Last Updated On: September 13th, 2023
The extraordinary moments given to us by WWE have not only gone down in history, but they live inside our heads, rent-free. WWE was and still is the epitome of sports entertainment. The breathtaking moment when Edge speared Mankind onto a burning table in the hardcore match, watching Undertaker decimate WrestleManias and inevitably witnessing his streak end, John Cena vs The Rock, the poignant retirement of Shawn Michaels, Kane taking off his mask for the first time, disbandment of Shield and the list is endless…
Today, even after the UFC and WWE Merger and getting acquired by UFC’s parent company, Endeavor at USD 9 billion, WWE continues to grow with a new generation of wrestlers that have a lot of talent to showcase. In this article, we will meticulously break down everything you need to know about collecting WWE trading cards.
Alongside exceptional content, WWE cards carry their own separate hype and a devoted community. If you have been thinking of jumping on the wrestling cards bandwagon then here’s an easy-to-understand guide that’ll give you just the head start you have been searching for!
Table of Contents
History of WWE Trading Cards
The history of WWE trading cards goes back as far as the company’s inception in 1980. In the 1980s, the very first wrestling cards were manufactured that featured today’s Hall of Famers and legends such as Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, and Dusty Rhodes. These sets were a part of the Pro Wrestling Enterprises series. The cards showcased the picture of the wrestler and were released in small batches. As a subsequence, in today’s time, these wrestling cards are highly collectible, and their value is directly proportional to how highly they are graded.
Topps, the worldly renowned sports cards manufacturer, became the first official WWF (the former name of WWE before the company lost a lawsuit against the World Wildlife Fund) card manufacturer, and under their brand name, the Pro Wrestling Stars cards were released in the year 1985 and 1987. Each box set came with a sticker card and in the contemporary, their retro appeal is highly sought after.
After the 1980s, trading card companies became more versatile and innovative in their approach to printing wrestling cards. A series of gold-plated cards were produced in 1999 by The Danbury Mint. It consisted of a total of 120 gold cards and could be paired with the official binder of The Danbury Mint. The 1990s was the era when card manufacturers realized the rise of wrestling fame and became committed to the production of wrestling trading cards.
The early 2000s marked a golden age for WWE card collectors albeit, it was still known as WWF back then. The card company, Fleer, produced the WWF WrestleMania set— the first amongst others that followed shortly after its release. This was before Fleer faced major instability and had its rights purchased by Upper Deck. Fleer introduced insert cards in their sets. In the early 2000s, wrestling card sets included memorabilia cards and autographs.
Divas started to trend in the early 2000s as well. On May 6, 2002, WWF changed its name to WWE, and with it came an expansion in the women’s division. WWE began recruiting more female talent. Lita, Torrie Wilson, Trish Stratus, Chyna, etc. are all worthy examples of early Divas that gave fans exciting content through their charisma and athleticism.
In response to the rising popularity of female wrestlers, Fleer released the Absolute Divas collection in 2002 consisting of unique inserts such as the Lip Service cards. These cards featured signed kiss prints of selected Divas and were numbered to only 50 each.
The age of the internet added further flexibility when it came to buying WWE trading cards. Online auction and shopping websites such as eBay now assist sellers and collectors to conduct transactions via online marketplaces. People no longer needed to meet face-to-face to seal a deal. WWE trading cards could now reach larger audiences throughout the world with the facility of shipping.
After the fall of Fleer in 2005, Topps renewed their license with WWE. In the 2010s, Topps dominated the WWE cards scene as it maintained its trading card license and continued producing WWE card sets regularly.
Digital Wrestling cards became a thing and were a part of Topps’ Slam series. Now, in the 2020s, WWE trading cards and collecting in general became more widely recognized. The pandemic could be a determining factor behind it. There has been an increase in the market as we’ll discuss ahead. Panini America is the current card manufacturer with WWE’s official trading card license.
Collecting WWE Trading Cards
Ceasing the history lessons, we now begin with actually collecting WWE trading cards as that is why you are reading this article. Collecting WWE trading cards or any other sports trading cards, in general, is not simply a process of buying and selling. If you want to properly preserve the integrity and value of your highly sought-after WWE trading cards, you need to carefully store them in display cases, card sleeves, or in graded slabs.
