Monday, August 19, 2019

20 Years of Dreamcast: Thinking About the Dreamcast’s Legacy for 20 Years!


Where were you for quadruple nine, AKA September 9, 1999? That was the marketing friendly launch date of the Sega Dreamcast in North America, which will make it 20 years old. Such a landmark anniversary inspired me to craft another gaming reflection piece here looking back on my memories with the Dreamcast over the years. If you missed my similar anniversary articles earlier this year for the Genesis and GameBoy please click here to get caught up.

The first thing that comes to mind all these years later of the Dreamcast is that it ended up the first system that released when I had a job and could afford it entirely on my own. I got my first part-time high school job mere days after turning 16 about a half year earlier in 1999 and was fine picking up the occasional new game for our family’s N64 during that timeframe. However, around August of 1999 the first issue of Official Dreamcast Magazine (ODM) hit newsstands and it really popped compared to other gaming magazines. It was the first oversized gaming magazine that I can recall and they crammed in tons of news, special editorial features, previews and reviews in every issue and not a millimeter of page-space seemed wasted. It also had a bright colorful art scheme consistent throughout most issues compared to its competitors and in hindsight it was the ideal color scheme due to the unorthodox lineup of eye-popping bright games like Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, Sonic Adventure and Samba de Amigo to name a few. I will give props to YouTube channel Classic Gaming Quarterly for doing a excellent page-by-page revisiting of that awesome first issue several months ago which was the catalyst for me re-reading the first four issues earlier this year. Those issues hold up splendidly and if you run across scans of any I highly recommend giving them a look-see as they perfectly encapsulate everything that made the Dreamcast as fondly remembered as it is today.

That special preview issue of the Dreamcast sold me on the system with its hype of being the first 128-bit system on the market and how Sega would change gaming with its new GD-ROM disc format, interactive VMU memory card and by introducing online play with its built-in 56k modem the following year. It also had thorough previews for nearly the whole launch lineup. If you recall my Genesis write-up, I was not much of a Sonic fan and that issue only had reviews for Sonic Adventure and House of the Dead 2. I had good memories of the first HotD light gun arcade game and that review got me amped up for the sequel. By the time I was done perusing that issue of ODM a few times over I was hell-bent on getting a Dreamcast and a copy of HotD2 at launch.

9-9-99

As the Dreamcast launch approached I was legitimately unaware of being able to pre-order games or it was officially a available service yet at our local Software Etc. in the mall. I inquired there frequently when they were opening on launch day it turned they were opening early that day an hour or two before I was supposed to be at school. I convinced my dad to give me a lift there and arrived there an hour early to secure getting a system. There was only one person ahead of us and I presumed getting a system at Software Etc. in 1999 would be comparable to lining up at any other department store and getting a new product on a first people at the front of the line basis. That turned out to be the case for Dreamcast (though I do remember them instituting pre-orders the next year for the heavily anticipated PS2 launch) and I was thrilled walking out of there as planned with a Dreamcast and HotD2!

Software Etc. did not get any VMUs however and thankfully my dad checked out other stores on his lunch breaks and was able to procure me one from KB Toys. Only other problem was there were no light gun peripherals available for the Dreamcast at launch. Sega did not release their own model in America due to the controversial Columbine shootings earlier in the year, and third party models were still two-to-three months out from being available. I could play HotD2 with a controller, but I refused to accept that as an option and for the first few weeks after the Dreamcast launch I was content on playing the included demo disc and checking out games like Sonic Adventure, Hydro Thunder, Soul Calibur and Power Stone over at a friend’s place.

Finally after a few weeks of that I was fed up of waiting for the light gun to hit and I took a chance and picked up Sega’s NFL 2K since I was always into football games and still sticking with older pigskin games on the N64 and playing a ton of Madden NFL ’99 in near weekly sessions on another friend’s PSone. I was instantly blown away by NFL 2K’s revolutionary leap in graphics and gameplay at that point. It had bar-raising production quality with TV-caliber replays, camera angles and insanely impressive announcer commentary which made it feel like the first football game to come off as an actual telecast. I can still pinpoint my mom walking in on me playing and doing a double take and asking if NFL 2K was real or not. NFL 2K got a ton of play in single player and in local multiplayer against friends over the next year.


Sega released five star sports games within the first year of release with hits seen above like NFL 2K, NBA 2K, Virtua Tennis and Virtua Striker

For the rest of 1999 I checked out every demo included with each issue of ODM and it lead to me checking out Sega’s other sports offerings and playing a ton of NBA 2K and even a fair amount of NHL 2K. Worms Armageddon ended up being a surprise hit with friends and I loved going nuts with its Banana Bombs and Holy Hand Grenades. For Christmas of 1999 I got NBA 2K and Toy Commander. I eventually came across a light gun too and played through HotD2 several times through with a friend. Toy Commander was another lost gem on the Dreamcast I spent hours with devouring its single player missions and the local vs. multiplayer deathmatch was also fun for its time. I loved using the pressure-sensitive triggers on the Dreamcast controller to shoot free throws in NBA 2K, and speaking of the controller I am surprised there seems to be a lot of widespread disdain for peripheral. Sure, it was a little bulky, but nothing compared to the original Xbox ‘Duke’ controller or the unique ergonomics of the N64 controller. I loved the thumb-stick and directional pad, and the rest of the button layout was nearly identical to a SNES controller.

If I should be nitpicking about some of the Dreamcast’s features it would be about the side effects of the painfully low battery life of the VMU. For those unfamiliar, it was Sega’s innovative memory card that also had a mini black and white LCD screen that would display gameplay tips, stats and other options and also could be unplugged from the controller to play bonus mini-games included with supported games. Unfortunately the VMU had an infamously low battery life and within a few weeks the included watch batteries would drain and would result in a notoriously loud beep from the VMU when powering on the system to indicate it was time to replace them. Additionally, the Dreamcast also had a painfully loud hard drive whenever loading game data. After awhile however I got use to the grinding hard drives and perpetual beeps and passed it off as Dreamcast’s catchy marketing slogan ‘It’s Thinking.’ As the years passed and new owners complained about those noises it sort of became a hazing-esque right of passage to them first experiencing the platform.

