The World Wrestling Entertainment promotion has made Panini, the sports trading card manufacturer, its exclusive trading card and collectible sticker partner in a multi-year deal that sees its long-standing partnership with Topps brought to an end.
The tie-up, which begins in the first quarter of next year, will see “multiple” products delivered in its first year, with the Panini America regional subsidiary responsible for development and mass retailers like Walmart and Target lined up to stock the items.
The first release will coincide with the build-up to WrestleMania, WWE’s biggest annual event, which will take place on 2-3 April 2022.
Last week, WWE announced that it had extended its global toy licensing agreement with Mattel, the US-based toy manufacturer.
Topps’ partnership with WWE, meanwhile, dates back to 2005, and this news signifies the third long-term partnership of this nature that it has lost in quick succession.
In January, the UFC mixed martial arts promotion announced that it was ending a partnership with Topps dating back to 2009, also in favour of moving to Panini, while it was announced in August that North American baseball’s MLB was switching to online sportswear and equipment retailer Fanatics having been with Topps since 2010.
Topps did agree a multi-year deal with the prestigious Formula 1 motor racing series last year, though, and recently expanded a deal with European soccer's governing body Uefa.
Mark Warsop, chief executive of Panini America, has now said: “We have always been intrigued by WWE as a license partner and their fans’ incredible passion … We have big plans for our WWE portfolio and the new heights we can help WWE trading cards and stickers reach in the collectibles arena.”
Scott Zanghellini, senior vice president for revenue strategy and development at WWE, added: “We believe that this partnership perfectly aligns our mutual interests in providing fans with exclusive collectibles and, ultimately, growing this category globally.”