If I’m being honest, I was pretty skeptical when this History of WWE set was first announced on the 2013 calendar. I had trouble believing this would even be released, and once it was confirmed, I was nervous that it would be impossible to put 50 years worth of history onto 2 Blu-rays. It was pretty much a sure thing that most of the matches included would be repeats, but it still was a big task to distill the WWE down to under 20 matches. I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong when it comes to forecasting my thoughts on a WWE release. This serves as a great primer for the WWE, and a must have for any fan’s collection.
Disc 1 of the Blu-ray contains the 2 hour documentary and 1 hour, 15 minutes of bonus features. Disc 2 runs 4 hours, 25 minutes. The Blu-ray is rated TV-14. As Mark pointed out last week, notable edits include Jesse Ventura’s commentary from the 1988 Royal Rumble and Mike Tyson’s entrance music from Raw.
“Then. Now. Forever.”: The Main Feature
There was a bit of controversy here on the site when we found out the documentary on this release was only going to be 2 hours, instead of the previously speculated 3 hours. I think we all were a little concerned that there just wouldn’t be enough time to properly cover everything that needed to be covered on this DVD. In the end, the short runtime was the right choice. Yes, this could have easily been a 4 hour documentary, hitting on every important moment in the history of the company, but that doesn’t make for a good film. It was possible to get away with this on Rise & Fall of ECW because ECW existed for under 10 years, not 50. It’s not fair to compare the two.
Instead of hitting on every individual moment and every individual superstar, a macro approach was taken in looking at the history. Ultimately, this makes for a more successful storytelling choice in looking at the ups and downs of the company’s history. The most important matches, moments, and wrestlers are discussed in a little more detail, but this is dovetailed into a discussion of the era they represented as a whole. Everyone’s going to have an opinion on certain topics that should have gotten more discussion; it’s pretty much unavoidable for this type of documentary. For me, I found it strange to completely ignore the XFL, which is probably the WWE’s biggest creative disaster in their 50 year history. Overall, though, some great choices were made. The highlight is probably the discussion of the steroid scandal of the early-90’s, which hasn’t really been discussed with such candor before. There also are some great highlights from the talk shows of the era discussing the scandal.
Of course, what is arguably the most important incident in the past 10 years of the wrestling industry could not be included. Now, I didn’t expect the Benoit tragedy to be covered at all, and it IS the right choice to not include it. However, there is something noticeably missing, and someday in the future, it will be interesting to hear from those in the company how this really affected life in the WWE.
One thing that impressed me a lot about this documentary was how well edited it is. If you are a long-time fan of the WWE (like I know a lot of the readers here are), then you aren’t going to learn anything too groundbreaking here. There are new insights from different superstars, especially in regards to controversial topics like the steroid scandal, but for the most part nothing is really going to surprise you. That being said, the WWE did a great job making everything feel fresh through the way the documentary is put together. They transition between the ups and downs pretty well, explaining how the company was able to take each setback they’ve had and turn it into a positive for the future. It makes for a cohesive documentary that stands well on its own, which is impressive for such a broad topic.
The other thing that helps keep things fresh is the huge array of personalities interviewed for the feature. A good deal of the interviews were taken from past releases, but a number of them are new as well (including more thoughts from The Undertaker). Again, the editing is really well done, and the interviews work together very nicely. Even if some of them are old, they work in this new context, and most of them I didn’t recognize anyway. As usual, the WWE reached out to some interesting personalities to be interviewed. My favorite was the ring crew member who was responsible for ringing the bell at the conclusion of the Montreal Screwjob match. Little touches like this made the documentary feel special. I also enjoyed hearing from NBC’s Dick Ebersol, who gave great insight into the significance of Saturday Night’s Main Event. As expected, some classic footage is shown along with the interviews, and with the fast paced narrative, you certainly aren’t going to get bored. There are so many great interviews, I barely even noticed that Vince wasn’t included!