2000

While I was putting together an outline for this piece I was surprised to find out how much of a bummer a first half of 2000 I had with the Dreamcast. Aside from still getting lots of long-term fun with the aforementioned sports titles, almost every new game I picked up was a letdown. I never played a Resident Evil game before, but friends and classmates loved it and I saw a ton of buzz for the upcoming exclusive Dreamcast title in the series, Code Veronica, in ODM so I got it for my birthday shortly after its release. I popped it in and was completely unprepared for its tank controls the early Resident Evil games were known for and I completely stumbled around like a buffoon and could not get past the first zombie. After several attempts I pleaded with my mom to take it back to the store and exchange it for something else. After that I tried renting games more often and was disappointed with World Series Baseball 2K1 and Sonic Shuffle. The former had excellent past entries on the Genesis and Saturn, but the first Dreamcast baseball game released without the ability to control the fielders and it felt like half the game was missing. I knew Sonic Suffle was developed by Hudson Soft who also made the first couple Mario Party games I played a ton of and was excited for the Dreamcast rendition of the party game, but was stunned it was plagued with countless loading times for every turn and mini-game that soured the experience.

The last big disappointment of 2000 for the Dreamcast was WWF Royal Rumble. At the time it was going to be the first exclusive Dreamcast wrestling game and I was nonetheless psyched for it. I disregarded EGM’s low review scores for them not ‘getting’ the game and presumed I would have a fabulous time with it. I came to find out later on it was a port of an arcade game I did not see available anywhere which is why it surprised me with its low amount of wrestlers on the roster and modes of play available when stacked next to other titles. After plowing through all the single player content in an afternoon I was overwrought about how the game turned out. I did wind up getting some decent value out of Royal Rumble down the line with friends in multiplayer Rumble matches, but out of the gates as the sole Dreamcast exclusive wrestling game it felt like a Kirkpatrick-esque punch in the stomach.

After those four disappointments 2000 wound up getting redeemed for the Dreamcast with a flurry of much better titles. I enjoyed playing Soul Calibur over at my friend’s, but was not head over heels for it like many others. A fighting game I did feel that way for however I took a random chance on in the summer of 2000 with Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I instantly loved its unforgettable music, chaotic three-on-three tag battles and the accessible hyper combos that did not require master precision to pull off. The game was a regular in my rotation with friends and for a couple months we held routine tournaments in my first apartment with my roommate and neighbors. It lead me to playing a ton of another Capcom fighter that same summer in Power Stone 2, which was vastly improved over the original and felt like a 3D version of Smash Bros. with simultaneous four player battles and constantly evolving stages.

Demolition Racer: No Exit was a surprise hit I put way more time than I should have into it. I love demolition-derby racer games, and No Exit had a ton of tracks, demolition derby events, thrashin’ metal soundtrack and many unlocks that kept me coming back to work my way through its extensive career mode for a good three-to-four years after release. It ended up as my surprise favorite driving game on the system which is absurd compared to other first-party driving hits that did not land on my radar until many years later like Daytona USA 2001, Sega Rally 2 and Metropolis Street Racer. The awesome port of the arcade hits Crazy Taxi and 18 Wheeler had faithful home Dreamcast ports, but I played a ton of both in the arcades and got my fill of them at home with a rental. I think it is safe to say I am not alone in Crazy Taxi turning me onto Offspring and being one of the few games to make product-placement seem cool with driving like a lunatic to escort passengers to get their KFC and Pizza Hut fix. I was so bummed out to see the later 360/PS3 re-release take out the product placement and replace the Offspring’s tall licensing price soundtrack with licensing fee-friendly indie bands.

The other surprise hit of 2000 was Virtua Tennis. I tried it on ODM’s demo disc and it wound up being surprisingly fun and easy to pick up and play. Jim Courier I now associate as being the man who dethroned Jimmy Connors in his last gasp at coming close to winning a major in the early 90s and being the only American character to play as in Sega’s game. The demo wound up being hit and created buzz online about it and a quick fervor spread about it being the cannot miss Dreamcast game of the summer. Virtua Tennis was impossible to find in stores so that caused me to create an account at ebgames.com and how Virtua Tennis was the first game I ordered online.

After those two games saved the year for Dreamcast, the next installments of NFL 2K and NBA 2K released which I instantly purchased and played endless hours of with friends. The 2K1 versions of both games added franchise modes and online play finally debuting for the system. I played about several rounds of both sports games online and tried to master typing out ‘good play’ on the keyboard peripheral. The games played decently, but I could not help but notice semi-constant lag over the 56k modem so after several games I stuck with my routine local multiplayer with friends.

What was being advertised as the do not miss hit for the 2000 holiday season was Sega’s much anticipated open world adventure, Shenmue. ODM and websites put a ton of hype for Shenmue leading up to its release and how Sega was putting a huge budget into it and how it was the first part of a mammoth saga, but I was not initially feeling it and that style of game seemed a bit outside my wheelhouse at the time. Shortly after its release however, I saw a used copy marked down surprisingly low at a local rental store and decided to chance it. I was shocked by its quality of graphics and cinema cutscenes for the time and before I knew it I found myself getting immersed in the open-world and having the freedom to talk and interact with nearly any major or minor NPC and their own so-bad-its-good English voiceovers. I understand Shenmue is not for everybody and its unique controls resulted in a polarizing reception for the game, but I burned through that game within a couple of weeks and loved every minute of it. I revisited it last year when Sega released HD ports on the Xbox One and PS4 last year, and after getting used to the controls I instantly got wrapped up in it again.


