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DVD Review: Derek Burgan Reviews WrestleMania 3 Championship Edition

This was one DVD that I had no idea was even coming out until about a month ago and I completely flipped when I heard about it. You see, WrestleMania III was the first pay per view I ever got to watch. It was larger than life, especially to Young Derek and I'm not sure any show since then has captured me in quite the same way. The oft reported (and even more oft debated) attendance of 93,173 is spectacular to see in a visual sense. WWE could make a high school gym look humongous and they made a sold out Silverdome in Detroit look like the biggest spectacle in wrestling history. This is one show I always wanted on DVD, but I certainly wasn't going to buy the WrestleMania boxed set last year just to get it.

Lo and behold I not only get to have WrestleMania III on DVD, but in WWE's new "Championship Edition" no less. Here's what that means. This is a two disc DVD set. On Disc 1 is the original WrestleMania III pay per view like we all saw back in the 80s. The only difference is that now there is a small WWE 24/7 logo in the top right corner of the screen and some of the music has been changed (possibly just Ricky Steamboat's, as he was the only one that I noticed). Everything is exactly the way it was 20 years ago and I loved it. All the promos. All the matches. All the celebrities, including Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart back when she was quite the looker. This one has it all.

Disc 2 has the Championship Experience and means the entire WrestleMania III event again, except this time there is a ton of VH1 Pop-up Video-like "factoids" along with in-screen thoughts of various WWE personalities. Right from the start a present-day Vince McMahon gave his thoughts on what the day meant to him while his younger self was introducing the show on-screen. Later you got to see and hear guys like Raymond Rougeau and Jim Brunzell talk about their matches and, my personal favorite, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat talking about his classic match Randy Savage

Here are the matches (thanks to Wikipedia for the match times) and some examples of what the Championship Experience brings to the table:

1) The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel and Tom Zenk) defeated Cowboy Bob Orton and The Magnificent Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji) (5:37) Factoid: Muraco is a two time Intercontinental Champion defeating Pedro Morales both times. Bob Orton did an inset interview. I always liked the Can-Am Connection and never understood why Tom Zenk never became a huge star. I could listen to Zenk's Jim Barnett impression all day long.

2) Billy Jack Haynes fought Hercules (w/Bobby Heenan) to a double countout (7:44) Factoid: Before coming to WWE, Billy Jack Haynes starred in the NWA's Pacific Northwest and Florida territories. Gene Okerlund and Ron Simmons did inset interviews. This was a match that, even at 14 years old, I thought sucked. This would be several years before I learned about the "dirtsheets" and terms like "workrate." I just knew it wasn't a good match. And it still ain't.

3) Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid and Little Beaver defeated King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook in a Mixed Tag Team match (3:23) Factoid: Bob Uecker's career stats: 6 seasons, .200 BA, 14 HR, 74 RBI. Hillbilly Jim did an inset interview. This match made me think that this year's WrestleMania needs a mixed tag match with Little Boogeyman and Little Bastard. Maybe bring in two more midgets (no, not Kendrick and London) (and everyone reading that better realize I was just kidding as I love those two guys).

4) Harley Race (w/Bobby Heenan and The Fabulous Moolah) defeated The Junkyard Dog in a "Loser Must Bow" match (4:22) Factoid: Junkyard Dog once performed "Grab Them Cakes" on Dick Clark's America Bandstand (is that true?~!) Gene Okerlund did an inset interview. I have to get a copy of that American Bandstand show if it exists. Readers?

5) Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake (w/Johnny Valiant and Dino Bravo) defeated The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond) (4:03) Factoid: "The Hammer" is the son of legendary wrestler Johnny Valentine. Raymond Rougeau and Greg Valentine did inset interviews. For some reason I really liked the Dream Team of Valentine and Beefcake back in the day, to the point where I couldn't wait to get their oversized LJN toys.

