Categories
Gaming NFT

What is Blockchain Gaming?

Blockchain gaming is gaming that utilizes true item ownership from the same technology that lies at the core of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is an earth-shattering innovation for players who have previously accepted that their items will be forever stuck in games. Normally, players are accustomed to wall gardens that prevent players from moving assets freely in and out. So blockchain operates more like a battering ram or the kool-aid man to players who have been staring up at these Attack On Titan-sized walls waiting for something to shake up their world. 

These new systems bring exciting developments, minus the titans. Blockchain gaming is letting players verify that their items are rare and letting them send anything to anyone. This new capability exists without having to jump through hoops or sell your entire account to move just one measly item the buyer wants. This enables a new player-driven economy where games don’t have to worry about new releases or shady DLCs, and can instead make new content that is tradable and retains players. Players are so used to game-hopping to scratch an itch that they routinely buy new games every other month trying to chase the trends and the hype. If they can add hours of gameplay to their favorite games while spending more money in-game, everybody wins. This becomes especially beneficial for gamers when systems like Enjin allow creators to add transfer fees to monetize the trading done in and out of the game.

NFT peeps have started to flock to blockchain gaming/NFT gaming because they can do something gamers have wanted to do for decades: they can move and sell items. They’re not looking to do this because to make a quick buck, but because they love their hobby and don’t want to make it feel like a toxic codependent relationship with these games. It can be frustrating to throw buckets of money, time, and energy into your favorite game only to feel like there are not enough things to do, the server goes down, the game is no longer live, etc. Some gamers also find themself backed into a corner, competing against people who simply spend more money than them in-game, and therefore they’ll never be able to beat them.

Take it from me, NFTs and blockchain gaming are a fun, exciting topic. While there is work to be done in earning these items, there is also money to be found. This comes not from the desperation of people who have too much money to spend, but from people who see the value from the time put into gaming.

Before you know it, your next big purchase could be supported by something you sold from a video game. Imagine what you could pay for if you could monetize the time you play video games. Check out this video of Simon from Enjin using money he made from Lost Relics to buy his groceries:

I myself have just paid for my wedding this Wednesday by selling NFTs. There are different strains of NFTs and blockchain gaming so stay tuned for the second volume of this series. 

If you want to see how NFTs can be used by content creators or want to join the content creation team that’s being built, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Categories
Sports Strength

The Wrestling Classic’s Most Unforgettable Celebrity Appearances in Wrestling

Hey everyone! It’s “The Wrestling Classic” Justin here with another article for On37PM. This time I won’t be doing a traditional ranking; this one will be about some of the most memorable celebrity appearances in professional wrestling. There have been a plethora of celebrity appearances throughout the last four decades so I may forget to mention some memorable names, but I did my best to cover the ones that came to my mind first. My goal was to bring up the appearances that really made an impact or those that got physical by getting in the ring and actually competing.

Celebrity appearances like Regis Philbin, Bob Uecker, Kim Kardashian and others who just appeared for their celebrity presence to be felt on the show won’t be mentioned, along with musical artists who performed on wrestling shows but did not get physical or make a direct impact when it came to on-going storylines.

I also won’t be bringing up all the celebrities that appeared during the Raw Guest Host era that ran from 2009-2016 or the celebrities that have won the 24/7 Championship these past few years as those could both be their own lists respectively. Therefore, names like Bob Barker, Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Betty White, The Muppets, Gronk, Rob Stone, Enes Kanter, Marshmello and many others won’t be mentioned. There will be some crossovers though, as many celebrities who appeared as Raw Guest Hosts did more in wrestling either before or after that stint. Also big names such as Steve “Mongo” McMichael, Ronda Rousey, and Cain Velasquez, who made their name outside of wrestling but ended up signing legitimate contracts with the company they chose to work for as talent won’t be mentioned either. People who made the official crossover from another career to full-time wrestling is a list of its own. Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s go down memory lane.

Muhammad Ali
WWE

In 1976, Muhammed Ali was one the most well known boxers around the world and he was set to have an unprecedented fight against Japanese wrestling star Antonio Inoki. Ali was a reigning champion fresh off a knockout victory and Inoki was having an open challenge against champions of other martial arts to prove that wrestling was the best form of fighting. However, just weeks before the fight, he appeared at a WWWF event in the Philadelphia Arena where he confronted Gorilla Monsoon only to be picked up for an airplane spin before being dumped on the mat. He then went to have this controversial fight with Antonio Inoki in Japan where Inoki spent the entire fight on his back throwing kicks at Ali’s legs. The fight didn’t go as anyone expected, but will forever live on in infamy. Ali also appeared as a special guest referee for the main event of the inaugural Wrestlemania and was the guest of honor for the record breaking “Collision in Korea” event, headlined by Ric Flair and Antonio Inoki in North Korea.

Andy Kaufman
WWE

Andy Kaufman was a comedian and performing artist popularized by his role in the hit television series “Taxi.” He was one of the first people from show business who wanted to get involved in the world of professional wrestling in the early 80s. He started calling himself the “Intergender Wrestling Champion of the World” while having his own wrestling matches against women. Eventually he got involved in the Memphis Wrestling scene, feuding with the legendary Jerry “The King” Lawler. This was followed up by the infamous segment on “Late Night with David Letterman,” where Lawler slapped Kaufman out of his chair, leading the actor to go on a furious tirade, which created a buzz in both the wrestling and entertainment world. It really seemed as if the Letterman segment was an authentic non-scripted moment, but decades later we found out that Kaufman planned the entire thing.

Cyndi Lauper
WWE

There would not be a “Rock N Wrestling” era if it wasn’t for Cyndi Lauper. Cyndi Lauper was one of the most popular pop-rock stars of the 80s. Her award-winning music video for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” featured professional wrestling’s Captain Lou Albano playing the role of her father. Cyndi’s then boyfriend and manager Dave Wolf grew up a wrestling fan and helped foster her relationship with the sport. Lauper appeared many times in the squared circle in some capacity following this music video dropping, thus creating the Rock N Wrestling connection.

Lauper played a huge role in the feud between Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, which led to the “War to Settle the Score” event that aired on MTV and concluded at the inaugural Wrestlemania. Lauper would also be in the corner of Wendi Rechter at that first Wrestlemania. Lauper wouldn’t appear again in the WWE for 27 years, but did make appearances to help promote Raw’s 1000 episode and served as celebrity guest host, where she made peace with former rival “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

Mr. T
WWE

As the “Rock N Wrestling” era and the Hogan-Piper feud continued on, so did the trend of involving those from the entertainment world in the world of wrestling. Mr. T was the next major 80s star to get in the squared circle and the first one to be involved in a major way. Mr. T rose to fame with his roles in Rocky III as Clubber Lang and his role in the television series the “A-Team” as Sergeant BA. He entered the WWE aiding Hulk Hogan in his feud against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Cowboy” Bob Orton and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orondorff. It all came to a head in the main event of the first ever Wrestlemania, when Hogan and Mr. T defeated Piper and Orondorff.

Mr. T didn’t get embraced by everyone in the locker room as much as celebrities today, as a lot of the wrestlers—including Roddy Piper—believed in protecting the business and that T hadn’t paid his dues like the rest of them. Regardless, Mr. T returned the following year for Wrestlemania 2 where he would box Roddy Piper. He made many more appearances in both the WWE and WCW, whether it was to make an appearance, play an enforcer role or to be inducted in the Hall of Fame where he gave an unforgettable speech about his momma.

Tiny Lister
WWE

Tiny Lister was an actor mainly remembered as “Deebo” from the movie “Friday,” who got involved in professional wrestling in 1989 after co-starring in a WWE produced film “No Holds Barred.” He had two major stints in the world of wrestling. The first run was in the WWF in 1989, when he came in as his “No Holds Barred” character Zeus to feud with Hulk Hogan to promote the movie. This led to them headlining Summerslam in a tag match where Zeus teamed up with “Macho Man” Randy Savage to face off against Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake.

He stuck around after the event, working various other matches and the feud with Hogan concluded in a rematch from Summerslam, but this time in a cage in which he was on the losing side again. In 1996, he showed up in WCW as Z-Gangsta and continued his feud with Hogan as part of the “Alliance to End Hulkamania” which gave us the infamous Triple Cage match. That was the last we saw of Lister in the world of wrestling.

