WWE: The Monday Night Wars Presented in Full Frame 1.33:1, and English language Number of discs: 1 Rating: Not Rated Released: 02/10/2004 Introduction: When I first ran across this release, I was very skeptical of how good it would be. I had plenty of good reason to doubt given how poorly the WWE handled the release of the nWo DVD. The WWE has never been shy about attempting to rewrite history and so I wasn’t real confident that this release would be worth a purchase. I mentioned that I would watch this with the Bull**** monitor activated just to sort through all of the crap. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to watch this and found that the Bull**** monitor wasn’t as active as I thought it would be. There are some very questionable quotes in the documentary, but nothing that pissed me off to the extent I thought I’d be pissed off. Before I get to the feature, I want to briefly mention something that I’m beginning to hate about these WWE DVD releases. They all contain the WWE’s PSA that talks about how it’s dangerous and should not be tried at home. Well that’s fine, accept for the fact that there is seemingly no way to bypass this, fast forwarding didn’t work, the menu button didn’t work, nothing seemed to work. This wouldn’t bother me as much if for the fact that I watched this, the Foley DVD, and the Flair set all within a short time and it came up 3 different times. I’ll make the WWE a deal, if they let me skip past the damn thing, I’ll promise not to try it at home. Now with that out of the way… The Feature: This is a documentary style feature containing a mixture of clips from Raw and Nitro as well as comments from some of the major players. You will find comments from people including: Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, Gerald Briscoe, Mick Foley, Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, The Big Show, and Ric Flair to name a few. I thought that of the participants the comments from Foley, Bischoff and Michaels were the most honest and I found Briscoe to be more of a yes man who offered very little of value. Chapters Early days of WCW & WWE, Raw arrives, Talent leaves, Birth of Nitro, The war begins, WCW takes the lead, The nWo, WCW and Austin, WWE Evolves, Mr. McMahon and Austin, WWE wins a round, WWE takes the lead, Ric Flair, WCW struggles, Talent goes to the WWE, More changes at WCW, The last chapter What I liked about this documentary was the fact that they actually gave WCW credit for doing a number of things right. It wasn’t just the standard line of they used WWE stars to get themselves over and that was it. They actually mentioned WCW bringing in talent from all over the world and showcasing them on a large national stage. I thought that they did the downfall of WCW justice, but they really could’ve gone more in depth on it. There was a lot of material to work with on the subject. They didn’t rub it in to the extent I thought they would however. As for what I didn’t like there are a few things. During the time that WCW was on top we learn about all of the things that they did right to capture the ratings lead, but we really didn’t learn about what the WWE was doing wrong. While WCW was leading, they focused more on what the WWE had started that would help them to recapture the lead, like the rise of Stone Cold and the Rock. Yet we learn very little about what the WWE was doing that was hurting their case. If I have another major gripe with this feature it is that it goes so far and then just stops. For example, we get comments from Mick Foley and Vince McMahon talking about how bad this really was for the WWE but then they don’t expound on it. We get the sense that things weren’t going well, but we don’t get much after that, we have no idea from the feature how close to going under the WWE was at the time even though both hint that it was really close to happening. Now for the part you should be most interested in if you remember my initial thoughts on the release. How much did the BS monitor get used and at what points. Well, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but there were some moments where the BS monitor got to shine. Firstly, Vince McMahon talks about his business dealings with Ted Turner. It is true that the WWE did have time on TBS back in the early 1980’s, but it didn’t last long. There was actually quite a backlash when the WWE took that timeslot over from Georgia Championship Wrestling and it was one of the few defeats suffered by Vince McMahon during that time period. None of this was neglected and to hear Vince tell it, you’d think he had walked away from that with the upper hand or at least broken even. The second point of BS and the one that almost shattered the BS monitor for good was also credited to Vince McMahon. He said: “My philosophy of business is to help yourself, not hurt the other guy.” I’m sure all of the regional promoters that Vince McMahon ran out of business in the 1980’s would agree with that, but you’d have to get them all to stop laughing first. Sure Ted Turner might have been aiming to put WWE out of business but if Vince McMahon thinks I’m stupid enough to think that his goal was never to put someone out of business I’ve got news for him I’m not that stupid. The final of the 3 major pieces of BS floated in this documentary is a simple quote given by the narrator. “In November 1997, WWE Champion Bret Hart decided to jump to WCW.” That’s a rather unique interpretation of the word decide. What actually happened is that Vince McMahon actively pushed Bret Hart towards WCW, even going so far as to break the contract that Bret Hart had just inked one year earlier. It almost sounded like Bret’s contract was coming up and he just decided to leave which is actually the furthest thing from what happened. So those are the 3 big pieces of BS that came out of this documentary, but hey that’s not nearly as much as I was preparing myself for so in that case it still comes out