Dreamcast had a ton of quality fighters in its brief lifespan. Some of my favorites pictured above are Soul Calibur, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Power Stone 2 and Heavy Metal: GeoMatrix. There are several other quality fighters on the system too not pictured above such as the original MvC and Power Stone, Virtua Fighter 3TB, Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Dead or Alive 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Capcom vs. SNK. This console was heaven for fighting game fans!


1-31-2001

2001 kicked off strong for the Dreamcast with ports of PC FPS hits of Unreal Tournament and Quake III both launching around the same time with online play. ODM and websites hyped up 2001 for being a big year for Dreamcast games supporting online play. I tried out those pair of FPS games at a friend’s and had a blast with them and was looking forward to the rest of 2001 for the Dreamcast even though at the time the PS2 was out for a few months and had a lot of people’s attention. Unexpectedly, towards the end of January crazy rumors started popping up about the PS2 slaughtering Dreamcast in 2000 holiday sales so bad that Sega would be discontinuing support for the system early. I immediately dismissed the rumors as ludicrous as it seemed whacked for a publisher to stop supporting a system under a year and a half after release. Sure enough however on January 31, 2001 news broke with Sega stating they would only support the Dreamcast with games for the rest of 2001 and would transition into a third party publisher role in 2002 going forward.

I was devastated with the news as a huge Dreamcast fan and continued to be bummed throughout 2001 as many anticipated Dreamcast games like Half-Life, Rez, Castlevania Resurrection, Headhunter and Tribes got cancelled and/or switched over to becoming a PS2, Xbox and GCN release. Sega and a few loyal third parties like Capcom released a steady stream of games throughout 2001 and I did get a lot of enjoyment from some of them like the addicting arcade-driving sequel Crazy Taxi 2, a decent but forgettable arcade FPS title Outrigger and a few more light gun games like the excellent HotD2 follow-up from the same developers but in a secret agent setting called Confidential Mission, the peculiar Japanese horror themed light gun shooter Death Crimson OX and the delightful surprise remaster of the original Virtua Cop tucked inside Sega Smash Pack to tide me through 2001 for Dreamcast. Sega said they would be porting their next wave of sports games to other systems a few months after their initial Dreamcast release in 2001 so I held off on them that year.

I was saving my last surge of Dreamcast fandom for what the gaming press was heralding as the swan song for the Dreamcast in Shenmue II. About a couple month before its American release however Sega stunned its fans by announcing they were cancelling the American version and making it an exclusive to the Xbox a year later with touched up graphics and adding in English voiceovers that were not originally going to make their return. The Shenmue fanboy in me was furious, but I found relief in ebgames.com capitalizing on the situation by offering the European version of Shenmue II that did not get cancelled for sale along with a boot-disc to get it to play on American systems. I spent the first several weeks of 2002 gleefully playing nothing but Shenmue II. I convinced myself it blew the original away due to jumping through extra hoops to acquire the sequel. The follow-up is a noticeably larger and longer experience and contains some noticeable gameplay improvements; upon currently replaying it on the previously mentioned HD bundle on Xbox One/PS4 I am going to have to go back to siding with the original being superior due to its more immersive setting and my love for driving forklifts. I hope to finish replaying the sequel in time for what is one of my most anticipated games ever in the long awaited third Shenmue game currently slated to be released this November a whopping 17 years after the original release of the second Dreamcast game.

Speaking of imports, Shenmue II was the first game I ever imported, and the second game was another Dreamcast game in FirePro Wrestling D. I heard so much acclaim for the FirePro games in Japan about them being the ultimate 2D wrestling games. After tracking down a guide online I relentlessly jotted down detailed English translations of all the menus and discovered a game save that translated all the wrestler’s names and attires into their English counterparts. I wound up playing a ton of that classic entry in the series on the Dreamcast. I am constantly nagging myself to open up my copy of the latest entry, FirePro Wrestling World that recently hit PS4 last year. I regret not importing more Dreamcast titles in the later years because games kept regularly coming out for Sega’s last system in Japan for several more years. Eventually most of them made their way to America on other systems in the following years, but for those that took advantage they got a one-to-three year head start on gems like Ikaruga, Rez, Rent-a-Hero and Capcom vs. SNK 2.

Post-2002

I also regret not making time to sink my teeth into the then-exclusive RPGs on Dreamcast. My former podcast co-host Chris picked most of them up so I was able to check them out at his place and play some of them on demo discs. Skies of Arcadia intrigued me with its sky pirates setting and I eventually picked up the GCN re-release. Ditto with the pair of Evolution RPGs that later were bundled together on the GCN. Grandia II I recall having a kind of more involved battle system that popped out to me and if I owned a Switch I would likely be acquiring the HD up-ports of the first two games that just released on there. I did enjoy demos of action RPGs Silver and Record of Lodoss War and finally tracked down both games last year and played about an hour of both way after the fact. The one I did put a lot of time into later on was Phantasy Star Online on the original Xbox. I loved being able to play that game in four player split-screen and I had a few friends over for several marathon sessions of its addicting action-RPG combat into the wee hours of the night.

The Dreamcast unofficially lived on for the next couple years well into the PS2/Xbox/GCN era with some of its key games that got cancelled and sequels getting re-released on those systems. Sega released their 2K sports line for a few years on all three systems before selling sports developer Visual Concepts and the 2K branding to Take-Two in 2005. The heavy duty competition from 2K Sports titles only helped fuel EA Sports to step up their efforts for better sports titles from both companies for the past 20 years. The Xbox got some heavy hitters in the form of Panzer Dragoon Orta, Shenmue II, Crazy Taxi 3, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Gun Valkyrie. The PS2 landed Rez, Headhunter, Half-Life, Tribes, Grandia II and Resident Evil: Code Veronica. The GameCube received the four player port of Phantasy Star Online well before the Xbox version and later an exclusive third chapter in addition to Evolution Worlds, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Ikaruga, Chaos Field and enhanced deluxe versions of both Sonic Adventure titles.

