Wednesday, November 14, 2012

n.W.o: The Revolution - DVD Review

The n.W.o. – it’s hard to believe how long it’s been since its inception. And while leaving one of the most profound marks on pro wrestling history, it amazes me how seldom it is referred to in today’s WWE Universe.

This DVD doesn’t do any better. It’s nothing more than a short cliff-notes narrative documenting their place in history, yet completely misses the mark of detailing the true impact and influence both on-camera and behind the scenes that changed the business.

After producing two compelling in-depth reality documentary style DVDs in the Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels Rivalry and the recent CM Punk: Best In The World titles, WWE did a piss-poor job in capturing the true essence, aggressive nature and legitimate pressure that struck the industry as a whole during this era. This DVD is nothing more than a crash course on what the n.W.o. was and who the players were.

Before I go any further, let me state and advise to anyone interested in purchasing this DVD, that I am reviewing the blu-ray edition. Not because I wanted to watch Eric Bischoff’s perfect hair bounce, and not to watch Hulk Hogan’s terrible matches in high quality, but for the additional 90 minute Legends of Wrestling roundtable discussion that is NOT included on the standard DVD. This roundtable (as seen on WWE Classics on Demand, hosted by Gene Okerlund and featuring Jim Ross, JJ Dillion, Kevin Nash and Michael Hayes) is worth the price of the set alone and makes up for ALL the faults on the actual documentary.

n.W.o: The Revolution is a short documentary the compiles and rehashes a TON of old interviews that are at least 10 years old. The bulk of the DVD recycles interview bits with Eric Bischoff (2003), Hulk Hogan (2002), Scott Hall (2002), and Vince McMahon (2009). It’s obvious that the dated Hogan and Bischoff interviews were used due to their current affiliation with TNA Wrestling, but the lack of new content and recent comments takes away from the importance of the storytelling. These sound bytes were recorded during a time when WWE was still overly protective with the information they released to the public. Their most recent efforts provide a closer and non-filtered look into the true nature of behind the scenes storytelling, and by using the recycled material; it takes the viewer out of the moment.

On the flip side to that coin, there is an entire generation of fans in the WWE Universe who probably weren’t even born during the Monday Night Wars and who can use this DVD as their first introduction to the new World Order and their place in history. Not to mention, they have probably never seen the re-used footage before – so it’s all new to them anyway.

Maybe I’m being a little over-critical on the choices of production, as there are many new interviews with talents who were actually apart of the time such as Booker T, Billy Kidman, Bill Demott, Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, Sean Waltman and Dusty Rhodes – but they were still underutilized in the production of this DVD. On a refreshing note, there is some great input by current WWE stars Cody Rhodes – who discusses what it was like being an 11 year old fan whose father was working for WCW, monitoring the ratings, and ultimately joining the n.W.o. on-screen; Matt Striker – who was a young aspiring wrestler in training heavily influenced by the times; and Joe Henning – who watched his father wrestle the last great years of his life wearing n.W.o. colors.

The other bone, which I find bigger to pick, is with how the telling of the story was actually executed. Rather than give it the gritty “True Hollywood Story” treatment, it was more of a polished celebration that gently covered controversial topics as if it were being taught to an elementary class. The kid gloves weren’t only on, that were double strapped and extra padded. It plays as a compilation of n.W.o.’s greatest hits and archived interviews, which is ultimately a huge disappointment, considering what we have grown accustomed to based on the efforts put out in the rivalries series.

This DVD is full of denial. If you can read between the lines, it clearly says that Vince McMahon wishes the n.W.o. was his creation. It eats him alive knowing that something so brilliant wasn’t his own. There is barely any talk of how the n.W.o. revolution almost killed WWE’s business. Barely any talk of the WWE’s fear of losing talent. And there is never any talk from those who were on the WCW roster who were opposed to control and politics that came with the n.W.o.

Very early into this DVD, I found myself getting bored and hoping for it to be over with. I knew the product I wanted to see, and was well aware that I wasn’t going to get it in this installment. This DVD feels like it was designed for the new generation of wrestling fans who may have heard of it but really didn’t know of its true impact to the business because it is rarely referenced to on WWE programming. And the reason for that is clear – the n.W.o. almost killed RAW and the WWE, and Vince refuses to praise it and how good it really was. Had it been his own creation, we never would have heard the end of it and would have seen more reincarnations over the last decade.

Another creation Vince can’t take credit for and one that he has never had the opportunity to prostitute under his logo is Sting. I actually loved seeing the praise for how much Sting meant to WCW and the entire n.W.o. angle because it feels like a last ditch effort begging for Sting to end his career in the WWE rather than TNA. It still baffles me that Sting has never worked a day in his life for Vince McMahon, and that fact alone eats away at his core. Vince McMahon may be convinced that he is the almighty God of the wrestling world, but Sting is the one guy that God could never get on the payroll.

Admittedly, the WWE was forced to acknowledge their efforts and failed attempt to resurrect the n.W.o. in the WWE in 2001, claiming that it was just shell of itself that didn’t vibe with the fans. As Booker T says, “You can’t blame Vince for trying to squeeze the last bit of juice.”

As it closed, I felt there was a huge chunk missing that was never covered, in terms of the shoot style of storytelling that it influenced. Not only in the hands of the n.W.o., but in how it pushed the WWE into the “Attitude Era”, namely with Degeneration-X. Yes, it’s mentioned, but its significance really isn’t recognized. Breaking the fourth wall – or in this case, the kayfabe- is perhaps the greatest signature of the era. It is what really turned Monday Nights into a war. The rules were thrown out of the window, competitors were acknowledging each other on television, and the curtain that protected an exclusive world was pulled in front of the public. This DVD basically summarized the success of the n.W.o. as being cool bad guys, without an explanation of the real mystique.

Fortunately, the roundtable discussion on the blu-ray covers it ALL and asks the burning questions real enthusiasts want to ask. For more information on what the roundtable covers, check out this mini-review of that piece of content: WWE Legends of Wrestling n.W.o.

What are your thoughts/reviews on the DVD? Do you agree or disagree with me? Post your comments below and feel free to share this review with your friends.

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