Rise & Fall of WCW DVD Review
February 11, 2010 · 0 Comments
Another of the documentary plus matches style DVD releases from WWE, The Rise & Fall of WCW was something I eagerly anticipated yet worried I would be disappointed. I thought this may see WWE rewrite history to suit their own agenda, as they have arguably done in the past. This documentary, however, seems very authentic and features key figures contributing to the analysis including Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, Dusty Rhodes, Big Show, Magnum TA and the Crocketts – the brothers who owned and ran the company that later became World Championship Wrestling.
The documentary is on the first disc and the opening two minutes quickly runs through highlights of the documentary from the Crockett days to the Goldberg era then swiftly moves onto the documentary proper. The NWA and Crockett sr. are referenced before the sons days in charge are discussed by Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and the brothers themselves. Ted Turners early involvement is highlighted, well before the company evolved into WCW. Vince McMahons network dealings to undermine Crocketts promotion on Turners network are mentioned and David Crocketts theory on how WrestleMania was financed following this is interesting to say the least.
The documentary explains how Jim Crockett Promotions was struggling as ambition to expand stretched their funds and how Ted Turner bought the company. It then mentions the revolving door that was the Presidents office in the early WCW days until finally reaching the beginning of Eric Bischoffs reign in WCW. The start of the Bischoff era pretty much goes hand in hand with the start of the Hogan era and this is mentioned as we move into the Nitro debut.
The edgy product, different from what was going on up north at the time, cant be discussed without explaining how pivotal, revolutionary and controversial the nWo story was when it first aired in 1996. Along with the nWo, the Cruiserweights importance in 90s WCW is referenced while undoubtedly the other big success story in WCW during the second half of the 90s, Bill Goldberg, is talked up in a big way while the man himself comes across as very humble.
The documentary inevitably has to progress into the madness that started to undo the years of good work in the late 90s and the mistakes that are highlighted are ludicrous and some I was not aware of at all before watching this. Its of no surprise that Vince Russo and David Arquette are discussed in less than glowing terms at this point. The Time Warner merger is then touched on as the final nail in an almost finished coffin before the Shane / Vince interaction on the final Nitro.
The documentary moves away from the sour notes and ends with a nice nod to the legacy of an historical and revolutionary company with input once again from legends like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Magnum TA, Arn Anderson and Mean Gene Okerlund.
The second disc has an impressive list of matches dating from 1985 – Ric Flair vs. Magnum TA – to Hulk Hogans world title winning WCW debut in 1994. These matches look good in print and include top names like Sting, Vader, Rick Rude, The Four Horsemen, The Steiner Brothers, to name just a handful. In all honesty they are even better than expected when viewing, the Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat encounter from early 1989 is an absolute classic, the Steiners vs. Luger & Sting is an excellent back and forth tag team match while Rock & Roll Express vs. Midnight Express is even better. The matches show many of the top stars at their peak. Vader is an unstoppable monster when challenging Sting for the title, Flair looks awesome against Magnum in 85 and Steamboat in 89, Sting is showcased in his early to mid 90s prime and so on.
All of the matches on this disc are from the days when WCW were a distant second to Vince McMahons then WWF corporate juggernaut. They are a wonderful example of how solid the in ring work often was in 80s and early 90s WCW. While the product may have lacked the cutting edge it developed from the nWo era or the WWF offered in the Attitude era, this part of WCW history offered an excellent cardio based, storytelling type of match that not only still looks good today, the matches look better than the majority of matches I see on TV and pay per view nowadays.
The third and final disc starts with a 1996 Nitro main event; a much thinner Big Show – then of course simply billed as The Giant – challenging Ric Flair for the WCW Heavyweight Championship. One of my all time favourites and arguably the most underrated and underused wrestler in history – Dean Malenko – is up next against a young, skinny, tattoo-free Rey Mysterio in a predictably awesome lightning quick encounter. The third match is the first featuring any nWo figures, The War Games match at Fall Brawl in 1996 pitting The Four Horsemen against the New World Order.
After the documentary puts over how important the cruiserweight division was to WCW, its only fair that they are showcased on the final disc. As well as the aforementioned Malenko vs. Mysterio match, two Eddie Guerrero US Title matches with Syxx (aka X-Pac, Sean Waltman, etc) in a ladder match, and Malenko in a quality epic battle are followed by Juventud Guerrera vs. Chris Jericho for the latters WCW Cruiserweight Championship. With other matches featuring Goldberg, DDP, Lance Storm and Booker T, this disc delivers like disc two by giving us a load of top quality matches.
SUMMARY – MORE RISE THAN FALL
I must point out that I am a fan of WCW and curious about its backstage successes and failures so I was always likely to enjoy this to some degree. Also, the type of matches on the discs are my style of wrestling so I may be at risk of overselling this DVD if you dont share my tastes. The bottom line of course is that I am asked to review DVDs and can only give my opinion and it is my opinion that this DVD is one of the best I have seen from WWEs documentary plus matches style of presentation. While I was anticipating this release anyway, this far exceeded my expectations. I almost feel guilty having viewed this for free, if I was a nicer man I may have sent SilverVision the 21.99 that they are selling this for just out of courtesy and gratitude.
If I was to nitpick then I would say the bonus features are not worth bothering to include on the DVD as they seem pointless and are very short. Realistically though this has absolutely no baring on the quality of the DVD as it is such an enjoyable experience. I think Im only even mentioning it so people realise that Im not just saying positive things for the sake of it. I believe in reviewing things the way I see them and this DVD is genuinely a great release. It runs almost 8 hours with 20 matches shown is in their entirety. The 21.99 price tag is a reduction on the RRP of 29.99. To be honest, I would recommend this to potential buyers at its original price, let alone the reduced price.
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