Aside from Dreamcast living on with those games on the next wave of systems I still busted out my Dreamcast regularly for the next several years. It was my favorite way to play Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for many years and as mentioned above I kept revisiting titles like FirePro Wrestling D and Demolition Racer for quite a few years too. The homebrew/indie scene was alive and well for the Dreamcast and is still going to this day. Goat Store had a couple high-profile indie releases with Feet of Fury and Irides that I both acquired. The former is the only dance-pad game I know of for the system and while I do not own a dance-pad I did put some time into it with its support for the Dreamcast keyboard. Irides: Master of Blocks is a fun Lumines-inspired puzzler on the system. Since it is the 20th anniversary of the platform, I took a chance a few months ago and Kickstarted an upcoming driving game set to hit at the end of this year that peaked my interest in the form of Arcade Racing Legends. Here is hoping to its success!

The End?

When I think back to my own personal favorite moments and experiences with the Dreamcast there are a few things I will chalk up to its legacy. I consider it to be the first system to prove that online gaming was viable on consoles and paved the way for it to really take off a couple years later on the PS2 and Xbox. I will also remember it for its local multiplayer games being a big hit with my friends and I for its wide array of fighting and sports games for two players as well as many games taking advantage of the four controllers with quite a few party games and driving games especially supporting four players locally. I consider it the last hurrah for the arcade ports, as the late 90s were the final successfully years of arcades in America and Sega, Capcom, Midway and Konami took advantage of Dreamcast’s Naomi-based hardware making it developer-friendly to convert their arcade titles to the system. A majority of the games I listed above are arcade conversions.

These last two are big ones for me personally. First is how Sega stepped up big time with their blockbuster first party sports games on the Dreamcast and gave the impression of how they scared away competition from EA Sports releasing their games on the Dreamcast. Finally, I will remember the Dreamcast where Sega took chances with a plethora of new, unorthodox IP. It seemed every few months a new original Sega IP hit the system from successes and cult-hits like Jet Grind Radio, Samba de Amigo, Space Channel 5, Crazy Taxi, Skies of Arcadia and of course Shenmue to fascinating curiosities such as Floigan Bros., Alien Front Online and the bizzaro-Leonard Nimoy-narrated journey that is Seaman. Combine everything from these last two paragraphs and that is why I feel it is safe to say why I and likely many others revere the Dreamcast as much as we did for the years it was active in its all too short lifespan.

I have rambled, ranted and raved for over 4,000 words now and want to thank you dear readers for sticking with me to the very end of this trip down memory lane. I apologize for the length of this piece, but I had to get it all out of my system. If somehow you want more Dreamcast love and want to keep this Dreamcast nostalgia train rolling I will link you to two prior pieces I did on the system. The first is a special 10th anniversary flashback on the Dreamcast where I breakdown 15 forgotten facts about the Dreamcast. I touched on a few of them here, but there are several more obscure factoids you can discover by clicking here. The other is my former co-hosts and I doing a special Dreamcast retrospective podcast on my old podcast you can listen to by clicking here.

My Other Gaming Flashbacks

GameBoy 30th Anniversary
Genesis 30th Anniversary




BONUS OVERTIME: Random Dreamcast quick bits I neglected to include above!

Oh man, I wish I would have remembered to touch on a few more gems I dug on the Dreamcast. I forgot about the oddball arena-based fighters that were fun rentals back then like Spawn: In the Demon’s Hand and Heavy Metal: Geomatrix. There was also the crazy keyboard version of HotD2 that hit in 2001 called Typing of the Dead! It was a super fun way to master your home row skills while massacring zombies! Sega released a remaster of it on Steam a couple years ago so give it a look-see! I remember trying to hunt down the low-quantity released broadband adaptor for the Dreamcast in 2002 on eBay but sellers were marking them up in ‘Dreamcast Online Ready’ bundles for absurd amounts. 56k web browsing with the Dreamcast was admittedly a slog, but it worked and was a slick way to upload and download game saves and made me feel I was swindling William Shatner by not falling for his WebTV commercials from that timeframe. Hydro Thunder I played a bit at a friend’s and to this day even though it was a fun on its own merits arcade boat racer the thing I recall most fondly about it was the over-the-top announcer saying the game’s name on the title screen and exclaiming ‘Dam the Torpedoes!’ at specific moments.

I wanted to get Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 so much for Dreamcast after hearing all the GOTY-caliber buzz and wanting to experience it with better graphics, but after spending weeks not finding it in stores around town I wound up settling on purchasing the PSone version even though I did not have that platform at the time and brought it over to my neighbor’s place for many throwdown sessions of Trick Attack multiplayer and HORSE. No regrets! There was something about Next Tetris: Online Edition that was off that did not get it to live up to the fun I was having in multiplayer over on the N64’s New Tetris and Tetrisphere. I wanted to like it, much like I did with launch title Trickstyle because of its futuristic extreme sports nature with a bunch of unique tricks and competitions to take in, but its un-intuitive controls left me getting my fix with solely the demo. Brighter days were ahead for Trickstyle’s developer, Criterion Games.

Apparently sim F1/Indy/Cart games were a hit on the Dreamcast for its brief lifespan with multiple entries from Sega and Ubisoft. Even the notorious LJN publishing label got resurrected after being dormant for several years with its retro F1 game, Spirit of Speed 1937. It is a good thing I never came around to them with the many other stellar driving games available. I remember loving the Ready 2 Rumble Boxing demo and thought that franchise would be around for years, but one quick sequel later and an out of nowhere Wii version years later and it has been AWOL ever since. EA’s Facebreaker seemed like a worthy spiritual successor, but that one came and went even faster.

