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WWE: The US Championship: A Legacy of Greatness DVD Review

The WWE US Championship: A Legacy of Greatness set chronicles what WWE would like you to believe is a title with 41 years of history. In reality, the version of the title we see on WWE TV in present day is actually only around 13 years old, being introduced in 2003 in the midst of the original draft split. However, I know things like this are never going away and WWE will continue to insist things are older/more prestigious than they are. On that note, we all know it’s not true, but for the sake of simplicity, I will let it slide here.

Unlike many of the sets I have reviewed here over the last several years, the U.S. Championship set does not feature any kind of documentary piece, which is surprising when you consider previous sets about championships did. Instead, we get brief snippets of the championship’s history interspersed between matches taking place across nearly 40 years, with the first match being a very rare one between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat from 1978, and the last being John Cena losing the title to Alberto Del Rio in October of last year. Across three discs, we get 30 matches, with each disc being dedicated to different incarnations of the belt: the NWA on disc 1, the WCW on disc 2 and the WWE on disc 3.

As I said, in between these matches are introductory stories and snippets covering significant moments in the championship’s history. While these would normally be fine, here they are absolutely excruciating, thanks completely to the fact that they are hosted by JBL, one of most arrogant pricks in pro wrestling history. His inclusion as host is mainly due to his role as being an expert at kissing Vince McMahon’s and the WWE’s collective asses. The fact is that, in addition to his attitude (the fact that you can almost never tell when he’s JBL and when he’s John Layfield here doesn’t help, and that’s likely due to the two being pretty much identical), he has no business hosting a DVD set on a championship he held a grand total of 1 time for a grand total of 51 days. If that weren’t enough, he can’t even get his facts straight across the set. The most glaring example is, during a point when he talks about Ric Flair, he mentions that Flair holds the record of most reigns at 5. While he does indeed hold the record of most reigns, the actual number is 6. And, if you want to go one further, the guys who actually held the belt 5 times were Wahoo McDaniel, Lex Luger, Chris Benoit, Bret Hart and even the golden boy himself, John Cena. Obviously, Benoit wouldn’t be mentioned, but to not suck up to Cena is definitely something WWE is not known for on these sets.

If that weren’t bad enough, he also claims that he is the man responsible for the current version of the actual title belt, having blown up John Cena’s custom spinner title on an episode of Smackdown. While blowing up the belt did happen and he was the one that did it, this happened in 2006; the current version of the belt, logo change and addition of a bit more blue paint aside, has existed since the belt’s inception since 2003. I can let the belt’s BS lineage slide since Vince does indeed own the remnants of the previous companies, but to make outlandish claims that could be verified or denied with 30 seconds worth of searching on Google is just stupid in this day and age.

On top of flat-out lying, JBL also does half the segments straight and half of them as the JBL character, which never works. Ever. I have seen the blending of reality and kayfabe ruin DVD sets in the past, and the fact that it’s being done by one of the most insufferable twats in pro wrestling history just makes it that much worse.

Anyway, onto the matches, which is the real reason you would want to buy this set. On a whole, this collection is very curious in that it is a collection of just that: curiosities. Aside from a handful of pretty well-known matches, a lot of these are rare and probably haven’t been seen by a large portion of today’s audience. Even a long-time wrestling fan like myself will probably find at least one or two matches they’ve never seen before. The aforementioned match from 1978-Ric Flair defending the Mid-Atlantic version of the belt against Ricky Steamboat with Andre the Giant as the referee-should be watched for it’s sheer rarity, but make sure you leave the sound off: the tape has deteriorated badly, and the sound is even worse. Chunks of the match are noticeably missing as well.

Strangely enough, many of the matches on the first two discs feature shmozz endings: either interference while the referee isn’t looking or disqualifications. There are also a lot of matches featuring well-known feuds such as Piper/Valentine and Sting/Rude, but the matches included are not a patch on other ones they had either earlier or later in their careers. The Sting/Rude match in particular-from Clash of the Champions XVII-is a huge waste of time. The rest are a lot of odd TV matches, with hardly any from PPVs. Looking at the set, I got excited about stuff like Austin/Muta, Malenko/Jericho and Rhodes/Eaton, only to find they were throwaway matches most people probably don’t even remember. Also odd is the fact that, on the WCW disc, there are 4 matches from the last two full years the company was in existence, also known as the absolute worst period in that company’s history. The matches reflect that, with two lousy Bret Hart matches (against DDP and Goldberg), a fairly decent match between Mike Awesome and Lance Storm, and the match where Booker T won his only WCW US title, off an absolutely juiced Rick Steiner. I had forgotten about Rick’s dabbling with the juice, likely to keep up with younger brother Scott, who was jacked to the gills at the time. Either way, it’s extremely noticeable and looks horrible. Rick was never a good singles worker to begin with, but he’s at his absolute worst here.

Disc 3 is all WWE stuff, and it’s just as much of a mixed bag as the rest. Although there is only one match with a shmozz ending (Kurt Angle vs. the Undertaker), the others are all mostly TV matches that are all but forgotten. There are a couple of okay MVP matches, a surprisingly good “submissions-count-anywhere” between Daniel Bryan, John Morrison and the Miz, and an exciting-but-far-too-short one between Cesaro and Tyson Kidd from NXT. The rest range from okay to good, but nothing I’d likely go out of my way to see.

