This is one of WWE’s most eagerly anticipated and intriguing DVD releases of the year, and it certainly doesn’t prove to be a let down. Love him or hate him, Vince McMahon Junior is the greatest wrestling promoter of the modern era, and is a fascinating subject to examine. There are so many sides to him, both public and private, that have intrigued people for decades. This ‘many sides’ theme is utilised by WWE themselves, in promoting this DVD set. The main feature of this DVD set is the standard documentary on the main subject – in this case, Vince McMahon – and this programme clocks in at just over 2 hours. It really is a strange hybrid of a production. Part autobiographical. Part refreshingly honest. Part an outright pack of lies. Part a defence of WWE, and everything it stands and strives for.
Length: 7 hours 45 minutes Approx.
Disc 1 Chapters: 29 chapters. These are entitled:
- The Announcer;
- The Promoter;
- The Monday Night War;
- The Birth of Mr McMahon;
- The Evolution of Mr McMahon;
- Austin vs McMahon;
- The Athlete;
- The Chairman;
- The Philanthropist;
- The Risktaker;
- Triple H/Stephanie Dating;
- Dysfunctional Family;
- The Ladies Man;
- The Competitor;
- Father vs Son;
- Kiss My Ass Club;
- Brand Extension;
- Vince McMahon and Stone Cold’s Volatile Relationship;
- Hire’s Eric Bischoff Back;
- The Bully;
- Father vs Daughter;
- Leading by Example;
- You’re Fired;
- The Patriot;
- The Grandfather.
Disc 1 Extras: Fifteen extras, entitled:
- I enjoy the fight;
- No Vacation;
- Regal’s Rehab;
- The Sleeping Giant;
- I’m the boss;
- I remember my dad.
- The Motorcycle;
- WWE Championship;
- 9/11 Smackdown! Taping;
- Stuck in his ways;
- The Walk.
- Slammy’s ‘Stand Back’;
- VKM Training Package.
- Mr McMahon vs Stone Cold Steve Austin – Raw (April 13th, 1998).
Disc 2 Matches: Eight matches are included. These are entitled:
- Steel Cage Match:
Mr McMahon vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
St Valentine’s Day Massacre – 14/2/99
- Handicap Ladder Match:
Mr McMahon & Shane McMahon vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
King of the Ring – 27/6/99
- No Holds Barred Match:
Mr McMahon vs Triple H
Armageddon – 12/12/99
- Streetfight Match:
Mr McMahon vs Shane McMahon
Wrestlemania X-7 – 1/4/01
- Streetfight Match:
Mr McMahon vs Ric Flair
Royal Rumble – 20/1/02
- Mr McMahon vs Hulk Hogan
Wrestlemania XIX – 30/3/03
- ‘I Quit’ Match:
Mr McMahon vs Stephanie McMahon
No Mercy – 19/10/03
- Buried Alive Match:
Mr McMahon vs The Undertaker
Survivor Series – 16/11/03
On-air contributors include: Eric Bischoff; Greg Gagne; Sgt Slaughter; JBL; Jimmy Hart; Shane McMahon; Triple H; Jim Ross; Jerry Lawler; Bruce Pritchard; Edge; Stephanie McMahon; Stone Cold Steve Austin; Kurt Angle; Big Show; William Regal; Shawn Michaels; John Cena; Linda McMahon; Joey Styles; Trish Stratus; The Rock; Dusty Rhodes; Pat Patterson; Gene Okerlund and Les Thatcher.
Highs & Lows
It begins by explaining the McMahon family legacy – how Vince’s grandfather, Jesse, and Vince’s father, Vince Senior, were both successful boxing and wrestling promoters in the North East of America. There is an explanation of how Vince Junior came to work as an announcer for his father, replacing the existing announcer when he tried to hold up Vince Senior for more money. This led into a segment on Vince Junior himself becoming a promoter, and the head of the WWF. There was no mention at all as to how Vince succeeded his father, and how his father never approved of his ‘national expansion’ plans. Vince’s ruthless nature was discussed, and Greg Gagne (current WWE employee, and son of former AWA promoter, Verne Gagne, also current WWE Hall of Famer) mentioned how Vince basically put his father out of business. This was true, it did happen, but the AWA didn’t fold until 1990, so they did struggle on for 6 years after Vince and Verne had an ill-fated serious of negotiations over the purchase of the AWA.
There was a laughable rewriting of history when it came to the WWF being on Superstation TBS for a short period in 1984, after Vince bought Georgia Championship Wrestling. Shane McMahon defended his father, saying that WWF achieved good ratings for the station, and only sold the promotion (and timeslot) to Jim Crockett, as they felt they couldn’t work with Ted Turner. The reality of the situation was that WWF on TBS completely bombed, ratings wise, and amongst the hardcore wrestling fans at that time, there was a huge outcry over Georgia Championship Wrestling’s studio-based wrestling show being dumped in favour of the WWF’s arena show tapes. The outcry was so great that WWF were basically forced to sell to the Crockett’s after Turner became involved and demanded WWF start producing a studio-wrestling show every Saturday (which WWF had no intention of doing, as it would be too much hassle for them).
