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As I mentioned in my review of Forever Hardcore a few days ago, I was a huge fan of professional wrestling during my teen years. ECW was my true love, but make no mistake about it: Monday was "wrestling night", and without fail, you would find me switching back and forth from Raw to Nitro for three hours each and every week. Even the most casual of fans had their favorites in both organizations, and kicking back to see what was going to happen and who was going to show up was more often than not more entertaining than anything else on TV. Of course, we all know what happened: WCW was bleeding money, the powers that be sold the company to Vince McMahon's WWE who promptly bought a few of the wrestler's contracts before shutting the entire organization down, and that was that. A wrestling company that was just shy of being twenty years old was gone, and we were left with but one televised wrestling promotion in the United States. This is the story of that company.
Review by Chad
Added: August 23, 2009
The Rise and Fall of WCW is a three-disc set that includes this feature-length documentary as well as two discs of bonus matches. The documentary is what I will be focusing on in this review, but for those curious souls who want to know what else they will be getting for their buck, the matches include:
Ric Flair vs. Magnum T.A. ($1,000 Challenge Match)
NWA World Championship Wrestling - June 15, 1985
Sting, Lex Luger & Barry Windham vs. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard
The Main Event - April 3, 1988
Dusty Rhodes vs. Barry Windham (United States Championship Match)
Great American Bash - July 10, 1988
Ric Flair vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat (NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Chi-Town Rumble - February 20, 1989
The Rock 'n' Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express
Wrestle War - February 25, 1990
The Midnight Express vs. The Southern Boys (NWA United States Tag Team Championship Match)
Great American Bash - July 7, 1990
The Steiner Brothers vs. Sting & Lex Luger (WCW World Tag Team Championship Match)
SuperBrawl - May 19, 1991
Sting vs. Big Van Vader (WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Great American Bash - July 12, 1992
Rick Rude vs. Sting (WCW International World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Spring Stampede - April 17, 1994
Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan (WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Bash at the Beach - July 17, 1994
Ric Flair vs. The Giant (WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Nitro - April 29, 1996
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko (WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match)
Clash of the Champions XXXIII - August 15, 1996
Team WCW (Sting, Lex Luger, Ric Fair & Arn Anderson) vs. Team N.W.O. (Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall & ???) (War Games Match)
Fall Brawl - September 15, 1996
Syxx vs. Eddie Guerrero (United States Championship Ladder Match)
Souled Out - January 25, 1997
Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko (United States Championship No Disqualification Match)
Uncensored - March 16, 1997
Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera (WCW Cruiserweight Championship Title vs. Mask Match)
SuperBrawl VIII - February 22, 1998
The Steiner Brothers vs. The Outsiders (WCW Unified World Tag Team Championship Match)
SuperBrawl VIII - February 22, 1998
Diamond Dallas Page & Karl Malone vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman
Bash at the Beach - July 12, 1998
Goldberg vs. Diamond Dallas Page (WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Halloween Havoc - October 25, 1998
Booker T vs. Lance Storm (WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Nitro - August 7, 2000
That is one hell of a lineup of matches, and even though just about every fan of the organization will be disappointed that this match or that wrestler wasn't featured, nobody can claim that this material doesn't bring back a bucket-load of memories. I'm not going to go through and apply a star rating to each and every one of the matches (hit up the wrestling sites for that sort of thing), but I will say that I loved sitting through the lineup.
So, onwards to the meat and potatoes of the set: the documentary. I'm going to admit right up front that I was a little nervous about this set, moreso than with any other DVD release in WWE's history. Why? Well, the "Monday Night Wars" between WWE and WCW got downright nasty at times with both companies attempting to humiliate the other on a near-weekly basis, and it was almost a rite of passage for each wrestler who jumped ship from one organization to the other to debut with a five-minute promo blasting their former employer. Oh, and did I mention that one of those companies is now releasing a documentary about the history of the other... a company that is also known for having a revisionist memory?
Yes, I think that most readers will see where an issue could arise in this situation, but surprisingly, that was not the case. The Rise and Fall of WCW is a fair and mostly accurate look at the history of the company, starting back in the early eighties with the Jim Crockett days and ending with the final WCW broadcast on March 26, 2001. How did we go from the NWA affiliate known as Jim Crockett Promotions to an organization owned by Ted Turner that would eventually give WWE a run for their money? Where did Ted Turner come into play to begin with? What were the first signs that the company was in trouble, and what was the straw that broke the camel's back and led to the downfall of a much-beloved promotion? These questions and many more are answered here.
As is often the case with releases of this nature, the stories are told by the men who were there. Ric Flair is featured prominently throughout the running time, as is Dusty Rhodes, Bill Watts, Jim Crockett, Bill Goldberg (which is shocking considering the things he has said about the company), and numerous other people who were instrumental in the company's history. Eric Bischoff also gives his thoughts on a handful of topics, but this is recycled footage from WWE's earlier Monday Night Wars release as Bischoff wanted nothing to do with this documentary.
The vast majority of this documentary is fair and accurate, but there were a few shots taken that I personally felt were out of place. Take, for example, the little stab about Jeff Jarrett "not being able to draw a dime." You would expect that sort of remark to be made about someone relevant to the documentary at hand, but this comment seemed completely out of place... until you stop to consider that Jarrett founded TNA, the wrestling company that is currently competing with WWE. I can fully understand not promoting your competition, but taking unnecessary shots at individuals who have minimal relevance to the current discussion is a bit childish.
Aside from that, my only true complaint is that it wasn't nearly as in-depth as the similar Rise & Fall of ECW, but those are some high standards to live up to considering that that was easily one of WWE's best DVD releases of all time. Of course, one could say that a complete history of WCW would require much more time than what ECW's story needed, but that doesn't change the way that I felt when the credits rolled. Regardless, it's still a damned fine retelling of the history of this company, and anyone who lived through "The Monday Night Wars" or just want to see what WCW was like would undoubtedly enjoy the hell out of this release. 8/10.