For most that know me, it’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of the Rock for a very long time. Even during his time as “The Blue Chipper”, I was a fan. It sounds totally cliché, but when you saw him the first time, you could just tell there were bigger things on the horizon. Probably not as big as what the end result actually was, but big things nonetheless.
The Rock had all the tools necessary to be a big star in wrestling, and most importantly, he had the “IT” factor, that one intangible quality that you can’t necessarily define, but when someone has it, you just know. I bought the figures, the magazines, the posters, you name it. Hell, I was there front row when he retired Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIX. It’s because of this fandom that I was very excited to get my hands on this DVD.
Now, the Rock has had several DVD collections in the past, and they were decent overall, but they were always missing something. In his last set, “The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment”, the one thing missing was…well, it was the Rock himself. Despite being a collection for him, he was actually nowhere to be found. Instead, the set was a collection of matches and moments, with a random guy narrating in between.
If you’re anything like me, when these types of collected sets come out, it’s nice to have part of the set include a documentary on the star or stars in question. Some great examples of this are Steve Austin’s last DVD (which I reviewed for the site), as well as “Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho”. They’re nice because they offer you some insight on the stars, and they are unscripted and, as a result, very candid. You find out things about the stars you never knew before, as well as their personal feelings and opinions on the highs and lows of their careers, as well as everything between.
Needless to say, with the last set on the Rock, I was disappointed. While the collection itself was very entertaining, without the documentary piece, it just fell flat. When I heard a new collection was coming out, I was immediately worried that it would once again be just a collection of matches and clips.
Fortunately, I was wrong this time.
[adinserter block=”2″]“Epic Journey” does indeed feature a documentary piece, and it is excellent. We not only get to hear from the Rock himself (and his time on-screen is the bulk of the segment, which is a bonus), but we get insightful comments from a very large group of his friends and colleagues. The usual suspects like John Cena, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon make their presence felt, but there’s also some great commentary from both his parents, his ex-wife Dani (who is now his business partner), Ron Simmons, Pat Patterson, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Triple H and others. Even former Miami Hurricane teammate and NFL legend Warren Sapp gets to share some funny stories and memories about their time on the football field.
The commentary from everyone spans Rock’s entire career, from his days as the aforementioned “Blue Chipper” all the way to his post-Wrestlemania challenge to John Cena last year. The stories are very entertaining, and it’s interesting to here which parts the Rock loved so much and which he hated. For those wondering, he absolutely HATED the “Blue Chipper” days and could not wait to turn heel after he came back from an injury. My favorite part of the whole segment (which takes up the entirety of the first disc) was listening to both him and Mick Foley discuss their time together feuding as well as teaming in the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection. Although these portions of the segment are short, they are just so entertaining. Not only were both men great in their respective roles, but it’s amazing to learn that the two of them never once played off each other with scripted interviews. While I know they are both blessed at improvising, with some of the things they came up with, it’s truly impressive that they rarely ever broke character during these segments. I know that, if I ever had to riff with either of these guys, I’d lose it and start laughing my ass off in about 10 seconds. But that just goes to show you how good both the Rock and Foley were at their jobs; they could go out for anywhere from a minute to a half-hour totally unscripted, and you’d get something unique and funny every single time with little to no error.
This also brings up a great memory as the Rock talks about what he considers quite possibly the favorite moment of his career, the “This is Your Life” segment with Foley in 1999, which drew RAW’s highest rated segment in history, a record that still stands. What’s interesting about it is no one expected it to be that good, especially Vince McMahon. Not only was he at the time furious because the segment went on so much longer than it was supposed to, but he didn’t even think it was that good. Obviously, when the rating came out the next day, he changed his tune, but it’s still a good anecdote.
The Rock’s numerous forays into Hollywood are covered relatively extensively, including his most dramatic returns in 2003 and 2004. I liked the portion for his 2003 return when he turned heel because I had forgotten how funny so many of his segments during that time were, including numerous guitar sessions and “Rock Concerts”. Not only do we get to see the humor and athletic sides of the Rock, but also his ability to sing and play the guitar (seriously, is there anything this guy isn’t good at?”.