Even though EA did not release anything on the Dreamcast I still checked out a few other third party sports games from Acclaim, Midway and Konami and had great times with NFL Blitz 2000 and digging NBA Showtime and its brilliant use of the NBA on NBC theme song. Crap, I forgot to touch on the last pair of Sega’s polygonal arcade brawler ports that were good weekend rentals for their day in Dynamite Cop and Zombie’s Revenge, but I will forever be a Die Hard: Arcade man for life! I tried to give Sonic Adventure an honest shot, but lost interest quickly after being wowed by its opening stage and that damn whale flipping all over the place after Sonic in its 128-bit glory. I will not get into the details here, but if you are up for an ill-fated timing story, then look up the details on the cancellation on what was supposed to be one of the last Dreamcast games originally scheduled to release towards the end of 2001, Propeller Arena.

Ok ok, now I am finally done and think I covered every nook and cranny of my Dreamcast experie….awwww shoot I forgot to tell you guys all about Sega Swirl! Wait, where are you going? Come back, come baaaaaack!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Furious 7

The first official spinoff of the Fast and Furious franchise hit theaters this weekend with the release of Hobbs and Shaw. It only seems fitting then with that hitting theaters to continue my trek through covering the series here with 2015’s Furious 7 (trailer). The seventh entry in the series showcased Jason Statham in the role of the unstoppable villain, Deckard Shaw. Furious 7 also infamously went down as the last film in the series to feature one of the two franchise lead-men, Paul Walker since he perished in a tragic car wreck in the midst of shooting this film. His brother took his place in several stand-in spots for the final scenes to be shot with his character. Needless to say one of the burning questions I had originally going into this at the theaters opening weekend was how were they going to handle writing him off the series? I will cross that bridge in towards the end of this entry.

Furious 7 has a new director at the helm with James Wan of Saw, Insidious and Conjuring fame. He has a killer opening shot of Deckard Shaw at the hospital bedside of his brother, Owen (Luke Evans), who barely survived the aftermath of his clash with Dom (Vin Diesel) in the last film and Deckard promising to avenge him. Another opening act shot that gelled with me was Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Dom revisiting the Race Wars rally for the first time in the series since the original film to get our obligatory drag race out of the way early where Letty easily lays waste to her opposition. I appreciated the callback to Race Wars, and was surprised to see them dig out periphery character Hector (Noel Gugliemi) from the original film to make a fun cameo too.

Just like the post-credits tag scene in Fast & Furious 6 eluded to, Furious 7 finally puts a tidy bow on the split timelines in the canon. Stick with me…..the previous three Fast films technically all took place before Tokyo Drift since Han (Sung Kang) perished in that film but the filmmakers liked him so much that they kept bringing him back. To wrap up this glaring loose end, after an exhilarating fight with Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), Shaw breaks into Hobbs’ computer to find the location of Han and assassinate him to get Dom’s attention. Props to Furious 7 for tracking down Lucas Black to get him back in his role as Sean Boswell for a scene with Dom wrapping up the Tokyo chapter of the series. I remember being both stoked to see Black back, and bummed to see him limited to only one scene and almost expected to see him welcomed as part of Dom’s gang. There are currently rumors he will be back in a bigger role in the upcoming ninth film in the series.

Since we still see Dom’s crew at Han’s funeral and all the succeeding events seemingly transpire in the weeks afterwards it is safe to presume this movie still is set in 2006 when Tokyo Drift initially released….that is until we see in the early part of Furious 7 Letty visiting her old grave that has a 2009 death year on it from when we thought she died in the fourth film, which should have took place before Tokyo Drift…..ah forget it.

Anyways, point being is whenever year Furious 7 transpires, it is hard to believe it was in the 2000s decade (aka ‘The Aughts’) after Dom’s crew meets up with secret government ghost agent Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Mr. Nobody essentially gives the government’s unofficial backing to Dom’s gang as their go to master heist crew for secret-ops missions. He also introduces the gang to all kinds of high-tech level gadgetry right that seems like it was pulled right out of the latest 007 film. I could not remember the name of Russell’s character when writing this and I cannot stand the name ‘Mr. Nobody’ the moment I looked it up for reference for this so I will instead just refer to his character as his real name Kurt Russell from here on out because Kurt Russell is portrayed as a bonafide badass in this film.

Russell helps Dom’s crew rescue kidnapped hacker, Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who has knowledge of a ‘God’s Eye’ device which has access to all the security and cell phone cameras across the world. Of course, there are the now-obligatory ridiculous stunt scenes that result in Team Ride or Die snatching Ramsey away from the terrorists. It involves a hilarious sequence of skydiving cars and culminates with Dom escaping terrorists by intentionally flipping his car down a cliff and literally walking right out of the totaled car and brushing it off without any injury! Not even a bandage! Trust me, things get even more gloriously ludicrous from there when Ramsey tells the crew they must traverse to Abu Dhabi to procure the ‘God’s Eye.’ If you thought things were bonkers with the safe in Fast Five and the heroic tank leaps and infinite runway in the sixth movie, then props to Wan for somehow topping those stunts with a must-see to believe ‘Cars Can’t Fly’ moment in Furious 7 involving a three million dollar car and the Etihad Towers. It is easily one of the all-time ‘holy shit’ moments in big-budget blockbuster cinema history, and that is saying something!

After some more back and forth shenanigans with Shaw, everything comes to a boil in a heavy duty final act involving predator drones, car jousts, Hobbs donning a chain gun against a helicopter and an epic Dom vs Shaw street fight. This all adds up to Dom’s gang being masters at car-heisting, street races, breathtaking vehicle stunt-work and fluent in the latest and greatest top-secret government tech. 007 Car Heisters….or something like that. This is the first time I saw Furious 7 since the theaters and I forgot about how awesome the overall arc and climatic action/stunt-work/heist scenes were compared to the previous movies. It is easily in the same class with the raised stakes and budget the previous two movies established.

