WWE has produced a number of fantastic compilations over the years. Titles like The Ladder Match, Volumes 1 and 2 present highlight reels of the company's most dangerous and suspenseful brawls. Titles like The Best of Saturday Night's Main Event help to preserve gone-but-not-forgotten staples of WWE programming. Titles like Ric Flair: The Definitive Collection follow specific superstars throughout their illustrious careers. Typically expanded to three discs in length, these collections often pair personal documentaries with a generous assortment of bonus matches that span a decade or more.
It's true that such titles are geared towards more hardcore fans, yet newcomers deserve better than Greatest Superstars of the 21st Century. This three-disc collection arrives in the wake of 2009's Greatest Stars of the '90s, a condensed clip show that focused on that decade's most popular and enduring personalities. It wasn't a particularly well-rounded effort, yet a generous assortment of bonus features---and, of course, a touch of nostalgia---helped to keep it above water. Greatest Superstars of the 21st Century doesn't fare so well, unfortunately: it keeps the half-baked "EPK documentary" format and eliminates most other traces of detail and entertainment. It's probably the least impressive WWE compilation I've reviewed to date...but then again, I'm not exactly the target market.
Disc 1 gets things off to a rough start: the careers of 20 WWE athletes that were popular during the 2000-2009 era (and in some cases, are still popular) have been whittled down to roughly five minutes apiece. Typically, we're given a short list of achievements during the decade, a few highlights and some comments from various people who aren't the athlete in question. No real details, just surface-level stuff you'd expect to find on the company website. The list itself is predictable, yet the exclusion of stars like Rob Van Dam, Matt Hardy, The Dudley Boyz, Christian and John Morrison is pretty surprising. In any case, the show gets old quickly and isn't the type of thing you'd watch more than once.
Chris Jericho • Edge • Triple H • JBL • Kane • Kurt Angle • The Rock • Randy Orton
Brock Lesnar • Trish Stratus • Jeff Hardy • Big Show • Eddie Guerrero • Shawn Michaels • Booker T
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin • The Undertaker • Rey Mysterio • Batista • John Cena
Discs 2 and 3 attempt to redeem the lackluster main feature with an assortment of bonus matches. Unfortunately, most of these aren't anywhere close to "career highlight" status; in fact, only four or five of the included 12 matches are above average. Perhaps the best of the bunch is Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar's 60-minute "Iron Man" match from a 2003 edition of Smackdown. It's one of the better brawls in both of these men's careers, and it's also new to home video. In fact, over half of these matches are from non-PPV events, which isn't necessarily a bad thing...but overall, much better examples of their work have already seen the light of day. A complete list of these 12 matches is provided below.
View List of Bonus Matches (Discs 2 and 3)
Sadly, a few additional problems keep this entry-level collection from staying above water. From the questionable product title and description ("21st Century" instead of "2000-2009", "Nine hours of content" instead of "Six", and omitting bonus matches from 2008-2009 on this DVD release) to the problematic video presentation covered below, Greatest Superstars is a half-baked effort from a company that usually has very little trouble pumping out impressive multi-disc compilations.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 displays, Greatest Superstars of the 21st Century definitely isn't WWE's best effort. Disc 1 fares the best with crisp on-screen graphics, colorful bios and passable highlight clips. Discs 2 and 3, however, aren't nearly as lucky: aside from the usual pixellation and compression problems (especially since these window-boxed bonus matches are all pre-HD), frame-rate is also an issue. For some reason, all of this footage is presented at approximately 24fps and looks like movie scenes instead of televised clips. It's unknown why such a ham-handed visual decision was made for this release, but here's hoping it's not repeated. Thumbs down!
The audio is presented in a fairly standard Dolby Surround mix, and it's roughly on par with pre-HD WWE releases. Crowd noise and play-by-play commentary are typically well-balanced, creating a satisfying audio experience overall. Spanish commentary and Closed Captions are not included, unfortunately.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the animated menu designs are basic and easy to navigate. Each of these three discs is divided into multiple chapters---one per match or interview 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 promotional inserts, though match/segment listings are printed on the interior.
Aside from the Bonus Matches
listed above, nothing else is on board here. It's worth repeating that the packaging advertises nine hours of content, but there's less than six included. The separate Blu-Ray release includes three additional matches from 2008-2009...so if you want a slightly more complete overview of the actual decade that this release supposedly covers
, you'll have to pay more.
WWE usually has no problem filling
DVD compilations with terrific matches and interesting documentaries, but Greatest Superstars of the 21st Century is a wasted opportunity. It's got a slightly misleading title, a paper-thin main feature and an uninspired collection of bonus matches...and if that weren't enough, the latter is crippled by video frame-rate problems. Assuming the Blu-Ray release suffers the same fate, I'd avoid this one entirely and grab...well, just about any other WWE collection instead. Skip It.
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. He also enjoys slacking off, telling lame jokes and writing stuff in third person.