Unlike today's DVD and blu-ray cases where the back of the case is littered with the list of special features and barely has room for the movie description, VHS cases had to be attention grabbing and had to convince you to rent (or buy) the tape since there were no special features to entice someone to take a chance. The box art, front and back, was the ONLY chance to make an impression. The majority of my wrestling video experiences came in local video stores and the library, all of which had extensive collections of wrestling tapes available for rent.
This will be an ongoing series that will show up whenever one of the four tentpole WWE events (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, or Survivor Series) is taking place. Each entry will have four tapes featured. Yeah, its not baseball cards but hey, VHS boxes are made from cardboard too, right?
Survivor Series 1997
Since this is Survivor Series Sunday, I figured the best way to start this off would be with the only Survivor Series VHS tape I own, the infamous 1997 Survivor Series that featured the "Montreal Screwjob", the background of which is way too complicated to get into here (but if you want to read about it, click here).
Since this was the next to last Coliseum Video release, you can tell not much effort was made to the back of the box as it is gray and void of any graphics whatsoever. The front doesn't look like much effort was put into it either, with the graphic from the event poster and a nondescript triangle on the bottom promoting the Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart match. I haven't watched this particular tape in ages but that last time I did, it was just weird seeing the old blue Coliseum Video title screen show up at the beginning, seeing as the roots of the "Attitude Era" were firmly planted by the time this show happened and Coliseum Video seemed like an ancient relic from the past.
WrestleMania VIII (1992)
This is one of my favorite WWF events of all time and the box just absolutely grabs you the minute you see it with lots of bright yellow sent against a purple background. The show itself is pretty epic too. Beginning with the Vince McMahon narrated opening that sets the stage and the opening shot of a packed Hoosier Dome to the closing pan out, it just leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling of your childhood.
The event itself featured two huge showdowns. The first between Randy Savage and Ric Flair for the WWF Title in what turned out to be an absolute classic thanks to the wrestling, the story behind the match, and the drama during the match with Miss Elizabeth. The other was what was billed as Hulk Hogan's final match against Sid Justice that had a huge surprise at the end of the match (back when the phrase "huge surprise" meant something in wrestling). There was also a classic match between Bret Hart and Roddy Piper for the Intercontinental Title which was a great straight-up classic wrestling match.
Here's a show I rediscovered just recently as I hadn't seen it since probably the mid 2000's. The box for this just screams summer and blazing, brow mopping heat with the orange hue and the yellow sun in the top center. Sort of makes you want to have a big ice cream bar and jump in the pool.
While it's not the best SummerSlam on record (1989's version was way better), it still had some memorable moments with Kerry Von Erich winning his only WWF singles championship and, in probably the best match on the show, The Hart Foundation beating Demolition for the Tag Team Titles thanks to the debut of the Legion of Doom. Also, you had the first steel cage match in SummerSlam history with Ultimate Warrior against Rick Rude and a showdown between Hulk Hogan and Earthquake.
Hulkamania Forever (1990)
Last summer I stopped in to the retro game and movie store that is a few doors down from Maverick's Card Shop in Dayton. The store is laid out like an old video store with movie posters all over the walls, arcade games, and racks of DVDs and video tapes everywhere. In the back, was the "special interest" section where all the sports tapes usually reside, that was where I found this. Unfortunately, the majority of old WWF tapes are cut up like this and jammed into these clamshell boxes. This is the fifth in the series of Hulkamania tapes which were nothing more that Hulk Hogan "best of" tapes featuring matches that were taped exclusively for home video.
I haven't watched this tape since I bought it as I don't have my VCR hooked up currently but judging by the back of the box, it sounds like fun with matches against Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, and Ted DiBiase and a series of matches against Earthquake.
I'll continue this series in January when Royal Rumble comes along with a look at four more tapes in my collection. Hope you enjoyed this trip back in time.