Badseed's Bottomline Supplemental #2
WWE Presents: The Road Warriors - Life and Death
Running Time: 360 Minutes
Many people got into wrestling because of Hulk Hogan or late on Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock. Sorry HHH, no one got involved in wrestling because of you. My journey into wrestling happened in 1983 to 1984 when I was turning the channels and I stopped on WPIX Channel 11 where two mean-looking, tough ass, face painted, mad cool wrestlers jumped into the ring and thoroughly beat the snot out of two jobbers in the AWA. I was hooked. Some time later, I saw the same two wrestlers massacre another team on Channel 68 for the NWA and the carnage would soon continue in the WWE, WCW, AWF (oh yeah, many don’t remember that failed federation) and even in USA Pro Wrestling where I had the honor of calling their first and only match with the company. The Four Horseman, Midnight Express, Skyscrapers, Powers of Pain, Demolition, Hart Foundation and Money Inc.; one team rose above them all; the Road Warriors or the Legion of Doom as they were also called stood out amongst what was once a heavily populated sea of great tag-teams.
While I will always consider them an NWA team, because that federation let them be who they were, they achieved their greatest success in the WWE and now, under the new Legends Division, the WWE has presented a two-DVD set featuring Hawk and Animal; the Road Warriors from their debut in 1983 in Georgia Championship Wrestling to 2003 when Michael “Hawk” Hegstrand passed away from a tragic heart attack. I picked this DVD up right away and was instantly captivated and disappointed by what I saw.
The 100-minute documentary was a great look at the Road Warriors throughout the years and made me relive so many great memories from my youth, but there was just so much left out. I enjoyed the discussions about how the Road Warriors changed the face of tag-team wrestling from the days of Bruiser and Baron Von Raschke and the Briscoe Brothers to a new era of teams like the Koloffs, Demolition and the Powers of Pain. However, while the discs look at their triumphs, it makes it appear that they never lost any of their titles. I feel being able to lose matches is just as much a part of wrestling as being allowed to dominate. So, their loss of the AWA Tag-Team titles to Jimmy Garvin and Steven Regal of the NWA Tag-Team Championship to the Varsity Club or losing the WWE Tag-Team belts to Money Inc. and The New Age Outlaws should have also been discussed.
At the same time, important moments are disregarded or glossed over from the team’s history. Their heel turn against Dusty Rhodes is mentioned as an important step in elevating themselves for an eventual WWE run, but there is no mention of the fact that it led to them finally winning the NWA Tag-Team Titles and how the fans dictated their face turn almost immediately, refusing to boo them. The documentary also doesn’t discuss their thoughts on the embarrassing angle where their long-time manager Paul Ellering brought back their childhood doll Rocco to help them regain their edge. If you are going to show it in one of their matches, you may want to mention it. Also, while the DVD touches on Hawk’s heat with Vince McMahon and how he ended up in Japan teaming with Kenzo Suzuki as a new-style Road Warriors, it doesn’t discuss how Animal was forced to team with Crush in the wake of his partner’s departure from the WWE as a new version of the LOD. Speaking of Crush, I also hated how they made Demolition look like a second-rate imitation when the team ended up becoming a formidable duo in their own right. The WWE should stop rewriting history. Fans loved Demolition; just not as much as the Legion of Doom, but I bet they would pick up a Demolition DVD.
The DVD also makes it look like the Legion of Doom returned to the WWE their second time around as LOD 2000, when they returned much earlier, only changing their gimmick during some time off. They do examine Hawk’s problems with drugs and alcohol very well and how the angle played out on television, mirroring his real life, but they never show where the angle went and how or why Animal ended up in WCW as a solo wrestler with Ric Flair’s Magnificent Seven stable. It does touch upon their one night RAW return against RVD and Kane and they sadly discuss Hawk’s death complete with a touching tribute by the Dudley Boys. I wish they had Vince McMahon and the Dudleys make comments on the documentary, but those were also not included for some reason.
In addition to the documentary, there are a number of bonuses, including some squash matches, which were a defining point of the Road Warriors’ career. Great promos were also included along with a passing of the torch-type matches as the Road Warriors battle Bruiser and Baron Von Raschke and another battle with the Briscoe Brothers. All their defining moments are shown, including matches with the Fabulous Freebirds, the match against the Midnight Express on the giant scaffold, the surreal battle between the LOD and Demolition, Money Inc. and a classic battle with the Hart Foundation. There are also battles with Sting and Lex Luger, The Godwins, The Four Horseman and their Crocket Cup victory over Magnum T.A. and Ronnie Garvin. Confidential pieces are also included featuring the merchandising machine that went behind the Road Warriors as well as a tribute to Hawk.
It would have been nice to include matches with the Steiner Brothers, the famous War Games battles and one or two matches from their glory days in Japan (we do get a rarely seen battle from Japan involving The Road Warriors and Hulk Hogan that must be seen), but that is just nitpicking. I know this review comes across negative, but I am very happy to own this piece of my past. I popped for every match on this set and every interview where Hawk would go, “Well…,” in his distinct voice. I guess as a big fan, I just wanted so much more. We will probably see more great matches from Hawk and Animal on future WWE DVD releases, but if you want to make one definitive Road Warriors set, so much more could have been done. Still, any Road Warriors’ fan should be just happy they made a set to begin with.
WWE Presents: The Road Warriors is a fun watch that will have you traveling down memory lane and will remind fans of a time when tag-team wrestling was more than an afterthought. With the exception of the Dudley Boys, they just don’t make teams like the Road Warriors anymore. Sit back and enjoy. Ohhhh!!! What a Rush!!!
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