Canadian Bulldog here (don't pretend like you don't know who I am!) with reviews of two recently-released WWE DVD sets.
Why not the usual HILARITY that is "World Wrestling Insanity Breaking News"? Here's the thing: By the time this column runs, I will have taken two back-to-back business trips between Canada and the U.S., with no time to sleep, let alone write. So I figured the DVD reviews would be a good failsafe.
Twist Of Fate: The Matt and Jeff Hardy Story
is a two-disc set that looks at the brothers as individuals, rather than strictly as a tag team. It's a unique approach, and it gives the viewer something different than their previous DVD
Leap Of Faith
, which was produced some seven years earlier.
Disc One is The Matt Hardy Story, which takes us, documentary-style, from Matt's life as a teenager, when he was watching WrestleMania IV with his brother, all the way up to just before his U.S. title won over MVP this year.
Weaving together backyard wrestling videos, clips from his OMEGA promotion and almost a decade of WWE footage, Matt's career is explained almost as well as it is in the (highly recommended)
Ultimate Insiders DVD
released a few years back. The difference this time, though, is not only do you have a wealth of wrestling clips to rely in, but outside voices including childhood friends Gregory Helms, Shannon Moore, noted rival Edge, noted bigot Michael Hayes, and of course, Jeff Hardy.
Interesting stories told about Matt's days as WWE "enhancement talent" (read: jobber duty), where he and Jeff became noticed because of their flashy tights (which Matt sewed himself) and ability to make other superstars look good by taking crazy bumps. Eventually, they were given contracts by Jim Ross and slowly morphed into the wrestlers we know today.
(As an aside, I was present for one of Matt and Jeff's earliest televised wins -- a tag team match in Hamilton, Ontario when they upset Kaientai on a taping of Sunday Night Heat.)
The documentary also looks at Matt's love triangle with Edge and Lita, and includes the fact that Matt was canned after talking about the situation a little too publicly online. Although Lita's comments on the situation are limited to archived "Byte This" appearances and the like, Edge gives what appear to be "shoot" comments about the way everything was handled.
The match selection on this disc is okay, but nothing to write home about. You have a handful of semi-recent matches, with Matt in singles competition against Kane, Joey Mercury, Mr. Kennedy and Edge, yet none of his much-heralded feud with MVP (or, for that matter, last year's matches against Gregory Helms). There is one tag team match from his OMEGA days, with a rare look at both Hardy brothers working heel against The Serial Thrillaz (Helms and Some Other Guy) in a decent little match, including commentary from Helms, Moore, Matt and Jeff.
Disc Two is The Captain Lou Albano Stor... no, just kidding; it's The Jeff Hardy Story. There's a bit of overlap in the early going (and how could there NOT be, given how much their early careers tied into each other?), but it's mostly focused on Jeff's career path. In addition to the crew that commented on Matt's DVD, you also have people such as Shawn Michaels giving "The Rainbow Haired Warrior" his just due.
One thing I should mention for both discs is that, towards the end of the 1990s and early 2000s, Team Xtreme (Matt, Jeff and Lita) were INSANELY over with the fans. As someone points out on the DVD, you tend to think of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley and Triple H as definining that era, but Matt and Jeff should be right up there as well.
Jeff, unlike his brother, is most definitely an artist, so there's ample footage of him at his trailer-park home (assuming this was filmed BEFORE the fire), creating art, gigantic aluminium statues and composing music. My take on the music is that it sounds okay, but Jeff's voice is, quite frankly, awful.
As with Matt's DVD, Jeff is fairly open when discusses his departure from WWE (over refusing to take a drug test), and admits that he was definitely into some banned substances at the time. In a shocker, he even mentions "TNA" by name to explain his departure from WWE for several years.
Matches on this disc include bouts against Triple H, Johnny Nitro, Umaga and Shelton Benjamin, as well as tag bouts against Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch and The Dudley Boyz.
Overall, I'd highly recommend this disc. The DVD documentaries are, as always, top notch and well-produced. They could have done better on the overall match selection, but I do understand why they didn't want to turn this into a look at their best tag team matches.
Triple H: The King Of Kings is a two-disc DVD set looking at the best matches of World Wrestling Insanity favorite Triple H. I'm going to first make the disclaimer that, unlike 99 percent of the Internet, I actually LIKE Triple H. He's one of these guys that can get a decent-to-great match with pretty much anybody (okay, anybody not named "Scott Steiner") and is a good franchise player for WWE.
Which is what makes doing this DVD review all that much more difficult. Basically, this set of discs reinforces pretty much everything people dislike about "The Cerebral Assassin".
For starters, there's no documentary. Don't look for one. To quote Stone Cold Steve Austin: "WHAT?"
Now... I realize that promises of a documentary were never made explicit ("You want me to be... explicit?" -- sorry, Arrested Development flashback moment there), but for arguably the biggest star in the company, you'd think it was a given. The format is, essentially: Triple H talks about something, match is set up, match is shown. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Are you telling me that there aren't WWE employees just LINING UP to kiss the boss's ass? Aren't Bruce Pritchard and Steve Lombardi employed SOLELY to make poignant comments on WWE DVD's these days? I mean, it's on the checklist for every fricking WWE release: "Don't try this at home commercial with Big Show saying he 'dislocated his shoulder' even though it's clearly Rikishi's voice?"
CHECK "Poignant Bruce Pritchard and Steve Lombardi comments?" CHECK "Blaming the subject matter's downfall on Eric Bischoff?" CHECK.
Now... I realize that there are others in WWE that have never been given the full documentary treatement, such as a certain "Nature Boy" that retired earlier this year, or a certain "Hardcore Legend" whose legacy collection has already been released. And it's a step up from 2002's The Game DVD, where he appears to be telling his life story while sitting down in a park somewhere.
Triple H's comments are noteworthy too, only because they make him come off like an arrogant ass at times. Jabs at opponents like Marc Mero, Mick Foley and even John Cena are largely uncalled for, even if its possible they were taken out of context. For example, Trips is setting up his match with Cena at WrestleMania 22, when he goes back to an (earlier?) conversation he had with Cena, telling him that in the ring, he sucks. Well, if that was a comment made when Cena first started with WWE, then fine. If that was said right before they got in the ring at 'Mania... what the hell are you doing main-eventing the biggest show of the year against someone who sucks??
The match selection, on the other hand, is decent. A trio of matches against Mick Foley from various stages in their careers, plus matches against Cena, Austin, Owen Hart, Batista, Ric Flair and others are featured. Some are truly hidden gems, such as the Last Man Standing bout against Flair at the Survivor Series in 2005, but none of these matches seem like true "rarities" to me, just stuff lifted mostly from pay-per-views over the past decade or so.
One such rarity, however, is The King of Kings's first match ever (EVER!!!) at an indy show against "Flying" Tony Roy. It's hardly a spectacular match, but commentary by HHH and JR make it a worthwhile extra. Too bad there aren't more moments like this.
That said, I'm not sure this is really a "must have" collection. They could have sold me with a decent documentary, but otherwise it's kind of marginal. Buyer beware.
THE ORIGINAL Canadian Bulldog is a borderline journalist who writes weekly for
World Wrestling Insanity and has published
his own book of nutty e-mails to wrestlers.