The Greatest Stars of the '80s


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Review by Mike Rickard II
We’ve all heard the expression Is the glass half-empty or half full? It’s a bit of rhetoric designed to test whether there’s cause for optimism or pessimism and sometimes used to gauge whether a person is an optimist or pessimist at heart. When it comes to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) DVD’s, I’ve often found myself wondering if the glass is half full or half empty. Don’t get me wrong, the WWE has really been on a roll over the last two years with a sensational lineup of video collections such as The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection, The Rise and Fall of ECW, and The WWE Hall of Fame 2004 but their recent release Road Warriors: The Life and Death of the Most Dominant Tag-Team in Wrestling History and The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the ‘80s continued the disturbing trend of less than even DVD’s. For the last year or so, I’ve had a hard time figuring out if WWE Home Video is skilled at producing quality wrestling DVD’s or just lucky to have an incredibly large library of material to work with.

The WWE video editing staff worked a lot of
overtime to get the "F" out of this collection.

The problem is that WWE DVD’s are typically comprised of two parts- the first is a biography piece on its subject whether it’s the Road Warriors or an organization such as Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). The second is a collection of matches meant to showcase its subject. More times than not, one of those two parts is excellent while the other part is flawed. The Rise and Fall of ECW featured a terrific three hour look at ECW but most of the match-ups were hardly the ones ECW fans remembered the most. The same can be said for The Hall of Fame 2004 DVD which had some unforgettable inductions and acceptance speeches but largely forgettable matches from the inductees’ careers (Ask yourself, is Junkyard Dog vs. Harley Race is really representative of JYD’s, let alone Harley Race’s career?). Contrast Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story’s Valium like documentary on “The Rabid Wolverine” with the DVD’s Ephedra-like matches covering Benoit’s career.

With The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the '80s, the WWE has clearly learned from its mistakes and produced DVD which presents a solid feature documentary on its subject paired with a superb collection of matches selected from the title subject (or subjects in this case). The DVD features fifteen of the greatest stars of the 1980’s (Bobby Heenan, Junkyard Dog, Sgt. Slaughter, Greg Valentine, Roddy Piper, Jerry Lawler, Arn Anderson, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, Jimmy Snuka, Bob Orton Jr., the Iron Sheik, Paul Orndorff, and Hulk Hogan). Each superstar is profiled in a fifteen to twenty minute segment that recaps their career (including some great footage from the American Wrestling Association (AWA), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The strength of the video packages cannot be overstated. Whether you’re a longtime fan like me or a more recent fan of the Sport of Kings, chances are, you’re going to learn something new about one of the legends profiled in the DVD. For older fans, this is a great trip down memory lane and for younger fans, it’s a chance to see why many of the wrestlers showcased are true legends.

"I like pie."

With any wrestling DVD, you’d expect to see a match from a wrestler’s career that is renowned for its workrate and/or its historical significance. In just about every case the DVD strikes gold such as the famous Dog Collar Match between Roddy Piper and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, the NWA World Title match between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat at Chi Town Rumble, the Million Dollar Challenge Match between Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade ’84, the Madison Square Garden cage match between WWF champion Bob Backlund and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, and The War to Settle the Score, the famous MTV match between Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper that set up the first WrestleMania. Every one of the aforementioned matches are classics and must-haves for any fans. Out of the fifteen superstars, only one gets shortchanged when it comes to the match shown to highlight their career. I was shocked to see Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff’s match with Salvatore Bellamo. I don’t know if Rob Van Dam visited the video editor at 4:20 that day or if they had a deadline to beat and the Bellamo match was the only one readily available. Regardless, there were plenty of other matches to show for Orndorff whether it was the WrestleMania I tag match vs. Hogan and Mr. T, the tag match against Bundy and Studd when Orndorff turned heel on Hogan, or any of his matches with Hogan following his turn. If it wasn’t for that one match being included here, I would rate this DVD as perfect.

For dessert, the DVD features some extras on each of the subjects. Even here, the extras capture the magic of the Rock and Wrestling Era such as Tuesday Night Titans segments (Bob Orton’s visit to the doctor after he broke his arm, a pose down between Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Snuka, and Greg Valentine’s backrub), promos (Hulk Hogan, Arn Anderson, and Jerry Lawler), two Piper’s Pit (the legendary coconut incident with Jimmy Snuka and the not so legendary one where Piper and Orton shave midget wrestler the Haiti Kid’s hair), and some of the off the wall bits that earned the WWF its reputation as a circus (Junkyard Dog singing Grab Them Cakes” at the Slammys and a bit from The Bobby Heenan Show where he interviews Jameson Winger). This 3 disc collection also features Easter Eggs with more delights and treasures from the 1980’s but rather than spoil them; I’ll let you find them on your own.

"So I told Babydoll, penicillin! Lots of penicillin! WHHHOOOOO!!!"

This DVD is truly worthy of its name. While the no-doubt politically motivated exclusion of Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior are disappointing, there’s no doubt that they would make a great foundation for a volume two Regardless of the two exclusions, there’s an incredible amount of wrestling history packed into this product and hopefully the WWE will use this DVD as a blueprint of how to make the most of their video library. Hopefully fans can look forward to a volume two of this DVD (or a Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 1970’s). Once you’ve finished this DVD, I have a feeling you’ll be looking for more.

Interested in WWE’s The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the ‘80s on DVD? Click HERE to purchase!


Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.