6) Roddy Piper defeated Adrian Adonis (w/Jimmy Hart) in a Hair vs. Hair Match (6:54) Factoid: Jimmy Hart was a member of the band "The Gentrys." In 1965, their hit "Keep On Dancing" reached #4 on the Billboard hot 100. Roddy Piper did an inset interview. Hey, I was a huge mark for Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake and this was the match he made his debut. I also liked Jimmy Jack Funk and the Machines, so you can imagine how nuts I really am.

7) The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) and Danny Davis (w/Jimmy Hart) defeated The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid) and Tito Santana (8:52) - During this match, McMahon totally buried Jesse Ventura (who was introduced before the match) in an inset interview by saying, "Well, you know, I think Gorilla was really good because he had the passion of what we do. And one of the best play by play individuals ever, and he can embellish on what you are seeing from a visual standpoint. Obviously he had great knowledge on many of the holds, and his personal experience in the ring. And Jesse… (McMahon gives very odd look to camera) he was alright. Factoid: Santana won the 1st match in WrestleMania history, defeating the Executioner. Edge did an inset interview. This was quite the run WWE was on as the place went apeshit when Tito Santana of all people got a hot tag. Two of my favorite tag teams in this match, but they weren't given the opportunity to steal the show.

8) Butch Reed (w/Slick) defeated Koko B. Ware (3:39) Factoid: Frankie (the parrot) perished in 2001 when Koko's home was destroyed in a fire. Gorilla Monsoon and Ron Simmons had inset interviews. As Bryan Alvarez and Vincent Verhei would say, this was "a match."

9) Ricky Steamboat (w/George Steele) defeated Randy Savage (w/Miss Elizabeth) to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship (14:35) Factoid: After Jesse Ventura said, "as Yogi Berra said, it ain't over till it's over," Berra's famous quote refers to the 1973 National League pennant race when Yoki managed the New York Mets. Gene Okerlund, Gerald Brisco, Ricky Steamboat, George "The Animal" Steele, and CHRIS JERICHO did inset interviews.

There was also a factoid that stated Savage vs. Steamboat was "awarded match of the year in 1987." Could this be in reference to the Wrestling Observer Awards Issue?

10) The Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart) defeated Jake Roberts (w/Alice Cooper) (7:04) Factoid: Pythons can grow to over 30 feet long, weighing over 300 pounds. Jake Roberts and Jimmy Hart did inset interviews. It is so weird seeing Jake Roberts before him became the Roberts we know today. Talk about having it all and tossing it all away. The guy is a walking allegory.

11) The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (w/Slick) defeated The Killer Bees (Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell) (5:44) Factoid: Brunzell was a champion high jumper in high school and at the University of Minnesota.Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jim Brunzell, Nikolai Volkoff, the Iron Sheik did inset interviews. Yes, THE IRON SHEIK.

12) Hulk Hogan defeated André the Giant (w/Bobby Heenan) to retain the WWF Championship (12:01) Factoid: Andre would defeat Hogan for the WWE championship on 2/5/88 for his only title reign. Vince McMahon, Bobby Heenan, Pat Patterson, Hulk Hogan, Edge, and John Cena did inset interviews. No matter what you can say about the match itself, and it certainly wasn't five stars, but every angle leading up to this match was pure gold. The crowd got exactly what it wanted and WWE should be commended for that. Sometimes I forget that wrestling didn't always used to be about nonsensical swerves and just used to be about two guys who didn't like each other.

BONUS FEATURES: Disc 1 -IC Title match - Randy Savage (champion) vs. George Steele (Saturday Night's Main Event - 1/3/1987)
Ken Resnick interviews Ricky Steamboat (Challenge, 1/31/1987) - Wade Keller of the Torch tells the story of McMahon forcing Resnick to shave his moustache, on the spot, to prove that Resnick wanted a job with WWE.
Gorilla Monsoon & Ken Resnick interview Randy Savage (Boston Garden, 2/7/1987)
Gorilla Monsoon interviews Ricky Steamboat (Boston Garden, 2/7/1987)
Gene Okerlund interviews Ricky Steamboat (Superstars, 2/28/1987)
Gene Okerlund interviews Ricky Steamboat (Superstars, 3/14/1987)
Gene Okerlund interviews Randy Savage (Prime Time Wrestling, 3/23/1987)

