Thursday, October 30, 2014

Topps Travels The Road To WrestleMania

Has the wrestling world ever changed as rapidly as it has since WrestleMania XXX?  Survivor Series is just around the corner and most everyone imagined that Daniel Bryan would still be battling at the top of the card.  Instead, injuries have kept him away since spring.  The "headlining" legend of WrestleMania, The Ultimate Warrior, should have been continuing his renewed relationship with WWE, but was struck down with a heart attack at the conclusion of the weekend.  Even planned changes such as the break-up of The Shield, the uncertain status of the Wyatt family, and the killed momentum of Cesaro have completely changed the WWE landscape since the company "let the good times roll" back in April.

In the latest WWE trading card set, Topps takes us back to that exciting and optimistic night, as well as the events that led up to it.  This is the third Topps WWE product of the year, and the one that will carry it through the holiday season.  Single packs and "blaster boxes," the latter automatically containing a relic card, are available.  Hobby boxes guarantee two "hits" (relic or autograph) among the twenty-four packs.  While relic cards are fun, I always prefer an autograph card.

The 110 base cards are very nice this time around.  While I prefer the "year" sets with individual superstar cards, this set goes in order of the events leading up to WrestleMania XXX.  The photos used are very crisp and, in most cases, very well chosen.  Although many fans, including myself, are at times dumbfounded at some of the WWE's presentation, I always note that the talent level is fantastic. These superstars translate just as well onto trading cards as they do into action figures, proving that the WWE marketing machine is still in full force.

Subsets have been a popular trend in trading cards for quite awhile now, and we get some new ones this time around.  First up are sets dedicated to The Ultimate Warrior and "The Queen of WrestleMania," Trish Stratus.  Both are brightly colored, neon green and pinkish purple respectively, and highlight two stars who made it bigger during their careers than many originally imagined.  Next is a 22-card set dedicated to The Streak, including a 21-1 card from this year. Finally, a 60-card subset celebrates the 30 years of WrestleMania.  While it's a nice subset (any time that Greg "The Hammer" Valentine gets a card is good with me), licensing limitations hurt what could have been. Yokozuna gets three very similar looking cards in a row due to this.  Bret Hart returns to WWE cards in the Topps 2015 set, but he was obviously needed here.

In breaking a hobby box, I did not assemble a complete base card set as I did with the WWE 2014 series.  There are parallel cards to the base set, which basically amounts to different colored foil lettering.  I understand that there are collectors of these variations, but I don't get the excitement.  Boarders?  Sure. Lettering?  No.  As far as "hits," I happily received both a relic and an autograph.  Former Funkadactyl Cameron was my autograph, while a Cesaro WrestleMania XXX mat relic was the other hit.  A great memory from back when Cesaro should've been shot to the moon and wasn't losing to...lesser talent.

Road To WrestleMania is a good set.  Not great, but good.  If can get a good deal on a hobby box as I did, it's worth it to see what you pull.  You can't help but think that the Ultimate Warrior would have had autograph cards in this set, but it was not meant to be.  This is definitely one of the better "action shot" sets that have been produced.  Topps WWE 2015 is already set for February, and will include Hart as previously mentioned as well as the returns of George "The Animal" Steele and Sgt. Slaughter.  At risk of sounding like a broken record, how about a return to Heritage for the second half of 2015?  After all, it isn't one of my Topps reviews unless I plea at the end!

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