wrestling

The Cultural Impact of 1980s WWF Wrestling Cards

From Hulk, To Roddy, To Macho Man and More, These Wrestlers and Their Cards Set The Stage For a Long Running Phenomenon With Fans

Updated Apr 06, 2024

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Wrestling enthusiasts are excited about WrestleMania 40 this weekend, yet some younger fans may overlook the event's legacy, crafted by 1980s WWF/WWE Superstars. These pioneers set the stage for today's stars.

The 1980s WWF era brought forth iconic figures like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Bret "The Hitman" Hart, all later honored with induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.

WWF also launched trading cards in this era, showcasing the first appearances or rookie cards of many WWF/WWE Superstars.

These cards, especially in higher grades, have become highly collectible. Let's delve into these cards' cultural significance and impact on the modern generation of WWE Superstars in today's market.

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Hulk Hogan - Hulkamania Running Wild!

Hulk Hogan is one of the most important figures in wrestling history. The Hulkster captivated audiences with his Hulkamania antics during the 1980s, and his contributions were pivotal in shaping the WWE as it is today.

His battles with Andre The Giant were legendary. Check out this clip from Wrestlemania III for what might have been one of the best matches in the history of wrestling.

Hogan's most famous wrestling card is his 1985 Topps card, widely regarded as his rookie card and a hot item among collectors.

Hogan was so popular with fans and is featured twice in the set, with card numbers 1 and 16, differentiated mainly by the background colors—yellow and aqua, respectively. (note Hogan also has two other 'quote' cards #57 and #60).

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1985 Topps Hulk Hogan #1 Rookie Card

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1985 Topps Hulk Hogan #16 RC

Hogan's rookie card #1 is scarce in high grades, with only 15 graded PSA 10s known to exist, and valued at about $15K. During the card bubble, in the summer of 2021, a PSA 10 sold for $21,000 at auction, setting a record.

A PSA 8 (NM-MT) is a good alternative for those looking for a more affordable option and sells for around $200.

Hulk Hogan's Topps #16 rookie card is notably difficult to find in GEM-MT PSA 10 condition, with only two such graded cards and no confirmed sales
.

Often, the first card in a set garners more attention from collectors, making card #1 usually more sought-after. Despite this, card #16 remains a highly desirable alternative as a rookie card.

Valued at around $500, PSA 9 (Mint) versions are seen as undervalued. With only 128 PSA 9s in existence and the scarcity of PSA 10s, a PSA 9 card stands out as a compelling investment option.

Hulk Hogan's 1982 Wrestling All-Star card, #2, stands out as his rarer first appearance card, often called an XRC.

This card is heralded as one of history's most pivotal wrestling cards, influencing the design and significance of future wrestling cards.

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1982 Wrestling All-Stars Hulk Hogan

At the time, Hogan was one of wrestling's biggest stars, reflected by his placement in the set, second only to the legendary Andre the Giant.

Remarkably, no PSA 10 grades exist for Hogan's 1982 All-Star card, and only 16 PSA 9s exist. The highest sale recorded for this card reached $36,600 in a December 2020 eBay auction. 

The scarcity of PSA 9s suggests it might be some time before another example comes up for sale.

An even rarer piece of Hulk Hogan memorabilia is his 1981 Popy Super Puroresu Japanese card. This card predates his iconic 1982 All-Star card.

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1981 POPY SUPER PURORESU FIGURES CARDS - Hulk Hogan

PSA has graded only 17 copies of the card, with 2 PSA 10's and 8 PSA 9's.

A PSA 9 graded copy of the Hogan sold for $7,500 at an eBay auction in late March 2024, while a PSA 10 hit $15K at auction in late 2022.

This card exemplifies the high demand and rarity of first-appearance cards in the collectibles market.

"Whatcha gonna do brotha!?!?"

Go grab a Hulk Rookie Card! Hulk Hogan's rookie cards offer a solid investment.  He was THE guy in the 1980s and to this day is still remembered as one of the all-time greats. Look for autographed copies of his Topps rookie card which can be found for a few hundred bucks on eBay (Don't Buy a Reprint One!). 

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A 1985 Topps Hulk Autographed Copy

Ric Flair....WOOO!

The Nature Boy became a cultural icon among WWF/WWE fans, celebrated for his charismatic promos and iconic "Wooooo" chant.

His 1982 Wrestling All-Stars card, number 27, stands as one of the most sought-after Ric Flair cards, experiencing substantial appreciation in value. 

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1982 Wrestling All Stars Ric Flair RC

In 2019, a PSA 10 grade of this card sold for $2,550 on eBay, marking its last confirmed sale at that grade.