I think this is a good recommendation to add to your collection due to all of the older matches and their varying levels of rarity, as well as a handful of gems (Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard in an “I Quit” cage match is required viewing for all fans). I absolutely recommend skipping the talking segments with JBL, unless you are either a) a huge fan of him for reasons beyond comprehension or b) just an absolute masochist. He adds nothing of value to the set, and his presence is absolutely not required. There are quite a few better match choices that could have been included, but I applaud WWE for trying to pull out ones they haven’t used before or at least not often, and for the most part, what is here is enjoyable.

Disk 1

Mid-Atlantic Beginnings

United States Championship Match
Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat
Special Guest Referee: Andre The Giant
[Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling] Asheville, NC • September 1978

United States Championship Match
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
World Wide Wrestling • March 9, 1983

”I Quit” Steel Cage Match for the United States Championship
Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA
Starrcade • November 28, 1985

Cold War
Match #7 in the Best of 7 Series for the United States Championship
Magnum TA vs. Nikita Koloff
World Wide Wrestling • August 23, 1986

No Disqualification Cage Match for the United States Championship
Lex Luger vs. Dusty Rhodes
Starrcade • November 26, 1987

”American Dream”

No Disqualification Match for the United States Championship
Dusty Rhodes vs. “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton
Power Pro Wrestling • February 13, 1988

United States Championship Match
Barry Windham vs. Junk Yard Dog
NWA Main Event • January 29, 1989

United States Championship Match
Lex Luger vs. Sting
NWA World Championship Wrestling • December 23, 1989

Disk 2

Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling

WCW United States Championship Match
Sting vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude
WCW Clash of the Champions XVII • November 19, 1991

WCW United States Championship Tournament Final
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Dustin Rhodes
WCW Saturday Night • January 16, 1993

WCW United States Championship Match
“Stunning” Steve Austin vs. The Great Muta
WCW Spring Stampede • April 17, 1994

Ric Flair’s Record-Breaking Reign

WCW United States Championship Tournament Final
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Eddie Guerrero
WCW Starrcade • December 29, 1996

WCW United States Championship Match
Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho
WCW Monday Nitro • April 7, 1997

WCW United States Championship Match
Curt Hennig vs. The Giant
WCW Monday Nitro • September 29, 1997

“Raven’s Rules” Match for the WCW United States Championship
Raven vs. Goldberg
WCW Monday Nitro • April 20, 1998

Goldberg’s Georgia Dome Homecoming

WCW United States Championship Match
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Diamond Dallas Page
WCW Monday Nitro • October 26, 1998

WCW United States Championship Match
Goldberg vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
WCW Monday Nitro • October 25, 1999

WCW United States Championship Match
Lance Storm vs. Mike Awesome
WCW Monday Nitro • July 18, 2000

Canadian Heavyweight Championship

WCW United States Championship Match
Rick Steiner vs. Booker T
WCW Greed • March 18, 2001

Disk 3

Booker T Arrives in WWE

WCW United States Championship Match
Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker
RAW • November 5, 2001

WWE Intercontinental & WCW United States Championship Unification Match
Edge vs. Test
Survivor Series • November 18, 2001

First Time Under the Bright Lights

WWE United States Championship Match
John Cena vs. Big Show
WrestleMania XX • March 14, 2004

Spinner Title

Steel Cage Match for the WWE United States Championship
Bobby Lashley vs. King Booker
SmackDown • June 30, 2006

Game of One-Upmanship

WWE United States Championship Match
Matt Hardy vs. MVP
Backlash • April 27, 2008

WWE United States Championship Match
MVP vs. Kofi Kingston
RAW • June 1, 2009

The Teacher vs. The Pupil

Triple Threat Submissions Count Anywhere Match for the United States Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. John Morrison vs. The Miz
Hell in a Cell • October 3, 2010

WWE United States Championship Match
Antonio Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd
NXT • October 31, 2012

WWE United States Championship Match
Sheamus vs. Rusev
WWE Network Exclusive • November 3, 2014

John Cena Open Challenge

WWE United States Championship Match
John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose
RAW • March 30, 2015

WWE United States Championship Match
John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio
Hell in a Cell • October 25, 2015

Lasting Legacy

Blu Ray extras

United States Championship Match
Dusty Rhodes vs. Ivan Koloff
NWA Main Event • April 3, 1988

WCW United States Championship Match
Dustin Rhodes vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude
WCW Pro • September 18, 1993

WWE United States Championship Match
JBL vs. William Regal
SmackDown • April 28, 2006

WWE United States Championship Match
Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
RAW • March 14, 2011

WWE United States Championship Match
Dean Ambrose vs. Adrian Neville
NXT • August 7, 2013

WWE United States Championship Match
John Cena vs. Cesaro
RAW • June 29, 2015

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Dustin Nichols

Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, and you can keep track of all of his work on his Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/DustinNicholsWriter. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out my mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:

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