As one-half of many successful tag teams---and a formidable singles competitor in his own right, of course---WWE's Edge (real name Adam Copeland) has forged a memorable reputation during the past ten years. Dubbed "The Rated R Superstar" and "The Ultimate Opportunist", among other nicknames, this Ontario native has made a habit of...well, let's say bending the rules to advance his career. Edge's tall stature, athletic build and long hair gave him the right "look", but his passion for the sport began at an early age: he simply loved wrestling and wanted to be a part of the business. Attending Wrestlemania VI in Toronto on April 1, 1990 only intensified his desire, but Edge finally got a chance at formal training after winning an essay contest. He was even nominated "Most Likely to Win the WWF Championship" in high school. Like so many other prominent superstars in the industry, one might say that Edge was simply born to perform.
Signed to the WWF (renamed "WWE" several years later, due to a legal battle with the World Wildlife Fund) in 1998, Edge's success within the company came quickly. He earned his first Championship title in just over a year, but his matches with tag team partner Christian (Copeland's real-life childhood friend, Jason Reso) would cement Edge's popularity with the crowd. Earning the Tag Team Championship multiple times during their three-year tenure as a team, Edge and Christian participated in some of the most memorable and dangerous matches during the WWF's fledgling "Attitude Era". Edge began his journey as a singles competitor in 2001, earning all six major WWE titles along the way; in fact, only a serious neck injury kept him out of action during the bulk of 2004. As one of the most decorated superstars in WWE history, Edge is still going strong---so it's hardly the proper time to recap his entire career, but at least he's got plenty of material to work with.
A Decade of Decadence, WWE's latest three-disc "career compilation", pays tribute to the superstar's achievements with over nine hours of content. Unlike some of the company's recent releases, however, this is more of a distanced highlight reel than a genuinely revealing documentary. Many fans won't mind that the action far outweighs the drama, but others will eventually long for a change of pace. Presented chronologically, a handful of these 26 matches include slick trailer-style introductions which shed light on events that newer fans may not be familiar with. Other segments of this program aren't blessed with such context, however, and it's here where A Decade of Decadence veers off the tracks. For now, let's take a look at the card:
(26 matches on 3 single-sided DVDs)
Owen Hart vs. Edge [WWF Breakdown, 9/27/98]
Randy Orton vs. Edge [Intercontinental Championship match, Vengeance, 7/11/04]
Edge vs. John Cena [WWE Heavyweight Title match, WWE Smackdown 8/20/06]
As the card suggests, plenty of fantastic matches and moments are tucked inside this three-disc set. Edge's early years as a singles competitor---and as a tag team with Christian, of course---are touched upon, but it's his successful singles run that gets the lion's share of attention. From his multiple title wins to epic confrontations with the likes of Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels and Matt Hardy, there's rarely a dull moment during A Decade of Decadence. Seldom-seen matches like his early battle with the late Owen Hart, not to mention a few interesting bonus features (covered below), help to create a relatively full-bodied assortment of in-ring accomplishments. There's also surprisingly little overlap with past releases, though a few of Edge's more popular matches have been presented on DVD several times before. From a purely match-oriented standpoint, this is a terrific collection that represents some of WWE's finest moments from the past 10 years.
From a documentary standpoint, however, A Decade of Decadence fails miserably. Edge hosts the program in character, offering plenty of smug comments instead of sharing anything of genuine interest. Many fans are undoubtedly familiar with the athlete's formative years via earlier releases like Before They Were Superstars; if you're not, this release will present one question mark after another. Edge's childhood and years of training are barely glanced during the program's opening moments, while his relationship with Christian (and real-life drama with Matt Hardy and his girlfriend, Lita) barely warrants a footnote. Sporadic "commentary clips" with Edge bookend select matches, while others simply arrive without any context or introduction. It's an incredibly sloppy and half-hearted effort on WWE's part, making A Decade of Decadence more of an extended highlight reel than anything else. Recent releases like Viva La Raza: The Legacy of Eddie Guerrero at least attempted to scratch the surface; here, we don't even hear from any friends, relatives or co-workers. Of course, since Edge's career is still far from over, we'll undoubtedly get a more complete package several years down the road.
On the technical side of things, this three-disc set is on par with recent WWE releases: production values are solid, matches are presented in their entirety and that damn WWF "scratch" logo is still blurred from existence. Oddly enough, even audience signs bearing the company's previous initials (and audible mentions of the name) have been digitally edited. This makes for a rather confusing experience at first, but WWE fans should be accustomed to such a visually compromised presentation by now.
Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, A Decade of Decadence is easily on track with most current WWE collections: colors are generally bold and bright, while black levels and image detail are typically solid. The first match on this collection (vs. Owen Hart) suffers from a light haze during certain segments, though it may be a source material issue and nothing more. Notable amounts of pixellation, edge enhancement and compression artifacts can be seen during many pyrotechnic sequences, but these are generally kept to a minimum. As usual, newly-recorded interviews are crisp and clear. Overall, fans should know what to expect here.
The audio is presented in a fairly standard Dolby Surround mix; likewise, it's roughly on par with recent WWE releases. As expected, the newer footage is much more enveloping and dynamic. Crowd noise and play-by-play commentary come through loud and clear, creating a satisfying soundstage overall. Unfortunately, no subtitles or Closed Captions have been included here.
Disc 1's only bonus feature is "The Totally Awesome Best of Edge of Christian" (5:48), a highlight reel of the duo's memorable comedy skits and catch-phrases. Disc 2 includes a pair of Bonus Matches with commentary by Edge and Adam Stryker; though the source material is in rough shape, these previously unreleased segments are thoughtful inclusions. The first is a dark match before WWF's Shotgun Saturday Night program on November 10th, 1997, in which a young Adam Copeland wrestled the as-yet-unsigned Christian. The second is Edge's first Intercontinental Championship match (vs. Jeff Jarrett) on July 24th, 1999 at a house show in Toronto, which occurred after challenger Ken Shamrock failed to appear that night. Both are interesting looks at the superstar's earlier years; ironically enough, they seem infinitely more heartfelt and honest than the main feature.
All extras, like the main feature, are presented in 1.33:1 format and do not include subtitles or captions.
Aimed at Edge-heads of all ages, WWE's The Decade of Decadence offers roughly nine hours of memorable matches and moments from the superstar's career thus far. Even so, this three-disc set feels wildly uneven at times, largely ignoring many of Edge's early accomplishments and his successful tag team run with childhood friend Christian. Matches are often presented with little to no context or introduction---and even when they are, the in-character Edge rarely offers anything more than smirking and trash talk. Those looking for wrestling and nothing else, however, should enjoy the show. This collection's technical presentation is roughly on par with recent WWE releases, while the general lack of extras is offset by the main feature's running time. We've certainly gotten better "career compilations" in the past, but The Decade of Decadence should still satisfy its target audience. Mildly Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, second-guessing himself and writing things in third person.