Author’s Note: Professional wrestling trading cards date back to at least the late 1800s, when wrestlers like William Muldoon and Matsada Sorakichi first appeared in the 1887 World’s Champions tobacco card set from Allen & Ginter. Along the way there have been several landmark sets, such as the 1954 Parkhurst Wrestling Cards, 1982 Wrestling All-Stars and 1998 Topps WCW/NWO products. Classic Cardboard will look back at some of the most recognizable – and some overlooked – wrestling trading card sets from over the years.
Classic Cardboard: 2002 Fleer WWF All Access
Originally released in April 2002, All Access was the last WWF-branded trading card product to be released by Fleer, as the company would be renamed WWE less than a month later. It was Fleer’s fifth WWF offering after releasing four products in 2001. It was released at a time when memorabilia and autograph cards were all the rage, and companies like Topps, Upper Deck, Donruss/Playoff, Fleer, Pacific, Press Pass and SAGE were cranking out sports cards as fast as they could.
The basic set is made up of 50 base cards, 30 Off the Mat cards and 20 Road to the Ring cards. All Access features all of the top stars of the Attitude Era, such as Steve Austin, the Rock, Undertaker, Mick Foley, Triple H, Kane, Lita, the Hardy Boyz and more. Also included are cards of guys who had forgettable WWF runs in the early 2000s, such as Justin Credible, Jerry Lynn and Haku.
All Access is perhaps best known for the Off the Mat Graphs set, which features an oversized swatch of an authentic WWE mat and an autograph. There are eight different Off the Mat Graphs: Jim Ross, Lita, Rob Van Dam, Stacy Keibler, the Hurricane, Torrie Wilson, Triple H and Trish Stratus. Maven was included as a redemption card, but never signed or returned his cards to Fleer. Some wrestlers signed on the mat piece, while others signed directly on the card.
The Off the Mat Graphs were notable for several years for including the only pack-certified autograph of Triple H. For more than 15 years, that card regularly sold for anywhere from $200 to $400. Topps began producing a limited number of Triple H autographs in some of its 2017 and 2018 products.
But one of the coolest aspects of 2002 Fleer WWF All Access was the variety of material used to create the relic cards. While most wrestling products have usually included some rather boring shirt relics, Fleer used pieces of steel chairs, garbage cans, tables and more for this particular product.
All Access Memorabilia features a single swatch of an object worn or used by a wrestler. For example, Kane’s card has a piece of a steel chair, Stacy Keibler’s card has a swatch of a red dress and Tajiri’s card has a piece of ring-worn pants. There’s also an ultra rare Hurricane card with a piece of the superhero’s mask; while Fleer never released individual card counts, wrestlingtradingcards.com indicates that there are 12 or fewer of this card made.
The Match Makers Memorabilia cards picture two friends or foes and contain two pieces of memorabilia. For example, the Dudley Boyz’s card has two pieces of an event-used table. Edge & Christian’s card has two pieces of event-used steel chairs, and Kane and Undertaker includes a piece of a metal trash can used by Kane and a shirt worn by Undertaker.
One of the most unique cards in the set is a dual relic card of the Rock and Kurt Angle, which includes a standard T-shirt swatch for Rock and a piece of a milk carton used by Angle. The milk cartons make for some pretty interesting cards, as they often include multicolor pieces, some with parts of autographs.
Many Fleer products haven’t held up well over time. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Fleer went out of business in 2005, and much of the company’s back stock found its way onto eBay and the secondary market.
However, 2002 WWF All Access has maintained some popularity with collectors, thanks to a strong roster of autographs and some very unique memorabilia cards.
If there is a wrestling trading card set that you’d like to see featured in Classic Cardboard, contact Michael Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PRIOR COLUMN: COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Beware of Repackaged Figures
PWTorch Collectibles Specialist Michael Moore can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.