James Dixon: Oh, come on! Now they are just getting silly. Why was this even released? Who would ever want this!? According to the front cover, “YOU -the fans- requested it”. I seriously question the validity of that particular petition.
First off, Bret Hart’s entrance at WrestleMania XI. He walks to the ring, in the same manner he always does, to a fairly decent pop. The British Bulldog is next, with his entrance from an episode of Superstars. Yeah, know your place on the food chain, Davey! Bret gets a ‘Mania entrance, you get a TV taping. The Smoking Gunns come to the ring with Sunny at King of the Ring 1996. Sunny nearly trips over the ring steps. Jesus, is anyone else bored yet? This is only a few minutes in and we have to sit through another 40 of this. The Titantron videos would have been more acceptable, because this is complete garbage. It is just the guys walking to the ring. I mean, SERIOUSLY, who would want THIS!?
Let’s try and make the best out of a bad situation.
Goldust is next to feature, and he really broke the mould with a superb effect-filled entrance. The music fit the character perfectly, as entrance themes generally used to in the pre-Nickleback spin-off days. As well as awesome music, Goldust had an extravagant light show and a slow motion filter effect on the screen, making this totally unique to him, and thus all of this combined makes it one of the best entrances in history. It is a shame the WWF stopped doing this for his character after a while, when they became bored of it. The WWE doesn’t do things like this at all anymore. Everything is just generic music with dreadful whiny singing over weak guitars. And while all entrances should be easily associable with the wrestler in question, they have gone too far in that direction. Everyone is now like a video game character, repeating the same motions move for move, popping out in the same place and posing on the same area of the stage, each and every time. Goldust, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Roddy Piper and others didn’t do that bullshit, and that is why they were so much better.
Bret Hart’s music video “You Start The Fire” gets an airing, and it is pretty much a montage of how adored Bret is throughout the world with his fans. Yeah heart-warming, but how about some fucking wrestling?
The Godwinns come to the ring with a couple of farm animals, as unbearable country bumpkin bullshit music tingles along in the background. Rinky-dink hillbilly bullshit, just like all the others with that shitty gimmick. Ahmed Johnson comes to the ring at International Incident looking particularly shiny, and gives Shawn Michaels a hug. The future Triple-H makes his way to the ring with a hot chick. He still has the clinky aristocrat music and just the sound of it makes me bored. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was deathly dull in 1996. People forget, he got over because he was forced down everyone’s throats and eventually he stuck, but it was a long ride getting there. Another future WWE champion next, as the stereotypes keep rolling with Justin Hawk Bradshaw, who is of course JBL. A random inclusion and a short one. His music is completely unremarkable. The next guy’s music and entrance is anything but, and is in fact probably the all time best in the history of the business. It is of course The Undertaker. No-one in wrestling has had as many memorable trips down the aisle as Taker, and indeed each WrestleMania, the spectacle of his entrance is one of the most looked forward to parts of the show. This doesn’t come from WrestleMania, but rather SummerSlam 1994. It is massively overblown, with druids wheeling a coffin down the aisle, and Paul Bearer retrieving a giant urn, which shines a weak-ass light out of the top. The Hatch on Lost, this ain’t. The theatrics go into overdrive as lightning strikes the arena and The Undertaker appears in the aisle. He had been out for the majority of the year on sabbatical (or in storyline terms, dead) and the crowd was delighted to see him back. This was the debut of his purple gear. I preferred the grey, but the purple is good too. He needed the change. This is by far the longest thing on the tape, eating up a vast chunk of the 40-minutes.
Jim Johnston, writer of all great entrance themes, provides the next music video as well, this one for The Undertaker. Poor placement; we have just heard and seen Taker, and this is not much different from his entrance theme. It is cool though, and at least there is footage of the odd move here and there. An interlude in the middle where it almost turns into Psycho with Mankind beating him up, is very well done. Taker is an awesome character, and this is an awesome music video. It’s still not actual wrestling though, and this is a wrestling tape.
