Monday, March 27, 2023

Your Guide To WWF WrestleMania IV!

As of press time it is exactly thirty-five years to the minute since WrestleMania IV began. If you enjoyed the previous blog entry then you already know of my love for the show and its significance. A highlight of the golden age of the World Wrestling Federation and an underrated one at that. Today, on the actual anniversary day, we're taking another look. This time we're diving through the media guide from the event. Will it be more hype? Will we uncover something new and exciting? This ain't Al Capone's vault and I'm not Geraldo -- we're gonna find something!

If you've read my previous tales of the coveted WrestleMania press kits you know that I have a belief: not every item was packed into every kit. Some may have had more press releases than others. Some may have more photos. Others may have had a unique lineup sheet or other item. This wasn't a science and as long as the WWF was getting the word of their event out they didn't really care who got what. As big and global as the WWF was getting, wrestling was still not the MLB or the NFL. Heck, no one even wrote about these kits until I did over a decade ago and I must say that I'm proud of that. One thing is for certain and that's that the media guide was only packed into kits given out to press members on WrestleMania weekend.

The front and back covers of the guide have the exact same graphics as the press kit folder itself. It has a plastic black binding that allows easy page turning. WrestleMania V has a very similar guide. The first page closely resembles the much used WWF corporate stationary of the time and features a welcome note from Michael Weber, WWF Director of Media Relations. A fact sheet page sets the scene as to what rooms the press was able to use during the event and where certain news conferences would be held. Despite the Boardwalk Hall facility being very old and rather cavernous looking in the arena itself, most everything else was going on just behind the curtain that you see on the show. Even the "locker room" was right back there.

A second page to the fact sheet lists all of the ways that WrestleMania will be distributed including closed circuit (still truly the bread and butter as far as viewing outside of the arena), pay-per-view, International broadcasts and the VHS cassette (no mention of the double set) to be released on May 11, 1988. A page detailing the television equipment notes that sixteen cameras, thirteen recorders (more than ABC used for Super Bowl XXII), three mobile production trucks, miles of cable and over 125 technicians would be used. More than $20 million worth of equipment in all.

We get a short page of WrestleMania history (only three to talk about at that point) and then we get to my favorite, the "WWF Television Network." I've said it before, but I'm sure that I'm not the only kid who, back then, thought that I was missing out on some sort of all-WWF, all day channel any time that the "network" phrasing was used. It makes sense, now, that they were referring to a "network" of shows and outlets on which to watch WWF programming, but it wasn't obvious then. I'm sure the illusion was something that they strived for. Listed are various ways to watch standard WWF programming in the Atlantic City area.

We get several pages dedicated to the card itself. While these pages regarding the matches don't divulge anything new, it's fun to see just how detailed they were. Weights, hometowns and even managers are all listed. All of the battle royal participants get acknowledged as well. When a battle royal miraculously makes it these days the wrestlers don't even get introduced on television. The last page of the card rundown is the most special. We get a listing of "Celebrity Guests" and "Other Participants" and it is here that we learn that none other than Vince McMahon was originally scheduled to welcome us to the show and introduce Gladys Knight. As we all know, this task eventually fell to Mean Gene Okerlund. McMahon, who introduced us to WrestleMania 2 and III, would not end up on camera at "the big show" again until X in 1994. No, that terrible pre-tape at VII does not count. I'm not sure who "Jessie Ventura," "Jim Koderas" and "Joey Morella" are, but they somehow made it onto the page. I guess getting the celebrity names right is more important than actual company folk.

Before we wrap it up with a look at the tournament bracket on the last page we get a "M E D I A   A D V I S O R Y" page (hey, that's how it's spelled out...) which details how highlight packages will be released post-show. Mean Gene will narrate this package and ONLY this footage can be used. Five seconds of video courtesy credit MUST be given in the form of "Courtesy: World Wrestling Federation." Don't you DARE just use "WWF."

Well, that was fun. The guides just don't show up often. Sellers often like to gush and overprice the WrestleMania-branded promo photos, but they aren't that uncommon. They're out there. Get you a media guide and you're in business.

Join us next year for V?

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