One of the most highly anticipated WWE DVD releases in some time has finally arrived. The Life and Times of Mr. Perfect is much like Curt Hennig himself -- pretty close to perfect. .
As is often the case, the WWE documentary team has done a stellar job of covering the life and career of Curt Hennig. Lots of people are interviewed for this set: The Hennig Family, Greg Gagne, Brad Rheingans, Harley Race, Nick Bockwinkel, baseball player Wade Boggs, Tony Garea, Bruce Prichard, Steve Lombardi, Gene Okerlund, Arn Anderson, Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, Joey Styles, WWE TV producer Kerwin Stifles, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Bret Hart, Gerald Brisco, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Triple H, Eric Bischoff, Chris Jericho, Hulk Hogan, and Michael Hayes. It is Hennig's father, Larry “The Ax” Hennig, widow Leonice, son Joe, and best friend Wade Boggs, who make up most of the interviews in the 75-minute documentary portion.
The documentary starts with looking at the early life of Hennig and his origins in Minnesota and the AWA, before his debut in the WWF as Mr. Perfect. An entire chapter focuses on his run as Intercontinental champion, with a lot of highlights from several matches against Bret Hart. Hennig’s reputation as a practical joker is another chapter followed by a look at his role as a commentator. His return to the ring in 1992-93 from a back injury is completely ignored, unfortunately, as the doc makes it seem like his return to the ring didn’t take place until he signed with WCW in 1997.
The last 20 minutes of the documentary are the saddest, as clips are shown from his brief return to the WWE, at the Royal Rumble 2002 through his release in May. Nine months later, Hennig was found dead in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida. Understandably his family gets very emotional in discussing his death, which makes this portion of the documentary difficult to watch. Highlights of his induction into the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame are shown, and then a look at his son Joe, who is currently in Florida Championship Wrestling and likely to make his debut soon.
It’s a damn good documentary, and watching it makes you remember just how awesome Curt Hennig was at everything he did. Wrestling, commentary, everything he touched was gold, which is why he was so popular.
There are a lot of extras on the two-disc set. The famous Mr. Perfect vignettes from 1988-93 are all here -- baseball, golf, chess, bowling, basketball -- 14 in all. My favorites are the ones from 1989 in preparing for his feud with Hulk Hogan. Lanny Poffo is hysterical in these ones, and each one ends with “Hulk Hogan! You can’t do that!” Also included is his WWE Hall of Fame induction and the Rap is Crap music video from WCW.
As for matches, there are 10 from his career found on the set, with five of them taking place in Madison Square Garden, including his debut in the arena against Eddie Gilbert and matches against Bret Hart in 1989, Hulk Hogan in January 1990, “Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich in November 1990 and his Summerslam 1991 bout with Hart. His time in the AWA is represented in a tag match with Scott Hall against Jimmy Garvin and Steve Regal (not William Regal) and a 60-minute bout with Nick Bockwinkle. The set is rounded out with Hennig facing Terry Taylor at Wrestlefest ’88 and another match with Hart at WCW Uncensored 1998.
This is where the set is less than perfect. It should have been three discs. This will likely be the only DVD devoted to Curt Hennig and it’s a shame that only 10 matches from this great wrestler are included. When watching the documentary portion, the clips remind you of how many matches from his first WWF run alone could have been included -- against Tito Santana, Jimmy Snuka, The Ultimate Warrior, Davey Boy Smith; all would have made nice additions. Having only one match from WCW is also a shame, as he had so many great matches there with Ric Flair, Dallas Page, and Booker T among others. Clips of him perfect-plexing The Big Show in both companies makes me wish one of their matches was included. Even a tag match with Barry Windham from their West Texas Rednecks days would have been a nice extra. On top of that, consider who he wrestled during his four-month WWE return: Steve Austin, Rob Van Dam, Matt Hardy and Edge are all shown in clips in the documentary. Including at least one of these matches would have backed up what was said in the documentary, that Hennig still had “it.”
Some may complain about the fact that three of the matches are against Bret Hart, especially the inclusion of the Summerslam 91 match that is also in Hart’s disc and the Summerslam anthology. The two men had their best matches against each other, so it makes sense to include so much of it on this set. WWE could release a DVD entirely made up of matches between Hart and Hennig and I would buy it, because each of their matches was a classic, including the three presented here. The inclusion of the Summerslam 1993 match against Shawn Michaels is interesting as well. It is far better than I remember it; I think I was just mad at the lousy finish at the time. That said, while it is a good match, the build to it was akin to it being potentially the greatest Summerslam match of all time, and it fell short. The match the two had in Calgary on a house show was better, if they had footage from their house show matches that may have been a better choice.
Give WWE credit for picking matches that for the most part aren’t common. Using a MSG bout against Texas Tornado instead of their Summerslam match, for example, or a MSG match against Hogan instead of the SNME match featured on the Hulk Still Rules DVD. It is incentive to pick up the set for matches one hasn’t seen before, instead of a bunch of matches already included on other discs.
Aside from that one complaint of wanting more, The Life and Times of Mr. Perfect is a fitting tribute to a man who was as close as it came in professional wrestling. The set will likely find a permanent home on many collectors’ DVD shelves, and rightfully so.
March 6, 2003: Wrestlers mourn death of Perfect
Curt Hennig career record
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The Life and Times of Mr Perfect DVD Set
Jason Clevett grew up watching Mr. Perfect and is a huge fan. He has looked forward to getting this DVD since it was announced as being in production.