Bummer, Topps …

Some readers of Wax Heaven may have noticed that in the few instances that I have been blogging, more often than not it’s about wrestling. You see, having had a baseball-loving wife for four years meant that I spent 99% of my time following the sport with her by my side. Now, it’s just no fun doing it alone so rather than follow my Florida Marlins and Andrew Miller, I’ve begun watching WWE and TNA wrestling to pass the time.

Unfortunately, it’s just not as grand as it once was when I was a kid or even young adult. Quite honestly, it’s brutally bad and embarrassing at times, especially the shows being pumped out by Total Nonstop Action, unless your idea of entertainment is watching your grandparents battle it out in a steel cage till one is left bleeding to death over a piece of jewelry (WWE Hall of Fame ring).

Anyway, it’s not all bad. There are some wrestlers who I enjoy following. For example, Ted Dibiase Jr. is now sporting his daddy’s Million Dollar Belt, which is not only awesome for nostalgic reasons but it also makes up for his lack of any personality and skills in the ring. In the 80’s, that was without a doubt the coolest of all championship belts, even if it meant nothing.

Chris Jericho is also still a blast, despite not being anywhere near as cool as he was in the late-90’s and early part of this decade. That’s what he gets for doing all those VH1 “I Love” specials. Randy Orton is perhaps my favorite heel (AKA bad guy) today but without a doubt the only wrestler that keeps me tuned in week after week is CM Punk and his Straight Edge Society.

Unlike most WWE creations, Punk lacks the size and cartoon-like muscles to be the main guy at WWE (although he came close) but that’s just fine with me. Currently he’s playing the role of tormentor to Rey Mysterio Jr. and what he did to his family on the birthday of Mysterio’s young daughter will go down for  me as one of the best promos I’ve ever watched in over 20 years of being a wrestling fan.

You can watch the whole thing here.

Anyway, Topps has released an early preview of 2010 Topps WWE and while the autograph checklist is a huge improvement over 2009’s list, I think it’s time Topps finally scraps those loud & obnoxious holographic stickers once and for all. Yes, the sound you hear is that of me beating a dead horse but you gotta admit he had it coming.

In the past the stickers have worked with some releases like the futuristic Finest brand but really, enough is enough. Look at what Tristar is doing with their stickers. For the first time ever I can honestly say Tristar is doing much better work than Topps when it comes to the wrestling licenses. Yes, I know stickers suck but if you are going to do it, at least find a way to execute it without destroying the work of the design team.

Come to think of it, why are these even stickers in the first place? Unlike football, baseball, and other “real” sports … wrestling has no off-season. These guys bust their ass 365 days a year and none will ever see the type of money that a prima donna like Alex Rodriguez will get so why not have these hard-signed?

Below is a preview of what is most likely CM Punk’s first certified autograph. Aside from the terrible sticker autograph and the fact that he’s been paired up with someone who won’t be around in a year’s time … the card itself doesn’t quite live up to the expectations of this Punk fan.

You can see a full preview of 2010 Topps WWE here.

WWE Getting the Short End …

Author: Mario Alejandro

Tristar did it with their TNA license. Topps did it with their UFC brand. Now, where is the WWE dream card we wrestling fans have been anxiously waiting for?

In case you missed it, Topps produced just ten copies of this amazing, on-card triple autograph of MMA legends, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, along with UFC head honcho, Dana White.

It’s already an amazing card but as a reward, Topps is sending the first lucky collector to pull this card on an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas to hang out at the UFC training center and sit cage side at a TUF fight.

Alright, Topps … job well done. You’ve created a perfect card and an even better grand prize that no other company can likely ever pull off. Now, where’s the WWE version to go along with it?

With WWE on the road non-stop it should be much easier to plan a grand prize, should Topps follow with a WWE version of the UFC “Dream Card”. Of course, that dream card would have to include one Vincent Kennedy McMahon, love it or hate it.

What other two wrestlers would you include on the card?

I would team up Vinny Mac with none other than Triple H, who is likely to be the man in charge once Vince retires considering Vince’s son, Shane, jumped ship last year and has vanished from the public eye.

On the other spot you’d have to include arguably the most popular wrestler of the moment, John Cena. While we don’t know what kind of price the Tristar and UFC cards will carry on the secondary market, I’d go out on a limb to say the WWE version would top both of them once they appear on eBay.

