WWE has scored with The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin, a three-disc set focusing on matches from Austin’s career going back to WCW. While many WWE discs falter in using matches found frequently on other discs, this set wins with several unique choices of fantastic matches that are not readily available on DVD.

There are two matches that have appeared on previous Austin releases — the No Way Out 2001 match against Triple-H was on What and the SummerSlam match against Owen Hart is on The Stone Cold Truth. While the Wrestlemania X-7 match with the Rock is also included and is readily available, out of 20 matches included on the set, three repeats is not bad at all. Considering all three matches were pretty major points in Austin’s WWE career, and awesome matches, it is forgivable.

What I really like about the DVD however, is that instead of going for the expected matches, the disc spotlights rarer matches against some of Austin’s best opponents. Instead of Wrestlemania matches against Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and The Rock, the DVD features Austin’s classic match with Hart at Survivor Series 1996, the last-minute bout against Shawn Michaels at King of the Ring 1997, and the No Holds Barred bout with The Rock at Backlash 1998. All three are great matches, with the bout with The Rock standing out as being a better match than the previous month’s Wrestlemania encounter. Also included is the match versus The Undertaker at In Your House: Cold Day In Hell from May 1997, instead of some of their later matches.

The DVD is fairly comprehensive, going back to Austin’s WCW days. Included on the DVD is a steel cage match with Brian Pillman against Dos Hombres. The Hombres were meant to be Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas under masks, but as Douglas was fired from the company, Tom Zenk was under the mask pretending to be Douglas. Two other WCW matches highlight the disc — great Clash of the Champions matches against Pillman and Ricky Steamboat. ECW is touched on with a few promos and Austin’s triangle match for the ECW title against Mikey Whipwreck and The Sandman. I was a bit surprised to see this match, as Sandman is accompanied to the ring by Nancy Benoit.

It is in the WWE portion of the disc that Austin’s main event quality matches are highlighted. Rarities include his SummerSlam 1996 pre-show bout with Yokozuna, a great Caribbean Strap Match with Savio Vega, the King of the Ring First Blood match with Kane and the next night’s rematch, and the incredible Unforgiven 1998 match against Dude Love that ushered in a new main event style for the promotion. Also included are tag title matches against Owen Hart and The British Bulldog, with Shawn Michaels and then Dude Love as partners. The inclusion of a Smackdown match with Eddie Guerrero from November 2000 is an odd one, as it doesn’t have the same level of quality as other matches on the DVD, and instead seems to have been included simply because of Austin’s respect for Guerrero.

The set does completely ignore everything from Wrestlemania X-7 onward. His heel turn, leadership of the alliance, departure and return to the company and eventual retirement are not mentioned at all, and no matches from that time period are included. This is understandable however as aside from a few bright spots like his feud with Kurt Angle and final Wrestlemania XIX match against The Rock, the match quality from that time period just would not compare to what is already included on the discs.

From a match quality standpoint, this is a phenomenal DVD. Twelve of the matches are absolute classics that are a must see for any fan. The bouts are interspersed with interview comments from Austin. Austin’s career was pretty thoroughly covered on The Stone Cold Truth documentary, so there is no need to rehash it with a documentary again. Austin’s comments are precise and you can tell the respect he has for many of his opponents from these segments. The set also makes a great companion piece to the RAW 15th Anniversary set, where many of Stone Cold’s finest segments are included.

The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin is an early candidate for DVD release of the year. If you are a fan of Austin (What?!) then hurry up (What?!) and get your copy today (What?!).