Last Updated On: June 10th, 2023
On the 3rd of April, the two worldly renowned fighting entertainment titans announced a merger, and it has taken social media by storm. The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), since 1980, has brought the world the gift of wrestling with its icon wrestlers with engrossing storylines and breathtaking events such as WrestleMania. The sheer level of action, drama, athleticism, and fan engagement makes WWE’s production value priceless. Similarly, on the other hand, UFC’s rise to popularity is a present-day hot topic.
The octagon is no one’s friend and there is no room for scripts. People who enjoy pure and hardcore martial arts with minimal drama prefer UFC over WWE and as a subsequence, in the current market, UFC is valued at 12 billion dollars. By comparison, the value of WWE was valued at $9.3 billion by Endeavor. UFC’s parent company, Endeavor, has announced the acquisition of the WWE to give birth to a $21 billion sports empire. Ari Emanuel (CEO of Endeavor) will own 51% of the UFC and WWE merger, while Vince McMahon (founder of WWE) will own 49%.
With that said, let us bump fists and dive into the UFC and WWE merger and what it holds for the future of UFC and WWE trading cards. If you are a rookie and are new to the world of UFC collectible cards, make sure to read, UFC Trading Cards: Ultimate Guide.
Success Rate of UFC and WWE Merger: High or Low?
It is rather unsurprising to see the skeptical reaction of the giant fanbases of both of these entertainment powerhouses. Both brands carry their distinct unique selling points as mentioned earlier and therefore, seeing them underneath a single company puts many in a state of ambivalence. So, the question that arises is whether or not this merger will prove to be a fruitful project.
To the leading men, Ari Emanuel and Vince McMahon, this partnership is an absolute win-win for both WWE and UFC. In the last 7 years, the value of UFC has tripled from a $4 billion company to $12.1 billion in the present day. Through this acquisition, WWE hopes to share the spotlight with UFC’s progressive growth and make innovative strides in its areas of expertise. Meanwhile, with Endeavor having the greater number of shares, it would without a doubt try to align its flywheel (network effect) with WWE in the best way possible.
In an interview with Scott Wapner, both Endeavor’s CEO, Ari Emanuel, and WWE’s founder, Vince McMahon expressed their enthusiastic opinions regarding this massive decision.
“Together, I mean individually they are incredible assets. Together with the flywheel of Endeavor which we’ve built, I think makes them unicorns.” ~ Ari Emanuel
Vince McMahon backed up Ari’s statement by adding further to how merging UFC and WWE was the ideal thing to do. The timing called for it and according to his intuition, this merger would help evolve WWE. He entrusts Ari and his synergy to produce groundbreaking content.
“This is the biggest thing Ari Emanuel and Vince McMahon have ever done. Combining forces like this. There’s nothing like this.” ~ Vince McMahon
A fighting empire worth $21 billion is underway and it’ll need to be handled tastefully to satisfy the expectations of a diverse fan base. UFC fans do not want to see MMA fighters get influenced or conform to scripts and exaggerated drama that negates the principles of martial arts and favors the WWE entertainment style more. However, it will be interesting to perhaps witness more cameos of wrestlers in UFC and vice versa.
We have seen it happen with Ronda Rousey’s transition to WWE when she made her cameo/debut at WrestleMania 34 in 2018. We have seen it happen before with Brock Lesnar’s transition to UFC’s heavyweight division and then back to WWE. It is unimpeachable to state that there will be a lot of space for experimentation with Endeavor’s flywheel and overall content.
UFC fighters’ reaction to the UFC and WWE merger fell on the spectrum of two emotions. They felt fairly positive about the unification of the two entertainment giants or simply nonchalant and neutral. While some UFC fighters do not care for the company’s politics and want to continue working hard for their ambitions and earn that paycheck, others are looking forward to perhaps the biggest merger in the sports entertainment business opening new doors for both sides.
UFC and WWE Merger Impact on Trading Cards
Both UFC and WWE have an active and growing community of trading cards. While UFC trading cards have only been around for a little over 10 years, WWE’s collectible cards have been around for decades. Both brands have shared and are sharing common card manufacturers to produce their stellar-looking trading cards. For instance, the renowned card manufacturing company, Topps, has produced top-quality trading cards for both UFC and WWE, albeit UFC went on to take away the licensing rights from Topps in 2019 and made a deal with Panini America.