“Irresistable Force Meets the Immovable Object”: The Matches
WWE Championship Match: Bruno Sammartino Vs. “Superstar” Billy Graham (4/30/77) – * 3/4
This match is difficult to review. To modern standards, it’s pretty uninteresting. The majority of the match is restholds and power struggles, which don’t hold up well over time. However, these were probably the two biggest names in pre-Hogan era WWWF, so the match is certainly a worthwhile inclusion.
WWE Championship Match: Hulk Hogan Vs. Andre the Giant (WrestleMania III, 3/28/87) – ** 1/2
As has been reported, this is a new edit of the match from the hard camera only, with no commentary. It makes for an interesting new viewing experience of the classic match. No one is going to pretend that this is a wrestling clinic, but it did exactly what it was supposed to do. A case can be made that this is the biggest match in the history of wrestling.
1988 Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble, 1/24/88) – N/A
In hindsight, this is a pretty basic Royal Rumble match, but being the first, it has a ton of historical value. In my opinion, the Rumble is the greatest gimmick match of all time, so even a lesser rumble isn’t too bad. At the time, the line between good guy and bad guy was pretty clear, which is what makes the match fairly by the numbers.
Koko B. Ware Vs. Yokozuna (Raw, 1/11/93) – N/A
An extended squash match. Understandable inclusion since it’s the first match in Raw history, but other than that, it’s nothing memorable.
King of the Ring Finals: Jake “the Snake” Roberts Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (King of the Ring, 6/23/96) – **
Another weird match to review here. The match itself is pretty quick since Roberts was “injured”. For getting the Austin character over, though, I think this match worked pretty effectively. It also made Roberts pretty sympathetic. Of course, the highlight is the promo from Austin afterwards. I don’t know if this match really needed to be included on the Blu-ray, but the promo afterwards certainly deserved a place on here.
WWE Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. Shawn Michaels (Survivor Series, 11/9/97) – *** 1/2
I usually hate matches that feature lengthy brawls around the arena, but it works here because the hatred between the two men is so palpable. That’s impossible to fake, so it takes a situation like this to make it work. Overall, the match has a strange feeling to it because of the politics going on, but in a way that makes it more of a must see. It’s certainly not a bad match, but the lack of a properly built ending does somewhat hurt it.
WWE Championship Match: Triple H Vs. The Rock (SmackDown, 8/26/99) – ** 3/4
For a quick TV match, this is totally fine. Obviously, Rock & Triple H have had better matches, but at the same time, they never have any bad matches. It’s well paced for the time it was given. And being the main event of the first true episode of SmackDown (not counting the pilot), it certainly has historical value.
The Rock Vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania X8, 3/17/02) – **** 1/4
A classic match, and a personal favorite for me. Everything is put together wonderfully, from the double turn to the high spots to the post match moments. A great example of how good storytelling can make a match great without doing too many crazy, flashy moves. Of course, the awesome crowd doesn’t hurt either.
Battle of the Billionaires Hair Vs. Hair Match: Bobby Lashley (w/ Donald Trump) Vs. Umaga (w/ Vince McMahon) (WrestleMania 23, 4/1/07) – ***
This match was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. This has more to do with everything going on at ringside and with Stone Cold as ref than with the wrestlers themselves, but I was certainly entertained. Of course, the post-match head shaving is also a lot of fun.
John Cena, Rey Mysterio, & Batista Vs. Chris Jericho, Big Show, & Randy Orton (Tribute to the Troops, 12/20/08) – * 3/4
This isn’t really much of a match, but it gives the audience something fun to watch. It’s very quick, but the wrestlers hit their big moves throughout. It actually works pretty well as a “spotlight” match for a compilation set like this; it shows off a bunch of wrestlers from the era even if it is short.
WWE Championship #1 Contender’s Match: CM Punk Vs. John Cena (Raw, 2/25/13) – **** 1/2
Punk & Cena are incredible together; I’ve given both their Money in the Bank 2011 and Night of Champions 2012 matches very high ratings. This match is no exception. The ending is the part everyone remembers, and it does suffer a bit from “indy match syndrome”. There are a lot of false finishes and big time moves. However, since Punk & Cena had already wrestled each other so many times, it works for the story they are telling here. A great, great match.