A lot of that amazing stunt work is chronicled in the near two hours of extra features. Flying Cars is a fascinating watch to see how skydivers literally jumped out with flying cars to get those up-close camera shots during the car skydiving sequence. Tower Jumps is also worth checking out to see how the ‘Cars Can’t Fly’ sequence was pulled off. Both are quick watches at around seven minutes each while Talking Fast is a broader all encompassing extra at just over a half hour where Wan curates his favorite moments and scenes from the film and it nicely jumps to interviews with the cast members involved in each moment and Wan provides additional insight to how he pulled off some key shots. Talking Fast suffices for the lack of a commentary track from Wan that Justin Lin spoiled me with on the last four Fast home video releases.

There are a few other smaller extras on the BluRay covering other stunt-work and fight scenes, but what surprisingly jumped out to me in this last smattering of bonus features is one covering the making of the Fast and Furious Supercharged Ride attraction at Universal Studios. I coincidentally went on that ride on vacation earlier this year and can confirm it captures the spirit of the films and spares no expense when compared to the other big budget rides at Universal Studios. Finally, there is the Wiz Khalifa music video, ‘See You Again’ that is easily identified for being the song that closed off Furious 7 with its emotional farewell scene for Paul Walker.

Yes, it is time to touch on Furious 7 sending Paul Walker off into the sunset. Wan and the rest of the filmmakers could not have done it any better. It is undoubtedly a rough scene to get through and I would be lying if I said I was not holding back any sniffles and getting dusty-eyed throughout it. Part of me thought they were going to kill off Connor, and I had no idea what the script originally called for, but the final on-screen product was the perfect way to sunset the Connor and Mia (Jordana Brewster) characters out of the picture by them going on their own to be a family. I will never forget I was at a gas station shortly after leaving a minor league hockey game with another film buff when I found out about the news and we both needed a moment to take it all in. Ironically enough, earlier that day before the hockey game I was at a pawn shop and bought the PS2 Fast and Furious game.

This was the final film in the franchise I watched along with Dan, Vinny and Alex of Giant Bomb in their Film and 40s commentary series. It made for once again another highly entertaining watch as I echoed many of their sentiments throughout. Highlights include the quote ‘That’s some Asura’s Wrath shit’ during a big stunt moment, Dan picking Alex’s brain on getting into Deftones, priceless reactions to the huge car skydiving and tower leap moments, predicting future celebrity villains, them trying to add up the Tokyo Drift plot lines like I was earlier and searching online for a replica Vin Diesel cross necklace on Amazon. Oh yeah, and I did indeed share along in the sniffles with them during the aforementioned emotional final scene.

And that is Furious 7. I apologize for repeating myself, but it seems worth repeating all I remembered going into it again was the Paul Walker farewell and I forgot how good the stuntwork and caliber of jaw-dropping moments were here especially when stacked up to prior films in the series. Again, Furious 7 stands in the same league with the big budget blockbusters that the fifth and sixth installments evolved into and I loved how it found another way to raise the stakes by introducing Kurt Russell’s character into the fray and giving them the government’s unofficial blessing as being super-hi-tech ghost agents. With the untimely death of Paul Walker and the fitting farewell scene for him to close off the film I will forever have a special place for Furious 7 in the brand’s hierarchy.


'For Paul'

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
The Accountant
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers: Infinity War
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Countdown
Creed
Deck the Halls
Die Hard
Dredd
The Eliminators
The Equalizer
Dirty Work
Faster
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Indiana Jones 1-4
Ink
The Interrogation
Interstellar
Jobs
Joy Ride 1-3
Major League
Man of Steel
Man on the Moon
Marine 3-6
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Mortal Kombat
National Treasure
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
The Replacements
Reservoir Dogs
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Shoot em Up
Skyscraper
Small Town Santa
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Vision Quest
The War
Wild
Wonder Woman
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Monday, July 22, 2019

Major League

Last weekend I made it to one of my two annual summer treks out to catch a Minor League baseball game and while getting swept up in the spirit of watching a live baseball game it reminded me that is has been a couple years since I have seen a baseball film. Longtime readers here may recall it was almost an annual tradition to recap one here during baseball season. While making our way out after the game it suddenly clicked that 2019 marked the 30th anniversary of my favorite baseball film, the original Major League (trailer) from 1989. For the first time in the five and a half years after starting this blog I will have to break my rule and watch a DVD/BluRay from my collection that I have already viewed and is not in the backlog box, but trust me it is worth it and I am long overdue for another viewing!

I have a unique history with this film frachise. The sequel in 1994, Major League II was the first film I saw in the series and I specifically recall my dad taking me to it at the theaters when I was 11 and super gung-ho into baseball, baseball videogames and baseball cards! Needless to say I fell in love with the film and its diverse range of flamboyant long-shots help what would seem like the helpless Cleveland Indians make it to the World Series. My dad saw how much I loved the movie and shortly after it hit video he went to a friend I recall he told me had what seemed like an infinite supply of movies on tape. I remember he took me there once and I was too young to realize it then, but looking back he was the local go-to guy who hooked everyone up with bootleg VHS tapes filled with a few movies on them in super low quality SLP playback. My dad got this guy to make a tape that contained what would wound up being 11 year-old Dale’s four favorite movies at that time in the first two Major League films and both Wayne’s World movies. I cannot tell you how many times I watched that tape all the way through, except that it was well into the double digits.

That tape was how I originally saw the first Major League and I was blown away by how much better it was than the sequel that I already cherished. Who was this Wesley Snipes fellow who is a vastly superior Willie Mays Hayes compared to Omar Epps in the sequel? After misplacing that tape after several years, the original Major League was one of about ten VHS tapes I bought before I was able to save up to buy my first DVD player. I snatched up the bare-bones original DVD release of the film the week it came out, and bought it again several years later when it got a ‘Wild Thing Special Edition’ jam packed with extra features and a killer slipover turf cover! A couple years after that in 2009 Paramount re-released the Wild Thing edition on BluRay, but without the turf cover I adored so I made sure to save my DVD turf cover and slip it over the BluRay in my collection like any diehard Major League fan buying the movie for the fourth time on home video would!

