Highlights of WrestleMania VHS

Picture this: The year is 1986.

You see this ad for new WWF video tapes, touting WrestleMania for just $19.95.

Maybe you’d never seen it, or maybe you’d rented it once but never bought it…

…because, even at the special price of $39.95, that was still twelve hours of labor at your minimum wage job.

But twenty bucks for WrestleMania? That would pay for itself after the fifth viewing.

You go to your local retailer, and sure enough there it is on the shelf: WrestleMania. $19.95. Video will never get any cheaper than this.

You take it home. You pop it into your VCR. After the usual ominous clanking and buzzing, the tape starts to whir.

Vince McMahon is there in the studio telling you about this special collector’s edition. On the screen flashes some text.


That’s strange. “WrestleMania Highlights”?

You look at the box. It says “Highlights”, too. And the run time is 45 minutes.

Ah, crap.

In 1986, after the previous year’s MSG event, closed circuit telecast, and the VHS release, Vince McMahon wringed wrang wrung the last few dollars out of WrestleMania1.

Packaged in an almost identical box as the full-length version, “Highlights of WrestleMania” (or “WrestleMania Highlights”) was part of a three-tape “Collector’s Series”…

…giving collectors the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pay $20 for part of a tape they already owned.

The other demographics for “Highlights of WrestleMania” were cheapskates…

(“Cheap” is relative)

…and people who didn’t read labels carefully.

The tape begins with Vince McMahon in his stupid bowtie to give just the slightest bit of context to the event we’re going to see.

WrestleMania, which took place on “March thirty-one”, was “the greatest happening” in the history of “professional rustling”, featuring many “truly historical [sic] moments”.

After the world’s most obvious edit, Vince lists off the tape’s clips, managing to say both “and then from there” and “and from there” in under a minute.

The video then cuts to JYD vs. Greg Valentine already in progress. This first edit isn’t too bad, as it’s only missing the first thirty seconds or so. But then, why not just show the whole match?

Next comes the last 90 seconds of Tito Santana vs. The Executioner, which cuts off right before the masked man submits. After all, they don’t want to just give away the results, now do they?

Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne ends on an even less conclusive note, again after ninety seconds.

The clip ends with Steamboat knocking Borne down with a forearm. They should have put a graphic on screen saying “Game over. Insert coin to continue”.

(Like this, but 80 quarters)

Then it’s time for the Women’s title match, another 90-second affair clipped seemingly at random.

Who won? Not important.

Why is Cyndi Lauper there? Again, not important.

Next up are recent Hall of Fame inductees Barry Windham, accidentally misspelled as “Wyndham”…

…and Mike Rotunda, intentionally misspelled as “Rotundo”.

They defend their titles against Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik in a match whose outcome is simply too hot for this video tape.

Next is the entire SD Jones vs. King Kong Bundy match, complete with introductions and replays. Despite being the shortest match at WrestleMania (24 seconds), it actually gets more screen time than most of the matches from that card…

…including David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake, whose 11 minutes, 43 seconds were whittled down to 0 minutes, 0 seconds.

In a no doubt unrelated bit of trivia, David had recently pissed off Vince McMahon by randomly submitting to a jobber.

Speaking of bear hugs, Andre vs. Big John Studd is next. Here, they kept the intros but cut out the first minute and a half of the match itself.

It’s the next best thing to not having to watch it at all!

Finally, it’s time for the main event, which the WWF have graciously included in its entirety, from the opening bell to the split second before “Eye of the Tiger” plays for the winning team.

I’ve been a big Beatles fan for decades. In fact, Beatlemania is one of my all-time favorite manias. So I’ll use a Beatles analogy.

“Highlights of WrestleMania” is like if, after the Beatles’ first album, Parlophone had put out a ten minute Beatles’ Greatest Hits album that was just snippets of most of the songs:

  • Twenty seconds of “Please Please Me”.
  • “Twist and Shout” joined in progress.
  • “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” without the intro.
  • All instances of harmonica edited out.
  • “I Saw Her Standing There” in its entirety, just for a treat.

(This does, however, sound like something their American label, Capitol, would have done. But you can read about that on BeatleCrap).

One of the many galling things about the “Highlights of WrestleMania” VHS was that the original, full-priced WrestleMania VHS was already heavily clipped…

…with lots of entrances, celebrity involvement, and licensed music stripped out for the sake of length and royalty payments.

“Highlights of WrestleMania” does away with such frivolities as promos and, uh, finishes…

…without even in-studio wrap-around segments to fill in the gaps in context.

While “Highlights of WrestleMania” remains an obscure footnote in WWF history, every day someone new discovers it for the first time…

…often after buying it online by accident.

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