The new DVD from Kayfabe Commentaries, Wrestling’s Most … Over Babyface and Effective Heel, is a great idea in theory, executed well, but left me wanting.
The main flaw is not even the fan choices for the Top 5 heroes and villains through the years, which are understandably skewed toward more recent wrestlers. I can live with that.
But shouldn’t the goal of a DVD like this be to hunt down the right people to talk about the selections?
Instead, we get the same talking heads again and again, and one of them is Danny Doring. As good and insightful as some might be, such as JJ Dillon, Road Warrior Animal, and Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie), who is downright lovable with his gruffness, we get a couple that defy description, as in, why are they there? I’m looking at you Chyna and Maria Kanellis! Others, like Billy Gunn, add some insight while trying mainly to get themselves over as comedians.
Take, for instance, The Sheik (Ed Farhat), who was ranked by the fans — surprisingly — as one of the top five “effective heels” in history. Fine. Great choice.
But only Dillon really ever knew him, having actually started his wrestling career in Detroit, where Sheik promoted. Everyone else just sort of babbles.
Working backward, it becomes quickly evident that the DVD itself is a bit of a thrown-together afterthought, if that makes sense, made up of people that had already sat down with Kayfabe Commentaries for shoot interviews or other DVDs. Therefore, there is no legwork in finding, say, The Sheik’s greatest opponents or even his family.
A documentary this is not; it’s talking heads and cheezy graphics. There are not even still photos of the stars the heads are babbling about; lacking video of the stars, Kayfabe turns to some laughable clips that are a small step up from having wrestling figures duking it out on camera.
Without ruining it by revealing the names, let’s put it this way — as someone who worked with Steven Johnson on two books that attempt to create a true, definitive list of the top villains and babyfaces, with 2006’s The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels and the forthcoming The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: Heroes & Icons, I like to think that I’m a bit of an authority on the subjects at hand, and I was absolutely perplexed by some of the rankings.
Can I list a few names NOT in the top five for heroes? No Dusty Rhodes, Jim Londos, Dory Funk Jr., Jack Brisco, Andre the Giant, or Bruno Sammartino …
Or bad guys — no “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, Gorgeous George, Freddie Blassie, Terry Funk, Killer Kowalski … Shall I go on?
Look, Wrestling’s Most … Over Babyface and Effective Heel is what it is. It does not profess to be an educational tool to teach about the history of the business. It’s a show, and a limited, repetitive one at that.
Greg Oliver is the Producer of SLAM! Wrestling, and is not related to Sean Oliver of Kayfabe Commentaries, in case you were wondering.