WWE Ruthless Aggression
Running Time: 260 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: November 16 2020
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
Continuing the trend of releasing WWE Network documentaries on DVD, this two-disc set covers Ruthless Aggression, a series all about the time period immediately following the Attitude Era. It consists of five episodes, which are of varying quality as I will explain.
The first focuses on the background to the era, and it’s arguably the weakest of the five. Though it’s fascinating for the company to look into how its fortunes diminished following the 1998-2001 boom period, it’s nevertheless jarring for the truth to be skewed on occasion. The biggest offender has to be the suggestion that WWE changed its name from the WWF to freshen things up. As any fan watching at the time knows, it was actually due to a major legal dispute with the OTHER WWF. Had it not been for the pandas, Randy Orton would currently be a 14-time WWF Champion.
If you can ignore this aspect, though, the first episode does a decent job of discussing what led up to this post-Attitude world in WWE. The second episode fittingly covers John Cena, who was without question the biggest star of that particular generation. His rise up the ranks is handled with honesty and candour, especially from Cena himself who notes how he was on the chopping block aside from a twist of fate (not involving Matt Hardy). A few rap bars later, and Cena was on his way to defining the era known as Ruthless Aggression.
The third episode is the best one; it charts the story of Evolution and its members. This includes Triple H explaining how the faction came about, as well as the challenges they faced before finally taking true charge on-screen in late 2003. It’s interesting when watching this that despite its well-deserved place in history, Evolution as a foursome lasted less than ten months. I guess that just demonstrates how much of an impact they had (for context, The New Day lasted almost six years as a trio). This also debunks the rumour that Mark Jindrak was the original fourth member; in reality, he was being tipped to replace Batista, who had already debuted in the group. But as HHH notes here, off-screen issues led The Game to substitute the future Reflection Of Perfection for The Animal. He certainly made the right decision.
Now, the fourth episode on Brock Lesnar is a bit of a missed opportunity to me. Yes, it delves into his on-screen explosion, and it does cover his WWE departure. But it feels like there was a lot more meat on the bone here, and it’s as if they didn’t want to reopen old wounds by discussing, say, Lesnar suing WWE in 2005-2006 when they tried to stop him wrestling somewhere else. Perhaps WWE will finally tell the full Brock Lesnar story on a documentary in 2021 (assuming he returns to the company again, which I expect him to do).
Last but not least, we have the fifth episode, which discusses the brand extension. Raw and SmackDown being separate shows formed the identity of this era, especially around 2003-2005 when wrestlers on each show were kept apart aside from very occasional interactions and matches. I would have liked to see more about the writing team here, since that was where the true war was fought (it’s not like Shawn Michaels particularly cared how SmackDown were doing, for example). But I will say that this brought back fond memories, especially given how often the brands interact nowadays. Back then, it felt like a big deal if Kurt Angle invaded Raw or if Batista was drafted to SmackDown, something that is lacking in 2020.
There are future episodes to come in 2021, presumably around the time of WrestleMania 37 when fans are most likely to invest in the WWE Network. So, I’m looking forward to seeing what topics are covered then (we had teasers at the very end of the fifth episode, but no specific titles). In the meantime, I would say that this is worth an investment. If not for the slightly disappointing first episode, I would actually say that this is a must-own. As it is, though, WWE’s Ruthless Aggression era itself was a lot of fun, and the DVD recapping it was similarly entertaining.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good