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WWE DVDs and Not So Special Features, July 9, 2003
Guest_TSMAdmin_*
post Oct 6 2003, 07:44 PM
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Chave Smith says...

Great column as usuel, blah blah, blah. One thing though. Don't you think the whole use of Mr. America as a face is shooting WWE's business in the foot. American business is declining rapidly in WWE, and they're having to turn to foreign markets (eg Britain, South Africa, Australia) for a short tour to make quick bucks.At this point, more than any other in the last decade, Vince needs Foraign fans to supplement his home business. So what does he do? Resorts to using a cheap patriotic gimmick for Smackdowns most featured face. Sure, that'll get a cheap pop from the marks in the arenas, but ultimately no-one outside the USA is going to give a fuck about it. You're not American (I'm asuming you're a fellow Brit). Does Vince honestly expect you to root for Hogan simply because he's wearing a poncey patriotic outfit? Now, I appreciate that Vince just sees the foreign market as a guaranteed quick buck, and maybe it's right. A few people I know still watch wrestling on a regular basis, and whenever Mr America comes on T.V. most of them turn over, most don't turn back. Not because they're xenophobes or anything, but it's so ridiculously stupid that it's painfull to watch: it hasn't even got he camp patriotism of "He's American, I'm American - fuck it I'll root for him".

I could go on, but you get the point, and I'm sure that if you wished to you could
express it better than me. Keep up the good work bro,



There's two main things I want to comment on here. Firstly, the idea that "he's American – I'm going to root for him" has been alive forever, and exists in other countries too – Bret Hart and Jericho are always faces in Canada. Just look at last night's Raw, for proof of this. (Thanks to Scorch, Astro and Jere for the PBP, by the way.) The British Bulldog was always over in England, and I suppose William Regal is too, to a lesser extent. Which leads me into point two:

The whole "he's French... BOOOO!" thing is bullshit, and should have died out long ago. There are people who are paid to sit in an office and make these things up, and what do they come out with? Two guys that are French, and wear berets, and sing the French national anthem. Bra-fucking-vo. Seriously, didn't that shit stop being cool in the 80s? I'm supposed to hate them JUST because they are French? Them being nationalistic makes them heels, whereas Bradshaw or J.R. coming out with "God Bless America" constantly makes them faces? Just because J.R. shills America, that makes it different? Hell, this isn't a knock on America, or American pride, but goddamnit that's stupid.

Caption Contest

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"my head is too small for my body"

-Ewen Noble

"If I pose like Triple H as much as possible, can I keep my job?"

- Dames

Column


This week's column is a look at one area of WWE that is rarely touched on, and it is DVD releases. WWE has two types of DVDs that are released: Pay Per Views, and individual wrestler compilations. This is nothing new, as they have been releasing both on video for over ten years. However, the big difference between video and DVD (other than picture quality) is the amount of data that can be stored. DVDs are also structured in a way that allows you to skip to any part of it, meaning that extra features (other than the main show) are regularly included.

However, WWE DVDs usually lack extras of any substance. Taking a two random WWE DVDs from my collection reveals the following:

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Royal Rumble 2003

Nine bonus Interviews
Seven Promos
Revolutionary Royal Rumble TV Spot
Three Undertaker returns videos
Royal Rumble moments
Bonus match from 1.13.03 Raw (RVD vs. Batista vs. Kane vs. Jericho – Over the Top Rope Challenge)

Survivor Series 2001

Heyman is fired segment from Raw
Vince vs. Steph / Shane segment from Raw
Kiss my ass club segment from Raw
Flair's debut segment from Raw
A day in the life of Edge

Now, these are both pretty uninspiring. Since I got my DVD player, I've been a real snob about extras, and I suspect I'm not the only person that gets disappointed with movies that don't have extras. In fact, if I had to choose between two movies that I half-want, I would ALWAYS pick the one with more extras.

Simply, WWE doesn't live up to what they could achieve with DVD extras. I'll prove this, by giving an example of completely the opposite. Triple H's "The Game" is a standard single wrestler DVD, featuring an hour or so of highlights of their career, plus a bunch of bonus matches. Most of these DVDs are fairly skippable, but this one became legendary because of one of the bonus matches: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat, from the Wrestlewar 1989 PPV. This is generally agreed upon as a ***** classic (and yes, star ratings are subjective. If you disagree with the ***** rating, good for you), and made the DVD an instant "must have".

