WWE - the Spectacular Legacy Of the AWA
World Wrestling Entertainment // Unrated // $29.95 // November 21, 2006
Review by John Crichton | posted January 13, 2007
Highly Recommended
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Believe it or not, there are some people who think Vince McMahon is responsible for professional wrestling - sorry, sports entertainment. However, the Spectacular Legacy Of the AWA will give viewers a brief lesson on a promotion that was responsible for some of the greatest wrestlers the sport, or the WWE, has ever seen.

When I started watching wrestling in the 70's, I knew nothing about "territories", "shoots/works", "heels" or "kayfabes". I was just a kid that enjoyed watching the nearly seven foot tall Andre the Giant demolish opponents. Since this was before the internet, the world was still a big place and I was blissfully unaware of the backstage politics, shenanigans and backstabbing that was going on in some parts of the wrestling industry. the Spectacular Legacy Of the AWA examines some of these things, as well as the effect that it had on the AWA and professional wrestling, and how it helped influence the way the industry is today.

The nearly two-hour documentary traces AWA founder Verne Gagne's start in wrestling and documents his eye for talent, most famously illustrated with the signing of Terry Bollea - better known as Hulk Hogan. He wasn't the only superstar discovered by Verne - there was Andre the Giant, Shawn Michaels, Sgt. Slaughter and Iron Sheik - and that's barely scratching the surface. However, Hogan's signing and the events that occur later would play a big part in the future of wrestling as we now know it. The documentary is broken up into the following chapters:

  • the Birth Of the NWA

  • Verne Gagne's Background

  • Verne Gagne: the Owner

  • Verne Gagne: the Wrestler

  • the Territory

  • the Zenith

  • Verne Gagne: the Trainer

  • the Superstars

  • Hulk Hogan

  • Superstar Defections

  • Competition

  • SuperClash

  • Stan Hansen

  • Championship Wrestling

  • SuperClash III

  • Struggling To Stay Alive

  • Team Challenge Series

  • Trouble With the State

  • the Downfall

  • Verne Gagne: WWE Hall Of Famer

Disc one is rounded out with the following recollections:

  • Jim Brunzell: Ribs On the Road

  • Michael Hayes: Getting the Call

  • Michael Hayes: Freebirds Leave AWA

  • Nick Bockwinkel: the Crusher

  • Nick Bockwinkel: Ric Flair, the Fan

  • Nick Bockwinkel: the Bobby Heenan Joke

  • Nick Bockwinkel: the Lou Thesz Joke

  • Nick Bockwinkel: A Long Night Of Wrestling

  • Nick Bockwinkel: My Favorite Match

  • Eric Bischoff: Ninja Star Wars

  • Eric Bischoff: First Announcing Job

  • the Flying Coffin

  • Greg Gagne: Verne's Match In Buffalo, NY

  • Nick Bockwinkel, Verne Gagne: Gunshots In Chicago

  • Baron von Raschke: Johnny Valentine And the Rib

  • Wahoo McDaniel-Superstar Billy Graham Feud

  • Mad Dog Vachon: Pine Box Interview

  • Bobby Heenan Interviewed By Gene Okerlund

  • East-West Connection Interviewed By Gene Okerlund

Disc two contains the following matches:

  • High Flyers vs. Nick Bockwinkel & Ray Stevens 08/23/71

  • AWA Championship Match [Verne Gagne vs. Baron von Raschke] 07/13/74

  • Pat Patterson & Ray Stevens vs. Billy Robinson & Frankie Hill 05/20/78

  • AWA Tag Team Championship Match [Verne Gagne & Mad Dog Vachon vs. Jesse Ventura & Adrian Adonis] 03/22/80

  • AWA Championship Match [Verne Gagne vs. Nick Bockwinkel] 05/10/81

  • High Flyers vs. Jesse Ventura & Adrian Adonis

  • AWA Championship Match [Nick Bockwinkel vs. Hulk Hogan] 04/18/82

  • Jesse Ventura vs. Baron von Raschke 03/16/83

  • Handicap Match [Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. Saito & Mr. Hatori] 08/28/83

  • Legion Of Doom vs. Crusher, Larry Hennig & Curt Hennig 01/13/85

  • Midnight Rockers vs. Buddy Rose & Doug Somers [Brawl In St. Paul, 12/25/86]

  • AWA Championship Match [Curt Hennig vs. Nick Bockwinkel] SuperClash II, 05/02/87

  • AWA/WCCW Championship Unification Match [Jerry 'the King' Lawler vs. Kerry Von Erich] SuperClash III, 12/13/88

Video: The picture quality for the Spectacular Legacy Of the AWA varied due to the age of the footage. However, it looked pretty damn good for its age and is presented in the standard full frame 1.33:1 ratio.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track was adequate for this release and I didn't have a problem with it. The majority of the sound is in the fronts, so you won't find your system getting much of a workout. At least, not as much as some of the wrestlers did.

Conclusion: As a casual fan of wrestling with only the most basic knowledge of the early days, I thought the documentary very entertaining. Like most WWE documentaries, it doesn't get bogged down with minute details, but there were some surprisingly frank interviews and it was a pretty informative hundred minutes. The second disc, containing some of the AWA's best matches, would put most contemporary wrestlers to shame. I'm sure there are some hardcore fans that might be disappointed with a favorite match not making the disc, but hopefully this set will sell enough units that Vince will see there is a demand for another set of classic AWA matches to complement this Highly Recommended set.

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