I have a tradition of taking advantage of WWE’s network trial. It’s not that I don’t want to stick around past their 30-day free trial but usually I am left with such a bad taste in my mouth that I end up canceling the network within a day or two of the whatever big event steals my interes. This year, I fell for the Royal Rumble hype and the constant buzz about a Daniel Bryan return, which now seems absolutely ridiculous. SPOILERS: It didn’t happen.
This year we did had some nice surprises including the return of Hurricane Helms as a joke entry into the Rumble and the shocking return of Rey Mysterio. Unlike Helms, Mysterio put on a great show and looked to be in excellent shape despite a lifetime of abuse on his body. I am not sure where WWE will go with him but I for one hope he sticks around. His performance was one of a kind and unlike Golddust, Rey can still GO.
The night, however, belonged to Shinsuke Nakamura, a 37 year-old legend which WWE had nothing to do with. This was not a home-grown talent. What’s crazy is that with this victory under his belt, he has chosen to fight A.J Styles, another middle-aged star who is best known for his work with TNA Impact Wrestling. This means we could possibly see a Wrestlemania headlined by two stars who made their names outside of the WWE.
This is shocking on many levels. For one, it is believed, with lots of proven examples, that Vince McMahon hates pushing guys who made their names outside of the WWE and has in the past treated legends from other companies who came to work for him embarrassingly bad. Second, Nakamura’s hype had all but died after several months of lackluster performances on Smackdown. Guess he was saving everything for the Rumble because the final moments against Roman Reigns and John Cena were extremely well performed despite having been in the match for much longer than the other two, highly-decorated WWE veterans.
As expected, Shinsuke has a quite a few trading cards under his belt from his time in WWE as well as other companies. He also has several certified autograph issues from 2016 through 2018 so you have plenty to choose from. The wrestling trading card market is nothing next to baseball cards but due to the short lifespan of a lot of these guys due to their rough lifestyle in and out of the ring, it’s always good to keep these on your list of must-have cards if you’re a fan.
If I had to pick my favorite, it would have to be the one you see below due to Topps’ tribute to 1987 Topps, the low serial number, and of course the nice, on-card autograph which was a rare thing coming from Topps WWE products from 2006-2009 while I was picking up several event-worn and autos from their products. Thankfully, it appears Topps has made a strong effort to having more on-card autos for their WWE line.