Vader comes out at WrestleMania XII, and his music is just excellent. It stomps along and fits him to a tee. You can see exactly what Johnson was going for with this. What a shame he was never allowed to get over to the level he could and should have. Talk about a juxtaposition next, as the Bushwhackers come to the ring with a Kangaroo mascot. How were they employed for so long? Their music fills me with rage, because it makes me picture that moronic Bushwhacker arm dance. Get this shit off the screen. Yokozuna’s stereotypical Japanese pipe music is next, though the light show he has here is actually very nifty. Mankind follows that, and I love his music. It is haunting but beautiful, which is exactly the point of the character. I used to love that he had different “at peace” music for when he won a match. It was a delicate piano number, and it was glorious. Sadly we don’t get the pleasure of that here. What we do get is Sycho Sid, who is over like rover as a babyface. This is also from International Incident and Sid, like Johnson earlier, gives Shawn Michaels a hug. I’m not sure I care for these behemoths showing Shawn so much man-love. The Bodydonnas are next with their Tranny friend Kloudi, and their theme is instantly forgettable. Just like Kloudi. Savio Vega has boring stereotypical Latina music to fit his boring stereotypical persona. Owen Hart is next, as my enthusiasm for this tape entirely diminishes. Not because of Owen, just because I AM BORED of watching wrestlers walk to the ring. This is worse than the video game strategy tapes. At least they had the amusement of Undertaker saying “Nintendo”.
Marc Mero comes out with his Jake Roberts-lite theme, accompanied by an S&M leather bondage clad Sable. The theme is garbage, and not a patch on his superbly camp and cheesy WCW theme from when he worked as Johnny B. Badd. I loved that gimmick, actually. Here are the lyrics for his theme as Badd:
“Here comes Johnny B. Badd / You don’t wanna make him mad / He’s as pretty as a picture / He looks just like Little Richard / Don’t be fooled by his looks / He’s got a mean left hook / So if you don’t wanna end up sad / Don’t mess with Johnny B. Badd”
Just look at that. Fantastic. We learn who he is, what he is all about and even what he looks like, just from the first few lines of his theme. It sure pisses all over the random animal growling in the background of his “Wildman” music.
Gorilla busts out the emotion as he talks about how everyone thought Shawn Michaels’ career was over after he got his head kicked in by Marines in Syracuse, and then after the Owen Hart enzuigiri collapse angle. Bill Watts actually famously said he would have fired Shawn on the spot after the Syracuse attack, because a wrestler should never be seen as inferior to a “real” person. Bill Watts is an idiot. I understand his point, but it is Shawn fucking Michaels, the greatest in-ring performer in the history of the industry. And that is coming from a die-hard Bret Hart supporter. The ‘Tell Me A Lie’ music video is actually really excellent, and does a good job tugging on the heartstrings. It is also better than the Bret video. Sorry Hitman. Shawn’s famous WrestleMania XII entrance is next, as he zip-lines to the ring from the top of the stands. Michaels’ music is one of the few that was never changed by the WWF as it progressed into the Attitude era and beyond. Everyone from The Undertaker to Bret Hart and beyond had their themes slightly tweaked to be more modern, but Shawn’s ‘Sexy Boy’ is untouchable. It is hard not to sing along with Shawn, even though the lyrics are the shits. Still, it fit the character and always had, and it is a catchy damn tune, which I guess is why it has been so enduring.
Summary: What do you want me to say? It is a collection of minute or so long clips of wrestlers walking to the ring, generally to some Jim Johnson music, which vary from classic to bollocks. The three music videos on offer don’t inspire much in the way of interest, even if the Taker and Shawn ones are both pretty good. The problem is, they are not WRESTLING. I want to see wrestling, so does everyone else who buys and watches these tapes. Thus it rather goes without saying that this should be avoided at all costs. There is no redeeming value to it whatsoever.