WWE Libraries Inc.
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryProfessional wrestling
Sports entertainment
Tape library archiving
Founded2001
HeadquartersStamford, Connecticut, U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
ProductsHome video releases
(DVD, Blu-ray, VHS)
Online streaming services
Television channel subscriptions
OwnerTKO Group Holdings
(Endeavor)
ParentWWE
SubsidiariesAmerican Wrestling Association
Evolve[1]
Extreme Championship Wrestling
Georgia Championship Wrestling
World Championship Wrestling
Others

WWE Libraries Inc.,[2] branded as the WWE Legacy Department,[3] is an American media company that consists of the largest collection of professional wrestling videos and copyrights in the world.[4] The Legacy Department is a subsidiary of WWE, the professional wrestling subsidiary of TKO Group Holdings. It comprises not only past and current works by WWE (formerly the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, World Wide Wrestling Federation, World Wrestling Federation, and World Wrestling Entertainment) but also the works of now defunct professional wrestling promotions dating back to the 1930s.[5] As of 2014, the library stands at 150,000 hours of content[6] including weekly television shows, pay-per-views, and recorded house shows.[4] The collection represents a very significant portion of the visual history of modern professional wrestling in the United States and Canada. WWE has made their classic holdings available through numerous home video releases, the Vintage television program, and on the WWE Network and WWE Classics on Demand services.

Classic WWE holdings

The Legacy Department's library includes all past and present WWE tapes dating back to the 1950s, including the footage from previous forms of the company.

Although not wrestling content, the library's holdings also include footage from various documentaries, reality shows, and fictional works produced for home video, the WWE Network and other broadcasters, and any motion pictures produced by WWE Studios. The footage saved from WWE's time as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation is among the rare surviving footage of broadcasts from the DuMont Television Network, as most of their footage was destroyed in the mid-1970s.[7][8]

Non-WWE purchases

For years, WWE has engaged in a campaign of purchasing libraries of defunct wrestling promotions. The first significant purchase took place in 2001 when the company bought the complete historical archives of their former competitor World Championship Wrestling.[9] The purchase of the Extreme Championship Wrestling's intellectual proprieties and video library during its bankruptcy proceedings in 2003[10] gave WWE control over the majority of all national professional wrestling footage available at the time.

On August 13, 2020, WWE announced that shows from the libraries of active independent wrestling promotions Evolve, Westside Xtreme Wrestling, Progress Wrestling, and Insane Championship Wrestling would begin airing on the WWE Network.[11] As part of the agreement, all the respective promotions would continue to own their footage and remain separate entities from WWE. However, later in 2020, WWE purchased Evolve and Dragon Gate USA, its defunct sister promotion, after which Evolve ceased operations.[1]

The dates listed below for purchased organizations and libraries represent the duration of footage that WWE owns and may not necessarily represent the entire extent of the promotion's existence.

Relationship with the National Wrestling Alliance

Throughout its history, WWE has had a long relationship with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). For many decades, from its founding in 1948 until the mid-1980s, the NWA acted as a governing body of America's many regional wrestling promotions, and membership in the NWA allowed for the shared use of big-name stars for local wrestling events. WWE (as the CWC) was a member of the NWA between 1950s and 1963, and again (as the WWWF/WWF) between 1971 and 1983. In 1998, WWE (as the WWF) hosted NWA matches on its programming.

Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) was an NWA member for its entire post-1948 existence and by the end of the promotion's run was widely regarded as the NWA itself, due to its purchases and control of the largest regional NWA promotions. This was exemplified by the presence of all major NWA titles in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) when JCP morphed into WCW in 1988. WCW's relationship with the NWA continued until 1993, when the promotion pulled out of the NWA.

As a result of WWE's former membership in the NWA, through its ownership of WCW and its predecessor, 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. While WWE owns the majority of the video libraries of the NWA's previous notable members, WWE does not own the NWA itself, which is currently owned by Billy Corgan's Lightning One, Inc. company. As such, the WWE Legacy Department is not allowed to use the NWA name or logo to promote their video libraries.

Condition of the video libraries

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. Most broadcasts were taped over, so very little footage exists from pre-1970s promotions. The historical availability of individual, non-televised matches is also incomplete, as likely only the most significant bouts were recorded for posterity, and can be lost to time.