A PSA 9 graded copy recently sold for over $7500 in an August 2023 eBay auction. The PSA Population Report lists only 57 PSA 9s and six PSA 10s, highlighting its rarity.

This card is acknowledged as Ric Flair's rookie card and is one of the most significant wrestling cards ever.

Bret "The Hitman" Hart  

Bret Hart was recently crowned the greatest wrestler of all time in a 2024 Top 100 countdown, affirming his status as a wrestling legend from his era.

Known for his immense charisma and long black hair, Hart captivated WWF/WWE fans worldwide.

Hart's most notable rookie card is the 1987 Topps, card number 1, marking his first appearance in a Topps set. 

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1987 Topps Bret Hart RC

A rare PSA 10 (GEM-MINT) copy of Hart's rookie card recently sold for $7,500 at an eBay auction in February 2024, with only two PSA 10s known. T

This significant sale suggests that PSA 9 grades, currently valued between $130 to $150, might be undervalued. With just 67 PSA 9s available, these cards are worthy of investment, in my opinion.

Hart's card is also available in an even rarer O-Pee-Chee version. Only one PSA 10 of the O-Pee-Chee exists, with a confirmed sale price of $2,300 in August 2020. With only 21 PSA 9s reported, this card's rarity underscores Hart's investment potential, especially following his recent accolade as one of the greatest wrestlers ever.

Dusty Rhodes 

Dusty Rhodes played a pivotal role in establishing a family legacy within the WWF/WWE, with his son Cody Rhodes now recognized as one of the WWE's premier wrestlers, even headlining WrestleMania 40 against The Rock.

Dusty's most sought-after collectible is his 1982 Wrestling All-Stars Rookie card, number 6, which has become increasingly rare in high-grade condition. 

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1982 Wrestling All Stars Dustry Rhodes RC

The highest sale for this card, a PSA 9, reached $2,888 in December 2021 at an eBay auction. For collectors looking for an alternative investment, a PSA 8 grade of this card, valued between $220-300, presents a viable option.

With the PSA Population Report listing only 99 PSA 8s and a mere 13 graded higher, acquiring a high-grade example of Dusty Rhodes' rookie card is a wise investment choice.

Dusty's significant contributions to wrestling cemented his legacy and set the stage for Cody to continue the Rhodes legacy in the WWE universe.

Randy Savage "Macho Man" --- "OOOHH...Yeah" 

The late Randy "Macho Man" Savage is celebrated as one of the most influential WWF/WWE wrestlers in history. His crazy outfits, and charisma led to Macho Man being a big fan favorite for most of the 1980's wrestling heydays. 

His two rookie cards from the 1985 OPC Set,  (#11 -Savage Attack) and #63 (w/Elizabeth) continue to appreciate. 

Savage Attack #11 From 1985 OPC Set

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85 OPC Savage And Elizabeth RC

The Savage/Elizabeth card is the most popular of the two. Out of 354 cards graded by PSA, PSA 9 grades have fetched upwards of $700 at recent eBay auctions. Remarkably, only 57 of these have achieved a PSA 9 grade. Consider it a must have card if you are an 1980's WWF Fan.

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper

Roddy Piper, known for his "Rowdy" and "Hot Rod" personas during the 1980s, played a pivotal role in defining the archetype of "the heel" in the WWE universe. He embodied the quintessential bad guy.  Known for his loud obnoxious behavior, and Scottish kilts, Piper left a memorable mark on the sport.

His most sought-after card is his rookie card from the 1985 Topps set, also available in an O-Pee-Chee version.

Piper's rookie card remains relatively undervalued, especially in high grades. A PSA 9-graded copy is worth about $200, and only 68 PSA 9 copies exist. Given its scarcity in high-grade condition and Piper's enduring legacy in wrestling history, this card represents an excellent investment opportunity.

Andre The Giant, Shieky Baby and More From The 1982 All-Stars Set

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1982 Wrestling All Stars Andre The Giant RC

Significant sales have been recorded for Kerry Von Erich and The Iron Sheik from the legendary 1982 All-Star Series B Set, with both cards regarded as rookie card examples. Andre The Giant, featured as card #1 in the same set, has also seen noteworthy activity in the market.

According to completed sales on eBay, the most recent sale of Andre The Giant's card in a PSA 7 grade fetched $1,480. Finding his card in high-grade condition from this set is particularly challenging, making it arguably his most sought-after mainstream card. I like the investment potential of the Andre The Giant RC, given that only around 400 total copies have been graded by PSA.

Vinnie Rullo

About the author

Vinnie Rullo is a passionate sports fan, with a hardcore loyalty to the Yankees, NY Giants and New York Knicks. An avid sports card collector, Vinnie has also worked a collectibles specialist for one of the bigger online auction houses.

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