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Friday, August 28, 2009

DVD Review: The Rise & Fall Of WCW

Source - Main Event Radio's Steven Wilson:

When the Rise And Fall of WCW DVD was announced it quickly became the most anticipated wrestling DVD release of the year for a multitude of reasons. Many hoped it would be as high in quality as the rise and fall of ECW while others looked forward to it to see how WWE would rewrite and criticize WCW’s history. With the final product now available I can say that neither hope or expectation came true, instead we’ve got another fluffed up DVD production that at best glosses over the history of World Championship Wrestling.

As has become the norm with major WWE DVD releases nowadays, this is a 3 Disc set featuring a documentary portion on Disc One, with the 2 other discs packed full of matches.

The documentary runs just over an hour and forty five minutes, with the first half hour looking at the early days of WCW, more specifically how WCW came to be. From Jim Crockett promotions to Georgia Championship Wrestling to Mid Atlantic Wrestling and finally WCW under the guise of Ted Turner, each era is covered with a decent degree of detail. Some historical accuracies are evident in chapters covering topics such as Black Saturday where Vince McMahon made a deal to get WWF programming on TBS while at the same time getting the crockett’s kicked off.

It’s from there on in that the DVD goes into gloss over mode. The biggest problem this DVD faced was the fact that numerous DVD’s had been released in the past that touched on the rise and fall of WCW, most notably the Monday Night Wars DVD. Although that DVD shared the spotlight with the WWF’s actions at the time it still provided for a decent picture of the situation and war between the two companies which in many ways is the meat of WCW’s life story. The WWE can consider itself lucky that they produced that DVD, because had they not, many of the interview footage for this DVD would not of been available. Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, Ted Turner and others sided against participating in this DVD and thus a wide array of canned footage is used.

Unfortunately for the viewers of this DVD, its possibly because of the fact that the prior DVD’s had been released that the final two thirds of this DVD does nothing more than touch on major subjects with little to no details. From the revoving door of WCW presidents to the hiring of Eric Bischoff and the signing of Hulk Hogan to the creation of the N.W.O, to its rise in popularity, goes by in minutes. You get no feel for just how big it got, how much of a problem it became, the major feuds they entered into, or even mention the fact that it eventually split into two groups.

The same thing can be said about other stars mentioned in this DVD, even including Goldberg, who does get a major spotlight put on him but little to no explanation of major milestones his character reached, the feuds he entered in or the impact it had on the company.

Moving onto the “Fall of WCW” chapters you are met with what is probably the biggest letdown. If you wanted to know what caused the downfall of WCW and details of how bad the backstage was at the time your more likely to find the information on a series of shoot interviews and independent documentaries, but the WWE can boast that they have the footage. Showing scenes such as Nash ending Goldberg’s streak just to lay down to Hogan soon after, as well as Vince Russo’s shoot on Hulk Hogan at the Bash at the Beach 2000 PPV and David Arquette winning the WCW championship you get to see some of the examples of the downfall of WCW but with little to no explanation.

Participants in the DVD include Jim Ross, Kevin Sullivan (who never acknowledges he was a booker or talks about his opinions of the fall) Chris Jericho, The Big Show and Goldberg. The Crockett / NWA era is covered by the likes of Jim Croclett JR, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and Mike Graham. Sprinkled throughout the DVD is Vince McMahon, who is never negative or critical of WCW, but keeps his thoughts extremely short acknowledging they were competition but almost sounding sarcastic when he does admit it.

This documentary had the potential of being a smash hit, However due to the lack of willing participants, the lack of intensive detail, and the lack of some historical accuracies it does not live up to what it could have been. The DVD is far from unwatchable. Much like the greatest stars of the 90’s DVD, you can sit down and reminisce a bit but your unlikely to learn anything new. In otherwords it is not the definitive word on the rise and fall of WCW despite the fact that it carries the title.

If something makes this DVD worth the money it’s the multitude of matches from the WCW video library. There is 20 matches in all, and while some are more worthy than others, they don’t repeat certain big matches such as Goldberg vs Hogan which were released on previous DVD releases.

The Rise & Fall of WCW is now available on DVD from World Wrestling Entertainment. You can pick it up wherever WWE DVD’s are sold or via any major internet retailer. For more information check out www.wwe.com and to read my previous DVD reviews check out www.wrestlingdvdreview.com