Several factors have adversely affected the quality of some surviving tapes. Upon taking control of the World Championship Wrestling library, it was noted that the tapes were unlabeled and not categorized.[17] The condition of some WCW tapes is such that WWE could not air them on WWE Classics on Demand, or on the WWE Network.[18]

Editing

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 (WWF), from April 2002 until June 2012, they were not allowed to use the letters WWF or the "scratch" logo used between December 15, 1997, and April 29, 2002 (the pre-"scratch" logo was not covered under this lawsuit, with a variation of this being used in the November 15, 2010 WWE Raw Old School edition).[19] As a result, any instances of someone saying "WWF" (though not World Wrestling Federation) were edited and shots of the "scratch" logo were either removed or blurred on re-airings or video releases released during that time frame, except for the United Kingdom exclusive WWE Tagged Classics DVD line. In late July 2012, WWE reached a settlement with the WWF which once again allows them to use the "WWF" initials and scratch logo on archive footage. Unedited footage first appeared on Raw 1000 and since then has appeared in full-length matches posted to the WWE website and home video releases. In exchange, WWE is no longer permitted to use the WWF initials or logo in any new, original footage, with any old logos for retro-themed programming now using the original WWF logo, but modified without the F.[20]

Music rights issues are also reasons for occasional editing by WWE of its library when airing or releasing videos. While most wrestlers' entrance themes are done in-house (notably by composer Jim Johnston), those whose music is not owned by WWE are often dubbed over with cheaper alternatives rather than providing the original audio, to save WWE paying licensing fees to the writers/performers of the original songs. Videos heavily affected in particular by these cost-cutting decisions are those featuring footage from Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), which was famous for using recordings by mainstream music acts such as Metallica, AC/DC, and Dr. Dre for their wrestlers' entrances, although AC/DC and Metallica have provided music for WWE pay-per-view events as well. Exceptions to non-Johnston composed themes that WWE leaves in its archives are either songs that are in the public domain, such as the "Dawn" section of Also sprach Zarathustra used by Ric Flair and Pomp and Circumstance, which was used by Gorgeous George and later Randy Savage; or songs that the WWE acquired from its purchase of WCW. Additionally, wrestlers who worked for WWE but whose entrance music in other promotions may be owned by an outside company have had their songs in those promotions replaced by their WWE counterparts, such as Chris Jericho's World Championship Wrestling (WCW) theme being replaced by his WWE theme.

Due to a 1991 lawsuit, matches featuring Jesse Ventura on commentary were dubbed over for subsequent home video releases. However, matches featuring Ventura commentating are shown with unaltered audio on the WWE Network.[21]

Since 2007, WWE has edited footage featuring Chris Benoit from repeat broadcasts, due to Benoit's murder-suicide. WWE has released some footage of Benoit from its library as well as WCW and ECW in the years since, but all of these have been group shots not focused on Benoit (most notably the 2004 Royal Rumble). Benoit's wife Nancy Benoit, who performed in a manager role in WCW under the ring name Woman, was also initially removed, but footage of her was later re-added. All archive footage of Chris Benoit has been available uncut on the WWE Network since its launch in 2014.

