WCW Stomp Collection
The year was 1991, and - like many things wrestling - I first found out about this via an advertisement in Pro Wrestling Illustrated. World Championship Wrestling was releasing what I believed to be their first trading card series ever, and I was immediately intrigued.
In the early 1990's, WCW was on a big marketing kick. Between the action figures by Galoob, and everything from party favors to magazines, the brand was everywhere; at the very least it was much more visible than it had been in his short history.
Known as "The Stomp Collection," WCW really did a hard-sell on these guys. Not only were they prominently displayed on the back of just about every wrestling magazine out there, but they also had commercials that actually made the damn things sound cool!
These cards are the next best thing to wrestling Lex Luger in your living room!
If nothing else, the cards had a very 1990's look to them. Between the yellow backdrop with red sprinkles, the odd angles to the photo frames and the electric blue accent that housed the WCW logo, these seemed to come right out of an episode of Saved By The Bell.
Nonetheless, all of WCW's top stars were included in the series, including Sting™, Lex Luger™, Arn Anderson™ and Ric Flair™.
Overall, it was a decent look at their roster, but my only complaint were that were way too many of the top six or seven performers.
For example, while I'm as a big a fan of the guy as anyone... did we REALLY need more than a dozen variants of Sting™? Seriously - a posed photo and maybe one or two of buddy in action certainly would have sufficed.
We didn't need to have the "Sting™ Helps Lift A Television Jobber To His Feet" card to consider our card collection complete, you know?
Even the WWF's set around this era (which I believe was manufactured by Topps), knew that you only really needed a half-dozen Hulk Hogan™ cards, and he was one of the biggest names in the business at the time!
A minor complaint, because I couldn't have really written the folks at Impel and asked them to produce fewer cards, you know?
The good thing, I suppose, about having multiple cards for each performer, is that they had plenty of fresh material to print on the back of each card.
For example, did you know that Z-Man™'s motto was "Stay Single"? I can't believe the powers that be in wrestling made "That's the bottom line, 'cause Stone Cold said so!", "Do you smell what The Rock is cookin'?" and "We've just two words for ya" into major catchphrases, yet no one sought to make "Stay Single" a veritable goldmine?
Also, it's good to know that Ric Flair™'s hobbies included both Stylin' and Profilin'. I would have thought it was only one of those...
This being WCW, they didn't always manage to use the very best photographs for their Stomp Collection. Both Sid Vicious™ and Flyin' Brian™ almost look as though they are in mid-sentence here. And I'm not sure I really needed to see an up close and personal of Pillman's hairy armpits; just saying.
What I do find interesting is that, unlike the WWF at the time, their performers don't always have the exact same outfit on for their matches. So for example, Sid is wearing a slight variant of his black singlet that he became famous for during his time in the Four Horsemen™; in this case the shoulder straps are less defined. Not a massive deal or anything, but worth noting
The Stomp Collection also made sure that WCW's midcard was well represented. Sure, they didn't have 40 cards each or anything, but WCW made sure to include filler match guys such as:
Tommy Rich™ (NWA World Champion for four freaking days)
Dutch Mantell™ (a somewhat-younger but just as hairy Zeb Colter™)
Terry Taylor™ (fresh off playing Red Rooster in the WWF)
Ricky Morton™ (this was during the period where Robert Gibson™ was out injured)
Mr. Wall Street™ (who was actually Michael Wall Street™ at the time, but perhaps that didn't fit on a trading card)
El Gigante ( everyone's favorite non-English speaking giant, years before The Great Khali™ took that honor)
WCW was also tag team heavy at the time, so the red card portion of the series made for the company's dynamic duos, such as Rick and Scott Steiner™ and The Fabulous Freebirds™.
The only thing that bothered me (and again, this could just be me), but some of the cards representing tag teams only featured one member of said team. Look at the two cards on the right - that's not The Southern Boys™ and Doom™. You only have one Southern Boy™ and one Doom™er. You wouldn't have a trading card with Road Warrior Hawk™ and call it The Road Warriors™, would you (well, unless you are the Wrestling Stars series of cards -- more about them another time).
Finally, they had the green card portion of the series, dedicated to a fairly limited section of their non-wrestling roster. Not that we didn't appreciate Teddy Long™, Good Ol' Jim Ross™ and Missy Hyatt™, but where were Gordon Solie™, Paul E. Dangerously™, Alexandra York™, Big Daddy Dink™, referees Pee Wee Anderson™ and Nick Patrick™, and others? They were part of the active roster, why couldn't they get their fifteen minutes of fame? Oh, that's right, because The Stomp Collection wanted to make sure we had 150 different Sting™ cards.
I'm poking fun here, but honestly this wasn't a bad set, especially when you consider it a first effort from WCW. In fact, it soon found itself competing against a different set of WCW trading cards, one even more extensive and impressive-looking... but that's another story for another day™.