Review: WWE The Epic Journey of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson DVD (Exclusive Documentary Look)

February 19, 2012 by Daniel Bee

It’s time for my review of WWE: The Epic Journey of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I watched the 3-Disc DVD edition. The main feature (biographical documentary) will be covered as the basis of the review. Hope you enjoy reading it in the run up to the release next Tuesday.   – Daniel

Buy The Rock DVD in the USA.   Buy The Rock DVD in the UK.


Personalities involved…

The documentary features new interviews with Vince McMahon, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, John Cena, CM Punk, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Pat Patterson and Ron Simmons. It is however focused on Vince/HHH/Jericho/Foley and Rock himself giving comments. That might sound limited but it works very well being centered around these personalities. After all those four guys were all very influential in Rock’s career and directly involved. You want to listen to them.

If you were expecting Santino and Zack Ryder in here giving cheesy impressions of The Rock’s or his catchphrases, you’ll be pleasantly surprised there is nothing like that. Even John Cena only pops up now again and that’s clearly just because of the WrestleMania 28 relevance. What this translates to is compelling, fairly in depth discussion of The Rock’s career from the people who lived it!


Finally The Rock has come back to WWE DVD..

I don’t know about you, but when I watched the recent WrestleMania 28 promo packages featuring The Rock being interviewed on the move, it crossed my mind he would probably be giving interviews for this DVD in the same brief fashion. I thought that because clearly he’s a busy guy with a packed out schedule. I was wrong though. The Rock sits down specifically for this DVD. He discusses pretty much all the major stages of his WWE career, with obvious passion when recalling it, and it’s great to see for the first time. That’s definitely something we’ve been waiting for on DVD for years. In fact I thought it would never happen when he was gone for so long.


Wrestling is the focus, not movies…

The documentary runs just short of two hours, and there’s no real time wasted. We get a short family background and hear about his roots in football, but it’s just the right length. Less than 10 minutes in we’re hearing about his first wrestling training with his dad, followed up by Rock, Vince and Patterson talking about his process of entering the WWF, and his debut in MSG.

What I loved is from the off we see Vince is involved with this documentary with new interviews and it screams serious business. In the intro and later on in the feature The Rock reveals a truth about why he stayed away from WWE for 7 years. I won’t spoil things in here but Rock says on the DVD it’s the first time he has revealed it publicly. It’s great to hear and sounds legit.

The documentary does a good job of showing early crowd reactions to The Rock at the time, with Triple H, Mick Foley and others talking about the “Rocky sucks” chants prevalent in their matches. Rock addresses it too, feeling his character then lacked authenticity and “the fans see through bullshit”. Rock joining the Nation of Domination and running with his character from there is covered in some nice depth too, with new interviews from Ron Simmons.

I like the recollection of the DX/Nation feud in here because Rock and Triple H touch upon the personal backstage rivalry between them that was going on with egos involved, but feel it was all business and trust when in the ring. It’s great to hear the top stars of the Attitude Era in Stone Cold, The Rock and Triple H, recalling how around Survivor Series 98 they were quite literally fighting to the top guy to be ushering in a new era of wrestling. I laughed out loud at Rock’s comments about his joy of becoming the youngest WWF Champion – “that shit was sweet”. Later on the Rock/HHH feud of 1999/2000 is covered, one of my favourite times in wrestling, and it’s awesome to hear their passion reminiscing that uber heel against hot babyface feud.

So, as you already know the majority of footage being shown in the biography is from the Attitude Era so there is blurring present. I must say the blurring honestly was not all that noticeable throughout these clips, certainly not distracting, although clips are quickly changing on screen.

Discussion on Mick Foley and The Rock’s feud and comedic tag team take up some length on the doc, and this is another good example of why it’s so important to have the right people interviewed. Foley does most of the talking but it’s a joy to listen to. Highlights are looking back on the chair shots and brutality at Royal Rumble 99, and the “This is your Life” segment over which Vince was going nuts backstage because of the length it was going!

It gets juicy when covering Rock/Austin. Rock talk’s about how competitive they both were toward each other, and recalls having an issue with the end of Austin’s signature reading “#1”, because that’s the spot he was gunning for. Foley says their rivalry for the top spot was very real, not just for TV. Jericho is insightful throughout this doc (another one where he really ups the value by being on there), painting a picture of how huge that rivalry was, and that the situation of having two megastars at one time in the same era may not ever happen again.

I often think I’ve seen all of The Rock’s promos that many times over that they’ve lost their appeal somewhat but this documentary does a great job of putting them all together in a highlight reel and the result is you laughing out loud. They show off that Rock really did have the whole package, and Jim Ross feels it was all about this variety he brought, not relying on just one catchphrase or one way of delivering comedy.