When WWE Network programming began being moved to Peacock in the United States in 2021, WWE and NBCUniversal (NCBU) began editing controversial content from WWE's past in order to meet NBCU's standards and practices; this also applied to the standalone WWE Network feed that remained overseas.[22]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The American Wrestling Association was formerly known as the Minneapolis Boxing & Wrestling Club.
  2. ^ WWE owns Georgia Championship Wrestling's video footage from 1944–1984. All post-1984 footage is owned by its respective owners.
  3. ^ Extreme Championship Wrestling was formerly known as Eastern Championship Wrestling.
  4. ^ WWE owns Ohio Valley Wrestling's video footage from 1999–2008, the time when it served as WWE's developmental territory. All footage prior to 1999 and after 2008 remains under the ownership of Ohio Valley Wrestling itself.
  5. ^ WWE owns Deep South Wrestling's video footage from 2005–2007, the time when it served as WWE's developmental territory. All footage prior to 2005 and after 2007 remain under the ownership of their respective owners.
  6. ^ WWE owns the Heartland Wrestling Association's video footage from 2001–2003, the time when it served as WWE's developmental territory. All footage prior to 2001 and after 2003 remain under the ownership of their respective owners.
  7. ^ Stampede Wrestling was formerly known as Klondike Wrestling, Big Time Wrestling, and Wildcat Wrestling.
  8. ^ While WWE owns Stampede Wrestling's video library, Bret Hart owns the rights to the footage of his matches in Stampede.
  9. ^ Select footage from the United States Wrestling Association was included in WWE's purchase of the Global Wrestling Federation's video library. WWE, however, does not own the entire United States Wrestling Association video library, which is owned by its respective owners.
  10. ^ Jim Crockett Promotions was formerly known as Eastern States Championship Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. Footage of the Jim Crockett Promotions-produced Ric Flair's Last Match in July 2022 is owned by Conrad Thompson.
  11. ^ WWE owns all footage of Central States Wrestling and its predecessor Midwest Wrestling Association from 1948 until 1986. All post 1986 footage of Central States Wrestling and its successor promotion World Wrestling Alliance are owned by their respective owners.
  12. ^ While Championship Wrestling from Florida was bought by Jim Crockett Promotions, the video library was not part of the purchase. WWE later bought the video library from the private owner.
  13. ^ The Universal Wrestling Federation was previously known as NWA Tri-State and Mid-South Wrestling.
  14. ^ While the Universal Wrestling Federation was bought by Jim Crockett Promotions, the video library was not part of the purchase. WWE later bought the video library from the private owner.
  15. ^ WWE owns the footage of World Class Championship Wrestling, including the footage of its predecessor NWA Big Time Wrestling and its successor World Class Wrestling Association, until 1988. Angelo and Mario Savoldi, the former owners of International World Class Championship Wrestling, own all post-1988 footage of World Class Championship Wrestling and its successor promotions.
  16. ^ Maple Leaf Wrestling was formerly known as the Queensbury Athletic Club.
  17. ^ The World Wrestling Council was previously known as Capitol Sports Promotions.
  18. ^ WWE owns the video footage of the World Wrestling Council and its predecessor from 1973–2018. All post-2018 footage remains under the ownership of the World Wrestling Council itself.

References

  1. ^ a b "WWE Acquires Evolve Wrestling". CBR. 3 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Subsidiaries of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc". Archived from the original on March 8, 2022. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  3. ^ "Production Assistant, Legacy - WWE - Stamford".
  4. ^ a b "WWE Amasses 80,000 Hours Of Content" (Press release). WWE. 2006-06-05. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  5. ^ a b c d "Video Library". TV Shows > WWE 24/7 On Demand. WWE. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  6. ^ "How Many Hours Of Footage WWE Has, Dusty Comments On Stardust & Goldust, Evan Bourne - WrestlingInc.com". 7 August 2014.
  7. ^ Adams, Edie (March 1996). "Television/Video Preservation Study: Los Angeles Public Hearing". National Film Preservation Board. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
  8. ^ "Dumont TV historical website".
  9. ^ a b "WWE Entertainment, Inc. Acquires WCW from Turner Broadcasting" (Press release). WWE. 2001-03-23. Archived from the original on 2014-03-13. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  10. ^ a b "WWE Launches New ECW As Third Brand" (Press release). WWE. 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  11. ^ "EVOLVE, PROGRESS, wXw & ICW available now on WWE Network". WWE.com. August 13, 2020. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  12. ^ "Bret Hart Contacts Vince McMahon And WWE Attorney Over Stampede Wrestling Footage". WrestlingInc.com. 2015-12-09. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  13. ^ "Has Kevin Von Erich sold the WCCW videotape library to Vince McMahon and WWE?". WCCW Frequently Asked Questions. World Class Memories. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  14. ^ "WWE ACQUIRES WORLD WRESTLING COUNCIL (WWC) VIDEO LIBRARY - PWInsider.com". pwinsider.com. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  15. ^ a b "WWE Acquires Evolve Wrestling". 3 July 2020.
  16. ^ Lowson, Thomas (May 15, 2023). "WWE Acquires International Championship Wrestling Tape Library from Poffo Family". Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  17. ^ Storm, Lance. "Part One: Lance's Thoughts". Book Marks - The Death of WCW. Storm Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  18. ^ "June 9, 1997". The Monday Night Wars. WWE Classics On Demand.
  19. ^ "World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Drops The "F" To Emphasize the "E" for Entertainment" (Press release). corporate.wwe.com. 2002-05-06. Archived from the original on 2009-01-19. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
  20. ^ "UPDATE ON THE WWE SCRATCH LOGO SITUATION - PWInsider.com".
  21. ^ Gelston, Dan (2014-01-09). "WWE launching 24/7 network in February". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Associated Press. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  22. ^ "WWE Network Content Continues to be Censored Ahead of Move to Peacock". Forbes.