Tape Trading for the Modern Beginner

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Tape Trading for the Modern Beginner

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Written by Hitomi Akari

[Ed. Note: This article was sent in to us multiple times over the past month, and in the interests of the well-being of our poor email servers, we've elected to publish it as-is. Frankly, I have absolutely no idea why Ms. Akari took the time to write it; no one trades tapes any more. But I can certainly commend her enthusiasm! - Nana]


What is Tape Trading?
With the advent of YouTube and other video sharing sites, as well as official platforms like LAW World bringing access to hours of wrestling content at a fan's fingertips, the proud tradition of tape trading has fallen by the wayside. But years ago, this was the premier way to be a wrestling fan! You see, producers didn't realize how big a market us wrestling fans would become. They didn't realize that you could record matches and that people would want to watch them time and time again. Official releases were few and far between, and sometimes whole promos and segments would be missing - in others, the video and audio quality were so bad you WISH they were missing! But that was only a fraction of the content that was ever put to video. When the TV archives ran out of room, they'd just wipe the tapes and record over them. As such, plenty of great matches would be lost...were it not for the wonderful invention of the VCR.

Thanks to this amazing machine, anything you see on TV could be recorded and rewatched whenever you wanted. It didn't take long for fans to catch on to the fact that they'd never have to worry about missing their favorite shows again. And as people reached out to each other with the tapes they were willing to sell or trade, the wrestling world came together like never before. Your TV station might only pick up on a local promotion or two, but with tape trading, you could watch wrestling from all around the globe, learning about new companies and talents you'd never hear about otherwise (I still have a BUNCH of shows from America, Mexico, and Europe!).

Some of you might say this is outdated, or that I'm living in the past. They don't know about all the content that's only out there on tape! Were it not for diligent fans and their VCRs, hours upon hours of footage might never have been recorded or released to the public. You never know what you might find, so if you're not in the know, you might be missing out on all kinds of action! Just take a look at this handy guide, and you'll be tape trading like a pro in no time!

How it Works
All you have to do is record a show on whatever tape you have around, put out the word, and send it off to someone who has a show you want. They send you theirs, you each make a copy and send back the original, and you're on your way to building your collection!

The first step is getting a good VCR. They're getting harder and harder to find these days, so be on the lookout for any good deals you can find! Older video stores are your best bet, particularly smaller independent ones that aren't owned by the big chains that only want to push the latest stuff. You're just wasting your money on those! They don't even have tape decks! Failing that, you can get VCRs used for cheap if you go to flea markets or pawn shops - just be sure you're getting something good quality that actually works.

Next, you need tapes to record on. Make sure it's got plenty of storage space, because the more the tapes can hold, the more space you can use in whatever box, bookcase, or closet you have to organize your library. Again, you can get these wherever you can find a VCR. Blank tapes are the best, but if necessary you can find tapes you can write over. Don't forget to check your attic or basement! I wrote my Akira Koizumi compilation over some old home videos my sister made so it didn't even cost me anything!

Finally, you need good content to trade. The easiest way to start is by taping episodes of your favorite wrestling show as they air. Keep in mind, though, that the bigger promotions like LAW might be hard sells, as most people can follow those anyway. Keep an eye out for public access stations, because sometimes you'll find local indies on there that other markets don't get. You'll always find a taker for those, especially if they feature established names. Also, don't forget to check flea markets for old tapes, because some of them have great matches not just to watch, but they can be worth something too! Be sure to hit up the merch tables at any indies you go to too. Not only do some of them sell tapes of their shows, but you might be able to find people selling recordings from their own collections as well!

A word of advice! Make sure you label your tapes, because it's easier than you think to get them mixed up! I once sent a guy a tape I thought was Hyper Cannons vs. Knuckle Busters, only for it to turn out to actually be a third-generation Clara Grey match that he already had a better recording of! Whoops!! Needless to say I didn't get any trades with him again (Shin, if you're reading this, it was an honest mistake, I swear!). Be sure to watch your tape before you send it so you make sure you have the right one.

Also - these days it's a good idea to check if a match is on the internet before you look for a trade for it. Back in the 90s my Natsu Kazan promo collection was actually worth something. Now you can find all his stuff on YouTube, INCLUDING the rant he did back in November 23rd, 1997 that I never got a good recording of! I had to record over it, which was NOT fun!

Anyway, once you have a tape, you want to look for a good trade for it. There used to be a lot of newsletters and newsgroups out there, and while plenty are still around, the market is getting tighter, so don't wait to get in! Be sure to specify what tapes you're willing to trade, what you're looking for, and how to reach you.

By the way, ALWAYS mention the quality of the tape! Keep in mind, people are gonna be re-recording these, and every time you make a copy of a tape it gets a little bit worse. You have no idea how a good match can be ruined when you can't tell the Great Oni apart from the turnbuckles. If you see someone with a tape to trade and they don't mention the generation, they're either new to this, or more likely they're trying to rip you off. Don't be fooled!

Once you're in the community, your ultimate goal is to make connections overseas. They can hook you up with a lot of great foreign content, and if they're in a country that doesn't get your favorite show, they've found a jackpot! I used to tape every Wrestle Angels PPV - nothing that anyone in my neck of the woods hadn't already seen like 20 times - and send them to a guy in Mexico in exchange for his stuff. I can't understand a word of Spanish, but I don't need to to know cool lucha action when I see it! You might not think the stuff on TV is worth a lot, but you never know who might be looking for it!

Well, that's all you need to know about the wonderful world of tape trading. I hope to see some of you guys around - good luck, and happy hunting!

In case you need to get in touch:

Hitomi Akari
14 Misono St., Yubari, Hokkaido
neogeogirl92@notareal.url
ISO: Any American hardcore shows 1998-2002; Memphis studio shows 1972-1974 (NOT October 1972!! I have that whole month already! Please stop asking!); Ostberg Brothers vs. Silent Assassins 1989
WTT: Best Of Asai Rei Compilation (4 hours, mostly 2nd gen, two matches are 3rd); Viper Hoshiwara's Debut (4th gen but audio is okay); British wrestling 1982-85, plus some anime and movies (ask if interested)


PS: Yuka Nishiyama you still owe me 1500 yen! I know you think I forgot but I didn't!!

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