For most of the years I’ve collected wrestling cards, I’ve focused on mainstream products, like WWF/E products released by Topps or Panini, and AEW cards created by Upper Deck. Only recently, like within the past couple years, have I begun collecting independent wrestling cards, such as the 2018 All In set, GCW cards, or most recently the ARW wrestling card set. And it was even more recently that I first began dipping my toes into the waters of custom wrestling cards.

Custom wrestling cards, unlike those sold by Topps, Panini, or Upper Deck, are typically unlicensed cards created and sold by an unaffiliated artist or vendor, or sometimes the wrestlers themselves, so quality (and legality) may vary widely, but when custom wrestling card creators do it right, and have the cooperation (and permission) of the wrestlers, what they create can rival or even surpass the quality of some of the most artistic mainstream wrestling cards.

Some of the most popular custom wrestling cards are those produced by the Major Wrestling Figure Podcast crew, in partnership with Too Sweet Antiques. Too Sweet Antiques creates limited edition relic and autograph cards of Matt Cardona, Chelsea Green, Brian Myers, Swoggle, and Smart Mark Sterling. These are high quality wrestling cards that often memorialize specific in-ring moments, such as a Sterling autographed dual relic, “featuring the event worn shirt and tie of the world’s most famous wrestling lawyer from AEW Dynamite Fyter Fest 2022,” or a recent Matt Cardona wedding auto relic, “featuring the blood and cake covered tights from GCW Homecoming Part II.” And yes, Too Sweet Antiques made a Chelsea Green wedding card, as well.

The first custom wrestling cards I ever purchased was a pack of Major Wrestling Figure Podcast autographs. This was a set of cards that paid homage to the legendary WCW/NWO Topps autograph cards. At the time of sale, a number of the wrestlers in the set remained a mystery, besides the Major Wrestling Figure Podcast crew, but I was so impressed by the look of the set, and the possibility of some big name mystery wrestlers, that I decided to buy a pack, and boy was I glad that I did, when I opened my pack of cards and saw that I received autographs of Matt Cardona, Danhausen, and one of my personal favorite wrestlers and podcasters, Colt Cabana.

But while the Major Wrestling clique and Too Sweet Antiques may be leading the charge in terms of legitimizing custom wrestling cards, there’s a new name on the block that’s making some big waves among wrestling card collectors.

Pro Wrestling Junkie recently released its first pair of wrestling cards, a 2022 Rookie of the Year set, featuring Billie Starkz and Nick Wayne. The Billie Starkz and Nick Wayne cards were sold in autographed and base (non-autographed) versions, and each were lovingly designed by Beau Jay (@itsbeaujay), an artist who has made a name designing custom trading cards and posting them for all to enjoy on Twitter. The Pro Wrestling Junkie cards may not be the first cards designed by Beau Jay, but they were among the first I’d seen for sale, and when I saw that Starkz and Wayne, two of the youngest and most popular independent wrestlers in America, had each autographed a limited number of these cards, I knew they wouldn’t be available long. You can still see what these cards look like on the Pro Wrestling Junkie website, but they have all been sold out for weeks.

Starting a wrestling card company by having two of the hottest independent pro wrestlers sign your new cards is a great way to make a name for yourself in the world of wrestling cards, so I asked Pro Wrestling Junkie a few questions about its new product.

Gilbert Rodriguez of Pro Wrestling Junkie (left) with Nick Wayne (center)

Gilbert Rodriguez (left) with Nick Wayne (center)

The main man behind Pro Wrestling Junkie is Gilbert Rodriguez, who also runs a celebrity autograph company called TeamAyeee Autographs, which organizes exclusive private signings of celebrities like MJF, Paul Walter Hauser, and Ralph Macchio, to name a few. Gilbert is from New York City, and runs Pro Wrestling Junkie with two of his friends, Griffin and Sean. Gilbert says that he’s been a wrestling fan his whole life, he even used to wrestle about a decade ago, and he remains close friends with several professional wrestlers, such as AEW’s Santana and Ortiz. Gilbert collected wrestling cards when he was a kid, and like many of us, stopped collecting for many years, but he eventually got back into collecting wrestling cards. Gilbert said that wrestling cards “are more popular than ever” right now, so “it’s the perfect time to start a card company.”

Pro Wrestling Junkie hit the ground running with the Rookie of the Year cards of Billie Starkz and Nick Wayne, and it followed that with another independent wrestling superstar, the beloved EFFY known for GCW among other promotions. EFFY’s cards are also available in autographed and base versions, but Beau Jay designed a different card for each, so it’s going to be difficult for EFFY fans to not purchase both. Gilbert said Pro Wrestling Junkie has five cards lined up, so far, with Beau Jay designing each card, which means there should be at least two more to come, but didn’t want to reveal any future names. “We have some awesome ones for sure!” he said. “I travel to a lot of shows, and I watch a lot of wrestling. … It could be either a rising star, someone who is popular, or someone who is underrated.”

Gilbert said that what separates Pro Wrestling Junkie from other wrestling card companies is the passion they have for the wrestling business. “We started this company for the fans and wrestlers,” he said. “We’re not in this to make quick cash. The future looks bright. We are working hard on some cool trading cards and designs with [Beau] Jay.” And if the cards that follow are anything like their first three cards, with Billie Starkz, Nick Wayne, and EFFY, the future for independent and custom wrestling card collectors most definitely looks bright.

Visit Too Sweet Antiques and Pro Wrestling Junkie to see which wrestling cards they have in-store (prices and supply may vary).