Generic Pre-Review Wrestling Disclaimer: Long before my affinity for globetrotting documentaries, foreign films and The Criterion Collection, I found a soft spot for professional wrestling. Don't ask me how this happened; it just did. Despite this declaration, I shower daily, all my teeth are accounted for, I have a college degree...and believe it or not, I have a wife with the same merits. I'm not alone, of course. The wrestling fans I know aren't slack-jawed yokels; they simply appreciate the spectacle and illusion that this sport creates, in the same way movie lovers enjoy fast-paced fights and thrilling chase sequences. We know this stuff is "fake", but we like it anyway.
One of the easiest wrestlers for outsiders to dismiss as "just another hulking meathead", The Big Show (real name Paul Wight) rose to main event status almost immediately after entering World Championship Wrestling in 1995. His initial character, "The Giant", was the fictitious son of late legend Andre the Giant, and for good reason: this gargantuan athlete stood over 7 feet tall and weighed approximately 500 pounds. He's now billed as "the world's largest athlete"...and while that claim may be a little far-fetched, it's safe to say that he's a big guy. He's different than most of wrestling's big guys, though: surprisingly agile and not afraid of the top rope, The Big Show often performs maneuvers that guys half his weight wouldn't do. Not surprisingly, it's this athleticism---combined with with his natural charisma and, obviously, his raw power---that's made "Show" so popular.
It's hard to believe, but The Big Show: A Giant's World is the first time that WWE has given this enormous athlete his own highlight reel. This three-disc set is presented much like WWE's recent line of career retrospectives, yet the format's a little different: Disc 1 features a 60-minute documentary on Show's early life and wrestling career (paired with an assortment of bonus clips), while Discs 2 and 3 feature roughly two dozen career-spanning matches from his tenures in WCW and WWE. It's not one of WWE's most impressive efforts, but I've gotta be honest: considering how most "big guys" perform on the mic and in the ring, this is a pretty solid collection of material.
Disc One features the eponymous documentary...and even at just under 60 minutes, it manages to cover a decent amount of ground. The Big Show narrates most of what's here, frequently sharing childhood memories and "behind the scenes" tidbits. His struggles with sudden weight and height gain were brought on by acromegaly, which went untreated until early adulthood. His candid comments add depth to what some might consider a "one-trick career"; impressive highlights are balanced with a touch of melancholy, once we realize that most people his size are lucky to live 50 years. It's an interesting documentary if not well on the short side: some WWE retrospectives last twice this long, and several portions of his early career are glossed over quickly. It's definitely worth a look for die-hard and casual fans alike, even if it sometimes has trouble digging below the surface.
The rest of this three-disc collection (aside from Disc 1's bonus features, listed below) is devoted to some of The Big Show's best wrestling matches. Highlights include a face-off with Sting from his WCW days, a Triple Threat match (with HHH and The Rock) from 1999, another match with HHH from 2006, a bare-knuckle brawl from Wrestlemania 26, a few recent tag team matches and more. Oddly enough, though, a complete list of these matches hasn't been printed anywhere on the packaging. Allow me:
vs. Hulk Hogan [WCW Halloween Havoc '95]
vs. Ric Flair [Nitro 4/29/96]
vs. Sting [Slamboree '96]
vs. Lex Luger [Great American Back '96]
vs. Steve Austin [WWE Raw 4/22/99]
vs. Undertaker [Raw 6/7/99]
vs. HHH vs. The Rock [Survivor Series '99]
vs. Kurt Angle [Backlash '00]
vs. Brock Lesnar [Survivor Series '02]
vs. Rey Mysterio [Backlash '03]
vs. Eddie Guerrero [No Mercy '03]
vs. Kurt Angle [No Mercy '04]
w/ Kane vs. Cade & Murdoch [Taboo Tuesday '05]
vs. HHH [New Year's Revolution '06]
vs. Rob Van Dam [ECW 7/4/06]
vs. Sabu [Summerslam '06]
vs. Floyd Mayweather [WrestleMania XXIV]
vs. Kofi Kingston [SmackDown 4/10/09]
vs. Rey Mysterio [Raw 4/20/09]
w/ Chris Jericho vs. Mysterio & Batista [Hell in a Cell '09]
w/ The Miz vs. DX vs. Straight Edge Society [Raw 2/8/10]
vs. Straight Edge Society [Summerslam '10]
vs. Joe Mama
vs. I.C. Weiner
On the technical side of things, this three-disc set is generally on par with modern WWE releases: production values are decent and most of the original content is still intact (save for mentions of the "WWF" name, both verbally and the "Attitude Era" scratch logo). But I digress: what's here isn't a bad effort, it's just a little underwhelming at times. If you've got a soft spot for destruction and a few evenings to spare (or one, if you're bored), A Giant's World isn't a bad choice. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 displays, A Giant's World isn't quite on par with other like-minded WWE DVD releases...even taking the age of certain matches into account. While the main documentary and the most recent matches (2008-current) generally look good and utilize the maximum resolution of the frame, everything else suffers a bit more than usual. These 1.33:1 matches are thankfully not cropped, but they are windowboxed (as seen on two of these screen captures); vintage WCW matches look especially soft, and there's a noticeable level of compression artifacts from start to finish. With that said, these digital issues have affected all WWE DVDs, so fans should be used to what's on display here....but don't set your expectations too high.
The audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround and 2.0 depending on the match; likewise, it's roughly on par with recent WWE releases. Crowd noise and regular play-by-play commentary come through loud and clear, creating a satisfying soundstage overall. Again, newer matches obviously sound a bit cleaner and more well-defined, but this is strictly a source material issue. Optional subtitles, Spanish commentary or Closed Captions are not offered during any of the content, unfortunately.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the static menu designs are basic and easy to navigate. Each disc is divided into several dozen chapters---one per match, highlight reel or filler segment---while no obvious layer changes were detected during playback. This three-disc release is housed in a foldout digipak case with no slipcover or inserts. Speaking of inserts, there's a space for a booklet...but oddly enough, none has been included, which is apparently a new policy for WWE DVD releases. At the very least, they should print a full content listing on the packaging interior, but I know I'm not alone in hoping they bring back the booklets ASAP. To voice your opinion on the matter, please sign the online petition here
As the matches on Discs 2 and 3 are essentially part of the show, the traditional extras are all on Disc 1; these include a hefty collection of Bonus Clips
that play out like deleted scenes from the documentary. Highlights include stories from HHH about The Big Show's more embarrassing behind-the-scenes moments, a chat with his parents, more glimpses of his personal life, Show's bare-knuckle destruction of a few vehicles and more. Like the main feature, these short clips are all presented in 16x9 widescreen (some are pillarboxed) and do not include optional Closed Captions or subtitles.
At well over 6 hours in total length, it seems as if The Big Show: A Giant's World pays a sizable tribute to the man in question. Pairing an intimate documentary with additional clips and an assortment of bonus matches, this three-disc collection gives viewers a closer look at the industry's largest athlete...yet at the same time, it feels a little lacking at times. This one's definitely worth a look if you're a die-hard fan of The Big Show, but most everyone else won't find a great deal of replay value here. Rent It first.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects, teaches art classes at a local gallery and runs a website or two in his spare time. He also enjoys slacking off, telling lame jokes and writing stuff in third person.