You have to give credit to the greedy, greedy folks at WWE Home Video. They keep coming up with new and different ways to re-tell the story of wrestling's biggest boom period - namely the mid-to-late 1990's.
WWE's The Attitude Era revisits the company's glory days yet again, but in a manner that's decidedly different that previous offerings, including The Rise & Fall of ECW, The Monday Night War and numerous DVD sets on the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and Mick Foley.
The first thing I have to give props to here is the top-notch cover art, possibly the best WWE has ever created for a DVD. The cover actually extends into four panels as you open the disc box, revealing every major name from that era you could think of -- and some you may have even forgotten about (Gangrel, D-Lo Brown, Yurple The Clown, referee Jimmy Korderas, etc.). It also contains Attitude Era artifacts including Vince McMahon's cement-filled car and the Crapper 3:16 that Austin used on Goldust. I'm not normally a big cover art guy... but this is a good one.
The next thing one may notice in the documentary portion is how fondly performers look back at that era. Those who are interviewed include Road Dogg, Mark Henry, Austin, The Rock, Jim Ross, Ron Simmons, Christian and John Bradshaw Layfield, each of which looking back at a post-PG era and what they could get away with.
Tons of non-PG clips are shown throughout the documentary, ranging from Sable wearing paint on her breasts to D-Generation X acting unruly, to The Undertaker sacrificing Austin on his "symbol" (read: customized crucifix). Needless to say, most of this could not be shown on WWE television today
.Yet perhaps the most shocking appearance in the documentary is former scriptwriter and WCW World Champion Vince Russo. Unadvertised and largely unheralded (I, for one, had no idea he was even on speaking terms with the company following his short-lived return a decade ago), Russo makes but one brief appearance on the entire DVD, defending the style of writing that made him famous.
Sorry.... you have VINCE RUSSO, arguably the most controversial wrestling figure from the 1990's, captive in your studio.... and all you use is ONE STINKING CLIP?!? Even if you don't like what he has to say or if it doesn't jibe with today's official company motto.... use it anyways because the stupid marks want to hear him speak!
It's not even like they're likely saving the Russo interview for use on another documentary -- THIS is clearly the subject matter you want him talking about.
I'm sorry, but I just can't get past the gigantic ball that has been dropped here by WWE Home Video. Ugh.
Where was I again?
One other thing you're not likely to see on Raw or SmackDown these days are the words "WWF" being uttered without a censor or seven-second delay wiping them out. Yet in this collection, the initials are mentioned numerous times and without reproach (which, in my mind, signals that the settlement with the World Wildlife Fund from 10 years ago may have run its course). Still, it's weird to hear McMahon and others say "WWF" after a year of being trained not to hear it.
While the clips and interviews are fun, I have to say that the documentary portion is shorter than previous releases. That's unfortunate, given it was such a bragging rights period for WWE and there's so much more that could have been showcased here.
Having said that, the extras section is kind of a fun collection. Granted, there aren't tons of five-star matches, but it's more than made up for with tons of rarities and memorable moments. Here are my top three
:The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kane and Mankind vs. The New Age Outlaws vs. The Rock and D'Lo Brown: Really, this match was about as stereotypical Attitude Era WWF as it gets. Granted, one may have swapped out the NAO with DX alumnae Triple and Shawn Michaels, but given they weren't even teaming up at the time, that's nitpicking. A fun, sloppy brawl that brings you back to a better time in wrestling.
Edge & Christian vs. Matt and Jeff Hardy vs. The Dudley Boyz: This was the very first TLC match, a forgotten classic from SummerSlam 2000. This wasn't quite as polished as either of the WrestleMania classics, but any time you can get all six of these guys together, it's all good.
Shawn Michaels confronts Mike Tyson: We've seen the Steve Austin-Mike Tyson confrontation to death on WWE DVD's, but this angle - while not quite as special - is still a forgotten classic. Tyson was very much into the role at the time and everything about the segment worked beautifully
.Beyond that, you've got a vignette featuring Val Venis and Jenna Jameson that would NOT make it to television today; Mankind hilariously being given the Hardcore Championship by Mr. McMahon; the return of X-Pac; Chris Jericho's WWF (and they do say WWF) debut; Crash Holly vs. Hardcore Holly in a bout that highlights the 24-7 Hardcore Era; Undertaker vs. Austin (from the night Owen Hart died at Over The Limit); The Rock vs. Mankind in a re-creation of the Survivor Series Screwjob; and several vignettes highlighting The APA.
Do you need to go out and buy this particular DVD set? Probably not. I enjoyed it and will definitely watch it again, but there are far better "retro" sets out there to choose from.