These first two segments took 15 minutes or so to be discussed and featured. Bizarrely, we were then fast-forwarded through an incredible eleven years like they simply hadn’t happened (ludicrously, there was no mention of Vince’s creation of Wrestlemania, WWF pay-per-views, Saturday Nights Main Event on NBC, Hulkamania, and Rock & Wrestling; or of the early 1990’s downturn in popularity, the steroid scandal, the departure of Hulk Hogan and other big names, or of the steroid trial itself). The next segment up was the Monday Nights Wars. This was basically a seven minute abbreviated version of the WWE DVD release of the same name. Little Vince McMahon with no money was getting screwed over by Billionaire Ted Turner, until Little Vince started fighting back and eventually slayed the giant and reaped the rewards. You’ve all heard the story by now.
The birth and evolution of the Mr McMahon on-screen character was featured. There was much discussion of when the character was actually born, with conjecture ranging from during the USA vs Canada feud of summer 1997, to the Montreal screw job, to the Austin feud. The latter was also discussed in detail, with lots of archived footage showing how great it was. There was a major b.s. line from Triple H, who credited Austin’s exploding popularity with Vince’s on-screen efforts and said, “Without Vince, Austin wouldn’t have been a rebel”. The truth is, Austin had been a major rebel and the number one heel/face in the company from the Autumn of 1996 (feuding with Bret Hart), all the way through 1997, and into the early part of 1998. Granted, Vince was an awesome foe for Austin, and the pair were magic together, but playing off Vince was FAR from the sole reason Austin got over as a rebel. There was a small feature on ‘Vince the Athlete’, where various WWE superstars made fun of how bad a wrestler Vince was. Probably not the greatest idea, when WWE has featured Vince in three heavily hyped pay-per-view matches this year alone, and will feature him in a fourth this coming weekend. If he’s so bad, why should fans pay money to see him wrestle? A dumb DVD segment, when you think about it. The DVD then entered ‘apologist’ and ‘self-congratulatory’ zone, where WWE’s charity and political work was showcased. The story of the utter failure that was the XFL (estimated losses of $70 million during its sole 2001 season) was somehow spun into a personal success for McMahon, and clips of Vince’s embarrassing real on-screen argument with Bob Costas also aired. Somewhere in here, the Katie Vick angle was brought up, as an example of ‘Vince the Risktaker’. Ugh.
The documentary rebounded with focus being placed on Triple H and Stephanie’s real life dating and subsequent marriage. How Vince handled his daughter dating one of his wrestlers in real life was recapped. This segued into focusing on the McMahon families’ portrayals on tv, and how they handle acting out their roles. This was interesting stuff. The acquisition of WCW was covered, as was the subsequent Vince vs Shane feud and the Kiss My Ass club. Unsurprisingly, no mention was made of the botched Invasion angle of the Autumn, 2001. The Raw and Smackdown ‘Brand Extension’ split of 2002 was covered. Surprisingly, some balance was given, as both Bruce Pritchard and Jerry Lawler described how they didn’t really like it and how it didn’t work out as successfully as they thought it would (it was created to give the idea of competition). JBL, Big Show and Shawn Michaels all defended the brand split and praised it. For some reason, the documentary then saw fit to bring up Vince’s real life business split with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 2002, when Austin left the company rather than job to Brock Lesnar in a last minute tv match. At the time, Vince accepted no blame for the shoddy booking that caused Austin’s departure, and four years later, still didn’t. The inclusion of this segment smacked of ‘sticking it to Austin’, just because they wanted to. It served no other purpose. Ironically, Vince’s ‘non-vindictive side’ was featured next, with the hiring of Eric Bischoff being recapped (as was that incredibly dumb on-screen hug that cost them millions in potential revenue, as the two could easily have had a big money feud from the get-go). The Hulk Hogan and Zack Gowen feuds of 2003 were also recapped, as was McMahon’s induction into the MSG Hall of Fame.
The DVD became more interesting whilst covering the ridiculous Vince McMahon vs Stephanie McMahon feud from Autumn 2003. Their pay-per-view match at No Mercy in October actually took place six days before Stephanie’s real life wedding to Triple H, and the various McMahon family members recounted how they were concerned about Stephanie picking up any injuries during the match. It was during this segment that it transpired that Stephanie had turned down a possible storyline of Vince being revealed as the father of her baby. She also turned down an idea given of Shane being revealed as the father instead. Vince’s 2005 quadriceps tear is recounted (with clips), and this was followed by an interesting segment on both the storyline and real life firings that McMahon has made over the year. This was followed by segments on Vince visiting troops overseas during the Christmas tours in recent years, and on the recent ‘McMahonism’ religious angle (that bombed with a terrible Backlash ppv buyrate – unsurprisingly, this detail wasn’t mentioned). The documentary concluded with one of the most interesting parts, ‘Vince: The Grandfather’. Home video clips of Vince at his 60th birthday party last year aired, and his treatment of his grand children was discussed, in particular, Shane’s son, Declan.
