The history of the World Heavyweight Title, or more specifically, the NWA World Heavyweight Title, then the WCW World Heavyweight title, is a complex one. For the first 90 years, the title was often regarded as the most influential in the industry, to only fall victim to the ratings wars, where it changed hands more times than an obsessive-compulsive changes his underwear. With so much history to delve into, telling the story of this gold strap could be an arduous one.
While the new WWE home video “The History of the World Heavyweight Championship” does an admirable job of telling the story of not only this title, but the beginnings of the sport and how it transgressed from legitimate to the opera it is today, it isn’t nearly as interesting as it could have been early on. The beginning of the documentary feels more like something you’d watch on the history channel and lacks the same fun and behind the scenes feel of some of the company’s other DVD offerings. Sure, hearing the stories of the first few NWA champs is interesting for the hardcore fan, but it’s not very sexy to newer ones. Nevertheless, it’s extremely educational for casual wrestling fans and will show them how much the sport has changed since 1904. In spite of this however, it isn’t until the documentary hits its middle point where it starts to pick up the pace and become as enjoyable as it should be.
This is where you see the formation of the territories that were later absolved when WCW and WWE took their hold of the industry, the territories where the NWA World Heavyweight champion would have to travel in order to keep the sport as credible as possible. Hearing some of the stories from Dory Funk Jr. and Harley Race, in addition to several other former World champions is what makes this documentary a memorable one. It is through this that you see how much time and energy went into getting all the right interviews and make this thing flow as well as it does at times. Seeing how much the sport has changed, that the determination and hunger that these amazing athletes once had makes it easy to wish for those days to return.
Knowing that they will not, it makes the words they say that more special.
After the documentary, there are over 20 matches that highlight the title. On disc one, there are some classics from the old NWA days, that miraculously, have aged beautifully over time. The two out of three falls match between “The Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers and Pat O’Connor is a classic and shows that even though the sport has changed tremendously, the charisma that is Rogers and the amazing in-ring ability of O’Connor are still vividly shown here, making for an unbelievable viewing experience. The second disc chronicles some of the great WCW matches with stars the likes of Vader, Goldberg, Ron Simmons, Sting and Hollywood Hulk Hogan that make the set a must buy.
Unfortunately, disc three highlights matches when the belt was brought back by Eric Bischoff, well after the floundering of WCW and lack the same nostalgia of the first two discs. Seeing HHH take on Rob Van Dam is always a welcomed treat, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an accurate representation of what the title stood for. Far from it.
Even with that being said however, this set is a still a rare gem that has just enough quality encompassed with in it to warrant a purchase. It’s not exactly what you would expect by looking at the box, but it’s not far off enough to make it passable either. Fanatics will love the older and classic matches, while newer fans will find themselves with a deeper appreciation of the industry after watching. All in all, there’s something in here for every wrasslin’ fan out there.