Derek Burgan looks at upcoming wrestling DVDs




- A Look at DVD releases available in September -

Guest Booker with Gabe Sapolsky - KayfabeCommentaries.com's Guest Booker series has quickly gone from a unique idea that looked to have a lot of potential to a DVD series in which I can't wait to see what's coming next. For volume two of the series the boys got ROH's own Gabe Sapolsky to rebook the first six months of the "new" ECW when WWE brought it out of the mothballs last year. Gabe books up until the first PPV, December to Dismember, and along the way gives an invaluable look at the way he views wrestling. It is interesting to note that Gabe cut his chops in the original ECW under the watchful eye of Paul Heyman. I actually met Gabe years ago at an ECW house show in Manchester, NH when he was putting together the ECW programs along with other miscellaneous jobs. Gabe kept plugging along in ECW, gaining more and more responsibility along the way. After ECW folded, Sapolsky has continued that hard work in Ring of Honor, which has earned him three Wrestling Observer booker of the year awards. Talk about a blue chip pedigree.

Anyway, on to the DVD. One big positive Gabe's Guest Booker has over Kevin Sullivan's is that Gabe "keeps it real" so to speak. Kevin Sullivan rebooked the WWE expansion in 1984 and was basically allowed to do whatever wanted, with complete disregard to any "real world" issues. That's not a knock, as Sullivan was playing by the ground rules given to him, but Gabe takes it up a notch and brings a level of realism to this version of fantasy booking. Gabe started off by drafting his roster and acknowledged he wasn't going to be able to just get whoever he wanted and instead would be given, with an exception here or there, a bunch of guys no one else really wanted. It's not like Vince is going to let Cena, Edge, or Undertaker get picked up for some show on Sci-Fi that draws under a 2.0. Gabe went through each man on his roster and gives his thoughts on each. "What's gonna make this different than RAW and SmackDown?" asked Gabe before outlining his group of guys. "Take the talent the fans know are underappreciated... guys who want it, not those who see it as a step down like Kurt Angle."

I should note here that the Guest Booker series continues its top level production values with sharp on-screen graphics that keep up with exactly what Gabe is saying on the screen. Only Big Vision Entertainment's Ultimate Insiders series of shoot DVDs achieve this level of performance. It is a HUGE positive in the enjoyment factor as you are constantly reminded of what Gabe has already talked about and how they fit into the larger scheme of things.

Besides giving an in-depth booking lesson, Gabe also shares his thoughts on several subjects along the way, such as WWE fans expecting an on-air commissioner and why Paul Heyman would be perfect for that role. "No one adds more credibility," said Sapolsky. Gabe also discussed how he isn't a fan of agents, but the ECW TV show would force them to at least use a couple of them, spots that Gabe designated to Heyman and Tommy Dreamer.

Included in Gabe's plan are his thoughts on ECW house shows, scripting versus bullet points when it comes to promos, whether or not it is worth it to pay for licensed music such as Metallica's Enter Sandman, the two "big names" he would try to get from RAW and SmackDown, and who he would use for ring announcer and TV commentators.

All of that is followed by Gabe giving an insanely detailed booking of his ECW, working from the PPV backwards. I liked Gabe's choice of a lead heel and the "dog and pony show" entourage that would follow him around. One of my favorite parts of the old ECW was watching Raven and his crew, including Raven's lackey Stevie Richards and Richards' lackey the Blue Meanie. I have no doubt that type of interaction, updated and tweaked, could still work in 2007. Gabe goes through step by step as he comprehensibly books the Heavyweight Title, the Tag Team Titles, and the TV Title along with a few angles for the mid-carders.

"Under the right circumstances, you can do a lot of title changes," said Sapolsky, and I bet a few people reading this think I just made that line up. Gabe explains that quote and shows how it works in practice. As you can imagine, I enjoyed this DVD a lot and am looking forward to who KayfabeCommentaries.com gets next. CLICK HERE for more information on Guest Booker with Gabe Sapolsky.

Wrestling Society X – The Complete First and Last Season - This is one I've wanted for a long time. It still drives me absolutely CRAZY that this show didn't take off on MTV. Sure, it had several issues (like including the live band members on commentating, which added absolutely nothing to any of the shows) but also had a ton of positives. This is one of the only wrestling shows that used a ton of post production stuff, which means huge explosions and other goofy things that almost combine a live wrestling show with a cartoon. Just plain awesome. Look at some of the talent list: Jack Evans, Matt Classic (Colt Cabana), Teddy Hart, Matt Sydal, Vampiro, and many, MANY more. There is literally nothing you can compare WSX to.

