Let me start off by saying that I am not a fan of Chris Benoit. Obviously, I don’t condone or make excuses for what he did ten years ago. I was shocked but during that era it seemed like a notable wrestling death came monthly and wasn’t surprised to see Benoit join that group of wrestlers dying young. I remember attending a WWE PPV and sitting front row in 2002 while Benoit walked just feet from me and my sister. He was short but had the most impressive physique of anyone on that show. That includes young (at the time) wrestlers like Batista and Brock Lesnar. Simply put, it seemed impossible that his body was created naturally and as it turns out, it wasn’t.
I’m not here to talk about Chris Benoit, however. I simply want to analyze what is most likely his two best autograph releases. Unlike stars from the 80s who stuck around, Benoit died before The Hobby had a chance to absolutely destroy the value of his autograph. He may have 1 or 2 more certified autos on cardboard but essentially these are his two, main releases and believe it or not, they are still selling for respectable prices these days despite the horrific actions taken by Benoit in 2007.
First up we have this Heritage Chrome produced by Topps just a year before Benoit’s death and you talk about aging badly? Those loud, holographic sticker autographs that were all the rage by Topps during those years look absolutely awful today. For one, unless you have a bright, futuristic-style design … the holograms stick out like a sore thumb. Second, unless you have the most steady hands on the planet, the sticker won’t be centered/straight and it will be extremely noticeabled and distracting to many collectors.
While there’s no visible print run on these cards, odds are there can’t be TOO many considering that these sell for well over $100 on eBay. While, I have no idea exactly what Topps’ company is like, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to find out that there are still sheets of Benoit’s signature in a vault somewhere. I mean, I bought a box of band-aids 6 years ago and I still have half a box left in my medicine cabinet. There’s no way Topps used up every last one of these. Just don’t expect to see them appear on new cards anytime soon.
On a side note, this set also features a now very-hot autograph from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who succumbed to Cancer last month.
Now, when it comes to legendary sets in wrestling NONE comes close to the amazing. WCW/NWO release from 1998. With hands down the single greatest autograph checklist in wrestling trading card history, it’s no surprise that this set is still going strong on eBay nearly 20 years after its release. Featuring autographs from legends such as Sting, Hulk Hogan, Chris Jericho and Bret “The Hitman” Hart doesn’t hurt, either. However, it’s the deceased checklist that really hits home including autos of “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Eddie Guererro.
What really sets these cards apart is the ON-CARD autographs which means at one point or another, these wrestling heroes (not counting Benoit) actually handled these cards. As you can see from the sample below, these cards look 100 times classier than the 2006 Chrome versions. Turns out all you really need for a memorable set is a great checklist and “less is more” design. You don’t believe me? Check out this Bill Goldberg from the very same set which recently sold for $1,000 dollars. That’s a grand for a card with no serial numbers, no parallels, and no memorabilia shoved into it.
As for the Benoit in this set, one recently sold for $350 which goes to show just why this set is still King of all wrestling sets and don’t be surprised to see it in the news again when other notable wrestlers pass on. Yes, I’m looking at you, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner. I’m not wishing ill on these three but if you’ve seen any of them lately they all look incredible frail and broken down.
So there you have it. Two of the most notorious trading cards in our hobby. It’s not often you will find cards signed by killers. Drug addicts, cheaters, liars, and men who batter women are fairly common but these two cards take the cake. I’ve long suffered the stigma of collecting a player who was hated by many. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been mocked at card shows and shops for even asking if they have Jose Canseco cards. I can’t even begin to imagine going to a card show looking for a Chris Benoit card.