The Top 11 Vintage Wrestling Rookie Cards to Watch on eBay

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

As an industry, professional wrestling has undergone decades’ worth of overhauls, identity shifts and evolutional change. But for anybody who grew up during the '80s and early '90s, history has proven that those lucky people got to witness wrestling’s “Golden Age.”

I can remember it now: flipping through the channels as an excited 10-year-old boy, engulfed by whichever story lines Vince McMahon (WWE) or Ted Turner (WCW) had dreamt up that day—played out in front of thousands by some of the all-time greats.

Now, feeling nostalgic while surfing through eBay is the next best thing to reliving those early days. The collectibles movement, in particular, has a lot of former kids out there looking to throw investment dollars at some familiar faces and names.

But where is a vintage wrestling fan to start? Autographed memorabilia? Old action figures that have somehow survived through the decades?  

Well, sure. But for the purposes of this article, I’ve got two words for you: rookie cards!

Let’s take a look at some of the hottest vintage rookie cards in the wide world of wrestling.

1. Andre the Giant: 1974 Yamakatsu New Japan Pro Wrestling


When it comes to wrestling giants, there’s only one real place to start.

Andre the Giant was, if you’ll excuse the pun, larger than life. An absolute legend of the sport, he’s never been very far from wrestling fans’ minds.

In search of his rare rookies, the Yamakatsu New Japan Pro Wrestling set from 1974 is where you’ll want to start. This set actually features not one, but two base cards of Andre: numbers 25 and 29. The former showcases Andre holding an opponent over his head, which, if you ask me, is pretty badass. A PSA 7 “near mint” copy of this card will run you about $2,500.

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2. Hulk Hogan: 1982 Wrestling All-Stars Series A


Next up on our list is the man, the myth, the legend who once hoisted Andre the Giant up! You know who I’m talking about, brother… (I can already feel Hulkamania about to run wild.)

Hulk Hogan’s key rookie card can be found in the vintage 1982 Wrestling All-Stars set, along with many other all-time great wrestlers. 

The set comes in two parts, series A and B, though series A is the one featuring many household names. Along with Hulk Hogan, series A features wrestling rookies of Rick Flair, Dusty Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, otherwise known as “The Million Dollar Man.” The highlights of series B, on the other hand, include Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and The Iron Sheik.

It’s worth noting that these cards weren’t even offered in packs. They were only available through a mail-in order advertised in Wrestling News magazine, which is another reason high-grade versions of them are incredibly scarce.

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3. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka: 1983 Wrestling All-Stars


Jimmy Snuka is another all-time wrestling great. He’s often credited with being among the first to bring high-flying antics to the ring.

The 1983 Wrestling All-Stars set is a continuation of the previous year’s set mentioned above. The cards look very similar (if not identical) to their 1982 counterparts.

If you’re looking to scoop up a Superfly rookie and add it to your collection, a PSA 8 will currently run you between $450-650 on eBay and a PSA 9 will be closer to $2,000.

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4. Randy “Macho Man” Savage: 1985 O-Pee-Chee Wrestling II


Like most of the other legends on this list, Randy “Macho Man” Savage needs very little introduction. His over-the-top style, intensity and voice helped distinguish him both in and out of the ring. He was even the face of Slim Jim for many years— “Oh yeahhhh!”

Now you can bring the Macho Man into your wrestling card collection by snagging a copy of his #11 rookie card from O-Pee-Chee. The card features him performing a move with a surrounding white border, the words “Savage Attack!” written at the bottom.

A mint condition PSA 9 copy of the card is currently listed on eBay for $4,000 OBO, while a PSA 8 is closer to $1,500.

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5. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper: 1985 Topps WWF Pro Wrestling Stars


Also making its debut in 1985, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s rookie card set from Topps helped bring wrestling cards into the mainstream. This was the first official set licensed by the WWE and features some of the first Topps cards of many great legends.

The base set contains 66 different cards and there are also 22 collectible stickers, which came one per pack. The first 21 cards are generally the most popular in the set. Key cards include Hulk Hogan (#1 & #16), Jesse “The Body” Ventura (#11), Jimmy Snuka (#6), and of course, Roddy Piper (#7).

