For independent wrestling fans, WrestleMania weekend is synonymous with GCW’s The Collective weekend.
And for wrestling card collectors, that means a new set of GCW wrestling cards.
This year, GCW surprised fans by releasing a limited number of packs of Joey Janela’s Spring Break 7 trading cards one week before Spring Break. Typically, GCW releases its Spring Break and Collective trading card sets at the live events, and then make whatever’s leftover available online, but perhaps they were riding the high of their red hot GCW vs TNT and GCW X PBR sets, and decided to sell some online ahead of time, but contrary to previous Spring Break and Collective sets, the 2023 Spring Break card set is one box of 25 cards, instead of two boxes, which has lead some of us to ask if a second pack or box might still be on the way.
Like most independent wrestling card sets, GCW packages its cards in a small cardboard box, like a deck of playing cards, but I would say that this is the first time that the GCW card box is a work of art itself. In the spirit of this year’s Spring Break taking place in Los Angeles, California, the box art is an homage to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik album, specifically the cassette, with the faces of Nick Wayne, Joey Janela, Nick Gage, and Maki Itoh replacing Anthony Kiedis, complete with a checklist on the back of the box, standing in for a track list. I swear, if you lightly shake the box of cards, it even sounds like a cassette tape, so for someone like me who received a Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik cassette for Christmas in 1991, this really struck a personal chord.
The cards themselves stay true to that early 1990s Cali aesthetic. Each card has Joey Janela’s Spring Break 7 logo, once again paying homage to the Chili Peppers, in the upper left corner, while the design and color scheme of each card feels very Saved by the Bell, which is quite the contrast to many of the ultraviolent matches and talent in GCW. Each wrestler’s card has their name in big bold type at the bottom of the card, with their nickname up top, full color images on the front and back, as well as a generous bio. One of my favorite things about GCW card sets is they always credit their photographers, and in this set the photographers credited include Earl Gardner, Robert Bellamy, and Mikey Nolan, but in addition to this, writers of the card backs are credited, as well, so Jordan Castle, Rob Viper, Sean Ross Sapp, and Marcellus Wallace are each cited for their writing in this set.
If I have any criticism for this set, it’s that the checklist is small. Granted, GCW collectors are accustomed to a two box Spring Break/Collective set, so this release is already half the size of previous years, but while last year’s sets had 32 cards in each box, this box only has 25, which is a considerable difference for a set this size. With that said, the checklist has a fun mix of GCW veterans and newcomers, as well as a few surprises. A few of the returning fan favorites include Nick Gage, Joey Janela, Tony Deppen, EFFY and Allie Katch (as Bussy), and last year’s rookie of the year Nick Wayne, while new additions to the set include Maki Itoh, Motor City Machine Guns, Komander, and the first English wrestling card of El Hijo del Vikingo.
One somber inclusion in this set is former GCW tag team champions, the Briscoes, who are featured in surprisingly few wrestling card sets before this and last year’s Spring Break 6 set. There are also several “Legacy Match” and “Legacy Moment” cards, as well as cards of non-wrestling GCW personalities, like ring announcer Denise Salcedo. GCW also includes one of two chase cards in each box of Joey Janela’s Spring Break 7 wrestling cards, and I got Kota Ibushi in my box (the tag team of Nick Gage and Maki Itoh is the other available chase card).
GCW’s Spring Break and Collective wrestling cards are something I look forward to every year, and while the gorgeous GCW X PBR release may have taken some of the steam out of this year’s slimmer set, Joey Janela’s Spring Break 7 is still a fun and inexpensive (while supplies last) purchase for GCW fans and collectors, and the box art is freaking fantastic.