It’s been a long wait for professional wrestling fans, but those ripping into packs of 2009 Topps WWE should find plenty of firsts in the product’s autograph checklists.
It’s been a year-long break before a follow-up to WWE Heritage IV, but the firsts make it worth the wait.
As in the first dual autograph cards found in any WWE release.
As in the first match-used autograph cards found in any WWE release from Topps.
As in the first certified autographs of several younger WWE stars — and even a few legends.
And the first autographs of a few wrestlers in quite some time.
Get the full rundown — and the checklists after the jump.
The four-card hobby-only Dual Legacy Autographs remain the same as previously announced:
1 Bob Orton / Randy Orton
2 Ted Dibiase Sr / Ted Dibiase Jr
3 Dusty Rhodes / Cody Rhodes
4 Carlito / Primo
Besides being the first multi-wrestler autographs made by Topps, the cards include the first certified autographs of “Cowboy” Bob Orton (a prominent player in/around the first WrestleMania), the first certified autograph of “The Million-Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (a former WWE champion and one of wrestling’s more under-rated heels) and the first autograph of Primo Colon, who is paired with his brother, Carlito, on what is also the first “brothers” autograph card. It’s also the first autograph of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes since his appearance in the 2004 TNA set from Pacific.
The real sell for these cards, though, besides the Hall of Famers are the Legacy autos (the sons), Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase Jr. who are major players in WWE’s current main-event landscape (and figure to be there still once the faction finally implodes).
The hobby autograph checklist consists of just nine cards, three of which are first certified autographs and two of which haven’t had autographed cards in years.
1 Michelle McCool
2 Gail Kim
3 Ricky Steamboat
4 Beth Phoenix
5 John Cena
6 Jim Ross
7 Arn Anderson
9 Evan Bourne
The first autographs include WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, whose match against “Macho Man” Randy Savage at WrestleMania III still remains one of the most memorable bouts in WWE history, as well as ECW’s Tiffany and high-flying newcomer Evan Bourne.
While Bourne is likely to build a following in the future — and the Divas always sell well — it’s the Steamboat card that is the breadwinner among the debuts. Copies of the card have already sold for as much as $26. (Not bad considering his autographed photos typically sell for about $10.)
Among the others, Hall of Famer Jim Ross has not had a certified autograph since 2002 and Arn Anderson — one of the original Four Horsemen — hasn’t signed since his first packed-out autograph in a Topps WCW set from a decade ago.
Throw in John Cena — who, like him or not, is today’s Hulk Hogan — and it’s not a bad checklist.
The Judgment Day Signed Relics mark the debut of autographed match-used cards in the Topps WWE repetoire. It, too, is a small set — just four cards — including Randy Orton, Edge, Christian and Rey Mysterio.
The Christian card is his first WWE autograph since 2001 (he had several in TNA sets), while the Mysterio is his first autograph since his only other card was signed in 2006. No firsts of note for Orton or Edge, but they’re both major players in the WWE — so there will be interest in those cards.
The retail autograph lineup looks solid as well as it’s stacked with three debuts and some established and young stars primed for future success in WWE. The only question here is whether any of them will be dramatically tough pulls as last year included a few signed cards but only in single packs at Walmart and Target stores (not in blaster boxes).
The debut autographs of this bunch include Santino Marella, whose role as comic relief is perhaps unmatched in today’s WWE, Bourne once again and former Playboy model Maryse, who has held the WWE Divas Championship in the past year but is presently out of action with a knee injury.
Throw in John Morrison, who should be primed for a future world championship, and multiple-time Women’s Champion Mickie James, and it’s a checklist that’s definitely without a weak link.
Nearly half of the autographs to be found in 2009 Topps WWE are the first signatures for the wrestlers — a big selling point in this wrestling collector’s book — but if that’s not enough for you, how about this?
Above is a Santina Marella card from WrestleMania 25. We’ll let you figure out what’s going on with this one… let’s just say it’s a little different from the rest. It just might be a “first,” too.
We’ll have more on this set in coming days — as well as an episode of Box Busters — so stay tuned.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.