The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) video library is currently the largest collection of professional wrestling videos and copyrights in the world. It is comprised not only of past and current works by World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the World Wrestling Federation) but the works of now out of business professional wrestling promotions dating back to the 1940s. As of 2010, the library stands at over 100,000 hours of content including weekly television shows, pay-per-views, and recorded house shows. The collection represents a very significant portion of the visual history of modern professional wrestling. In recent years WWE has made their classic holdings available to public view through their WWE Classics On Demand video on demand service and various home-video releases.
Due to the lawsuit by the World Wide Fund for Nature in 2002,  the company became known as WWE and the WWF video library from 1979-2002 were rendered as deleted titles and the company was forced to stop trading all WWF merchandise. In 2003, World Wrestling Entertainment won a limited decision which permitted them to continue marketing certain pre-existing products with the abandoned WWF logo. However, WWE was mandated to issue newly branded merchandise such as apparel, action figures, video games, and DVDs with the "WWE" initials. Additionally, the court order required the company to remove both auditory and visual references to "WWF" in its library of video footage outside of the United Kingdom. The WWE re-released the videos under 'Tagged Classics,' offering 2 titles under one DVD package. These DVDs have however discontinued Special Features many of the originals offered.
The dates listed below for purchased organizations and libraries represent the duration of that company, and may not necessarily represent the extent of historical video owned.
Classic WWE holdings Edit
The library includes all past and present World Wrestling Entertainment tapes dating back to the 1950s, including all previous forms of the company:
- Capitol Wrestling Corporation (1952-1963)
- World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) (1963-1979)
- World Wrestling Federation (WWF) (1979-2002)
- World Wrestling Entertainment (2002-present), inclusive of WWE's current brands:
Although not wrestling content, the library's holdings also include footage from various WWF/E produced ventures including the 1985-1987 cartoon series Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, the 1989 film No Holds Barred, the World Bodybuilding Federation (1990-1992), the XFL (2001), and any motion pictures produced by WWE Films.
Non-WWE purchases Edit
For years World Wrestling Entertainment has engaged in a campaign of purchasing libraries of defunct wrestling promotions. The first significant purchases took place in 2001, when they bought the complete historical archives of their former competitor World Championship Wrestling. The purchase of Extreme Championship Wrestling in 2003 gave the company the majority of all national professional wrestling content available at the time.
- American Wrestling Association (1957-1991)
- Georgia Championship Wrestling (1944-1985)
- Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) (1994-2001) and its predecessor
- Eastern Championship Wrestling (1992-1994)
- Ohio Valley Wrestling (1998-2008)*
- Florida Championship Wrestling (2007-present)
- Smoky Mountain Wrestling (1992-1995)
- Stampede Wrestling (1948-1989)
- Ultimate Pro Wrestling (1998-2007)
- Championship Wrestling from Florida (1961-1987)
- World Championship Wrestling (WCW) (1988-2001)
- World Class Championship Wrestling (1966-1988**)
- Maple Leaf Wrestling (1930-1995)
- ^* Former WWE developmental territory
- ^** Angelo and Mario Savoldi, the former owners of International World Class Championship Wrestling, own all post-1988 footage of WCCW and its successor promotions.
National Wrestling Alliance Edit
Throughout its history, WWE has had a long relationship with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). For many decades, until the mid-1980s, the NWA acted as a governing body of the many various regional wrestling promotions, and membership allowed for decreased regional competition and the shared use of big-name stars for local events. WWE (as Capitol Wrestling) was a member of the NWA between 1952 and 1963, and again (as the WWWF) between 1971 and 1983.
Jim Crockett Promotions was an NWA member for its entire existence, and by the end of the promotion's run was, more or less, the NWA, thanks to its control of the largest regional NWA promotions. This was exemplified by the presence of all major NWA titles in World Championship Wrestling when Crockett Promotions morphed into WCW in the 1980s. WCW's relationship with the NWA was even more convoluted than WWE's, until WCW left the NWA in 1993.
As a result of WWE's former membership in the NWA, through its ownership of WCW and its predecessor libraries, and through its ownership of Extreme Championship Wrestling (which was an NWA member until it suddenly severed ties in 1994) and other smaller regional promotions, WWE owns a vast amount of NWA footage, making up the majority of significant NWA matches from the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.
Although professional wrestling has been on television throughout the medium's existence, not all broadcasts were recorded, nor necessarily saved, and most promotions did not have a regular television presence until the 1970s. Many promotions taped over everything, so very little footage is around. The historical availability of individual, non-televised matches is also sketchy, as likely only the most significant bouts were recorded for posterity, and can be lost to time.
A number of factors have adversely affected the quality of some surviving tapes. For example, upon taking control of the World Championship Wrestling library it was noted that the tapes were unlabeled and not categorized. The condition of some WCW tapes is such that WWE cannot air them on WWE Classics On Demand.
WWE owns the unedited master tapes for all content in the library, however, due to a lawsuit over the "WWF" initials brought on by the World Wide Fund for Nature they are no longer allowed to use the letters WWF or the "scratch" logo used between 1998 and 2002. As a result, any instance of someone saying "WWF" (though not World Wrestling Federation) or shots of the "scratch" logo are edited out on any re-airings or video releases, except for the UK exclusive WWE Tagged Classics DVD range.
See also Edit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 WWE (2006-06-05). "WWE Amasses 80,000 Hours Of Content". Press release. http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2006/2006_06_05.jsp. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Video Library". TV Shows > WWE 24/7 On Demand. WWE. http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwe247/videolibrary1/. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- ↑ InternetNews Realtime IT News – Wildlife Fund Pins Wrestling Federation
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 WWE (2001-03-23). "WWE Entertainment, Inc. Acquires WCW from Turner Broadcasting". Press release. http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2001/2001_03_23.jsp. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 WWE (2006-05-25). "WWE Launches ECW As Third Brand". Press release. http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2006/2006_05_25_02.jsp. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "Has Kevin Von Erich sold the WCCW videotape library to Vince McMahon and WWE?". WCCW Frequently Asked Questions. World Class Memories. http://www.worldclasswrestling.info/faq/tv.htm#wwesale. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- ↑ Storm, Lance. "Part One: Lance's Thoughts". Book Marks - The Death of WCW. Storm Wrestling. http://www.stormwrestling.com/bookmarks/DeathWCW/. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- ↑ "June 9, 1997". The Monday Night Wars. WWE Classics On Demand.
- ↑ corporate.wwe.com (2002-05-06). "World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Drops The "F" To Emphasize the "E" for Entertainment". Press release. http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2002/2002_05_06.jsp. Retrieved 2007-09-09.