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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

'Wrestling Gold' a precious DVD collection
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

Wrestling Gold
Kit Parker Films and VCI Entertainment (DVD)
WRESTLING GOLD
As consumers, we hear or read the phrase 'must-have' so often that it seems to have lost its meaning. Once in a while, however, something does come along that is worthy of all the pomp and circumstance. The 'Wrestling Gold' DVD collection is exactly that: A release that lives up to all the hype.

The five part series by Kit Parker Films and VCI Entertainment far exceeds the quality of anything found on a wrestling DVD to date. This unrivaled set contains a wealth of information and classic footage that can be found nowhere else. Even those, like myself, who have followed wrestling for over 25 years, can learn a thing or two from the tag team commentary provided by the incomparable Wrestling Observer Newsletter Editor, Dave Meltzer, and his partner in crime, wrestling manager and industry insider, Jim Cornette. In fact, it is the educational and entertaining commentary by Meltzer and Cornette that makes 'Wrestling Gold' on DVD set worth owning.

Viewers have the option of listening to the original commentators call the matches, or Meltzer and Cornette dispensing their knowledge. So humorous and insightful are Meltzer and Cornette's comments that they breathe life into what would be otherwise termed as "scrub" matches on 'Wrestling Gold'. For example, on 'Busted Open' a "rookie" Shawn "Heartbreak Kid" Michaels wrestles Ken Johnson in a throwaway match from Texas All-Star Wrestling. The match itself is nothing to write home about, but Meltzer and Cornette take the opportunity to give us the history of Michaels' career and his achievements in the business and because of this, we are glued to the match until the official slaps the three count.

WRESTLING GOLD Besides the extraordinary job that Meltzer and Cornette do with their commentary, the collection's greatest feat is the way in which the archival footage has been restored for release on DVD. The clarity will startle fans who have been used to watching the sometimes grainy footage of yesteryear matches that is found on videotape. Bouts from the sixties and seventies on 'Wrestling Gold' look as if they were shot last week. The transfer is nothing short of amazing.

'Wrestling Gold' is available on VHS as well, though I would assume the series loses something without the special Cornette/Meltzer commentary that can only be found on the DVD version. At $74.99 for the 'Wrestling Gold' DVD Box Set or $19.99 for each DVD, the offerings are a steal if one considers what you pay for your average DVD release. For those who appreciate the history and evolution of professional wrestling business, this set is the set for you.


Wrestling Gold: Collection #1: Busted Open

VCI Home Video, Kit Parker Films
Length: 2 Hrs 9 Mins.
Format: Fullframe.
Audio: Dolby Digital.
Extras: Commentary Track, Bios: Shawn Michaels, Dave Meltzer.

Matches

  • 1. Sherri Martel vs. Judy Martin
  • 2. Shawn Michaels vs. Ken Johnson
  • 3. Gino Hernandez and Tully Blanchard vs. The Grapplers
  • 4. Gino Hernandez vs. Tully Blanchard
  • 5. Bob Orton, Jr. vs. Adrian Adonis
  • 6. Bruiser Brody vs. Abdullah the Butcher
  • 7. Larry Zbyszko vs. Scott Casey
  • 8. Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Bob Sweetan
  • 9. Terry Funk and Ivan Putski vs. Gino Hernandez and Tully Blanchard
  • 10. Dick Slater vs. Mongolian Stomper (Cage Match) Referee: Lou Thesz).
Review: A wild brawl between legendary tough guys Bruiser Brody and Abdullah The Butcher and text book scientific bout pitting (Cowboy) Bob Orton Jr. against Adrian Adonis illustrates the diversity in this 'Wrestling Gold' entry. The clash of styles in the Brody - Bockwinkel match is a treat to watch. A so-so installment that really need more "main event" calibre bouts with more recognizable stars. Terry Funk and (Polish Power) Ivan Putski teaming up? You have to see it to believe it. Rating: 3 / 5.


