WWE has reportedly severed ties with The Panini Group, a trading card behemoth and industry leader with a 60-year history in sports and entertainment collectibles.
WWE and Panini announced a landmark agreement in October 2021, with operations set to begin in the first quarter of 2022. However, according to a new report from sports business reporter Darren Rovell, WWE terminated the deal two weeks ago for breach of contract.
The WWE-Panini contract had more than two years left on it. Because Panini is still selling WWE products, WWE intends to seek an injunction because Panini is now in violation of the terms.
As the Panini deal expired in 2026, Fanatics is expected to receive rights to WWE trading cards and collectible stickers immediately.
WWE President Nick Khan praised the Panini agreement during the 2021 Q3 earnings call on November 4, 2021, noting that the trading card industry was thriving. Khan also revealed that WWE received several bids from card companies, but Panini’s offer was significantly higher than their previous agreement with Topps. The collaboration was also highlighted in the Q4 and Full Year 2021 earnings release on February 3, 2022. During the 2022 Q2 earnings call on August 16, 2022, Khan announced that WWE had outperformed its full-year trading card performance with Panini, and that more cards would be released later that year. Stephanie McMahon, then-WWE Chairwoman & Co-CEO, also praised Panini during the 2022 Q3 earnings call on November 2, 2022, noting that the Panini partnership was exceeding expectations. Finally, during the Q4 & Full Year 2022 earnings call on February 2 of this year, Khan praised Panini, noting that the trading card business continued to deliver healthy results. Khan also revealed that Panini will release seven new products in 2022, resulting in record annual revenue for WWE’s trading card business.
WWE and The Panini Group announced a multi-year agreement in October 2021, making Panini WWE’s exclusive trading card and collectible sticker partner. Bloomberg reported that the deal was worth at least $10 million in what was billed as a landmark agreement that began in the first quarter of 2022. This is more than three times the average annual value of WWE’s contract with Topps, which was about to expire, bringing an end to a working relationship that began in 1985. It was also claimed that the significant price increase for WWE at the time was due to a brisk trading card market and the leverage they had in negotiations.
In March 2022, WWE and Fanatics announced a comprehensive, long-term sports and entertainment partnership in which Fanatics would take over WWE’s e-commerce, licensed merchandise, as well as physical, digital, and NFT trading cards. This included a relaunch of WWE Shop, which has been hit and miss at times. Then, in April, it was announced that WWE and Fanatics were expanding their existing long-term sports and entertainment partnership by allowing Fanatics to run WWE’s global live event merchandise business.