Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Retro Video Review: WWF Action

This will be the first of many retro video tape reviews I do here for my wrestling ramble column. I am finally disposing of these tapes and want to make sure all you wrestling fans know what they were before I do so.

First up we have the WWF's (yes this was pre-WWE times) release 'Action' .

This special video was a 90 minute look at some of the best action from 2001 in the world of the WWF/WWE.

First up we got a look at just how wonderful the attitude era was. The much-missed Hardcore Championship was one of the best inventions during this era and it was perfectly suited to the time in the companies growth.

The Hardcore Title was created for Mick Foley, but as the violent matches grew so did the titles legacy. By 2001 the championship had become one that had evolved into one that was defended on a 24/7 basis. This led to countless titles changes, many memorable encounters and of course some brutal scraps between some of the WWF's finest at the time. There are many highlights included here. This was a time where the title could change many times on one night and blood would flow with ease, unlike today's family friendly WWE.

Next up we saw one of the WWF of the times less family friendly approaches to wrestling. This was the 'bra and panties' series of matches. These were basically the companies attempt to draw in more male viewers and they were more than often shot scraps that saw one or both of the females involved standing in the ring in their underwear. Here we get to see Ivory, Chyna, Trish Stratus and Terri all involved in these poorly judged encounters.

We then get to see Perry Saturn become a deranged madman (due to countless head shots), the former ECW legend ended up becoming a joke of a character and instead of being aligned with Terri he became obsessed with a mop. I'll not say any more about this storyline as it was awful in my opinion and went on far too long.

The risque and Vince McMahon ego-stroking storyline involving Trish, his wife Linda and daughter Stephanie is equally weird as we get to see Vince kiss, degrade and obsess over Stratus, use his wife for his own maniacal schemes and utilise his daughters love the same way. We do get to see Trish gain a measure of revenge, but much of this was unnecessary.

This all led to a few matches that gave Vince his dream of entering the ring as a wrestler. His appearance in a tag match with Trish, William Regal, Stephanie is featured here in parts and works ok until we see poor Stratus degraded once more. (this was not a highpoint in her illustrious career of the WWE's)

Next up we got the fun and very well conceived romantic relationship between Spike Dudley and Molly Holly. This was a great idea and one that saw the Dudley clan embark on a violent series of match-ups against the Holly family. We don't get to see a while match here, but we do get to see some great highlights and some pretty brutal spots.

WWE legend 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin's heel turn as a member of Mr McMahon's posse is then given some time. This was a period where Austin held the World Title, was joined at the hip with (a comical) Kurt Angle and also put forward some of his most comical performances, just watch out for his guitar spots with Angle and you will see what I mean.

The buyout of WWF rival WCW was a wonderful event and one that many thought the WWE/WWF would have handled expertly. Initially this was the case and the beginnings were indeed boding well for an invasion storyline. However when push came to shove even after an initial burst of well-received matches and even a few title changes the WWE roster began to dominate proceedings and the idea of a separate WCW brand within the WWE/WWF drifted away quickly. The inclusion of the (also) defunct ECW helped a little, but did not do much to boost PPV buy rates and it dropped off the radar too. (ECW did make a brief comeback though).

Had the WCW/ECW invasion been handled better it could have become a huge piece of wrestling history. WCW had of course dominated the ratings over the WWE for many months and had almost crippled the company. Had Steve Austin and his era of superstars not taken with the fans they may well have lost the fight. ECW were never direct competition, but they did offer something different to the WWE product and gave us a much more violent approach to grappling. The inclusion of Vince's son Shane and Daughter Stephanie to the mix was a nice move, but yet it never saw its full potential.

'Action' offers a wonderful peek at the WWF/WWE at a pivotal time in its existence. The 'Attitude' era had begun, Steve Austin's star had risen and a man called 'The Rock' was nipping at his toes. There was also end of rival companies ECW and WCW to factor in, this was the time that the WWE/WWF saw its full potential as world leaders in wrestling.

It may not be available on DVD yet, but this video tape is a very interesting look at the WWF/WWE in a time of its history that many of remember fondly.

By Phil Allely

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