Thursday, June 16, 2016

True Giants

WWE has released countless retrospectives on some of their best names in the business since their DVD business took off around the turn of the century. Minus a few exceptions, few of those career spanning retrospectives cover the “Big Men” of the business, aka the several hundred pound goliaths who tower over their competition. I can only think of a handful off the top of my head with past career-spanning DVDs dedicated to Andre the Giant, Kane, Undertaker and Big Show. There have been plenty more giants over the years that deserve that special treatment, and 2014’s True Giants (trailer) is WWE’s remedy to that situation.

If you remember WWE’s Greatest Stars of the 80s/90s DVDs, then you will be familiar with the format of True Giants. Instead of feature length documentaries on each star featured, we get roughly ten minute mini-documentaries on each of the 15 wrestlers spotlighted (up that to 19 if you invest in the BluRay). In an ideal world nearly every wrestler featured in True Giants is worthy of a documentary of at least an hour, especially considering guys featured here like Sid, Vader, Kevin Nash Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy and Mark Henry have all had prolific careers and this is the first time a WWE DVD retrospective has focused on their singles career. For the theme and format of this collection, I get where WWE is coming from with the mini-documentaries on each star, and for what they pulled off, they did it quite well.

For wrestlers still living, WWE recorded all new interviews with talent like Big Show, Kevin Nash, Sid Eudy, Vader and Mark Henry. For wrestlers who have passes away they tracked down a former friend in the business to interview about their career and tales from the road. Some of the talent interviewed for tributes include Pat Patterson honoring Gorilla Monsoon, Ken Patera remembering Big John Studd, Paul Heyman discussing Bam Bam Bigelow, Bill Apter sharing about Haystacks Calhoun and Tim White spreading lots of love for Andre the Giant.

While hitting the major bullet points of their respective careers they are covering, these felt more like WWE Hall-of-Fame induction speeches, and I have no problem with that at all. As short as these interviews were, I was pretty glued in to most of them because a lot of the talent featured here have never been interviewed on any other WWE DVDs or WWE Network specials. To the best of my knowledge, True Giants features the following talent making their interview debut on WWE Home Video: One Man Gang, Ken Patera, Psycho Sid/Vicious, Vader and Abdullah the Butcher. I will give props to WWE for going the extra mile to interview a lot of these guys for the first time.

One more time to emphasize, if you are looking for in-depth features on a lot of these guys then you came to the wrong place, but for newer fans this provides a great cliffs notes version of each big man featured. There are a ton of extra matches on True Giants. The DVD has 27 bouts, while the BluRay contains several extra upping the total to 32. As nice as that match count is, I hate to break it to you but until around the turn of the century it was rare to find big men wrestlers that had good mobility and were capable of keeping up speed-and-ability wise with their lighter competition much like guys as Kevin Owens today. There were a few exceptions like Bam Bam Bigelow, Big Boss Man and Vader of being quality big man workers in the ring, but that was about it.

As a result about two thirds of the matches on this collection are not even worth your time. A majority of them are quick squash matches, or oddball matches that result in strange DQ finishes. For example, of the 12 matches on the first BluRay disc, I only noted three of them as worth watching. One being a Bruno Sammartino/Ernie Ladd match that had an old school smash-mouth style throughout. The second being a six man tag featuring Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes, Junkyard Dog, Ernie Ladd and the Wild Samoans in all out brawl, and finally a super hot crowd rightly going bonkers for a fantastic UWF Title match between One Man Gang and Ted Dibiase.

Of the 20 matches on the second disc I noted only seven as being worth your time including a rare time the Hulkster and Flair squared off on WWE TV in an early ’92 tag match. Another good match up features Diesel winning his first singles gold from Razor Ramon on a ’94 episode of Superstars. WWE loves to abuse the “David vs. Goliath” story arc, and the only time it really worked of the matches in this collection is in a very good encounter between Mark Henry and Rey Mysterio in 2006. So do the math, and having only 10 of 32 matches consisting of good quality in this BluRay collection is not that great of a value. For what it is worth there is some kind of unintentional human car crash factor for the wacky finishes and quick squashes a lot of these matches have and the fact that they feature a diverse cast that usually do not dominate home video releases make them stand out in a unique way.

I would not say I am all about the big man wrestlers in the grand scheme of wrestling, but I have always respected the spectacle and diversity they bring to a wrestling card. Even more so I appreciate how most have evolved into holding their own with the main stars of the roster over the years and True Giants definitely captures the evolution of the biggest big men of the sport. If you are looking for thorough documentaries and just sheer match quality then you can skip this one, but if you are more of a wrestling historian than True Giants is definitely a must-have set in your collection that WWE Home Video has rarely touched on before.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015

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