Wrestling cards are bringing the joy back to collecting

So here’s the deal, I’ve been a card collector since I was 7 years old. Baseball has always been my focus, but I’ve ventured into other sports over the years, including professional wrestling.

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I dug the 1980s Topps WWF sets; loved the 1990s Classic WWF sets; chased the ice cream man each summer to get some of the WWF ice cream bars that included a card in the packaging; always wished I had enough to buy some of the 1994 Action Packed WWF cards; and in the late 1990s and early 200s, I really enjoyed all the different WWF products produced by Fleer, which started to incorporate autographs and memorabilia cards.

I followed wrestling as a kid, and then stopped for a few years when I learned it wasn’t real. I then got back into it around WrestleMania IX (9) and watched pretty strong for about 10 years until I got consumed by college and life. I was away from pro wrestling for another 10 years as I got married and started a family.

But when WrestleMania XXXI (31) came to my hometown, I had to be there  — even though I was out of the game for a while, I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  And with my decision to buy tickets, my passion for wrestling was rekindled and it’s going strong again today, almost 18 months later.

Since my return to watching wrestling, I’ve started to buy some of the cards as it seemed like a natural extension of my hobby.  I bought some 2014 Topps and some 2015 Topps and Topps Chrome. And then later in 2015, Topps and WWE partnered to bring the hobby a high-end product in Undisputed, which made autographs and memorabilia cards fairly accessible to wrestling card collectors. Needless to say I was hooked.

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I bought into a “draft your box” break of 2015 Undisputed at Blowout Cards and wound up with a box that contained a Bret “Hitman” Hart autograph redemption. When the cards arrived I was floored by the quality.  Sure, I have owned many high-end baseball cards, but seeing the wrestling stars on this type of product was amazing.

I then bought more singles to add to my collection.  I’ve pretty much repeated the same pattern again here in 2016 and with the recent release of the latest Undisputed, it’s really put wrestling cards back in focus for me.

But here’s the premise under which I operate and why I chose to share this with you:

I know that wrestling cards will never have the prestige that baseball cards have. The factors that make a card rise or fall in baseball, or any sport for that matter, aren’t exactly there for wrestling. When a ball player breaks into the Bigs and takes the sport by storm, his cards experience a massive swell. In wrestling, the value of the card is really tied to the character’s following. In my opinion, this is a more realistic expectation for a collectible, and for the modt part eliminates the “risk” or gamble in collecting.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love baseball and baseball cards.  And I still love some of the stuff — not all — that has come out in the last decade. But sports cards as a whole have become such a damn gambling man’s business that at times it disgusts me. The joy is there, but it’s short lived at times because while we tell ourselves that we are collectors, the monetary “value” of  card is always there in the back of our minds because everything is so damn expensive. We have to justify our expenses sometimes to ourselves.

And yes, you can choose to collect low end, but we all know that the value of cards is usually somewhere in the equation because collecting baseball cards has become a game of “how much are they worth.” We can thank the collecting boon of the 1980s for this.

For me, wrestling cards have rekindled the joy in collecting. When I open a pack of basic wrestling product I’m not necessarily worried about “getting my money back” in a pack or box.  I enjoy looking at the cards, reading the backs and collecting the guys I like. And, the hits are fun and relatively cheap by comparison to other sports. And even in the high-end products, the packs are about $20 (boxes about $200 for 10 packs) and the hits in the packs are fairly evenly priced on the secondary market. This makes the risk relatively small and the ability to collect what you want so much more attainable. And really, isn’t this what collectors all want anyway, like this rainbow of 2015 Topps Undisputed Ted DiBiase cards or these autographs.

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This is my story and this is the way I collect. Some of you will get it; others will not. I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or reach me on Twitter or via e-mail: cardboardicons@yahoo.com

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