WWE // 2008 // 540 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // June 18th, 2008
"Finally, the Rock has come back to [your city name here]!!!"
In normal circumstances, there's no real reason for anyone to have their former employer put out a video of their work, but when you're in professional wrestling, there are always exceptions to the rule. Dwayne Johnson, who sustained a career in the business as "The Rock," is about to appear in the feature film remake of Get Smart, and without any shred of coincidence at all, World Wrestling Entertainment is releasing a multi-disc set that covers some of The Rock's best work.
To sum up Johnson's life as The Rock in a nutshell, Johnson was the son of Rocky Johnson and grandson of Peter Maivia. As a 24-year old named Rocky Maivia in 1996, Johnson was green to say the least. However, as his talent and athleticism started to stand out, Rocky Maivia became "The Rock," a brash and cocky young man, with the athletic skill to back up his outlandish hyperbole. His success in the WWE grew by leaps and bounds, and he began to explore his options in Hollywood, taking a prominent role in The Mummy Returns before taking the starring role in The Scorpion King. As his movie work has grown, appearing in Doom, Gridiron Gang and The Game Plan, to name a few, his wrestling work has trickled to the point of virtual non-existence, his new path helping guide the way. His work in feature films might be due to his charisma, but most successful pro wrestlers are also terrific salesmen who know that part of the job requires time on a microphone and in front of a camera, cutting promos (or interview segments) to tout their skills and abilities and shoot (or verbally slam) their future opponents. It was clear Rock possessed the physical attributes, and his verbal abilities were better than anyone expected. He redefined what a strudel was, he turned the words "roody poo candy ass" into a creative insult, and while he would insult the fans in every town he visited, they knew the Rock's phrases and hung on every word. His common use of the word "Smackdown" took on several meanings: it became a verb, a noun, and eventually it became a brand, as the WWE's network television show uses the catchphrase for its title.
It hasn't stopped the WWE from getting as much out of him as possible. The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment is the WWE's fourth video release focused on the Rock, the other three being Know Your Role, Just Bring It and The People's Champ. Not having seen the other releases but being familiar with the WWE's video releases, this current release is a departure in the sense that its main participant does not contribute to it whatsoever. Featuring voiceover from an NFL Films style official, mixed in with full- length footage from matches spanning Rock's eight-year career with the WWE, the footage is spread out over three discs. For the sake of continuity, the terms and match ratings are in line with Judge Bill Treadway's explanations in his review of the Ultimate Ric Flair Collection. The matches are as follows:
* Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley Thursday RAW February 13,
Considering where both of these performers are a decade later, to see them in a very green form battling for the Intercontinental Championship is a nice trip through nostalgia, and their greenness shows in the match.
* The Rock vs. Owen Hart Raw April 6, 1998
What disappoints me, other than the fact that Owen Hart's tragic death 13 months later deprived fans of a talented performer and co-workers of a generous man, is that this match was the first of many on the disc that feature "run-ins" of some sort, designed to stack the deck in one man's favor and hopefully get a cheap win, so while I liked where it was going, the end was a disappointment.
* The Rock vs. Triple H Raw June 22, 1998
The second of four matches between the two performers, this time a tournament birth in the King of the Ring was at stake. With run-ins from Triple H's valet Chyna proving to be unsuccessful, Rock wins a battle before members of Triple H's Degeneration X and the Rock's Nation of Domination make things a slobberknocker. Was the WWE "Attitude" really about all those nutshots and schmozes?
* The Rock vs. Mankind Survivor Series November 15, 1998
The first match on the set to feature a pay-per-view matchup, this was also one of a number of memorable meetings between Johnson and Mankind, a.k.a. Mick Foley. Foley's propensity for high risk and potential injury on his spots (or moves), and The Rock's ability to work with them, led to a good program (or feud) between the two. Considering what happens at the end of the match, this was worth the time and multiple ref bumps.
* The Rock vs. Mankind St. Valentine's Day Massacre February 14,
By now, these two performers had fought on TV, on pay per view, in an empty area during a Super Bowl halftime segment, and once when Foley was handcuffed and Rock would pummel his unprotected head with a chair (a recommended companion for that would be the documentary Beyond the Mat). This was fresh in everyone's mind as the pair met yet again for the WWE World Championship, with the Last Man Standing winning the title. The two beat each other with their fists and other objects for almost a half hour, until a double countout resulted in a sister-kissing draw. Despite the finish, it was a hard fought battle.
* The Rock vs. Mankind Raw February 15, 1999
Why not, another match between Rock and Mankind, this time on TV! With Stone Cold Steve Austin at ringside, a run-in by Paul White to the benefit of the Rock led to his claiming the WWE Championship. Austin finishes his ringside commentary to beat on Rock for a minute, setting the stage for their match at WrestleMania six weeks later.
* The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin WrestleMania March 28, 1999
Ugh. Well, the program between Austin and WWE owner Vince McMahon was still white hot with intensity, and Rock, being part of McMahon's "Corporation," was a legitimate target for Austin. All the ref bumps and McMahon run-ins in the world wouldn't stop Austin from beating the Rock in an emotionally charged match, even if the product is diluted from the extracurricular activity.
