I wanted to like this DVD. I swear I did.
While the storylines stemming from Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff's first two years in TNA have been - how do I phrase this sensitively? - absolutely f*cking terrible, I thought they'd at least be able to make a decent documentary out of how Immortal came to be.
For example, the segments shown on the short-lived TNA Reaction program to describe the actions of 10/10/10 were interesting enough.
But as it turns out, I was wrong. So very wrong.
For the sake of this review, I'm going to skip my thoughts on TNA storylines under the Hogan-Bischoff regime. I won't weigh in on the hotshotting of angles that no one wanted to see in the first place. I'll forego my opinions on the astounding amount of money TNA and Spike have wasted on some very talented people that were given little chance to succeed. And hey, I won't even mention the fact that, aside from possibly Dixie Carter and Mike Tenay, virtually every major character on Impact Wrestling has turned from heel to face or vice-versa at least once in the last couple of years.
Instead, I'm going to sound off about ten different things about the DVD (not the storyline itself, mind you; the actual DVD) that render it virtually unwatchable. This is one of those things where it's almost so bad that it's good.
Yes, this is the wrestling documentary equivalent of Plan 9 From Outer Space.
1) More set-up needed. Imagine you were a wrestling fan that never before had stumbled upon TNA (you lucky soul). You may well know the names Hogan, Bischoff and Flair and their pre-TNA contributions to this business... but that still doesn't excuse the lack of very basic storytelling.
Carter says many times she never truly trusted Hogan and Bischoff. Why? Again, we may know the rationale, but the documentary never explains it. Not to mention it doesn't explain why she would hire people she couldn't trust....
But even if you know about the three lead Immortal guys, you may not know about AJ Styles, Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy, Abyss, Sting, Beer Money, Kurt Angle and their relative positions to each other within the storyline. Aside from clips and coverage of events, little explanation is given.
A narrator would have paid dividends to rectify this, and it's not like they don't already have the James Earl Jones Ripoff Guy on retainer.
2) Work or Shoot? WWE, the de facto leader in these type of DVD's, sometimes produces kayfabed documentaries and sometimes produces reality-based ones. But I've never seen a production switch back and forth as frequently or erratically as this one.
One scene features Abyss, for example, calmly discussing certain storyline aspects in what one would assume is mostly a shoot. Then later, he is ranting and raving in full character mode. So which is it? And he's not the only one: Sting is another great example of switching back and forth.
But the worst offender may be Dixie (shocking, I know). In one clip, she explains why EV2 was formed, how the members of that group "booked" the show on their own, and how some fans "crapped on" the idea of an ECW reunion. Fair enough, but then you shouldn't be telling people how Hogan and Bischoff screwed you within the context of a storyline!
Not only is this confusing as hell for people watching the DVD, it makes one conclude that nothing on the DVD is even partially legit.
3) Follow the damn timeline! To its credit, TNA does present the events in chronological order. However, the interview segments in between the events alternately get ahead of themselves and spoil what's about to happen next.
For example, one scene shows Dixie being escorted out of the building by Gunner and Murphy after Immortal threw her out. Not two minutes later, they show a segment that aired on television BEFORE that one, with Hogan continually saying "Where's Dixie? Come on out, Dixie!" And you find out that Immortal screws Dixie of her company within about a minute of the release.
Compare this to The Rise and Fall of ECW. Sure, they tell you in the title that ECW eventually fell, but they don't give away the details of it right away!
4) The Right To Censor. Throughout the documentary, TNA performers mention WWE, WCW and even ECW. For (I'm assuming) legal reasons, they are bleeped out whenever they mention those names.
Either the wrestlers should be told not to mention the promotion by name at all, or they should find creative ways to get around it (the documentary Forever Hardcore, for example, had to use the term "Extreme Wrestling" instead of ECW).
But incredibly, there are times when they cut to match and interview clips when the words WWE and ECW are spoken freely. WHY?
Oh, and in at least one instance, the word "damn" is bleeped out! How is "damn" too controversial for home video? If TNA ever produces a DVD about the career of Ron Simmons, they'll be shit out of luck.
5) Leave It On The Cutting Room Floor. TNA packs in six hours and it feels like three times that. Now, that's not always a bad thing for wrestling fans, but in this case, it absolutely is.
Far too many segments are shown in their entirety. In one example, Fortune comes to the ring to confront Immortal and promises to make a big announcement. Tenay advertises that the announcement is coming up after the break, so the picture fades to black and THEN you get the full announcement portion. Why not just cut out the first part? Hell, I'm surprised these guys didn't leave the commercials in.