We begin to move on to The Rock becoming a superstar in other forms of entertainment. My feeling was that here the doc would take a turn for the worse, but actually there was interesting clips of his media attention and his Saturday Night Live skits. It’s interesting to hear of Rock’s talk with Vince about “growing” in which Vince had no reservations with Rock reaching for the stars. Rock talks of wanting to be on the big screen since he was 8 years old.

WWE is not shy in this to express the opinion that Rock had become more mainstream than Steve Austin, even though Austin was hugely popular too. After those short clips outside of wrestling, we’re on to Wrestlemania 17. They bill it as the return of the king (Austin) and the two megastars going at it. Jericho says here that WrestleMania 17 was the one that was just amazing. Agreed. You don’t hear this mentioned on WWE DVD’s much but it truly was.

Rock/Hogan next. Good film footage of their match at WrestleMania X8, showing off the spectacle it was. A few comments from Hogan in here (taken from The Mania of WrestleMania). Interesting to hear from Rock that at this point Rock was beginning to think he’d accomplished everything he wanted to in wrestling, and how he pitched the idea of going up against Hogan at WrestleMania to Vince, who already had it in his head too.

Next, the doc does a great job at covering something I didn’t expect it to. This was the effect Rock making it big in Hollywood had on the wrestling fans reaction to him. Naturally, the match with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam is brought up and fantastic to see was some footage I don’t recall seeing before of Rock off the air at that event, where Rock st looking quite pissed off with the crowd. JR thinks the fans were asking, “Is he with us or is he a movie guy now?”. We see how this was the roots of his new Hollywood character in WWE at a time he was still transitioning into movies. The doc has a nice amount of time on this character in 2003, and rightly so, including Rock recalling the Sacramento “concert” which is hilarious.

WrestleMania 20 is touched upon, where Foley reveals how Rock felt that match really was a big deal to him, but nobody expected he’d be away for 7 years following it. Rock’s return to WWE last year on Raw still gives me goosebumps, and it’s shown here in the doc. I must say when you watch it after going on a nostalgic ride through The Rock’s whole career it makes it even better, and there is real emphasis on how big of a deal it was because he had been gone for so long prior to it.

Two other great things. Jericho sticks one to any Rock haters out there (and I guess, John Cena, too) saying he paid all of his dues back in the day and has nothing left to prove. Off air footage from Rock’s recent Raw birthday show, where we see The Rock in the ring watching the “Coming Home” tribute. It’s cool to see his reaction to that emotional video.

Closing thoughts…

Let me point out that I feared this Rock DVD would have heavy emphasis on Hollywood, and be more about the all around Superstar he has become, but watching through it you soon realise this is WRESTLING focused. Pretty much every stage of his WWE career talked at length, which is what Rock is sitting there to do. The right personalities are joining him, and the right topics are covered.

The movie stuff is actually brief and only brought into the documentary when relevant. It is also interesting whenever it does comes into discussion. This really is the WWE career documentary on The Rock we hoped for.

Was every single detail of his career covered? No, but enough was. Was the documentary long enough? Nope, I could have easily listened to another hour of stories but 2 hours was a decent length. The production values of the feature I thought were superb.

One criticism is that toward the end of the feature I felt it was more the other stars like Foley and Jericho doing the talking, more so than The Rock, but WWE managed to get Rock sit down to interview for this DVD and he doesn’t hold back in recalling his wrestling career so you have to respect that.

I give the main feature of an 9/10 rating. A fantastic, in depth look at The Rock’s time in WWE. Something to show anybody who thinks Dwayne has no passion left for the business, and something you’ll be watching for years to come. The additional matches and promos present on the set I feel are the usual suspects, and not really that exciting, but one could argue they deserve to be on a Rock career DVD. I think you can make up your own mind on those based on the other sets you own. The Blu-ray edition with about 90 minutes of extra material on top is the way to go.

The DVD and Blu-ray is released to the United States on February 21st. Click to buy your copy.

Following that, the United Kingdom gets it in March, in stock first at Silvervision.co.uk!

 




New WWE DVDs on Amazon.co.uk


20 Comments left on this article...

  1. Bigleu says:

    Has anyone found that song!?

  2. Simon says:

    Received the Blu Ray for Christmas, and would only rate the set a 6/10, unfortunately. The documentary seemed too rushed for my liking, and as such, only the really, really important matches get a mention – which is ironic, because its those matches we’ve all heard about before anyway. Everything was just glossed over (sometimes, the endings of WM main events are even acknowledged), and I didn’t learn much about his psyche at the time, or anything that would enhance my enjoyment of the matches or make this documentary worthwhile. The feature is completely lop-sided too; nearly 30 minutes is spent on his 2011 return, which is far too much. The bulk of his accomplishments came during his main run (1996-2003), and thus 2011 didn’t warrant more than 10-15 minutes tops. At one point, I thought I was watching a long, drawn-out promo for WM28. One of the aspects I enjoy most about documentaries like these is when wrestlers talk us through their key career points, but I just didn’t feel like this really happened. To an extent, the DVD was titled correctly, in that it IS more about Dwayne Johnson than it is The Rock – but considering this is a WWE title, I really wasn’t interested in seeing/hearing about his movie career. For example, I’d rather have heard him talk about each of his seven WWE Title wins, as opposed to Triple H swooning over his Saturday Night Live appearance. I’d rather have seen clips of his Royal Rumble win, rather than a football player talking about how great he was in The Scorpion King. As a fan of The Rock, rather than a fan of Dwayne Johnson, this didn’t quite do it for me.

