The Main Event:
The WWE has been around a long time and over the years seems to have made a pretty good name for itself with outrageous behavior and completely unexpected and off the wall antics not only on the part of its wrestlers but also on the part of its announcers and even its CEO, Vince MacMahon himself. This latest three disc set, OMG! The Top 50 Shocking, Surprising, Amazing Moments In WWE History counts down those moments, and like the other recent WWE countdown DVDs, spices things up with clips from the events and commentary from various wrestlers and those involved in the industry.
Releases like this always cause a bit of a stir with the fan community as it goes without saying that someone somewhere is going to be annoyed that a certain moment they hold near and dear to their heart didn't make it on the list, but for the most part, this is a pretty solid selection of rampant insanity. The tricky part here comes in defining 'outrageous' - are we talking about the most intense physical work seen in the ring or are we talking about the brash interviews that the WWE has become known for over the years or are we talking about the crazy behavior that often takes place outside the ring? Well, in this case of this release, the answer is all of the above.
What this means is that we get a pretty interesting mix. We see some pretty amazing match clips here, like Shane MacMahon's amazing jump and Jimmy Snuka's steel cage leap but we also see some of those interview clips you knew we'd have to see, the obvious choice being Rowdy Roddy Piper and his infamous 'coconut to the head' bit. On top of that, yes, we get some 'outside the ring' action highlighted by clips like the supermarket brawl between Booker T and Stone Cold Steve Austin, a bit where Triple H feels the bad side of an escalator and the brouhaha that erupted at funeral held for The Big Show's father. Not enough? There's a WWE Vegas wedding here, a clip where Stone Cold blows up DX's bus, that bit where Piper gave the Haiti Kid a haircut, Kurt Angle's milk truck spray down and, of course, the Montreal Screw Job that lead to Bret 'The Hitman' Hart leaving the WWE. There's lots more, of course - Mick Foley shows up for a few great hardcore matches, some of which involve thumbtacks (ouch!) and Stone Cold Steve Austin seems to pop up more than anyone else, whether it's to deal with Vince or drive around on a Zamboni.
As the feature counts down the events and leads up to the most outrageous event in the history of the league we get commentary from the current crop of WWE talent like Wade Barrett, C.M. Punk, Booker T, Jim Ross, Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Curt Hawkings, Chris Masters, John Cena, William Regal, Santino Marella, Tyson Kidd, Todd Grisham, Matt Striker, Zack Ryder, Drew McIntyre, and Scott Sanford. And of course, Jerry Lawler pops up a lot here to offer his input on things - and rightfully so, but shouldn't Joey Styles have been on here seeing as he basically named this set with his catch phrase? It would have been nice to get some input from the old guard, particularly Piper, Austin and Foley as they feature pretty regularly throughout this documentary, but that didn't happen and this does hurt things a bit. The newer guys have all got a lot of respect for the history that came before them and they do a fine job offering their take on things, but getting some sound bites from the guys who were there and who lived through this stuff would have added considerably more value to the countdown and probably made it feel more than just a random assembly of wacky highlights.
One quibble, and it's a pretty legitimate one, is that the music used in between each and every one of the fifty clips that makes up the feature, is incredibly irritating and ridiculously repetitive. Before one clip starts and after each clip ends an obnoxious 'OH MY GOD' riff plays a few times and while it was amusing once, the other forty-nine times it happened it was like nails on a chalk board. Here's hoping the WWE can put a bit more effort into things like this in the background. It'll be a minor thing to most and it doesn't really take away from the fun that this set offers, but yeah, it's pretty annoying.
The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation, though interlaced, looks pretty decent. Some of the earlier matches are on the soft side and aren't quite as clean and colorful looking as the later day content is but this is generally quite a respectable looking presentation. The material that was shot fullframe is presented that way, with mattes on the sides, so there are no issues with stretching the footage, thankfully. There are times where the lights over the ring make skin tones look a bit off but this isn't a fault of the transfer or the authoring, it's simply the way the material has always looked. Nothing here really looks worse than when it was broadcast on television, and to some eyes it might even look a little bit better.
The same comments apply to the audio on this release - some of the earlier stuff sounds a bit flat, but most of the newer stuff sounds just fine. Everything comes at you by way of a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track and aside from one or two instances where some of the archival clips have a small amount of audible distortion, there aren't any issues worth complaining about here.
There aren't any extras on the first disc, unless you count menus and chapter selection, but hey, this is a three disc set - so look for a whole bunch of bonus matches on discs two and three, in fact, discs two and three basically include twenty of the full length segments that made the documentary. So if you want to see the full version of the Kurt Angle/Shane MacMahon street fight or you want to see the entire match in which Mick Foley (as Mankind) takes on The Undertaker in a Hell In A Cell match, it's here. We also get some commentary from Jerry Lawler on some of the other bits that show up in the documentary, like Angle's Milk Truck entrance, Piper cutting Kid Haiti's hair, The Rockers trashing of the Barber Shop and more. Both discs two and three also include chapter stops and animated menus in the same vein as those found on disc one. It's kind of awesome to have this material included but the selection as to what to include and what not to include seems fairly random. There are quite a few of the 'top 10' moments missing, while plenty of moments from lower in the ranking are here in their entirety. That complain aside, there's plenty of good material here for fans to enjoy and some truly classic WWE moments.
The full contents of disc two and three are:
Tuesday Night Titans 3/7/1986: Rowdy Roddy Piper Gives Haiti Kid A Haircut
Superstars 11/23/1991: Jake Roberts Versus Bob Werner
Wrestling Challenge 1/11/1992: The Rockers On The Barber Shop
In Your House: Good Friends, Better Enemies 1996: No Holds Barred Match - Shawn Michaels Versus Diesel
Shotgun Saturday Night 2/8/1997: Triple H Versus The Undertaker
RAW 9/22/1997: Stone Cold Stunner/Mr. McMahon
King Of The Ring 1998: Hell In A Cell Match - The Undertaker Versus Mankind
RAW 9/28/1998: Mr. McMahon's Ceremony For The New WWE Champion
WWE SmackDown 11/11/1999: Dearly Departed
WWE SummerSlam '00: Shane McMahon Versus Steve Blackman
WrestleMania XVII: TLC II - World Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz Versus Edge And Christian Versus The Hardy Boyz
King Of The Ring 2001: Street Fight - Kurt Angle Versus Shane McMahon
WWE RAW 8/20/2001: Kurt Angle's Milk Delivery
WWE SmackDown 12/13/2001: Steve Austin/Booker T Supermarket Brawl
WWE SmackDown 6/12/2003: Brock Lesnar Versus The Big Show (Brock Lesnar: Here Comes The Pain)
Great American Bash 2004: Concrete Crypt Match - The Undertaker vs The Dudley Boyz
WWE RAW 11/8/2004: Highlight Reel With Trish Stratus And Lita
New Year's Revolution 2006: John Cena Versus Edge
WrestleMania XXII: Hardcore Match With Mick Foley Versus Edge
WWE RAW 6/11/2007: Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night
Jerry Lawler's Outtakes / Going Inside out
While quite a few of the matches on discs two and three have been available on other WWE releases, this is still a fun set. The countdown documentary is pretty enjoyable despite the repetitive and obnoxious music and as a surface level look at some of the nuttiest stuff to happen in the world of the WWE over the last twenty-five years or so, it's a good watch. Of course there will be fans who will have wanted to see a moment or two that wasn't included here, but the choices here are solid and this set comes recommended.
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.