Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Long Lost WrestleMania Program
WWF Magazine had seemingly not quite kept up with the changes. The style of the magazine, including both graphics and writing, had become increasingly geared towards children. With the change of the company's direction and the "knowledge" of the Internet wrestling fans, something had to be done. Articles actually acknowledging the existence of WCW? Photos showing the blood and violence that was creeping back into WWF matches? Risque photo shoots of female stars? Raw Magazine became the answer.
Both magazines would continue to co-exist until the "brand split" of the following decade transformed WWF Magazine into "Smackdown Magazine." Raw would keep its name and represent that particular "brand" of shows and talent accordingly. Nevertheless, that first issue would never quite exit the memories of many fans. Little did many of us outside of Anaheim, California know, there was actually a second version of that debut issue. A version that, considering the content inside, makes it ten times as desirable to collectors. It would, that is, if more collectors actually knew that it existed.
When the WWF ceased production of its separate "program" publication in the mid-1990's, the company would often produce a variant edition of the monthly WWF Magazine, print a $5.00 tag over the standard bar code, and include an unattached match sheet for each individual show. The content inside was exactly the same, but many collectors, including myself, often bought the magazine at live events regardless simply for the match list included.
WrestleMania programs, however, have always been a different ball game. Highly collectible and nicely produced, 'Mania programs are fun records of "The Greatest Wrestling Extravaganza of All-Time." So, what happened when WrestleMania and the debut issue of Raw Magazine collided? The WrestleMania XII program. The LONG LOST WrestleMania program, that is.
The Coliseum Video ad from the inside cover of the regular edition is replaced by one half of the two-page description of WrestleMania XII's main event, the Hart-Michaels Iron Man match. This is followed by a two-page feature on Roddy Piper and Goldust's "Backlot Brawl" and one page dedicated to The Undertaker vs Diesel. The photos used are nothing really unique. They have been seen elsewhere, but that's a practice still used in programs to this day.
Following the Raw Magazine we are treated to additional exclusive program
pages touting the other matches on the show. The pay-per-view opening six-man match featuring Vader, Owen Hart, and Davey Boy Smith against Yokozuna, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Ahmed Johnson. This match is notable for including a final "cameo" appearance by Mr. Fuji. The legendary manager appears during the match itself and, in a moment that crushed the memories of so many fans, begins waving the American flag. It just wasn't meant to be!
Next up we have a page featuring the infamous return match of The Ultimate Warrior. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was the victim that the Warrior quickly disposed of, but this match also marks a huge atrocity committed to the wrestling business: the debut of Sable. It should be noted that the text on this page claims that this will be the Warrior's first WrestleMania match "since he toppled Macho Man Randy Savage for the belt." Mistakes happen.
The rarest WrestleMania program? Maybe. I prefer "long lost" as a more fitting description. The WWF made a similar move with the WrestleMania XIV program, however that was a standard April 1998 WWF Magazine with a loose paper lineup for the event inside. The $5.00 printed price is the only thing to differentiate the actual magazine, and that would've been sold at live events throughout the month. Only the lineup sheet could be connected to WrestleMania XIV itself.
Although the main event of WrestleMania XII puts me to sleep and the show itself is not among my favorites, I think any collector would be excited to own this program. It's a unique variation on an already memorable magazine and a special addition to the very collectible WrestleMania program lineup.