Blu-ray Exclusive Matches
Floyd “Money” Mayweather Vs. Big Show (WrestleMania XXIV, 3/30/08) – ** 1/2
The rating for this match is based purely on the entertainment value. While there isn’t much to the match, it’s well put together, and Mayweather ended up making for an outstanding bad guy. At the time, this was a big deal WrestleMania match, so I understand it’s inclusion.
The Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 25, 4/5/09) – *****
In my opinion, one of the 3 greatest matches in the history of Wrestlemania (along with Savage Vs. Steamboat and Bret Vs. Owen), if not in the history of the WWE. An incredible match.
“Global Phenomenon”: Closing Thoughts
There was a lot of hype to live up to on this set. When the company waits this long to release a compilation set about their own history, there’s bound to be a good deal of expectations. I was a bit skeptical, but overall, I think this was a pretty successful release. The documentary covered most of the important moments in the company’s history, and was told in a compelling way. An effort was made to give the story of the company a nice structure, which is something you don’t always see on WWE’s releases. Especially with superstar biographies, they are often content to just run through the superstar’s career in a basic way. Here, each topic flows together well to show how WWE became the global phenomenon it is now. While it may not be perfect, I can’t see anyone being too upset after watching through the documentary. The Blu-ray exclusive bonus stories are all very short, and may just give further evidence that it was the right choice for the documentary to only be 2 hours. Seeing Vince work with talent on promos was neat, but other than that, there’s not much to these extra stories.
I have mixed feelings on the choices made for the bonus matches. They all make sense as a representative match for the history of the company. A lot of big matches are included, without feeling like a retread of the matches that are always put on DVD’s. Of course, we’ve seen Hogan/Andre countless times, but that match absolutely needed to be included, and they gave us the new edit of the match to make it feel new. The matches do skew a bit modern, but I expected this given the audience most likely to be purchasing WWE DVD’s and Blu-ray’s nowadays. My major disappointment, though, is that the matches aren’t all that good. Out of the 13 matches, sure, you have 3 great in-ring encounters, which isn’t a bad percentage. But when the WWE has pretty much their entire library to choose from, I would have preferred to see some stronger matches. Like the documentary, the match choices were never going to be perfect for everyone, but they made some solid choices, even if the in-ring quality isn’t always great.
The bonus segments included were fun, even if they don’t add too much to overall set. I’m glad we got a classic Austin segment from the Attitude Era, as well as CM Punk’s pipebomb, which I think ushered us from the PG Era to the era we are currently in (which I call the “internet era”). As a whole, I think this a must own for any collector. Even if you already have a good number of the bonus matches, watching them all in one place does feel like a nice representation of the WWE’s history. The documentary is the big selling point, though, and I can see myself revisiting this one pretty often. Simply put, it’s just well made. For me, this is probably the strongest documentary of 2013. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Blu-ray extras add too much. It’s nice to have the documentary in HD, which I think makes the Blu-ray pickup worth it, but don’t expect to be blown away by the extra stories.
My biggest complaint really comes down to the ultimate length of the Blu-ray package. While I have no problem with the doc only being 2 hours, there’s no excuse for such a high profile release being one of the shortest 2-Disc Blu-ray’s the WWE has ever released. I’m usually an apologist when it comes to this, but they easily could have given us more bonus matches to make the Blu-ray a little closer to the 8-9 hour range we’ve become accustomed to. It’s not like there was a lack of footage for this particular topic. This shouldn’t deter you from buying the set overall, but it is an annoyance. If you’ve picked up the DVD or Blu-ray, let us know what you think in the comments below!
Get your copy :: Amazon.com. WWEShop.com.
UK/Europe/Australia :: WWEDVD.co.uk. WWEDVD.com.au.
Just have to say these reviews are fantastic.
This review is scotch bonnet.
