Do I own the rookie card of WWE Hall of Famer "Stone Cold" Steve Austin?
Quite possibly. In 1992, WCW Magazine inserted a series of flimsy "trading cards" into their issues, most of which I owned at the time. Some 23 years later, I have cards # 10 - 27 (though I could have sworn I had more), featuring a variety of World Championship Wrestling stars right in the thick of the Bill Watts era.
So where does this leave Austin? Well, he started wrestling in 1989, debuting in WCW by mid-1991. Because of the late debut that year, he wasn't featured in either card set WCW produced in '91, the Stomp Collection or another series by Championship Marketing. As far as I can tell, this would be Austin's first trading card of any kind!
Now.... had Stone Cold known that he would go on to literally define the industry later that decade, I'm sure he would have had something more interesting to say to fans than to wax philosophical on the merits of the friggin' Abdominal Stretch!
Heck, even in his earliest days as Stunning Steve, he used the Stun Gun as his finisher, not this crap-ass resthold that he just happened to get photographed doing to Ricky Steamboat. Austin himself even says the move isn't "too flashy".
It just boggles my mind that WCW had in their ranks the man who would become the biggest money-making wrestler OF ALL TIME... and this was the best card they could come up with.
This set also produced what some consider to be the rookie card of one Mick Foley, a/k/a Cactus Jack. But I don't.
You see, last year, I came across a card in the 1987 WWF Topps set where a very young Mick Foley is prominently displayed, albeit because he's submitting to the backbreaker of one Hercules Hernandez during his days as a Dominic DeNucci-school jabroni.
But does one have to have their name displayed on a trading card for it to be considered a true rookie card? I'm suggesting "no" - but I suppose that's what the folks at the Beckett Card Guide are around for.
As for this particular card? Meh. Cactus is clotheslining a barely-visible Ron Simmons on the front and talking smack on the back.
Of course, this being WCW, there had to have been at least one card featured The Man Called Sting. And here he is, kicking the crap out of Big Van Vader in a scene definitely befitting the title "Action Card 23."
In fact, there was probably a whole series of Sting cards out there in this series. My research indicates that the very first nine cards were (probably) all about The Stinger, although no one on the Internet can seem to verify this for me.
Other stars featured in this collection (at least, according to the ones I currently have) are Barry Windham, Jushin Liger, Dustin Rhodes, Tom Zenk and yes, even Heavy Metal Van Hammer.
Forget Nikki Minaj and Miley Cyrus - in 1992, there was a much more prominent catfight on the horizon.
I can't remember exactly what the issue was at the time between Missy Hyatt and Madusa - it may have stemmed from an incident between Hyatt and Madusa's then-manager Paul E. Dangerously - but it was hard to find a more heated feud in WCW at the time.
WCW Magazine played the rivalry up beautifully with trading cards like these and one issue that featured full-color posters of both women. This led to a "bikini battle" at Beach Blast '92 (which, I believe, happened before this series of cards was available, as Hyatt's photo was definitely taken from the event in question, and Madusa's was a promotional shot setting up for the big battle).
Anyways, the card backs here clearly show Hyatt and Madusa calling each other sluts and whores and all that, and I could totally foresee them cutting promos on each other using said trading card as a crib note.
The rest of the set featured young, up and comers in WCW.... and Erik effing Watts.
Don't get me wrong; Watts wasn't a terrible wrestler (and the fact that he won a heated amateur wrestling match backstage against Rick Rude is insane), but WCW pushed the kid down our throats so much, it was hard NOT to think of the poor guy as anything other than Bill Watts' kid. So OF COURSE he got his own trading card!
Speaking of nepotism.... Dustin Rhodes. That one certainly isn't fair (given he went on to have a phenomenal career as Goldust) but all I can remember from this era in WCW is "The Natural" Dustin Rhodes as being perceived a world-beater in the WCW Universe. Roman Reigns would have called him up and said "Dude, the fans think your push is being manufactured." Still, the fact that he mentioned yours truly ("the bulldog") in his first trading card is nothing to sneeze at.
And finally, we have Brian Pillman, who had recently turned heel for the first time in his career and was having fun beating up white-meat babyfaces like Shane Douglas (yeah, I know...). Pillman was obviously gold as a Hollywood Blond and later as a member of both The Four Horsemen and The Hart Foundation, but one only wonders how great he could have been with an extended heel run in WCW.
Overall, this was a decent little collection, with some fun first looks at people who would go on to have Hall of Fame careers, but nothing I probably would go out of my way to collect.