To celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest WrestleManias ever, the WWE has re-released a "Championship Edition" of WrestleMania III. This double disc set contains the entire PPV which took place at the Pontiac Silverdome on Sunday, March 29th, 1987.
From Aretha Franklin's opening rendition of "America the Beautiful" to ...umm... Aretha Franklin's opening rendition of "America the Beautiful" during the "WrestleMania III Recap" (she originally closed with "Who's Zoomin' Who", but i'm sure Vince didn't want to pay for the rights - which he should've), WrestleMania III lasts a full three hours and five minutes long. Now, since this was the late 80's, we had fancy chyron graphics, but there was a drastic difference with the recap packages presentation. Essentially, there was no nu-metal music played in the background...and they weren't choreographed like an MTV video - they were essentially cut the way a recap for a TV show might be - with simple edits. Likewise, there were no fancy pyro-filled entrances and most wrestlers were shuttled on a platform (that, at times, served to double as a moving target for audience members to pelt with various projectiles).
All the great WWF personalities are featured - Ricky Steamboat, Harley Race, King Kong Bundy, Jake "the Snake" Roberts, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Bobby Heenan...I could go on and on and on. Disc two of this two-disc set contains the "Championship Experience" - which is the entire PPV, but with occasional "pop-ups" (ala Vh1's "Pop-Up Video") with past wrestling personalities sharing recollections or little tidbits of information. I'm not going to do my usual match-by-match comments, because that would be foolish. For me, every single thing on here was like a breath of fresh air compared to what Vince has been serving up for the past few months. Here's the magnificent card:
In addition to the main event, each disc contains a separate set of extras:
Video Quality: Though WrestleMania III is twenty years old, it looked almost as good as current WWE PPVs. Almost. In fact, i'd say it was closer in quality to a VHS that was professionally transferred to DVD. Even though there weren't any pyrotechnic elements, I still noticed some slight compression issues around the ring ropes and the occasional anti-aliasing, but not enough to take anything away from my enjoyment of this disc.
Audio Quality: Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the audio quality, as with the video, shows the limitations of a pre-digital age. The center channel is where the majority of the sound was found, but there was occasional crowd ambience from the fronts at time. However, I didn't have a problem with it whatsoever. Also, there were occasions where the entrance music for some wrestlers was looped and it briefly overpowered Gorilla and Jesse's commentary.
Conclusion: Initially released as part of the pricey WrestleMania Anthology box set, WrestleMania III is re-released as a great double-disc set. In addition to the main event, they've added some exclusive extras not found on the previous release and included a second version of WrestleMania III with brief recollections from participants and facts about the event that "pop-up" at various times (along with a "WWE 24/7" watermark in the top right-hand corner). The hardcore fans might not think much of the popup factoids, but they'll definitely want to check this set out for the extras. Me? I thoroughly enjoyed this blast from the past. In fact, I believe that this was the last WrestleMania I saw before the WWF and I temporarily parted ways. And while it was necessitated due to music rights, I thought rebroadcasting Aretha's show-opening performance during the WrestleMania recap at the end was genius. It provided a fitting soundtrack for the melancholy I was feeling at the end of the event. It'd be nice if other WrestleManias were released this way. Highly Recommended.