I myself grew up watching late 80s Early 90s so I think – agree that instead of rehashing the same material and matches over several different dvds (Hogan \Rock, Jake\Austin, Hogan\Andre etc.) give us ” A Best of WWFE Stars-Wresyting Challenge-PrimeTime” or “Coliseum Home Video Classics”….I just bought a ton of old VHS tapes from this time period and they feature such gems as Warrior\Undertaker, British Bulldog\Undertaker, Texas Tornado\Mr. Perfect Inc. Title Rematch , Piper\Million$Man, Etc Etc….Mostly the un-aired title changes between the 4 PPVs then(Jan, April, Aug, Nov) and other historic segments ( Funeral Parlor, Barber Shop), etc. I think this would go over better financially and viewer likeability far better than a Best of MSG, WCW Vol. 82 or Raw/Smackdown 2020 lol…just food for thought.
I have the UK Blu-ray.
The sound is way out of sync with the picture during the 1988 Royal Rumble match. Is it like this on the US release?
The reason the XFL or the WBF were not included, is because they had nothing to do with the company. Those were Vince McMahon’s ideas. This is a history of WWE, not the History of Vince McMahon. If this was a full blown documentary on Vince McMahon, then those topics would be included.
I saw it last night, worst wwe dvd i’ve ever seen.
I bet it is also the first DVD you have ever seen.
“the double turn”
There was no double turn in the Rock/Hogan Wrestlemania match, you idiot. Did you even watch or just make up a bunch of half assed BS and tried to pass it off as a review?
Is that enough to call him an idiot? Use the comments section to raise a point and I’m sure Joe will answer it. Discussion and is welcomed, name calling aint.
Man, Piper looks old
He’s just shy of 60. How should he look?
He should looked ripped like Flair.
I would have added the Warrior/Hogan matc hfrom WM6 or Taker/Hogan from Survivor Series 91. Warrior/Hogan was probably the best match of Warrior’s career aside from his match with Savage at WM7. Survivor Series 91 saw a change as Taker went into the match as a heel while during the match, he was cheered. I don’t think either match signaled the end of Hulkamania exactly.But they stopped it for a time. The 1992 Royal Rumble match would’ve been great too since it was the first and only time the winner won the WWE Championship along with Flair’s post-match interview. For that alone, it’s historic and therefore has value for a set like this.
I also think the main event of Wrestlemania 1 should have been here. Okay. It’s not the greatest match. But that event was Vince’s biggest gamble as it was all of nothing. It paid off thankfully for him. It was the main event of the most important night in the company’s history and therefore should have been here. I don’t think that can be disputed.
However I have no issue with what is included even though I would have added more personally if I was involved with the project.
Anyone know what the extra stories are?
Oh man, Steve would HATE you! hahaha All repeats!
Well, on a set like this, it’s foolish to not expect repeats.
I’ve thought the same thing about the Mania I main. I was surprised they put it on the MSG DVD instead of saving it for this. God knows it could’ve replaced that Punk vs. Cena match that nobody remembers.
Can we please get a DVD with more content from the years 1984 -1989? Basically from the time Hogan first won the belt to the time Macho Man losing the belt at Mania 5. There were tons of great characters, feuds, and matches during that time period and we get very little released from those days.
There’s a number of Ric Flair DVD’s, Best Of Clash Of The Champions, Greatest Stars Of The 80’s and a number of other sets where there’s a good amount of 80’s content. Savage’s DVD has his match with Dibiase from WM4 that took place in 1988.
I think the 90’s are covered more because a lot of adults grew up during that time and therefore those sets will do better as most people will buy them. That isn’t to say the 80’s were bad. Perhaps releases 80’s content is in WWE’s future. Especially when the WWE Network FINALLY launches.
Exactly…wrestling wise, “my era” was the 90’s.
I’ll take the 80s over the 90s, especially in light of the fact that the majority of the 90s best moments have already been released. The important thing is to use content/matches with wrestlers who transcend eras (Flair, Hogan, Savage, Rhodes, Race, Steamboat, Sting, Undertaker, Funks, Austin, Rock, Horsemen, DX, etc).
