Another in a long-line of WWE themed compilations, WWE True Giants looks at, well you’ve guessed it, the GIANTS of wrestling. The featured performers are not ranked in any terms of a list in the main feature (which knowing the WWE’s self-interest policy is perhaps as well); they’re just looked at one by one with no rhyme nor reason about the order.
What you get on the main feature is a series of short pieces on wrestlers. Sometimes where the guy is still alive and on good terms with the WWE you get the Giant themselves telling their stories. On other occasions close friends or acquaintances do that job. All in all the list of talking heads is good and makes sense.
So Yokozuna is profiled by his nephews The Uso’s, Gorilla Monsoon is profiled by his long-time friend Pat Patterson and Andre The Giant is introduced by former WWE referee Tim White, who was the travelling companion of the big Frenchman for many years around the WWE circuit.
As ever the list will not please everyone. Given this is a WWE release, the likes of The Big Show, Mark Henry, Great Khali and King Kong Bundy get the nod. This is not to say that all of them don’t deserve the treatment but you’d be hard pressed to suggest that at least some of those are genuine all-time greats. Your personal definition of a “wrestling giant” might also reflect on whether you think Kevin Nash deserves a spot in this list. It’s nice to see Vader get some air-time and although he was the absolute pits in the ring, the historical value of the Haystack Calhoun piece (presented by former Wrestling magazine editor Bill Apter) adds a refreshing prospective on things.
Each piece doesn’t have time to outstay it’s welcome so it’s never less than entertaining even if you have no particular inclination towards the featured performer. Whilst a lot of the information gleamed from the “documentary” will be known to most, there are interesting sections. As, for instance, we know that Vader is unlikely to ever get his own stand-alone release, the section on him growing up and his NFL career was something I enjoyed.
And then there’s the presumably delusional Sycho Sid, who with a straight face suggests that no-one in the history of the business worked as hard as he did…but anyway.
With under two hours to profile 15 giants, this was never going to be an all-encompassing look at the lives and careers of the big men. But I enjoyed it very much. There is at least a push to make the talking heads (when required) relevant and despite the usual inconsistencies in some of the stories it seems like the WWE’s heart was in the right place when they put the list together and shot the documentary footage.
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For extra’s you get over 25 matches featuring the guys profiled. As this is a DVD entitled “True Giants” you are not expecting 25 high-flying technical classics and it can at times get depressing.
The trio of matches from the 1970’s that kick things off are interesting from an historical point of view but will be slow paced for modern fans. The Haystacks Calhoun match reinforces the fact that the only thing he had going for him was his immense size.
Ernie Ladd against Kerry Von Erich from World Class is average at best, but heated whilst two Mid-South matches featuring Andre The Giant and King Kong Bundy don’t work well outside the context of the promotion
Big John Studd takes on Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship at MSG in a match that seems like a five-star classic compared to the Kamala/Andre The Giant match that follows. A World Class squash where One Man Gang destroys Shawn Michaels is fun because it’s an early look at HBK but a September 1988 match between Andre and Randy Savage just confirms that by that point the magic had definitely gone from Andre.
The 1991 Great American Bash match pitting One Man Gang against El Gigante (and four midgets) might be one of THE worst matches I’ve EVER seen and it’s star power alone that drives the Sid & Ric Flair versus Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper match. Yokozuna gets two matches, a virtual squash against Earthquake and his King of The Ring WWF Title win against a disinterested Hulk Hogan.
El Gigante gets a second bite of the cherry as his Giant Gonzales character in a lamentable match against The Undertaker. Things get better though with a decent Razor Ramon Vs Diesel match from 1994 and a Vader Vs Flair & Arn Anderson match from 1995 (although the latter seems a strange choice when there are so many more matches that would have better showcased Vader). Sid beats Bret Hart for the WWF title, the best showcases for the Big Show they can come up with are a Hardcore match against Rhino and a US Title match against Eddie Guerrero. Mark Henry destroys Rey Mysterio and Shawn Michaels bumps around the wooden Great Khali in two matches that are better than you’d expect. Things then end with a terrible ECW Monster Mash Battle Royal and a Body Slam challenge between Henry and Show.
The blu-ray version adds profiles on four more superstars (at least a couple of whom should have been in the main feature if you ask me) and five more matches. If you have the technology they’re worth the extra few pounds.
As this is a DVD based on the Giants of wrestling this was never going to be full of five-star matches. There’s plenty on the extra’s match choice that is a chore to sit through but there’s just about enough reasonable action to leave you with enough to watch, and if I’m being honest, even some of the bad stuff is enjoyable. Couple this with an entertaining documentary that whilst short is fact packed and you have a package that might not be the best you’ll ever see but is nevertheless an enjoyable look at some of the biggest men to ever step foot in a wrestling ring.
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