One thing I noticed while watching this set is the clips from various matches early in his career. In today’s PG WWE, you sometimes forget how brutal matches have been in the past, and the Rock has most definitely been in his share. Despite being kind of a “pretty boy” wrestler, Rock has always been a great brawler, and has been in some of the bloodiest affairs I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing to see how much blood he has spilled in wrestling over the years, especially because he has so little scars to show for it. The guy has obviously learned how to take care of his gig spots well, unlike many others.
I probably shouldn’t ramble on too much before getting to the other two discs of the set, which contain the matches and interview segments. Some of the matches you’d probably expect, like the “I Quit” Match with Mankind at the ‘99 Royal Rumble and his match with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam ‘02, but the rest are some rare gems (aside from the Hogan rematch in 2003, which couldn’t hold a candle to their Wrestlemania X-8 affair).
Not only is his awesome and underrated ladder match with Triple H from Summerslam ’98 on here, but you also get his great Wrestlemania XV rematch with Steve Austin (at Backlash ’99), a personal favorite of mine against Mankind and Ken Shamrock in a Triple Threat Cage Match at Breakdown ’98, and the awesome triple threat with Triple H and Kurt Angle from Summerslam ’00 (the one that saw Angle unconscious on his feet for the first half of the match). There’s only a handful of interview segments at the end, specifically “The Rock Concert II” and a couple spots from last year, but they’re as entertaining as ever, even if you’ve seen them a hundred times.
[adinserter block=”1″]Overall, this set is excellent. Is it the greatest documentary DVD I have ever seen? Sorry, no (that honor goes to Austin’s amazing set last year). Is it still awesome and a worthwhile watch? Damn right it is. Even if you were just a sort-of fan of the Rock as opposed to a diehard, there’s a ton of stuff on here you’ll find enjoyable. And if you are a diehard Rock fan, you owe it to yourself to add this to your collection, as it’s by far the best set on the Rock yet.
Documentary Chapters and Features
Nation of Domination
The Corporate Champion
Fighting for Number One
The People’s Champion
Rock & Sock Connection
Icon vs. Icon
“The Rock Has Done it All”
Honoring his Family
Rock Comes Home
A Year in the Making
Rock’s Toy Chest
Rocky’s debut: Rocky Maivia, Marc Mero, Barry Windham & Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Hunter Hearst- Helmsley, Goldust, Crush & Jerry “The King” Lawler
Survivor Series 17th November, 1996
Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship
The Rock vs. Triple H
SummerSlam 30th August, 1998
Triple Threat Cage Match
The Rock vs. Mankind vs. Ken Shamrock
Breakdown 27th September, 1998
“I Quit” Match for the WWE Championship
The Rock vs. Mankind
Royal Rumble 24th January, 1999
No Holds Barred Match for the WWE Championship
The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Backlash 25th April, 1999
Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship
The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. Triple H
SummerSlam 27th August, 2000
World Tag Team Championship Match
The Rock & Undertaker vs. Edge & Christian
Raw 18th December, 2000
The Rock vs. Ric Flair
Raw 29th July, 2002
WWE Undisputed Championship Match
The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar
SummerSlam 25th August, 2002
The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
No Way Out 23rd February, 2003
The Rock returns to Raw
Raw 24th February, 2003
The Rock Concert II
Raw 21st April, 2003
The WrestleMania Guest Host
Raw 14th February, 2011
The People’s WrestleMania
WrestleMania XXVII 3rd April, 2011
The Rock challenges John Cena for WrestleMania XXVIII
Raw 4th April, 2011
The Rock’s Birthday Celebration
Raw 2nd May, 2011
Never Before, Never Again
The Rock & John Cena vs. Awesome Truth
Survivor Series 20th November, 2011
The Rock Thanks New York City
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