Over the last several decades, the company now known as WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) has employed many talented performers from all around the globe. Naturally, these athletes hope for a shot at the promotion's many Championship belts, attempting to cement their status as "legend" in the process.
The Intercontinental Title, often referred to as the "training ground" for future World Heavyweight Champions, has been in existence since 1979. First captured by WWE Hall-of-Famer Pat Patterson in Rio de Janeiro, the Title has changed hands countless times over the past 25+ years. Worn by such performers as Rick "The Dragon" Steamboat, Mr. Perfect (seen below), Kerry von Erich, Bret Hart (seen above), Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Steve Austin, Razor Ramon and Chris Jericho, the Intercontinental (or "IC") Championship is obviously an important---yet overlooked---part of WWE history.
Armed with this knowledge, the awkwardly-titled The Best of Intercontinental Championship only proves to be all the more disappointing. With such a rich history of talented IC Champions in the WWE vault, what should wrestling fans expect from such a importantly-titled release? A multi-disc boxed set stuffed with history, perhaps? Maybe at least a 2-disc set with a few bonus features and a dozen or more matches?
Nope. How about a re-hashed version of a 12 year-old VHS tape?
The Best of Intercontinental Championship, in a nutshell, offers five matches from the 1992-93 era of WWE (then known as the WWF). Bookended by remarks from the late Gorilla Monsoon, this compilation was originally released under the WWF's "Coliseum Home Video" banner in 1993. At the time, the company was just barely starting to shed its 1980s "family friendly" image, yet it hadn't quite reached the ECW-influenced "Attitude Era" of the mid to late-1990s. It was a bit of an awkward transition, but these years contained their fair share of classic matches. While the bulk of this content doesn't reach that level by a long shot, there are a few watchable bouts during the course of this short, one-hour main program. The lineup is as follows:
The Best of Intercontinental Championship - Complete Match Listing
1 - Shawn Michaels vs. Crush (taped at Sheffield, England, 4/11/93)
2 - Bret Hart vs. Skinner (from Prime Time Wrestling, 8/24/92)
3 - Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty (from Monday Night Raw, 7/19/93)
4 - Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect (from SummerSlam 1993, 8/30/93)
5 - Shawn Michaels vs. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (from Monday Night Raw, 5/3/93)
As you can see, Mr. Michaels takes up the bulk of the program, and rightfully so: along with Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect, he's participated in some of the best WWE Championship matches of all time. Unfortunately though, much of the show is quite forgettable. Hart's match with "Skinner" is little more than a five-minute series of rest holds and cheap shots, and several of the other matches suffer from dirty finishes and other less-than-desirable outcomes (for example, Michaels' match with Jim Duggan ends in a count-out). While these matches aren't all bad---for example, former tag partners Michaels and Jannetty also shine as opponents---I'd hardly call these five anything close to "The Best Of". At most, they represent a few brief memories of the rocky 1992-93 era.
In all honesty, The Best of Intercontinental Championship is more of a nostalgic souvenir than a fitting tribute to the IC Title. The technical presentation of the DVD isn't bad, all things considered, but the complete lack of bonus features is yet another disappointment. Even with a paltry $10 retail price, it's a tough sell for all but the most ardent WWE fanatics. It's especially disappointing when you realize what they could have done with this release. With any luck, maybe they'll offer future volumes in a continuing series. Either way, let's see how this disc stacks up, shall we?
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality:
The Best of Intercontinental Championship varies in quality as the show goes on; although it's never unwatchable, it exhibits all the softness you'd expect from early 90's wrestling matches. Presented in a 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio, the transfer still shows bright colors and a fair amount of image detail. It's a step up from the original VHS release, but hardly the best-looking disc in the WWE library.
The sound quality isn't as "punchy" as modern WWE programming, but it preserves the original experience quite well. The Dolby Surround presentation offers a lively atmosphere with clear play-by-play commentary. Just for the record: this footage can't be rated on the same scale as more "polished" film releases for obvious reasons. In any case, this presentation gets the job done.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging:
As you can see, The Best of Intercontinental Championship offers little more than a static "cover art" menu design. Navigation is smooth and simple...though that's not a surprise, since there's not much to navigate. Each match is presented as its own chapter, and no layer change was detected during playback. This one-disc release is housed in a standard black keepcase with a promotional insert included. No subtitles of any kind were included.
There are no bonus features included here. In addition to more matches---especially from different eras---I'd have loved to hear some history behind the championship in the form of a documentary or a few interviews. The title's been in existence for over 25 years now, so one year's worth of hit-and-miss matches isn't exactly a proper tribute. As it stands, this DVD isn't a bad hour's entertainment for die-hard wrestling fans, but the title is really misleading.
I know the $10 price tag might make this one seem like a great deal, but The Best of Intercontinental Championship is little more than a lazy VHS rehash. WWE should have made the effort to put together a more concise history of its most underrated title, because this release just doesn't hold up to the rest of their library. With just over an hour's worth of content---roughly half of which isn't really worth watching very often---only die-hard WWE collectors need apply. Most wrestling fans are better off just giving this disc a spin over the weekend. Rent It.
Randy Miller III is a heel art instructor hailing from Harrisburg, PA. To fund his DVD viewing habits, he also works on freelance graphic design and illustration projects. In his free time, Randy enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.