The first TNA Impact wrestling card I remember buying was a 2008 TriStar TNA Samoa Joe autograph. It was several years after release, about 2015 or 2016, because I remember Joe had recently joined NXT. I was at the Motor City Comic Con, and I bought it from a vendor for less than ten dollars. At the time, modern wrestling cards were still mostly a novelty, and TNA Impact cards, especially, were perceived by many as near worthless.
The only reason this vendor could even ask for ten dollars was because this was an autograph. The specific name and brand was almost beside the point. I’ve since acquired a small collection of TNA Impact wrestling cards. I mostly purchase autographs, and I tend to lean towards names like Samoa Joe and Alex Shelley and others who came from the indies and their first big national exposure came by way of Impact, or personalities like Don West. For the most part, Impact wrestling cards still haven’t quite broken through to popular culture in the way WWE and more recently AEW cards have, and these are still relatively inexpensive cards, with a few notable exceptions.
The first TNA wrestling cards were released in 2004 by the now defunct Pacific Trading Cards. In addition to being their inaugural trading card set, 2004 Pacific TNA is most notable now for producing the rookie cards of AJ Styles and CM Punk, but the set also contains randomly inserted autographs of Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jeff Jarrett, Dusty Rhodes, and Harley Race, so sealed hobby boxes, which contain one autograph in every box, can set you back a pretty penny (there’s one currently listed on eBay for $849.99).
The next set of TNA cards didn’t come out until 2008, and by then TriStar held the license, but unlike the one and done Pacific set, TriStar produced multiple sets of TNA cards, throughout the years of 2008 to 2013, amassing a pretty sizable catalog of wrestling cards. There may not be any single base cards in these TriStar sets currently as desirable as the 2004 AJ Styles and CM Punk rookies, but there’s still many collectible and rare cards and autographs featuring legends like Sting, Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy, and Kurt Angle, to name a few.
After the conclusion of the TriStar era of TNA Impact cards, there was an even longer break until the next official set of Impact wrestling cards (sans TNA) were produced, but this time, they were made available in a completely different format. In 2021, amid the pandemic boom of trading cards, including wrestling cards, Impact began to sell limited sets of cards directly from their website, ShopImpact.com. Cards were sold in a complete series, eleven cards per series, with one autograph per pack, for $29.99. Impact began selling their cards more like niche, independent sets, like GCW, rather than WWE and now AEW, and that’s what they’ve continued to do, up until and including their newest set of cards, IMPACT Wrestling 2023 Series 1, by NERDS Clothing.
Each pack of IMPACT Wrestling 2023 Series 1 includes 19 cards per pack, including one “hologram collector’s card.” At the time of when pre-orders opened, no official checklist was released, so those who ordered a pack wouldn’t know exactly who’s in the set, but since I can’t resist a good trading card mystery, I ordered a pack, and I’m happy to report on what I received.
Even though I have some previous TNA Impact cards, I never ordered any of their releases from 2021 and 2022, so this was my first time ordering a pack of cards from Impact. From what I’ve read, previous Impact sets from 2021-2022 came in small cardboard boxes, similar to most independent card sets, but IMPACT Wrestling 2023 Series 1 comes in a foil pack, like what you’d see in a typical box of hobby or retail cards. The pack art on the Impact online store looks great, with vibrant photographs of their wrestlers, but the actual pack, when in hand, is much darker than the advertised image. Also, the pack feels like it was made from industrial strength foil. I couldn’t open it by hand without fear of damaging the cards inside, so I had no choice but to nervously cut it open with a scissors, and hope that I didn’t snip any cards.
After this, I got my first look at the actual cards, and I was immediately impressed. The first card in my pack was Ace Austin, and I thought it looked great. The image of Austin is big and bright and the pink lettering really pops. The card back looks nice, too. I love the pink neon Impact logo, but the card back type is so small I had to break out my glasses to read it. My second card was Bully Ray, and I noticed the back of the cards aren’t numbered, so I wondered if they were arranged alphabetically, and then when I pulled a Callihan, followed by Chris Bey, I concluded that was the case. My fifth card was Dirty Dango (fka Fandango fka “Creepy” Johnny Curtis), which just made me happy to see. Dirty Dango is doing some fun work in his post-WWE career, and I was excited to get this card.
Next I pulled Eddie Edwards, and recognized there’s a standard logo and design for all cards in the pack, but I also noticed a subtle hexagon design in the background of the card, throwing back to the old six-sided Impact ring. After Edwards, I pulled Frankie Kazarian, who recently made the jump from AEW to Impact, then Heath, then the Digital Media Champion Joe Hendry. This is the first wrestling card for Hendry, which immediately makes it more collectible, plus Hendry’s a bit of a fan favorite right now, so this is a solid card. My next card was the first Knockouts card of the pack, Jordynne Grace, then the (at the time of production) Impact World Champion Josh Alexander, and Killer Kelly. Like Hendry, this is Kelly’s first wrestling card, and it’s a great photograph of her snarling mug, so this card should be in demand by wrestling collectors, especially indie wrestling card collectors.
The Knockouts World Champion, Mickie James, was the next card in the pack, followed by Moose, local favorites the Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley), Brian Myers, Deonna Purrazzo, and X-Division Champion Trey Miguel. Perhaps it’s a silly detail to notice, but I couldn’t help but wonder why Myers and Purrazzo were arranged in the pack alphabetically by last name, when everyone else was arranged by first name, but then again, I’m a librarian by trade, so I get paid “the big bucks” to notice organizational inconsistencies like that.
Finally, I got to my “hologram collector’s card,” and it was Callihan. No disrespect to Callihan, but I was hoping for someone else, like Dirty Dango or Killer Kelly. Still, it’s a sharp looking card, but sort of a standard hologram/foil card. Is it equal to an autograph, which they used to include in earlier series? Personally, I’d rather pull a hologram of Killer Kelly than an autograph of some others in the set, so collectability is in the eye of the beholder, right?
There’s still no checklist released at this time, but I assume this is the full 2023 Series 1 set, and I also assume each pack includes a different hologram, so is this pack worth the $30 (plus $10 shipping and handling)? The price is pretty standard these days, with most independent wrestling packs selling, at least initially, for about $30, but the lack of autographs, as Impact included in previous sets, is probably going to turn some potential buyers off. Also, I can think of other Impact talent I would like to see in this set – I think a current Knockouts division set would sell like hotcakes – but I assume they may be included in a future series. Overall, this is a well made, great looking alternative to WWE and AEW cards, but unless you’re hunting for holograms, one pack should be enough for most collectors. IMPACT Wrestling 2023 Series 1 is available now, while supplies last, at ShopImpact.com.