How many other WWE DVDs are "must have"s because of an extra match that's on there? I can think of very few others. The standard set of extras for a WWE PPV is:

HeAT from before the show
A bunch of interviews
Some promos
Maybe a match
Segment from Raw the following night
Segment from Confidential

Now none of those things are really worth anything. Okay, so sometimes there's a little angle development on pre PPV HeAT (Nathan Jones being removed from Wrestlemania, or Chief Morley making himself guest referee springs to mind), but things generally go on there because they aren't important enough for the PPV, or are designed to get you to buy the show. Unsurprisingly, I'VE ALREADY BOUGHT THE DVD. I don't need to be told how great the show is.

The interviews too are all really generic – if a wrestler wins, they either call the other wrestler a pussy, or put them over as a tough challenge. If they lost, then it was "lucky", and they'll "get you next time". Thrilling stuff.

Confidential gets crap ratings for a reason: Nobody wants to see Confidential content. Why have something that few people want to see as a selling point? It doesn't make sense.

The bonus matches fall into one of two categories: Firstly, there's a recent match. Secondly, you get a "classic" match. The recent matches are usually throwaway ones from HeAT, but occasionally there's one from Raw that fits in with the show (such as the "Over the Top Rope" match on the Rumble DVD).

Classic matches are rarely classic in the good sense – they are just old. The Judgment Day 2003 PPV contains the stretcher match between Andre the Giant and Killer Kahn, which compliments the Lesnar / Big Show stretcher match main event. However, the Andre / Kahn match is hardly a "must have" match, and while it is a nice extra, it shouldn't be the sole bonus match.

As I talked about earlier, a BIG bonus match can turn an average show into one that you can't miss. If the Judgment Day DVD had contained the Flair / Steamboat match, instead of the Triple H DVD, then it would have changed that into a "must buy" DVD. I don't even think that the matches should be smark favourites, either. A match like Shawn vs. Diesel would work on the Backlash DVD because it fits in with the storyline at the time. WWE have the entire tape libraries of four American federations, yet (as has been stated many times) they make absolutely no use of them.

Segments from Raw the following night are a reasonable way of showing the fallout from the PPV, although there are some pretty poor choice of clips. For example, Wrestlemania XIX includes Goldberg's debut. Okay, yeah, Goldberg's arrival in WWE is a pretty major event and it's nice to have on DVD. But wouldn't it make more sense to include it on the Backlash DVD, which is where Goldberg has his debut match?

One thing that was included a couple of times was commentaries. Wrestlemania 15 featured the Rock / J.R and Austin / J.R commentating on their match. While the commentaries were nothing special, imagine the Rock doing something like that for his match against Hogan at No Way Out, or Chris Jericho commentating at Mania. They would be absolutely gold to listen to, as they justify their cheating and run their opponent down.

Overall, there has been nothing that makes me want to buy the PPV. Remember I live in England, so two thirds of them are shown for free here anyway, and that any DVD I buy I will have already seen. This is perhaps another reason why WWE should include better extras – people that will buy it have already seen it, or decided not to buy it on PPV. Sure there are exceptions, but if I'd chosen not to buy a PPV then there'd better be a damn good reason for me to want to own it forever. And, well, there isn't. Apart from wanting the one or two good matches on a PPV, I have no reason to buy them. If there were more extras, I'd have no problem shelling out the money, but right now, I rarely buy them.




So what would I include? Firstly, I'd make every PPV a double disk set. This instantly makes them more appealing, and gives them a sense of meaning something, instead of being the shitty throwaway PPVs that they are. This gives you a whole four hours or so of extras to include.

Firstly, I'd include EVERY relevant segment on Raw or SmackDown! to each feud. Have a "timeline" or something for the feud, showing what happened on each show leading up to the event. Include everything – interviews, assaults, matches, run-ins. This allows you to go back literally years after the event and be able to understand why people were fighting, in a lot more detail than the three minute video packages manage.

Secondly, I like the idea of showing the "fallout" from the PPV – perhaps some clipped footage of what happens the next night, briefly wrapping up any loose ends from the PPV, such as the non-decisive ending in the Triple H / Kevin Nash match at Judgment Day.

