Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Top 5 All-Time WrestleMania Collectibles

Amazingly enough, the 27th edition of WrestleMania is on the horizon. Regardless of whether or not what you wanted to be "the draw" is happening, there is still an aura around the show that does not surround any other wrestling event.

It's been deemed the World Series or Superbowl of professional wrestling. It's the one event that transcends the normal wrestling vs. real world boundaries. Created in the "Rock 'n Wrestling" era, each year WrestleMania builds upon the idea of one ultimate pop culture event surrounding a wrestling ring.

WrestleMania is also known for usually offering "something for everyone." Even the wrestling purist longing for the days of classic territorial wrestling can find a match or two on the annual card to satisfy their tastes. After all, some of the greatest matches of all-time, be it for action or sheer memorability, have been held at the first twenty-six WrestleMania events.

Hogan vs Andre. Michaels vs Undertaker. Steamboat vs Savage. Hart vs Austin. These and many other matches have set the standard for how matches should be performed and also promoted.

Shortly after becoming the best known wrestling event on the planet, WrestleMania exploded into a deluge of merchandising. Even at the very first event in 1985, fans were able to purchase attire adorned with the now-legendary classic WrestleMania logo.

That same logo, and variations from following years, has since been attached to nearly every type of collectible imaginable. It has become a true testament to the promotion of the event that the WrestleMania logo has become nearly as recognizable as the WWF/WWE brand logo itself.

In this entry I bring you my personal top five favorite WrestleMania collectibles of all-time. I chose five from my own collection that I truly feel represent the event, its stars, and the special feeling that the show has cultivated throughout the years. If your favorite WrestleMania item isn't shown here, I apologize in advance and would love you to share it in any of the various ways presented here in the past. The items are in no particular order, although stay tuned until the end for an honorable mention.

1. WrestleMania 1-13 VHS Box Set (1997)

VHS over DVD? In the case of WrestleMania it's a no contest. When the WrestleMania collection finally hit the DVD format in 2005, many of the earlier events almost didn't resemble what we saw and heard years ago. Due to rights issues much of the music had been changed in addition to the annoying blur of the WWF "scratch" logo in several events. What makes the music issue particularly troubling is that it seems WWE didn't bother to check their rights on many themes. These same themes, obviously owned by the company, were later used without fear on other vintage releases such as SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble sets.

This VHS box set is the only commercially released way to view the events as originally intended. Slated for a release in time for the 1997 Holiday gift-giving season, the WWF offered this set through their catalog. Fans who pre-ordered, expecting a big dose of WrestleMania nostalgia come Christmas, were informed via mail that the set would not be available until early in 1998. This could have been a blessing in disguise.

While the horrors of theme music changing had yet to be uncovered, fans were used to the earlier mainstream themes used in wrestling being dubbed over. Such songs as "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," "Another One Bites The Dust," "Born In The USA," "Eye of the Tiger," and "Easy Lover" were used in the inaugural WrestleMania yet dubbed over on the Coliseum Video release. For reasons unknown to this day, each and every one of these themes is included in this set. My theory is that due to the rush job needed to get the set out to awaiting fans, the music rights issues were either overlooked or ignored. The "WrestleMania Legacy" box set released later in 1998 and also including WrestleMania XIV corrects this oversight.

This set isn't without faults, as the rush job may have also caused a dip in picture quality. The tapes used are low quality and crudely dubbed on low speed complete with visible cuts during the intermissions, although the intros and returns as well as merchandise commercials are intact.

2. 2001 WrestleMania XVII Mat Card

Although trading cards fitted with pieces of memorabilia are commonplace today, in 2001 it was truly an event to pick one out. In the 2001 Fleer WWF Championship Clash card series, cards with pieces of the mat from WrestleMania X-7 (XVII) are included. This particular card features photos of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, the main event of the show, and a swatch of mat in between. Cards featuring swatches with something unique to the swatch have always garnered more interest among collectors. My particular card actually has a small spot of what appears to be blood on the left edge of the swatch.

3. WrestleMania 1-6 Press Kits

While promotional photos are among the most collectible of any type of wrestling memorabilia, little has been discussed about other promo items such as press kits. There are at least seven different WrestleMania press kits available. The ones featured here are the kits for WrestleMania I through VI. A kit for WrestleMania XIV is known to exist.

About a year ago I discussed these kits in length here on the blog. Much is still unknown about them and just exactly which items were included with each. There are WrestleMania-exclusive promotional photos that have been seen with some press kits, while others simply feature paperwork.

4. WrestleMania VI Promotional Standee

While some "workrate" mongers condemn the 1990 edition of WrestleMania, true fans of the era and its stars find it nothing short of one of the best. Bright colors and even brighter superstars combine to cap off everything that the 1980s WWF stood for and ring in the 1990s.

This is a cardboard standee about ten inches or so tall. Looking exactly as if it would've been standing in the office of a regional cable company, the item touts the pay-per-view and not the video release. Featuring great graphics and die-cutting, this standee has even been seen included with the WrestleMania VI press kit at one point at auction.

And just who was that kid staring up from ringside in the Hogan picture?

5. April 2010 WWE Magazine

In one of the coolest ideas that the WWE Magazine had in years, its April 2010 issue had twenty six different covers in honor of WrestleMania XXVI. A different superstar was featured on each cover, with some possibly getting their only cover ever in the process. Bret Hart, CM Punk, and Drew McIntyre were just a few featured, proving that great WrestleMania memorabilia is far from being a thing of the past.

Honorable Mention--Floyd "Money" Mayweather Bill

We end with another item that, like the mat swatch, was part of a WrestleMania event itself. During his entrance to the ring at WrestleMania XXIV to battle The Big Show, boxer Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. "made it rain" dollar bills. These weren't just any bills, though. These were "$20,000,000" bills. Occasionally showing up for auction from enterprising fans lucky enough to scoop a few up, these bills are sure to only become more collectible as the years go on.

I hope you enjoyed my own favorite WrestleMania mementos. If you'd like to share your own or just give some feedback, please check out our Facebook Fanpage.


Posi Jeff The Record Guy said...

Nice topic! I agree that the VHS box set was kinda poorly put together. But still a great item for a collection. I'm a big fan on the Wrestlemania Coliseum videos.

Bix said...

The Legacy set *did* have the same music as "The Collection." It had some problems though:

- They used the cheapest tape stock on earth and recorded them in SLP/EP. A new, sealed copy will develop tracking faults in one or two plays. How was the quality of the tapes used for "The Collection"?

- The scratch logo is in the corner on all shows. Did the WMs in "The Collection" have the block logo on all WMs or are they all as broadcast?

- WM5 is missing Piper's Pit due to a mastering error.

J\/\/ said...

I actually didn't know that the Legacy set had the WrestleMania 1 music!

The quality of the tapes is the same on the first Collection. I actually do have the WrestleMania 6 tape from the Legacy set as my copy from the first collection broke fast!

No logos at all in "The Collection."

braindamage said...

hello i have searched high and low and i could not find this shirt (tank top)anywhere i got it the day before Wrestlemania 6 was a fun run and the winner got 2 ring sides seats....i didnt win..think you paid $10 and they gave me this tank top and if i remember some ...or all the money went to Charities talks about it at the start of the Wrestlemania 6 VHS.thatss me in the red trackpants