Sport has long been one of the more lucrative avenues for merchandizing opportunities. Jerseys, scarves, posters, banners – it’s possible to get just about everything detailed with a beloved franchise emblem. Professional wrestling is no different, despite falling more on the entertainment side of the sporting fence, and fans are just as likely to find an imitation luchador mask as they are collectible action figures.

Merchandise continues to evolve with technology, though. Most recently, the development of non-fungible tokens or NFTs has become almost the standard for digital collectibles, despite the fact that their appraisal by consumers has been mostly negative. Magazine Vice summed up the latter problem by considering the position of NFTs in video gaming and stating that “gamers don’t want NFTs”. 

A Lucrative Business Opportunity

Taking the form of a receipt for an item that’s then safely stored on the blockchain, NFTs are something that media companies can’t get enough of, even if that means questioning fans’ understanding of the topic, which is something French company Ubisoft did earlier in 2021. Of course, the WWE’s Vince McMahan isn’t someone to shy away from a business opportunity, and NFTs look to be wrestling’s new cash cow. 

The idea seems rather sound, for a change. As part of an arrangement with Fanatics Candy Digital, the current owner of the Topps brand, WWE will sell NFT “moments” such as title wins or special occasions that can be kept forever or resold. The downside is that NFTs usually sell for a lot of money, something that may mean the items end up going to speculators rather than genuine fans. 

The Influence of Gaming

Whatever the outcome, NFTs are just one of plenty of licensing agreements that have come Vince’s way over the years. Those Hasbro action figures from the last century still turn a profit, with a boxed wrestler going for around $300 on eBay, but the WWE 2K video gaming franchise continues to give pro wrestling a huge footprint in the public’s collective consciousness.

Then, there are all the mobile apps and casino games that Vince has had a hand in. The app WWE Mayhem has a similar “collect ‘em all” vibe to the new NFTs while the WWE Legends: Link & Win slot includes the likeness of several superstars, including Macho Man Randy Savage, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Eddie Guerrero. That latter game is on the books at , a Canadian operator. The continued prevalence of WWE in gaming shows the lasting influence the brand has on pop culture, making NFT moments a potential winner.

Potential Risk

NFTs pose a problem, though, in that their value fluctuates much like cryptocurrency tokens. To borrow an example: imagine buying an NFT of Tom Brady’s last touchdown pass football for half a million dollars only for the player to exit retirement 24 hours later? The value of NFTs is dependent on scarcity, which makes them a financial risk in fluid industries, such as sports.

Fortunately, there were no NFTs actually involved in the latter example, but sporting collectibles of the digital variety are still a largely untested thing. It remains to be seen how wrestling fans will react to their impending launch.

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