Of course, Topps would actually have to make the effort. They have clearly shown they can with a “legitimate” sport but would they do the same to for the WWE brand of “sports entertainment” which is not as respected as mixed martial arts?

Here’s hoping Topps gives WWE the respect it deserves.

PS. – In case you’re wondering, someone has already won the grand prize.

Tristar steps up as TNA flounders

Author: Mario Alejandro

Not too long ago, Tristar was releasing some pretty low-budget wrestling cards for their Total Non-Stop Action wrestling license. Back then, TNA was the underdog company who made it clear they were not going to compete with the giant in the business, WWE.

That all changed when TNA brought in legendary trouble maker Eric Bischoff and an old, used up Hulk Hogan and announced to the world that they were moving their show to Monday to directly compete with WWE’s Raw. While some believed Hogan, Ric Flair, and the N.W.O would be good for business, many did not believe they had a shot.

As it turns out, many were right. TNA has been awful in the ratings and continues to put on sloppy, embarrassing shows (and Pay Per Views) week in and week out. Flair, Hogan, and NWO were once giants in the business but today have no place near a wrestling ring and just cannot compete with WWE’s main attractions.

Surprisingly, while TNA’s programming has hit new lows, Tristar’s trading cards have only improved. Check out Beckett Media’s preview of the upcoming TNA: The New Era trading card set coming this month. This is one clear example of David (Tristar), knocking Goliath on its ass (Topps), at least in this upcoming release.

While Topps’ last WWE release was a great all-around product, it certainly did not have the star power of a card like the one you see below featuring four wrestling legends (Yes, even Nash). While some may feel that Kevin’s appearance on the card is just filler, it’s easy to forget that he’s been a champion in every company he’s ever worked for (WWE, WCW, TNA).

Tristar’s effort should be seen by Topps as a wake-up call to start including some real legends’ autographs in their product. Can you imagine a dual autograph of Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior or Shawn Michaels and Triple H? How about a cut signature of the immortal Andre the Giant?

The possibilities are endless.

Shawn Michaels Deserved Better

Author: Mario Alejandro

Last night’s WWE Raw was supposed to be a special moment for wrestling fans young and old. Shawn Michaels, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time was “forced” into retirement as a result of losing his match with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 26 on Sunday.

Monday’s show was supposed to be The Heartbreak Kid’s sendoff and while WWE made good with lots of classic Michaels clips from his entire tenure with the company and a nice plug for his WWE DVD, it still did not have the feel of a show saying goodbye to one of its most reliable performers.

Instead, we were treated to horrible skits with two of the lesser stars of ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ and the one emotional moment, Triple H’s speech to his best friend, was interrupted by a run-in from Hunter’s new BFF, Sheamus. Oh, and more tired and played out John Cena.

As for Shawn’s career in The Hobby, you could build one hell of a collection as he’s been in trading card sets from as early back as the 80’s. More recently, Topps’ WWE releases have produced “worn” memorabilia relics and certified autographs, which in this blogger’s opinion, are less than desirable.

Here’s hoping Topps steps up their game and produces a card of Michaels in their next release WITH an on-card autograph. While Michaels is a legend in the business, it really should not be that difficult to give collectors something special by making the effort of having Shawn directly sign cards instead of stickers.

Chasing Nostalgia Pt. 5

Every collector starts somewhere. For me, it was 1990 Classic WWF trading cards. This was my first foray into trading cards and despite showing its age, this set still looks great close to twenty years later.

You must remember, this is 1990 we’re talking about. Don’t expect to find any memorabilia cards or certified autographs. You can however, rely on some excellent photography, both in studio and action shots.

If you’re a wrestling fan from the 80’s and early-90’s, you will find all your favorite superstars from yesteryear. From Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, to those well-known “jobbers” like Brooklyn Brawler. Everyone is represented.

Being a fan of Classic, especially in baseball, this WWF set might actually be the best work they have ever done. From personalized cards with the wrestler’s logos and more, to entertaining and informative card backs.

If you can find a set for under $10 dollars, it’s a must-buy product.

Information:

Current eBay price – $15+ for a factory set

Guarantees – 145 cards

Look for – Lots of nostalgia-inducing images

The Good:

Iconic photography

Informative card backs

The Bad:

Flimsy card stock

Final Grade: A-