The Legacy of WWE Home Video Part One

12/27/2023 10:59 PM

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The Legacy of WWE Home Video Part One

The Legacy of WWE Home Video Part One

December 27, 2023 10:59 PM
The Legacy of WWE Home Video Part One
WWE News

How Coliseum Video Changed Pro Wrestling Content

The recent announcement that the WWE is getting out of the home video business has fans lamenting the passing of another example of the good old days as they also look at the legacy of WWE home video. Countless fans remember visiting their local video store and picking up WWE releases. For some fans, the WWE’s vast video library was their first exposure to the squared circle. For others, it was a chance to dive into the WWF’s rich history of matches, many of which they’d never seen.

With a history dating back to the Awesome Eighties, WWE Home Video has helped fans relive classic moments, access shows they couldn’t normally watch, and track the evolution of professional wrestling in the WWE. There’s much more to WWE Home Video than you might know and WrestleLamia is ready to look at the company’s deep history of digital content.

Why is the WWE Scrapping Its Home Video Content?

Despite a history that dates back to the 1980s, the WWE recently announced the end of WWE Home Video:

Like anything in business, the decision to scrap WWE Home Video is all about the bottom line. Haus of Wrestling exclusively reported:

A higher-up WWE source issued the following statement to Haus of Wrestling regarding the future of the company’s home video business.
“The home video business has long been in decline, and it will no longer be a place where the company dedicates time and resources.”

Haus of Wrestling

The WWE’s difficulties with home video aren’t exclusive to the company. The sale of physical products, that is, DVDs and Blu-Ray, has been in decline for years. An article at VOX summed up why digital copies and subscription services have eroded the market for physical copies of entertainment mediums such as film and television:

These dual trends — the rise of purchased and subscription-based non-physical media — are driven by the benefits such consumption provides, chiefly convenience. Digital and streaming media generally offer minimal effort to access and strong portability without physical degradation or the constraints imposed by taking up physical space (say, in a box on a TV stand).


While there are probably fans who still enjoy popping in a WWE DVD to watch their favorite matches, the ease of the WWE Network (not to mention the abundance of classic content available on YouTube) means the demand for WWE’s home video is difficult to justify from a business perspective.

That doesn’t mean the WWE is without options for producing physical copies. TV and film fans have seen production companies such as Shout! Studios (aka Shout! Factory) provide a boutique service for otherwise neglected titles. The WWE could license the rights to its content and test the market for whether fans are willing to pay a premium for physical copies of shows. However, that’s an issue beyond the scope of this article.

The Dark Ages of Wrestling Content

Once upon a time, wrestling fans had few options for accessing wrestling content that had aired before. The first was by promoters airing past matches on their weekly TV. It was common for promotions to show clips of major title changes and high-profile angles (such as beatdowns or other scenarios designed to build interest in live events).

In some cases, a promotion might show footage from another promotion of a wrestler who was coming to the territory (as often happened when Andre the Giant toured Canada and the United States).

By the early 1980s, video cassette recorders (VCRs) were becoming more common. While they were still expensive, they provided a means for consumers to record TV (although at the time there were still questions about the legalities of doing so). Wrestling fans could now tape their favorite shows and watch them over and over.

More importantly, fans could now trade wrestling tapes with fans from other parts of the country that usually didn’t have access to the same content. For example, a fan living in the Midwest might only have access to the American Wrestling Association (AWA) but they could now trade tapes of the AWA shows with fans who had access to the WWF or other promotions. Fans placed ads in wrestling magazines, and over time, a tape trading network arose, expanding fans’ access to wrestling content.

Nonetheless, the tape trading was a niche market and generally speaking, most fans were still limited to what content aired in their local market. While cable television expanded fans’ access to other promotions, they were still stuck with whatever promoters provided.

Home Video Hits the Squared Circle

By the mid-80s, that began to change. While the WWF wasn’t the first company to produce a wrestling tape for home video (one of the earliest was the Pro Wrestling Illustrated tape, which featured some sensational highlights from around the country, including Randy Savage piledriving Ricky Morton through a bench in Memphis and Kerry Von Erich defeating Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship).

As often was the case, Vince McMahon took an existing idea and put his own spin on things, taking it to the next level. Vince McMahon realized the growing home video market could mean extra revenue for the World Wrestling Federation, much as it was doing for film studios and the adult film industry. In 1985, the WWF partnered with Coliseum Video to produce a line of WWF home video releases.

Like most home video releases at the time, they were expensive (around $59.95), meaning people usually rented them at their local video store rather than buying them. The videos quickly caught on as the WWF released content that included wrestler profiles, compilation videos, title histories, and pay-per-view shows.

Unfortunately, traditional VHS tapes were limited to two hours of recorded time, which meant that it was rare to see matches in their entirety, including pay-per-views. This often led to matches being joined in progress and/or matches skipping all over the place. It was frustrating for fans, but the inconvenience was more than made up for by the access to a treasure trove of wrestling content.

Were There Other Coliseum Video Formats?

While VHS was the preferred medium for most consumers, Coliseum Video did release several titles from its catalog on Laserdisc. Despite some advantages such as better video and audio quality, Laserdisc didn’t catch on in the United States. However, Coliseum did try tapping into the existing market:

Along with their VHS counterpart, the only WWE LaserDisc releases were Wrestling's Bloopers, Bleeps and Bodyslams, Hulkamania, The Best of the WWF Vol 1, and WrestleMania 1 which also were the first four Coliseum Video titles in that order.

H/T The Sportster

Low sales meant the end to this endeavor but Coliseum’s home video products proved an enormous success. Consequently, Coliseum Video released hundreds of titles until the WWF decided to start its own home video line.

A Magical Time for Fans

While fans had to deal with edited matches, Coliseum Home Video provided fans with access to material that was previously impossible to acquire. While the spread of video cassette recorders (VCRs) led to wrestling fans trading tapes they’d recorded (or acquired on the tape trading circuit), there were still many matches that were unavailable as they’d never aired on WWF television.

This was particularly important for fans who might not have the funds to purchase a pay-per-view but who could catch it when it was released on home video. With so many titles to choose from, it’s difficult to compile a "Best of" list but that's not going to stop WrestleLamia's tireless staff. Join us next time as we look at some of Coliseum Home Video's greatest releases.

Photo Credit: WWE