WWE DVD Review: The Best of Madison Square Garden
In the world of wrestling there is one venue that every fans knows the name of. That venue is new York's Madison Square Garden. The venue itself has relocated a few times and had image overhauls, but no matter what changes have been made, it will always be the spiritual home of the WWE.
This after all was the venue that saw the birth of Hulkamania and also played a pivotal role in wrestling history when it hosted the first ever WrestleMania.
This well-produced three disc set takes a loving and informative look at just how much the WWE owe to such a prestigious venue as this and what appearing in the ring there meant to many of the headliners over the past 40 plus years.
The big question here of course is who does a release like this appeal to? Well the honest answer is more long-term fans of the WWE and those curious about the company's rich history. There are of course more up to date matches etc. (on the third disc), but this is after a historical release and one that has been designed to honour the MSG venue and the wonderful encounters it witnessed over the decades.
The set-up is here that we get a short introduction to each match from a participant (or peer), we then get it in full. There are some nice pieces here, it is especially nice to hear form the likes of Bruno Samartino, Ivan Koloff, Iron Sheik, Harley race and other legends such as Sergeant Slaughter. Which all occur on disc one. This disc gives us a look at some true classics, including Superstar Billy Graham (a man who Hulk Hogan payed homage to with his image) versus Bruno Samartino, Harley Race and Bob Backlund in a title versus title match, Hulk Hogan's legendary sin over The Iron Sheik and the infamous bloodbath of a brawl between The Iron Sheik and Sergeant Slaughter.
Disc two is the one that sees the WWE start to become the arena selling venue that it would become. Here we get to see the match that changed it all Hulk Hogan and Mr T versus 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I). We also get to see a few true classics as well. The Intercontinental Title scrap between (at that time) longest reigning IC champ 'The Honky Tonk Man'and The Ultimate Warrior (SummerSlam 1988) was short and sweet, but perfectly set up the Warrior character. The IC championship battle between Bret 'Hit Man' Hart and Mr Perfect (SumerSlam 1991) is an excellent example of two wrestlers at their peak. The ladder match featuring Shawn Michaels and Razon Ramon (WrestleMania X) is perhaps one of the earliest and finest matches of the genre too. Disc two ends with the surprise match between Diesel (Kevin Nash) and Bob Backlund for the WWE Championship. The talking heads here will appeal to more modern fans, over the ones on disc 1, watch out for Bob Ueker, The Miz, Bret Hart, Howard Finkel and Kevin Nash amongst others.
The final disc here brings us more up to date (well 2009). Here we get to see The Rock's debut at Survivor Series 1996. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin stunning Vince McMahon. Cactus Jack and Triple H in a Falls Count Anywhere match. The 1st ever Tag Team Tables scrap between The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz. Throw in some matches involving Trish Stratus, Mickie James, Big Show, John Cena and the revamped D-Generation X, and you have one heck of a third disc here.
Extras wise on Blu-Ray you get a few extra matches, a collection of extra stories form some more wrestlers (old and new) who performed at the venue. There is also the induction of Vince McMahon into the MSG Hall of Fame as well.
All in all this release is a great way to learn about the WWE's long association with MSG and also offers an opportunity to see some lesser known matches from the venue as well.
WWE The Best of Madison Square Garden is available now via all good retailers.
RRP £29.99 (DVD), £34.99 (Blu-Ray)
By Phil Allely