Here's some hype: This COLLECTOR’S EDITION DVD set features over 10 HOURS of WSX action on 4 DISKS packed with ALL 9 EPISODES WHICH AIRED ON MTV, the NEVER BEFORE AIRED SEASON FINALE featuring a PIRANHA DEATHMATCH and an EXPLODING STEEL CAGE TIMEBOMB DEATHMATCH, 10 WSXtra Bonus Shows, Deleted/Unaired Scenes, Uncensored Scenes (including the infamous "FIREBALL INCIDENT"), Cast and Crew interviews, Alternate Commentary featuring the cast and crew, all 15 WSX Virtual Trading Cards, casting tapes/matches of stars before they were in WSX, music videos, Lizzy Valentine and Lacey bikini videos, Featurettes including "The Transformation of Fabian Kaelin: World’s Most Hated Announcer," photo galleries, script galleries (YES SCRIPTS), and MORE!!!!! This is your ALL ACCESS pass inside the meteoric rise and fall of an international wrestling phenomenon. There has never been a DVD release like it before and most likely will never be again. Special Features Include:• ALL 10 WSX: XTRA EPISODES • 15 "Digital Trading Cards" • UNCENSORED footage that did NOT air on MTV • Deleted Scenes/Skits • Cast and Crew Interviews • Photo Gallery • Script Gallery • Alternate Commentary by WSX Wrestlers and Writers • Explosion Reel • Highlight Reel • Casting Tapes.

The DVD is titled The meteoric rise & fall of an international wrestling promotion OR How I learned to stop worrying and learned to love pro wrestling. The latter is nice little parody of the movie Dr. Strangeglove (although I still think "How I learned to stop worrying and learned to love the senton bomb" is better). There is a healthy mix here of the great and the absurd. CLICK HERE to order this one at 25% off!

Shoot Interview with Gary Hart - Hopefully by now you have finally watched one of the best wrestling DVDs of all time, Heroes of World Class (link goes to my review). One of the best parts of that DVD was the interviews that Gary Hart gave as he is clearly a man who was heavily affected by what happened during that era. Gary Hart recently did a shoot interview with RF VIDEO and looks to go even deeper into the subjects that Heroes covered.

Here's the hype: RF VIDEO takes you on a wonderful trip down memory lane with our newest exclusive shoot interview with one of wrestling's all time greatest managers, Playboy Gary Hart. An underrated booker, Hart earned his chops in wrestling working for Fritz Von Erich's World Class promotion and helped make that Texas territory one of the most exciting in wrestling history. Seeing everything first hand, Hart talked about all the big angles, including the night Terry Gordy slammed the cage door on Kerry Von Erich along with the hair match between the Von Erichs and Gino Hernandez and Chris Adams, and all the heartbreaking stories of the era. This is the perfect supplement for anyone who enjoyed the Heroes of World Class DVD.

Gary gives one of the most in-depth accounts of World Class on record and went into great detail on the lives, and passings, of each Von Erich. Emotionally powerful, this is a must-watch for any diehard fan of the Von Erichs, World Class, or the wrestling business in general. The information Hart gives just on the television production alone is invaluable as World Class was leaps and bounds ahead of the curve when it came to presentation. This is one shoot you will not want to miss!

Hart certainly didn't leave out anything from his legendary WCW run including working with Sting, Great Muta, Terry Funk, and Lex Luger, among others. This is the one shoot where J-Tex finally gets its due! Old school wrestling fans are going to want to drop whatever they are doing and watch this shoot interview immediately as Gary Hart has seen it all and is one of the few who are still here to talk about it. Bill Watts. Jim Barnett. Paul Boesch. Bruiser Brody. Hart even worked for Court Bauer's MLW! Like we said, we covered EVERYTHING. CLICK HERE for more information.

OMEGA: Uncommon Passion - This one came out of nowhere and is something I've wanted for a long, long time. I have always been a huge mark for the OMEGA crew which includes the Hardy Boyz, Shannon Moore, Joey Matthews and Shane Helms. Now I can get a documentary covering them and includes some rarely seen matches? Count me in!

