Trading Cards (1999)
These cards bring me back to a more interesting era in wrestling, where the weekly Monday Night Wars were ultra-competitive, must-see television.
Personally, I was always biased to the WWF, and while Nitro was a viable alternative at times, my home team tendencies always led me to Raw.
Still, this card set really captures the era. Besides Goldberg and Misterio (not "Mysterio" back then? Hmmm), you've got everyone from Sting to The Steiners to Hogan, Hall and Nash represented in what turned out to be top-notch card photography and overall presentation.
The backs of these cards were also informative, if nothing else. Here, they tell us all about what a "truly wacky year" Chris Jericho had in 1998. Part-way through 1999, when these cards were printed, he would already be in the WWF. It also discusses Jericho's "humiliation and a bit of pain" he received at the hands of Bobby Duncum Jr.
Wait, what? Does anyone even remotely remember a Jericho-Duncum conflict from WCW? Best I can see is, how, on YouTube, the two briefly fought on Nitro (in Duncum's debut match), before Jericho was intentionally counted out of the ring. Some rivalry. Shocked that it would have made the back of a trading card...
A different card backing relived the tale of how, in late-1998, Hulk Hogan threatened to run for "President", a rib on long-time rival Jesse Ventura being elected Governor of Minnesota.
Saddam Hussein had best fear presidential candidate Hogan, according to the card, because he would inevitably legdrop the dictator to death. But instead of putting The Hulkster into the Oval Office, America had sit by patiently for a good eight years before Hussein was executed in Baghdad.
And even though the card didn't opine on Hogan's appearance on Jay Leno in which he declared that politically, he was leaning "right down the middle, brother", it was quite clear that Hogan had his fair share of supporters already lined up.
"I'd vote for Hogan," seemed to be the rallying cry across America, according to the back of Card # 67.
If you think that the folks at Topps managed to break news on the likes of Chris Jericho and Hollywood Hogan, then you are a stupid idiot.
For example, look at all the hot scoops they managed to give us on the life of Silver King - his family, how long he's been wrestling, his likes.... even his most intimate hobbies and dream vacation spots.
See, I never knew any of that about Silver King before reading this card. Mind you, I never really knew who Silver King was, either.
And if the King isn't your Thing.... don't worry. WCW had tons of useless mid-carders and jabronis that all received all the full trading card treatment.
Between the luchadores who weren't quite good enough to make the Latino World Order to Hulk Hogan's underwhelming nephew Horace, and even the immortal Kenny Kaos.... Topps made sure no one in WCW's overstuffed dressing rooms were too insignificant to be covered off.
On a side note - is it just me, or does Lodi look a lot like Eric Bischoff, just with a freaky hairdo and sideburns?
Beyond the jobbers, the Topps collection broke out everything into sections - kind of like the real-life WCW was organized backstage at the time.
Sections included Nitro Girls (where you'll see the future Mrs. Shawn Michaels and the former Mrs. Diamond Dallas Page); Nitro "Personalities" (managers and announcers, mostly); the Four Horsemen; nWo Hollywood; nWo Wolfpac and the aforementioned lWo.
Each section had its own subtle look, be it a logo for the faction, a different color or background, or something else that set it apart. It's a nice touch that gave off a "gang warfare" feel throughout WCW and the nWo -- even WWF at the time hadn't used in its various trading card collections.
But perhaps my favorite card in the entire set isn't of a wrestler at all. It's of the freaking head of security Doug Dellinger.
I've never understood WCW's on-camera fascination with Dellinger. Not only was he referenced on television from time to time, but he's a playable character in the video games WCW Mayhem and WCW Backstage Assault. I'm surprised there was never a Doug Dellinger action figure in the works back in the day, and I'm equally shocked that TNA hasn't figured out a way to hire him. Yet.
According to card # 71, Dellinger was a police officer for 30 years in Charlotte, North Carolina and has been WCW's director of security since 1984. The latter is a very interesting statistic, given WCW was formed in the early 1990's, so maybe they're adding some Jim Crockett history in there as well.
Also, in case you were interested, Dangerous Doug used to play Junior Hockey (I'm guessing 50-odd years ago) and his favorite pros are Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. I'm so glad that was documented somewhere for future generations to read up on The Man They Call Dellinger.
When I last waxed nostalgic about a WCW trading card set (The Stomp Collection), my chief complaints were that there were way too many cards of each wrestler and that there were a bunch of random folks in there that probably didn't need their own card. Nearly a decade later, WCW took care of one concern and ramped the other one waaaaay up in the opposite direction...