Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Rock: The Most Electrifying Man In Sports-Entertainment

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 478 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: August 18 2008

Over the last few years, WWE fans have been treated to appearances by and matches involving The Rock. Each is a special occasion, and every time Rock appears, it 's memorable. And there is likely to be more to come, with the rumour mill and a number of on-screen confrontations suggesting a Rock-Triple H showdown for WrestleMania 32.

But there was a time when it seemed like Rock would never wrestle again. In fact, at one point, even a non-wrestling appearance by The Great One would be extremely unlikely. Had that remained the case, Rock's career would have only lasted from 1996 to 2004. But what a wrestling career it was, even if it hadn't extended beyond WrestleMania XX, and if Rock had indeed wrestled his last match on March 14 2004, fans would only be able to look back on Rock's greatest moments and wonder "what if" he hadn't left for Hollywood. Those harking for his return could at least have the comfort in 2008 of having a compilation of the matches and interviews which truly made Rock an icon (ironically released a few months after a then-rare Rock appearance at the 2008 WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony).

This is a basic collection of matches rather than a documentary, with an unnamed narrator introducing some bouts, and after a brief intro into Rock's WWE debut, the opening contest of the DVD is Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the IC Title from Thursday Raw Thursday in February 1997. Rocky wins, but both are still developing at this point, and more importantly fans were already on Maivia's back due to a feeling that he was being pushed down their throats, having not displayed much charisma to this point (ironic in hindsight) and having not visually earned his push. Sound familiar?

We then see the evolution of Rock into the arrogant, cocky and wise-cracking "People's Champion", and despite being a heel at this point, he was starting to garner more attention and actually become more popular. That said, the DVD chooses forgettable Raw bouts against Owen Hart and Triple H from spring/summer 1998 to showcase this rather than, say, his D-Generation X: In Your House bout against Stone Cold Steve Austin or a bout from his feud with Ken Shamrock. His breakout Ladder match with HHH at SummerSlam 1998 isn't here either, which is an odd decision. That said, the feud that made him a main eventer against Mankind is well-represented by his WWF Title win at Survivor Series and his entertaining double-header under Last Man Standing and Ladder rules. One could argue that their three most famous bouts aren't here (Mankind's first Title win, the I Quit massacre and the Empty Arena brawl), but you can't have them all. The first disc ends with Rock's first WrestleMania main event, a great scrap against Austin at WM XV.

Entering disc 2, we don't get the Backlash 1999 rematch which is questionable as Rock once considered that to be his greatest ever match. We do see Rock become a babyface (and a wildly popular one at that), and his enjoyable Raw match against a now-heel HHH under Steel Cage rules, although it suffers from the blatantly imported commentary. We then see the formation of the short-lived yet legendary Rock & Sock Connection as they face Undertaker and Big Show for the Tag Titles. A SmackDown! match against Kane is alright but feels out of place on a best-of compilation. We do then get a major highlight of Rock's career, his WWF Title win against HHH at Backlash 2000 in a match that perfectly encapsulates the popularity and variety of the WWF Attitude Era. This is thr fourth HHH match on the release, but it's good to see the evolution (no pun intended) for both, from Maivia and the blueblood to The Nation vs. DX to Rock vs. HHH as future main eventers to their legendary headline rivalry. And as stated earlier, one more clash between the two may happen at next year's WrestleMania.

We don't get the Rock-HHH Iron Man bout which some may dislike, but it would have taken up a chunk of disc space and, to be fair, is more associated with HHH than Rock. We do see a forgotten Raw bout between Rock and Shane McMahon in a cage which is far more entertaining than you may think it would be, and a classic WWF Title win over Kurt Angle at No Way Out 2001 (arguably the match that truly got Angle noticed as one of the best wrestlers in the world). Disc two concludes with Rock's WCW Title win over Booker T at SummerSlam 2001 and a simple but very entertaining Undisputed Title clash against Chris Jericho at Royal Rumble 2002. More notable absentees can be indetified towards the end of this chapter of the DVD, with no more 2000 matches, no Rock-Austin from WM X-Seven and, to a lesser extent, Rock-Y2J from No Mercy 2001. It's also worth noting thar, at this point, Rock has taken the early strides into Hollywood which would ultimately turn into a hugely successful movie career.

Disc 3 begins, rightly, with the unforgettable Rock-Hollywood Hulk Hogan bout at WM X8. Another wise inclusion is what, to me, is the greatest 3-way ever between Rock, Angle and The Undertaker at Vengeance 2002. A short Raw bout against Eddie Guerrero seems to be here just to have Latino Heat featured. The final match is a very good one as Rock finally beats Austin at WM XIX in what, to date, is Stone Cold's last stand. But it isn't the end of the DVD, as we then get more than a dozen of Rock's most memorable promos. I won't spoil the best lines so I will simply say that all are worth watching, and some are truly hilarious. That said, there are two more odd omissions here: the lack of the This Is Your Life segment from September 1999, and neither of the Rock Concerts which were far more entertaining than you may imagine at first glance.

Considering that at this point Rock was seen as being unlikely to return, not even for a documentary on his career (which would come a few years later), the best way to have achieved a best-of for The Rock would have been to have added an extra disc, taken out the pointless TV bouts and included the aforementioned essential PPV bouts, and let the final disc be solely for promos which could have seen Rock's other classic interviews and segments been included. This DVD actually emphasises that contrary to popular opinion, Rock could put on a great wrestling match against a variety of opponents, as evidenced by the bouts here and the number of great clashes not here, as well as other five-star showdowns which Rock contributed to (such as the 6-way Hell In A Cell match from Armageddon 2o00).

Although we have had this DVD and the documentary prior to WrestleMania XXVIII, it is entirely feasible that one day we will get the true "Best Of" for The Rock, which could have the aforementioned discs and matches/promos split, as well as including Rock's return bouts involving John Cena and CM Punk, and the WM 32 scrap with HHH if it does happen. In the meantime, however, this still stands as a very entertaining look back at one of the greatest and most popular WWE wrestlers of all-time. It is undoubtedly incomplete, but as stated we may get the true ultimate Rock collection someday. And even if we don't, it's nice to know that unlike when this DVD was originally released, it is likely that one day we will at least get to see The Rock lay the smack down one more time.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 - Excellent

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