Buster Douglas
WWE

In 1990, James “Buster” Douglas shocked the world by knocking out Mike Tyson to win the championship. Everyone thought it was going to be another win for Tyson before he moved on to face Evander Holyfield. Mike Tyson was also scheduled to be the guest enforcer for the WWE Championship match between then champion Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage on the third edition of the prime time NBC special event “The Main Event.” However, after losing his fight, Mike Tyson backed out but the WWE was able to secure the man who knocked him out a week earlier in Buster Douglas. The fact that Douglas had so recently defeated the seemingly unstoppable Mike Tyson was a big deal for the WWE. The interaction between Savage and Douglas after the match was entertaining as well. Considering all the circumstances surrounding this celebrity appearance, this one is hard to forget.

Lawrence Taylor
WWE

The relationship between professional football and professional wrestling has always been strong. There are a ton of wrestlers who have backgrounds in professional football prior to becoming wrestlers. That being said, it never surprises me when an NFL player gets involved in the wrestling world. Therefore, when decorated NFL legend Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow had a confrontation at the Royal Rumble in 1995, there was no doubt it was leading to a match. It did.

Bam Bam and Lawerence Taylor would main event Wrestlemania 11, even going on after the WWE Championship match between  Shawn Michaels and Diesel. This garnered a ton of mainstream media coverage and was the last time a celebrity competed in the main event of Wrestlemania. However, it was one of the many times someone from the world of football stepped into the squared circle in the 90s.

Kevin Greene
WWE

I can’t talk about decorated NFL superstars crossing over to professional wrestling without thinking about Kevin Greene. I feel like growing up watching World Championship Wrestling, he was constantly showing up. He first appeared in 1996, accompanying Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Clash of the Champions XXXII in their match against Ric Flair and The Giant. Later that year, he teamed up with fellow NFL Alumni who had signed a full time contract with WCW in Steve “Mongo” McMichael to face Four Horsemen members Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. In 1997, Kevin Greene teamed up with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper to face off against the Outsiders (Nash/Hall/Syxx) of the NWO. Greene would follow this by wrestling his former friends Mongo and the Giant two times in 1998. However, the NFL contracts that he signed following his stints in wrestling prohibited wrestling, thus ending his career in the ring.

Shaquille O’Neal
WWE

Shaquille O’ Neal is one of the most popular NBA players of all-time, but also a life-long professional wrestling fan. Shaq has been making appearances in professional wrestling since 1994 when he first appeared in World Championship Wrestling at “Bash at the Beach” to award the winner of the World Championship match between Hogan and Flair. He then made a guest appearance on Raw as a guest host in 2009 and had a backstage segment with Hogan on Impact Wrestling.

However, Shaq wanted to get in the ring and for a couple of years there were rumors of a Shaq-Big Show match. At 2016’s Wrestlemania, Shaq participated in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and confronted the Big Show during the match for a memorable moment before they both got eliminated. They never could get the singles match to work around Shaq’s schedule, but O’Neal finally got to have his long awaited headline match. It would be in the newly founded All Elite Wrestling, where he teamed with Jade Cargill to face off against Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet on a 2021 edition of Dynamite.

Pamela Anderson
WWE

Listen, I know what you’re thinking with me mentioning Pamela Anderson. What makes her appearance more impactful than Regis Philbin, Jonathan Taylor Thomas or others? Well it was because, at the time, she was considered one of the hottest women in the world and she appeared all Wrestlemania season. Anderson first appeared at the Royal Rumble during a period when the business was down. Anderson promised to accompany the winner of the Royal Rumble to the ring at Wrestlemania, but instead she chose to accompany the WWE Champion Diesel to add even more fuel to the fire in the feud between the former friends. Plus, she was Pamela Anderson from Baywatch on WWE television in her prime. If you spent any time in the 90s, you’d understand.

Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone
WWE

In 1997, World Championship Wrestling was winning the ratings war due to the popularity of the New World Order and the reality based wrestling program that Nitro was providing over WWE’s product the years prior. They also had some major stars that many celebrities had grown up watching, such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Therefore, when popular Chicago Bulls player and NBA legend Dennis Rodman showed up as a friend of “Hollywood” Hogan and a celebrity member of the New World Order, it was pretty damn cool. Rodman showed up helping the heel faction a few times in early 1997. However, when Rodman got in the ring to compete like he did at “Bash at the Beach” 1997, teaming with Hollywood Hogan to face The Giant and Lex Luger, that was surprising.

In 1998, the WCW was able to secure Utah Jazz player and another NBA legend to appear in WCW in “The Mailman” Karl Malone. Malone’s team was actually in the NBA Championship Finals against Rodman’s team the Chicago Bulls, which made it pretty awesome that they were able to have them feud on WCW television too. They got a ton of mainstream coverage due to the circumstances. Rodman even missed practices to make WCW appearances as we learned in “The Last Dance” documentary that Netflix released last year. At “Bash at the Beach” 1998, Hogan and Rodman were to defeat Diamond Dallas Page and Malone in a tag match. Malone wouldn’t appear in the ring or in storylines again, whereas Rodman came back for one more run in WCW in 1999 to feud with Randy Savage. Fun times.

Jay Leno
WWE

In 1998, the wrestling world was at its peak and a huge part of pop-culture to the extent that Tonight Show host Jay Leno wanted to get involved. When Leno’s people reached out to WCW President Eric Bischoff about Leno’s interest in getting involved with wrestling in early July, Bischoff was adamant about making it happen. He also had to come up with an angle that would conclude in just weeks at their August 8th “Road Wild” event. Eric decided that Jay Leno would get booted off of his own late night show by Hollywood Hogan and Bischoff. They would take over the iconic “Tonight Show,” which had never been done before. This led to a match at “Road Wild” where Diamond Dallas Page and Jay Leno defeated Hollywood Hogan and Eric Bischoff. This got a plethora of mainstream attention.

Pete Rose
WWE

It was a one-off celebrity appearance that became a three year tradition. MLB Legend Pete Rose first appeared at Wrestlemania 14 in 1998 as a special guest ring announcer for the long-awaited Undertaker versus Kane match. What appeared to be another instance of a celebrity appearing just for their presence on the show turned out to be much more as Kane hit Pete Rose with a Tombstone prior to the match. He would have made this list just for that, but then he returned again for Wrestlemania in 1999, this time dressed in a San Diego Chicken mascot-like costume, seeking revenge on Kane only to catch another Tombstone piledriver. Pete Rose decided to come back again for Wrestlemania 2000 only to be caught with another Tombstone piledriver and a stink face from Rikishi. Rose made an appearance in the “No Mercy” 2002 commercial, where he was once again confronted by Kane and then he was also confronted by Kane when he was a Raw Guest Host in March of 2010. This earned him a spot in the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame.

Mike Tyson
WWE

People always say that the Mike Tyson appearance in 1998 was when we first knew that the tide was changing in the Monday Night Wars in WWE’s favour. At this point, Mike Tyson was one of the most globally recognizable people in the world for his actions inside and outside of the boxing ring. Tyson did not earn the name “The Baddest Man in the Planet” for no reason and remained controversial his entire career.

WWE brought Mike Tyson in to be the special enforcer for the WWE Championship match between “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at Wrestlemania. Initially, he was confronted by Steve Austin in his first appearance with the company, leading to a brawl after Austin gave Tyson the middle fingers and Tyson seemingly aligned himself with D-Generation X stable. At Wrestlemania, Tyson knocked out Michaels and counted the pinfall that led to Stone Cold winning the WWE Championship. Tyson returned in 2010 to be a guest host, where he would again be involved with DX as he teamed up with Chris Jericho to face them, only to turn on Jericho to reunite with DX. He has also made three appearances in AEW these past couple of years to present the TNT Championship to the first champion and having a rocky relationship with Chris Jericho. I’m sure it’s not the last time we have seen Tyson involved with wrestling.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
WWE

As a fan watching at the time, I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger showing up on Smackdown was a bit random. Regardless, he is a bona fide global icon, a box-office attraction, one of the first celebrity bodybuilders and a former Governor of California, so it was a big deal. Arnold came through the WWE to hype up his upcoming movie End of Days and was also awarded a replica belt just for being Arnold. He befriended fan favorite stars such as Stone Cold and The Rock as you would expect, and then was at ringside for the main event.

When Schwarzenegger assisted Stone Cold in overcoming the odds against Triple H and Test, it did not sit well with The Game. Triple H confronted The Terminator only to get beat up himself, leaving us with a memorable moment in the early days of Smackdown. Arnold would return to Raw with Sabotage co-star Joe Manganiello in 2014 in a segment with Hulk Hogan and The Miz. He was later inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Donald Trump
WWE

The former President of the United States is a known friend of Vince McMahon. Their relationship goes back to when WWE hosted Wrestlemania 4 and 5 at Trump Plaza in the late 80s. He would appear ringside in the front row at these events and attended the press conferences. At Wrestlemania 20 in 2004, he sat ringside again when he was interviewed by Jesse “The Body” Ventura about Wrestlemania, Vince McMahon and even politics.

