True Giants looks at fifteen of the best: giants, big men and monsters in the history of professional wrestling. Sure, this isn’t a definitive list of big men and there are quite a few omissions, some of course are subjective, and others I don’t feel many wrestling fans would really argue with. Regardless, as of 2014 these are WWE’s “True Giants”.
The main feature is a collection of mini-biography features; each presented from a single point of view, either from the superstar themselves or a colleague. Below is a list of all of the “giants” who were featured in the main program, who were NOT presented by themselves, either by way of new or archive interview footage:
- Gorilla Monsoon by Pat Patterson
- Haystacks Calhoun by Bill Apter
- Giant Gonzales by Harvey Wippleman
- Big John Studd by Ken Patera
- King Kong Bundy by Hillbilly Jim
- Yokozuna by The Usos
- The Great Khali by Ranjin Singh
- Andre the Giant by Tim White
The set doesn’t in any way count down the “giants” but rather we are given fifteen mini-profiles on each superstar. The interviews are of course accompanied with classic and rare clips from WWE’s expansive video library. Each profile focuses on the careers of their respective giant, some offer a career overview while others provide more stories and recollections (particularly about those who have passed). The total runtime of the main feature is 1 hour, 48 minutes.
Initially when the first details of the set were announced it was said to have included 20 giants in the main feature; however when the final details came through only 15 were looked at on the main DVD with 4 other giants included as Blu-ray exclusives. I feel that the documentary moves along at a nice pace and it doesn’t really get too long in the tooth at any point – more than likely due to each profile only being between 5 and 10 minutes. The inclusion of an additional 5 giants however might have made the feature a little too big, so it was good that they were moved onto the Blu-ray as exclusives there.
Naturally, you (as did I) will find some of the profiles more appealing than others. For me this was especially true for superstars such as: One Man Gang, Haystacks Calhoun, Big John Studd, Ernie Ladd, Giant Gonzales and of course, Andre The Giant. Some of these superstars I feel are often overlooked and their stories haven’t been told to the degree of some other more current superstars who might appear on the list. Others I felt (possibly due to the presenters) fell a little bit flat – particularly Gorilla Monsoon and Yokozuna. I would have preferred to get into Gorilla Monsoon’s story a little more; which was a shame as he was one of the standouts on the list for me prior to watching.
The profile for Giant Gonzales was really interesting, Harvey Wippleman did an awesome job of presenting not only Giant Gonzales (and El Gigante) the superstar, but also letting us know a little about Jorge González – the man. Tim White also did a great job with his presentation of Andre The Giant — why we haven’t had a full blown documentary on the life and career of Andre The Giant is still a mystery to me!
The set is intro’ed and outro’ed by a voice over and each giant is introduced using the artwork of now famous wrestling artist – Rob Schamberger (there is even a little feature on him and his art which was included as a Blu-Ray exclusive).
The matches: I’m not going to be discussing each and every match on this set; however I have picked out a few of my personal highlights which I will be discussing. As you will probably expect, this isn’t the type of DVD which was going to be filled with “5 star” matches, but I feel that WWE did a great job with their selections, they represented the Giants well and personally I love a mixed bag of matches like this. In total the matches run for 5 hours, 16 minutes.
WWE Championship Match: Billy Graham vs. Gorilla Monsoon (Madison Square Garden • 5/16/77)
It’s nice to see a Gorilla Monsoon match every now and then on a WWE DVD, there really hasn’t been too many released – possibly because not too many exist. This match takes place just over two weeks after Billy Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino for the WWE Championship, ending Bruno’s second near four year legendary Championship reign. In fact this was Billy Graham’s very first championship defence inside Madison Square Garden. As you may expect, the crowd was solidly behind Monsoon. For fans who haven’t seen too many Gorilla Monsoon matches and mainly know him as an announcer, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with Monsoon’s ring style; he really could move around the ring. Of course, matches from the 1970s don’t hold up 100% versus today’s in-ring action; however it’s really cool to see the evolution of wrestling. A point to note is that there is no commentary for this match which does hurt the bout a little for me.
Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes, & Junkyard Dog vs. Ernie Ladd & Wild Samoans (Mid-South Wrestling • 1/14/82)
This one was a “dream match”, the back story being that Mid-South Wrestling had prompted fans to send in cards with their dream match and the most requested match would happen on the weekly Mid-South Wrestling television show in a concept which was essentially the forerunner to what we have most Monday nights on RAW with voting via the WWE App. The match itself isn’t really anything all that great, however the two teams are stacked with hall of fame talent, so that in and of itself is a sight to behold. Plus, for the fans who only know Andre the Giant from his 1987 onwards heel run, it’s nice to go back and see the Giant in his earlier days – he even attempts a move off the top rope!
Steel Cage Match: Kamala vs. Andre the Giant (Maple Leaf Gardens • 10/21/84)
If you watched old Coliseum Videos back in the day or even since then, you will probably have seen a clip of Andre coming off the top rope onto a prone Kamala – well if you wondered what the full match was like – wonder no more as it is featured here in all its glory. The match itself isn’t amazing, it is a rather slow and plodding battle, however it really is a sight to behold with these two giants battling it out in a steel cage match.
