We've seen WWE take a look before at the inner workings behind some of their competitor's promotions via DVD, and while they've looked at certain aspects of what happens behind their own curtain, they've never really pulled it back quite this far.
WrestleMania, in its infancy, was a massive gamble. Sure, the WWE PR folks will tell you the same thing, but it's actually true. If the first WrestleMania hadn't enjoyed the success it did.... well, there's a pretty good chance you wouldn't be reading websites like this one today. Thankfully, for us fans, it did, and we are.
Having said that.... this documentary wasn't exactly what I would have expected. Given that WWE owns literally all of the footage surrounding this event and only a handful of wrestlers are truly in the company's bad books these days.... it could have been a frank but fun look at WWE's biggest annual event over the past quarter century.
They do hit some of the high notes, especially for the first three events, including behind-the-scenes footage that hadn't been seen before and a wide variety of comments from current and past competitors.
But after WrestleMania 3 (Bigger. Better. BAAAAAA-DDER!), they skip ahead to WrestleMania 23. HUH? While there are reasons for the comparison (both were held in the same vicinity, 20 years apart), it makes one wonder if you accidentally hit the fast forward button.
Things bounce around quite a bit from there, and while every WrestleMania is covered to some degree, most of them are given very short segments.
Why not highlight each year's top three matches, a rundown of the celebrities and a comment from at least one of the participants? They already did something like that on the companion DVD that comes with the 2001 book WrestleMania: The Official Insider's Story, so it would really be a matter of re-releasing somehing quite similar, plus another 9 years of footage.
(Okay, I understand how that idea would have been a problem at WrestleMania XX, with You Know Who winning the World Title in the main event... but this should have been the exception, not the rule.)
So instead of a comprehensive look at each of the annual events, we get little snippets of each Mania. I want to be clear -- it's not terrible, by any stretch. There just could have been more to it.
Beyond the snippets... you have special looks at The Undertaker's unbeaten streak, some of the guest celebrities and athletes who have appeared on The Grandest Stage Of 'Em All and mini-features, such as the alleged security concerns that prevented WWE from selling out WrestleMania VII and the two "international" Manias in Toronto, of which I'm proud to say I'd attended both.
And giving credit where credit is due... there is quite a bit of original interview material, including past stars such as Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper, current stars such as John Cena and Triple H, folks that have retired such as Shawn Michaels, Edge and Chris Jericho, and backstage presences including Howard Finkel, Jerry Brisco and Vince McMahon himself.
The match listing itself is quite impressive. That's assuming, though, that you don't already own all of the matches on other collections, which I do. Even so, matches like Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat, Hogan vs. The Rock, Undertaker vs. Michaels, Cena vs. Batista and Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon are decent enough to make for a very interesting compilation.
Overall.... I'm not sure I'd rush out to pick this one up. If you can get it used, find it on Netflix, or borrow it from a buddy, you won't be terribly disappointed. If you pay full price (as some of us may have foolishly done), it probably won't be the pride and joy of your collection.
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