Wrestling cards are susceptible to fall damage, liquid splashes, scratches, wear and tear, and official grading companies such as PSA and Beckett do not show leniency when it comes to grading your precious collection. Only the most pristine condition WWE cards with fine corners, flawless border centering, and a crisp back get the chance at receiving a PSA 10 GEM MINT or 9 MINT grade. As a rookie collector, you need to be vigilant about the condition of the cards prior to buying and selling.
Online retail/auction stores such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart are reliable places to purchase wrestling cards and sealed boxes. Always buy from a seller that has positive ratings. Besides online shopping, make sure to hit some of the yearly trading card events as it presents collectors from around the world with a platform to network, trade, and discuss the hot topics relating to trading cards. On Sports Card Investor, you can keep yourself updated with upcoming trading card events.
Are WWE Trading Cards a Good Investment?
Money speaks. Whether you are zealous about WWE or an avid sports cards collector; either way, you’d want to get your money’s worth. The sports cards market has experienced a resurgence over the years and as previously discussed, the Covid pandemic might have a lot to do with it. The market for sports trading cards is expected to grow. In 2021, the sports trading cards market was estimated at USD $12.9 Billion. According to the forecasts, the market value would amplify and reach an estimate of USD $49.4 Billion by 2032— growing at a CAGR of 13%.
Moreover, it can be noted from the statistics presented above that the Wrestling category as a whole has seen an exceptional amount of growth— a 635.21% rate of growth since 2006 according to CardLadder.
Undoubtedly, this is a good omen for WWE trading cards; thereby, making them potentially a good investment. Your investment should revolve around scavenging highly valued WWE cards that benefit both from the rarity and the face of the superstar. So, without further ado, here are some of the notable WWE trading card sets and cards that you should keep an eye out for.
Notable WWE Trading Cards
Below is a carefully curated list of WWE cards that you might want to pick up. However, speaking in terms of modern times, a superstar’s ongoing career success and past highlights would have a lot to do with the future appraisals of their cards.
Pro Wrestlers like Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Randy Orton, and perhaps even Logan Paul are respectable candidates that hold the potential of having their cards sold at high prices in the present and the future. You should aim for both vintage and modern cards when collecting WWE cards.
Hulk Hogan Rookie Card
Hulk Hogan was the face of wrestling in the 1980s and 1990s. He was and still is amongst the most famous and influential wrestlers of all time— winning 12 world championships during his career.
The Hulk Hogan Rookie Card from the 1982 Wrestling All Stars set sold for a whopping $52,840 at Goldin Auctions in September, 2022. This vintage card with a banana-yellow border featuring the face of young Hogan in his prime years of wrestling is highly collectible. The one sold in the auction was graded 9.5 by BGS, which is GEM MINT condition. While GEM MINT Hulk Hogan rookies rarely surface, you can certainly buy the lower grades from online auction sites such as eBay.
The Hulk Hogan Rookie Card is currently valued at $2,000 in NM-MT condition. An SGC 8 NM-MT copy recently sold for $2,040 at PWCC auctions in April, 2023.
Ric Flair Rookie Card
“WOO!” Ric Flair is a 16-time WWE world champion. His legacy lives vicariously through his daughter, Charlotte Flair who uses the same finisher as her father’s— the four-figure leg lock. The Nature Boy, as he was known, rose to fame in the 70s where he wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance as well as WCW. Later, in WWE, he kept making regular appearances and despite his old age, he still surprised the masses with his athleticism.
The Ric Flair Rookie Card from the 1982 Wrestling All Stars set, in BGS 9.5 GEM MINT condition, sold at auction on eBay for $9,500 in April, 2022. Only 13 total copies exist in the BGS population report in GEM MINT condition. Lower grade cards can be found for a few hundred bucks to three thousand dollars on eBay.
Roman Reigns 2014 Topps Chrome Refractor Autograph Card
Roman Reigns holds the potential of earning a permanent place in the future Hall of Famers of WWE. This WWE trading card marks the exact year when Roman Reigns faced betrayal at the hands of The Shield. It led to his one-man show career which has proven to be remarkable.
