For a company to exist 25 years is already an amazing achievement and rarity. Well how about double that? The last wrestling company left with roots to the territories celebrates 50 years of existence in 2013 with the brand new DVD/Blu Ray set – The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment. With Bruno Sammartino being back in the family, we were ensured to FINALLY have the entire story told – not just the Attitude Era or the Rock N Wrestling Era, but the pre-Hogan stuff and everything in between! But would they deliver the complete story?
The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment documentary is ehhh… it’s alright. For somebody who has been a student of the wrestling business for ages, there is nothing new to the story. You know the stories, you know the histories, which means, you can call the bullshit and there’s lots of it on here. If you are a “smart” fan, there’s literally no new information that you don’t know. Some of the appearances on this DVD are very fun and involve NEW interviews with people who you’d be surprised at seeing (Lex Luger, Ivan Koloff, Linda McMahon, Vince Russo, non-kayfabe Undertaker, Ozzy Osbourne and Sean Combs). They give ample time for the Bruno, Backlund, Hogan, Austin (even though he was HEAVILY de-emphasized on here, which really makes me wonder if they’re pissed at him for something), and Cena eras (although the latter is shorter because well – we’re currently experiencing it).
Some of the positives is that for the first time – they mention the tragedy of Owen Hart. They’ve never had the balls to do it, but here you go. Another positive – they actually talk about the steroid trail for the first time ever on a DVD. Jake Roberts and Roddy Piper basically admit to taking them. But of course, they’re missing tons of details like Hogan on Arsenio and things like that. You don’t get a true timetable of events. Fans of our WrestleMania 30 for 30 project can imagine how hard I popped seeing the most dangerous man in the business; Jerry S. McDevitt make an appearance AS WELL AS Anita Scales! Of course, no Tom Zenk, as Jerry McDevitt has erased him from existence a la Back to the Future Part II.
When it comes to controversy however, some things were left unsaid. No Chris Benoit mention whatsoever, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. No Eddie Guerrero mention either – which is a shame considering he sparked the wellness policy which has “saved lives” according to them and in MVP’s case, it’s true. Not even IN PASSING!? What the hell!? Some other unsurprising omissions include the sex scandal, Jimmy Snuka’s girlfriend troubles, and Vince McMahon’s fun in Boca Raton (which really doesn’t need to be there anyway). Of course, they mention the Montreal Screwjob AGAIN, even giving it own segment. What made me smile is the fact that Shawn Michaels himself says that he’s sick of talking about it and that there’s hundreds of documentaries and books out there to read about it. It’s almost as if he channeled exactly what most of us were thinking.
The pandering near the end gets very painful. They give a phony positive spin about the movie division, which has been a complete financial failure, and yet – there is no mention WHATSOEVER of the XFL or the WBF, which were BOTH financial failures. No mention of the restaurant or the hotel or any of the botched angles they’ve done. They also try to positively spin the death of competition as pro by claiming that now – EVERY OTHER TV SHOW is their competition – which is more of that laughable mumbo-jumbo BS people are sick of. They also overtly verbally blow Vince McMahon in the last ten minutes and talk about how the company is a family – which IS true – unless they don’t like you. Then your precious “family” will treat you to home town embarrassments, TV losses to midgets, and bad comedy skits written by Brian Gewirtz.
The DVD and Blu Ray extras, much like the content of the documentary, is really more of the same. Longtime fans are already very familiar with the matches and segments. The thing is though, even if you are not a historian, all of this stuff is readily available not just on Youtube, but on a plethora of OTHER WWE DVDs. I know that some of this stuff is absolutely important, but did we really need to see Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant from WrestleMania III AGAIN!? Why not incorporate more of that behind the scenes stuff we were teased with throughout the documentary, specifically a lot of that WrestleMania IX footage of Vince directing. Personally, I would’ve actually preferred MORE interviews as extras rather than matches and angles with some of the workers talking about these moments. But no, it’s just lazy nonsense slapped together in a nice little package. Nothing really gets dug out of crates and there aren’t a lot of surprises, which to me make this a super bland release.
The fact that WWE’s home video team put together a flawless collection of sets from 2002 to around 2007 and now have batted more misses than hits in the past few years tells me they need to rehire the guy they had back then.
So no, it’s really not worth it. You can’t fit 50 years into a 2 hour documentary. Even ECW, which only lasted about 7 years, got a 3 hour doc. The Capitol/WWF/WWWF/WWE story truly is a fascinating one and deserved to have been told in at least 8 2-hour parts. I highly advise you to check out the 30 for 30 shows we have been doing to REALLY learn about the business – we talk about everything that they talk about except with more detail, more stories, unbiased opinions, and no bullshit (except when people don’t fully appreciate the greatness of Matt Osborne).