Blog post by: Justin Reid
“Do you smell what The Rock is cookin?”, “And that’s the bottom-line cause Stone Cold said so!”, “Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on youuuu!”. If these phrases are immediately familiar, it’s likely you grew up being entertained by the larger-than-life giants that comprise the lexicon of sports entertainment. World Wrestling Entertainment (or Federation as previously known) run by CEO Vince Mcmahon, has given the World some of the most recognizable faces in entertainment such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and household names like Hulk Hogan portrayed by Terry Bollea. While wrestling has admittedly loosened the chokehold it had on television during the 1990’s, millions still watch the weekly programming with current stars such as Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns competing in popularity, and often eclipsing that of athletes in other sports.
Thus, when Panini America the current producer of licensed NBA and NFL trading cards announced they were acquiring the rights to be the sole producer of WWE trading cards, it felt like the perfect matchup, with the surrounding hype only highlighting WWE Superstars popularity in comparison to their other sporting counterparts. The first WWE release under the Panini banner, released April 6, out the gate was perhaps the company’s most iconic brand, the ever-popular Prizm. A week before the regular release, a First Off The Line (FOTL) edition of the product, featuring exclusive parallels was sold on the Panini website via Dutch Auction. These auctions featuring a ceiling price that drops until it hits a floor price, laid the smackdown on many veteran wrestling collectors shocked to see the product sell out at $1167 USD. For context, Topps, the previous producer of WWE trading cards rarely sold boxes for over $200 USD with some exceptions, leaving many wondering if the hype is real or will those paying insane prices end up staring up at the lights, down for the count?
Initial sales proved strong, FOTL editions as well as regular hobby boxes were selling for north of 2X what people paid on the secondary market, and autographs and rare cards of top stars were selling for thousands of dollars. As with most sports products, it is often driven by rookies which gave Prizm an advantage as it gave collectors the first rookie cards of two highly touted prospects Olympian Gable Steveson and second-generation star Bron Breakker. These two names along with others drove WWE Prizm to heights veteran collectors had never seen, and had those who hadn’t watched wrestling in years scouring for boxes in fear of missing out on the next sports card trend.
However, just as you can never predict the next “star” in wrestling, those predicting that WWE Prizm, in the words of Cameron Grimes would be going “To the moon!”, have learned a similar lesson. Recently prices for WWE Prizm have dropped drastically, whether it be singles or sealed hobby boxes which have dropped hundreds of dollars from their peak as of this writing. Many are having difficulty selling boxes and realized opening them have often become a losing endeavour. As a result, the question remains: was WWE Prizm overvalued from the start of like a good wrestling feud should you let it play out?
Was WWE Prizm overvalued initially? Probably. As mentioned, Topps, the previous producer of WWE trading cards rarely priced boxes that high, leaving many with sticker shock and previous collectors of wrestling cards questioning Panini’s price increase. As an observer many of the initial buyers of WWE Prizm felt like investors, drawn more to the powerful Prizm brand than the intellectual property behind it. As seen previously with UFC or F1, people often try to get in on a new trend early not knowing the demographic they are catering to. With subsequent releases, a more affordable price point, in addition to not having the Prizm brand power behind it should present an authentic representation of WWE’s spot at Panini alongside NBA and NFL, UFC etc.
So, is WWE Prizm a good hold or should you tag out as quick as possible? As a long-time wrestling fan don’t tap-out just yet. As previously mentioned, WWE Prizm sports a strong rookie class, which gradually increases value for products across all sports (2018 Topps Update anyone?), not to mention it is the debut edition of not only WWE Prizm, but WWE Panini in general. WWE Prizm also sports a strong legend checklist, with names such as The Undertaker, Bret Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock all found here along with the new crop of talent. The autograph checklist is also very strong, while many signers can be found previously in older products, names such as Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch and others are sure to hold the product up for years to come. Finally, there have been strong showings on auction sites lately for low-numbered parallels of popular wrestlers from the Topps era, so given the iconic Prizm brand and a checklist that shines from rookies to veterans looking back we may just say looking back that WWE Prizm was in fact....
The Best There Is, The Best There Was, And the Best There Ever Will Be...
(Didn’t think I wouldn’t sneak a Bret Hart quote in there did you?)