Comments on other DVD features
Disc one also contains a great array of extras. Many of these were segments originally produced for the documentary, but have been left out due to time constraints. Here is a brief rundown of what each extra entails:
(1) I enjoy the fight – Vince McMahon talks about how he enjoyed fighting Marines older than him, when he was a teenager growing up in North Carolina;
(2) Ultra-Competitive – Triple H recounts a story of how he and Stephanie repeatedly defeated Vince and Linda in a friendly family game of pool, and Vince became very annoyed;
(3) No Vacation – Triple H explains how Vince never takes a vacation, and how he feels sorry for him, that he can never truly enjoy his financial success;
(4) Regal’s Rehab – William Regal recounts the time he passed out in Vince’s office, and how Vince financially supported him through rehabilitation;
(5) The Sleeping Giant – Big Show recalls the time Vince burst his inflatable mattress on a long overseas trip to Iraq;
(6) I’m the boss – Big Show tells a story about how Vince got into an argument with an over-zealous military airport official;
(7) I remember my dad – An emotional Stephanie talks about how wonderful her dad is. Awwww!
(8) The Motorcycle – The McMahon Family and JBL recount the time Vince crashed his motorcycle;
(9) WWE Championship – Triple H talks about the time Vince beat him for the WWF title;
(10) 9/11 Smackdown! Taping – Vince’s famous opening speech from that show (the ‘taping’ was actually on Thursday, September 13th, and it was a live show on UPN), interspersed with comments from Gerald Brisco and Shane McMahon;
(11) Stuck in his ways – Various WWE superstars explain Vince’s ability to talk people into doing things they don’t really want to do;
(12) The Walk – Various WWE superstars are shown imitating Vince McMahon’s infamous strut.
(13) Slammy’s ‘Stand Back’ – As seen on recent Raw’s, Vince’s full musical performance of ‘Stand Back’ from the 1987 WWF Slammy Awards show;
(14) VKM Training Package – The fantastic Vince McMahon-in-training-for-the-Royal Rumble 1999 vignettes. Hilarious spoofs straight out of a ‘Rocky’ movie, including Vince chasing a chicken in the snow and using a huge slab of beef as a punching bag.
(15) Mr McMahon vs Stone Cold Steve Austin – Raw (April 13th, 1998) – The match that never was, as it never actually officially got started. This was the main event that did great ratings and enabled the WWF to beat WCW in the Monday night ratings for the first time in nearly two years.
Re: (14), there is also an Easter Egg. If you select this extra and press ‘left’, it takes you to a couple of out-takes from the ‘Vince chasing a chicken’ training segments. Pretty funny stuff.
Disc Two features eight Vince McMahon matches, which range from awful to superb. Some brief comments:
(1) The steel cage match with Stone Cold Steve Austin is a very memorable match. It came at a time during the Attitude era when WWE was totally on fire, both creatively on-screen, and also business wise. The match itself contains numerous bumps and high spots by Vince, and is memorable for the surprise debut of Big Show.
(2) The handicap ladder match involving Austin and the McMahons, Vince and Shane, is a decent stunt match and is fairly enjoyable.
(3) The no holds barred match involving Vince and Triple H is a boring match that seemingly never ends. Most of the action takes place backstage and consists of weapons shots. The closing angle involving Stephanie is pretty well done though.
(4) Vince versus Shane at Wrestlemania 17 is an excellent street fight and probably Vince’s best ever match. Terrifically entertaining, and the culmination of a several month long angle involving Linda McMahon and Trish Stratus too.
(5) Vince versus Ric Flair is a good match. They had an entertaining brawl around the ringside area, using weapons. Very watchable.
(6) Vince versus Hogan was precisely what you’d expect to see between these two at a Wrestlemania. A well booked match with great crowd heat and reactions. Not the greatest wrestling match in the world, but very entertaining none the less.
(7) Vince versus Stephanie is not as bad as you’d think it would be, mainly because it is kept short and the crowd were extremely into the action, heavily supporting Stephanie (the babyface in this match).
(8) Vince versus Undertaker in a Buried Alive match is a bad match. Vince bled loads, but there was no heat at all, and the conclusion of the match was constructed solely to set up Undertaker vs Kane at Wrestlemania 20 the following year.
The documentary is an entertaining look at a very complex, multi-faceted person. It’s an interesting and enjoyable way to spend two hours plus. However, if you look at it on a deeper level, it is unfocused, as it subtly moves away from being an autobiographical look at McMahon, into being an almost official WWE statement to the critics, covering issues of questionable WWE moves over the years, from the XFL, to Vince’s bad portrayal on Bob Costas’ show, to WWE’s shows in Iraq. This is a shame, as the most interesting parts are easily the segments devoted to Vince’s personal life, and the look at his roles as a father and a grandfather. In particular, the perspectives given by Triple H, Shane McMahon and at times, Stephanie McMahon, are quite enlightening. The extras are well produced and are a great addition to the documentary, and the matches on disc 2 are very entertaining, with only two stinkers included, in the Vince vs Triple H and Vince vs Undertaker matches.
I’d definitely recommend purchasing this DVD set, mainly for the documentary.
Points: 8 / 10