The 2014 Roman Reign Topps Chrome Refractor Autograph card is technically a 2nd year card given he debuted in 2013 trading card sets. It’s likely that the value of this card will continue to grow in the future as long as Roman Reigns continues to dominate the pro wrestling scene with his sheer strength and talent. In contrast to this refractor, which sells for a few hundred dollars, the 2014 Topps Chrome autographed superfractor 1 of 1 sold on eBay for $15,000 in February, 2022.
Undertaker Rookie Card
Undertaker’s character as a dead man had people engrossed during the early 1990s. Today, he is one of the most widely recognized wrestlers in the world with a world record 21 consecutive wins at WrestleMania.
The Undertaker rookie card from the 1991 Classic set is reasonably valued around $200-$300 in PSA 9 MINT condition. There are only a little over 100 in PSA’s population report in PSA 9 condition, with just 5 achieving GEM MINT 10 grade. The last PSA 10 sold for $3,650 on eBay in December, 2022.
Most Valuable WWE Card
In April, 2023, a record was set for the most expensive WWE card ever sold. And it’s really no surprise a card depicting The Rock would be the card to set the record. The Rock’s 2022 Panini Prizm WWE Black Prizm 1 of 1 card sold for an astounding $126,000 at PWCC Premier Auctions.
Notable WWE Trading Card Sets
Topps had a long-running partnership with WWE that continued for years. Only recently, WWE decided to withdraw its card manufacturing license from Topps and give it to its competitor, Panini America. In the years that preceded, with Topps WWE trading cards in focus, various innovative and eye-catching card sets were released.
Topps WWE Trading Cards
Topps WWE sets featured multiple products with varying insert cards such as refractors, relics, autographs, memorabilia, and more. Even though there are many different card sets with multiple editions, here are a few card boxes that you should be looking for in the market— card sets that give you a good chance at landing upper-tier Topps WWE cards. To familiarize yourself with the official checklists of Topps WWE cards in every card set/edition, we recommend searching on Beckett.
Different Sets of Topps WWE Cards:
- Topps WWE Road to WrestleMania (2014-2020)
- Topps WWE Undisputed Wrestling (2021)
- Topps WWE Heritage (2006-2021)
- Topps WWE Finest (2021-2022)
- Topps WWE Chrome (2015-2021)
- Topps WWE Chrome Slam Attax (2020-2021)
- Topps WWE Women’s Division (2017-2021)
- Topps Legends of WWE (2017-2018)
Panini WWE Trading Cards
In 2021, WWE signed a multi-year deal with Panini America. The all-new partnership with Panini feels temporary but in the present, they hold the official license for WWE trading cards. Similar to Topps, Panini WWE cards or WWE Prizm cards are A-class quality WWE cards that come in lots of different sets and these sets consist of various insert cards— similar to Topps WWE cards. Below is a list of the most recent and in-demand Panini WWE products. Corresponding checklists can be viewed on Beckett as well.
Different Sets of Panini WWE Cards:
- Panini WWE Prizm (2022-2023)
- Panini WWE Immaculate (2022)
- Panini WWE Chronicles (2022)
- Panini WWE Base Debut Edition (2022)
- Panini WWE NXT 2.0 (2022)
To get a sneak peek into the brand new 2023 Panini WWE Prizm cards checklist, visit The Cardboard Connection.
Now you are ready to step into the ring with all the knowledge you have gathered about collecting WWE trading cards. Subjectivity may vary but stats do not lie— the sports cards market is forecasted to continue growing in the coming years and that includes WWE trading cards. Now, with the WWE and UFC merger on the cusp of completion, there is a lot of anticipation in the air. Potentially, we’ll see new WWE card sets making their way to the shelves.
Fanatics (which now owns Topps) has recently acquired the WWE cards license; therefore, it seems that the brand name of Topps will be making a comeback with Panini continuing to finish the remainder of their deal with WWE. As a collector, you are now equipped with the expertise of collecting, storing, displaying, searching, and browsing WWE trading cards.