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WWE: The Attitude Era(2012)
A retrospective documentary chronicling the WWE's "Attitude Era" of the late 1990s.
For more about WWE: The Attitude Era and the WWE: The Attitude Era Blu-ray release, see WWE: The Attitude Era Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 22, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Vince McMahon, Mark Henry
» See full cast & crew
WWE: The Attitude Era Blu-ray Review
Oh, you didn't know? The Attitude Era goes Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 22, 2012
We've embarked upon a far more innovative and contemporary creative campaign that is far more invigorating and extemporaneous than ever before.
Mr. McMahon might have introduced it with a mouthful, but the WWE's most successful era can be summed up in just one word: "attitude." It's the perfect descriptor for a time when a worldwide brand was in the midst of healing after a scandal, redefining itself in the face of fierce competition, and pushing the boundaries of what could be shown on prime time television. It was rebels versus the establishment both inside the ring and in the entertainment atmosphere. Stone Cold Steve Austin knocked back beers and knocked down the corporate suits. Degeneration X and a new wave of divas brought plenty of innuendo and sex appeal to wrestling. The Rock redefined cool. Mankind became the face of "hardcore." It was heroes and villains and legions of fans engaged in stories, packing arenas like never before, and tuning in with record numbers. It was the peak of professional wrestling, a time that can never be duplicated, with stars that can never be replaced, and fun times the likes of which can never be rekindled, even just in retrospect.
The Attitude Era opens with a brief historical overview of where the WWE (then WWF) had been and where it was at the dawn of sports entertainment's most dominant period. After a sharp downturn in the early 1990s, it was primed for recovery, recovery in a big way even with a competing -- and winning -- alternative airing on another channel and igniting the famed "Monday Night Wars." Vince McMahon promised his viewers an edgier show unlike anything fans had seen before, but would it be enough to pry away viewers enthralled by the nWo spectacle playing out, living large, and raking in the numbers on the Turner channels? The reshaping of the WWF began -- where else -- right at the entrance. Scrapped was the old way of introducing wrestlers onto the stage and brought in was the massive TitanTron and blaring intro music that would immediately fire up fans and identify wrestlers with a single note, a sound effect, or a phrase, creating a frenzy in an already amped-up audience. But just a bit of dazzle wouldn't be enough to push the WWF towards unparalleled success. It would take high energy and charismatic performers, great story lines, sexiness, and an edge if things were to really explode and land the WWF back on top of the sports entertainment landscape.
If one name can sum up the "attitude era," it would be the anti-establishment Degeneration X, a collection of expressive and sexually suggestive wrestlers comprised of names like Triple H, Chyna, and X-Pac. But perhaps no one individual defined the era quite like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the beer-guzzling embodiment of wrestling fans who found a hero in an individual who stuck it to the corporate man, saluted his fans with a flip of the middle finger, and gave hope to everyday folks who might not relate to long hair, big muscles, and tights but who did appreciate an honest day's work, a few beers, and the rebellious fantasy life. The film also examines the long-running story arcs of the Attitude era, including Kane-Undertaker, Stephanie McMahon's rebellion, and the McMahon-Austin feud. Also examined is the rise of tables and ladders matches and the drift towards the hardcore, personified by Mick Foley's "Mankind" character. Also featured is The Rock, brand expansion, growing audiences and changing demographics, mainstream acceptance, era failures, and all the way through to the company going public and purchasing its rivals.
The information in the video is fine, but largely underwhelming. That the WWE chose to cram its most popular era into a fifty-some minute documentary nearly defies belief. At best the program is a rapid-fire highlight clip that touches on the people and the attitudes that drove the era, compiling a basic overview through new interview footage weaved around classic video clips and voiceover narration. There are no major insights, no revelations, nothing longtime wrestling fans don't already know. This is a rather soulless presentation made all the more disappointing that it could have -- and should have -- been so much more. There's room for a "definitive" Attitude Era collection out there, but this more whets the appetite than satiates it. Even the lengthy compilation that is the two discs worth of supplements only begin to piece together the stories. This is a serviceable compilation piece, but chances are viewers will find more depth across those releases that focus on specific characters, groups, and events from the Attitude Era rather than this fairly generic one-stop-shop halfhearted effort.
WWE: The Attitude Era Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Attitude Era's Blu-ray presentation doesn't go against the grain. This is a straightforward WWE Blu-ray presentation that longtime fans will know all too well. Much of the program comes in the form of SD video footage wrapped up inside a high definition frame, with the WWE's own version of "black bars" surrounding the material on the left and right sides of the HD display. As usual, the SD-native footage holds up quite well, all things considered. It's nostalgic and very watchable, even if it lacks the crispness, fine definition, and overall accuracy of the newer wrestling material from the past few years. The new interview clips are presented in 1.78:1 high definition and largely look fine. They play with commendable detailing -- viewers will see fine little skin and facial hair textures -- and largely natural and balanced colors. Such scenes comprise a minority of the program, however. Be prepared for a lot of vintage SD footage.
WWE: The Attitude Era Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Attitude Era features a sonically unremarkable but generally effective Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Music plays with sufficient clarity. It offers good, natural spacing, including an even and pleasant surround implementation. New interview footage dialogue plays clearly and accurately through the center channel. The throwback wrestling footage also features faultless dialogue, whether ringside commentary, in-ring dialogue, or backstage skits. A few hard hits and crashes play with fair presence and clarity. This is a forgettable track, but it does all that's required of it with little room for major complaint.
WWE: The Attitude Era Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Attitude Era contains hours of bonus matches and moments, all originally photographed in SD and presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio with vertical WWE-themed bars on either side of the 1.78:1 HD frame.
Disc Two Blu-ray Exclusives:
WWE: The Attitude Era Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
WWE's Attitude Era documentary doesn't stand apart from the crowd. The WWE's capable of so much better than what amounts to a tease rather than the definitive final word on the most popular period in professional wrestling history. Perhaps a more thorough set will be released down the line, but for now fans will have to settle for this collection that does compile some good supplements in the form of hours of Attitude Era video but does fall well short of perfection. WWE's Blu-ray release of The Attitude Era features WWE typical video and audio. Hesitantly recommended to completists.
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