History of the W.I.N. Memorabilia Show

Sunday, March 7th, 2010 | Columns, WIN Magazine, Wrestling

Mike’s column from the latest issue of WIN Magazine talks about the history of the Memorabilia Show. This show will mark Mike’s 20th and last show.

He writes:

The 1991 NCAA championships in Iowa City stand out in my mind as one of the most memorable ever, for many reasons.

…It was the scene for an experiment I tried with two friends – Mike DeAnna, former Hawkeye star, and Bob Steenlage, Iowa’s first four-time state champion and an All-American at West Point.

We wanted to develop an event that would offer fans a gathering spot between sessions of the tournament. We were tired of trying to meet friends in smoke-filled bars or crowded restaurants, or jammed into motel lobbies. We felt other fans would embrace the concept of a general gathering spot between sessions, as well.

That tournament marks the debut of what has become known as the “WIN Memorabilia Show.”

We hope to see you there this year!

The 1991 NCAA championships in Iowa City stand out in my mind as one of the most memorable ever, for many reasons.

First was the amazing performance by Iowa. The Hawkeyes claimed nine All-American spots to win its first title in five years, and 12th overall. Iowa outscored runnerup Oklahoma State by a whopping margin of 157 to 108.75. Penn State was third with 67.5 points – meaning there was 48.25 points separating first and second, and another 41.25 points separating second and third. Simply amazing!

There were great individual championship matches. Jason Kelber of Nebraska, seeded second, shocked the crowd by defeating the defending NCAA champion, Terry Brands of Iowa in the 126-pound match, 10-5.

At 134, Tom Brands won his second title with a bruising 5-3 win over the multi-talented Alan Fried of Oklahoma State.

Pat Smith, a sophomore on his way to becoming the first four-time champion ever, claimed his second title at 158 with a tight 7-6 win over Iowa’s Tom Ryan. And then Mark Reiland of Iowa scored a dramatic pin over muscular Kevin Randleman of Ohio State to win at 167 pounds.

Marty Morgan of Minnesota grabbed the 177-pound title with a 17-7 win over Matt Johnson of Iowa State, and then Paul Keysaw of Cal State-Bakersfield posted a 4-1 win over a tough OSU grappler named Randy Couture at 190. No one then knew how tough Randy really was, of course, and that he would go on to become the biggest star in the history of mixed martial arts!

The heavyweight title went to Jon Llewellyn of Illinois, with a 6-3 triumph over Clarion’s Kurt Angle. Like Couture, Angle would move on to greater glory – winning World and Olympic titles and then becoming a superstar in the professional ranks.

Other champions that year were Jeff Prescott of Penn State at 118, with a 14-0 triumph over Iowa’s Chad Zaputil; Scott Collins of West Virginia at 142, by a 8-7 margin over Troy Steiner of Iowa, and Matt Demaray of Wisconsin by 4-3 over Steve Hamilton of Iowa State.

THAT 1991 MEET has special meaning for me in another way. It was the scene for an experiment I tried with two friends – Mike DeAnna, former Hawkeye star, and Bob Steenlage, Iowa’s first four-time state champion and an All-American at West Point.

We wanted to develop an event that would offer fans a gathering spot between sessions of the tournament. We were tired of trying to meet friends in smoke-filled bars or crowded restaurants, or jammed into motel lobbies. We felt other fans would embrace the concept of a general gathering spot between sessions, as well.

That tournament marks the debut of what has become known as the “WIN Memorabilia Show.”

We held our first show in the downtown Holiday Inn in Iowa City, and lined up a few guests to sign autographs. I brought several tables worth of rare wrestling items – memorabilia – for display. We advertised as best we could, and about 500 fans showed up over the three days.

That was 20 years ago!

Now, two decades later, the “show” has changed in several ways. Mike DeAnna and Bob Steenlage are no longer involved, but my wife, Bev, and I have been to all 20 in a row! We created WIN magazine in 1995, and the show is now named after that publication. Bryan Van Kley, WIN publisher, is our partner in this grand venture.
Memorabilia is not so evident any more, but we have plenty of companies that come to display their products to the wrestling world. Most years, we have close to 30 vendors and nearly 8,000 fans who attend between sessions to browse, and meet legends like Bruce Baumgartner, Dan Hodge, Yojiro Uetake, and Lee Kemp, and many others. One year, in Cleveland, we had Randy Couture and Kurt Angle sitting 20 feet from each other signing autographs. The line to meet these two legends was unbelievable.

The show has become THE place to go between sessions. It’s a great place to bring your kids, too, as they get to meet some of the sport’s biggest heroes and see what the sport is all about behind the scenes.

This year in Omaha, Bryan secured one of the best spots ever for the show. It will be held in the Hilton Hotel, right across from the Qwest Center where the wrestling takes place.

It will be the 20th Show for my wife Bev and me, and to celebrate we will be offering some very special deals. We hope to see you there!

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