Heading into Wrestlemania 23 in 2007, Trump got into a feud with Vince McMahon, which led to them picking representatives to wrestle for them in the “Battle of the Billionaires,” where the billionaire on the losing end would get their head shaved. Stone Cold Steve Austin was the special referee. Trump’s representative Bobby Lashley defeated McMahon’s representative Umaga, thus leading to Vince McMahon getting his head shaved. Trump would return in 2009 in an angle where he purchased Monday Night Raw. Donald aired a commercial free episode of Raw and refunded the tickets for the fans live in attendance until Mr. McMahon purchased it back. Trump was later inducted in the Hall of Fame.

Snoop Dogg
WWE

Snoop Dogg is another one of those larger than life celebrities that grew up a professional wrestling fan. The rapper made several appearances in the WWE over the years. The first time was when he was the master of ceremonies for the women’s tag match at Wrestlemania 24 in 2008. It ended with him locking lips with Maria Kanellis. He also returned to the WWE in 2009 to be Raw Guest Host, where he ended up spearing Chavo Guerrero by the end of the night. In 2015 he returned to Raw again, only to be interrupted by Curtis Axel who was working his AxelMania gimmick. This led to Snoop introducing Hulk Hogan as he came down to the ring. They worked together to get rid of Curtis Axel prior to Snoop ripping his shirt to reveal his Hulkamania tee and the segment ended with the two pop culture icons posting together.

Snoop was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016, but also made an appearance at Wrestlemania to rap over his cousin Sasha Banks’ theme song before walking her down the ramp. Most recently, Snoop Dogg appeared on AEW Dynamite to be in the corner of Cody Rhodes and even hit an infamous Snoopy Splash on Serpentico after the match. Snoop is the man!

Floyd Mayweather
WWE

Floyd “Money” Mayweather was recognized as the best boxer of his generation, so it was a huge deal when the rumors started swirling that he would be part of Wrestlemania. Big Show made his return at No Way Out 2008 and threatened Rey Mysterio in his return promo. The WBC Welterweight Champion Floyd Mayweather, who was in attendance, jumped the barricade to come to the aid of his friend Mysterio by confronting the Big Show. Big Show dropped to his knees and Mayweather bloodied him up with a series of punches, breaking Show’s nose.

This led to an exhibition fight between Mayweather and Big Show at Wrestlemania. At Wrestlemania, Mayweather defeated Big Show by knockout with the assist of brass knuckles to keep his undefeated record intact. Mayweather would appear again in the summer of 2009 to be a guest host for Raw, where he got involved in Big Show’s match again and had a funny backstage segment with Carlito, Vince McMahon and DX. It was a big deal to have Mayweather involved and I wonder if we’ll ever see him again.

Snooki
WWE

Snooki will always be a memorable celebrity appearance because the majority of the fans were not interested in seeing one of the girls from MTV’s hit reality show Jersey Shore enter their world. Regardless how the wrestling fans felt about it, Snooki was popular as hell in 2011 and it made complete sense to bring her in while the reality show was at its peak of popularity.

The whole thing started when Snooki was brought in as a Raw Guest Host. Snooki got involved after the match between Trish Stratus and Vickie Guerrero by brawling with LayCool to aid Stratus. This led to a six person tag match where Snooki teamed up with Trish Stratus and John Morrison to face off against Laycool and Dolph Ziggler. They picked up the victory when Snooki pinned Michelle McCool and that was that. It led to the end of Laycool. We can thank Snooki for that.

Maria Menounos
WWE

Maria Menounos is an actress, journalist, interviewer, television presenter and life-long fan of Sports Entertainment. I am sure you have seen Maria pop up on WWE television a ton of times over the past decade for backstage interviews, hosting the Hall of Fame Red Carpet shows or sitting in the front row for major events. The thing that makes this Greek Goddess stand out is the fact that she was never afraid to mix it up in the ring herself. The night she was the Raw Guest Host in 2009 along with Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O’Deil, Menounos ended up in a match where she teamed with Gail Kim and Kelly Kelly to defeat Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes and Beth Phoenix.

Menounos returned for the “Tribute to the Troops” show in 2011 where she competed in an eight woman tag match in which her team was victorious against a team featuring Phoenix. When Maria was interviewing Kelly Kelly on Extra in 2012, Phoenix and Eve Torres crashed the interview. This led to a match at Wrestlemania where Kelly and Menounos defeated Phoenix and Torres. Menounos pinned Phoenix for the victory. Maria had suffered two cracked ribs while rehearsing Dancing with the Stars prior to the match, but still went through with it which shows you her love for this business. Unless we ever see her wrestle again, she remains undefeated.

Stephen Amell
WWE

Stephen Amell is a Canadian actor mostly known for his role in Arrow as Oliver Queen, but he was also a major wrestling fan. Rumors started swirling that Amell would be facing Stardust (aka Cody Rhodes) at Summerslam in 2015, but it seemed as if plans were going to fall through due to the unfortunate death of Dust Rhodes. However, Stardust attacked Amell, who was sitting in the crowd during an episode of Raw, and its was announced that Amell and Neville would team up against Stardust and Wade Barrett.

Neville and Amell would come out victorious but Amell would become good friends with Cody in real-life. Due to that friendship, Amell appeared in Ring of Honor, joining the Bullet Club which was a faction that included Cody Rhodes. He competed in five on four tag matches in ROH where the Bullet Club was victorious. Amell had a memorable performance again at the special “All In” event hosted by The Elite, where he had his first ever singles match against Christopher Danials. Amell has appeared in AEW accompanying his friend Cody to the ring for his match against MJF. I doubt that will be the only time we see Amell in AEW and I don’t think we have seen the last of him in the ring.

Machine Gun Kelly
WWE

I know I said I was going to stay away from celebrities who just appeared for musical performances—whether it was to promote an album, perform the entrance theme for a superstar or sing the theme song for a show like he did at Wrestlemania 28—but the Machine Gun Kelly appearance ended up being a memorable moment. The singer, rapper, songwriter and actor showed up on Raw to perform a couple of his songs in front of his hometown crowd in Cleveland. It was all good until Kevin Owens appeared out of nowhere, seemingly showing admiration for MGK, only to powerbomb MGK through the stage.

This was definitely a memorable Raw moment and I always appreciate it when a celebrity takes a bump to help legitimize professional wrestling. I would love to see him come back, especially if he brings Megan Fox with him…

Jon Stewart
WWE

Jon Stewart is a comedian and television host who hosted the popular Daily Show from 1999 to 2015. Throughout the beginning of 2015, Stewart had this on-going feud with Seth Rollins that started with Rollins taking jabs at Stewart, claiming he could be the new host of the show. Seth would crash the Daily Show while Stewart even showed up on Raw to be a guest on Rollins’ own version of a Daily Show.

In the end, they made peace during the final episodes of Stewart hosting the Daily Show, when Seth presented Jon with his own belt. In the summer of 2015, Stewart was scheduled to be the official host of Summerslam. He ended up playing a bigger role in one of the headlining matches that I don’t think anyone expected. Seth Rollins and John Cena faced each other in a Winner Takes All match for both the WWE Championship and the United States Championship. I remember personally fearing that this was the end of Rollins WWE Championship reign and that Cena was not only going to win both belts, but beat Ric Flair’s championship record.

Instead, Stewart interfered by hitting Cena with a chair and helped Rollins win, to everyone’s surprise. Jon didn’t want Flair’s record to be beaten and took the matter into his own hands. He was confronted by Flair the following night and ate an Attitude Adjustment from John Cena. Stewart would return at the following year’s Summerslam in the corner of the New Day, but nothing would ever top him being the reason Cena didn’t win the year prior. Thank you Jon Stewart.

Tyson Fury
WWE

The Saudi Shows were offering a lot of money to the WWE to host shows over there, so it was inevitable that the WWE would put some of that money towards the celebrity appearance budget. That being said, when we saw the decorated British professional boxer Tyson Fury ringside on the Smackdown 20th Anniversary Show in 2019 and had a confrontation with Braun Strowman, the writing was on the wall.

It wasn’t long after this that Strowman versus Fury was made official for the Crown Jewel event in Riyadh. Tyson Fury had one of the most memorable entrances in recent memory as it was so over the top. Fury ended up winning the match by count-out after a hard punch knocked Strowman off the top turnbuckle. Following the match, Strowman still hit Fury with a running powerslam. I’m not sure if this will be the last time we see Fury in a wrestling ring, but if we learned anything from this list, anything is possible.

