Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Road Warriors: The Life and Death of the Most Dominant Tag-Team in Wrestling History

Directors: Kevin Dunn
Distributor: WWE Home Video
Released: 6/05

Featured Talent
Arn Anderson, Animal, Eric Bischoff, Booker T., Jerry Brisco, Jim Cornette, Barry Darsow (Smash), Darren "Droz" Drozdov, Edge, Paul Ellering, Ric Flair, Michael Hayes, Steve Keirn, Johnny "Ace" Laurenitis, Jerry Lawler, Steve Lombardi, Jim Ross

The Good
The WWE had not really put a lot into their documentaries, but this was one of the first that was really a step up. This did an excellent job at detailing the career, qualities and successes of the legendary Road Warriors. Animal, proved to be a good storyteller and that really helped this considerably. The barbells and bouncing past of the Roadies was detailed and it built up how they were a jacked up and aggressive pair that when transformed, they just clicked. They were groundbreaking and influential and that aspect was explained here. From their distinct look to their one-of-a-kind promos (which are included on the DVD extras), the Road Warrior package made them a top draw when tag teams were not usually big draws. It covers the many teams they worked, rightly focusing on the Midnight Express and the legendary scaffold match. Not surprisingly, Cornette is excellent in this. Perhaps the most interesting aspect was the role of Paul Ellering, who truly was their manager, helping them learn the ropes, make their shots and manage their money. However, the Road Warrior story wouldn't be complete without the nagging substance abuse and personality of Mike "Hawk" Hegstrand and that component is a focal point through out and essentially their inability to return to prominence again after their `92 break-up is explained. Since the LOD was not known for their workrate, including their best matches was not hard to do. Instead, the focus is on variety and that works well. Seeing them in the AWA, Georgia, Jim Crockett Promotions, the WWF, WCW and even in Japan is what this largely needed.

The Bad
One of the real flaws of WWE documentaries is, like VH1's Behind the Music, they tend to be formulaic in their rise-fall-retribution approach. This has that perhaps more than any documentary since. Instead of digging deeper, Hawk's substance abuse problems are put totally on him and not at all credited to the hellacious schedule, grueling physical demands and personal strain that, one might argue, leads many down this self-destructive path. The WWF's desire to take the edgy and unique Road Warriors and try to WWF-ify them in the early 90s is not touched upon. They changed their name to the Legion of Doom, made their outfits more professional-looking, did not bring in Paul Ellering until later on and even gave them Rocco (remember that dummy?). Although the Roadies were way over in the WWF, the company certainly did not always do the best things for them. They do touch upon the WWF's repacking attempts in the late 90s with LOD 2000, Road Warrior Puke and the Hawk the abuser storyline, but none are really addressed as poor creative decisions. Lastly, there is the issue of Japan. The Road Warriors were huge in Japan in the 1980s and it would have been nice to see Jumbo Tsuruta on a WWF DVD. Secondly, Animal seems to bury Kensuke Sasaki. The fact is by the time he was teaming with Hawk, Sasaki was already well-established as Riki Choshu's protégé. Aside from those small details and broader issues, this documentary and DVD set are among the better ones the WWE has put out.

The Rating: ****1/2

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