The Main Event:
Before Vince MacMahon bought it out and folded it into WWE, the WCW was, for a glorious though very brief period of time, the true home of the superstars. Experienced 'name brand' wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, Randy 'Macho Man' Savage and Ric Flair made it their home for a while and the league would soon prove a fertile breeding ground for fresh young talent as well what with the likes of Sting and Rey Mysterio Jr., to name only a few, making their names. The leagues showcase was Monday Nitro, a weekly wrestling extravaganza that helped pave the way for the weekly shows fans now tune in to like Smackdown and RAW, and now that the WWE owns the WCW back catalogue, evidently it's time to pay tribute to that late, lamented high point in nationally syndicated sports entertainment.
There's no plot to discuss here, though the one and only Diamond Dallas Page shows up a few times as each disc plays out to share some memories of his time in the league and put what we're about to watch into context. As such, we get a bit of a minor history lesson in what WCW was, why it was important, and why it mattered to fans. Page makes for an amiable host and his enthusiasm for the material makes him the right guy for the job.
The content in this set, and there's quite a lot of it, is spread out over the three discs in the set in chronological order as follows:
WCW History Lesson
Cracks in the Armor
So with the fine folks at WWE Home Video tasked with putting six years worth of content into six hours on DVD, how does it all shape up? Rather well, though the set is not without issues. First off - there's a lot of great nWo footage here and a lot of great Ric Flair footage here. Macho Man and Bret Hart get their due as well, and hey, Roddy Piper shows up - that always counts for something. The 'big name' WWF refugees who took solace in this league during its prime are well represented and for that reason alone, fans will want to check this set out.
Unfortunately, there are some rather questionable omissions - Chris Jericho is barely represented here and given his importance later on in the league, that's going to be a big 'uh oh' for his rabid fans. Additionally, WCW Monday Nitro was, at one point, going the hardcore route and none of those matches are here at all - this was a big part of the show's history and it's not touched on at all. It's also a shame that those lovely Nitro Girls who were popular when the series was still going strong don't show up, and while Page is a great host, we don't get retrospective comments from anybody else, which is a bit of a missed opportunity when you think about it considering how many great names are represented here. There's no mention of the Raven's Flock, no mention of Chris Benoit (say what you will about the man but he was important to WCW and omitting him from the set is akin to writing him out of the history books) and no mention of the Wolfpac and a lot of the more popular wrestlers who were famous on the series just don't get the attention they deserve - it's almost like those who put the set together wanted it to play as a promo spot for WWE entertainers rather than WCW entertainers.
The good outweighs the bad here to be sure, but this set could and should have been a whole lot more - here's hoping the WWE will give the WCW its due the way they've given individual wrestlers and their own franchises their due, by creating a proper, feature length documentary and making some of the content fans want that didn't make it to this set available in a future release.The DVD:
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 (which is most of it) 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.Sound:
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.Extras:
Aside from menus and chapter selection, there are no extras in this set though reportedly the FYE exclusive version does contain some bonus material not present in the version sent for review.Final Thoughts:
Those who remember WCW Monday Nitro fondly will very definitely take issue with some of the rather glaring omissions from this set, and calling it The Very Best Of WCW Monday Nitro will give those with a gripe legitimate room to complain. That said, this is a good (though far from perfect) collection of strong matches and Page's commentary and 'trip down memory lane' hosting style gives it enough context that even those who don't remember the series from when it originally aired will still be able to enjoy it. This could have been better, but it's still recommended for fans.