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Compilation Tape Extravaganza! 

August 10, 2005

by the Canadian Bulldog    
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I've mentioned on this site before how I often go out of my way to find obscure, non-WWE DVD's to add to rapidly-expanding wrestling video collection. It's not because I'm fed up with the current WWE selections or anything; it's just because I like having the satisfaction of watching something you can't find at your local Wal-Mart. Also, they're usually a bit cheaper.

Back in my tape-trading days many, many years ago, my favorites were often "compilation tapes"; videos that didn't necessarily revolve around one wrestler, company or theme, but were just random collections of matches. So I was delighted to find six such DVD's recently, none of which bearing the omnipresent WWE logo affixed to the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. 

One additional note before we get started: many of these copies I stumbled across in used bookstores, mom-and-pop video rental places, and record shops, where the last thing you'd expect to find are wrestling DVD's. Not only are these great places to find obscure videos, but you often can pick them up at a bargain.

Slam Bam! Pro Wrestling Superstars - Past, Present and Future. Episode 1: Andre the Giant & More

And the winner for the "Longest DVD Title" award is…

This series was produced last year by Guillotine Films, a company which I can't find out much information about online. I do know, however, that have also been available on Canadian pay-per-view once in a while.

The collections feature matches from Scott D'Amore's Border City Wrestling, USA Pro Wrestling, the Quebec-based Internet Wrestling Syndicate and other independent promotions. And to satisfy the "past" part of the equation, each DVD features a classic match, in this case, a tag team affair featuring the legendary Andre The Giant.

Production Values: It would be hard to blame the company for the varying video quality among the different promotions featured here, so I won't get into that. In brief, all of the matches here were of decent video quality - absolutely nothing that was unwatchable; decent sound and picture all around.

The folks at "Past, Present and Future" do a nice job of stringing it all together. A professional looking video starts us off, and host Aaron Weiss sets all the matches up quite nicely, explaining the background of each competitor, and in some cases, what they went on to do after this matchup. The graphics introducing each competitor are a nice touch.

Commentary: The quality varies. While nothing here is awful, few of the announcers introduce themselves at the beginning of a match, which is a pet peeve of mine. It sounds like the two Border City Wrestling matches have the same commentary team, hired on especially for this DVD, which I have no problems with. Yet it would be nice to know their names.

The Action: The opening match between TNA's Amazing Red and ROH's Xavier was a fun, watchable spotfest. A handful of awkward-looking bumps here and there, and the finish was a tad confusing if you're unfamiliar with the USA Pro group… A triple-threat match featuring then-TNA stars Shane Douglas, D-Lo Brown and Johnny Swinger was fine for the story they were trying to tell… A title bout between "The Future" Chris Sabin and "Showtime" Eric Young (possibly from the same BCW card as the previous match) had some decent spots, but was a little too long for my tastes… The main event featured Andre The Giant and Dick The Bruiser against Ox Baker and Killer Karl Von Krupp, and was a nice piece of nostalgia. Andre was actually more agile here than he was in most of the recently re-released WWE DVD. The footage had to be almost 30 years old, yet the video quality was pretty good. The only negative? The match was from a weekly television show and it ended as the show run out of TV time! Which was frustrating when I used to see that happen on WCW Worldwide years ago, but downright UNACCEPTABLE when I'm paying to see a conclusive ending (and it's one of only FOUR matches on the DVD).

The Extras: I was promised "shoot interviews" from Shane Douglas and D-Lo Brown, but you have to scroll to the very end of the video to find it -- in other words, you can't skip ahead to that chapter. Both guys (particularly Douglas) have some really interesting things to say about ring psychology.

Unfortunately, the combined footage lasts less than four minutes. I'd understand if they were using this footage as a teaser for future shoot interview DVD's with these guys, but they're not. And on its own, there's not nearly enough here to qualify as a bonafide "extra feature". Obviously, Shane and D-Lo were quite willing to talk to the videographers; show us the whole interview, please.

Overall: I didn't time it, but I'd be HIGHLY skeptical if there was two full hours of wrestling here as the DVD jacket suggests. Still, it's a bargain at about $10 Canadian (85 cents U.S.), and the producers obviously put some time into doing this right. I'd buy other videos in this series (and if you scroll down a bit, you'll see that I did). Overall Rating: 2/5.

