It has been 50 years since Vince J. McMahon broke away from the National Wrestling Alliance, spawning what is now known as World Wrestling Entertainment.
To commemorate the occasion, WWE released a DVD titled “The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment.”
The DVD comes in a three-disc set with the first disc being the documentary itself and the other two consisting of historic matches and moments that have been seen countless times on other DVDs.
The documentary chronicles the history of the company from when Roderick James McMahon, Vince McMahon Jr’s grandfather, promoted boxing and wrestling out of Washington D.C., to the global company everyone knows it to be today.
With a running time of a little more than two hours, the documentary portion covers a lot of ground. A good amount of things are covered in great detail. Some are not.
But considering that you have to pack 50 years of history into two hours, WWE did a pretty good job of covering as much as they could. Besides, giving each topic equal amounts of time would amount in a 12-hour epic.
As expected, the high points of the company’s history are covered. Among those featured are Bruno Sammartino’s long title reign, the history the company has with Madison Square Garden, the company’s national expansion, the birth of WrestleMania, the addition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, Hulk Hogan’s popularity, becoming a merchandise juggernaut, the advent of pay-per-view and the company going public.
The documentary even covered the “Piledriver” album.
Surprisingly, the documentary even covered some low points and did so in great detail. The documentary gives extensive coverage to Vince McMahon’s steroid trial in 1993 and the unfortunate death of Owen Hart in 1999.
I commend WWE for going into detail about each event, especially the steroid scandal. The WWE has covered Hart’s death in prior DVD releases and since it was a freak accident, it could only look so bad.
The steroid scandal was a different animal as it is still not a good look for the company, especially with an even bigger emphasis on human growth hormone and other various performance-enhancing drugs. Although it made the company look bad, McMahon was acquitted so for the company there’s a happy ending.
These two events are apart of WWE’s history whether the company likes it or not, and I applaud them for being open about the two subjects. You simply can’t wipe things away from history.
At the same token, I was sort of disappointed the documentary did not cover the tragedy that surrounded the death of Chris Benoit.
On one hand, I can see why they don’t want to mention it. Again, Hart’s death was a freak accident. Benoit’s situation involved the murders of two people and suicide. It would be a very dark subject to bring up during a DVD celebrating 50 years of the company’s existence.
But like I mentioned earlier, it is apart of the company’s history, just like the death of Hart and the steroid scandal. WWE has made a conscious effort to erase any mention of Benoit in any facet of the company.
Even on the Money in the Bank DVD released earlier this year, Benoit was essentially disregarded. WWE knew they couldn’t erase him from the first Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 21, so they decided to edit out mention on him on commentary.
The erasing extended to this DVD as well. There are other controversies that did not get covered, but none were more important than the steroid scandal, Hart’s accidental death and Benoit’s murder-suicide.
Other than that the DVD was great. Most hardcore fans aren’t going to learn anything they didn’t already know, but it’s still worth the watch.
For me personally, it almost reminded why I fell in love with professional wrestling to begin with. It reaffirmed my love for it.
Speaking of professional wrestling, the DVD tends to use that phrase a lot. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but WWE has gone out of its way to call itself sports entertainment. It’s even in the title of this particular DVD.
But a lot of people interviewed for the DVD still referred to it as professional wrestling, which is good to see.
The big names interviewed for the DVD were plentiful, as there were a number of legends that sat down for it. Even guys you almost never see on DVDs such as Jake Roberts, Jimmy Valiant and S.D Jones.
There were some use of old footage, but it did not take away from the production overall.
The last half hour feels more like a press release of how great the company is now than a time line of events, but that’s to be expected.
It almost felt like that portion of the documentary was strictly for potential investors as much as it was for people to see how far the company came.
Overall, I give the DVD a passing grade. It’s one of the better releases of this year and for me personally, made me remember why I fell in love with the business.