Sometimes you just wanna sit back on the couch, unbutton the top of your pants, suck back a forty ounce can of MGD and watch some wrestling. At least sometimes I do. Not very often, mind you, but sometimes that urge does hit me as I'm sure it does most of you out there, even if you don't want to admit it to most of the people you know or work with. Wrestling is entertaining. Sure it's considered by many to be the lowest common denominator of professional sports, but that doesn't matter when there are literally millions of fans who tune in from all over the world to watch their favorite gladiators go at it in the ring.
Wrestling Planet has put together a compilation entitled Masters Of The Ring that assembles a lot of the better-known lesser-knowns of the sport. Nine matches in total, with the participation of twenty-four combatants and a complete running time of just under two hours and ten minutes in length.
Vampiro Vs. Pirata Morgan With Super Crazy - A Mexican match that pits the famous Vampiro in the ring against one of his home town enemies. This one takes a while to get going but once it does, it's pretty fun.
Eddie Guerrero And Art Barr Vs. Santo And Octagon - Another Mexican match, this time a tag team that pits the two mulleted men against the masked warriors. This one is pure camp, but sadly the match is comprised of three clips and is not presented in its entirety.
Terry Funk Vs. Doug Gilbert - This one is hardcore! Pit Terry Funk and Doug Gilbert in the ring and give them some chains to whip each other with and what you're left with is an exceptionally brutal and bloody match that proves just why Terry Funk is the king of the ring.
Konnan Vs. Perro Aguayo - A very nasty and extremely bloody cage match between these two Mexican stars is full of hurt. Don't let your kids watch this one, it'll give them nightmares!
Chris Benoit Vs. Too Gold Scorpio - This is a straight up battles of muscles – no flair (aside from the costumes) and no gimmicks, just technique and brute strength.
Liger Vs. Great Sasuke - A match that looks like it was shot in Mexico featuring two Japanese guys who look like they walked off the set of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!
Konnan Vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. - This is some seriously berserk riot footage featuring the crowd going ape and tossing chairs and whatever else they can find into the ring. There isn't really any wrestling here, but it's still wild footage.
Psicosis And Heavy Metal Vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. And Ultimo Dragon - Another solid tag team entry, featuring some great costumes and some flamboyant maneuvering but no real gimmicks or stunts.
Sabu Vs. Al Snow Vs. Surprise Wrestler - A great match with a kick ass surprise appearance by a personal favorite (I'm not going to spoil who the surprise wrestler who appears towards the end of this match is, sorry!) of mine mired by poor camera work.
Wow, what a mixed bag this disc is in terms of visual quality. Some of the matches were shot by professional crews using decent equipment and proper lighting – other matches were shot on a handheld camcorder under whatever natural lighting was available in the arena at the time. As such, quality is all over the place. Some bouts look nice, others not so nice. Sadly, the majority of them fall into the not so nice category and to make matters worse, the transfer is riddled with compression artifacts and edge enhancement.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround doesn't sound like surround at all and quality varies just as widely here as it does on the video – depending on the source things are either nice and clear or almost incomprehensible. Some of the foreign matches feature announcing and what not in their native languages and there are no subtitle options available during these moments – which is a little frustrating on a disc that is obviously geared towards and English speaking market.
There are no extra features at all on this release, except for an advertisement for the Wrestling Planet website – sorry, but that doesn't count. The disc is broken down into chapters though, one for each match, which makes the disc easy to navigate.
Some of the matches are top notch, some of them aren't so top notch but they're all pretty entertaining – it's just that some are more so than others. The audio and video quality on Masters Of The Ring isn't so hot though, and the lack of extra features is disappointing. Hardcore wrestling fans will probably want to pick this up, casual ones and everyone else will probably want to rent it first.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.