I still love the old timey song, Randy Newman’s “Burn on” being used in the opening of the film to set up the sad state of the Cleveland Indians in 1989. The opening montage brilliantly interspersed newspaper clipping about the owner passing away and how his widowed wife, Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) cut most of their top talent and replaced them with has-beens and long-shots in hopes of tanking the team enough to move them to Miami. Shortly after that is a great start of spring training scene introducing the dynamic cast of hopefuls such as the Mexican League wash up Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), California Penal League pitching sensation Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), surprise walk-on Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes), superstitious slugger Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) and stock market guru Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen). They are managed by former Dunlop Tire specialist Lou Brown (James Gammon).

For a film that is a little over an hour and a half it does a bang-up job at managing to capture the feel of a whole baseball season from spring training all the way up until the post season. Like most sports movies, it has a predictable format, but the journey there is well worth the ride as we see early season struggles with this unique clash of styles not gelling whatsoever to all of a sudden the team eventually starting to click and gain momentum before having a one game playoff against their heated rival, the Yankees, to get into the ALCS in a thrilling final act of the film. Throw in a supplemental arc of Jake chasing down his old flame Lynn (Rene Russo) for some breathing room between all the heavy doses of baseball and it adds up to establishing one of the most tried and true formulas in sports films.

I love how all the on-the-field action is shot as it not only captures well choreographed baseball, but also captures the unique characteristics and mannerisms from this bombastic roster. Hayes has his vintage batting stance swivel, Taylor taunts opponents behind the plate to throw them off their game, Pedro has his rituals in order to hit homers and overcome the dreaded curveball and Vaughn has his trademark frames and “Wild Thing” walk-on song. Combine all this with unforgettable commentary from the loveably quotable Harry Doyle (former ball player and hall-of-fame announcer Bob Uecker) in the press box. On top of that is a memorable original score that kicks in at all the right moments in montages and especially in the final game with powerful beats hitting at the precise moment in Jake Taylor’s pivotal at bat to close out the game!

Time flies as I cannot believe it has already been 30 years since the first film in the franchise just as I am still shocked MLB allowed an R-rated movie featuring its brand to make its way out into the public. Major League is filled with the players drinking and smoking in the clubhouse (and press box), dropping nonstop F-bombs and all other kinds of colorful language throughout. In the commentary David Ward stated he did this to originally capture the spirit of the players in the clubhouse, and regretted it after the fact when he was confronted by many people saying they wanted to take their kids to see it, but did not because of the language. I am guessing that is why the sequels dialed it down to a PG-13 rating. David Ward is joined by producer Chris Chesser on the commentary and the two are primarily subdued as they state after a few lulls that they were taken in again by watching the movie for the first time in many years. Lulls aside, the duo have a fair amount of production facts to share from Milwaukee being a great host city primarily filming in to having to reshoot the ending after the original failed in test screenings.

The original twist ending is part of the rest of the fair amount of extras. There are three main behind-the-scenes features that make up most of the bonuses. Just a Bit Outside is a must-see 12 minute extra interviewing Bob Uecker on his evergreen quotes and how he landed the role. Major League Look at Major League is a 14 minute bonus interviewing MLB players on what the film meant to them and their favorite moments and lines and reflecting on how spot-on some of the movie is in actual baseball. Finally, My Kinda Team is the featured bonus clocking in at 23 minutes of cast and crew interviews nearly 20 years after the film released and reflecting on training for the film and many other fascinating anecdotes from the production. All three are recommended viewing for any Major League enthusiasts.

30 years later and Major League holds up splendidly! It and Field of Dreams came out within a year of each other and are likely the catalysts for many other fondly remembered baseball films that hit over the next several years like The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Little Big League, A League of Their Own, The Scout and naturally, Major League II. All these years later and Major League remains one of my all-time favorites and I can only give it the highest of recommendations!

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
The Accountant
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers: Infinity War
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Countdown
Creed
Deck the Halls
Die Hard
Dredd
The Eliminators
The Equalizer
Dirty Work
Faster
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Indiana Jones 1-4
Ink
The Interrogation
Interstellar
Jobs
Joy Ride 1-3
Man of Steel
Man on the Moon
Marine 3-6
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Mortal Kombat
National Treasure
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
The Replacements
Reservoir Dogs
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Shoot em Up
Skyscraper
Small Town Santa
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Vision Quest
The War
Wild
Wonder Woman
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division

If you have been keeping up with WWE the past few years you would have noticed its bigger emphasis on women’s wrestling since the 2015 ‘Diva Revolution’ (which then got re-branded the ‘Women’s Evolution’ in 2016) than in any other period throughout its history. Since 2015 there have now been more active women on the roster, more active women’s rivalries, women closing out several PPVs including the biggest one of the year for the first time ever with 2019’s Wrestlemania and the first ever installments of Hell in a Cell, Royal Rumble, Iron Man, Money in the Bank match-ups and an entire PPV in 2018 featuring all-women talent. Last year WWE finally got around for the first time in many years releasing an entire home video focusing entirely on women to honor the accomplishments of its lady grapplers throughout the years with 2018’s Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division (trailer).

It is a shame WWE has gone so long without an entirely devoted home video to its women wrestlers. WWE use to do a yearly swimsuit/beach retreat video in the early part of the century, but they quickly dissolved that after a few years and the only female athlete I recall to get the marquee documentary/match collection home video release was Lita only a couple years into her run which is unfathomable when you think about all the top women from WWE over the years and the countless home video releases. WWE attempts to make up for their wrongdoings with this three disc DVD featuring nine hours of mini-documentaries highlighting 22 women wrestlers throughout the decades and a match from each woman that gets the spotlight. To be fair though, the past few years WWE has been putting more of their documentary and interviews/specials on their streaming service, WWE Network, over home video exclusives the past few years and on WWE Network there has been many documentaries and specials dedicated to past and present women wrestlers.