Pat McAfee
WWE

When Pat McAfee retired from the NFL in 2017, he moved on to a career of being a sports and wrestling analyst. In 2018, McAfee started appearing on WWE television primarily on the pre-shows for the NXT events. He eventually signed a multi-year contract in 2019 with the company, so technically he shouldn’t be on this list. However, he seemed to have signed a broadcasting contract as we saw him in non competitive on-screen roles that included hosting and commentary. Although there was speculation that he would get into the ring, it was never confirmed.

Pat then got into a personal feud with Adam Cole in 2020. McAfee would call out Cole for his small size and they had tension whenever they crossed paths. The rivalry really kicked off when the video of Cole snapping towards Pat on McAfee’s podcast went viral. This all led to a match at NXT Takeover 30, in which McAfee’s performance was highly praised even though he lost. Many fans consider it to be the best celebrity match ever. This wasn’t the end of the McAfee-Cole feud as Pat ended up putting a faction together with Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch to help him fight the Undisputed Era. Pat’s faction would end up having a “War Games” match against the Undisputed Era which they lost. McAfee played a great heel though the entire run and cut memorable promos. McAfee is officially on the Smackdown commentary team now, but we’re all curious if we’ll see him in the ring anytime soon. I’m sure we will.

Logan Paul
WWE

Logan Paul is undoubtedly one of the biggest yet most polarizing YouTube stars of all time. It’s undeniable that he has the attention of a specific age demographic right now. Although I can even admit there have been some questionable things he’s done in the past, I won’t deny that him being involved with the WWE and especially Wrestlemania brought more eyes to the product. Sami Zayn had a film crew following him around for months as they were putting a documentary together to expose the conspiracies against him orchestrated by the WWE. Zayn tried getting his old friend Kevin Owens involved in the cause, which he refused, calling Zayn delusional. Zayn took offense to this and attacked Owens, starting a feud where Owens ended up challenging Zayn to a match at Wrestlemania. At the same time, Zayn was able to get the attention of Paul over Twitter; Paul was responsive, playing along with Zayn’s craziness.

Logan was invited to Smackdown for the “Red Carpet Premiere” of Zayn’s documentary, where he also suggested that Zayn might just be delusional. Owens wanted nothing to do with Paul and this was even more obvious when he hit Logan Paul with a stunner after defeating Zayn at Wrestlemania. Paul was just trying to raise Owens’ arm in victory, but that didn’t sit right with KO. Logan Paul will be boxing Floyd Mayweather later this year, but I wonder if we’ll ever see him return to the world of wrestling.

Bad Bunny
WWE

Bad Bunny is one of the most popular musical artist in the world today, with an audience that crosses many different demographics and cultures. The Puerto Rican musician is also a life-long wrestling fan. Prior to 2021, he was spotted wearing vintage wrestling merchandise regularly (shoutout to @wrestling4sale on instagram) and even featured wrestling legends such as Ric Flair in his music videos.

In 2021, Bad Bunny got more involved with the WWE by first appearing at the Royal Rumble to perform his new song “Booker T” while Booker T himself was in attendance. Backstage that same night, The Miz offered to take Bad Bunny under his wing, which Bunny rejected. The Miz ended up destroying Bad Bunny’s DJ setup as he made his way out for the Royal Rumble. This did not sit well with Bad Bunny and he came out during the Royal Rumble match to confront The Miz. It ended with Bad Buddy hitting a flying splash on Miz and Morrison. Bunny continued to appear on Raw regularly after this, continuing his feud with The Miz, befriending Damian Priest and even winning the 24/7 Championship, which he held for 28 days before trading it to R-Truth in exchange for Stone Cold merchandise.

The Bunny-Miz feud reached a climax when Miz and Morrison vandalized Bunny’s Bugatti. This all led to a tag team match between Bad Bunny and Damian Priest against Miz and Morrison at Wrestlemania 37. Bad Bunny exceeded expectations with his unforgettable performance, and even earned the respect from most of the people who weren’t fans of his beforehand. I think I can speak on behalf of a lot of us when I say that we hope to see Bad Bunny again in the WWE. 

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Art NFT

IKONICK Launches Inaugural NFT Collection and Collaboration Contest

LA-based art brand IKONICK has announced their inaugural NFT collection. The genesis of what is now the fastest growing digital art company in the world can be traced back to 2016, when digital artists Jeff Cole and Mark Mastrandrea first founded the brand, which would eventually come to be backed by GaryVee and Scooter Braun. Their mission: “We are dedicated to producing affordable high-quality canvas art that’s guaranteed to make you sit up straight, put your head down and go follow your passion.”

The goal of the brand’s NFT project is blurring the worlds of physical, hold-it-in-your-hands art and the exploding digital art space. “We believe NFTs are going to be as big as social media or the internet,” IKONICK co-founder Mark Mastrandrea said. “We’ve spent a lot of time studying this fast changing market and ultimately believe that providing tangible value is the most important element to any offer. Any consumer that purchases our Inaugural NFT will have the ability to unlock exclusive canvas, exclusive NFT’s and new products in the future.” 


The brand has a few NFTs prepared to drop in their Eternal Contest, with each token accompanied by some physical assets. The first to drop is the Dreams Weigh More Than Excuses NFT, inspired by one of the brand’s most successful canvas art pieces to date. You can find the link to the auction here.

Each NFT drop will include two editions. Both editions will only be available for 48 hours and will be minted on the blockchain, then never sold again.

  • The “Eternal Set” Edition; comes free with a purchase of a $500 Gift card to Ikonick.com 
  • A rare 1 of 1 “Eternal Auction” Edition; auctioned off and sold to the highest bidder via Open Sea, comes with a physical Infinite Object.

They’ve also incorporated a super unique mechanic into the drop; each release will spark a unique consumer contest, designed to return something to a member of the IKONICK community. According to the brand’s press release, “The first contest winner will work directly with the Ikonick in-house creative team to create a custom art piece that will be listed and sold next to some of the most iconic brands and entrepreneurs of our time including: Daymond John, Gary Vaynerchuck, Monopoly, Smiley, Popeye, Peanuts, Marilyn Monroe, NBA and more. As a collaboration partner, the winner will also receive monthly royalty payments against sales volume, serving a passive income stream, in perpetuity.”

This is an amazing example of the ways that brands and creators can create more interesting drops mechanically than a one time purchase. By incorporating this element of the drop, the contest winner will be getting mass awareness/distribution through IKONICK’s multi-millions of followers on social, email and text subscribers. It would be huge for any artist looking to build up their brand.

IKONICK is in the NFT game for the long haul; this drop is clearly intended to build community. “Offering limited edition NFTs with gift card purchases and unique collaboration opportunities to our fans is our way of educating and inviting more people to join and drive forward this industry movement. This is the future, we’re excited to build it and bring our community on the journey with us,” said Jeff Cole, co-founder of IKONICK in the brand’s press release. 

Keep your eye on the auction here and make sure to follow @ikonick on Instagram for updates on what’s to come. 

Categories
Sports Strength

5 NBA Teams to Watch as We Enter the Regular Season Home Stretch

This season has been profoundly weird. The Toronto Raptors played in Tampa, Florida. A-Rod had a mid-life crisis and bought the Minnesota Timberwolves. The New York Knicks are back. Now, with just under two weeks left in a season that at times felt defined by ennui (it’s almost admirable how the Brooklyn Nets have steamrolled their competition while refusing even to pretend to try hard), this year’s inaugural play-in tournament has provided a jolt of high-stakes adrenaline, as nearly two-thirds of the league jockeys for playoff position. Below are the five most noteworthy teams to watch as the season winds down.

Los Angeles Clippers

Never mind that the Los Angeles Clippers recently blew double-digit leads in three consecutive games to hilariously squander a 3-1 lead in the playoffs. Or that their sixth man almost popped the NBA’s playoff bubble because he ate chicken wings with Jack Harlow in a strip club during a pandemic. Or that just last month Paul George sat out a game because he drank too much coffee.

Don’t let their sour meme-ability fool you: the Los Angeles Clippers may only have the second best record in their division, but they’re the best team in basketball. George and Kawhi Leonard are two of the NBA’s slickest scorers and most disruptive defenders; there are hardly two wings in the whole world who can match George and Leonard’s blend of bucket-getting and bucket-prevention, let alone two wings on the same team. Both stars have leveled up as playmakers, potentially resolving the aimlessness that previously torpedoed the Clippers’ offense. Beyond their star duo, the Clippers have the personnel to play any style, reducing strategic dilemmas into simple if-then statements. Although the Clippers have been overshadowed by starrier teams and better storylines, George’s infamous, doomed prophecy from September has finally come true: the Clippers are still in the driver’s seat. 

