WWE seems to have a renewed interest in creating honest and compelling documentaries about their wrestlers, past and present. This isn’t necessarily anything new but just never seemed to have much artistic or informative value but created for the sole purpose to cash-in on a given wrestler’s popularity. However, that all shifted a bit as of late and it felt like it all started with the release of Stone Cold Steve Austin “The Bottom Line on the Most Popular Superstar of All Time” in 2011. Yes, Stone Cold is forever going to be incredibly popular with the fans and anything stamped with his name and face is going to make a big payday for WWE but it would’ve been so easy to have just thrown together some footage and trick people into thinking they were buying something new (like other Stone Cold dvd releases). However, this one was different, this was feature out-of-character interviews and footage that the general public wouldn’t have seen before. This trend continued on with “The Epic Journey of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson” and with “You Think You Know Me? The Story of Edge” both released in 2012. But then later in 2012, that same concept was amp’d and stylized to the fullest extent with the release of “CM Punk: Best in the World” depicting a popular wrestler with one the most intriguing back-stories we’ve ever witnessed. It was in that same vein that we got “For All Mankind” earlier this year with a raw and gritty tale of Mick Foley in his own words just like Punk.
I say all of that to point out how much I anticipated HHH’s documentary. The HHH story isn’t really a secret (the previously mentioned wrestlers are in the same boat) but this is the first time we really got to see people speak candidly and honestly about HHH, including the man himself. Was it stylized as CM Punk’s? No, it felt more like Stone Cold and Rock’s with a narrator and the subject filling in the gaps.
I’ll start off with some of the minor problems I had with it, which were mostly on the technical boring side. There were some weird framing issues because (like all HD content now) the video was cut with a 16:9 aspect ratio which meant a switch to 4:3 anytime pre-HD footage was being shown. What does that mean? Well, there were moments that we’ve all committed to memory in WWE’s history and whether you’re conscious of it or not, you have the entirety of that frame in your mind and you know what it’s suppose to look like. I don’t have specific example to list but there were moments where the picture seemed odd. Somebody was off-centered on screen, the top of somebody’s head was cut off that normally wasn’t, etc. It was one of those moments where something felt off but couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I noticed that there was no scratch logo in the corner (even though no other logos were blurred) of the footage. My suspicions were confirmed when HHH’s super at the bottom of the screen was cut in half (hot dog style) when they were talking about a Raw segment. This might have just been me because I was watching it on iTunes but I have a feeling you all may have seen the same. Again, this is the minor complaints of a film geek but it made certain moments feel off and I’m sure a bunch of you are wanting to move the hell on.
As for the content itself, there was little coverage of HHH’s early life. We saw a few baby pictures, some words from his parents, some pictures as he got older and started working and then boom, he’s in WCW. The conclusion that we’re led to is that once HHH was exposed to wrestling, that became his entire life and that can come across as a bit cold but not everybody is going to have the CM Punk story. HHH was hired by WCW when he was still very new to wrestling but we see his work ethic and how willing he was to put in extra work and get advice from William Regal. We get to see the seedling of what would become the “Hunter Hearst Helmsley” and then HHH seemingly jumping over to WWE with ease.
There was a surprising lack of stories involving The Kliq and Shawn Michaels but then again, both of those subjects have been covered many, many times and rarely are those stories ever focused on HHH so I can understand the omission now that I think about it.
If you ever wanted to know all there is to know about HHH and Stephanie then this is the documentary is for you. I can imagine the fact that so much time was spent on this subject would be a bit disheartening to the avid wrestling fan but when you think about it, it’s the opposite of all the Shawn/Kliq stuff. Aside from the quick mention in the “McMahon” DVD in 2006, they really haven’t covered this subject from an open and honest standpoint. Also, it was kinda nice to see this side of HHH to show that he’s not quite the machine that only deals with wrestling 24/7.
There were a few feuds that were spotlighted for a healthy chuck. A quick bit of Mankind but nothing that wasn’t covered in Mick’s documentary. We got a good deal of Rock and HHH, which is understandable seeing as how they shouldered a lot of the responsibility for keeping the company afloat.
The biggest thing that I came away from this with was how badly I want a completely honest and out-of-character documentary of Undertaker. HHH’s doc was the first time we really go to see and hear Undertaker speak candidly and without the Taker cadence on WWE programming. It was one of those moments where I was surprised to hear him speak like a regular person because it’s so out of the ordinary for us. The main reason I want that documentary is so we can finally tap into Undertaker’s wealth of knowledge that has been bottled up and kept from us in the name of gimmick. He finally got to open up and gave probably the best insight of anybody that was interviewed because of his time as the guy that everybody leaned on behind the scenes as the locker room’s Jiminy Cricket.
We ended with a brief look inside HHH’s current role in the company and how much he has learned and continues to learn about running the company. The film begs one to ask themselves, “would HHH be in the position he’s currently in had it not been for marrying the boss’ daughter?” And to me, it all comes down to the relationship between HHH and Vince. Were they close before HHH and Steph became an item? About as close as Vince was any other talent, I suppose. However, we don’t know if Vince ever would’ve gotten this close to HHH in order to reach a point where he truly saw the type of man HHH is and reach a point of trust to put the business in his hands in the future. So I think that HHH wouldn’t be where he is today had it not been for marrying into the family BUT I’m not saying HHH didn’t put in the work that would enable him to effectively take over. Also, think about just how hard it is for Vince to completely trust anyone. Say HHH and Steph still got married but HHH didn’t quite live up to Vince’s qualifications as a successor, do you really think Vince and his perfectionism would’ve allowed for HHH to take over? Absolutely not. The more I think about it, the more I’m in favor of the future of WWE being in HHH’s hands because he’s already proven to be a more personable version of Vince. I enjoyed how the documentary highlighted HHH essentially running NXT as if it was his own territory where he trains the future of the company while also serving as his own training to run the WWE. We’ve already seen HHH’s impact because if it wasn’t for him, we may have never seen Bruno Sammartino take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. That aspect alone shows how HHH has big ideas for the future of the company while also looking out for the past.
All in all, it was a really good documentary that added a little bit more color to a guy we already knew pretty well. It didn’t have that same feeling that the CM Punk doc had but that’s the one that set the bar to an almost unobtainable height. I’m glad for this documentary and I give it the RAGER stamp of approval for anyone to pick up this holiday season.
Be on the lookout for The Classy Ring Attire Podcast out later this week with special guest Blair Douglas! Until then, you can check out last week’s podcast and be sure to follow us on twitter @CRAttire.
Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do twice,
The Answer: I like chess and all but there’s an alarming lack of lasers involved.
Tags: chris sanders, cm punk, edge, HHH, Mick Foley, shawn michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rager, The Rock, undertaker, WWE