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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 380 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 23 2007
This DVD set on The Most Powerful Families In Wrestling is a curious one. Released in 2007, it has a documentary that quickly covers the legacies of many wrestling families, backed up by a variety of talking head comments, and features over a dozen bonus matches involving members of said families. It is entertaining enough from a visual standpoint, but there are several aspects to this twin-disc DVD that are worth questioning.
Hosted by Carlito, the documentary lasts around 2 1/2 hours and covers the following wrestling families: Orton, Guerrero, McMahon, Gagne, Von Erich, Anoai, Hart, Vachon, Colon, Rougeau, Graham, Windham, Brisco, Funk and Maivia/Johnson. Strangely, the Hennig family is referenced on the DVD sleeve but isn’t involved in the documentary, despite one of the extra bouts featuring Curt with Larry getting involved. That aside, the other downside is that some families receive a lot more air time than others. That is understandable (e.g. the Harts were a very large and very famous family), but it means that the families and/or performers who normally do not receive attention are still barely referenced; scratching the surface doesn’t even cover it for those groups.
Other minor flaws were how Carlito is in character in the links but is not in character during his Colon-related comments, especially odd since the latter were clearly recorded when Carlito recorded his presenting links; and whilst we get a wealth of talking heads (including The Rock in the only DVD comments he recorded during the 7-year stretch he had away from WWE), we don’t get comments from certain heavyweights, most notably Bret Hart (WWE could have at least reused the discussion of his family from Bret’s 2005 DVD for this release). On the whole, though, the documentary is perfectly acceptable. It rushes through a ton of wrestling history, but at the same time it still covers a lot of ground and does a good job of quickly summarising the impact of each family in wrestling. It even has some unexpected bonus chapters, most humorously the one that looks at those who were classed as wrestling siblings, but really weren’t.
This would have been better had it been produced a few years later or in the modern era; had there been a few years’ delay to this project, we could have seen more examination of the Samoan/Anoai lineage (with the likes of Roman Reigns and Manu), DiBiase (Ted Sr and Ted Jr) and Rhodes, with Cody debuting the very year this DVD was released (and by the way, why weren’t the Rhodes family covered in the documentary anyway? Dusty and Dustin were more than worthy of being featured, and are in a bonus match as well). Still, I enjoyed the documentary, and I would watch it again in future, although it isn’t exactly the strongest that WWE has produced.
The extras are a mixed bag. We get a few bonus comments (Deuce a.k.a. Jimmy Snuka Jr. breaks down when discussing the impact that his father had on him), as well as 16 additional matches which cover a huge scope of wrestling history; the bouts come from the WWWF, WWF and WWE, as well as the NWA, AWA, WCCW, WCW and ECW. However, many of them, particularly the early matches, really aren’t that interesting at all. A tag match involving Chief Jay Strongbow and Peter Maivia is deathly dull, although it features the bizarrely entertaining sight of Maivia giving an impromptu sing-song. A doubles bout with the Ortons is better but still nowhere near a must-see. A six-man tag involving the Von Erichs and two rings is strange as we have two bouts going on in each ring, with the illegal partner standing between rings; it’s a cool twist, but without a split screen, it’s impossible to follow, and really does feel pointless in the end. A tag match involving Blackjack Mulligan and Barry Windham isn’t great, but feels exciting in comparison to the earlier bouts on the DVD.
We get the Briscos vs. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood tag bout from Starrcade 1983 seen on the Steamboat DVD, as well as the closing moments of an AWA Title clash between Curt Hennig and Greg Gagne. Lack of context is definitely an issue in the latter case; I believe that Greg was never AWA Champion, but the finish and resultant scenes would have you think otherwise. An AWA six-man sees the original Guerreros team up in the most vibrant match of the DVD thus far, although some spots are not completely well-executed and may have you looking through your fingers. A WWF tag bout between the Bushwhackers and the Rougeaus is fun and typical of that era in the company. Another tag bout involving the Windham name (Barry and Kendall) against Lex Luger and Michael Hayes is short and has an abrupt ending, but the unpredictable nature of the conclusion makes it entertaining viewing.
An eight-man tag from Survivor Series 1993 pitting the Harts against Shawn Michaels and The Knights (it was meant to be Jerry Lawler but legal problems took over, meaning that the Knights have no relevance and HBK is a clear substitute for the King, albeit a very good one) is well-executed but not very interesting. However, the show is stolen by Bobby Heenan on commentary: whilst Royal Rumble 1992 is rightly regarded as Heenan’s finest hour, this match from the 1993 Series, to me, is The Brain’s best ever performance, purely from an entertainment standpoint: he makes literally dozens of genuinely funny jokes and, as this is a long match, the one-liners just keep on coming. This was actually Heenan’s last WWF PPV on commentary, but what a way it was to go out; this phenomenal comedy performance was the highlight of that event, and of this DVD.
We also get a chaotic ECW tag match pitting The Funks against Public Enemy which goes haywire and features the insane spot of Rocco Rock being hung by the feet upside down from a balcony. This actually comes after a WCW tag bout despite the then-Eastern Championship Wrestling doubles match being held a few months prior to the in-ring return of Dusty Rhodes, teaming with Dustin against Terry Funk (who appeared for both groups in 1994) and Bunkhouse Buck. Two bouts from 1997 come next: Rocky Maivia vs. The Sultan is okay if you ignore the fact that it was at a WrestleMania which weakens it, although we do get a commentary quip from Jerry Lawler that is tasteless yet funny (I won’t repeat it here); and then a tag pitting Ivan and Scott Putski against Lawler and Brian Christopher, which is fine for what it is.
The last two matches are the most exciting: Los Guerreros vs. The World’s Greatest Tag Team from a 2003 SmackDown! is great, even if Charlie Haas is nearly paralysed towards the end; and The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton from SummerSlam 2005 is a forgotten gem and a reminder that their rivalry is overlooked when discussing memorable feuds from the last decade in WWE. The overall match selection is intriguing: there are no classic matches nor is anything must-see, but the sheer wealth of archive footage and the span of promotions, performers and eras make it a pretty good line-up of bonus bouts all the same, and the vast majority of these matches are not available on other DVDs.
To conclude, The Most Powerful Families In Wrestling is a DVD that I consider to be worth having but not essential. The documentary is not a classic, but is nice filler and provides plenty of scenes documenting histories of families (of course), rivalries and in some cases companies in wrestling history. The bonus bouts are of the nature that you would watch just the once, but are worth seeing nonetheless. And the small number of additional interview spots are fine. Don’t go out of your way trying to find this DVD on eBay, but if you do come across this two-disc set, I suggest that you give it the old college try; if you don’t expect too much from it, you won’t be disappointed.
Overall Rating: 6.5/10 – Okay