New releases have started reaching ridiculous levels, so we’re going to look at an old release that has been sitting around for a while. This Topps release covered the World Wrestling Federation, back before it was known as World Wrestling Entertainment. This came out after Wrestlemania 3 from the Silverdome in Pontiac Michigan, featuring the clash between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.
This release comes before the time that hits were the central focus of a product. It is also before inserts really became standard, although it does include a sticker subset. The base set contains 75 cards, showing superstars, highlights, as well as some action captions. There is also an insert subset of 22 different stickers.
There is a danger built in to these older products, and it goes beyond chewing thirty-three year old gum. These packs were wax, and the sealing process often stained the bottom card. The amount of wax varies, and is sometimes not very noticeable, but it’s something to consider. Also, is a problem related to the gum. These packs weren’t really designed to stay sealed for decades. After years sealed in a pack, along with pressure, the gum often ends up almost leaking on to the cards. Every pack had one card severely damaged by the gum. Keep these things in mind if you look at old wax era packs.
This yearly release comes a little bit later during Wrestlemania season this year. In recent years, this has been a January release, but this time comes out on March 11. It also comes during the Covid 19 pandemic, which has begun shutting down major sporting events. At the time of this writing, a SmackDown episode was rescheduled to an empty Performance Center, while Wrestlemania is still tentatively planned, but with a lot of uncertainty.
This release features a 100 card base set showing major events from the previous year. It also contains a number of insert sets, including a 50 card roster subset. The cards show a pirate theme, as the planned location for this year’s Wrestlemania is Raymond James Stadium, the home of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A box contains 24 packs with 7 cards per pack. It advertises two hits per box, one of which is an on card autograph.
When the new television deal was announced for NXT, this set took on a little bit more meaning. Before now, NXT has been a brand exclusively on the WWE Network. It was well received, but perhaps didn’t have as large an audience. That has all changed, but will that mean a bigger market for the cards? Time will tell on that.
It feels like an unusual release. It has a similar configuration to other recent wrestling releases, included a set of matches and moments, as well as one of the roster. There are 100 matches and moments, and a separately numbered 50 roster cards. Only the matches and moments have parallels, which makes it seem the primary base set. There are no other “non-hit” inserts included in this release. It also seems a bit strange that, while included in the roster cards, the women are not featured in the matches and moments portion.
A box advertises 24 packs with 7 cards per pack. It also includes 2 autographs per box, although there have been reports of some boxes containing 5 autographs instead.
This release comes at an interesting time. It’s new for Topps and focuses on one of the lesser pay per view brands. We’re used to see a Wrestlemania release, and this year also included a SummerSlam release. The event itself took place in May of this year, so this seems like a strange time see a release based on it.
While this set contains 90 base cards, the product feels much more hit driven. There are a handful of insert sets concentrating on previous events, but a set will be difficult to put together from packs. The pack out configuration consists of a master hobby box, containing two mini boxes. Each mini box has 6 packs with 5 cards per pack. There is no guarantee for each mini box, but the master box advertises 4 hits, with 3 guaranteed to be autographs. That’s nice, but for the price point, you need to see good autographs for it to be worth while.
SmackDown is a new release for 2019. It’s not clear if it’s directly because SmackDown is moving to Fox after years on USA. Tonight is the beginning of the draft to fully separate Raw from SmackDown for the new future. The new roster may not reflect this release very well, though. This release matches the Raw release from earlier in the year,
In years past, Topps had two major releases, using the standard baseball design from that year. This changed this year. There seem to be two main releases again, representing Raw and SmackDown, but they are using unique designs for each. The Raw design was rather lackluster, but the SmackDown one stands out a lot more. I still wish they were the same, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.