Washington Wizards

For the bulk of the season, the Wizards practiced hardwood hedonism, allowing Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal to live their truths (triple-doubles and thirty pieces, respectively), winning be damned. Since April 7th, though, the ‘Zards have been zooming, posting an 11-2 record and the league’s eighth best point-differential. Notably, the Wizards have transformed their season these last few weeks without transforming their team—besides the addition of backup center Daniel Gafford. Washington’s roster is largely the same in both form and function, sustaining a consistent offensive and defensive shot profile; per PBP Stats, the quality of shot that the Wizards both take and allow has not meaningfully changed throughout the season.

The main difference between their 17-32 start and their 12-3 surge? The Wizards are now making shots they previously missed while their opponents are missing shots that they previously made. Sixty games deep into the season, the Wizards are still unknowable—is this hot streak a talented team finally finding its level or a lucky hiccup? Either way, the bizarre spectacle of Westbrook and Beal furiously trying to lift their team to mediocrity has single handedly validated this season’s play-in tournament experiment. Playoff berth or not, the Wizards offer proof that there can still be meaning in the NBA’s anonymous middle. And if they do sneak their way into the eighth seed: Nets in four. 

Milwaukee Bucks

For the last two seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks rampaged through the regular season behind a devastatingly simple attack, only to come undone because of their inability and unwillingness to make adjustments in the playoffs. In response, this year’s Bucks are letting their (Greek) Freak flag fly. On offense, they’ve added variety beyond their standard five-out arrangement, often shifting a player from the three-point line to the “dunker spot” along the baseline near the rim, thus making it riskier for defenses to bring aggressive help when Giannis Antetokounmpo drives. The new additions of Jrue Holiday and PJ Tucker allows them to easily switch ball-screens, giving them a failsafe against talented playoff guards who can reliably drain the mid-range jump shots that the Bucks’ patented drop coverage is designed to cede. 

Their 40-24 record may lag behind their historically great previous two campaigns, but their bet is that a skosh more unpredictability—a more democratized offense, a more adaptable defense—will unlock their ultimate potential. More than any other team, the Bucks demonstrate the awkward process of evolution as they try to rejigger the team’s identity on the fly: they can only become champions by moving on from what made them contenders.

Denver Nuggets

In the wake of star point guard Jamal Murray’s torn ACL, Michael Porter, Jr. has blossomed into an elite offensive player, overcoming his own gnarled spine and poisoned Boomer brain in the process. Although his shambly ball-handling limits his shot creation, his knack for slinking into open space without the ball makes him the perfect lieutenant to MVP favorite Nikola Jokic; Porter has averaged 26 points per game on ludicrous 71% true shooting since April 14th. Unlike most off-ball scorers who are primarily three-point specialists (think: Klay Thompson), Porter maintains a diverse scoring portfolio from all areas of the floor. Having eschewed normal conventions of offensive stardom like “dribbling” and “passing,” Porter has devoted himself instead to being the NBA’s purest, deadliest scorer. Since Murray’s injury, Porter has averaged just under half a point each time he’s touched the ball, a rate that no 25 point per game scorer has ever achieved over a full season. In turn, Porter marks a new archetype of player—a low-usage, three-level, volume scorer—that Jokic’s brilliance has made possible.

The Porter-Jokic dynamic is perfectly symbiotic: without Jokic’s brilliant passing, all of Porter’s cutting and activity would basically amount to an elaborate cardio routine; without Porter’s clever movement, Jokic’s genius would be dimmed by a lack of opportunity. Together, they are living evidence of how basketball subtly changes in real-time, turning isolation scoring into a communal pursuit. In a sport that is often defined by the struggles and triumphs of individual superstars, the Nuggets offer a gentler alternative. They get by with a little help from their friends.

New York Knicks

Like a monarch butterfly emerging from its gooey cocoon, the Knicks have shed their eternal Knicks-iness and are styling and profiling. Led by The People’s MVP Julius Randle and ex-hunk Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks have bludgeoned their way to a 36-28 record and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. And none of it feels like a fluke!

They’ve established an identity as a team of punishing try-hards, parlaying a near-psychotic level of effort into the league’s fourth stingiest defense; the Knicks succeed by inducing failure. To be sure, this is not a traditionally “fun” team—the Knicks throttle the game’s tempo so that they can impose their goony strength on more exciting opponents; Randle and RJ Barrett, the team’s two best scorers, score most of their points by leaning against a defender until something yields. In a vacuum, the Knicks are artless overachievers who seek to make each game as ugly as possible. But after 20 years of galaxy-brained incompetence, the plodding, pretty good Knicks are thrilling. Sometimes “pretty good” can feel like grace. 

Categories
Music NFT

Band Royalty: Own—and Earn from—a Piece of Your Favorite Musical Artists

Fans have always been invested. They’ve been invested in their teams. They’ve been invested in their TV shows. And they’ve been invested in their musical heroes.

Until now, though, that investment has only been emotional. We might have become excited when a favorite band’s new song rose up the charts—or racked up plays on Spotify—but we didn’t actually make any money out of it.

That’s changing—and it’s changing with the help of NFTs and decentralized finance (DeFi). BandRoyalty.com is a new venture that enables people to buy NFTs of songs and earn from the songs’ royalties. The service is launching on May 5 with 3,000 NFTs, representing 50 songs from artists including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Cher, will.i.am, Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and Rihanna.

The program promises to give buyers two benefits.

First, buyers will get to own some beautiful NFTs featuring original colorful, animated images fashioned in the likeness of top musicians. Like any NFT, the value of those purchases will rise and fall depending on demand. Because supply is always limited, as long as demand for the NFTs rise, their resale value will increase too. They come in a range of different rarities, from vinyl album to one-of-a-kind diamond albums.

Those rarities do more than affect the resale value, though. They also dictate the number of pools in which the buyer can stake the NFT to receive a share of the song’s royalties. 

Band Royalty has agreements with industry administrators, including ASCAP and BMI, who collect streaming and publishing royalties. Once the program receives the royalties, it pays them out proportionally according to the NFT stakes in the collection pool.

Stakers can stake their NFTs in one of three music pools. They can choose to take a share of the  royalties generated from print music, from mechanical and public performances, or from synchronization to video. The minimum staking time is 90 days, but stakers can choose to keep their NFT staked for as long as five years. The longer the staking period, the more revenue they can generate. 

Vinyl album NFTs, which make up 1,500 of the release, can be staked in one of the Band Royalty pools. Gold albums can be placed in two, while platinum and diamond albums can be staked in all three pools. 

The NFTs will be available on OpenSea.io, the world’s largest NFT marketplace, which uses the Ethereum blockchain. 

The venture marks a new direction for NFTs. While much of the focus of the new technology has been on collecting and admiring beautiful artworks, Band Royalty now allows fans to monetize their commitment. Not only are they able to build their collections, they’re also able to earn from them without having to sell them—and to get paid for their investment in their favorite musicians.

Categories
Sports Strength

Underdog Fantasy Announces Largest Season Long Fantasy Payout Ever

Sports betting has become increasingly less taboo over past few years, and interest in fantasy sports has escalated at a commensurate rate. Today, the fastest growing fantasy app in the game, Underdog Fantasy, has announced their $3.5 million season long NFL Best Ball tournament, with $1,000,001 going to first place. Best Ball Mania II is open for entry right now. You can take a look at the app on the App Store here and on the Play store here.

Best Ball Mania II isn’t the only major announcement from the fantasy app today. They’ve also announced their roster of investors, who have raised a whopping $10 million for the brand. Investors include Kevin Carter, Mark Cuban, Kevin Durant, Steve Aoki, Nas, Future, Adam Schefter, the Chainsmokers, Kygo, the Sway House, Mark Pincus, Roham Gharegozlou and Jared Goff, just to name a few. In today’s press release, Underdog Chairman and co-founder Jeremy Levine said, “Kevin Carter was the natural choice to lead our round, as he was the first investor in my last company while he was at SV Angel and believed in us before anyone else did,” adding, “Once we filled out our round, we knew we had to throw a festival…”

Which brings us to the next big announcement today.

Underdogapalooza begins today and will feature some pretty amazing guests, from the winner of last years Best Ball Mania, Justin Herzig, to Adam Schefter, Matthew Berry, The Chainsmokers and more. Underdog offers four games, but Best Ball is the most innovative, because it requires just one draft to play. Rather than setting lineups every week, dealing with trades and waiver wires, you simply draft your 18-man team and watch the season unfold. It’s definitely a good option for those overwhelmed by the seemingly full-time responsibility of managing your fantasy roster.

For more info on what Underdog is up to, keep your eyes on their Twitter. There’s over $3 million on the line, so don’t miss out.