Hulk Hogan’s card #1 tends to attract the most attention in this set. The photo features him holding his championship belt and a high-grade PSA slab will cost you $1,500. Roddy Piper’s, however, is actually relatively affordable by comparison. In most cases, you can snag a PSA 8 for as little as $150. But cards graded higher than that are incredibly hard to find.

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6. Bret “Hitman” Hart: 1987 O-Pee-Chee WWF Wrestling


No wrestling rookie card list would be complete without the Hitman. Bret Hart played the role of the villain better than perhaps anyone. No submission move was more deadly than the “sharpshooter” hold back then.

Bret Hart has an all-time great rookie card as well. Featuring a star-spangled red, white and blue border, it showcases the Hitman rocking a pair of aviator sunglasses along with his world championship belt.

In May of this year, a PSA 9 sold for a cool $1,000 at eBay auction.

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7. Sting: 1988 Wonderama NWA Superstars


Speaking of iconic finishing maneuvers, nobody can forget the classic “Scorpion Deathlock” Sting brought to the wrestling ring either. His all-black outfits, baseball bat and face paint also helped him leave quite a mark. You’ll have to travel back to 1988 to find the most popular rookie card for this WCW star. 

Sting’s 1988 NWA card #17 depicts a much earlier version of this wrestling superstar. In the photo, he has spiky blonde hair along with a green and black mask and light green tights. A PSA 10 is currently available on eBay for a little under $3,000. 

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8. The Ultimate Warrior: 1990 Classic WWF


For many wrestling fans, the early '90s ushered in a brand new era for the sport. At the forefront of all that excitement and energy was a future WrestleMania legend known as The Ultimate Warrior. 

The Ultimate Warrior’s rookie card can be found in the 1990 Classic WWF set. Card #127 features him in full face paint making a flexing pose. A gem mint PSA 10 graded version of the card can be had for around $3,000.

Note, this set also includes a Shawn Michaels rookie card (#134) featuring “The Rockers”—him and Marty Jannetty.

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9. The Undertaker: 1991 Classic WWF Superstars


On the subject of Classic WWF sets, 1991 produced a spectacle of a rookie card itself in the form of The Undertaker. Walking the tight rope, delivering chokeslams, waking up from the dead… these things all contributed to The Undertaker’s 30-year legend.

There are a number of different cards featuring The Undertaker in this set, but the flagship rookie card everyone’s after shows a headshot of him as card #64. You can pick up a PSA 9 copy of the card on eBay for around $800. 

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10. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin: 1991 Cromy WCW Luchadores

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“Stone Cold” Steve Austin is another all-time great wrestler who needs next to no introduction. His beer-drinking antics, middle finger attitude, and ability to “stun” people like Vince McMahon on television week after week led to the creation of the legend we all know today.

This rookie card pick’s a little out there, but it was the earliest version of “Stunning Steve” I could find. The Cromy WCW Luchadores set from 1991 has him featured on a bright yellow background with red accent lines. The card is noteworthy because even a PSA 6 goes for about $3,000.

If you’re looking for a rookie-esque card of Steve as the WWE character we all know and love, you’ll have to pick up the 1997 Trivia Series set from Cardinal/WWF.

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Bonus: The Rock: 1997 Cardinal WWF Trivia Series


Now, 1997 definitely feels like the latter end of our “vintage” scale, but I can’t in good conscience complete this article without mentioning The Rock. While you’re busy looking in that 1997 Cardinal WWF Trivia Series set for Steve Austin, you might as well scoop up another one of the greatest wrestling personalities of all time. 

Complete with yellow border and labeled with his old ring moniker, Rocky Maivia, a PSA 9 version of The Rock’s rookie card can be scooped up on eBay for around $3,000. Note, Panini features a 1997 sticker card of The Rock as well, but that will cost you even more.

Lastly, if you want to get even more vintage with your Rock rookie search, you can pick up his Miami Bumble Bee football card from 1994, but now you’re talking $10,000-plus.

That’s it for our rookie wrestling card list. Happy hunting and best of luck!

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