I haven't watched professional wrestling since I was a kid back in the mid-80's. I actually got out of it right before the dawn of the big pro wrestling event ppv's. My attention was drawn away from wrestling's colorful pageantry to the world of actual fighting. As much as I might have loved George "The Animal" Steele, the bald Neanderthal bruiser couldn't hold a candle to Marvin Hagler and Mike Tyson. But, this DVD fell into my reviewers lap and I'm open to giving it a shot. Just be forewarned if you are a die hard fan, my opinion wont mean much to you and you might want to skip to the technical portion of the review.
The nights opening match is between Matt Hardy and M.V.P. Hardy is supposed to be a rocker guy but his bedazzled jeans look more like the sort of stuff some middle aged redneck woman would construct during a week long meth binge. M.V.P. is actually just the bad guys initials, not a neat acronym. Despite the commentators call of, "Call the San Jose P.D. because these guys might steal the show!", it was pretty typical, a warm up, and the crowd didn't seem all that into it.
Things pick up with a little with a time-killing Dusty Rhodes prefight hype for his match with Randy Orton. When I watched wrestling Rhodes was around and I'm amazed he's 1) still alive and 2) at his advanced age still trudging around in a wrestling ring. A wave of nostalgia rushed over me the second I heard his Sylvester the Cat lisp say "Thoopathtaaazzzth," or "Superstars" for those of you who don't know Rhodes speak. While he didn't look to be the picture of health (never his strong point even when he was younger), age hasn't diminished his verbal charm and nuggets like, "I'm gonna' make yaw back crack, yaw liver quiver, and yaw knees freeze- Jack! If yaw don't dig thizzz messth, hell, yaw at the wrong adressth."
Next up was a five man battle royale for a vacant lower weight title. The only wrestler who stuck out to me was Jimmy Wang Yang. Stuck out, not because of his talent, but because his basic costume was a wife beater and what I assume was a pair of Chuck Norris action jeans. The match was fantastic because right before it starts a midget dressed as a leprechaun runs across the mat and then hides under the ring. He reemerges later, jumps off the top rope onto an unconscious fighter, and pins the guys for the win. The crowd went nuts and I stared at my teacup wondering if someone at the Lipton factory had dosed a few bags with acid.
Then there was a Singapore Cane match that was a total tease because the entire fight the two wrestlers fight to climb a pole and get the cane, only the guy who gets it takes one missed swing and thats it. The weapon never comes into play. Jip.
Next came a chick fight between Melina and Candice Michelle. Melina was the bad guy, her personality as some sort of Latin diva. Candice Michelle, despite being the good guy and the title holder, didn't strike me as a very good performer. Then, after the fight, they showed a backstage clip where she slow motion pours a bottle of water over her body to soft porn tease two wrestlers and it became clear why she got the job. And they still say this is family entertainment?
Finally we get to the first freak fight of the night, Jeff Hardy versus Umaga. The commentators remark that Umaga is so tough, "If you kicked him in the heart, you'd break your toe." One of them also makes the faux pas of calling him a "Oriental Wrestler." It was an okay match for the freakishness, though Umaga's shtick seems to be limited to shouting "Umaga!" and then hitting his opponent with a move that utilizes his huge ass.
The next fight, John Morrison versus CN Punk, was kind of a dud and the crowd seemed, for the most part, pretty disinterested. Morrison does bear an uncanny resemblance to Jim Morrison, though I'm unsure how the bellbottoms and general 60's rocker look translates into a heel role. Likewise, CN Punk is supposedly a hardcore, anti-authority, slogan wearing good guy but he walks out to metal theme music instead of, say, something that sounds like Minor Threat or Black Flag.
Then I had to endure Dusty Rhodes in a Texas Cowbell match with Randy Orton. Orton has drag queen facial features, and is, by my estimate, roughly 80 years younger than Dusty. It was kinda' sad. Dusty tries to pull some of the old movies, play to the crowd, but eventually he goes down. Even though I'm out of teh wrestling loop, it wasn't an outcome that was hard to guess since Orton's heel personality is "Legend Killer." In other words, I guess he beats up on retired, fat wrestlers who can barely walk anymore.
The co-main event was a Triple Threat World Heavyweight Championship match between Batista, Kane, and The Great Khali. Again, guessing who would *win* was easy based on their ring entrances. First Kane comes out and when he gets into the ring he summons some four corner pyro. Batista comes out next, stands on the walkway in front of the video screens, and summons a bigger, louder burst of pyro. Next the Great Kali comes out, no pyro, but he has a manager. In wrestledom, if you have a manager, you are generally considered important so maybe that would trump the pyro? The Great Kali is a classic giant wrestler. You pound on him and he just gets mad. Basically all of his moves are stolen from Andre the Giant, though he was indistinctly lacking in the personality that made Andre appealing. At first Kane and Batista team up on Kali, eventually slamming him into a table and then they went after each other. At one point Kane crashes to the outside floor and a fan ringside audibly scream-complains, "I want to see some blood!" which was pretty much how I felt. The action was average, nothing spectacular, shocking, or grand ppv event worthy. Again, Kane drags a chair into the ring and it isnt used as a weapon. What the hell? Is there some kind of anti-foreign object movement in pro wrestling?
The main event is John Cena, apparently the big star is the wrestling world, who dresses like a frat boy wigger, versus Bobby Lashley, who looks like as about a perfect physical specimen you are likely to find on planet Earth. Definitely the two were the most gifted guys on the card using a lot of power combined with speed and quickness. The off putting thing was that they didn't seem to have nay kind of solid beef or rivalry. The whole match was just about "respect," which is fine in the real fighting world, but in a world of pre-scripted outcomes, seemed kinda' lackluster.
The DVD: WWE Home Video
Picture: Full screen, Standard. As with any event put on in an arena, the scope becomes a problem. As is the case here, the solution is to light the hell out of the sucker because too bright is always better than too dark. The definition is fine, sharp, appropriately colorful, but hardy high definition- one wont be counting the beads of sweat on The Great Kali's apeish cranium. Compression issues to pop up, lessening the general details and bringing about some slight noise.
Sound: English 5.1 or Spanish 2.0 language tracks. Good sound quality with the only drawbacks being those live broadcast quibbles like the ringside commentators voices struggling against the roar of the crowd. This is especially a problem during the opening moments, but perhaps a sign of the lukewarm audience reception to the matchups, the longer the evening goes the less the commentators have to scream.
Extras: Extras are relegated to two clips from WWE brand tv broadcasts, Smackdown, 07/13/07 Marti Gras Celebration (6:35) and Raw, 07/02/07 Cena-Lashley Contract Signing (3:28).
Conclusion: While I haven't been a pro-wrestling fan since childhood, I am a fan of fight ppv's and any fan of action approaches a ppv expecting an promoter to pull out all the stops. Wresting doubly so because it is over the top entertainment built upon comic book rivalries played out by Titans. To me, this ppv can be summed up in that sought after cane, swung once and discarded, and a main event where the two combatants don't even have a grudge. I really didn't get the sense that any of the matches were awe inducing or jaw-dropping and the DVD is pretty basic. I'm sure hardcore fans will lean towards a buy, but I'd think it is purely deserving of a rental.