REVIEW: WWE ‘UNRELEASED 1986-1995’ DVD – Warriors, Harts, Monsters… And Turtles!

August 22, 2017 by Mark Armstrong

WWE UNRELEASED 1986-1995 DVD - Full of Never Before Seen Matches!

“WWE UNRELEASED 1986-1995” does what it says on the sleeve (actually maybe not, since the box art incorrectly suggested it covers the 1985-1996 time period): this three-disc set brings together a ton of matches spanning from when Hulkamania was at its peak to when the New Generation was in the midst of Diesel’s lengthy reign as WWF Champion.

What makes this DVD particularly unique is that the matches chosen for the collection are not from the likes of Saturday Night’s Main Event, Superstars or Wrestling Challenge. No, these are matches which have only ever been seen by those in attendance and, in many cases, were not even known to have existed until the match listing was confirmed. Consequently, the appeal of this DVD greatly increases, because these are matches you won’t find on WWE Network or on YouTube; they are true rarities, and for longtime fans and die-hard collectors, this has the potential to be a real gem.

The DVD is hosted by Charly Caruso and Sean Mooney; Charly is paying a visit to the WWE Event Center to find rare matches, while the running joke is that Mooney has never left the building since his original WWF tenure and may still be living there. (By the way, Charly provides an introduction before the DVD even begins; here, the DVD menu is used to get the ball rolling, so to speak.)

The Menu For WWE Unreleased!

The links are kept pretty simple, emphasizing the uniqueness of particular match pairings, teams and stipulations. There are also some visual inside gags (like the one seen in the screengrab below), and there is an attempt to separate this from other DVDs which have already released classic matches from the relevant years. One example of this amusingly teases that the WrestleMania X Ladder match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels is about to be shown, only for Charly to interrupt by saying that the match has been released on virtually every WWE DVD ever! Hey, perhaps the scriptwriters for this DVD are regular visitors to this website (wink, wink). So, the links are nothing special, but there are some funny moments here and there.

No Holds Barred - Alt Ending?

Anyway, onto the purpose of this review. As there are so many matches (forty-five in all!), I will spotlight ten particular bouts, as well as one segment. I have to say that many of the matches are short (some barely last three minutes, which would please Eric Bischoff circa 2002), and there are an awful lot of disqualification and countout finishes. Even as somebody who understands why these finishes are used to maintain a feud or the credibility of the participants, the number of times that matches are thrown out here gets pretty frustrating. In some cases, the heels walk out and take the loss when the match is just getting going. So, bear this in mind as you’re watching the DVD, because those expecting a plethora of lengthy, classic matches will be disappointed.

As for the production: most of the matches are of a perfectly reasonable quality. The camera moves up and down at a migraine-inducing rate for the first few minutes of the opening match, and the picture occasionally becomes blurry in a handful of bouts later on. There is also the occasional use of a timer on-screen, presumably based on the real time of the show in question, but this shouldn’t spoil one’s enjoyment of the action. Some matches are filmed with one camera from the main, hard camera position, but the majority are filmed from various angles in the manner that viewers would usually expect. There is no commentary for any of the bouts, but since virtually all of these are dark matches held before or after television tapings (there are a small number of house show matches too), this is understandable. Bear in mind that commentary would often be added in post-production during this era, so if certain matches were never planned to be televised, then there would be no need for commentary. Finally, though instances of weapon use and choking are extremely rare, there are moments when edits have clearly been made for this very reason (which is odd because there are other times on this DVD when choking and chairshots to the head are shown).

WWE Unreleased 1986-1995

With all that out of the way, let’s get to the notable matches from this DVD!

 

Match Highlights

The Dingo Warrior vs. Jose Estrada

This is not only intriguing because it features Warrior in a WWF ring before he became Ultimate, but because in the early going of the contest, we see a different side of him from a wrestling standpoint. He executes several armdrags and even breaks out a leapfrog, as well as other moves not associated with Warrior. By the end, he becomes the Warrior that we all expect, but in terms of showcasing his repertoire, he may surprise a few viewers here.

WWE 'UNRELEASED 1986-1995' DVD - A Leapfrog by Ultimate Warrior!
Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage vs. The Honky Tonk Man & The Hart Foundation

It turns out that Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart did square off in a sanctioned WWF match. Granted, it occurred when Bret was still a heel member of the original Hart Foundation, and it happened in a 3-on-2 handicap situation (and this match has arguably the poorest picture quality of the entire set). But it’s still a novelty to see Hogan and Bret trade blows in a WWF ring.

Hillbilly Jim & King Duggan vs. Haku & Andre the Giant

Honestly, because this DVD has so many matches, it’s easy to forget many of them immediately after they happen. This one seemingly stands out for the wrong reasons, as it’s due to a terribly-blown sunset flip spot involving Haku and Duggan, but not necessarily because the move goes awry. It’s because the fans in attendance either don’t notice or don’t care, and continue to cheer on the action as standard. If this happened in a televised WWE match today, the reaction would be very different.

WWE 'UNRELEASED 1986-1995' DVD - Andre The Giant & Haku vs. Hillbilly Jim & King Duggan

Mr. Perfect & Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior & Texas Tornado

I got a kick out of this doubles match which brought together two matches at the upcoming SummerSlam event from 1990. It features Perfect as his big-bumping best, while he and Rude perfectly utilise heel tactics to build sympathy for the babyfaces. It works, as the crowd goes completely bananas once the faces regain control.

WWE 'UNRELEASED 1986-1995' DVD - Mr. Perfect vs Ultimate Warrior

Blindfold Match
Rick Martel vs. Jake Roberts

This Blindfold test run for their famous WrestleMania VII bout was one of the matches I enjoyed most on this DVD. It’s obviously basic and it’s almost a carbon copy of what went down at ‘Mania, but it’s entertaining nonetheless (by 1991 standards, anyway), and the crowd are well into it. It’s another match which wouldn’t work in the modern WWE, but for the era and for the storyline (Martel blinding Roberts with his Arrogance spray), you can’t help but smile when watching it.

Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair

Taking place shortly before Survivor Series, this clash between Hogan and Flair is okay but nothing special. In addition, it’s clear that Hulkamania had passed its peak by this point; whereas fans were going crazy for Hulk in the earlier matches, by this point, the pops are quieter (not a lot of fans stick around for his post-match posing), and there are even some boos directed at The Hulkster. Perhaps a fear of Hogan being booed is another reason why this match didn’t happen at WrestleMania VIII?

Piper’s Pit

I mention this segment (which took place a few days after WrestleMania VIII) for one reason. The theme of the segment is liars, and near the start in a throwaway line, Piper says “Half the WWF wrestlers are in a scandal”. If you know your WWF history and you know what was happening off-screen at this time, this is a jaw-dropping line from Hot Rod to say in front of a packed crowd. If this had been televised, Vince McMahon probably would have been furious. But as one fan pointed out to me, this underlines how Piper always said it like it was.

Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog

I loved the WWF product during the Golden Age and New Generation, and still have warm nostalgic feelings about those eras. However, up until this point (and even after it), this DVD containing hidden gems from those years lacks a genuinely great match. Thankfully, Bret and Bulldog are up to the task in this preview of their SummerSlam 1992 bout. It’s not as good as their more famous PPV bouts, but it’s definitely the best match on this DVD.

The Toxic Turtles vs. Tommy Stevenson & Ron Preston

You know how people sometimes called these years the “cartoon era” in the WWF? Be thankful that they never saw this match. The Toxic Turtles – blatant rip-offs of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – competed in just this one match, and fans greet them warmly before the ridiculousness of their gimmick (one turtle ends up on his shell, requiring the other to help him up) leads to them eventually being booed. This feels like a match that was supposed to be televised, but wasn’t because the gimmick bombed. I actually found this match unintentionally hilarious, and the image below sums it up perfectly.

WWE 'UNRELEASED 1986-1995' DVD - It's The Toxic Turtles!

Intercontinental Championship Match
Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect

As with their later showdown at SummerSlam, this contest – a dream match on paper – doesn’t meet expectations (similar to the recent AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens bouts). This is interesting because it teases that Perfect wins the title but due to a referee mix-up, Michaels is instead disqualified. However, this eventual outcome is never announced (or if it was, it’s not shown here), so technically Perfect may have become a three-time IC Champion here. Hmmm…

Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake vs. Money Inc. (Special Guest Referee: Sgt. Slaughter)

Finally, there’s this match, which took place the day after King of the Ring, where Hogan had his last televised WWF match in the 1990s. This is more pantomime than wrestling (seriously, watch it and you’ll see what I mean), but the crowd are well into it, and are thoroughly entertained by the hammy performances on display. Perhaps a reminder that wrestling really is about entertainment, especially when the Hulkster is involved (who by the way is all over this DVD, another sign that his WWE return may be imminent).

