So, World Wrestling Entertainment, which is currently the largest wrestling promotion on earth, also holds the largest match library on earth, the matches from many of the major promotions in what is known as “the territorial era.” To cash in on this they have put out the DVD “The American Dream – The Dusty Rhodes Story”, following the career the one of WCW’s major stars from their early days (and the second they’ve put out a DVD collection about) – “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
The Premise: Basically, the DVD follows his career from childhood all the way to his last feud in with his son Dustin against Ric Flair and Jeff Jarrett, with a documentary film, as well as lots of matches and promos covering length of his career.
The Good: The match selection is rock solid. There are very few matches on this DVD that I would consider a 2-star match or lower, and more than a couple 4 star matches. The documentary is good, but I wouldn’t call it as good as the documentary on the Ric Flair DVD or the Bret Hart DVD, unfortunately.
The Bad: The secondary audio commentary tracks on 4 matches in the set is pretty bad. At one point the older wrestlers on the commentary with Dusty start to go on a “Kids today…” tangent, deriding the younger wrestlers, before Dusty himself has to drag them kicking and screaming away from deriding the younger wrestlers and talking about the match. C’mon guys!
Also, the organization is pretty poor. On the Flair DVD set, in addition to the documentary, the matches and promos on the DVD are organized by feud, so, for example, all the promos, matches, and vignettes surrounding Flair’s feud with Harley Race are togeather. On Dusty’s DVD, though, all the matches are in one group, and the promo’s and vignettes are in another group, with only minimal labeling on the promos to give an idea what feud they were related to.
Also, there is no coverage of the many years Dusty was a commentator in WCW. It’s not like they just gave it lip service and moved on – as far as the documentary is concerned, it didn’t happen.
The Ugly: Some of the promos and feuds have not aged well, and what once may have been “badass” or “cool” or “poetic justice” is now creepy. In particular, the entire feud between Tully Blanchard and Dusty, and the match over Baby Doll’s services as a manager and all the ensuing vignettes are pretty bad. Really, if that isn’t objecification of women (in that Baby Doll is being treated as property) than I don’t know what is (and don’t get me started on the late Nancy Sullivan-Benoit’s ring name – “Woman”)
The Verdict: There aren’t a lot of ways to get ahold of classic Territory era wrestling matches anymore. If you’re interested in seeing the old days of wrestling (I’m not calling it the golden age), then this DVD set is a good way to get your fix. Those who came in to watching wrestling in the 90s with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, or the great wrestling on the WCW undercard with Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero and Saturn, as well as within ECW and later ROH may be put off by the slow pace, numerous rest holds, and lack of chain technical wrestling, but it’s still worth watching anyway.
Addendum: Hey, WWE, how about a Dustin Rhodes DVD set. He had to have had some good matches somewhere in his career that didn’t involve his dad.