Thirdly, make the video packages independently viewable. The video packages are one of the few things that WWE have consistently done well over the years, and being able to view them would be cool. Making a short wrap-up of the show would be an excellent addition too. Hell, they manage to make one for Wrestlemania every year – and they make it throughout the show. How long can it really take to put something like that together once a month?

Fourthly, there must be some old footage that is relevant to the show – the Andre the Giant vs. Killer Kahn Stretcher match would fit well here, as would maybe including another stretcher match. RVD and Sabu had one in ECW, and I'm sure there are lots of other ones that could be included, either clipped or full. Or if a wrestler turns heel, some old footage of them as a heel would fit in well – for example, No Way Out could include some of the Rock's arrogant stuff from the Nation of Domination. Since the character is pretty much the same, the old footage would fit in well. And yeah, I know The Rock didn't turn heel AT No Way Out, but the point still stands.

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We all know that the Raw X show was a major disappointment. So when they released it on DVD, surely they'd load up on extras... right? Of course they didn't. What was included was:

- RAW 10th Anniversary Recap on Smackdown! - (01/16/03)
- The Making of "RAW on the Roof".
- Behind The Scenes: RAW's 10th Anniversary Spectacular.
- Non-Televised Awards:
"Now That's an Entrance!"
"Lasting Impression".
- Full-Match Extra: Main Event from first RAW (11/01/93): Undertaker vs. Damian Demento
- Full-Match Extra: "RAW Match of the Decade": (07/10/02): TLC 2002 (Kane vs. Bubba Dudley & Spike Dudley vs. Chris Jericho & Christian vs. Jeff Hardy & Rob Van Dam)

As for what I'd include, I'd go with the following:

Firstly, since the "Raw X" name is damaged by the show being awful, it would make sense not to sell the DVD around that. Having it as a celebration of ten years of Raw would be more effective, as well as making it stand out from the other "TV shows that are put on DVD" that WWE put out, as well as removing the stigma of that show. The show should be on the DVD, but the DVD shouldn’t be on the show, if you see what I mean.

Since Raw matches rarely last for more than 20 minutes, they could show a variety of matches, showcasing some of the workers that have been on Raw. I won't post a list of which matches I would include, as it inevitably leads to a discussion along the lines of "how could you include X but not Y?" But yeah, there's a LOT of material to work with there.

They could also throw in some interview footage. There's got to be a million Austin and McMahon segments that could be included, as well as some wrestler debuts, retirements, etc.

And I'm surprised that they only included one match from the first episode of Raw. Since it was only running for an hour back then, there's no reason why the whole show couldn't be included. Sure the wrestling would suck, but the history behind it would make it worthwhile.

If that DVD was offered to me, I'd buy it. Hell, I'm still looking for a copy of the Hogan DVD, simply because of the sheer amount of matches on it (that was a hint). Anyway, as it stands, I'll never buy Raw X on DVD.

So overall, I like owning DVD quality PPVs, but other than the picture quality, there's nothing that inspires me to buy them over tapes. Wrestler compilations, on the other hand, tend to feature some great matches, such as Shawn's (which has the awesome Hell in a Cell 1, and his ladder match from Wrestlemania X.) These are worth my money, because of the quality. An Andre the Giant match isn't enough to make me want to buy Judgment Day; a series of Shawn's most famous matches is enough to make me want to buy his DVD.

Quantity is never preferable over quality, but WWE DVDs have neither. And God knows, they need some kind of reason for us to spend money on their DVDs, because I'm sure as hell not buying them for the actual PPV.

Please, don't think that I think that this is a major deal – it isn't. But it is something that bugs me, and I'd love to see WWE using DVDs to their full potential.




Outro

No caption contest this week, but there's something equally as fun. Websites like Fark run contests where you use Photoshop to manipulate a photo. Here, though, I'm asking you to use Paint to finish this picture off:

***image1:center***

Send your entries to the e-mail address below, and the best (and the worst) will be shown next week. Mainly the worst. There's no restrictions on what you put up there, and for the people that e-mail me and ask: I make a final decision on what to include just before I upload my column. So if you don't see the results to a contest up, then it's still safe to enter.

One more thing: I'll be interviewing WWE wrestler Rodney Mack over AIM this week. If anyone would like to pretend to be Mack, then let me know.

Until next time...

Nik
[email protected]
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