Categories
Art NFT

Twin Flames Demonstrates the Potential of NFT Photo Projects

With the popularity of NFT art still on the rise, creators of various mediums are hopping in the game. Strangely enough, traditional photography has yet to quite pop off in NFT collector circles, but there are some really incredible photo projects in the works which are immensely compatible with the world of NFT collectibles. One such project is Twin Flames by Justin Aversano, which features a series of 100 consistent, but each slightly different, photographs of twins from around the world. The format invokes CryptoPunks and other majorly successful NFT projects which are made up of a multitude of similar imagery, with numerous variations.

https://opensea.io/assets/0x495f947276749ce646f68ac8c248420045cb7b5e/55009236754177688704712285819362994549214138196257374091251074582732550963201
Justin Aversano / Twin Flames #51

I spoke to Justin about the genesis of the project and what’s next, in addition to some of his other work. We chatted earlier this month about his non-profit, SaveArtSpace, which provides opportunities for local artists to share their work on canvases long overtaken by advertisements. 


Justin began Twin Flames in 2017 in honor of his twin, who had passed away. He told me that he wanted “to go on a healing journey through art to build connections and find peace within myself.” He traveled to Peru, New York, California, London and more cities across the globe to capture the essence of being a twin. The production process went on from May 31, 2017 to July 18, 2018, where he took his final photos in London.

https://opensea.io/assets/0x495f947276749ce646f68ac8c248420045cb7b5e/55009236754177688704712285819362994549214138196257374091251074548647690502145
Justin Aversano / Twin Flames #20

When Justin initially came up with the project, he was attached to the idea of one art collector or institution buying the entire collection to display it together. The project was a family, a community, which he wanted to see in one large gallery displayed side by side. He self-published a book of the collection and had a few exhibitions throughout 2019.

In 2021, Justin connected with GmoneyNFT and some of the folks involved in the CryptoPunks movement, and they encouraged him to let go of the attachment to the project as one whole. Justin tells me that he realized he could allow the project to “exist centralized in the physical world, decentralized in the digital world.” And thus, the plan to mint the images as separate NFTs was born.

The project went live on OpenSea on Valentine’s Day, 2021 and sold out in a few days. Many of the buyers were members of the Punks community, photographers and even some whales in the NFT space. Between sales and resales, 100 ETH has been spent on the project, which is pretty amazing. 

I was curious which image, if any, is Justin’s favorite and he was very thoughtful with his answer: “They’re all my favorite. But the one that has the most spiritual meaning to me is the picture that brought me together with Nicole Buffet, the love of my life (#80).” He also notes image #49, which features someone with their twin’s death certificate, looking in the mirror—the sole image to only feature one twin. 

https://opensea.io/assets/0x495f947276749ce646f68ac8c248420045cb7b5e/55009236754177688704712285819362994549214138196257374091251074614618388168705
Justin Aversano / Twin Flames #80

Justin Aversano / Twin Flames #49

And finally, the book cover image is one of the most beautiful from an aesthetic perspective.

https://opensea.io/assets/0x495f947276749ce646f68ac8c248420045cb7b5e/55009236754177688704712285819362994549214138196257374091251074617916923052033
Justin Aversano / Twin Flames #83

Of course, I had to ask Justin about what was next. His forthcoming project, Smoke and Mirrors, is tarot based and will feature images of “78 sets of artists, astrologers, psychics, tarot readers, and other forms of mystics from all around the world.” This project also probed me to ask Justin about some of his photographic inspirations. Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Mary Ellen Mark and Malick Sidibé all came up immediately, with him going on to reference a contemporaries, Kris Graves & Hank Willis Thomas. 

Justin’s nonprofit SaveArtSpace has some big projects in the works, which we’ll be covering as well. So stay tuned for more info on Justin, his CryptoPunks project Pixelated, Twin Flames and more. 

Categories
Music NFT

Songcamp, Music NFTs and The Future of Collective Creation

There are new tools emerging on the Internet.

Some are called NFTs, social tokens, DAOs

A more zoomed out perspective lends itself to umbrella terms like web3, crypto, blockchain.

I prefer to call it the new internet.

All of those terms certainly have their place. But to get a wider view of what is really happening, it’s helpful to strip away the stigmas and preconceived assumptions those words might carry. And instead see this moment in history from a vantage point that inspires our imagination, our expansiveness, and our freedom to build what we want to see in the world. 

To see what is actually sprouting on the Internet today is to see a blank canvas before you. The brushes are new and the paint is fresh and we really aren’t all that sure what to make just yet. 

But undoubtedly, the first step is to grab that brush and slap some paint on the canvas. Better yet, shove your hands in the jar and smear a mess of color all over the place. Because that is the only way we are going to learn just where this new internet can take us. 

Songcamp is doing just that. 

Music + The New Internet = 💥

Songcamp is experimenting with a songwriting camp that doesn’t end when the songs are written, but continues on into the visual design and release of said music.

Often songwriting camps end with dozens of incredible songs that never see the light of day. They get stuck in the sticky web of industry we call the music business. Publishers and labels and splits and all these bloated intermediaries result in fantastic songs wasting away on dormant hard drives. 

The other place these songs get stuck is in the worried mind of the artist. Today’s systems condition us to believe we must build a specific personal brand and stick with it. Straying too far away from it—especially with the weird and eclectic songs that often come out of a songwriting camp—conjures up anxiety rather than the excitement that it should. 


Songcamp cuts through the core of all that. The project aims to use web3 tools to collectively fund, create and distribute art on the Internet. By completely circumventing the traditional ways of doing things, artists are free to create something altogether new and realize the value of that art in a much more direct way. 

Here’s How It Works

Songcamp’s Genesis Batch consists of 3 teams of musicians, 1 team of visual artists, and 1 team of project operatives. 

Together, they’ve had 2 weeks to:

  • create 3 brand new songs from scratch;
  • design the cover artwork to go along with those songs;
  • and build + fund the release of those songs

This past Monday was the deadline, and all three teams delivered. They held an in-camp listening party to take in the incredible music and visual art that was co-created by talented strangers over the Internet. 

Throughout the two-week camp, a distribution plan was developed and agreed upon…

The Unlock

In order to fund the release of these records, a sponsorship NFT called “The Unlock” was minted and auctioned off during the camp. 

Collecting this NFT effectively unlocked the camp for all involved. And that’s just what happened when Seed Club threw up a winning bid of 1.25 ETH with 20 minutes left on the clock. In doing so, they formed a strong bond with Songcamp in becoming the project’s first ever supporter. 

This supplied the necessary funds to properly release the co-created art.

https://zora.co/songcamp/2863
Zora / Songcamp

The Release

This coming Monday May 3rd, each song will be minted as 1-of-1 NFTs on Catalog

Catalog is building the primary music NFT platform on the Internet, giving artists the tools to mint rare digital records and keep 100% of all future sales.

These NFTs will act as the 1/1 canonical record pressings for each song—much like an original vinyl pressing but in digital form. The idea here is to distribute this art in the form of its original internet master, and allow the creators to collectively realize its value through a live auction format. 

Catalog

The Auction

On that same day, a 24-hour auction will kick off for all three music NFTs. The reserve-bid auction will take place on Mirror, a brand new publishing platform developing tools that go far beyond writing. Click here for a more detailed roadmap of the auction.

Mirror

With tools like Reserve Auctions, Splits, and Crowdfunds, Mirror is developing embeddable business models for creators. And Songcamp is putting them to use. 


The Splits block that Mirror has created allows you to quickly and automatically split funds with a group of people on the Internet. All of these tools are composable, meaning they can plug into each other. For instance, Songcamp can send the proceeds from the Reserve Auctions to the Split block so that everyone involved in the song can instantly claim their share.

https://j.mirror.xyz/qnvV6hGoxq6gIO2anZ4KLi-kXz3RDZh6qFS78QDSM0Y
Mirror
An example of a Split block on Mirror

Beyond just that, both Mirror and Catalog are built on top of Zora, an open NFT protocol. So not only do Mirror’s tools plug into each other, but Mirror and Catalog plug into each other too! 

Oh, and none of these platforms— not Catalog, Mirror, nor Zora —take any fee whatsoever. This means that 100% of the value flows directly and instantaneously to the creators. 

Is your head spinning? Mine sure was.

This all points to entirely brand new ways of creating and sharing stuff online. We can begin to see the tremendous power of such malleable tools. And Songcamp is about to expose that potential to all of us, by putting these digital lego blocks to use in a truly effective way. 

So here is Songcamp’s plan in summary:

↳ Mint music NFTs on Catalog 

↳ Put those NFTs up for auction on Mirror 

↳ Send the funds from those auctions to a Split Block

↳ Each artist involved on that song receives their share of the Split

Glorious.  


