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Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:54 pm
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Greetings and Salutations

Post by KrisV82 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:45 pm

When I started this, I didnt expect it to be so long. Hopefully the anti-boots dont take any of this the wrong way. Sorry for the long read.

Hello All,

Been lurking on this site for a while now. Decided to try to participate more and stop lurking. So I'm supposed to tell my story, so here it goes....

I fell in love with wrestling in 1986. My older brother had a VHS tape of this Hulk Hogan guy beating this other guy with pointy boots named the Iron Sheik. I am from Connecticut, so obviously being in the northeast I was introduced to WWF early on. I remember that he given a big green belt afterwards, and its all I was able to concentrate on. About a year or two later I went to see Wrestlemania 3 on Closed Circuit at the Hartford Civic Center. Hulk had since gotten a new belt, and this one was much nicer. I found myself being just as interested as these belts as I was the action. The belt Ricky the Dragon won was super nice! I mean, I was only 5, and they were shiny.

Then the following year I fell in love. It was a Friday Night and my brother and I were watching The Main Event. Hogan came down to the ring and he had a different belt. I was memorized. My brother was yelling at the television when Hogan lost. I was simply staring at the belt that was now on Dibiase's waist. Fast Forward a little bit and the next memory I had was Robin Leach bringing the belt to the ring at WM IV. There it was! I was fully in love. For the next 10 years, I would obsessively watch wrestling, and dream about owning that belt. Before any girl tickled my fancy, the Winged Eagle held my heart.

Back then there was no internet. I wasn't old enough to know about dirt sheets or how to get involved on that level. I can just remember literally dreaming about owning that belt. I had the old foam WWF toy belt that was not a replica of any title used. Then around 1990-1991, they released a different toy that was a plastic copy of the winged eagle. It was heaven, until a month later when the foil on the belt kept peeling off. Damn it! This just wasn't cutting it. I managed to order another type of winged eagle toy when I was about 14, but that one wasnt fully painted - and it was like a weird, foil material attached to a buckle. It was just weird. I needed to get my hands on the real thing. Stamford is about 45 minutes from my house. I can remember thinking about driving to the headquarters when I got my driver's license and just walking in there begging to be sold a Winged Eagle. I remember when I was 10 or 11, I used to think of a story that was good enough that they would just give me one. Not quite "Make a Wish" but maybe if I told Vince how much I loved it, he would have one made for me lol. It's beyond cringy to think how naive I was lol.

Then in 1998 they introduced the Big Eagle, which at first broke my heart. It was the new hot blonde that was replacing my first true love. It took me until the 2nd version at the 98 Survivor Series for me to come around to it. By that time, I was obsessed with belts. WCW, ECW, Boxing, Hell - even the Rocky belt. I had made a bunch of belts out of cardboard, tape, I even once used an ash tray once as a center plate.

Finally in 2001 I found out they were going to sell replicas. These things looked like the real thing!! I was stoked! I ordered a Big Eagle as soon as I could - but was mostly disappointed when it arrived. We all know the issues. I don't have to go into them. It just wasn't satisfactory. I then ordered a Tag Team and a Big Gold. I now realize I hate the J-Mar tags and the WWE Big Gold. None of them hit the spot. In 2002, I purchased a Deluxe Big Eagle. It had the 6th "property of" plate, and the leather was a little more "floppy." It still wasn't perfect, but it was a little better. I didnt realize the "real leather" was still wrapped around cardboard, and the plates were still poor. It didn't look like the ones I had studied obsessively for years on t.v.

Fast Forward to around 2004. They were going to release the Winged Eagle. I think I verbally yelled outloud I was so happy. I know I wasnt thrilled with quality, but I figured they probably had gotten better. This was it. My chance to finally own it. Well, it came in and I wanted to throw it in the trash. I felt ripped off. The bars!!! The strap. The plates. It was pitiful. At this point, I felt ripped off to the tune of over $1,700 in crappy replicas. (Fun Fact: My apartment was broken into while I was inbetween moving, and all of my replicas were stolen. Bye Bye)

Life happened for the next few years. I lost my mother after a quick battle with cancer (6 months), had other family issues, then had my own issues. Let's just say life kicked my ass. No different than anyone else's life. I am not special or exempt. That was just the time life decided to kick me when I was down. However, during that time, I started doing more and more research. I had already come to know who Reggie parks was. I had known that owning a real belt was possible. If I remember correctly, I dont think he was associated with Dave yet. However, I could be wrong. It was a long time ago. I just remember every couple of years thinking about placing an order. I just always had something else that came up. Life is funny like that. The highlight of that time however is in 2002, I stood in line for 6 hours to meet Shawn Michaels at WWF NY on the day he returned at SummerSlam. I have been a huge HBK mark since Marty Jannetty ran through the Babershop glass window in an attempt to escape from him (RIP Brain). I didnt care if he was a selfish, drug addicted jerk. Hell, for a while I was a selfish, drug addicted jerk. He was just the best at his craft while I was doing tech support.

