When I wrestled with my sister

A new wrestling card game is in the market, but can it bring back the glory days of old?

At a time when the world was still untarred by the Internet, long distance calls were made through trunk bookings.  Videogames looked no better than the ones played on phones today and across the country, in small towns and large cities, you would see hordes of children cowering over alleyways and corners. Each of these kids would clutch a stack of wrestling cards. The richer amongst them would have more sturdy-looking Trump Cards (containing statistics like wins, losses, height and weight) and the others, cards that were cut out of chart paper and bereft of any numbers.

This was also when I Tombstoned my younger sister. This finishing move, also called the Inverted Piledriver and made famous by The Undertaker in WWE (then WWF), required precision. One had to lift the opponent onto his/her shoulders and drive him/her into the floor headfirst. I think something went wrong after she got tombstoned. She became the only girl in my town who started collecting wrestling cards.

Our games were simple. The card with a wrestler who had secured more wins would defeat a card whose wrestler had lesser points. Needless to say, there were many ways one could cheat one's way through the game, one of which was marking your cards with stronger points.

Of course, this was about 15 years ago. Much has changed since then. Lotions, eyeliners, lipstick and other sundry tools have now replaced the cards in my sister's bag. CM Punk is now the WWE heavyweight champion (hardly championship-material) and there are countless videos on Youtube that show how the matches are staged.

It was then with some nostalgia and excitement that I accepted to try out a new wrestling card game called Topps Slam Attax Trading Card game. Surprisingly, I found an agreeable partner in my sister. The game, priced at Rs 299, contained 25 cards and a game mat. I am told there are more expensive varieties from the same company with more cards and complex rules.

Here, each wrestler on the card is given different points for defense and attack. The cards are held face downwards so that none of the players know which card they choose. One player chooses either attack or defence from a card, and the other chooses another. The points are then compared and the one with higher points wins. To put it charitably, the game isn't the most exciting. Not that the Trump Cards of yore were any better. But at least we had statistics and figures, and to a fan these were akin to gawking at Sachin Tendulkar's batting records.

Anyway, to keep out Mother Fluke (if such a thing is possible), my sister and I played a best-of-three game. Each of us won a game apiece. And I realised she was almost about to clinch the last one. That's when I started marking the cards. I started bending some too, so I knew which ones to pick. To my surprise, I still lost.

It was a day poorly spent. Not only had I lost, I had lost at game that was extremely lousy. As I wondered if the new crop of kids would learn the value of holding a Trump Card by owning this lousy set, I saw The Rock stare out to me from the card. He looked in pain; one of his ears seemed sore. That's when I noticed that the card had been bent. I looked around; almost all cards had that identical mark. My sister had been marking the cards too.

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