Be sure to catch the Songcamp NFT release + auction on Monday May 3 2021 via Songcamp’s Mirror.

It’s Time To Experiment 🥽

The tools we now have at our disposal allow us to realize a truer value of digital things. Be it content, currency or communities, these tools allow us to organize and distribute stuff in ways that circumvent intermediaries, and allow value to flow directly to those who deserve it. 

But these tools are very young. We aren’t all that sure how to use them yet. We’re also extremely conditioned by the first 20 years of life on the Internet. 

So now, we must experiment.

Songcamp is one of those experiments. Better yet, Songcamp is akin to a web3 laboratory—running experiments at the edges of music and the new internet. 


Follow along + get involved with Songcamp on Twitter, Discord and Mirror.

Categories
Culture Trading Cards

Baseball Card Guide: How To Tell If Your Baseball Cards Are Worth Money

When I was growing up in the 1980s, baseball cards were my life. When birthdays were approaching, my parents never asked me what I wanted for my present because they knew what I wanted. Sitting down in my room and tearing open packs was the best part of every birthday. The thrill of the chase, whether I was trying to find a Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck rookie, a Mark McGwire 1985 Topps USA Baseball Team rookie, or later, a Billy Ripken 1991 Fleer card with a 4-letter-word written on the knob of the bat, was about as much fun as a kid could have. The reward for uncovering one of those chase cards felt like millions of dollars to my 8-10 year old self.

As I became a teenager and then a young adult, I stopped collecting. The cards that were my carefully protected, top-loaded treasures were stacked in boxes in a closet in my parent’s house. They sat there throughout college, and then for years after as I moved around from state to state. I didn’t really think about them much, but figured that eventually I would grab them and see if they had any value.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and I had a life changing moment, when I decided to make a $20 purchase, the first card I had bought since my childhood.

You may have a similar story, with boxes of cards sitting in some closet or storage facility that you haven’t looked at in years. You have been seeing all the news reports about the resurgence of the sports card market, but you have no clue if your cards have any value or how to appraise them.

In this article, I will attempt to help you understand the modern day hobby, how to find the value of your cards, and answer some of the questions that I know I needed some clarification and guidance on when I first got back in to the hobby.

1. Why invest in Baseball Cards?
Getty Images

This answer will vary depending on what your goals are.

For me, first and foremost, collecting baseball cards is a hobby and it’s a lot of fun. Some of my best memories as a kid are going to the local card shop with my dad and brother, frequently coming home with packs to open and bonding over finding some of our favorite players. It’s important to remember that while some cards can be extremely valuable, at the end of the day, the goal should be to have fun, make memories and enjoy your collection.

For others, it’s a business. Whether you want to open up your own local card shop, buy and sell cards on eBay, or be one of those people who wait on line overnight at Target and Walmart hoping to score retail boxes to flip for a profit, with the proper amount of education and knowledge, you can make a lot of money in this space.

However, I can not stress enough how important it is to be educated BEFORE buying or selling anything. If you attempt to enter the hobby without understanding which cards and products sell, why they sell, and how to sell them, you are almost guaranteed to lose money.

The best advice I can give on how to get educated is to read a lot of articles (like this one), follow all of the big sports cards accounts on social media, consume their content daily, and watch the big card breaking pages Instagram live streams. When you are in the streams, ask questions and interact with people. Making friends and connections is key.

When you decide it’s time to start buying and selling, you will make mistakes. Making mistakes on less expensive products is much more palatable than on big ticket items. You need the reps, so you might as well start small and work your way up.

2. What Makes a Baseball Card Valuable?
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The most important determining factor of how much your cards are worth will come down to condition. There are condition issues that you have complete control over, and others that are totally out of your hands.

To start, it is extremely important that you store your cards properly. This will include first placing your cards in to protective penny sleeves. These will ensure that the surface of the card does not get scratched or damaged. The next step is to place the cards in to a rigid plastic top-loader. Once you have done this, your cards should be fairly well protected from the elements.

However, it is important to note that even if you have your cards stored properly, they often come with condition issues straight from the factory. Some cards will come out of packs with surface scratches, print defects, dinged corners, and they may even be mis-cut and off-centered. In order to have a true mint conditioned card with perfect edges, corners, surface and centering, there is a lot of luck involved.

If you have cards that are well protected and in great shape, the main determining factor of value will come down to getting your cards authenticated and graded, which is a process in which an independent company will assign a score from 1-10 based on how good the condition of your card is. For more on grading, check out this article.

The final determining factor for value is simply supply and demand. What led to the crash of the sports card industry in the 1990s (commonly referred to as the “Junk Wax Era”) was a mass overproduction of cards. Nowadays, many of the most valuable cards are serial numbered, which ensures that supply stays low. Studying the PSA population report to see how many of each grade for any particular card exist will give you an idea of just how rare your card is.

3. How To Find the Value of Your Baseball Cards
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The two websites that I use to find the value of my cards are eBay and CardLadder. Both are fairly easy to navigate.

To appraise your card on eBay, there are a couple of steps that you must take:

  1. Figure out exactly what card you have: There will often be small print on the back of your card that tells you the manufacturer, what year the card was produced, as well as a set number. In the pic above, you will see that this is a “1985 Topps Mark McGwire #401”. If you type that card in to the search bar on eBay, you will be able to see what people are asking for the card.
  2. Filter your search: If you want to see what the card is actually selling for, all you have to do is filter the results of your search by clicking “sold items” in the “show only” tab. It is important to remember that appraising your card is much easier when it is graded. If your card is raw (ungraded), your best bet would be to zoom in on photos of other raw cards that sold and try to match the condition to that of yours.

CardLadder is an amazing website that will give you all sorts of analytics, PSA population reports, market caps and charts. It is an extremely valuable tool, but they don’t have anywhere near as many cards in their database as eBay does. For a beginner in the hobby, or a person who is just getting back in to it, I would stick with eBay at first. However, as you get more comfortable in the hobby and are buying and selling, they should absolutely be on your radar.

4. Rare Cards to Look Out For
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

You may have seen news over the last 12-18 months about record breaking sales in the sports card hobby. Back in January, the hobby’s most iconic card–the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie–sold for an eye-popping $5,200,000 to entrepreneur Rob Gough. It was one of only six that received a PSA 9 grade, making it one of the finest examples of that card on the planet.

However, news of cards that have been selling for six-figures seems to be dropping weekly, and I wrote this article to keep track of all of the most expensive sales.

If you have ungraded versions of any of the cards on this list, it is important to remember that you must get them graded for them to have a chance of being worth anywhere near what those cards sold for. For instance, a 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson PSA 10 is worth $100,000+. A raw, poorly conditioned version of that exact same card sells for as low as $2.25.

5. What Are My Baseball Cards Worth Today?
1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. ($110 – $2405)
Current Value (PSA 10) $4,101
https://www.cardladder.com/search?q=ken%20griffey%20jr%201989%20upper%20deck
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

You may have noticed that the number of PSA graded cards takes a significant dip as the grades go lower than a PSA 8. That’s due to the fact that it simply isn’t worth it to have a card graded that won’t bring back at least a PSA 8. Check out PSA’s Grading Standards to give you an idea of where your card may grade out and what PSA looks for.

Total Graded by PSA: 74,811

PSA 10: 3,839 ($2405)

PSA 9: 24,533 ($303)

PSA 8: 31,001 ($110)

1990 Topps Tiffany Frank Thomas ($116 – $2552)
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Only 15,000 1990 Topps Tiffany sets were produced, and they were only made available through hobby dealers, making this Frank Thomas card ultra-rare.

Total Graded by PSA: 896

PSA 10: 101 ($2552)

PSA 9: 414 ($352)

PSA 8: 310 ($116)

1985 Donruss Roger Clemens ($26 – $406)
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Although Roger Clemens was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball for well over a decade, he is one of the most polarizing athletes in modern history due to his connection to steroids. He has maintained a strong collectors market due to his large market appeal, playing for both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. If Clemens finally makes the Hall of Fame one of these days, this card could see a spike in value. However, the black border on the card makes any damage pop and makes bringing back a PSA 10 very unlikely. 

Total Graded by PSA: 8548

PSA 10: 519 ($406)

PSA 9: 2197 ($61)

PSA 8: 2851 ($26)

1980 Topps Rickey Henderson ($152 – $180,100)
https://www.cardladder.com/search?q=1980%20Topps%20Rickey%20Henderson
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Only .1 percent of these Rickey Henderson rookie cards grade out to be a PSA 10, making it one of the rarest cards on the market today. There are no sold PSA 10 listings currently on eBay. 

