This year marks 50 years since the World Wide Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE) was formed. To celebrate, WWE has created a DVD/BluRay entitled "The History of WWE: 50 years of sports entertainment," a biographical history of the company. The offering hit shelves on Tuesday.
What I liked about the feature was how much time was spent on WWE's history -- naturally the title lends itself to this, but you learn tidbits of information about each McMahon family member, going back to "Jess" McMahon, who promoted boxing several decades ago.
It includes interviews with many familiar faces, includind some rare to be found in past WWE documentaries, such as George "The Animal" Steele and Jimmy Valiant. The amount of interviews and different faces you see during the release is impressive. Some previous interviews with deceased wrestlers are featured, which is a more than welcome addition to the DVD. Celebrities are also involved, as well as members of the ring crew, which gives the documentary a more complete view.
The biggest surprise is the inclusion of The Undertaker, who was first seen being interviewed for a WWE DVD on "Thy Kingdom Come," Triple H's biography. Seeing him get emotional (which happens on the DVD) is not something that the WWE Universe is used to seeing from the man who was for decades the most guarded character in WWE. It's one of the biggest selling points of the DVD and makes you believe that an Undertaker bio DVD may soon be released by WWE. (That's merely speculation -- maybe more wishful thinking.)
"The History of WWE" spends equal parts talking about moments in WWE history as much as personalities. Much of the beginning is spent talking about Bruno Sammartino, with good reason. Topics that are happy, sad, iconic and controversial are discussed -- Rock N Wrestling, Wrestlemania 3, the Montreal Screwjob, Owen Hart's death and Vince McMahon's 1994 steroid trial are all talked about at length. There are certainly some topics that hardcore fans will point to that are missing from the DVD, but personally that ddidn't take away from the overall tone off the piece.
At the end of the day, this is a release presented by WWE, so they control what goes in and out. Many, like myself, will watch this and know what to take as entertainment and what to take as a learning point.
I watched the DVD with a friend who isn't a WWE fan, and I found it fascinating to see what he remembered and what he reacted to. As a wrestling fan, I would be comfortable asking a significant other to watch this DVD with me, because it's the kind of release that not only wrestling fans will find entertaining and informative.
One of WWE's strongest points is their production -- the "gloss" they provide to their video montages and DVD releases is spectacular. They make their footage jump out of the screen, which is a huge advantage. This release is no different.
For those who nitpick, and I suppose it's my job to do so, I would have like to see more focus on Shawn Michaels in the documentary. WWE proclaimed him the greatest Superstar of all time, and he is Mr. Wrestlemania (much of the DVD covers Wrestlemania), but it doesn't feel like he is all that important to the history of WWE by watching this production.
Another interesting little thing (#TheLittleThings matter as I like to say) is that each superstar interviewed has his WWE tenure listed under his name when it appears on screen. Chris Jericho had 1990 - present, while The Rock showed 1996 - 2013, which will likely cause WWE return (or lack thereof) rumors to stir for both.
I thought Howard Finkel being listed as "- present" was a nice touch, as he technically does still announce at Wrestlemania (still the only talent to appear at every single one on the grandest stage of them all).
The extra features are largely matches that you may already own, but one nice touch I'd like to see included more are matches without commentary (only arena noise) -- a la Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant from Wrestlemania 3 -- so you can experience it like the fans did in the arena.
Overall, I would recommend this release. If you are entertained by a compilation of WWE footage, get goosebumps watching WWE moments unfold, enjoy nostalgia and like to learn things you may never have known, this is a great DVD to have in your collection.
NOTE: A similarly themed book called "WWE 50" is scheduled to be released March 2014. Talented author Kevin Sullivan (@SullivanBooks) is the author of the book. He co-wrote the WWE Encyclopedia releases.
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