World Wrestling Entertainment is a bizarre case in brand management.
Founded as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation in 1953, and then World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1963, starting in 1979, the company became the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF. But there was already another WWF — the World Wildlife Fund, which was founded in 1961, back when the wrestling promotion was still the CWC.
In 1999, the World Wrestling Federation became a publicly-owned company, operating under the parent company, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, traded as WWFE on the stock exchange.
So in 2002, after the World Wrestling Federation’s two biggest competitors — World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling — had gone out of business, the WWF became the WWE. As their advertising campaign at the time went, they “Got the ‘F’ Out,” and even the stock identification, WWFE, became just “WWE.”
For the next decade, every piece of home video that WWE put out had the late-90s “scratch”-style WWF logo blurred out. But, not the 1980s and early 90s “block” WWF logo. In 2012, World Wrestling Entertainment and the World Wildlife Fund came to agreements about the use of the late-90s “scratch” logo, and WWE was allowed to use their old logos once again.
Let’s reiterate that: From 2002 through 2012, the height of DVD and Blu-Ray releases, before everything was streaming online, the only way to get 1997-2002-era WWE content saw edited releases of the original broadcasts, with huge blurs over the company logo. This included the WrestleMania Anthology box set, released in 2006, which included DVDs the first TWENTY Wrestlemanias. And installments 15, 16, 17, and 18 all have blurred logos all over the place.
It was nice to own all the WrestleManias, but man, I just couldn’t stand all of those blurs everywhere. So, a few months back, I decided to buy the original DVD releases, which were put out by the World Wrestling Federation — meaning those WWF scratch logos were still intact. Most WWE DVD releases are pretty cheap on the secondary market, so I headed to the usual online shopping spots and my jaw dropped when I saw the prices these four events, specifically, were listed for. $30 for WrestleMania XV. $45 for WrestleMania 2000. $70+ for WrestleMania X-Seven. And around 40 for WrestleMania X8.
But inflated prices make sense: Wrestlemania XV from 1999 was the first DVD that WWF ever released, back when DVDs were brand-new. Wrestlemania 2000 (16) shares its name with one if the most popular wrestling video games of all time. Wrestlemania X-Seven is still generally considered by many to be the best Wrestlemania of all time. Wrestlemania X8 was the final World Wrestling Federation DVD release in the United States (the UK and Canada saw a “best of 2001” DVD release like a week after the WMX8 DVD, then all future DVDs were WWE-branded). And, to top it all off, all of these DVDs are now at least 20 years old. And I’m definitely not the only person to want these unaltered home video releases.
Y’know, sometimes I really envy the United Kingdom. They’re still getting a TON of new wrestling DVDs every year that we never see here in North America. Including stuff like this:
The reviews I’ve read say that this box set includes Wrestlemanias 14 through 17 in their entirety, with a couple of minor tweaks that remove some sponsorships that no longer exist, such as removing an M&M’s ad that played during the Big Boss Man’s entrance at WrestleMania XV. But Wrestlemania XIV still used the old 80s-style “block” WWF logo. AND, X8 isn’t included. So I’d have to buy that again, anyways.
It was still cheaper and easier to buy overpriced DVDs from 20+ years ago than it would have been to import this AND get a DVD player that can play PAL-region-encoded discs, AND figure out how to convert the electronics standards.
The hunt was on. I checked eBay, Amazon, Mercari, and Google’s Shopping tab every day for a WHILE. I quickly decided to be patient, and just had to accept that, maybe this is going to take a while. In September, I found a copy of Wrestlemania X8 for a decent price on eBay, no huge problem.
A couple of weeks later, I found XV for a price I was willing to pay, but it was listed as the 2013 WWE re-release, with photos of the 1999 original release. I actually have no idea if the 2013 version is edited or not, so I hoped that I got the original. Fortunately, when it showed up, I got the version that was pictured, not what was described. Whew!
In October, I went back-and-forth with a seller on eBay about the price of a copy of WrestleMania 2000, before they revealed that the price I was asking for was what they’d paid for it. After taking shipping and eBay fees into account, the price I wanted to pay meant they’d be selling it at a loss. Totally understandable, so I thanked them for their time and wished them luck in their sale. A few days later, I lucked out and found it on Mercari.com at just $10 — Less than half of the price I was trying to negotiate down to — for some reason listed as being 83% off. I paid for that IMMEDIATELY, and figured that if there were any issues, I could maybe get away with disputing it as false advertising.
So all that was left was X-Seven. Arguably the greatest WrestleMania ever. Plus, I was actually at the 2001 edition of WrestleMania, in the last row of the floor seats. This was the most expensive one, so I knew I’d have to be especially patient, and even luckier. One day in November, I kinda randomly checked eBay after finishing a project at work, not really expecting to find anything. A Goodwill location had it listed for around $35. That’s more than I WANTED to pay, but considering how much money I’d saved on the WrestleMania 2000 DVD, I figued it would balance out. However, the listing had no photos, which means who knows what I’d even be getting. Fortunately, I’d had pretty good luck up to this point, so I pulled the trigger, and when the package arrived, I was rewarded for taking a chance.
And now I have all four of these WrestleManias in their original forms, in addition to the Anthology box set.
For any non-wrestling fans reading this who don’t understand, take a look at this:
The above screencap, featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is a totally random moment from some WWF show in 1999 I found via a Google Image search. There are THREE “WWF” logos edited out of one shot. Now imagine watching a show with edits like that for three hours.
THAT’S why I went to all this trouble.
Some combination of World Wrestling Entertainment and the World Wildlife Fund own all the intellectual property mentioned in this post. Frankly, I’m not smart enough to figure out which WWF owns what.