“The blue ink backs and the white gloss front almost highlight corner and edge wear. But even cards that have been locked away untouched in packs or boxes are victims of the factory,” says Beckett Senior Vintage Grader, Andy Broome. “Centering plagues this set when it comes to condition. Whether it is diamond cut cards or just-off side-to-side, finding a card with gem mint or better centering is extremely tough. It’s that perfect storm of condition that is required for a perfect card.”

Total Graded by PSA: 20,866

PSA 10: 24 ($180,100)

PSA 9: 1986 ($6877)

PSA 8: 9680 ($1225)

PSA 7: 5123 ($152)

1993 Topps Gold Derek Jeter ($165 – $5900)
https://www.cardladder.com/search?q=1993%20Topps%20Gold%20Derek%20Jeter
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Derek Jeter, the “Captain” of the New York Yankees, is about as collectible as they come. A superstar who played his entire career under the big lights of New York City. Jeter was a 14-time All-Star and always seemed to play his best baseball in the most clutch spots on the biggest stage. Combine these facts with a total population of only 379 total PSA 10s, and you can see why the most recent one sold on eBay went for $3,000. However, if you have one of them sitting in a box somewhere, the odds are very low that it will grade out as a PSA 10. 

Total Graded by PSA: 5934

PSA 10: 379 ($5900)

PSA 9: 2923 ($410)

PSA 8: 1985 ($165)

1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera ($127.50 – $730)
https://www.cardladder.com/search?q=1992%20Bowman%20Mariano%20Rivera
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

You can copy and paste everything written about Derek Jeter and fill it in for Rivera. The best relief pitcher of all time, doing it on the biggest stage and thriving in the biggest moments. PSA has graded only 6297 of these cards, however, 1398 of them (22 percent) have come back as PSA 10s. This is by far the highest percentage of any of the six cards listed in this article. 

Total Graded by PSA: 6297

PSA 10: 1398 ($730)

PSA 9: 3337 ($188.50)

PSA 8: 1150 ($127.50)

6. What’s Next for The Baseball Card Market?
Getty Images

One of the most fun aspects of collecting baseball cards centers around prospecting and trying to stay ahead of the hobby by buying cards of players that you think will be break out stars.

I recently wrote this list of my favorite ten MLB prospects and why I think their cards are good investments. You will notice in this article that cards have changed dramatically since the 80s and 90s. Most of the valuable modern cards are typically shiny, colorful and sometimes chrome. Some of them come autographed, with serial numbers and all sorts of variations and refractors.

If you are looking to keep things basic, Topps still produces their standard sets without all of the bells and whistles. Their most current basic set is Topps Baseball 2021 Series 1. Panini also makes baseball cards, however, you will notice that they do not have an MLB license to use the team logos or uniforms, making Topps and Bowman the top dogs in the baseball card space.

I realize that we have covered quite a few topics in this article and that it may seem overwhelming at first with so much to learn. However, if you take the time to learn the products and consume enough content, you can get up speed relatively quickly.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to help. Feel free to reach out to @cardtalkpod on instagram or twitter anytime!

Categories
Culture News

This Week in Comic Collecting: “I’m Captain America”

I just don’t know what it is about the MCU that really brings the fan out of this cold blooded investor’s heart. Whether it was Sam’s declaration of his new title, making me audibly shout “Let’s Go!” in my apartment at 3 am, the poignant speech Cap gave the world leaders about the power of perspective that made me want to see a Captain America like that in our real world, or the swelling of emotion that culminated in the scene with Isiah Bradley at the museum (no, you’re crying!) finally getting some much deserved recognition as an American hero, it all just got me. The best part is, just a few hours after the show was live on streaming, reports hit mainstream media about a Captain America 4 feature film with Sam Wilson at the helm. That is one film I will be stoked to see.

I thought this may be a good time to look at the performance of some key books that I previously highlighted in my March 12th column and see how they performed. The chart below shows six key books previously mentioned and their trading performance.

Jack DeMayo

The results aren’t truly surprising when you really go back and look at the show. Maybe the most surprising is the lack of movement of Captain America #6 (2005) in 9.8. This I would attribute to two main factors. The first: there was a big run up on this book in the months before the series hit Disney+ with prices near doubling already. Second, and importantly, while the series was called Falcon and Winter Soldier, the story focus was really on Sam Wilson and John Walker. 

The short term results showed as much with Sam’s 1st appearance raising $550 in an 8.0 and his 1st as Cap jumping from $350 to $550 in just 6 weeks. Meanwhile the play may have been raw Captain America #25’s (2012) as they showed a 3x return. 

Zemo had his moments, including an epic viral dance video, but fans were left wanting more. A moderate 25% gain is respectable and most expect we will see Zemo again in some form or another. Speculation surrounds him joining a popular comic book faction with either The Thunderbolts or The Dark Avengers. 

Finally, one of the most hated MCU characters in memory, John Walker, saw excellent returns during the series. While his 1st as Captain America in Captain America #323 only made a small jump, this is to be expected as any comic fan knew his turn with the mantle would be brief. The best exit strategy would have been to sell during Episode #1-3 before he lost the title. The series concluded with John Walker exclaiming “I’m back!” as he donned his new suit and moniker: US Agent. Novice comic fans may not have realized that exclamation mirrored the one on the cover of Captain America #354, the 1st John Walker as US Agent appearance. With Walker seemingly a new fixture in the MCU as US Agent, buyers have been grabbing this one with anticipation of continued returns. Either way, if you bought in on 3/12 you have seen the value of your #354 stash double in price.

Something is Killing the Children Update
Something is Killing the Children #1 / Boom! Studios

Last week, the feature of this column was indie sensation Something Is Killing The Children and my speculation that the IP is destined to be a monster (no pun intended) television series whenever it goes that route. While we have no confirmation, the popular comic book market app Key Collector reports that inside sources tell them that the property has been optioned for a television series. When a ” Key Alert” is sent out by the App, breaking news hits tens of thousands of phones instantly. 

This sparked excitement in the market among investors as well as some doubt amongst the detractors as these reports are unsubstantiated at this time. It’s important to note though that the Key Collector App has reported info early in the past and my gut tells me this info is solid. As I mentioned last week, the book was $650 in a 9.8 the first time we talked about this IP here and $900 last week. This week we have seen the floor raise to $995 and a couple of sales in the $1100 range. That small gain just from an unconfirmed report as well as the heat behind the recently released (this past Wednesday) 8th print tells me we are in for a major return when an official announcement inevitably hits.

Netflix Is All In on Comic Book IP
Jupiter’s Legacy #1 / Image Comics

While the publisher of Something Is Killing The Children, Boom! Studios, has a first look deal with Netflix, which could see the IP land there, the streamer is not banking on any one comic book IP to find success in the space and instead readying several for release. The last few years have seen Netflix adapt Dark Horse’s Umbrella Academy, IDW’s Locke and Key, October Faction, and V-Wars, Image’s Old Guard, Oni Press’ Ciudad, better known to Netflix users as Extraction. We also already know Netflix is set to develop Masters of The Universe with Dark Horse and Kevin Smith, in addition to Brzrkr with Boom! and Keanu Reeves.

All of that and we have two more comic book IPs that have Netflix series trailers on the market making a buzz. The first is from Image Comics and creator Mark Millar. Millar has had the Hollywood touch with several of his properties like Kingsman, Wanted, and Kick Ass being past successes. Now Millar has sold the majority stake in his publishing company Millarwarld to the streamer and together they are set to release both new comics and develop series from the old ones—and new as well I would presume.

Millar’s next big release will be Jupiter’s Legacy, which debuts May 7th. The Josh Duhamel led show looks promising and will really be the litmus test for this relationship going forward. Copies of issue #1 in a 9.8 can be had for $200 with the occasional copy going far lower. The 1:25 incentive is a great option right now while being short printed is only trading for $250 in a 9.8. You never know how these indie series will be received by the mainstream, but The Boys and Invincible tell me that the market is currently receptive to super hero stories outside the Big 2. 

Sweet Tooth #1 / DC / Vertigo Comics

Finally, from DC Comics beloved but now defunct Vertigo imprint comes Sweet Tooth from creator Jeff Lemire. The show just debuted a trailer this week and the Robert Downey Jr. produced show had seen series buzz in the industry. Lemire is a master storyteller with a lot of IP with Hollywood potential so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Sweet Tooth #1 is selling for $400 in a 9.8 to date with the last copy selling for $545 as soon as the trailer dropped. This is one book I will be keeping my eye on as there truly isn’t a plethora on the market at this time and it wouldn’t take much for this one to run up in price. 

I hope you are getting some value and adding some great pieces to your alternative investment portfolio as well as some great comics to your personal collections. Join me next week when we look for more opportunity for ROI in the comic market.