DVD Review: Ric Flair & The Four Horsemen
DVD Review: Ric Flair & The Four Horsemen
I will start my review of with an analogy. A few years ago, I bought a Looney Tunes collection set of DVDs. Before buying it, I read the reviews on Amazon. A lot of the reviews were negative. They were on the order of "This collection sucks...I can't believe they forget to include such-and-such..." and "The special features should have included such-and-such...". After reading a number of those, someone posted a review saying something on the order of "Look...there's so many great Looney Tunes cartoons out there, if you're getting to obsess over which ones aren't there, no one will ever be happy. There's no way they can include everyone's favorite in one collection."
That being said, I think that any Horsemen retrospective is going to be subject to similar criticisms. There is so much history there, so many people involved, and so many great moments that no retrospective of two or three hours is going to be able to cover it to any big fan's satisfaction. So, what I liked or didn't like may ring true with you, or it may be totally the opposite. Anyway, here goes...here's my list:
Things they did right with the DVD:
- Getting Tully Blanchard and Barry Windham involved was really key to making this DVD work. Generally, the best permutation of the Horsemen is considered to be Flair, Arn Anderson, Blanchard and Windham. So, having all four of them involved in this, as well as JJ Dillon, gave the DVD its credibility.
- Giving significant interview time to Tully Blanchard was, imho, a master stroke. He is a guy I'd never seen in an out-of-character interview. He was incredibly well-spoken and extremely funny in a very wry way. He was a lot more interesting and honest than I expected him to be.
- Getting Paul Roma for the DVD was hilarious. The whole bit with his interview and the interviews with other people about him is absolutely priceless.
- In contrast to some of the other WWE DVDs, they didn't get a bunch of interviews with people who happened to be in the building that day who had nothing to do with the subject matter. The only person that really probably falls into that category is Gene Okerlund. Yeah, he was there in the later years, but not during the real glory days. While Shawn Michaels and Triple H technically have nothing to do with the Horsemen, I think that their perspective is interesting because of their credibility as icons of their era, and the fact that their careers overlapped with the Horsemen.
- They did a really good job covering the lifestyle and success of the Horsemen as a group and did not even really mention the successes of the individuals of the group.
Things they could have done better with the DVD:
- There's a lot of key players that were not interviewed. Ole Anderson (read his autobiography and you'll know why Vince McMahon would never do business with him again), Lex Luger and Sid Vicious were all people that were sorely missing. Lex and Sid were definitely thrown under the bus by everyone, and I'm curious whether or not they were invited to participate. While Ole is acknowledged as an original member and there are some clips shown of his interviews, there wasn't all that much said about him, likely due to his issues with Vince and Linda McMahon.
- They needed to get more interviews with Horsemen opponents. They had Dusty Rhodes, which was really cool, but that was about it. They had Ricky Steamboat, but he never really tangled with the Horsemen as a group. They had Michael Hayes, who gave great insight because he was of that era, but he never talked about what it was like actually wrestling them even though the Horsemen and the Freebirds did tangle with each other, at least once. He talked totally as an outside observer. I was very surprised that they didn't have anything from Animal of the Road Warriors, since he gives commentary in many of the other WWE DVDs.
- The extras were not in chronological order.
- There was plenty of room on the second DVD for more stuff. Since WWE has that incredible library, I don't know why they didn't throw more matches on it.
A few other random observations:
- There seems to be two prevailing schools of thought on why the Horsemen were so popular. The most common one is the mystique...who wouldn't think nice clothes, private jets, limos and pretty girls are cool? However, it's postulated in the DVD that everyone wanted to see the Horsemen lose because they represented the big corporations taking down the little guy, which was something that was happening to a lot of "little guy" wrestling fans back in the 1980s in their personal lives. Fans wanted to see people like Dusty take them out because Dusty represented your tough-ass next door neighbor who was a plumber...and he didn't take any crap from The Man.
- There's an implication in the DVD that furthers one of the bigger misconceptions of the Andersons. The fact is that Ole and Arn never did hold the World Tag Team Championship. They held the National Tag Team Championship, which was third-tier (behind the U.S. belts), and that was the only tag team championship the two of them ever held together. In fact, it was such a low-level championship that they retired the belts.
- I had never before seen the Flair/Morton match in the cage from Great American Bash '86. Good stuff. The match is also notable because it was like that match between Bret Hart and Ted DiBiase on the Bret Hart DVD...there was no voiceover from announcers, and you get to hear what's going on in the ring.
- There are interview segments with Chris Benoit. I'm curious if, as part of the WWE's distancing themselves from him, they will reedit this DVD collection and remove him from it.
- I found it odd that instead of including the very first War Games match, they put one in from 1988. The match from 1988 was, as action goes, nearly as good as the first one, but I would have rather seen the original. I think they did this in an effort to show matches that have never been put on DVD before.
- It's very validating when, as an outsider, you've thought something for many years and an expert confirms what you've been thinking. Either Arn or Ric (or both) noted that they thought that their match against each other at Fall Brawl '95 was promoted all wrong. It could have been huge and main-evented a PPV if it was built up and promoted right. Instead, it wasn't even at the top of the card.
- There's something that I really didn't pick up on until I was watching parts of this the second time, while showing them to my wife. In those interview segments where Ric Flair talks about women during the Horsemen glory days, he actually giggles like a little kid telling the stories, because he's so excited. It's kind of subtle, but it's really funny once you pick up on it.
Thumbs up! ;-)