Thursday, April 5, 2018
If I had to bet, I would say that WWF WrestleMania hit more VHS tapes in Pittsburgh before anywhere else. Why? After the closed-circuit feed of the inaugural WrestleMania failed at the Pittsbugh Civic Arena (nearly causing a riot in the process), the WWF presented much of the show on the city's ABC affiliate WTAE around a week later. Surely many Steel City fans pushed the record button on their VCRs to capitalize on this momentous event. Vince McMahon's introduction for this broadcast, done from the set of TNT, recently surfaced on YouTube. A few more weeks would pass before Coliseum Video released the official VHS of the event, which also found its way to Laserdisc as one of four WWF offerings in that form of media. The Laserdisc, the size of a vinyl record, presents the famous Hulk Hogan and Mr. T cover art in a way that the smaller VHS couldn't.
1998 saw WWF Home Video take over for Coliseum Video, and the first thirteen WrestleMania events were re-released in a box set under the new label. The set featured dubs taken straight from the original pay-per-view broadcasts, often with portions of intermissions and merchandise commercials that had been long eliminated from home video versions. While the picture quality suffered in this release, there are zero music edits. Yes, even "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," "Easy Lover," and other unlicensed numbers are all there. I'm still unsure how they got away with that one, but I've always been proud to own the set.
WWE continues to release its biggest annual event on DVD and Blu-Ray. While physical media was supposed to be dead by this point in the digital age, it continues on. There will always be fans like me who enjoy having a tangible item in their hands. Is it any wonder that vinyl records have made a comeback? How about WrestleMania back on Laserdisc? Stranger things have happened...