. I will find my recovery and redemption.”
The trailer first seems to ends with this statement from Polaco and is followed up quickly by a quick clip of him shouting:
“What don’t you understand, man!!! This is not a joke!!! This is my goddamn life!!! I told you, I’ve had enough!!!!”
I was left without words for a few minutes. In a teeter totter trailer you see a mixed bag of frustrations and low points with a few encouraging moments such as Polaco training and getting back into form and boldly stating he vows to conquer his demons. While the trailer leaves the viewer on a cliffhanger and we will more than likely have to see the film to know the outcome, I am hopeful that this return or reintroduction of the Aldo Montoya gimmick in Polaco’s life is an indicator that things are going well. Perhaps maybe the nostalgia and goodness of a masked hero are just as comforting to the man behind the mask as they are to the fans that grew up watching him. He looks to be in good spirits and optimistic about the future. Hopefully the Aldo return starts with a Mattel WWE figure that all of us collector nerds are aching for.
My best wishes of encouragement to PJ Polaco going forward. You can support Polaco’s cause by following this link on the Mattel site and letting them know you want an Aldo Montoya WWE action figure to exist.