Slam Bam! Pro Wrestling Superstars - Past, Present and Future. Episode 3: Hardcastle & Cage

What happened to Episode 2, you might ask? Well, uh, I couldn't find it. Plus I later found out that the featured match involved Bam Bam Bigelow and that didn't exactly make me rush out to find a copy.

Because this DVD is similar in many respects to the previous one, I'm just going to skip on down to the actual content:

The Action: Up-and-comer Kevin Steen takes on Beef Wellington (I don't believe this is the Calgary Stampede version of Beef) in the opening match, which I'm told by IWS expert Llakor was from IWS' Scarred 4 Life show last April. It's actually a decent, fast-paced bout between the two. The only thing that bothers me is when the announcers keep referring to Wellington as a "comedy act". That's fine when an outsider is recapping the video, but for your company's own announcers to say it, it just takes away from the effectiveness of his character… This is followed by an excellent contest involving Low-Ki and Homicide in a sort of "teacher vs. student" battle… TNA standouts Jerry Lynn, Pete Williams and Johnny Devine are featured in a three-way dance, which the announcers use to play up the Team TNA vs. Team Canada feud. The match itself is okay, but nothing spectacular… Finally, the "classic" match features two goofs named Denny Kaas and Otis Apollo (who sound like they should be jobbing to Demolition on an old episode of Superstars of Wrestling) against Sexton Hardcastle and Christian Cage, who would later go on to greater success as… The Bushwhackers!!! No, just kidding, it's Edge & Christian in one of their earlier appearances as a tag team. Again, nothing special, but makes for decent nostalgia value.

The Extras: Another mini-shoot interview, this one with, of all people, Pierre Carl Ouelette, who will be forever remembered in the annals of wrestling history as That Wrestling Pirate. This one is even shorter than the Brown/Douglas shoots over on Episode 1. I am not impressed.

Overall: The fantastic Steen-Wellington matchup, as well as some early E&C footage, was enough for me to give this the nod over the previous DVD. Still, this was also under two hours, so by the time you're really getting into the content, it's already finished. Overall rating: 3/5.

Blood, Brawls & Grudges

This was produced in 2002 by Kit Parker Films, most notably of Wrestling Gold fame. This particular DVD focuses on grudge matches in the now-defunct Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion, so there's a little more of a theme going on here than in the other videos I reviewed.

The main selling point to the Kit Parker videos is the "insider" commentary by former SMW owner Jim Cornette and Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. As I mentioned in an earlier review of Before They Were Superstars, Cornette and Meltzer are highly entertaining and their presence alone makes the purchase worthwhile.

Production Values: The whole look has a 1980's Memphis wrestling quality to it -- gaudy graphics, poor lighting and in many cases, a single camera is filming everything. About 10 seconds into the opening bout, a crawler comes across the screen apologizing in advance for the "imperfections" on the video, which is never a good sign. But don't worry -- the match quality more than makes up for it.

Commentary: You can switch back and forth from the Meltzer/Cornette commentary to hear the original announcing (Sounds like Jim Ross, Bob Caudle, and some other names NWA fans may be familiar with). But I much prefer the insider stuff, so we'll stick with that.

It's not the traditional play-by-play, obviously, but you get a tremendous history for each wrestler, amusing anecdotes and tons of other dirtsheet-style gossip to satisfy your inner mark.

The fact that Cornette was either at ringside, competing in, or otherwise involved with the booking for most of these matches adds a unique perspective as well.

The Action: The opening six-man tag match features Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane and Tom Pritchard of Heavenly Bodies/Midnight Express fame against The Rock & Roll Express and Arn Anderson. Pretty much as you'd expect: just a tremendous technical match featuring some of the greatest tag team wrestlers of that era… Next is another six-man, this one with The Rock & Rolls and Macho Man Randy Savage against Brian Lee, Chris Candido and Bruiser Bedlam. It's not as exciting as the previous bout, but still pretty damn good… For some reason, I'm reminded of the time I met Bedlam (better known to some fans as jobber Johnny K-9) in the locker room of an indy show, and he just sat there passing gas…

