When it comes to polarizing figures in pro-wrestling, from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, there is a short list of in-ring performers whose reputations often overshadow their physical accomplishments. Hulk Hogan springs to mind, notably his WCW/nWo era run in which he was often the sole focus on entire television programs for months on end, effectively keeping other main event level talent firmly rooted on the b-list. Nowadays, John Cena's reign of terror in the WWE roster is derided by many old-school fans, but it pales in comparison to the achievements of a man who rose from the mid-level ranks almost two decades ago to a position higher than any other held by any in-ring performer of his day, COO of the WWE itself. Yes, Paul "HHH" Levesque, is the epitome of polarization in the WWE today and will likely go down in the history books holding that title.
As a result, the feature length documentary release, "HHH: Thy Kingdom Come" is going to be a tough pill for some pro-wrestling fans to swallow, based on the focus of the man himself, especially in an era where he's effectively running the show alongside his wife, Stephanie and father-in-law, Vince McMahon himself. Yes, "Thy Kingdom Come" is a puff piece of sorts, but much to my own amazement, the two-hour journey into the life and career of HHH ends up serving as a unique look at the rise and evolution of the Attitude Era and a very candid look at the behind-the-scenes world of the WWE itself. Starting with childhood, viewers see the very normal and frankly, refreshingly supportive childhood that propelled HHH first into bodybuilding and then into a brief WCW run as Terra Ryzin. Most of the info presented is no huge revelation to any knowledgeable fan, but every once in a while, some interesting nugget springs forth.
The meatiest part of the feature covers HHH's WWE days, including his joining into the Kliq. It's here where the sanitizing begins to come out in full effect, glossing over specific reasons why HHH became the leader of De-Generation X following Shawn Michaels' departure. To the uninitiated, a skewed view, or at least a deliberately incomplete view of history is presented for reasons I'd chalk up to either embarrassment on other parties and/or a company desire to keep things family friendly to the extreme. None of this though is as engrossing as the section detailing our subject's off-screen relationship with his future wife and daughter of the company's owner, Stephanie McMahon. If everything presented here is 100% truthful, then those who insist HHH's entire career should have an asterisk next to it (a fact directly addressed in the feature), might feel a little differently when its all done and said.
"Thy Kingdom Come" doesn't break any new ground when it comes to telling WWE history, but it does make a for a nice walk down memory lane and offers a voice to those connected to key events. A few appearances by a decidedly candid, out-of-character Undertaker really drive home the point that "Thy Kingdom Come" is program about both HHH and the business itself. I don't think the feature is going to change the mind of many naysayer when it comes to backstage politics, but I do feel it does a more than admirable job of showing a man, when all the titles and connections are stripped away truly loves wrestling and has done a solid job of being a competent in-ring performer. Yes, egos get involved, but an easy argument could be made that beloved fan favorite The Rock is comparable in that category, but gets a pass because he moved on, which frankly, is a mindset that confuses me to this day. In any spinning of the tale though, "Thy Kingdom Come" showcases a true rise to the top of a business by someone who chose to devote his life to it and that should be inspiring, even to the most jaded.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is more than serviceable for the main documentary feature, with archival material varying in quality depending on its age, with home video from HHH's personal collection looking the roughest, while footage from a few years prior looking not far removed from the documentary portion.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio is never utilized to full effect during the documentary portion, with the entire feature firmly rooted in a stereo soundscape. Archival footage is on par, if not bit flat and tinny at times. English SDH subtitles are included.
The extras consist of two entire discs of highlights from HHH's career. Frankly, the selections are far from upper echelon offerings with a number of classic encounters notably missing. Still, there are some gems included, not the least of which is a rare WCW-era match against Ricky Steamboat. In all, his year 2000-plus career dominates, with the late 90s conspicuously missing.
"Thy Kingdom Come" tells HHH's story as honest as we could expect from the man himself and the company he now helps run. It's a solid mix of nostalgia trip and ego stroking, peppered with the occasional raw moment of genuine honesty. Sadly, the most disappointing aspect of the release is the so-so offering of bonus matches. Recommended.