Don’t be alarmed if Little Johnny has suddenly displayed a propensity for throwing triple suplexes on people in the aisles of Toys `R’ Us stores. He may just be anticipating watching two of WWF’s latest releases-Raw Attitude and Highlights of Wrestlemania .
WWF produced the two titles in an exclusive six-month distribution deal it signed with Toys `R’ Us last spring. As part of that agreement, WWF agreed to edit out any content TRU felt contravened its policy of only carrying material that conforms to a PG-13 rating, says Robert Mayo, director of home video at WWF.
‘There’s no cursing of any kind in the videos. We tried to stay away from [showing scenes that contained] blood,’ says Mayo.’There may have been a chair or two to the head, [but generally] we cut out most of the violent footage.’
Both 30-minute tapes (US$9.95 each), targeted to males ages 11 to 18, are compilations of sorts. Raw Attitude pulls together prime moments from the WWF television show of the same name that runs on USA Network on Monday nights, while Hightlights of Wrestlemania amasses the most exciting scenes from Wrestlemania `98, which ran as a pay-per-view event last March.
Historically, as an entertainment property, WWF has drawn most of its revenues from pay-per-view events. According to Mayo, the last Wrestlemania drew 700,000 subscribers, and at US$39.95 per subscription, it was ‘the most successful nonboxing pay-per-view event of all time.’ WWF is trying to duplicate that success in the video category through the deal with TRU, and with similar agreements it is currently negotiating with other retailers.
Agreeing to tone down the sanguinary histrionics that have become the league’s signature was a concession WWF was willing to make, Mayo says, in order to get its product into a major toy retail chain.
‘The deal with Toys `R’ Us is a great way for us to reach our customer base, and [it gives us the chance] to do a lot of cross-promotions with other WWF merchandise that it already sells,’ says Mayo.
Although Toys `R’ Us would not discuss sales figures, Alison Weinberger, a buyer at TRU, confirmed that WWF merchandise has sold very well through the chain. Since the tapes were released in July, TRU has been cross-merchandising them with WWF action figures in most of its stores.
Both Raw and Wrestlemania Highlights appear under the WWF brand and feature stickers on the box covers stating the videos are Toys `R’ Us exclusives.