I loved collecting WWF Coliseum Videos back when I was in high school, and my favorite pay per view event has always been the Royal Rumble. Add the two passions together and of course I owned nearly every Royal Rumble VHS tape produced. Today I’d like to take a trip down memory lane and rank all of the Coliseum Video Royal Rumble releases from worst to best by box art alone. Now this is not a ranking of the best content or quality of the event itself but just the VHS box’s aesthetic appeal. Since I will only be ranking the Coliseum Video releases and not the WWF Home Video releases, that means the years qualified for nomination run from 1989 to 1997. Without further ado, let’s get started!
1996’s Royal Rumble featured a WWF title match between Bret Hart and The Undertaker and that is what got top billing on the box. I dislike the new (at the time) Royal Rumble logo, and the white background is very plain and uninteresting to look at. There’s a stopwatch in the background which I suppose represents the timed nature of the event where a new participant enters every two minutes (or whatever the time was shortened to by ’96). Undertaker is wearing his protective mask that he used after getting his face crushed by a King Mabel leg drop and is pictured in a circular inset. Honestly there is nothing about this box that appeals to me.
Royal Rumble ’89 was the first of the events held on Pay Per View. The cover is pretty plain as Coliseum Video opted to splash photos of “top” WWF talent on the box with their name’s in caption. Of course Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, and Andre the Giant take the top billing as they were the headline SuperStars in the territory at the time. However I’m not sure why Bad News Brown is featured. There are also just too many words on the box as it attempts to explain the rules of the Royal Rumble itself. Not a terrible effort but very dull.
For the 1990 release Coliseum Video learned not to fill the front cover with a lot of words and they also pared down the photos of featured SuperStars to just four. The background also has a storm cloud motif which is much more striking than the plain white backgrounds we saw on the 1996 and 1989 tapes. A much better effort for sure but it still fails to get me excited about the Royal Rumble.
1995 was probably the worst year in the history of professional wrestling. But the box for that year’s Royal Rumble wasn’t too bad. Bret Hart and Diesel are featured on the front as they wrestled for the WWF title. There is no mention of the Royal Rumble match itself on the front of the box which seems about right because the WWF butchered the match in 1995 having a new participant enter the ring every 60 seconds rather than 2 minutes. As a result the entertaining and well paced 60 minute Royal Rumble match was reduced to a 30 minute cluster fuck. But I’m rambling here since the subject matter is supposed to just be the box itself. An image of the beach is our backdrop here as the event took place in the Sun Dome in Tampa Florida. Not bad but not great either.
Bret Hart and Razor Ramon squared off for the WWF title in the 1993 Royal Rumble and they are both featured on the box art. I love the silver “tear” on the top of the 1993 Coliseum Video releases. Of all the tapes I’ve owned over the years the Coliseum’s with that silver rip along the upper portion of the box was always my favorite design. Apparently the Hitman had a tradition of battling for the WWF championship at the Royal Rumble as this is now the third box promoting him in a title match. As for the Rumble itself, the only passing mention of it on the front cover is that the tape “features every top WWF Superstar”.
Coliseum Video changed the silver top of the boxes to gold in 1994 because gold is better than silver right? Although I prefer the silver tear more myself, the gold was still a good look and the ’94 Rumble was the first tape to feature the gold top. We are also treated to stylized cartoon images of the biggest WWF SuperStars on the cover battling so viciously that they actually come right out of the television set. Nice box that gets the buyer excited for the event. On a side note this was the last decent Royal Rumble match for a few years.
Shawn Michaels would challenge Psycho Sid for the WWF title in a heavily promoted match in the Alamo Dome in San Antonio Texas at the 1997 Royal Rumble. Since Shawn was returning as a hometown hero the city of San Antonio played a starring role in the event. Sid and HBK lock eyes on the front cover as The Alamo can be seen in the background. On a side note The Alamo is replaced by a photo of the Coliseum for the European Silvervision DVD release which makes absolutely zero sense. Those crazy Brits.
Now we’re talking. The 1991 Royal Rumble box was iconic featuring the top WWF wrestlers of the day realistically drawn on the streets as if they were a giant gang. Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, and the Big Bossman comprise the front row while several other popular SuperStars follow in close step just behind them. Years later during the Attitude era the WWF would pay homage to this design with the newer wrestlers of that period. The drawing really drives home the message that the Rumble is supposed to be a no holds barred brawl where it’s every man for himself and I love it.
Although the theme debuted in 1991, the following year was when the artwork was perfected. The cover of the 1992 Royal Rumble shares the same theme as the previous year but with a bit more detail to the wrestlers and with a better assortment featured. Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Undertaker, Jake the Snake…. it’s like a who’s who of pro wrestling. Not only does the box proclaim that it’s every man for himself, but that the winner becomes champion. Even if you weren’t a fan of the product it looks like an exciting event. Seeing this box surely intrigued some interest from casual observers at the video store. The only downside is that Nature Boy’s feather boa makes him look like a wanna be pimp.