It's amazing that, with their vast video library and massive number of former wrestlers under "Legends" contracts that WWE hasn't attempted something like this before.
Granted, other DVD production companies (most notably RF Video) have been involved in related efforts, but nothing on this scale.
What WWE accomplished with Greatest Rivalries is more than a shoot interview. It's a look at one of the most interesting and noteworthy eras in wrestling history, as seen through the eyes of three of its main participants, and with conflicting opinions to boot.
I say "three" instead of just Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels because, in all honesty, interviewer Jim Ross is the star of the show here. Not only did JR closely follow the careers of both competitors, he's clearly heard both sides of the story before and isn't afraid to stir the pot.
For example, when he senses that the Hitman employs a double-standard, he's called out on it. Likewise, he's quick to call the Heartbreak Kid on things he did in the past. The consumate professional, JR has studied both men's autobiographies as well as the documentary Wrestling With Shadows and other materials and cites them quite freely.
For their part, Hart and Michaels are fairly cordial towards each other. It's clear that the hostilities that gathered steam in the late 1990's are gone. That's not to say the two Hall of Famers are BFF's, but it no longer appears as though one wants to strangle the other. There are a few moments where a bit of tension enters the room, but it seems as more of a disagreement than a genuine argument between the two.
Both accept part of the blame for their role in their 1996-1997 rivalry, acknowledging everything from "protecting their spots" to their relative positions in the Montreal screwjob. In fact, I'd say it's more forthcoming than either of them have been in past interviews.
Interestingly, Hart stoically looks straight ahead to JR for most of the lengthy shoot interview, turning to Michaels only when he wants his opinion (though, to be perfectly fair, they do share a laughs or two).
Michaels, however, engages Hart, listening to his rival as he answers his questions, talking to him and even questioning his comments. Add this to the fact that Hart does about 70 percent of the talking in the alloted time, and I'd suggest that Michaels comes off slightly better.
The main program is part interview, part therapy session, and both competitors suggest that the experience has helped them take a step further towards resolving past issues. A minor spoiler: both guys shed a few tears.
Beyond the shoot, WWE has put together a fairly comprehensive collection of Hart-Michaels matches, including The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation and their epic iron man match at WrestleMania 12.
Surprisingly, the actual Montreal match isn't included... although how many times can they realistically release that match on DVD?
There's also footage of both Hall of Fame induction speeches (I hadn't seen HBK's yet) and their emotional in-ring reunion on Raw last year, but the real meat and potatoes of this offering is of course the sit-down interview.
I don't say this often, but I'd say this is a must for any fan from the Attitude/Monday Night Wars era. I only hope that WWE builds on this concept (Triple H vs. The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon, The Undertaker vs. Kane, even John Cena vs. Randy Orton) and plugs into what could very well be the next big concept in DVD promotion.
Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart