Rookie Card Year: 1988
Investment Rating: 7.0
Hulkamania might run wild forever, but Hulk Hogan wasn't going to be able to last in the ring forever. As the 1980s were coming to a close, so was Hogan's long-running time on top of WWF cards. The torch was passed to an even larger-than life personality, the Ultimate Warrior, when the two faced off at Wrestlemania VI in 1990. And while the Warrior's time as a main event headliner was short in comparison to Hogan, he nonetheless had a ton of fans. As a result, Ultimate Warrior cards and memorabilia continue to be popular among wrestling collectors.
The Ultimate Warrior debuted in WWF in late 1987. His intensity, strength and charisma helped him rise quickly through the ranks. His matches might not have been pretty, but they had a superhero quality to them that appealed to a lot of fans. Adding to the Warrior's character was his strangely entertaining turns on the mic. They didn't make a lot of sense, but they were still fun and helped cement his star power.
The Ultimate Warrior's rise to fame came at a time when there weren't a lot of trading cards. The first Ultimate Warrior card is seen by most as having come attached to boxes of 1988 Quaker Dipps granola bars. These were only available in Canada. In the ensuing years, more Ultimate Warrior cards were released by Classic and from several companies overseas.
Donruss produced a handful of Ultimate Warrior autograph cards for their Americana line in 2007 and 2008. However, he has yet to appear on any WWE-licensed autograph cards.
Collectors might have better luck finding other pieces of memorabilia like action figures, videos and DVDs, magazines, vintage shirts and other toys.
While the WWE Hall of Fame isn't the most legitimate of sports shrines, the Ultimate Warrior's induction is symbolic in that it shows he and the WWE have once again made peace. With the renewed attention on his accomplishments, likely told in a better light than in the past, there could be a small boost in his cards and memorabilia, especially if the WWE keeps him in the spotlight beyond the Wrestlemania XXX festivities.
Key Ultimate Warrior Cards
Although not a traditional card, the Ultimate Warrior was part of a set printed on the backs of Quaker granola bars. Available only in Canada, these don't show up very often. Also, because they had to be cut out, many have rough edges and odd measurements. The Ultimate Warrior was featured alongside a pair of other WWE Hall of Famers, Hulk Hogan and Koko B. Ware.
The first mainstream North American set to include the Ultimate Warrior is 1989 Classic WWF. But it's a little tricky. Classic released essentially the same set in 1990. Both have the same design and a very similar checklist. The main different is the copyright info on the back. These clearly state they're from 1989. The set has six Ultimate Warrior cards including a logo card that doubles as a contest card.
Not sold in North America, this is another popular early Ultimate Warrior card. Like Classic, there's a very similar 1990 version that's essentially the same. The cropping on the photo is a little different. The scarcer first version has a 1989 copyright above the MSL logo on the back. If you're looking to buy one and you only have a front image to go by, the Ultimate Warrior's right arm on the 1989 card goes to the edge of the border. It doesn't on the 1990 card.
The first certified Ultimate Warrior autograph can be found in 2007 Donruss Americana. Numbered to 250, the Private Signings autograph uses a sticker autograph. The product also has a similar card with an added swatch of his trunks that's numbered to 50.
Celebrity Cuts was intended to be a little more upscale than the basic Americana line. The autograph here also uses a sticker but has a much smaller print run of just 50 numbered copies. To some, the more traditional design might be more appealing than the foil on his earlier autograph as well.
For the their third set with autographed Ultimate Warrior cards, 2008 Donruss Americana Sports Legends uses the same photo. At this point, it's a little redundant. Still, with few signed cards to choose from, it has a solid design that's reminiscent of the Elite brand.
While the Ultimate Warrior is no stranger to toys, he has appeared on relatively few action figures compared to some of his peers. While he has an LJN-style figure, arguably the most popular wrestling toys of the 1980s and 1990s, it came at the end of the line's run. Part of the Series 6 line produced by Grand Toys, it comes on a black card. These are extremely rare as they were available primarily in Canada. Loose Ultimate Warrior figures in top condition can sell for well over $100. Mint-on-card figures can reach four figures.
In recent years, the Ultimate Warrior has made his way onto several action figures. These include highly detailed figures in both the Jakks Pacific Classic Superstars and Mattel Elite Series lineups.
One of the key pieces of wrestling merchandise is the T-shirt. Anyone who has ever been to a live WWE show or flipped through their magazines can attest to this. The Ultimate Warrior had several different shirts over the course of his career. Here are a couple of different designs:
And if those don't scream late '80s, early '90s enough, you could also hunt for an original Ultimate Warrior jacket:
As a headliner for WWF heading into the 1990s, the Ultimate Warrior could frequently be found on the cover of WWF Magazine and other wrestling publications.