Leaf Trading Cards (no relation to Leaf cards previously released by Donruss and Pinnacle) has been producing trading cards since 2010, and they began creating professional wrestling cards in 2012. They’ve incorporated professional wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Steve Austin into many of their multisport trading card products, but according to The Wrestling Card Price Guide, their wrestling exclusive products include Leaf Originals Wrestling (2012, 2014, and 2017), Leaf Signature Series Wrestling Cards (2016), Leaf Legends of Wrestling (2018), and Leaf Ultimate Wrestling (2020). Leaf doesn’t currently have a license with MLB, NBA, NFL, or the NHL, so they can’t make cards with licensed professional sports team names or logos, but where that might be interpreted as a negative by some sports card collectors, it’s a benefit to other talents employed as “independent contractors,” such as professional wrestlers. Leaf doesn’t create their wrestling cards for a specific brand of wrestling, so collectors won’t see a WWE or AEW logo on their cards, but what they will see in many of these products is a vast and diverse checklist of wrestlers, from independent superstars like Kenny Omega (pre-AEW/Upper Deck), to international legends like Minoru Suzuki, to old school favorites like Kamala.     

It’s been a few years since Leaf released a full, wrestling exclusive line of cards, but 2023 has marked the start of a Leaf wrestling renaissance. In late spring/early summer of 2023, Leaf is releasing their “first ever wrestling blaster product,” 2023 Leaf Heroes of Wrestling. According to the press release, “Each box will include a 10-card base set featuring Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, John Cena, Ric Flair, and more! Each box will also include a signed card! Look for signatures from: Hulk Hogan, Cody Rhodes, Jushin Liger, Ric Flair, Brandi Rhodes, Penta El Zero M, Arn Anderson, Diamond Dallas Page, Ted Dibiase, Bret Hart, Great Muta, Sasha Banks, and many more!” It’s yet to be seen what the cards will look like, or who the full checklist of autographs includes, but at only $29.95 for ten base cards and one guaranteed autograph, it’s going to be a difficult offer for wrestling card collectors to ignore.  

Leading up to 2023 Leaf Heroes of Wrestling, Leaf has released a number of web exclusive wrestling cards, available only from their store. All of these web exclusive cards are limited by either a pre-determined print run, or can only be purchased for a set amount of time, so many of the cards that have gone up for sale are already sold out, and it can be assumed that some of what’s available at the time of this writing will be unavailable by publication. For example, although they aren’t yet wrestling cards, it’s worth noting that Leaf recently produced the first autograph cards of Miami Hurricanes basketball and Tik Tok stars Haley and Hanna Cavinder, who are amongst a promising group of WWE Next in Line recruits. The Cavinder twins are being touted by some as the heirs apparent to the Bellas, so if the Cavinders do eventually make a splash in NXT and/or WWE, these will be interesting cards to watch.   

Some of the first web exclusive wrestling cards Leaf released in 2023 were part of their Re-Imagined series, where artists portrayed various talents in creative ways, typically playing off their name or persona. For example, Ric Flair was portrayed as a literal “Nature Boy,” depicted in a robe of fur and feathers, in front of a landscape of wilderness, while Hulk Hogan was re-imagined as a monstrous, green “Hulk,” sans iconic mustache. Both cards were available in base and autograph versions, and while the quality of the art might not be above criticism, it’s good to see a fun new take on wrestlers who already have a plethora of cards in their names.

Another, more artistic wrestling card, which was available, print to order, until April 2, 2023, was the 2023 Leaf Metal Anime Nation Hulk Hogan. This Leaf Metal Anime Nation series of cards combines two extremely popular trends, anime and metal cards (trading cards literally made out of metal), and Hulk Hogan is the first, but hopefully not last, wrestler to appear in the series. The art for the Leaf Metal Anime Nation series is credited to Shion Minabe (@shion_m_art), and while the green, Re-Imagined Hulk card may have been too silly for some collectors, this Leaf Metal Anime Nation Hulk Hogan is pure, pop americana.

The latest web exclusive wrestling card released by Leaf is a 2023 Pro Set Metal Limited Edition Gold Hulk Hogan. Once again, this card combines two popular card trends, metal and numbered cards, but who this card should really appeal to is early 90s nostalgiasts with fond memories of junk wax era football rookies of Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, and “Neon” Deion Sanders. Leaf officially assumed control of the Pro Set trademark in 2021, so it’s fun to see Leaf carry on the Pro Set brand with wrestling cards. Although the choice of background photo for this card is a little generic, the image of Hogan, posing in a red, spandex bodysuit, is straight out of the 90s, so this is a fun throwback wrestling card with a contemporary, metal twist.          

While Leaf may not carry the mainstream cache of Topps, Panini, or Upper Deck, and they may not hold the edgy, indy cred of cards created by GCW or Limited, they’ve been regularly creating wrestling cards for over a decade, and doing so in creative ways. By focusing on prospects, such as the Cavinders, Leaf previously released some of the earliest cards of young talent like Brian Pillman, Jr., “Hangman” Adam Page, and Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D., well before Upper Deck held the AEW license, and they’ve always celebrated international stars, like Jushin Liger, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Penta El Zero M. Leaf has been a reliable yet underrated source of wrestling cards for the past ten years, and with their recent lines of web exclusive, limited wrestling cards, and their soon-to-be-released 2023 Leaf Heroes of Wrestling Blaster Box, they seem poised to strike while the iron is hot.