Wrestling Gold: Collection #2: The Maim Event

VCI Home Video, Kit Parker Films
Length: 2 Hrs 9 Mins.
Format: Fullframe.
Audio: Dolby Digital.
Extras: Commentary Track, Bios: Jim Cornette, Bruiser Brody.

Matches

  • 1. The Rock and Roll Express vs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Lanny Poffo
  • 2. Nick Bockwinkel vs. Manny Fernandez
  • 3. The Sheik vs. Mark Lewin
  • 4. David and Kerry Von Erich vs. Gene Yates and Killer Karl Krupp
  • 5. The Fabulous Ones vs. PYT Express
  • 6. The Road Warriors vs. Austin Idol and Jerry "The King" Lawler
  • 7. Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler (Cage Match)
  • 8. The Samoans vs. Ted DiBiase and Bob Roop
  • 9. Bruno Sammartino and Dick the Bruiser vs. Ernie Ladd and Baron Von Raschke
  • 10.Tully Blanchard vs. Manny Fernandez
  • 11. Rick Rude vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
  • 12. The Crusher, Dick the Bruiser and Little Bruiser vs. Blackjack Mulligan, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Blackjack Lanza.
Review: The best chapter in the collection - especially for "Macho Man" Randy Savage fanatics like myself. Grappling in Memphis just before he began his successful run in the World Wrestling Federation, Savage's brutal encounter with Jerry "The King" Lawler in a steel cage was borne out of a real life feud that is detailed by Meltzer and Cornette. Ricky Morton being piledriven through an announce table by Savage and The Sheik taking a pencil to Mark Lewin's forehead then throwing a fireball at him are classic moments. Fans of the Road Warriors will get a kick out of watching them take on Austin Idol and Memphis hero Jerry "The King" Lawler in his own backyard. The quality of matches on "The Maim Event" are exceptional as is the opportunity for us to watch stars like Ted Dibiase, The Road Warriors, Rick Rude and The Von Erichs before they went on to become stars. Rating: 5 / 5.


Wrestling Gold: Collection #3: We Like To Hurt People

VCI Home Video, Kit Parker Films
Length: 2 Hrs 9 Mins.
Format: Fullframe.
Audio: Dolby Digital.
Extras: Commentary Track.

Matches

  • 1. Tommy Rich and Eddie Gilbert vs. Phil Hickerson and The Spoiler (Tennessee Street Fight).
  • 2. The Rock and Roll Express vs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Lanny Poffo
  • 3. Dick Slater vs. Dory Funk, Jr.
  • 4. The Sheik vs. Tiger Jeet Singh (Cage Match)
  • 5. The Fabulous Blondes vs. Al Perez and Manny Fernandez
  • 6. Terry Funk vs. Harley Race
  • 7. Pepper Gomez vs. The Bounty Hunter
  • 8. Austin Idol vs. Jim Neidhart
  • 9. Junkyard Dog vs. Butch Reed
  • 10. Rick Rude, Jim Neidhart, Ox Baker and The Japanese Assassin vs. Robert Reed, Tiger Mask, Keith Eric and Mad Dog.
  • 11. King Kong Bundy vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
  • 12. Terry Funk vs. Mark Lewin
  • 13. Tommy Rich vs. Massao Ito
  • 14. Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Kamala
  • 15. Ray Stevens, Blackjack Mulligan and Baron Von Raschke vs. The Crusher, Dick the Bruiser and Sailor Art Thomas.
Review: Except for the bloody (and I mean BLOODY), opening match of Tommy Rich and Eddie Gilbert taking on The Spoiler and Phil Hickerson, this release doesn't have much to offer. On the whole, the matches are dull and uneventful. Even the Terry Funk versus Harley Race NWA World Heavyweight Title bout from Toronto is too old school for most modern wrestling fans to appreciate. Pepper Gomez? Who dat? The one shining moment is when Cornette and Meltzer rip on Tiger Jeet Singh calling him one of the "worst main eventers" ever as he fights The Sheik in a cage match originating from Toronto. I can hear Tiger sharpening his sword as we speak. Rating: 2 / 5.