Moving right along, more Heavenly Body action with Pritchard and Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray against Rick and Scott Steiner in a match that's FAR BETTER than their SummerSlam '93 outing from around the same time… Another tag team affair follows, this one with Cactus Jack and Tracy Smothers against Candido and Boo Bradley (a/k/a Balls Mahoney). It wasn't anything terrific, but you can never have enough Mick Foley… There's a great little cage match between Al Snow and Ricky Morton. Watch closely and you can see a young Unabom (a/k/a Kane) handcuffed to the cage. The Del Ray/Pritchard version of the Heavenly Bodies are next, taking on Smothers and Dirty White Boy (later known as the notorious T.L. Hopper) in what's dubbed as "the bloodiest match in SMW history" … A match featuring veterans Tommy Rich and Terry Gordy against Bradley and Mongolian Stomper is surprisingly watchable, considering three of the four guys are approaching senior citizen status here… A comedy match follows with Cornette wrestling the vertically-challenged Butch Cassidy, which plays exactly as you'd figure… The final match pits Dory and Terry Funk against Scott and Steve Armstrong, and is kind of plodding at times; probably not the best note to end this DVD on, in my opinion.

The Extras: Depends on whether or not you count the "insider" commentary as an extra or not. Otherwise, you've got biographies on several wrestlers, which were composed by Bryan Alvarez of Figure 4 Weekly fame.

Overall: Seriously, what's not to like? You've got a solid 2-plus hours (131 minutes listed on the DVD jacket) of matches that are all above-average in quality. You've got Cornette and Meltzer dishing out insider dirt. You've got Rick & Scott Steiner, The Midnight Express and Al Snow in their primes, or close to it. I'd be hard pressed to suggest a better compilation DVD out there. Overall rating: 5/5.

Wrestling Planet's Masters Of The Ring

Wrestlingplanet.com is one of those newzboard sites that honestly, I had never heard of before seeing this DVD. Still, it boasted Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Jushin Liger -- a virtual trifecta or workrate if I ever saw one -- on the front cover, so obviously they've done something right. Heck, this thing is destined to be one of the greatest productions ever. The DVD jacket says so itself, courtesy of a critic's quote on the front.

"Masters of the Ring is destined to be one of the greatest productions ever" -- Wrestling Planet

Hmmm… no bias there. Hey guys, here's one for your next DVD, absolutely free of charge:

"Please hire someone to do commentary!" -- Canadian Bulldog, Online Onslaught

Yes, that's correct. There is absolutely NO commentary for the entire thing. I'm guessing that these guys acquired a bunch of match footage that was taken from someone filming matches from the audience using a camcorder. If I'm wrong, someone from Wrestling Planet can feel free to correct me on that, but I'd be surprised if that wasn't the case.

Production Values: See above sentence. The quality varies quite a bit, depending on who's holding the Sony Handicam at the moment. Some cameras are running around following the action (there are quite a few brawls that spill out of the ringside area), some are just jumpy and miss key parts of the action, and in some cases, the cameraperson is clearly trying to set up behind the legitimate ringside camera to get decent shots. Obviously, this doesn't leave a great taste in my mouth.

In fairness, at least one of the matches (Benoit vs. Too Cold Scorpio) is filmed using an actual ringside camera.

The arenas/community centers that house some of these matches also vary, but as I said with "Past, Present and Future", it's hard to fault the DVD compiler for this. Otherwise, a black screen with white text introduces each match and there's random entrance music for some of the bouts, but that's about as fancy as these guys get.

Commentary: Well, as I mentioned earlier, there's none to be found. I cannot emphasize enough how much this bothers me. They could have had someone independently announce over the whole video; it doesn't have to be a brand name or anything. Hell, I'll throw my name in the hat if they're really desperate for someone to do voiceovers. You don't need JR and The King, but it does help to have a voice guide us through the action.

So while I wasn't hearing commentary, here are some of the things I did pick up on:

· Wrestlers like Vampiro and Benoit audibly calling spots in the ring.

· People in the audience laughing at the action (which is fine when you have Jim Cornette being bitten on the ass by a midget, but in normal matches, not such a great feature).

· Dorks in the third row trying to call the action or complaining about a particular spot.

· The screeching sound of chairs shifting whenever someone gets up.

