Thursday, 15 September 2016

WWE Tagged Classics: Austin 3:16 Uncensored, Three Faces Of Foley,Chris Jericho: Break Down The Walls and Kurt Angle: It's True

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 252 Minutes
Certificate: 18
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: September 17 2012

One of the final entries in Silver Vision's much-loved Tagged Classics series was its most packed release yet, as no less than four retro documentaries, all from the Attitude Era, were brought together on one set. The quality varies between each one, but there's a hell of a lot of entertainment to be found across the quartet of Attitude content.

Beginning with Austin 3:16 Uncensored, this 1998 VHS was the second release on Austin's career, and is based around a sit-down with Jim Ross. Austin is largely in character here, although his kayfabe answers are hardly insulting to one's intelligence. As the title suggests, Austin's language - which includes ass, b--ch, b-----d, bulls--t and one use of motherf--ker - go entirely uncensored, which was actually a selling point in 1998 (and would be in the modern PG climate, to be fair). The hour-long feature only recaps Austin's adventures from the first four months of 1998, but this does include his pre-Royal Rumble Stunners on much of the roster, his Rumble win, his confrontations with Mike Tyson, his showing in the eight-man tag at No Way Out Of Texas, his first WWF Title win at WrestleMania XIV and his clash with Dude Love from Unforgiven of that year.

This is a really entertaining profile of Stone Cold during part of his peak on top of a red-hot WWF. The downside is the short timeline; had this extended to cover Over The Edge (where Austin and Dude had a classic rematch), more of his incredible feud with Vince McMahon, his rivalry with The Undertaker and more, this would have been a fantastic feature. As it is, it's a fun snapshot of Austin's reign atop the WWF, but you would need to watch other Stone Cold features for the full story of his rise to the top and the reason why he became so damn popular. It is fun, though, to hear Austin say partially in character, and probably partially in truth, that he disliked how Shawn Michaels would brag about not laying down for anybody.

Three Faces Of Foley is more comprehensive in showcasing Mick Foley's highlights thus far in the WWF, as of summer 1998. They include Mankind's initial feud with The Undertaker, the in-depth interviews between Mankind and Jim Ross from 1997, Dude Love teaming with Austin in the summer of 1997, Cactus Jack's WWF debut against Hunter Hearst Helmsley and the infamous Hell In A Cell war with The Undertaker from King Of The Ring 1998.

Foley explains each situation out of character in a conversational manner to The Hardy Boyz, who at that point had yet to make their mark in the WWF. There's also trivia notes and funny stories, such as one from Ric Flair's 40th birthday party (Foley jokes how Flair was already 40 back then, which would have been 1989). There's also clips from the brutal King Of The Death Matches tournament, which Cactus participated in (and won) in Japan in 1995.

The Foley feature is a good one, but even better is the Chris Jericho documentary, Break Down The Walls. An early example of the in-depth career retrospectives that are now a WWF/WWE trademark, this covers Jericho's first year with the company in great detail: his iconic debut in August 1999 (and the story behind his Millennium Clock), his Jerichoholics, his feud with Chyna, his battles with Chris Benoit and his great matches opposite Triple H from 2000. As well as comments from other wrestlers (such as The Rock, Edge and Christian and Triple H), we get a brief history of his pre-WWF adventures (although references to his WCW run are omitted), a tour of his house and a feature on his band Fozzy (at this point, Jericho was maintaining the gag that he had Fozzy frontman Moongoose McQueen were different people, despite the obvious similarities).

This is an excellent documentary for Jerichoholics, and is good enough that it would probably convert non-fans into Jerichoholics. Fortunately for Chris, his star would only continue to rise in the future, and many years later, we would get an even better documentary on Jericho's career in 2010 (Breaking The Code).

Lastly, It's True focuses on Kurt Angle's first year in the WWF. We see his introductory vignettes, his debut against Shawn Stasiak from Survivor Series 1999, his European and Intercontinental Title wins, his 2000 King Of The Ring triumph, his love triangle storyline with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon and his first WWF Title win over The Rock at No Mercy 2000.

Unfortunately, this is the weakest of the four features here, because it's produced from an in-character standpoint. Angle maintains his on-screen persona rather than acting normal, and the contributors maintain that he's arrogant, unlikeable, nerdy etc. A few minutes of this approach may have been sufficient, but a full hour is too much; and whereas Austin's real-life character mirrored his on-screen persona (making the kayfabe approach more acceptable for his feature), Angle on TV and Angle off TV are (mostly) very different. This is still enjoyable, but not as much as the other profiles on this set. Making matters worse, the WWF/WWE has yet to release another Angle compilation (although TNA did release Kurt Angle: Champion in 2008).

Overall, though, this four-part Tagged Classic is a great trek through the Attitude Era, and at times a fascinating glimpse into how much the WWF/WWE, and their home video/DVD releases, have changed since 1998-2000. If WWE ever allows John Cena to say "motherf--ker" completely uncensored on a future DVD, I will be very surprised (but totally amused, nonetheless). If you loved the Attitude Era, you'll really enjoy this two-disc set.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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