They have the power: Superstars share "Masters of the Universe" memories
Chiseled physiques. Larger-than-life personas. Intense battles between good and evil. These same descriptors accurately illustrate what can be seen at any WWE event on the planet. They also represent the appeal of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figure franchise. Launched in 1982, the toys transported kids’ imaginations to the mythical world of Eternia, where Heroic Warriors — led by the powerful He-Man — were constantly locked in battle with the evil forces of Skeletor. (No, Kane, not Larry King.)
Exclusively on WWE.com and in celebration of the franchise’s 30th anniversary, WWE Superstars reflect on growing up with Masters of the Universe and describe what Mattel’s innovative toy line and its accompanying animated series still mean to them. Plus, find out who’s planning some new MOTU-inspired ring gear!
Long before he began amassing accolades in WWE, former World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus was an avid action figure collector drawn to Mattel’s Masters of the Universe franchise at an early age.
“I was a huge Masters of the Universe fan,” the Irishman said. “I think the first [MOTU] figure I had was Beast Man, and I remember the back of the Mattel packaging had pictures of all of the toys available at the time. I hung that up on the bulletin board and marked off what I wanted for Christmas.”
Sheamus continued, “I remember Stratos being the hardest action figure to get, and I just couldn’t find it anywhere. My parents eventually ended up getting me Zodak instead because, I guess, they couldn’t tell the difference.”
At the time, Sheamus could hardly fathom that he would not only have his own Mattel action figure one day, but also that he would be rendered in plastic multiple times over by the Masters of the Universe toymakers.
“I remember seeing the Mattel WWE action figures for the first time and thinking, ‘Wow, this is amazing,’ ” The Celtic Warrior explained. “There’s so much thought and detail put into them, and I thought it would be so cool to have one of my own. Now, there are so many variations of Sheamus it’s crazy. I literally have to pinch myself sometimes.”
Dolph Ziggler certainly thinks he’s the most powerful man in the universe these days, but believe it or not, there was a time when The Showoff looked for inspiration in places besides reflective surfaces.
“I used to watch ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’ on Saturday mornings,” Ziggler said. “He-Man was pretty jacked, so that was cool. I wanted to be He-Man. I don’t think I ever dressed up like him for Halloween, but I’ve always been into anything that has a jacked dude beating everybody up.”
One of Ziggler’s fondest Masters of the Universe memories was seeing the live-action 1987 film, and not merely because his namesake, Dolph Lundgren, was its star.
“‘Masters of the Universe’ is one of the few movies I’ve seen in theaters because usually when I go, I get kinda swarmed,” The Showoff said with a smirk. “But yeah, I’m a big He-Man fan. All of that other comic book stuff that you Internet nerds are into? Not so much.”
When discussing Masters of the Universe, Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston’s eyes light up immediately. We can’t necessarily say we’re surprised, as The Dreadlocked Dynamo has put his love for the franchise on full display through the years, from his Battle Cat gear debuted at Night of Champions 2011 to the Skeletor-infused attire he unveiled at Money in the Bank 2012. Kingston does, indeed, “have the power.”
“The gear has been been very, very popular, especially on Twitter,” Kingston told WWE.com. “I’ve gotten a lot of compliments. I think I’ve satisfied or satiated the ’80s babies out there, who are really appreciating the throwback tribute to Masters of the Universe.”
Kingston is not done with Masters of the Universe ring gear tributes. Although the character he’ll wind up channeling next is anyone’s guess, The Dreadlocked Dynamo will likely choose one of the lesser-known residents of Eternia.
“Masters of the Universe definitely has a cult following, and there are a lot of people who grew up in the ’80s who might not even know all of the characters,” Kingston explained. “If I were to do a He-Man theme, the colors aren’t necessarily bright enough [for my gear], and I couldn’t really put He-Man’s face on my tights to try to make it mine. There are a lot of characters in there that are kind of obscure. I’m not sure what the next one will be. I don’t really plan these things, they just sort of come to me.”
( MORE ON KINGSTON’S MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE GEAR)
The Miz’s crude behavior in WWE might lead one to believe that he sided with the sinister Skeletor, but The Awesome One was actually a diehard “He-Fan” as a kid.
“He-Man was the best,” The Miz said. “I would always have He-Man beating up Skeletor. Always.”
In fact, The Awesome One would often take his fascination with “The Most Powerful Man in the Universe” a step further. Perhaps foreshadowing his adult fascination with self-empowerment with a simple proclamation, “I’m The Miz, and I’m awwwwesome,” The Miz had a slightly different catchphrase on his mind while he was growing up in Parma, Ohio.
“I would constantly annoy my mom, running around the house with my little sword saying ‘I have the power!’ ”
Annoy? Miz? Nah.
One look at the hulking frame of the 6-foot-7, 375-pound Brodus Clay, and it’s not hard to imagine him inhabiting the same world as Buzz-Off, Grizzlor, Mekaneck and other out-of-this-world Masters of the Universe characters. Even the nickname “The Funkasaurus,” fits the MOTU mold.
Instead of merely pondering Planet Funk’s proximity to He-Man’s homeworld of Eternia, WWE.com spoke with Brodus about his connection to the vintage Masters of the Universe toyline.
“I had them all. I liked Trapjaw a whole lot, but I kept losing his arm pieces,” Clay said, going on to profess his affinity for the more outlandish and bizarre villainous characters in the MOTU collection. “Tri-Klops was my guy. I loved Beast Man. Skeletor was cool. I was always the bad guys and my little brother tended to play as He-Man and those other guys.”
Like fellow Masters of the Universe fan Kofi Kingston — who has donned ring gear inspired by He-Man’s loyal steed Battle Cat and Skeletor — Clay isn’t quite done “playing as” some of his favorite characters from the franchise.
“I’m actually working on some Funkasaurus Beast Man gear,” Clay revealed. “Maybe Funkasaurus Clawful or Funkasaurus Trap Jaw? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do some Man-E-Faces gear because I have two sides to me just like everybody else does.”
The centerpiece of most Masters of the Universe collections in the 1980s was Castle Grayskull, a playset representation of He-Man’s power source and the bastion of good for Eternia’s Heroic Warriors. However, as most kids defended their miniature fortresses from Skeletor and his monstrous minions, a young Wade Barrett had other plans.
“All of my friends when I was a kid had Castle Grayskull, but I had Skeletor’s home, Snake Mountain,” Barrett recalled, thinking back on the frightening playset that came complete with various methods by which the line’s evil characters could torment the Heroic Warriors. “I don’t know why my parents bought me that, but maybe they just knew I was going to one day turn to the ‘dark side,’ so to speak. I become a very nasty human being in my teens when I started bare-knuckle fighting. And I’m happy that way, I might add.”
Like many of his fellow Superstars, Barrett is also happy to have a plastic totem fashioned after himself, although for an altogether different reason than his contemporaries.
“The thing I remember about action figures as a kid was that they were all perfect and didn’t seem to have any physical deformities,” Barrett explained. “The thing I’m most proud about with my action figure is that it’s probably the first-ever action figure with a broken nose. I think I’ve really made history in the action figure world there.”
Now that both Barrett and He-Man are rendered in plastic, we wonder: Which of these warriors would win in a bare-knuckle brawl?
“With a little assistance from Skeletor, He-Man’s going down,” Barrett affirmed.
- To learn more about Mattel’s latest Masters of the Universe and WWE offerings, visit MattyCollector.com.
- To follow the latest exploits of “The Most Powerful Man in the Universe,” check out He-Man’s official Facebook page.
- To wield the Power of Grayskull yourself, download “He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe” on iTunes by clicking here.