· Lots of random shrieking, often for no apparent reason.

· Fans screaming things like "Fuck you, Doug Gilbert. Fuck you, you're a fucking bitch!", again for no apparent reason.

Once more: I did not like this aspect of the DVD.

The Action: The opening match is an EXTREMELY sloppy brawl involving Vampiro and Pirata Morgan, which only got really interesting whenever Super Crazy interfered… They showed clips (essentially the third fall) of a match involving Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr against Santo and Octagon, which from what I saw, was actually excellent… Terry Funk and Doug Gilbert had a long, plodding brawl that saw interference by Dory Funk Jr. and Tommy Gilbert, neither of which looked a day over 105… Konnan and Perro Aguayo had a cage match that was quite brutal and had a real big-show feel to it… Benoit and Scorpio had a surprisingly-lackluster match, considering this looks to be around the time of their ECW stints… Jushin Liger against Great Sasuke sounds like it has a WCW ring announcer (not Gary Michael Capetta), although it clearly takes place in Japan. As you'd expect, the match is pretty damn fantastic… Next up is not a match per se, but a "riot" in which fans started tossing a ridiculous amount of chairs into the ring after a match involving Konnan and Rey Mysterio. Unreal!… Rey next tags up with Ultimo Dragon against Psicosis and Heavy Metal. A fantastic spotfest, right out of the opening match of Nitro from back in the day, which is unfortunately mzffdc by some marks in the third row starting lots of annoying chants… Sabu battles a young Al Snow in the final match here, and both guys really tear the house (er, high school gym) down. They advertise this as "one of the BEST matches to ever be caught on film", which obviously isn't true. Third-best, possibly. No, I'm kidding. It IS the best match on this DVD. They also advertise a surprise wrestler running in at the end, but I just knew that it was going to be Terry Funk. I was right.

The Extras: You can click on a link that encourages us to visit wrestlingplanet.com (which, incidentally, didn't seem to be advertising this video AT ALL when I checked) and niolan.com, which I believe produced this. That's it.

Overall: If you're not as picky as I am about the lack of play-by-play and production values, then I say see this. There are quite a few decent matches here. But personally, I can't get past those other factors. Overall rating: 2.5/5.

Wrestling Gold: Busted Open

This is another of the Kit Parker productions, and part of that "Wrestling Gold" series that I've never been able to find the entire collection of on this side of the border. Sigh…

Unlike the previous Cornette/Meltzer compilation I reviewed, this is mostly footage from the late-70's and early-80's in Southwest Championship Wrestling, a Texas-based territory that was actually featured on the USA Network prior to the WWF's run there. But otherwise, the same general concept: people are buying this as much for the "insider" commentary as they are for the matches.

Production Values: Because the matches are old, they just aren't up to the quality level that people are used to today. We're talking one and sometimes two cameras filming action, often in a television studio-type setting.

Before each match, Cornette and Meltzer are shown (apparently in a men's room, judging by the lighting and acoustics) introducing the action. Simple but effective.

Commentary: See "Blood, Brawls & Grudges" for my comments. Again, I'm referring to the Cornette/Meltzer pairing here, and they do a fantastic job of explaining who these guys are, what happened to them and their thoughts on wrestling history in general. I'll also add that they sound a bit more relaxed here than they do on the SMW DVD, allowing them to have a bit more fun and take potshots at guys like David Arquette (this was produced in 2001, and the whole "actor wins WCW title" thing was still a sore spot with these wrestling purists, for obvious reasons).

The Action: We open with a rather weak women's match between Sherri Martel and Judi Martin that does nothing for me (no diva rejects present; that MUST be it)… We get to see one of the first matches ever for Shawn Michaels where, at the age of 19 or 20, he squashes journeyman Ken Johnson… A bleah tag team affair between Gino Hernandez and Tully Blanchard against The Grapplers ended with Blanchard turning on his partner… The match between the two ex-partners is next, and is decidedly better in an old-school, final blow-off match kind of way… An odd segment next, as Lou Thesz awards the original, 75-year-old NWA World Title to the winner of an Adrian Adonis vs. Bob Orton Jr. match (!!!) in an attempt to make Southwest Championship Wrestling home to the "undisputed" World Champion. Three guesses as to how THAT turned out. Despite the love this gets from our commentators, it's boring as hell to me. Oh yes, and Cornette puts over Bob's son Randy as "a great young talent". We'll forget about that for now…

