One of the points made by WWE in the lawsuit that resulted from its “firing” of trading card company Panini last year was that Panini didn’t make any digital WWE cards.
Well, the suit was settled out of court, and with the pending new release of 2023 Panini Donruss Elite WWE trading cards later this month or early March 2023, it looks like Panini will continue to make WWE trading cards, potentially for the remainder of their original contract, but in addition to that, Panini just dropped its first set of digital WWE trading cards, with 2023 Panini NFT WWE Donruss Elite FOTL (First Off the Line) packs.
Regardless of one’s opinion of NFTs or digital trading cards, WWE wanted, if not demanded, digital trading cards from Panini, and these packs may be of interest to some because it gives collectors a first look at the coming Donruss Elite trading card set, which has been stuck in limbo while WWE and Panini settled their differences in and out of court. The 2023 Panini NFT WWE Donruss Elite FOTL packs are available directly from Panini’s Sports NFT Digital Trading Cards store, and these packs might not last long, because only 7,509 total packs were produced, and at the time of this writing, 4,490 remained.
With each $20 pack of cards, buyers receive five NFTs, containing three base or base legend NFTs limited to a count of 285, one insert or autograph NFT limited to a count of 79, and one FOTL exclusive red NFT numbered to 20 or less.
Now, while I’m not a collector of NFTs myself, I’ve had quite a bit of experience with digital trading cards, and I was big fan of Topps’ digital trading card platform SLAM. Some might even say I was addicted, which I wrote about in my essay “To BUNT or Not to BUNT,” available in the anthology OBSESSED: Essays on Pop Culture Obsession (Gimmick Press). So, at the risk of falling off the wagon, I purchased a pack of 2023 Panini NFT WWE Donruss Elite FOTL, and here is what I pulled.
After a brief animation while my pack loaded, my pack opened and I saw five card backs, telling me what the rarity of each card was. I had three uncommon cards, one epic, and one ultra rare, which I hoped was a good sign. My first card was an uncommon Randy Orton base card, my second card was an uncommon Stacy Kiebler base card, and my third card was an uncommon Batista base card. Each of them looked very cool, but were nothing to write home about.
My epic card was a Von Wagner new breed autograph card, which again, looked pretty cool, and the animation was slick, but it didn’t feel the same as pulling an autograph from a physical pack of cards.
Finally, for the fifth card, I pulled a Charlotte Flair ultra rare star status insert, which had more animation to it than the other cards.
And that was that. Five cards, five NFTs, in my Panini account. Honestly, I didn’t pull anything I would feel compelled to save for my collection, but luckily there’s an option to trade or sell your NFTs on a public marketplace, so I’ll be trying that aspect later, to see if I can recoup any of what I spent on my pack.
If digital cards or NFTs appeal to you, I have no qualms with that, but these didn’t feel quite as fun as I remember Topps SLAM, so I don’t think there’s any risk of me going broke on these any time soon, but I’m glad I got a peak at the new 2023 Panini Donruss Elite WWE set to come.
FYI by the time I finished writing this, there were 4,437 packs left in the store.