The only you get with the content, the smaller the audience. That’s just the way it is. Has nothing to do with the actual quality of the content though.
Is there a chapter on the ‘Ruthless Aggression’ era at all?
Not the “ruthless aggression era” per se, however they do discuss the brand extension and the opportunities it afforded guys like: Edge, Orton & Batista by allowing them their first World title reigns.
Lots of big moments in WWE were in Canada….first Rumble, Montreal, Hogan vs Rock.
i really enjoyed it.
this is one of my favorite wwe documentaries.
the only thing that bugs me is when they show the old territory map- they have memphis/jerry jarrett terriotry in east tennessee and nick golas’ territory in west tennesse. its supposed to be flipped they have the territories backwards. theyve done this on every dvd
Picky, aren’t we? 😉
Yea. But they’ve used that graphic in all the docs. Wish they’d update it.
Besides my nitpick, nitpick, the documentary is awesome. I really enjoyed it.
I really enjoyed the 3 disc version on regular DVD,(did not find blu ray at my local wal mart)but my only complaint is I wish they would have put some early 1970’s promos on there,the editing was great,seeing Stan Hansen,Ivan Koloff,Jimmy Valiant interviewed was awesome…great to see quick shot of Bobby Duncum Sr. too
I thought the doc was awesome. No need for xfl stuff, that wasn’t WWE or wrestling. I guess benoit and eddie would have added a little something at the end, but that’s a minor complaint. So much great insight from old talent like Bruno and koloff. Then Jake the Snake! So glad he was on here. And obviously all the new guys. Even linda and steph were interviewed and they had a lot of interesting things to add. I also love that they went into the steroid trial and not just the drugs but how it effected business, and even say they had a vince replacement lined up. Lots of good stuff. Overall a solid thumbs up
I have no interest whatsoever in WWE-produced documentaries. NONE. I only buy DVD sets for the matches. In this case, there’s nothing for me. When it comes to WWF footage, I really wish they’d stick to UNRELEASED footage from 1986 to 1993, as well as 1998 through 2002. Any other period in WWF history is either dull, already released or too similar to today’s product and unworthy of a DVD release.
But, what I’d really want to see MOST IS UNRELEASED NWA/WCW footage from 1981 through to June 1994. If they must release more Nitro era footage, I just wish they’d release some of the truly great UNRELEASED moments from 1999 through to June 2000. The earlier period of Monday Nitro has already been well covered and there’s really nothing left to put out.
But, back to the topic of this History of WWE…
Dude, chill out. Everyone has different tastes. Get off the unreleased obsession.
Most people would rather not pay for the same thing over and over again.
You’re right that nobody likes to pay for the same stuff repeatedly. However this set, when it comes to hardcore fans, is ALL about the documentary. It’s foolish to expect anything but a bunch of high-profile matches (read: repeats) on this set. Just plain foolish. The matches are clearly not aimed for you and I. So why get so bent out of shape over it? It wasn’t meant for us anyway.
And how many “truly great moments” were there in WCW from 1999-2000? Are you talking about the moments that were so “truly great” that they put the company out of business? There’s PLENTY of those…but who’s going to pay money to have to re-live that truly horrific time?!?!
In 1999, particularly from January through April, WCW running neck and neck with the WWF and had some great stuff that remains unreleased. Then, in April through June 2000, they repeatedly were putting on free TV main event type match-ups under the Bischoff-Russo “braintrust” in an effort to hotshot/create buzz and get people watching. Very little of that has seen a release. It’s like someone in the company made a blanket statement that WCW 2000 is garbage and stay away from it. Don’t get me wrong, watching a full program from that period might be mind-boggling for some (though better than modern day WWE), but releasing the finest moments would work great. Meanwhile, we seem to have every conceivable moment from the much more dull April through end of December 1998 and other releases full of repeats. It gets frustrating.
