Rare CSG-certified Japanese Wrestling Cards in Upcoming Heritage Sale
Posted on 7/7/2022
When Japan’s Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Co. began producing prepaid phone cards in the 1980s, its goal was to provide a practical tool for its customers to access pay phones. NTT, as the company is commonly known, did not realize it was launching a collecting craze that would endure for decades.
Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG®) recently graded a collection of six NTT phone cards that were printed to commemorate the historic 1990 Wrestling Summit. Each of the cards features stars from the golden age of wrestling, including well-known names from the US World Wrestling Federation (WWF), Japan’s All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and Japan’s New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW)
The group of six cards, with an estimated value of $8,000 and up, is being offered as part of the Summer Sports Catalog Auction presented by Heritage Auctions, which will take place July 21 through 23, 2022. More information on the auction can be found here.
Hulk Hogan, headliner of 1990 Wrestling Summit, flexes on two of the NTT cards
The Wrestling Summit was a pay-per-view event that took place on April 13, 1990. Broadcast from the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, the event brought together the top wrestlers from the US and Japan for 12 matches. It attracted more than 50,000 spectators and marked the only time that the WWF, AJPW and NJPW collaborated on an event.
The Summit’s main event saw WWF’s Hulk Hogan defeat AJPW wrestler Stan Hansen. Hogan is considered to be the world’s most recognized wrestling star. Hansen is considered the most successful foreigner to compete in Japanese wrestling.
Two of the NTT phone cards certified by CSG feature Hogan. The first shows Hogan alone in the ring. It includes a logo from the Wrestling Summit and the words “Hulk Rules.” CSG graded the card CSG Gem Mint 10.
The other card to include an image of Hogan shows him with four other wrestlers including Tiger Mask and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. The card includes the Summit logo, the date of the event and the words “Super Stars.” CSG graded the card CSG Gem Mint 10.
Another “Super Stars” card features five of the top WWF wrestlers at the time: “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Big Boss Man and the tag team known as Demolition. CSG graded the card CSG Gem Mint 10.
Beloved “Giants” appear together on NTT card
Giant Baba, which was the ring name for Japanese wrestler Shohei Baba, is considered one of the most beloved Japanese wrestlers of all time. He was the founder and public face of the AJPW. André the Giant, which was the ring name for US wrestler André René Roussimoff, was a WWF superstar in the 1980s. At the time of the Summit, Andre wrestled primarily for AJPW, usually being teamed up with Giant Baba. CSG certified a NTT card that shows Giant Baba and André the Giant shaking hands. It was graded CSG 8.5.
The two remaining cards include one featuring WWF’s Ultimate Warrior, which was graded CSG 9, and one showing Japanese wrestler Tenryu with WWF’s “Macho King” Randy Savage, which was graded CSG 8.5.
The backs of these cards have information in Japanese and English that explains how to use the card to make a call. The reverse also shows the value of the card and includes a bar code.
NTT cards continue to attract the attention of collectors
The trend of collecting NTT cards began soon after they were introduced, when a few early collectors put away unused cards with the belief that the new technology would one day be a valuable piece of memorabilia. As others followed suit, NTT took advantage of the craze and began releasing the cards in greater numbers with decorative designs.
The cards feature a wide range of subjects, including themes from Japanese culture, animals and travel destinations. Much like stamps, the design on an NTT affects its value with collectors. Recent postings on eBay reveal that the most sought-after cards include those that feature sports stars and anime characters.
Collectors should note that used cards, which are not as desirable, have holes that were punched in them by pay phones to denote that some of their value has been used. Collectors should also note that counterfeit cards exist, which raises the value of cards that have been authenticated.
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