Here's the hype: This extensive documentary will take you through the lives of a group of young men who all possessed an uncommon passion and their amazing story of how they realized their dreams to make it to the big time showcase of the WWE. Exclusive interviews and bonus matches from the OMEGA library never before released on DVD!

In 1997 a group of young men in the Carolinas set out to establish a promotion that would be "the next big step in the evolution of professional wrestling," bringing together American style, Japanese strong style and Mexican lucha libre. The promotion was called OMEGA (Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts). What began as a group of friends wanting to wrestle by their rules ended as being one of the most inspirational stories in wrestling history.

OMEGA: Uncommon Passion tells the story of the passion of the men who created the legacy of OMEGA: Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Shannon Moore, Shane Helms, Joey Matthews, Christian York, Jason Ahrndt, Cham Pain, Steve Corino, Otto Schwanz and more! Hear them reminisce about their experiences, the blood, sweat and tears. See for the first time on DVD the legendary matches that have inspired a generation of young wrestlers worldwide. CLICK HERE or head on over to Highspots.com for more information on this release..

XPW Class-X Presents: XPW TV – The Complete First Season - XPW is a very polarizing company. Those that liked it seem to have loved it, but many others think of it as an ECW rip off run by porn maven Rob Black. This set includes a who's who of ECW including Shane Douglas, Chris Candido, the Pit Bulls, and the Public Enemy and California talent like Johnny Webb, Homeless Jimmy, Supreme, and The Messiah.

Hype job: In the year 2000, Xtreme Professional Wrestling launched XPW TV! Syndicated throughout the United States, XPW TV would run for 4 years and over 130 episodes. Now, for the first time ever the COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of XPW TV is available on DVD. 13 episodes that would lay the groundwork for a wrestling revolution! Featuring Shane Douglas, Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Big Dick Dudley, Supreme, "The Real Deal" Damien Steele, Homeless Jimmy, The Messiah, "White Trash" Johnny Webb, Jake Lawless, Kronus, The Public Enemy, The Pit Bulls, "Mr. 80's" Dynamite D, and many, many more including the Women of XPW Lizzy Borden, Kristi Myst, Jessica Darlin, Nicole Bass, and Jasmin St. Claire. All the matches! All the skits! All the insanity that was XPW TV! PLUS - NEVER BEFORE SEEN BONUS FOOTAGE AND UNRELEASED MATCHES! CLICK HERE to pick this one up, and at 30% off to boot!

The Condemned - I admit it, I fell for the wrestling bullshit on this one. While I didn't go see the film in the theatre, until the week before I opening I was convinced this movie was going to do well. That's because all the early "reviews" were clearly wrestling plants who either clueless when it comes to quality movies or were sucking on the WWE teat. When "movie people" saw this film they quickly exposed it for what it was. My non-wrestling friends went to see this movie the week it opened and confirmed what I had feared, that this movie was utter dog shit. How bad? After this movie WWE realized the inevitable, that they were completely out of their league when it came to making movies and from now on will churn out the same unwatchable crap, only straight-to-DVD. Boy, who saw that one coming? The reason WWE NY, XFL, and WWE Films failed has nothing to do with the concept, as I think all three could be very successful, it's because WWE doesn't care why restaurants, the NFL, or movies other Hollywood studios put out are popular. They don't respect the craft and think they can apply the bullshit "wrestling fans will watch whatever crap we give them" philosophy to non-wrestling projects. You can see how that thought process works in the real world.

THAT SAID, I can't wait to watch this movie. As a person who has sat through The Marine, Bodyslam, and even One Night in Chyna, I love bad wrestling movies. A while back on the Joe Vs. The World podcast, Joe and Justin Shapiro did a scene by scene rundown of the film and I knew after listening that I would watch this movie the day it dropped on DVD. CLICK HERE to get The Condemned featuring Steve Austin.

ROH: Respect Is Earned PPV – Two Disc DVD - Oh baby, first you can read my review of the PPV, one hell of a kick ass show. This new TWO DISC DVD (a rarity in ROH) not only includes the entire PPV, but a whole bunch of never-before-seen matches from that night, several of which are said to be absolute gems.