    The extras are decent, and include a healthy dose of matches, but the Blu Ray leaves a little to be desired. Recent Blu Rays covering CM Punk and Steve Austin have had some awesome extras, but this just had three minutes of unused material from the documentary. Had I known, I probably would’ve gone for the (much cheaper) DVD instead.

  3. Andrew says:

    I just watched it. Great documentary. I was wondering who sings a certain song in it. It’s like an hour and one minute into the movie. I’ve been trying to search it, it sounds like it would be called “My Life” but I have no idea who sings it or if that’s even the real title.

  4. Anan says:

    Great documentary. In my opinion, WWE excels with their documentary sets as they never fail to entertain me. Only exception was Warrior. But that’s cause they buried him and he was not involved in the project in any way.

    I thought Stone Cold was very influential in Rock’s career so I would have liked to see him featured more in the documentary. But he’s also got a movie career and thus has a busy schedule himself. Plus, Austin’s DVD was released pretty recently and Rock was covered there a lot so maybe that’s why he’s not really featured here much.

  5. WWEBluFan says:

    Just watched the doc and the video tribute to Rock from his birthday celebration (song and all) was included in the main feature. As such, no clue why they cut it out in the special features.

  6. Evan says:

    I just watched the documentary myself and having The Rock as my all-time favorite superstar growing up, this documentary was everything I was hoping for. It was well worth the wait. I loved that The Rock was able to give his true thoughts about certain parts of his career and I think everyone who watches the documentary, will learn something that they haven’t before. As far as the matches go, they were ok selection. This dvd isn’t about the matches at all though, it is about the career of The Rock from the people who were directly involved with creating it. If you want a better selection of matches, I would prefer you to just get his previous dvd. One last thing I loved about the documentary was that they didn’t have everyone comment on his career, they kept it very limited and that made this documentary that much better.

  7. WWEBluFan says:

    Confirmed that the Rock’s birthday celebration on this one runs about 5 or 6 minutes less than the version on Extreme Rules. Most likely rights issues with the Diddy – Dirty Money w/ Skylar Grey “Coming Home” song that played over the video tribute and Mya’s record label. As I said, Pitbull was cut from both versions, so no change there. Actually kind of surprised the Diddy song and Mya weren’t cut from Extreme Rules.

  8. Adam says:

    I dunno who this Brett Minx guy is, but THIS is how a review is done.

  9. WWEBluFan says:

    Got the blu today! Amazing collection. One note: the 2011 birthday celebration is trimmed as compared to the version included on the Extreme Rules 2011 blu. Both versions cut out Pitbull’s performance & the backstage segments. However, the version on the Rock blu also cut out the video package tribute Vince introduced, as well as Mya singing “Happy Birthday.” I’ll have to check, but pretty sure those were on Extreme Rules.

  10. MadMike says:

    Great review Daniel. I purchased the Blu Ray edition…the 90 mins of extra footage is a plus and of course the Blu Ray quality, however, the missing artwork from the DVD edition pains me…

  11. Nice review DB. Well done.

  12. Daniel Bee says:

    Spelling mistakes? What spelling mistakes?

    IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT SPELLING MISTAKES! 😀

    Thanks Shaun.

  13. well thats a massive shock, cant wait to watch this now great job danny

  14. Evan McFarlane says:

    Fantastic review as always DB, It’s really got me looming forward to picking this DVD up. You’ve got a few spelling mistakes in there though 😛

  15. Bill says:

    I LMAOed at the screen shot of him rolling his eyes up, that’s too funny

Leave Your Comments

 

More of the latest Wrestling DVD News...    

REVEALED: Cover Artwork (And Extras) for WWE’s Extreme Rules 2019 DVD, HALL OF FAME Goes Live?
NEW THIS WEEK: Photos of WWE’s ‘The Miz: A-List Superstar’ DVD, Extras List for Stomping Grounds?
WWE DVD Updates This Week: Stomping Grounds 2019 Cover Art, Paige & Becky, Piper Pre-Order & SummerSlam News
Trailers for WWE’s First-Ever DVD on THE MIZ & RODDY PIPER UNRELEASED, Super Showdown Extras
EXCLUSIVE: Match Listing for WWE ‘Getting Rowdy – The Unreleased Matches of Roddy Piper’ DVD
EXCLUSIVE: Sneak Peek Preview & First Photos of WWE ‘Trish & Lita: Best Friends, Better Rivals’ DVD