The Main Event:
Violence has always a been a part of wrestling, it basically has to be by default, but there's a certain appeal to the nastier matches. Maybe it's that a little bloodshed makes things seem more realistic, and therefore maybe more exciting, or maybe people just like to watch other people get messed up - who can say? Regardless, there's probably no one out there in the land of wrestling who knows more about the 'hardcore' side of things than Mick Foley, so who better than he to host the WWE's latest three disc collection of more extreme material, Falls Count Anywhere - The Greatest Street Fights And Other Out Of Control Matches?
While some of this material has been released before (a common and completely valid complaint regarding these WWE three disc sets), it is nice to have a lot of this material together in one set. Some fans will understandably lament the fact that there's no seventies material here and very little eighties material, with the emphasis obviously on the WWE superstars of the nineties and two thousands. These later matches tend to have more spectacle going for them and feel more gimmicky than the hardcore matches from decades prior, but they're not without their entertainment value, that's for sure.
All of the content is presented across the three discs in chronological order as follows (and with the hosted segments italicized):
The Names May Vary
Alley Fight with Pat Patterson Versus Sgt. Slaughter, Madison Square Garden, 1981
Atlanta Street Fight with Jimmy Valiant and Ms. Atlanta Lively Versus Midnight Express, Starrcade, 1985
Street Fight for the NWA Tag Team Championship with Doom Versus Barry Windham and Arn Anderson, Starrcade, 1990
A Fresh Face
Falls Count Anywhere Match with Sting Versus Cactus Jack, Beach Blast, 1992
Falls Count Anywhere Match with Randy "Macho Man" Savage Versus Crush, WrestleMania X, 1994
Windy City Mayhem
Chicago Street Fight with Booker T and Sting Versus The Road Warriors, Uncensored, 1996
Chicago Street Fight with Ahmed Johnson and The Legion Of Doom Versus Faarooq, Savio Vega, and Crush, WrestleMania XIII, 1997
Street Fight with Stone Cold Steve Austin Versus Bret "The Hit Man" Hart, Raw, 1997
The disc starts off with a bang with what is, in this writer's opinion, the most enjoyable match in the set. Slaughter and Patterson really go at it here, and this match is as bloody, tense and vicious as anything else in this set - but not only that it showcases some real professionalism and skill as well. This is just really solid wrestling through and through. The second match is also strong, while other highlights on this first disc include Mick Foley appearing as Cactus Jack and taking on a young Sting, Macho Man taking on Crush in one of the harder matches you'll see him in, and the team up in which Booker T and Sting take on the Road Warriors. Not surprisingly, the Legion Of Doom show up here too, while the brawl between Hart and Austin also delivers. The first disc is pretty strong all the way through - no complaints here at all.
Falls Count Anywhere Match with Cactus Jack Versus Triple H, Raw, 1997
Falls Count Anywhere Death Match with Tazz Versus Bam Bam Bigelow, Heat Wave, August 2, 1998
A Brand New Title
Hardcore Championship Match with Al Snow Versus Hardcore Holly, St. Valentine's Day Massacre, February 14, 1999
Fully Loaded Strap Match with The Rock Versus Triple H, Fully Loaded, July 25, 1999
Love Her Or Leave Her Greenwich Street Fight with Test Versus Shane McMahon, Summer Slam, August 22, 1999
Dictators On A Power Trip
WWE Championship Match with Big Show Versus Kane, Raw, December 20, 1999
Hardcore Championship Match with Crash Holly Versus The Headbangers, SmackDown, March 16, 2000
Street Fight with Mr. McMahon Versus Shane McMahon, Raw, October 29, 2001
Street Fight with Mr. McMahon Versus Ric Flair, Royal Rumble, January 20, 2002
As the nineties turn into the two thousands, the spectacle and the gimmicky side of wrestling starts to become more obvious even to casual viewers, but there's still some pretty entertaining stuff included here that will appease most fans. The two Falls Count Anywhere matches that start things off are very good, especially the Cactus Jack against Triple H bout that comes first. Foley is always entertaining no matter what alias he's using and he's in fine form here as is his opponent. Triple H shows up again, this time to go up against The Rock before the disc segues into some of the street fight matches involving the McMahon's which just don't quite deliver the way you'd want them to. Some of this is pretty intense but it is obviously quite staged and even in the context of the storylines that were playing out in the WWE at the time, a lot of it is pretty goofy. The Big Show against Kane match that precedes McMahon mania is a winner though. These two big guys give their all and there's a lot of good suspense here that keeps it interesting and exciting.
Greatest Comeback Story
Unsanctioned Street Fight with Shawn Michaels Versus Triple H, Summer Slam, August 25, 2002
Street Fight For The World Heavyweight Championship with Triple H Versus Kevin Nash,
Insurrextion, June 7, 2003
Inside The Divas' Locker Room
Falls Count Anywhere Match for the WWE Women's Championship with Melina Versus Mickie James, Raw, March 5, 2007
Street Fight with Triple H Versus Umaga, Cyber Sunday, October 28, 2007
Street Fight with John Cena Versus Umaga, Raw, June 16, 2008
New Stars On The Rise
Submissions Count Anywhere Match with D-Generation X Versus Legacy, Breaking Point, September 13, 2009
Street Fight with Rey Mysterio Versus Batista, SmackDown, December 11, 2009
Street Fight with Randy Orton Versus Cody Rhodes, SmackDown, November 4, 2011
A Little Tidying Up
The Shawn Michaels versus Triple H bout that kicks off this third and final disc is solid, as when it took place Michaels had been out of the ring for a few years. He comes back in grand style here and proves why he was (and remains) so popular. He takes some serious abuse here but keeps at it right until it reaches its messy end. Triple H takes on Kevin Nash next and this match is fine but a bit underwhelming when compared to what came before it. The Divas match is fine for what it is and it does a fun job of bringing the action to some places you wouldn't expect it to go. We get a double dose of Umaga next, as he goes at it with Triple H and then John Cena before closing out the disc with some action from some of the newer crop of WWE superstars. The match between Mysterio and Batista is pretty great, and it was a big part of the storyline that was happening in the WWE SmackDown line at the time and it's cool to see Orton get his time to shine in a good match against Rhodes.
Could the WWE have put some better stuff in here than they did? Yes, there's not going to be much doubt about that, some of these matches are just 'okay' even if none of them are awful. There's a lot more 'classic' era material that should have been included and the lack of focus on the ECW and WCW stuff is a bit discouraging but a lot of that is just going to come down to personal preference. All in all, the presentation is nice, Foley is a great host, and even if you've seen some of this stuff before (and if you're reading this in the first place there's a very good chance that you have) you can still have a good time going back and revisiting this material. The set could have been better and it's good instead of great, but good's not bad! Wrestling fans will get a kick out of this.
The 1.33.1 fullframe presentation (technically the 1.33.1 image is windowboxed within a 1.78.1 frame, so widescreen TV owners have no fear), 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. 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.
Aside from menus and chapter selection, there are no extras in this set and while there are some listed for the Blu-ray release, that wasn't supplied for review so we can't really comment on them.
WWE's three DVD release of Falls Count Anywhere - The Greatest Street Fights And Other Out Of Control Matches does recycle some matches we've seen before but if you're a fan of hardcore wrestling and don't already have a load of these in your set, this is a pretty good way to enjoy the material. There's nothing here in the way of extras but Mick Foley makes for a fun host and the quality of the content is strong. Recommended, so long as you weren't expecting loads of material from the seventies and eighties.
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.