In just under three weeks, the 27th installment of Wrestlemania will emanate live from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. Sadly, this also means I'll be turning 27 years of age come this November.
Age jokes aside, Wrestlemania has become a cultural phenomenon, as thousands attend the show each year and millions watch via Pay Per View. It is a place where pop culture and wrestling collide, a place where you can see your favorite celebrities and favorite wrestlers come together for an amazing spectacle. Like most great ideas though, it was never a certainty that Wrestlemania would succeed.
I've always been somewhat aware of Wrestlemania's beginnings and its evolution, but even for a learned wrestling fan like myself, WWE's newest DVD, "The True History of Wrestlemania" was a must-see. I was looking forward to this DVD since the moment I heard it was coming out, and for the most part, it delivered.
The first disc is the documentary about the history of Wrestlemania. What I liked about it was that it was told by a lot of people that most of us don't know. Yes, people like Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan (probably old footage), and Triple H do speak about the event, but you also get commentary from behind the scenes men who know a lot about the product. To type those names here would be meaningless to most, but their contributions are better than what anyone else could provide.
As per usual, these documentaries retell the history as they choose to see it today, but most things were pretty accurate. I particularly liked how in depth the story was surrounding the first few shows and how close Wrestlemania was to bombing. Fans today probably don't realize how mediocre the first two shows were, but the fact of the matter is that the whole thing didn't really click until Wrestlemania 3.
The story is told well, as a broad overview is seemlessly woven with individual anecdotes throughout. I personally enjoyed how the DVD tried to explain the failure to run Wrestlemania 7 in the Los Angeles Coliseum and Wrestlemania 8's failure to have Hogan vs. Flair as the main event. Both explanations were a bit different than the stories I've heard, but they seem plausible and I'm sure the explanations given were actually part of the issue.
The one criticism I do have for the documentary is that it did not stay consistent with running chronologically. It would talk about an early show and jump to a later one simply because they took place in the same arena. A short mention of such an occurence would work, but elongated explanations led to many shows being completely left out of the DVD. With a maximum of 3 hours to play with, you'd think at least a small explanation as to the logic of arena, card, and feedback about each event could be given. However, many shows are basically excluded and that knocks this down a peg or two.
As for the rest of the set, you get some famous Wrestlemania matches and the choices are certainly solid. Obviously it could be argued that other matches deserved to be on there, but that can be said about any DVD set ever. The matches you do get certainly have appeal, though one of my favorites, Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan, is not on there. Granted, you get Warrior vs. Macho Man from the next year (which is probably a better all around match), but that's one I would have liked to see on there. That's probably due to the fact that Warrior was my favorite wrestler as a child though.
You do get a little bit of everything with the matches. From title matches, to IC matches, tag team stuff, and grudge matches, you do get a taste of most aspects of the card. I'd recommend actually rewatching old Wrestlemanias if you really want to get a full feel of those shows though. The matches included are fun, but obviously it's just a small taste of what Wrestlemania is all about.
I'd definitely recommend this set, but mostly for the documentary. You can find most of the matches elsewhere, but the documentary is truly unique. It is a great telling of the biggest spectacle in the world and every wrestling fan will learn something from it. Well worth the two hours and 30 bucks. Go out and get it, watch it with some friends, and thank me later.
Look for some more Jeff Hardy coverage as well as the Raw HOT or NOT tomorrow!