Got it in the mail today and I’m watching the doc right now. Anyone else find it interesting that the rock was listed as 96-2013 but triple h was 94- present. Maybe the rock has already told them he’s done.
I’m still on the fence as whether I’m gonna get this dvd??. I may get it for the sake of getting it the docs. I don’t really watch on their dvd’s just the matches I watch but then I still have the dvd’s so guess it don’t matter for me but I don’t mean or intend to take away from the job they do my only thing is they put extras on blu rays and nothing really cept for the usual stuff on normal dvd’s (example MITB anthology dvd).
Considering that the main selling point is the documentary, you might just want to save yourself some money and watch it on YouTube (someone’s bound to put it up) or Netflix. There’s really no matches on this set worth having that you probably don’t already own, so there’s no concern of having to watch a fast motion match that will look like a pixelated mess. The documentary should like fine off either of these web-based services.
Now if only they decided to put some decent unseen matches on this release maybe it would be worth considering.
Going to get the blu-ray today! Can’t wait to see how it holds up! Looks good!
If you know what WWE does on their documentaries going in, then you pretty much know what to expect. They cut out some significant stuff (sex scandals amid the steroid trial) but they make up for it with the sheer number of people interviewed and how well they cover certain aspects of the story of WWE. They do not one, but TWO segments on Andre the Giant, they have Undertaker talk for a good chunk of the DVD and arguably best of all – The Miz isn’t interviewed for this at all, nor is David Otunga.
The doc is well structured and delivers the point they wanted to deliver quite well, it’s not too long of a doc but at two hours it’s roughly the same time as the UFC documentary with TWICE the history behind it and in many ways the documentaries were similar. Focused hugely on the early era of the company, touch on subjects here and there after and then end big with “Here we are now”.
It’s not my favorite structure for a documentary and given that they’re celebrating 50 YEARS, I surely could have gone for a little more meat on the bones. They initially announced this as a three hour documentary, what happened to that last hour? Apparently it got relegated to Blu Ray exclusivity. I’d definitely recommend the documentary, which is very good but a bit bare bones at times, to anyone who likes pro wrestling. The match listing is what it is, the documentary carries the whole release.
I just ordered this on amazon. Looking forward to watching it.
The documentary is the main event in this set, and it is a main-event level one for sure. It would make for a great NBC special as well, as opposed to some watered-down edit of WrestleMania like they do every year.
As for the bonus material: It’s about what one would expect for this. I think WWE could have stood to include AT LEAST one or two additional pre-Hulkamania matches; Bruno’s title defense in a cage against George Steele (Philadelphia ’70) is likely the earliest title defense of Bruno’s in their library. Just for a glimpse into that iconic first reign, that should have made it. Also, no Bob Backlund matches at all? THIS is a set where the Backlund-Snuka ’82 cage match would have been an awesome fit, or the famous Backlund-Sheik match that saw Bob’s run on top finally come to an end. That was a huge turning point for WWE and would lead directly to the birth of Hulkamania.
Also: a fine idea would have been to include a bonus disc of 50 years of promos & moments; let the matches stand alone on two discs, with a fourth disc encasing interviews etc. This is where stuff like the Piper-Snuka Pit w/the coconut break would have worked; or “Rock This is Your Life”, or Superstar Graham destroying Backlund’s WWE Championship belt.
In terms of why the documentary ignored the XFL, I think the answer’s easy: that was VINCE McMAHON’s biggest failure, not exactly WWE’s.
My opinion is that WWE is really messing up some of these releases as of late. HBK should be an unreleased collector’s edition, while this release should have been a 3 or 4 disc blu-ray. The HHH set could have easily been longer… When I originally heard this documentary was going to stand out and be 3 hours, this made total sense. Now, this DVD is a wash for me and will easily get lost in the jumble of other releases. It comes off as nothing special, when it really should be much more than that giving how long 50 years really is.
Did anyone else notice that for the Rock, it said “Superstar 1996-2013”? Does that mean he’s done for good? Since for HHH it said “Superstar 1994-Present”. Good way to announce you’re retiring Rock