While the main event of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. the Rock (for the WWF Championship) may have captured the wrestling world’s imagination last spring, Wrestlemania XV leaves much to be desired as one-half of the WWF’s first ever DVD offering (the other being “Hell Yeah”, also available now.) This is not to say that the disc doesn’t come jam-packed with lot of goodies (the best part of any DVD, I always say!), it’s just that most of them could probably have been snagged by anyone who ordered the pay-per-view version of the event and taped both it and the pre-game show offered.
As with most DVDs, the viewer can choose to either watch Wrestlemania XV in it’s entirety, or can pick and choose to watch just the matches that interest them the most, using the “Pick A Fight” section. One of the neat features of the disk is watching the clips of each match play as you decide what you want to watch next, rather than most DVDs, which just offer still shots from each chapter.
For the first-timer, who has never seen this card, or the events leading up to it, before, or for fans who just want a refresher into why so-and-so is fighting whatshisname, the disc offers a “Show Me the History” section for the Brawl for All match, Tori vs. Sable, HHH vs. Kane, Shane McMahon vs. X-Pac, The Undertaker vs. the Big Boss Man, and Stone Cold vs. the Rock. Basically, what you get here is the same video highlight package that anyone who watched Raw or the pre-PPV show probably saw so many times that they got sick of.
The “Get Personal” Section features mini- (and the key word is mini) biographies of 39 WWF Superstars, including everyone from Steve Austin to the Acolytes to Mideon to Mankind, and even Gorilla Monsoon, the Stooges, Vince McMahon and Michael Cole (?). Nothing earth shattering, just three or four text paragraphs of career highlights, along with a photo of the individual being profiled. Probably less than you can get if you log on to wwf.com. (Speaking of which, if your computer comes equipped with a DVD-drive, you can use the disc to link up to wwf.com and stonecold.com.)
Other features on the disc include the Wrestlemania Opening (Fred Blassie’s stirring welcome to Wrestlemania, “the showcase of the immortals”), highlights from the previous evening’s Wrestlemania Rage Party, and a music video, which turns out to be simply the same post-card highlight package that every WWF pay-per-view features. As I stated earlier, as long as someone taped the pre-game show when Wrestlemania XV first aired last March, they pretty much already have all this on video.
There are three features, however, that are exclusive to the DVD version of the event and two-and-a-half of them aren’t worth converting to DVD for.
“Tech Talk” features interviews with some of the technical personnel that work behind the scenes for the WWF and for Wrestlemania in particular. Other than about five or ten minutes of people talking about how happy they are to be working for the WWF, and what a thrill it is to be at Wrestlemania, there’s really nothing that would make you want a repeat viewing of this segment.
While “Tech Talk” may not be the most informative segment on this DVD, it is head and shoulders above the “Fan Comments” section, which basically features about a dozen or so fans (seemingly taped just prior to the event) talking about how great Wrestlemania and the WWF is. The video for Wrestlemania III featured a segment just like this and the concept has not improved with age. On a more positive note, a few of the fans interviewed actually managed to speak semi-intelligently this time out, rather than just screaming into the microphone.
The final section is entitled “Calling it Like It Is”, and features alternative commentary by Jim Ross and, depending on your selection, either the Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin. On many a disc (even going back to the archaic laserdisc days), the “director’s commentary” is one of the best parts.
Depending on which section you choose: “The Rock Says” or “Cause Stone Cold Said So”, you may either be disappointed or impressed with the quality of the work.
“Finally the Rock has come to DVD!” Sadly, despite cutting some of the best promos in the business today, the Rock’s attempt at providing some insight into his title defense at Wrestlemania XV is sorely lacking in any real quality. Overall, the Rock seems to refuse to come out of character at any point in the broadcast. Ross tries his best and asks all the right questions (Did you size advantage work for you? What was your strategy at this point in the match?) but the Rock opts to use this as a forum to spout out his catchphrases and Rock-isms. The Rock does deviate from this approach on a couple of occasions, including the point of the match when he is put through the Spanish announce table by Austin, and again at the end of the match, when he gives credit to Austin.
“Stone Cold” on the other hand, does a great job in going beyond the surface to let the viewers in on what was going through his mind during the title match. Ross asks Austin the same type of questions that he asks the Rock, but Austin manages to answer them in a more honest, off-the-cuff approach. While he never steps out of character completely, you get the sense that he’s giving a little bit more than the Rock did.
In the final analysis, Wrestlemania XV is somewhat disappointing. What little that is offered beyond the pay-per-view broadcast is pointless fluff, with Austin’s commentary for the WWF World title match being the highlight. Hopefully, however, this will not deter the WWF from continuing with its entry into the DVD world. I truly believe that the history packages and alternative commentary would benefit other projects, such as, say, a “Best of Wrestlemania I-XV” video. My advice would be to make the bonus sections offer something that isn’t available elsewhere, and to use WWF superstars who aren’t afraid to let their guard done for a few minutes.