Wrestling Gold: Collection #4: No More Mr. Nice Guy

VCI Home Video, Kit Parker Films
Length: 2 Hrs 9 Mins.
Format: Fullframe.
Audio: Dolby Digital.
Extras: Commentary Track.

Matches

  • 1. Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. Rick Rude
  • 2. The Sheik vs. Andre the Giant
  • 3. Pampero Firpo vs. Jeff Doney
  • 4. Bruiser Brody and Scott Casey vs. Kelly Kiniski and The Spoiler
  • 5. King Kong Bundy and Rick Rude vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler and Randy "Macho Man" Savage
  • 6. Chief Jay Strongbow vs. Bulldog Don Kent (Shark Cage Match)
  • 7. Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. Austin Idol
  • 8. Terible Ted the Wrestling Bear vs. Gene DuBois
  • 9. Terry Funk and Ivan Putski vs. Gino Hernandez and Tully Blanchard
  • 10. Tommy Rich vs. Rick Rude
  • 11. Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Nick Bockwinkel
  • 12. Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. Austin Idol
  • 13. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan vs. Cowboy Bob Ellis
Review: Two men wrestling in a shark cage? A wrestling bear beating the snot out of stupid human? Bobby Heenan grappling? King Kong Bundy with hair? What more could we possibly ask for? Once again, the great minds behind 'Wrestling Gold' have raided the vault and put together another fun-filled DVD. The Lawler versus Bockwinkle and Savage versus Rude bouts are the show-stoppers here as is Andre The Giant's first appearance ever in Toronto as he attempts to corral that wily Sheik. This entry definitely has something for everyone. Rating: 4.5 / 5.


Wrestling Gold: Collection #5: Beat Me If You Can

VCI Home Video, Kit Parker Films
Length: 2 Hrs 9 Mins.
Format: Fullframe.
Audio: Dolby Digital.
Extras: Commentary Track.

Matches

  • 1. Nick Bockwinkel vs. Terry Allen (Magnum TA)
  • 2. Ivan Putski vs. Eddie Mansfield
  • 3. Tito Santana vs. Kelly Kiniski
  • 4. The Sheik vs. Tom Jones
  • 5. Bobo Brazil vs. Michael Angelo
  • 6. Chief Wahoo McDaniel vs. Tully Blanchard
  • 7. Eddie Gilbert vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
  • 8. The Sheik vs. Tiger Jeet Singh (Mud Match)
  • 9. Austin Idol vs. Massao Ito
  • 10. Tully Blanchard and Gino Hernandez vs. Scott Casey and Terry Allen (Magnum TA)
  • 11. Terry Taylor vs. Sabu
  • 12. Chief Wahoo McDaniel, Tommy Rogers and Marty Janetty vs. Ted Oates and The Grapplers.
Review: Mirroring the 'We Like To Hurt People' entry in the series, this is a disappointing release. The matches are pretty much your standard fare with none of them really standing out or sticking with you once you pop the disc out. This installment's saving grace is that it spotlights matches with Terry Allen (Magnum T.A.), a wildly popular 80's star who had his promising future in the business cut short by a car accident that left him in no condition to continue wrestling. Watching some of Allen's earlier matches really brings home the scope of the tragedy and the loss suffered by the industry as a whole. Rating: 1 / 5.



Editor's Note

  • In Canada, the 'Wrestling Gold' net retailer is VIDEO FLICKS
  • Wrestling Gold Edition can be ordered within the U.S. by calling 1-800-331-4077 (toll free number) or if outside the U.S. by calling 918-254-6337 or fax 918-254-6117.

  • For those who prefer to write, the addy is:

      Customer Service
      VCI Entertainment
      11333E. 60th Place
      Tulsa, Ok 74146
  • Wrestling Gold site

  • VCI Home Video site

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