good. Upon thinking about it there is 1 other piece of BS in the feature, but its more of my opinion than anything else. The documentary talks about how basically Goldberg was the only new star WCW made during the Monday Night Wars, and I would have to disagree with this. I think that DDP, Booker T, and to an extent Big Show and Chris Benoit were all made in to stars by WCW. Did they take it as far with some of them as they could have, no they didn't but DDP was certainly not a star before Nitro came a long. Rating: 6.5/10, (considering I was planning to go -15/10 a 6.5 should be considered excellent) The Extras: *Owen Hart/the British Bulldog vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin/Shawn Michaels: Raw 5/26/97 This was a pretty good match and it happened at around the time Raw started to get in a groove, a full 11 months before they’d see a ratings victory. *Owen Hart and Steve Austin Confrontation: Austin stuns McMahon for the first time 09/22/97 This is an important extra because it was the prelude for things to come between Austin and McMahon a feud which would carry the company for 2 years. *Jim Cornette Commentary: Raw 10/2797 ranting on Hogan vs. Piper cage match among other topics This is easily my favorite extra, introduced by Cornette himself explaining how these Raw commentaries he did briefly in 1997 came about. This wasn’t the best 1 that I remembered, but to give you an idea of what you're getting I’ll give you these 2 quotes. First we have him talking about the Hogan Piper cage match from Halloween Havoc 1997. “By the 10:00 mark, both men were sucking wind so bad the first 3 rows passed out from oxygen deprivation.” This next quote is one of the better slams of Hogan I’ve ever heard. “And on a personal note to Hulk Hogan, you are a household word, but so is garbage and it stinks when it gets old too.” Can I say right now that I just love Jim Cornette? He’s just so awesome sometimes with this stuff; I highly recommend any shoot interview the man has ever done. *Vince McMahon “Bret screwed Bret,” interview: 11/17/97 This was important because it cemented the heel status of 1 Vince McMahon, which would really lift WWE back to the top of the wrestling world. *HHH and Shawn Michaels Vs. The Legion of Doom: Raw 12/15/98 Have you ever run across an extra, and wondered to yourself what the hell it was doing on the DVD? For me this is that extra, I guess it’s here for the post match angle, but they could’ve done a lot better. *Degeneration X invades WCW: Raw 04/27/98, complete with extra comments from HHH, Billy Gunn, Eric Bischoff, Kevin Nash and others. Very notable event and even Eric Bischoff admitted that he was impressed, he also mentioned being pissed. *Highlights of the Final broadcast of WCW Monday Nitro: Panama City Florida, 03/26/2001, including comments from many of those involved in the final broadcast. It was good for what it was; just a short featurette on that broadcast, nothing shocking came out of it though. *nWo Invades the production truck: WCW Nitro 07/22/96 Ground breaking because as Bischoff said during the main feature it was one of the first times the fans got to see the backstage and production area of the show and they loved it Plus, Hall and Nash are really funny in the truck. *Eric Bischoff challenges Vince McMahon: 05/11/1998 Probably the dumbest thing Bischoff did in WCW was this segment, and that’s saying something. *Booker T Vs. Chris Benoit: 06/01/98, Match 4 of a best of 7 series A great match from their best of 7 series in the spring of 1998, although it’s only notable for being a good match. *Hulk Hogan Vs. Bill Goldberg: The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, 07/06/98 The highest height for WCW was this match, and I’m glad to have it here. The only gripe I have is them changing the Goldberg music, and not including the whole celebration. Try and imagine over 40,000 people all chanting Goldberg in unison and you still won’t know how deafening the sound of it really was. *Ric Flair returns to Nitro: Greenville S.C. 09/14/98 Oh yes, my all time favorite moment in WCW Monday Nitro history, this was just pure awesomeness from Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. This and the Cornette extra made the DVD worth owning for me. Also the last time Nitro would win the ratings battle. *Rick Rude appears on Raw and Nitro on the same evening: 11/17/97 This really was a big deal, and it was really nice that they included this on the DVD. Rating: 7/10. What was here was often very good, but I guess I’m selfish because I know they could’ve done so much more. My Final Thoughts: There is a lot to like about this DVD, they hit all of the major points with a couple of exceptions I mentioned above and they did a pretty reasonable job. The participants in the main feature were for the most part really forth coming in their honesty, again with a few exceptions mentioned above. This DVD definitely turned out a lot better than I thought it was going to be. There are a few things I would’ve done different. I would’ve made this a 2 disc set with a disc for Raw and a disc for Nitro. I would’ve had a feature on each disc discussing that program exclusively. This would’ve allowed them to hit more topics. One thing they left out completely was the decision to make Raw a live broadcast every week; they didn’t even mention that transition in the main feature which surprised me a little. I know if they had included everything it would’ve been a 3 hour feature, but that notable exclusion came as a surprise to me. Recommendation: I would recommend this disc especially for some of the very cool extras. The main feature is good enough, and I actually viewed it a couple of times in writing this up, but I would take a lot of it with a grain of salt. Its much better done than I thought, and I’m not surprised by some of the BS contained therein, after all the winners write the history books. This disc at the minimum is worth a rental.