6) Formatting Problems. Let's say I don't want to watch an entire segment, or I want to skip a particular match. Normally, I'd just hit "skip chapter" on my remote and be taken to the next chapter. On this DVD, they *do* take you to the next chapter, but you may miss more than a match or segment by the time you're there. Sooo frustrating!
7) "Dixie Can't Run A Wrestling Company." No, I didn't mean to bring this up as a fact, but rather point out that virtually everyone in the DVD makes this point.
This is reinforced by airing the speech she gave to the roster the week after Hogan arrived, in which she told performers that if they didn't trust her judgment with the company's new direction, they're not supporting TNA. Which made her look brilliant when she got screwed (in storyline) by Hogan and Bischoff.
My point is, like her or hate her, Dixie Carter is running TNA. If enough people bury her and you say that she only got the job because of daddy's money, eventually she'll have no value whatsoever in terms of public perception. Even when WWE makes fun of Vince McMahon in the storylines, they would never say he didn't know how to manage a wrestling company.
8) Matt F'ng Hardy. As you all know by now, I think that Matt Hardy is a huge douche canoe, but I won't deny that his entry into Immortal was at least noteworthy. Hardy was released by WWE on Oct. 15, five days after Immortal formed on 10/10/10. Why would they omit how he got involved in the group in January? Isn't that somewhat important, rather than just having him kind of randomly thrown into the group?
Instead, Hardy is just shown giving backstage interviews, talking up the Immortal angle as though he was there from the beginning, and even taking credit for suggesting the Wresling's Antichrist gimmick to his brother Jeff.
Whether that fact is true or not (I put very little past V1 these days), I still don't think he should be talking about developing someone's on-screen character for a DVD that is more work than shoot.
9) Highlights The Worst of TNA: I mentioned earlier the speech that Dixie gave to the roster. Whether that was legit or part of the storyline, it makes TNA look bad and was completely unnecessary. Don't include it!
Another example would be about how The Main Event Mafia were supposed to be "they" and never showed up because Kevin Nash and Booker T didn't renew their contracts. Here's a crazy idea: ignore it ever happened.
Oh, and not only do they rehash that part of the story, but they also show the segment in which Nash more or less quits the company. WHY? To advertise that he left to work for the competition?
They also explain how Mick Foley was an investor in the company, without really getting into how Hogan cheated him out of his stake once The Hulkster gained "100 percent" control of TNA. I can understand them omitting Foley's network executive gimmick because he had left the company shortly thereafter -- but then why acknowledge his presence at all?
Yet the worst example was saved for right near the end, when they discussed the Sting-Jeff Hardy feud. Sure, they didn't show clips from the infamous Victory Road match, but they still have Immortal folks talking about how disappointing Hardy's effort was in that bout.
Given that this happened right near the end of the story timeline AND how it made Immortal (not to mention TNA) look terrible for allowing someone allegedly under the influence to wrestle -- surely they could have ended the DVD before that fiasco went down?
Which brings me to my last point...
10) Worst Ending Ever! EVER!!! The back cover of this DVD advertises that we will get to the bottom of this whole Immortal storyline. Suffice it to say, figuring out time travel would require less brainpower than trying to decipher a TNA storyline, so I knew we weren't going to acheive that.
But the last segment of the DVD closes with Hulk Hogan talking about how he hopes Immortal will cause "TNA wrestlers" (which he says in a mocking voice) to step up and get out of the damned midcard already. I'm surprised he didn't refer to the X Division as "vanilla midgets" while he was at it.
Never mind that that's a horrible message for the highest-paid person in the company to give, storyline or not -- the DVD abruptly ends after that. It doesn't even show any closing credits or some music so that the viewer can figure out that this turd is wrapping up. One second Hogan is talking, and the next second you're back to the main menu. WTF?
Not surprisingly, there are no extras - just six hours of the convoluted, unorganized mess that tries to pass itself off as a documentary.
Is this the worst DVD ever reviewed in the history of The Rack? I'm going to reluctantly say no (there's one other on here that takes that honor; see if I you can find it in the archives).
Having said that.... this is the worst documentary if one considers the talent they featured in it, the resources that TNA has, and the story they could have told. Even for a crazy storyline like the Immortal one, it would have been easy enough to present in a fun, enjoyable format.
I've never done something like this before.... but I am publicly asking TNA (or Impact Wrestling; whatever) to refund me the 15 bucks I spent. If they're not even trying anymore, then I don't want to watch their freaking DVD's.