WWE 'UNRELEASED 1986-1995' DVD - Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake vs. Money Inc.

 

The Verdict

This is an unusual DVD. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for some great matches that you’ve never seen, well you’ll probably be disappointed. Only Bret vs. Bulldog and maybe a couple of the tag bouts can compare to the action on WWF screens at that time (and since in-ring standards were fairly low during the big man era, that’s saying something). Even the Ladder matches towards the end, where Jeff Jarrett faces British Bulldog and Razor Ramon respectively, are clearly a bonus for the live crowd rather than an attempt to provide top-drawer action in their own right (though it’s humorous to see Razor blatantly wrap his leg in the ropes, in a manner which is too obvious to ignore, in the finish of the latter match). Judging it from a strictly in-ring standpoint, this is not a great DVD.

Not quite WrestleMania X ...

If you’re a longtime WWF fan, however, then you’ll get a real kick out of seeing virtually every memorable performer from the spotlighted years in action. All of the top stars like Hogan, Warrior and Randy Savage are here, along with gimmicks like Big Boss Man and The Million Dollar Man, tag teams such as The Legion Of Doom and Demolition (whose match barely surpasses the one-minute mark, admittedly), and even fondly-remembered wrestlers from the bottom rung of the ladder like Barry Horowitz and The Brooklyn Brawler. There’s also intriguing tag teams (Hogan and Piper, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels), unique firsts (such as what may have been the first Casket match in WWF history between Undertaker and Warrior), one-off showdowns (the aforementioned Hogan-Bret interaction) and situations which would never have been acknowledged on television (Savage wrestling as Mr. Madness to over-rule his retirement stipulation at the time to square off against Jake).

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this DVD are the tryout matches, whereby we see future WWF stars in the bouts which landed them their jobs. These include Brian Adams (the future Crush), Earthquake Evans (no prizes for guessing who he became), Tatanka as War Eagle and The Tazmaniac (who maintained this gimmick in ECW, but obviously became Taz/Tazz later on). Owen Hart is in action too, predating his first stint as The Blue Blazer, and we see The Smoking Gunns before they became Billy and Bart; here, they’re Kip Winchester & Brett Colt. And then there’s the gimmicks which never made it past the dark match stage; I’m looking at you, Toxic Turtles. (By the way, just think that the Turtles didn’t make it to television, but the likes of TL Hopper, Man Mountain Rock, Mantaur, Saba Simba and Duke “The Dumpster” Droese did. Poor Timmy and Tommy Turtle.)

Sean Mooney and Charly Caruso!

So, to conclude, this is clearly a DVD where you have to adjust your expectations. Go in with the mindset of simply watching these forgotten matches and with the intention of being entertained, occasionally by the ludicrous nature of what you’re seeing, and you’ll probably really enjoy it. It’s unlikely that you’ll watch this collection more than once, but first time around it’s a treat for longtime fans and die-hard collectors. Wrestling purists should steer clear.

As for me… seeing The Toxic Turtles more than justifies a purchase in my eyes.

 
Grab your copy of the new “WWE UNRELEASED 1986-1995” DVD on…

 
UK/Europe: September 4th. Pre-order the Unreleased DVD right now here on Amazon.co.uk.

United States: September 5th. Pre-order the Unreleased DVD now here on Amazon.com.

Australia: October 25th. Your chance to pre-order the Unreleased DVD is at Madman.com.au.
 

 




New WWE DVDs on Amazon.co.uk


75 Comments left on this article...

  1. mark james says:

    I wonder if the reviewer actually watched the set or is he just a fan of the new wwe and not this era. Most matches were good as I expected and surprised at a few clean finishes. I’m a fan of this era and know a lot of matches ended in a quick count out or dq for no reason. Undertaker vs Bigelow was probably the worst looking match but did end clean. No commentary didn’t bother me like I thought. Charly and Sean did a great hosting job. I’d invite part 2 any time.

  2. Alex Davies. says:

    I love this set! It is a privilege to see all those classic names from yesteryear! I want to see more WWE DVD releases like this one 🙂

  3. Brian Wisniewski says:

    The back of my set says never before seen matches 1985-1996. Are they all like this?

  4. Guest says:

    Actually there is at least one other Hogan/Bret Hart confrontation in a match…I believe it was Hogan/Koko B Ware vs Hart Foundation/Honky Tonk Man that also took place on one of the Coliseum Video released tapes.

  5. Guest says:

    why does wwe blur the superstars of wrestling banners?

    • RCS1988 says:

      Because, they lost the rights to the name, because a guy happened to trademark the name and went after WWE. The guy who did trademark it is an idiot.

  6. Mark Markson says:

    After I read that the set has 45 matches, I knew the quality would probably be low. I will still buy this, but my expectations aren’t high.

  7. The Midnight Jobber says:

    “As for me… Seeing the toxic turtles justifies a purchase in my eyes”?
    How old is this reviewer? 8?
    The Midnight Jobber says: No Paul Roma- No purchase.

    • RCS1988 says:

      Roma wrestles Earthquake Evans on this set.

    • Brandon vendetta says:

      Do you like Paul Roma for real?? Or is this just some ongoing gag that you think is funny? Just curious

      • RabidHeat says:

        He pretends he actually likes jobbers, then when we ask him if he’s serious, he insists he is and says we are denying him an opinion. He’s been doing it for a while now, as he seeems to think we care. But no, he’s not serious. And we don’t care. He hasn’t even picked a funny jobber to make the subject of the running gag. Paul Roma really wasn’t that bad, so his perceived irony is lost in the shuffle.

      • The Midnight Jobber says:

        I believe Paul Roma is beyond underrated. He was a great worker. He is the original tag team specialist (with Jim Powers then reinventing his tag talents with Hercules). Plus, people tend to forget HE WAS A HORSEMAN. I still await a proper dvd set to showcase his impact on the industry. And no one had a better drop kick.

        • RabidHeat says:

          People don’t forget he was a Horseman, because they’re always pointing out that it was one of the dumbest decisions ever to make him a Horseman.

        • Brandon vendetta says:

          Sorry to inform you but Paul Roma was the absolute worst member ever to be in the Horseman. And to say he was the original tag team specialist is hilarious. Dope must be cheap where you live. Gag or not you sir are high.

          • The Midnight Jobber says:

            Give Paul Roma a chance. Perhaps you have never seen him execute the best drop kick the industry has ever seen. I hope they release his dvd soon so you can better understand his impact on sports entertainment.

    • Mark Markson says:

      Roma did look like a jerk on the Four Horsemen DVD. Showed little respect for Flair, and said Flair wished he was Paul Roma. Suuuure… Who wouldn’t prefer to be a jobber, and not be the greatest wrestling legend of all time.

    • RabidHeat says:

      I love how this guy was so eager to get his joke across that he didn’t even read the listing properly to see that Paul Roma is actually on the set.

  8. Donald says:

    Seems disappointing , I think they have more content that they haven’t released, such a pity.

    • RCS1988 says:

      They can do more volumes of this if the 1st one sells well.

      • Donald says:

        I agree with both of you. It’s sad because I don’t think it will sell due to the flaws in content listing and misleading us fans with additional content that would’ve made the set. The NXT set is successful because of the content it showcases.

    • Justin says:

      In the Untold History of the WWE magazine that came out in 2009, i believe it said that WWE (at the time) had over 100,000 hours of wrestling content. Wikipedia (take it with a grain of salt) under WWE Libraries says as of 2014, the library stands at 150,000 hours of content. Whats sad is there are probably ideas for other releases that noone has thought of yet. If it sells well, Id about expect another volume.

  9. RabidHeat says:

    Surely it was more a case of WWF receiving a cease and desist letter from the makers of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that would’ve killed that gimmick? Just like Arachnaman in WCW?

  10. Kenny says:

    What was wrong with Man Mountain Rock?!

    Dude could work, had a good look, and was pretty killer on a guitar. No way does he belong in the same category as Bastian Booger or Friar Ferguson. SHEESH!

    • The Midnight Jobber says:

      I think people look down on Man Mountain Rock because just couldn’t measure up to the great sports entertainers of that era, like Paul Roma or Flash Funk.

      • Anonymous says:

        Flash Funk could work though.

