THE SPECIALISTS COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: In-depth Review of Topps's 2013 "WWE Best of Wrestling" Trading Cards - Bruno, Shield, JBL, more
Oct 18, 2013 - 3:52:04 PM
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By Michael Moore, PWTorch Collectibles column
In Brief: The latest WWE offering from Topps includes certified autographs of Bruno Sammartino, JBL, Trish Stratus, and all three members of The Shield.
2013 Topps WWE Best of Wrestling delivers 24 packs per hobby box at about $50 per box. There are seven cards per pack, or 168 cards per pack. There are 110 cards in the base set, so there’s a good chance you could come close to building a set with one box. Each hobby box delivers one memorabilia card, usually containing a piece of a wrestler-worn shirt, and a second “hit”: an autograph or a piece of the mat from WrestleMania 29.
There is also a 100-card insert set called “Top Ten,” which features 10 different Top 10 lists, including WWE Champions, Trash Talkers, Finishers, Rivalries, Undertaker Matches, and more. This is similar to the Triple Threat insert that was included in 2013 Topps WWE earlier this year. Each hobby box delivers 33 Top Ten insert cards, one silver parallel card and 12 bronze parallel cards. There are also gold parallels (serial numbered to 10 each) and four 1-of-1 press plates for each card.
The retail version features most of the same cards, but at tougher odds. Retail packs are around $2 each, with special $20 blaster boxes available at stores like Walmart and Target.
The 110-card base set features crisp, colorful photography that capture some of the top moments of the last year (summer 2012 to summer 2013). But that’s not why most collectors buy wrestling cards.
Baseball and football cards are driven by rookie and prospect cards, but there aren’t really such things in wrestling cards. Every now and then a base card will get hot – such as C.M. Punk’s 2004 Pacific TNA card or Ryback’s (Skip Sheffield’s) 2010 Topps WWE, but that’s usually years down the road.
Wrestling collectors are looking for autographs and memorabilia. Topps usually releases two card products each year (not including dog tags, poker chips, and other products) and finds a way to work in autographs of the top stars and some first-time signers.
2013 Topps WWE Best of Wrestling includes three autographs that are bound to be some of the hottest wrestling cards of the year: the first certified autograph cards of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins. Ambrose’s autograph was the first to surface this week, usually selling for about $30 on eBay. As of press time there weren’t any completed auctions for the other two signatures, but dealers seem to be asking about $30-40 each.
The value of all three cards could probably be hurt by sloppy signatures from all three members of The Shield. Ambrose’s and Reigns’s autographs are nothing more than “DA” and “RR” respectively. Rollins’s signature is somewhat better, but not much.
The new product also includes autographs from Bruno Sammartino, Trish Stratus, Dusty Rhodes, JBL, Paul Heyman, and Bob Backlund. There are also four different Mick Foley signatures – one for each personality. Signatures from Damien Sandow, Big E. Langston, Lilian Garcia, Vickie Guerrero, and both Bella Twins are also included.
There are also 10 dual autograph cards, with only 100 total cards made. Topps doesn’t specify if that means there are 10 of each card or more of some than others. The dual autographs are incredibly rare, and some of them will probably be among the most valuable wrestling cards of the year. The 10 dual autographs are:
Road Dogg & Billy Gunn
Shawn Michaels & X-Pac
Jack Swagger & Vickie Guerrero
Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
Bruno Sammartino & Bob Backlund
Mick Foley & Trish Stratus
Brie & Nikki Bella
Damien Sandow & Big E. Langston
Dean Ambrose & Paul Heyman
JBL & Lillian Garcia
Topps is also bringing back the popular Jerry Lawler sketch cards. Each one is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, hand-drawn and signed by “the King.” There are 10 cards in this set, including Steve Austin, Vader, Doink, Paul Bearer, C.M. Punk, Undertaker, and others. With only one of each card in existence, they almost never surface for sale – and when they do, they usually sell for anywhere from $400 to $1,000.
The key relic card in the set features a piece of a teddy bear that A.J. Lee cuddled with before beheading and hacking up for this set. Sellers are asking a minimum of $125 for one of these cards.
The one knock against Topps’s WWE products is always the same: collectors just don’t care about the lame mat cards. Sure, pulling a piece of a WrestleMania mat with the Undertaker’s picture is cool, but who really wants one of Langston or Fandango? Topps would sell a lot more boxes of WWE cards if they would ditch the mat relics and just guarantee one autograph per hobby box.
Topps also could stand to put some more effort into their insert sets. The Top 10 cards – like the Triple Threat inserts before them – are bland cards that don’t look much different from the base cards. Topps does a fantastic job at making baseball and football inserts feel special (check out some of the die-cut cards in 2013 Topps MLB and 2013 Topps NFL, which are also $2 per pack), and that type of effort would go a long way with wrestling collectors.
2013 Best of Wrestling is more of the same from Topps and WWE – which, for the most part, is a good thing. Topps has done a great job with keeping the cost low while delivering some great autographs and some unique relic cards.
There aren’t many sports card boxes that deliver 24 packs and 2 “hits” per box for under $50 each. Topps produces trading cards at all price points, but they really shine at delivering lower end cards at a great price. This set is no different.
Have you cracked open a pack, a box or a case of 2013 Topps WWE Best of Wrestling? How did you do? Share your stories with other Torch readers by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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