Saturday, October 14, 2023

Opening Panini WWE Collector Cards

A fortnight ago, I was planning to buy a book online but needed to spend an extra few Pounds in order to get free postage. I browsed around the WHSmith website and came across something that would bring my spend over the threshold.

WWE trading cards from Panini!

Considering WWE and the trading cards firm are currently in the early stages of a legal fight, I thought I would buy some. After all, considering the standoff between the two parties, it would likely be the last ever opportunity I'd have to buy anything WWE related bearing the Panini logo.

WWE Panini Cards 2022

As you can see above, the set I bought contains five packets of cards. They're somewhat dated because they came out in 2022 and have Sasha Banks and Finn Balor on the front of them. Banks left the company in the middle of last year.

In order to have some content for today's post, I thought I would open each packet 'live' at my computer.

Here are the results.

Packet 1

The first card on the pile is of Charlotte Flair in a promo shot. The next one is of Rey Mysterio about to deliver a 619 to AJ Styles.

The third in this batch is a WWE Legends picture of The Great Khali in action, It looks like it's from a match against Finlay, so I would date the picture from 2007/8 or so. Referee, Charles Robinson, also appears in this photograph.

Jimmy Uso is next. It appears as though he has just delivered a move to Rey Mysterio.

The final picture has 'Champions' on the top and it has Charlotte Flair holding the Raw Women's Championship over her shoulder.

WWE Panini Cards 2022

Packet 2

Bayley - on her way down the aisle - is the photograph that appears on the first card in packet two. She is followed by the recently released Dolph Ziggler.

Yes!!! The third card is a WWE Legends special and it is of my favourite wrestler of all time - Shawn Michaels. He is doing his pose and wearing a red bandana (like how 2Pac wore his). I date this photo around about 1997. If not, late-1996 following his WWF Title loss to Sid.

Oh wow, I am being lucky here. Following The Heartbreak Kid is another favourite from my childhood - Hulk Hogan. He's doing the hand to the ear pose. The back of this card mentions the time when he and 'Macho Man' Randy Savage started their feud in early 1989 which ultimately lead to their main event match at WrestleMania V. It's a coincidence that I picked this card because I am currently reading Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Collection from 1989 and I am in February where the angle to kick off the build to Mania began.

The fifth card in this collection is of Shinsuke Nakamura holding the Intercontinental Title in the 'Champions' category of this collection.

WWE Panini Cards 2022

Packet 3

In packet three, Rick Boogs is the wrestler whose trading card was at the top of the pile. As funny as this may come across, he doesn't look as jacked in this one photograph as he usually does. This snap would have been taken when he was in a tag team match because Shinsuke Nakamura is in the corner of the ring.

The second card in the set is of Seth Rollins. I surmise this is from a promo during an episode of Monday Night Raw because he is holding a microphone and he's in one of his unique jackets.

NXT's Bron Breakker is card number three of this packet. Just like with Boogs, he is hoisting up an opponent for a possible press slam.

Speaking of press slams, the WWE Legend card is of The Ultimate Warrior. Guess what he's about to do? 

Becky Lynch, holding the Raw Women's Championship, is the Champions card to close out this packet.

So, we have three cards of wrestlers hoisting up their opponents along with real-life couple Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch.

WWE Panini Cards 2022

Packet 4

Kicking off the fourth packet is a card of NXT's Gigi Dolin. Following her is another NXT female wrestler - Seiko Satomura. The latter would have been signed to the NXT UK brand at the time these cards were released. That arm of the developmental side to WWE has since closed down.

This set has a female theme so far because the WWE Legends card I pulled out is of Stacy Keibler. 

I have my first doubler - as we used to call them back in the day - because the Champions card I have in this set is of Charlotte Flair with the Raw Title.

The final card in the set is another Champion. This time, it's Damian Priest who was holding the WWE United States Championship when this photo was taken.

WWE Panini Cards 2022

Packet 5

Chinese pro wrestler -  Xia Li - is the first person in the fifth packet. At the time this card would have been created, Li would have been a member of the Smackdown roster. She has since been moved over to Raw.

Omos is the second wrestler in this packet. He's followed by another wrestler who has recently been let go by the company in Dana Brooke. 

We had Shawn Michaels as the 'Legend' card earlier. Well, I now get a card of his one time bodyguard (and real-life close friend)  - Diesel (Kevin Nash).

I think I finished this opening on a high because the last card out of the final packet is a Champions card of arguably the biggest draw in pro wrestling - 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin.

In this photo, Stone Cold is holding the big WWE Championship strap which replaced the Winged Eagle belt following his win over Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV in 1998. That was Austin's first World Title victory.

WWE Panini Cards 2022

That was an enjoyable close to an hour of opening cards and then sharing what I found. This project brought back some memories of collecting the stickers and trading cards from '91, but especially 1992 in the build to - and following - SummerSlam from Wembley Stadium.

What a time to be alive that was. WWF merchandise was everywhere you could look.

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