Next is a brutal, brutal bout between Bruiser Brody and Abdullah The Butcher, pleasing me because I'd never actually seen a match between them before this… Larry Zybsko against Scott Casey was as shitty as it sounds… A "battle of the piledrivers" between Jerry Lawler and Bob Sweetan is next, and it's at least watchable. The very unlikely duo of Terry Funk and Ivan Putski team up for possibly the only time against Gino Hernandez and Tully Blanchard in a mildly-interesting affair, which ends with interference by a very young Ricky Morton and Some Other GuyThe Mongolian Stomper tangles with Dick Slater in a "steel cage" that I think they have constructed from my next-door neighbor's fence… Closing things off is an AWA World Title match between champion Nick Bockwinkel and Bruiser Brody. Bobby Heenan is in Bockwinkel's corner (I wonder if Nick ever called himself "The Bock") and Lou Thesz is the guest referee, so there are four legendary characters involved. Decent little match until the crappy DQ ending.

The Extras: Nothing to speak of.

Overall: I didn't like this as much as the "Blood, Brawls & Grudges" DVD mentioned earlier. Part of that is because I started watching wrestling in mid-1985, and all of these matches take place before that era. If you're a fan of the early-80's Texas scene, you may enjoy this a bit more; it just isn't my cup of tea. Still, the excellent commentary at least made it somewhat enjoyable. Overall rating: 3/5.

Superstars of Yesteryear

Okay, so I picked this DVD up (along with something called Booker T: The Early Years) at a video store in Manhattan for a combined cost of $5.99! Hell, even if neither of these are any good, you can't really beat the price.

This is part of the "Classic Superstars of Wrestling" series produced by Delta Entertainment, which has a wide selection of B-level DVD's available for sale on its website.

Production Values: Not terrible. You have the host, some goof named Bruce Webster, introducing each segment in front of a video editing suite in what may be someone's basement. The video screen in the background is showing highlights from a Hugh Morrus vs. Fake Doink The Clown match, so you just KNOW this is going to be good!

Give the producers credit here, they have a "live" interview with modern-day Nick Bockwinkel before the opening match, where he puts over his opponent in the match we're about to see. And then he finishes off with "If ya smelalalalalow… what The Bock… is cookin'." Okay, no he doesn't, but how cool would that have been?

Video quality is above-average, given some of the shit I've sat through for this review, although its still not at a modern-day level or anything. The sound is kind of botchy at points.

Commentary: All the original announcers for each match, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. One on match, you have a young Jim Ross and Bruce Pritchard calling the action. So really no complaints here.

The Action: We kick things off with a nice little AWA title match between Bockwinkel and Curt Hennig. This is the one where Hennig turns heel and hooks up with a tuxedo-clad Larry Zybsko. Worth seeing… From that to an indy show in Venezuela, where the biggest names they could get for a match were apparently Jim Neidhart and Bob Orton. Does it count as "yesteryear" if the match took place only a couple of years ago? In any event, major yawner… Some old UWF footage featuring The Fabulous Freebirds against Ted DiBiase and Dr. Death Steve Williams is a fun brawl, even if they do clip the footage quite a bit… While I'm not a big fan of Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant, his match with Eddie Gilbert from the USWA is at least watchable… "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka against some schmoe called The Kodiak Bear is next. About as fun as it sounds… Finally, there's a USWA title match between Jerry The King Lawler and Junkyard Dog (w/ his Junkyard Gut) from the late-90's. Crowd is really into the match, and it makes a fun little novelty attraction.

The Extras: Once again, nothing.

Overall rating: Hey, I can't complain about the value-for-dollar here. Was it great? Nah, but there was a hodge-podge of different territories here, and at least one "famous" match. That's exactly what I was looking for on a grab-bag type DVD.

So there you have it. Six DVD's, each more random than the next. Hope you enjoyed reading it.

(Oh, and if you're the type of person who enjoys reading things about wrestling, boy have I got a deal for you!! Sorry, I had to sneak a quick plug in).


CANADIAN BULLDOG  is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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