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Have Wrestling Cards Entered a New Golden Age?

It’s an exciting time to collect for old-school wrestling fans. Never before has there been so many options for collecting cards of greats from the 1980s and 1990s, particularly when it comes to autographs.

The just-released 2012 Topps WWE Heritage is the latest set to grasp on to an era when one could count out which Wrestlemania it was on their fingers. Based heavily on the classic 1985 Topps WWF Pro Wrestling Stars set, the first-ever fully licensed wrestling release, it mixes old and new. The designs should be very familiar to those who collected back when Hulkamania was running wild. Many of the names are easily recognizable as well as the checklist mixes new- and old-school.

This is most noticeable on the autograph checklist. “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Paul Bearer and Vader are among those with signatures in hobby packs. There’s also the Charles Wright trifecta. He has three autographs in the set, all based on his different in-ring personas: the Godfather, Papa Shango and Kama Mustafa. The only current wrestler to have an autograph in 2012 Topps WWE Heritage hobby boxes is Layla. The rest are retired stars. Retail packs have different signatures, with a heavier emphasis on the current wrestling scene.

Other highlights in 2012 Topps WWE Heritage include stickers and several basic inserts that recreate subsets from the original 1985 set.

The nostalgic appeal continues with 2012 Leaf Originals Wrestling. This all-autograph release includes lots of big names, focusing largely on names from the 1980s through the mid-90s. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bruno Sammartino and Bret Hart are just some of the 51 names one the checklist. Unlike 2012 Topps WWE Heritage, Leaf Originals is all on-card as well.

Mimicking the smaller dimensions of the 1948 Leaf design, cards feature the artwork of Brian Kong. Nearly every wrestler has a regular card and a variation, both of which have several variations.

These aren’t the only wrestling card sets on the market with signatures from classic grapplers. Although they figure heavily on newer stars, many of TriStar’s TNA Wrestling sets have a handful of all-time greats. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Sting have all figured in recent sets like 2012 TriStar TNA TENacious and 2012 TriStar TNA Reflexxions.

It’s a great time to be a wrestling card collector. Just like other areas of sports cards have been looking to the past, collectors are finally getting consistent trips back to a classic period of professional wrestling.

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