        • The Midnight Jobber says:

          Exactly, which why Flash Funk is hall of fame bound in 2018, just like Paul Roma.
          Flash Funk should be inducted by Bret Hart.
          Paul Roma should be inducted by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

        • Sean says:

          Yeah, flash funk worked so well they ripped off his gimmick and used it for Brodus Clay’s gimmick The Funkasaurus & his Funkadactyls.

      • RabidHeat says:

        Your running Paul Roma jokes just fall so flat. Try and think of something a bit funnier; head over to Lords of Pain if you want to see examples of running jokes that catch on in the comments. Like, at least the running joke about the WrestleMania X ladder match on here is somewhat funny. You could even pick jobbers names that are funnier than Paul Roma and Flash Funk; like Mantaur or Phantasio. Paul Roma and Flash Funk actually had a bit of talent, so your irony isn’t really coming through. Just trying to help, pal.

  11. Rocky says:

    I love the fact that back then the fans just enjoyed the show and didn’t care when someone botched a move. This is one of the main reasons i am not a massive fan of today’s product. Fans nowadays just think they can book it bettet rather than just enjoying the show and that’s why in my opinion wwe is a much inferior product these days.

  12. Carl says:

    what was the reasoning for no blu-ray version on this set? Sorry if this has been covered

  13. Foley is good says:

    I think I will save the cash for the NXT bluray.

  14. Tommy Stevenson & Ron Preston says:

    I can’t believe they cut off the WrestleMania X Ladder Match! No buys!

  15. SRB says:

    The Toxic Turtles vs. Tommy Stevenson & Ron Preston

    Match of the set without a doubt.

  16. Pat Kirk says:

    I’m passing on this. He basically confirmed the set isn’t very good and it’s only worth picking up for the nostalgia which is not worth the money for.

  17. Robert emons says:

    Preordered and waiting for shipping confirmation!

  18. Brandon vendetta says:

    Well I must admit after reading the above comments such as “this is clearly a DVD where you have to adjust your expectations” and “you probably won’t watch this more than once” I’m realizing my fears for this set are unfortunately true and it’s not going to be what I and many others hoped it would be. I have to buy it to see all this for myself but after reading not to expect much I’m a little less enthusiastic about this set than I was before. Just by reading this review I can tell this will be collecting dust on my DVD rack real soon but I’m a collector it’s my own fault if I don’t watch it more than once I guess.

  19. Patrick Kirk says:

    What’s this guys obsession with The Toxic Turtles?

  20. RCS1988 says:

    I also hope it sells well that it leads to more volumes being produced and utilizing untelevised footage for other releases mixed with televised stuff.

  21. RCS1988 says:

    I’ve been waiting for something like this for 10 years. It’s basically my favorite time period, because that is when I first started watching it. Since the person that reviewed this has seen everything, are the Superstars of Wrestling banners blurred when they are shown or are they unblurred?

  22. Paul says:

    Just wondering if there will ever be a collection of matches that haven’t seen for ages like off vhs like stuff from 90’s in particular from things like the old Supertape volumes, Rampage, Smack Em’ Whack Em’and and some of the World Tours from that era, things like that have hopefully never been released on DVD is it possible or has it already been done, some really decent and sometimes outstanding matches on some of those sets.

  23. John says:

    I’m torn here. Seeing stuff from those years for the first time is exciting — they represent some of my biggest years as a fan. I wasn’t expecting a bunch of 5 star gems, but I was hoping for something better than a bunch of stuff that apparently doesn’t even match up to what was shown on TV at the time for the most part.

  24. Ryan says:

    I’ll still get it just to see never before seen matches from my favorites (Owen Hart, Jeff Jarrett, Macho Man, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Rick Martel). Wasn’t really expecting many 5-Star Classics but it will still be cool.

  25. Patrick Dailey says:

    How does the Hogan-Flair match compare with their two meetings at MSG from the same time period? This one goes 14:29 (I think), while the other two taped for TV were only about 10 mins.

    • Mark Armstrong says:

      It’s very similar to the MSG bout, and there’s a fair bit of stalling in the early going. It’s still worth watching, just nothing spectacular

  26. Indyfan says:

    Hmm I’m not sure what to think. How was Rockers vs Powers of Pain? That is the one match I’m really looking forward to. Is it like their match on Supertape 2?

    I’m still getting it and I expected many matches to only last a few minutes

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