Disc 2 -Gene Okerlund interviews Ricky Steamboat and Hulk Hogan (Challenge, 2/21/1987)
Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan contract signing (Challenge 2/27/1987)
 20 Man Over the Top Rope Battle Royal (Saturday Night's Main Event, 2/27/1987)
Gene Okerlund interviews Andre the Giant (Challenge, 3/21/1987)

OVERALL THOUGHTS: I never thought I'd see the day. Not only is this one of my favorite wrestling PPVs on DVD, but it is a SPECIAL EDITION, and, maybe most importantly, WrestleMania 3 Championship Edition is 100% Brooklyn Brawler free! Hallelujah! After watching this DVD, all I could think of was all the DVDs I would love to see given this treatment, starting with WrestleMania I. WWE came up with a solid idea and executed it well with something that should appeal to everyone. Don't want to be bothered with the pop-up factoids and interviews, then watch the original version. As a huge fan of the old Saturday Night's Main Event show, the abundance of SNME material here in the bonus sections was appreciated. It was just so great to see that along with the recaps during the show itself and reliving all the classic angles. Andre ripping Hogan's cross off during a Piper's Pit. The Killer Bees in action. Seeing the unreal transition of daytime to nighttime within the arena. Watching the little motorized rings bring wrestlers to the ring. I was living a Mastercard commercial as this DVD was just "priceless" to a guy like me who was brought up of this stuff. Click HERE to get your copy, and do it as fast as you can.

If you enjoyed this DVD review, then check out: Heroes of World Class: Director's Cut
Verne Gagne's THE WRESTLER~!

BONUS COMIC BOOK PLUG: Frank Miller's 300 Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably seen the countless ads for the movie 300 coming out shortly. I'll definitely be seeing it on opening weekend. Here's the hype on the original version of 300:

The Battle of Thermopylae ranks as one of the ancient world's most important events, where Spartan King Leonidas and his 300-man bodyguard met the massive army of Emperor Xerxes of Persia, who intended to add Greece to his empire. To no one's surprise, the Spartans were destroyed. While the battle bought the Greeks enough time to defeat the mighty Persians, it was more important for the metaphor it created: occasionally one has to lose to win. This is clearly the inspiration behind Miller's attempt to place this epic tale in the context of a graphic novel. A renowned comics artist and writer known for hard-boiled stories of almost operatic intensity and stylishly overwrought violence, Miller (Sin City) injects his own brand of graphic sensationalism into this ancient tale of national survival. Miller clearly isn't as interested in being a historian as he is in telling a story, but his portrayal of the ancient world is compelling. His drawings of the bearded Leonidas are pensive and starkly imperial. The Persian King Xerxes is represented as majestically African, his body covered in a gaudy and bejeweled network of meticulously rendered chains and bracelets. Form and content are ideally wedded: Miller's writing is stark, his drawings moody and dramatic, and intensified by Varley's grimly appropriate palette of earth and blood. The reader can see and feel the harshness of both the Grecian landscape and Sparta's battle-worshipping culture, as Miller presents the complex historical moment facing the 300.

I picked up 300 when it was coming out in monthly installments and it blew my mind. Frank Miller is just in a league of his own and this story meant a lot to him as he saw a movie version of the 300 story when he was very young and it made quite the impression on him. Kinda like WrestleMania III did to me. Click HERE to get the 300 collection and at 40% off.

Be sure to check out:
Sean Carless "breaking story" of Hogan's involvement with Anna Nicole Smith...
Derek's MySpace Page
Bryan Alvarez YouTube shooting on that goof Larry Sweeney

Derek Burgan can be seen wasting everyone's time with wrestling DVD and comic book reviews over at Wrestling Observer and the world famous Wrestling Enjoyment Index at Figure Four Weekly online~! Don't forget about his Opinion Pieces at World Wrestling Insanity and goofiness at WrestleCrap as well. Whew! Derek can be reached at: derek@gumgod.com

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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).