I’ve been in the game a long time, 32 years to be exact. I’ve seen the birth of pack-inserted, certified autographs and the introduction of the game-used relic. I was on the ground floor for the debut of Bowman Chrome in 1997 and have spent thousands of hours of my life writing about sports cards for this site and others. In my collecting lifetime, I’ve never witnessed a greater, swifter fall than that of 2022 Panini WWE Prizm. Okay, maybe I called it with my title last week but the speed at which the WWE Prizm market has collapsed is something truly remarkable and one of a kind.
In the span of seven days, the same time it took “God” to start and complete creation, Panini America’s long awaited WWE debut came crashing down harder than a D’Lo Brown running power bomb on Darren Drozdov. Just a week and a half ago, boxes of 2022 Panini WWE Prizm were flying off shelves at near $1,500 a pop, if you were lucky enough to even find one. In group breaks, single packs were pushing $200, which was probably the most shocking part of it all and nearly all of social media, the collecting side anyway, was buzzing about the hottest wrestling trading card set to ever see the light of day.
The problem is that there are a few wrestling card influencers who spent the better part of 2-3 months pumping and pushing WWE Prizm. During the lone week Prizm dominated the hobby, these “influencers” were louder and more obnoxious than ever. As you can imagine, that same energy was nowhere to be found as Prizm began its descent. Suddenly the narrative went from “Prizm is the second coming of Jesus” to “Well, we all knew secondary market prices were going to tank”. Who knew, exactly? I certainly have never seen $150+ cards drop 98% a week after release.
There may actually be an exact event that broke 2022 Panini WWE Prizm. Something so symbolic of the greed in this hobby that possibly led to WWE Prizm’s downfall, and it came when an eBay user won a WWE Prizm John Cena Color Blast insert on eBay for $11,200 and refused to pay. Many speculate that the move was calculated to screw over the seller, Dary Rezvani. Shockingly, Rezvani, had to endure not only losing out on a major sale but the ridicule of fellow collectors who certainly appeared to be jealous of WWE Prizm’s week-long reign of dominance on the secondary market.
Below, you can see what the completed sales of the Cena Color Blast beginning with the first one that “sold” for $11,200 to the most recent sale just 9 days later for a more realistic $1,888. This is one of the more extreme cases but still a good example as pretty much all of WWE Prizm is facing a similar fate on the secondary market as we enter week #3. Another issue first-week WWE Prizm collectors are facing is the release of WWE Prizm retail, which will continue to devalue the product. Panini America is well known for printing into the millions so for those early buyers, my sympathies go out to you.
To me it appears the divide among wrestling card collectors is being driven by the age-old conflict of vintage collectors vs. modern collectors. To those who collected wrestling cards before it was “cool” to do so, 1982-’83’s Wrestling All-Star sets was the King of Wrestling Cards. For starters, the print run on these two sets is 2,000, which is lower than anything Panini America will ever produce. Second, the way the cards were shipped led damage so finding a “mint” copy is next to impossible. Third, the set was only available in a regional, obscure wrestling magazine as a mail-order special.
The WAS market has boomed since the pandemic era with raw, key issues demanding in and around the high 3 figures with mid-level, graded copies setting new records each and every week. Topps’ WWE cards, with their flashy Refractors and serial numbering was not able to make even a single dent to the WAS market but Panini’s Prizm tidal wave clearly ruffled many feathers. Furthermore, the company that printed the WAS cards 39 years ago didn’t anticipate on collectors one day demanding 35 shiny parallels, autographs, etc. The card market was a completely different business in 1983.
At the end of the day, it’s okay to collect what you please. Some like the new technology that Panini Prizm brings to the table, while other prefer the classic, more toned-down flavor of WAS. The world in general is already divided. It’s divided by political parties, pandemic guidelines, who to support in outside wars, and so much more. There’s no reason for collectors to be bickering online over something as silly as trading cards. Let’s face facts: 1982 WAS is truly a scarce and hard to find product but 2022 Panini WWE Prizm blows it out of the water, aesthetically speaking. There’s no denying each’s strengths.
So, can we all just get along?
It was crazy to think that the base cards, unnumbered parallels, and even high numbered parallel would retain the value of the initial hype.
The 1/1 cards being pulled are still going for huge amounts and I had a completed sale of just over $700 for a rookie auto /49 for a POS that hasn’t even had a match in WWE yet. There’s still plenty of hype, but it’s just more realistic at this point.
Personally, I’m happy to see prices drop. I’ve got just about half of the base set and it’s still going to be pricey to complete even after prices have dropped. I’m going to chase a few parallels of my favorites wrestlers, but to break the bank on singles doesn’t seem like the smart thing to do.
Man… I’m so out of the loop. I’ve seen volatile markets, but nothing this crazy.