Around 2005 I grew really tired of WWE. Austin was gone. The Rock was on his way out. Gangrel's entrance was gone. ECW was gone. WCW was gone. I hated WWE - the name change. I was actually at the Raw in Hartford when they made the change. Then the product started to bore me. After 20 plus years, I was just not interested. I'd watch Mania, but that was it. When the Network launched, I got to fall in love all over again. By then, I saw how much information was available. I was able to relive my childhood and then some. I was introduced to the Observer Newsletter, discovered r/Squared Circle, and had everything I wanted to relive for only...$9.99 a month!

Then the itch came back. Like a cancer that I thought had gone away. I had started to search the web for how to acquire a winged eagle. I saw Dave's page. Said they were accepting orders. It said I could get a fully stocked WE for $2,700. My wife questioned my sanity as I really wasn't into wrestling since we had started dating. Now I all of a sudden wanted to drop almost 3 grand on a wrestling belt. Damn it, I'm the MAN of the house!! I put my foot down and asked nicely. Unfortunately, we know that Dave's webpage is not accurate. I would check eBay and immediately filter by highest price. Seldom would I ever see a WE. I missed out on the Master Series release. I missed out on Dave, although I'm glad I am not waiting like the unfortunate people that have been.

So here I stand. I feel like there are no good options. I refuse to pay triple the cost for a used product. Its just too much money to risk being ripped off. There are two guys who hold the artwork license for the WE. For some unknown reason, they refuse to license out the artwork. They are on the verge of a lawsuit that will potentially bankrupt them. I can't understand why they don't just license the artwork out. They are literally sitting on a gold mine. Instead of being bankrupt, Reggie would be able to relax for his remaining years, Dave would save face and stay the "Ace", and thousands and thousands of people just like me could get a product they have wanted for decades. Maybe there is an agreement they still have with Figures or WWE, or something else. I have never heard that as a reason, but I know its possible. I tried asking Scott if he ever saw the day that happened and he said he doubted it.

In regards to BeltTalk, I sense a lot of elitism from many people who own a Dave or Reggie WE. I have also talked to a lot of nice people. However, I feel a lot of people like that they can profit off people's misfortunes (people who never got their order). By that happening, it kept the resale value of their belt 3x what the market value would have been. Its like Hatchimals for adults. They like that they can profit $4,000, so they dont ever want those belts being made. Again, not everyone falls in this. Just some of the people that have been cocky about it.

I know this thread is non boot friendly. Honestly, I get it. At this point though, I dont know what to do. I refuse to give Dave and Reggie money when (in my opinion) they have scammed so many nice people. They dont deserve any new business. If what people say is true, they are worse than Paki Bootleggers. They are stealing just like the Paki's. They are no better. So that leaves my options as another crappy replica? Or do I explore a third option. About 3 weeks ago a friend of mine that moved across the country when we were teenagers sent me some pics. I thought he bought a Dave WE. The etching was incredible. He told me about the company he got it from. I will not say the names because I respect the rules of this forum. However, I was honestly blown away. For the first time, I questioned the morality of this. I now own my own business. I know all about copyright law. Metallica taught me all about stealing from something protected by Copyright. However, Master of Puppets isnt on a 7 year back log. So I ask myself - Is Dave losing money by me ordering somewhere else? He refuses to license the artwork to appease the fans that helped support him and Reggie. More importantly, he refuses to even make the belts people paid for. From what others have told me, his actions show that he doesn't respect commerce either. He had no problem licensing the artwork to figures inc - who ripped off their customers with the junk they put out. Do I risk 7K on a second hand belt that could be a scam? Do I support that? I honestly am at a standstill regarding all of this.

If youre still reading this, you deserve a college credit. In conclusion, I dont "support" bootlegs. I have not purchased one. I am just frustrated. Frustrated by the lack of options, frustrated at the way people talk down to others, frustrated at the amount of crooks in this industry, and frustrated at the judgement that happens with other people. People are getting ripped off left and right. Beltmakers are ripping people off. Secondhand sellers are ripping people off. Bootlegs are not licensed by the guys ripping everyone off. The people thinking about going that route are catechized here. Its crazy. My 6 year old heart would be broken.

I think at this point I am going to order a replica, as I want to learn how to releather on my own. I have always been intrigued. Maybe I can figure out how to curve a 4mm plate without cracking it and attach bars. Maybe I'll start with a BE since its not as curved. Maybe by then the Dave fiasco will be straightened out (a boy can dream cant he?). In the meantime, I am hear to talk belts, learn as much as I can, and pick up as much knowledge as possible.

BTW - I noticed the history of the WE from the old boards has disappeared. That was so sad. That write up was absolutely phenomenal!! I learned so much from reading that a couple of years ago. So whoever was responsible for contributing to that, thank you.

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