It is a bit generous to label the two-to-three minute features as ‘mini-docs’ and are more abbreviated interviews with the ladies. With only two-to-three minutes of interview time it is understandable why some of the women interviewed do not attempt to try and go over their entire career and instead either make some quick generic statements about their legacy in women’s wrestling or instead focus on one big moment in their career. When they do the latter, it makes more of a impact like how Molly Holly talks about how big a deal it was to get shaved bald at Wrestlemania XX and Natalya reflecting on her opportunity to steal the show with Charlotte Flair at the first NXT TakeOver.

Some of the more controversial women of WWE’s past are either not highlighted at all in interview form or only featured in matches against other spotlighted women. The legendary Fabulous Moolah’s controversial allegations of her past surfacing in recent years results in no archived interviews featuring her which is kind of a shocker considering the icon status her and Mae Young got whenever WWE brought them out for a legends segment from the late 90s to the late 00s. Moolah is featured in a couple matches however. Once against Wendi Richter in an unearthed MSG house show bout and in a 10-women Survivor Series rules match with a bunch of classic talent I always heard about, but rarely seen in action such as Rockin’ Robin, Velvet McIntyre, the Glamour Girls and the Jumping Bomb Angels.

A lot of the famous names from the ‘Attitude Era’ and ‘Diva-Search Era’ stars that earned a rep for WWE featuring them more as showpieces instead of being remembered for their in-ring talents do not get the mini-doc treatment such as Sunny, Chyna, Sable, Debra, Terri, Eve, Christy Hemme, Ashley Massaro and Kelly Kelly. I was also surprised that a few legit in-ring talents got snubbed from the mini-doc treatment like Asuka, Jacquelyn and Jazz for some reason. A couple of these names make cameos in the 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble match and Chyna’s total squash over Ivory at Wrestlemania X-7 is featured, but for the most part these women are absent from the interviews. Of the 22 ‘spotlights’ only four of them are from the pre-Attitude-era consisting of Mae Young, Wendi Richter, Sherri Martel and Madusa/Alundra Blayze. I was delighted to see a lot of talent from the underrated 2001-2006 women’s division era get showcased and interviewed like Trish, Lita, Molly Holly, Ivory and Victoria. The expected breakout stars from the ‘Women’s Evolution’ era are all spotlighted with all the ‘Four Horsewomen’ and their successors like Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey. I am kind of cringing over Carmella’s inclusion in the spotlights since her Money in the Bank assist wins and later championship reign with help from one Mr. Ellsworth was the only dark cloud over the ‘Women’s Evolution’ from the past four years.

Of the 22 matches featured in the collection, all but several are worthy inclusions. A part of me would like to see another collection of standout women matches from 1985-95 because I cannot recall too many before and the four featured here are surprisingly good. Do not miss out on the aforementioned 1987 Survivor Series match and especially do not skip over the 1995 RAW match of Alundra Blayze/Bull Nakano. They pull off all kinds of insane spots that had me reeled in for the entire match while another part of me was shocked WWE put this type of match on TV in 1995.

WWE included a lot of first time ever match-ups with the women in this collection. Some of them are awesome like the first ever women’s Royal Rumble in 2018 and the first ever women’s Elimination Chamber match that same year. Others are underwhelming/disappointing considering the talent involved like the first women’s Cage Match with Lita and Victoria and the first women’s Hell in a Cell match with Sasha and Charlotte that has one of the most lackluster table spots of all time. NXT got the ball rolling with the ‘Women’s Evolution’ and I was thrilled to see a few NXT matches in here with standouts like Paige/Emma, Natalya/Charlotte and my personal all-time favorite women’s match featuring Sasha/Bayley in a Iron Man match back when we loved both of them and it seemed impossible that the two would later somehow seem capable of engaging in the worst rivalry of 2018. Luckily, better horsewomen matches are included like Lynch, Charlotte & Sasha tearing it up in their stellar triple threat at WrestleMania 32.

This collection wraps up with Ronda Rousey’s debut WWE match from WrestleMania 34 in her surprise show-stealing mixed tag with Kurt Angle against Stephanie & Triple H last year. It serves as a great teaser at the year of Ronda in WWE where she put the ‘Women’s Evolution’ into overdrive with her absolutely stunning first year in the business. This is a mostly gratifying collection of matches from WWE’s history of women’s wrestling and while they could have done a better job with a little more depth in the spotlights like they did with their True Giants home video release, this is still a pretty solid overall compilation at most of the best talent and memorable matches that WWE’s women have delivered. Easy recommendation for Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division.

July 25, 2019 Update: - A little over a week after posting this I noticed on Amazon out of nowhere a new DVD dropped chronicling Lita & Trish's storied rivalry. I had no idea this was coming and timed this entry nicely with Trish & Lita: Best Friends Better Enemies (trailer) releasing a week after I originally posted this entry! I ordered it right when I noticed its listing just a day or two after its releasing so make sure come back here down the line for my thoughts! Good on WWE for dedicating another home video for some of the best women to grace its ring!

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Clash of Champions
Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 3
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
DDP: Positively Living
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
Eric Bishoff: Wrestlings Most Controversial Figure
Fight Owens Fight: The Kevin Owens Story
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Impact Wresting Presents: Best of Hulk Hogan
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
The Kliq Rules
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
NXT: From Secret to Sensation
NXT Greatest Matches Vol 1
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
OMG Vol 3: Top 50 Incidents in ECW History
Owen: Hart of Gold
RoH Supercard of Honor 2010-Present
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Scott Hall: Living on a Razors Edge
Sting: Into the Light
Straight Outta Dudley-ville: Legacy of the Dudley Boyz
Straight to the Top: Money in the Bank Anthology
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
TLC 2017
TNA Lockdown 2005-2016
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Ultimate Fan Pack: Roman Reigns
Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe
War Games: WCWs Most Notorious Matches
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28-Present
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2017