WWE has shared the same platform with Topps since 2005 and in 2022, WWE signed a new multi-year deal with Panini. However, in the latest news, it has been revealed that Fanatics will be acquiring the WWE trading card license and this global leader in licensed sports merchandise will go above and beyond just trading cards. It hopes to create an online WWE shop that sells the sport’s products, memorabilia, replicas, and more.
Having bought Topps, through Fanatics acquisition of the WWE trading card license, collectors will see the name of Topps return to market shelves. Fanatics are going to stick with the Topps name as it holds the brand image and is recognized all over the world.
Similar to UFC’s ceaseless rise in popularity, WWE has been cranking figures as well. At main events, UFC effortlessly garners over 200,000 to 1,000,000+ pay-per-views. Khabib vs Conor fight grossed over 2,400,000 PPV buys. Compare that to WWE’s early WrestleMania events, and you might say they used to break the internet. Even in the present, with a new roster of talented wrestlers making their way into the ring with compelling storylines, the crowd loves to see it. Personalities like Demi Bennett and Logan Paul are noteworthy examples in this new generation of wrestlers.
In 2012 WrestleMania 28 set a record of 1.9 million PPV buys that featured an epic showdown between John Cena and the Rock. A decade later, WrestleMania 38 has now made an estimated figure of 2.2 billion impressions on all social media platforms concurrently with a total attendance of over 156,000 wrestling enthusiasts on the two-night event that made history with the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin, championship matches, and the Mysterios vs Logan Paul and Miz. A whopping 13.1 million hours of video watch time was generated, which is approximately 29% more than the previous year.
Over the years, the slight drop in WWE’s pay-per-view buys hasn’t gone unnoticed but there are concrete reasons for that. For instance, ever since WWE Network landed a multi-year $1 billion streaming rights deal with Peacock, the majority of WWE Network subscribers have migrated to Peacock and made it their ideal WWE streaming platform. The biggest perk is watching all PPV events free of cost which in our opinion impacts the total buys.
The continued growth of both fan bases should undoubtedly support demand and help put a floor under their respective trading cards over the long term. In recent years, UFC and WWE trading card indexes by CardLadder show that each brand’s trend has been down after an outsized run to the upside that was kickstarted with the pandemic a few years back.
The demand for UFC and WWE cards should remain steady as long as the brands continue producing riveting sports entertainment content. Both brands, especially WWE with Endeavor’s flywheel, can hope to mutually grow together which would ultimately be good news for the trading cards.
Whether you are an individual who is zealous about the electrifying content of both UFC and WWE or perhaps an avid collector, the sports cards for WWE and UFC serve as an excellent hobby and investment. Moreover, either way, the announcement of this merger impacts your interests. While there is still a lot to be revealed, there are a few assumptions and predictions that can be made regarding the post-merger scenario pertaining to UFC and WWE trading cards.
Will Topps Become the Sole Producer of Trading Cards for UFC and WWE?
With the bold move from Endeavor, there is a possibility that after the unification, under a single banner, the trading cards for both UFC and WWE would be manufactured by a single card manufacturer. In the present day, UFC’s exclusive trading card license lies with Panini America whereas WWE is looking forward to passing on their license to Fanatics (Topps) while continuing their multi-year deal with Panini.
In the near future, we can expect to see handing over its exclusive trading card license to one manufacturer only. With Fanatics taking the reins for WWE trading cards, perhaps UFC will conform to Topps handling their cards once again as well. Furthermore, collectors should anticipate newer card editions— trading card box sets with all-new inserts that feature the conglomeration and perhaps feature both UFC fighters and WWE wrestlers in a single pack.
As far as the existing sets of trading cards are concerned, we don’t foresee any major impacts. If anything, the demand for them could multiply due to shortage of supply over time and lead to an increase in value. At the end of the day, the athlete’s face, career highlights, the rarity of card type, and condition are the deciding factors in coming up with a fair appraisal for the sports card.
Undeniably, the UFC and WWE merger was unexpected and has made us all sit at the edge of our seats in sheer anticipation of what would become of the future of these two leading fighting entertainment corporations. The best course of action that one can take as a devoted fan of these two brands is to entrust the supervision of the two veterans, Ari Emanuel and Vince McMahon. We can certainly expect innovative strides as they have incessantly proved in their long-running flawless careers in the sports entertainment industry.
The impact the merger will have on UFC and WWE trading cards will be directly proportional to the acquisition’s success. At the same time, it is rather unlikely that the current market of UFC and WWE would experience any negative tremors. But as always, “Time will tell.”