UWF Championship Match: One Man Gang vs. Ted DiBiase (UWF Power Pro Wrestling • 11/18/86)
How Jim Ross has a voice after announcing in Mid-South Wrestling and the UWF is really beyond me. His impassioned commentary really adds so much to these old UWF matches, he makes you feel every move and really gets you into the bout. Coming into the match OMG was the reigning UWF Champion and had some classic matches with the likes of Big Bubba. Here he tangles with MSW stalwart Ted DiBiase in a great big man vs. “little man” contest. Really fun match here, made even more fun with JR’s commentary.
Sid Justice & Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan & Rowdy Roddy Piper (Mobile, AL • 3/9/92)
Contrary to the match listing, this contest actually emanates from Mobile, Alabama and is the match which was included on the 1992 Battle of the Superstars VHS (this is one of a few matches which are dated incorrectly on this set, one or two we managed to correct prior to publishing the match list, others like this we couldn’t confirm until actually seeing it). It really does feel strange to see Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper teaming up; THAT for me made this match feel really special.
Diesel vs. Isaac Yankem, D.D.S. (Superstars • 1/20/96)
This match is unique as it features the “real” Diesel taking on the soon to be “fake” Diesel . The match itself was actually a competitive bout between these two big men. It takes place just prior to the 1996 Royal Rumble and going into that event Diesel was one of the big favourites and you may expect this to be more of a squash – but it wasn’t. Yankem wasn’t exactly setting the wrestling world on fire in this run outside of his few matches versus Bret Hart and a good match against The Undertaker on a late 1995 RAW, however don’t cry for Isaac, as there would be lots of fire in his future. 😉
WWE Championship Match: Sycho Sid vs. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (RAW • 2/17/97)
This is one of the final few WWE Championship title changes (which exist on tape) that haven’t been released to date, to now make it to Home Video.
This match came off the heels of Shawn Michaels relinquishing the WWE Championship just five days prior, and the Final-Four Match from the night before. This match was WWE’s final steps to rebuilding the WrestleMania 13 card. It’s a real shame that WWE didn’t include the pre-match madness which helped set up this bout. The match itself was scheduled to take place two times earlier in the show, however it was interrupted both times by Stone Cold Steve Austin. It was also learned during the two earlier attempts that The Undertaker would meet the winner of this match at WrestleMania for the title. Because of its WrestleMania implications this match had a big time feel, which possibly because of the edits here doesn’t come across too well – and that’s a shame. The match really was the zenith of Sid’s career and he was really over with the crowd (something often forgotten by history), this is a real nice match, but a shame it doesn’t quite come over as “big time” as it actually was.
WWE Hardcore Championship Match: Big Show vs. Rhyno (RAW • 5/21/01)
The Hardcore Championship was providing the WWE Universe with some really great matches in the first half of 2001, from the great WrestleMania X-Seven Triple Threat to a very memorable Rhino vs. Raven bout from Backlash the next month. Well, this RAW match set two of those matches’ competitors against each other as The Big Show battled Rhyno. Also an interesting point to note is that this match comes from the same show where Triple H first tore his quadriceps. This match unfortunately didn’t quite capture the magic of the previous PPV matches; regretfully Rhyno didn’t get too much offense in this near four minute bout as Big Show dominated and walked out as Hardcore Champion.
No DQ #1 Contender Match for the WWE Championship: The Great Khali vs. Shawn Michaels (RAW • 5/7/07)
If anyone can get a decent match from The Great Khali, you would think it’s got to be Shawn Michaels; and you would be correct. It wasn’t long, which was a good thing, but at this time in 2007 Khali still had an aura of being a monster (he hadn’t got his grove on yet) so a percentage of the fans still believed. Not to mention Khali was in there with arguably the best babyface in pro-wrestling, which really helped get the crowd into the match. Granted the finish was a little bizarre given the No DQ stipulation, but still it was a decent match from Khali – so definitely worthy of inclusion here.
In conclusion, I don’t feel that this is the type of DVD that everyone will watch over and over again, it likely won’t ever be listed on anyone’s “greatest WWE DVD list” but it certainly wasn’t a bad DVD by any stretch. I might put True Giants in the running for “Sleeper DVD of 2014”. True Giants does a nice job of representing the history of Giants in professional wrestling with its main feature and the unique collection of rare matches from the entire wrestling world, spanning the 1970s through to the late 2000s.
Granted, the matches aren’t five-star technical masterpieces, but if you expected that on a “Giants” DVD, you were always set for disappointment. WWE did a nice job with their selections on this, and for that reason alone this makes True Giants a definite pick up from me; maybe not a day one purchase for everyone, but undoubtedly one to pick up down the road.
Get your copy of the new WWE “True Giants” DVD or Blu-ray now…
– UK/Europe: Available now! Get yours from WWEDVD.co.uk.
– USA: Available next Tuesday! Get yours here on Amazon.com.
– Australia: Coming January 7th. Pre-order via WWEDVD.com.au.