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WWE made quite a bit of noise earlier this week by announcing the signings of four prominent independent wrestlers: Ricochet, War Machine and Candice LeRae. How these new wrestlers fare under the hypercritical eye of Vince McMahon remains to be seen; however, all four are veteran wrestlers who have generated a considerable amount of buzz over the last several years.
The biggest star of the bunch is Ricochet, who is best known for his matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, where he is the only two-time winner of the annual PWG Battle of Los Angeles (BOLA) tournament. In 2014, Ricochet signed an exclusive contract and was rechristened Prince Puma as the top star of the fledgling Lucha Underground TV show.
For many years, pro wrestlers wouldn’t get their own action figures or trading cards until they had been established on the WWE roster. However, the wrestling business has changed significantly in the three-plus years since Ricochet first debuted with Lucha Underground. Thanks to a surge in the popularity of independent wrestling and ever changing technology, smaller companies and wrestlers themselves are able to produce and sell their own cards, action figures and other merchandise.
All four of these wrestlers – and some of WWE’s other new recruits – have already been featured on trading cards and other items that are likely to spike in value and popularity once they make their TV debuts. Here’s a look at some trading cards, autographs and action figures of some of WWE’s new recruits.
Your best bet for finding these items – particularly trading cards – is to search sites like eBay and Amazon. Another great resource for independent trading cards is huskerhavswrestlingcards.com, which sells most single cards for $2-$5 each. There are also several Facebook groups and websites available to wrestling card collectors.
The “Future of Flight” has appeared on several trading cards over the last three or four years. Ricochet enjoyed quite a bit of success in NJPW, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship and NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship three times each, along with winning the 2014 Best of the Super Juniors and 2015 Super Juniors Tag Team tournaments. Ricochet’s New Japan exploits are captured on several King of Pro Wrestling (Kinpuro) trading cards from Bushiroad. The majority of these cards can be found on sites like eBay for around $3 each.
Ricochet achieved perhaps his greatest success in PWG, where he twice won the prestigious Battle of Los Angeles (BOLA) tournament (2014 and 2017) and also defeated Chuck Taylor for the PWG World Title in 2017. Ricochet appears in both of the PWG BOLA trading card sets from 2016 and 2017, which are two of the hottest independent wrestling card sets of the last several years.
Ricochet’s base PWG BOLA cards from 2016 and 2017 can be extremely difficult to find, and because of that, prices can be extremely volatile. You may be able to find these cards for $5 each, but they have also sold on eBay for upwards of $30.
Highspots.com and American Icon Autographs produced a limited number of autographed 2017 PWG BOLA sets, which have since sold out. The sets occasionally surface on eBay, and one seller is currently selling the Ricochet autograph for $29.99 or best offer. The thing to be aware of with several autographs in the set is that several prominent wrestlers – including Ricochet – signed their cards with low quality pens. Many autographs are already showing bleeding and fading, which will probably only get worse with time.
Hanson and Ray Rowe first rose to prominence in Ring of Honor in 2014, where they faced off in the finals of the Top Prospect Tournament. Shortly after that, the two men began teaming as War Machine; they would go on to win one ROH tag title and two IWGP tag titles before signing with WWE.
Figures Toy Company announced plans for action figures of Hanson and Rowe in 2017. So far, only the Hanson figure has been released, and is available for $29.99 at FiguresToyCompany.com.
War Machine have appeared on a limited number of trading cards, most notably the Ring of Honor Final Battle 8-Pack from Filsinger Cards. The cards are available for purchase as part of that eight-pack at filsingergames.com, and a full checklist of wrestlers can be found at http://filsingergames.com/find-your-favorite-wrestler/.
Ring of Honor is still selling War Machine merchandise online, including a signed 8×10 photo for $29.99. For more information, head to rohwrestling.com.
LeRae is perhaps best known as Joey Ryan’s partner in the World’s Cutest Tag Team, thanks to several viral videos. She’s also an accomplished wrestler who once held the PWG World Tag Team Titles and participated in WWE’s Mae Young Classic last year.
LeRae has appeared on a few trading cards. Most notably, she was included on one of four “secret” cards in the 2017 PWG BOLA set. There are four secret cards, with one included in each set. LeRae’s card is one of the most visually striking in the set, as it features a gory action shot of her bloody face. This is a tough card to find, and in the rare case it does surface, it usually sells in the $15-$30 range.
Sometimes the accomplished indie wrestlers aren’t the ones who get the right breaks on the main roster – look no further than guys like Baron Corbin and Mojo Rawley for proof of that. WWE’s newest class of recruits includes a former Major League Baseball pitching prospect.
Rinku Singh became somewhat of an international superstar in 2008 when he won a reality TV show called “The Million Dollar Arm.” Singh signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates and spent several years in the minor leagues; his story was the basis for the 2014 Disney movie “Million Dollar Arm.”
Although Singh never quite made it in the majors, he does have a few baseball cards from 2009. Singh was included in both the 2009 Bowman Chrome and Bowman Prospects sets, which are easy to find on eBay. Certified autographs can usually be found for under $10.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PRIOR COLUMN: COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Box Break and Review of 2017 Topps Legends of WWE
PWTorch Collectibles Specialist Michael Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.