The curious popularity of wrestling-based card games


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The history of wrestling in the United States can be traced back to the mid-1800s before adoration for it began to peak in the early 20th century. Indeed, its popularity was second only to baseball until the 1920s. It was then that the sport’s mainstream success turned to the idea of theatrical performance, setting the groundwork for companies such as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).


But we can’t all be the next Stone Cold Steve Austin. And so the late 20th century gave us the opportunity to enjoy the vicarious thrills of wrestling through animated avatars in video games like Pro Wrestling, WWF Superstars and Tecmo World Wrestling which each laid the groundwork for today’s popularity releases like WWE 2K19 and Wrestling Revolution 3D.


Similarly, the growth of wrestling in America had an impact on board games with Superstar Pro Wrestling emerging in 1984 and setting the stage for games like WWE Superstar Showdown today. Within the same niche, card games like WWE Top Trumps gave players the opportunity to go head-to-head in an imaginary ring.


Card Games


What’s curious is the prevailing popularity of card-based wrestling games in the digital age. Now, we have multi-channel sports networks with endless live events in high-definition and video games sporting authentic finishing moves and photorealistic depictions of today’s leading performers. What’s clear is the sport’s enduring attraction and the way it boasts a unique appeal that has always encouraged fans to feel immersed in the dramatic storylines they see staged.


Our love of card games – which goes way back to cowboys playing poker and blackjack in batwing-doored saloons – is clearly part of this curious fascination with wrestling and card-based entertainment. What’s perhaps even more interesting is that this trend appears to be growing.


In the last couple of years alone we’ve seen two campaigns from launch new products. One of these - Paul LaPorte’s “Book It! The Wrestling Promoter Card Game” - received 519 backers and over $31,000. The game has been designed for Vince McMahon and sees players become wrestling promoters. Elsewhere, Steve Resk took to Kickstarter to launch The Supershow, a tabletop dice and card game, centered around The Legendary Fighting Federation.


Enduring Popularity



These games are feeding off the popularity of wrestling’s kinship with card games, which dates back two decades, when the now out-of-print Raw Deal from publisher Comic Images was launched. Throughout this time, WWE Top Trumps has remained popular, with regular updates released to reflect the latest roster of performers. The most recent edition featured Braun Strowman, Big E Langston, Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura.


On top of this, wrestling-based card games have benefited from the popularity of card games themselves. For instance, blackjack looks back at a long tradition, which can be traced to 17th-century France. Today, blackjack is bound to feature in any bigger casinos, and it has successfully completed the jump online. Online casinos such as have optimized the card game for desktop and mobile users, bringing the joy of the card game into the 21st century. Wrestling card games have followed suit: On, Legends of Wrestling has seen its physical incarnation developed into a desktop game, while collectible card battling release WWE SuperCard has proven hugely popular in recent years, earning a high 4-star rating on Google Play Store from over 585,000 players.


Wrestling will continue to enjoy a fruitful relationship with the world of card games. There are new products on the horizon – both online and offline – for players to look forward to, while well-established releases like Top Trumps and Matt Gwinn’s Professional Wrestling: Kayfabe remain fan favorites.

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