It’s surprising how “The History of WWE” feels less like a documentary and more like a press kit for the WWE organization. There’s only about two hours of a film here, and most of the more important facets of the organization are completely glossed over. I really would have loved to learn more about the WWF, why and when it became the WWE, and for the filmmakers to feature many more wrestlers in their profile. Surely, Hulk Hogan helped revive the popularity of the WWE for the eighties, but there were also folks like Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, and Stone Cold, all of whom really helped bring the WWE in to the new generation.
There’s no mention of their rivalry with the WCW, or how the ECW introduced a new generation of extreme wrestling that McMahon and co. had to eventually compete with. There also isn’t a lot of archival footage on how the WWE influenced pop culture at its height. That said, “The History of WWE” is a fine refresher course that explores its humble beginnings with Vince McMahon Sr. and how his brilliance as a showman and promoter turned WWF in to a property that could make money. There’s a great segment that explores Bruno Sammartino and his influence over early WWF, and a lot of talk about Hulk Hogan. Once again there isn’t a lot of looks at Hulk Hogan’s past, and who he was before the WWE turned him in to an American hero.
Hulk is deserving of an entire hour alone, from his start as a minor heel, to his transformation in to Hulk Hogan, spreading Hulkamania through the world, and how his character helped the country lend a voice to the cold war of the decade. Hogan was an amazing force for the WWE, and he only garners about thirty minutes in total. There’s not much of a mention of folks like Macho Man, Andre the Giant, or the Ultimate Warrior as well, which is a shame for eighties fans that wanted to see how they altered the course of the show. There’s also no real time devoted to the more disastrous endeavors of the WWE organization including the XFL, and their controversy with Owen Hart. Surely, he’s featured and paid homage here, but there isn’t much discussion.
As I mentioned “The History of WWE” feels more like a love letter and press kit for the WWE than an honest portrait. The WWE really should garner a longer more detailed profile, but for a nice and entertaining nostalgia trip, it’s a breezy two hour biography. The two disc Blu-Ray comes packed with more nostalgic featurettes for fans to look back on with fondness. “Reporting on the News” features Stu Saks who remembers the controversial moment in wrestling history with Buddy Rogers leading in to the formation of the World Wrestling Federation. Jimmy Valiant discusses a meeting with Vince McMahon that launched his career, and Linda McMahon discusses a time of great financial difficulty. “Titan Sports” discusses the company that was form to work McMahon’s promotions, while “Promo Man” explores McMahon’s work with building talent promos.
“WWE Universe” talks to fans that enjoy the WWE universe and recall their favorite moments. Finally, there’s the WrestleMania Match from 2008 featuring Floyd “Money” Mayweather fighting Big Show, as well as a WrestleMania Match from 2009 featuring Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. Disc Two features a slew of matches including the WWE Championship Match between Bruno Sammartino and “Superstar” Billy Graham from 1977, and the WWE Championship Match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant from WrestleMania III. There’s also the 1988 Royal Rumble Match featuring Bret Hart, Tito Santana, Butch Reed, Jim Neidhart, and Jake Roberts to name a few. There’s also the first episode of RAW from 1993 with Koko B. Ware and Yokozuna, as well as the 1996 King of the Ring finals with Jake “The Snake” Roberts battling Stone Cold Steve Austin.
There’s also the 1997 Survivor Series Championship Match with Bret “Hit Man” Hart and Shawn Michaels, as well as the RAW Moment with Tyson and Austin from 1998. There’s the WWE match from 1999’s Smackdown featuring Triple H and The Rock, and the historic moment from 2001’s RAW where Vince McMahon announces the purchase of rival WCW. There’s the 2002 WrestleMania Match featuring the Rock and Hollywood Hulk Hogan, and the 6 Man Tag Team Match with John Cena, Batista, & Rey Mysterio fighting Chris Jericho, Big Show, & Randy Orton. There’s the 2001 RAW moment with CM Punk speaks his mind, and finally the #1 Contender’s Match for the WWE Championship from 2013 featuring John Cena fighting CM Punk on RAW.