* The Rock vs. Triple H Raw July 5, 1999
Much like the King of the Ring match, except in a Steel Cage where there should be no run-ins or interference, right? Wrong. More Chyna interference, but Rock manages to overcome the distractions in a match that was a little more enjoyable than the last.
* The Rock & Mankind vs. Undertaker & Big Show Raw August 30,
What better a way to celebrate a loved one's birthday than watching a wrestling show, right? Well, not really, but after many matches, Rock and Mick Foley team for the "Rock and Sock Connection" against two 7- foot garguantuans. It's not like the big ugly guys are going to prevail, are they? Rock pins Big Show for what I believe was his first tag team title.
* The Rock vs. Kane Smackdown December 30, 1999
In the last match of the century for Rock, he fought the maniacal man "from hellfire and brimstone." The circumstances for why these two fought were a little bit silly, and as for this match, I've never been a fan of Rock against bigger guys, because his athleticism is good but his command of the ring has never been good enough to carry his opponent.
* The Rock vs. Triple H Backlash April 30, 2000
Funny thing that I'd like to mention; apparently Triple H threw a couple of verbal jabs at the Rock at a recent WWE event. While I don't know the exact nature of these comments, I'd only say this: some people make their own success and appear as stars in Disney films, while others marry the boss's daughter and appear in Blade: Trinity. That said, the match, while good to a degree, is over-McMahoned, if you will.
* The Rock vs. Shane McMahon Raw May 1, 2000
Sure, if a 265-pound wrestler couldn't beat the Rock, then the boss's son could, right? I mean, he's only 50 pounds less and maybe a few years older. It's only logical. Rock wins and retains the WWE Championship that he regained the previous night.
* The Rock vs. Kurt Angle No Way Out February 25, 2001
Well, there's no McMahons here, which is nice. Say what you might about Angle, but he can get great matches happening with just about anyone, and when the other party is a guy well steeped in wrestling background, the only thing wrong in this battle for the WWE Championship is that it wasn't long enough. It's not the best match I've seen, but it's quite possibly the best on this set.
* The Rock vs. Booker T Summerslam August 19, 2001
A funny thing happened a few years ago; while McMahon's WWE and Ted Turner's WCW were intensely feuding for ratings on Monday night cable television, one entity had to blink, and Turner did just that. In buying WCW, McMahon got the talent with it, including WCW star Booker T. In a battle for the WCW Championship that was better than expected; Rock pulls it out for the win.
* The Rock vs. Chris Jericho Royal Rumble January 20, 2002
After the WCW and WWE titles had been unified by Jericho, Rock challenged him for a shot at the title that most presumed he would win easily. Rock's athleticism matched up against Jericho's wrestling ability, with both trying to outduel the other in confident optimism. Run-ins by Jericho's compatriots aside, this was a good match that got a little bit silly during the end.
* The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan WrestleMania X8 March 17, 2002
A memorable match on St. Patrick's Day, not for the reasons you'd think. Held in Toronto's Skydome, the program had Hogan coming in as the heel and Rock as the face, but no one told that to the Canadians, who cheered Hogan's every move while booing Rock. While Rock won the match, but it's remembered less for the win and more for the spectacle, as the match revived Hogan's wrestling career for a little while, while Rock moved onward and upward.
* The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker VengeanceJuly 21, 2002
This "triple threat" match has the formula where a couple of more athletic guys battle a prodding veteran. But as far as triple threat matches go, it wasn't all that bad, and Rock managed to prevail over the others to capture the WWE Undisputed Championship yet again.
* The Rock vs. Eddie Guerrero Raw July 22, 2002
The third such match on the set that was held the next night after a grueling pay-per-view, Rock met up with fellow third-generation wrestler Eddie Guerrero. Like the Angle match, this was a back and forth battle whose ending was a little too premature, if you ask me. For a TV match, it was very entertaining.
* The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin WrestleMania XIX March 30,
By this point, Rock had built a solid reputation as an actor, and wrestling was becoming more of a part-time job, so his presumed sell-out status made him a bit of a heel as he faced Austin for the third time at WrestleMania after losing the first two. However, Rock made the third time a proverbial charm, beating Austin before approximately 50,000 at Seattle's Safeco field in an entertaining bout.
But wait, there's more! On disc three, there are 16 promos with announcers and celebrities, and Rock skewers them all to effect. Calling one of the announcers "Hermie" was hilarious. Combine that with about 10 minutes of one-liners from some of these promos, as well as some others, and you've got yourself about nine hours of Rock. Laid out in full frame and presented in stereo, things are as straightforward as they come.
Bottom line, I'm a little conflicted as to this release of The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment. While the match selection is pretty good and the inclusion of so many promos are outstanding, there's no participation from the man himself. Having said that, since you're probably not going to see him return to his old job anytime soon, this is a more than adequate greatest hits collection of work in the ring and with a microphone, and it's well worth the time.
Review content copyright © 2008 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 540 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Additional Footage
* WWE: The Rock
* DVD Verdict Review - Ric Flair Collection