Respect Is Earned- New York, NY 5/12/07  1. Takeshi Morishima vs. BJ Whitmer (ROH World Title Match) 2. Rocky Romero vs. Naomichi Marufuji 3. Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Matt Sydal & Claudio Castagnoli (ROH World Tag Team Title Match) 4. Delirious vs, Roderick Strong 5. Bryan Danielson & Takeshi Morishima vs. Nigel McGuinness & KENTA (Dream Tag Team Main Event)

Bonus Matches: 6. Brent Albright vs. Tank Toland 7. Davey Richards vs. Erick Stevens 8. Daizee Haze vs. Sara Del Rey 9. El Generico & Kevin Steen vs. Irish Airborne vs. Pelle Primeau & Mitch Franklin vs. Jimmy Rave & Adam Pearce (Tag Team Scramble Match) CLICK HERE to get this DVD and it should go without saying that this one can't be recommended more highly. The PPV itself was red hot and many in attendance say some of the matches that didn't make the PPV were better than some that did. Now THAT I have to see for myself.

ROH: Live in Osaka, Japan - Talk about a no-brainer. This year the little indy that could actually went to Japan for a doubleshot. Pretty cool stuff. ROH got to mix their usual crew of top notch workers and some off the charts guys from Japan (who can get enough of the fast paced Dragon Gate workers?!) to produce a show that was fantastic up and down the card.

Live In Osaka- Osaka, Japan 7/17/07 1. Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe vs. Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Rave (ROH World Tag Team Title Match) 2. Nigel McGuinnes vs. BJ Whitmer 3. Roderick Strong vs. Jack Evans 4. Ryo Saito, Matt Sydal, & Dragon Kid vs. Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino, & Delirious 5. Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe vs. SHINGO & Susumu Yokosuka (ROH World Tag Team Title Match) 6. CIMA, Naomichi Marufuji, & Bryan Danielson vs. Masaaki Mochizuki, Davey Richards, & Rocky Romero (Six Man Dream Tag Team Match)

What a lineup. I'm also LOVING that DVD cover. Head on over to www.ROHwrestling.com for more information on this DVD.

Doin' Time with NEW JACK - I talked about this DVD a little in the last guide, and now I got some new information and cover. F4Wonline's own Keith Lipinski was the host for this shoot interview and the Ultimate Insiders series of DVDs continues its best-in-the-business production values. New Jack is right up there with Jim Cornette and the Iron Sheik as guys who I could listen to all day long. Sheik because he's insane, Cornette because he's hilarious, and New Jack because he is a combination of the two. Here is a review I did of an earlier New Jack DVD and this edition of the Ultimate Insiders is going to blow that one out of the water.

Here's the hype: Where New Jack goes, controversy follows. Since his time as a bounty hunter with 4 justifiable homicides to his training as a professional wrestler to his rise to national prominence in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, his rise to superstardom in ECW, and his rise to legendary status due to his run ins with opponents and the law, New Jack has lived up to his reputation as wrestling's Original Gangsta. Now, for the first time ever in an international release, Jerome Young sits down and lays it all on the line as he discusses the career and the controversies of his alter ego, New Jack. Packed with hours of bonus footage and matches it's safe to say that fans will never look at New Jack, or the wrestling industry the same, after doin' some time with New Jack!

This will be one for the books as New Jack goes off on everyone and everything, just the way we like it. You can order this two disc set by CLICKING HERE.

 

NON WRESTLING DVD OF THE MONTH: Heroes: Season One - As Larry King would say, pound for pound this was my favorite TV series last year, and that includes the kick ass third year of LOST. An exciting show that is full of satisfying payoffs and solid character development. Basically, it's the antithesis of pro-wrestling! Seriously though, Heroes follows around a group of people who slowly start to realize they have super powers, except it is a million times cooler than that.

Actually, here's NBC's tease: As a total eclipse casts its shadow across the globe, a genetics professor (Sendhil Ramamurthy, "Blind Guy Driving") in India is led by father's disappearance to uncover a secret theory -- there are people with super powers living among us. A young dreamer (Milo Ventimiglia, "Gilmore Girls") tries to convince his politician brother (Adrian Pasdar, "Judging Amy") that he can fly. A high school cheerleader (Hayden Panettiere, "Ice Princess") learns that she is totally indestructible. A Las Vegas stripper (Ali Larter, "Final Destination"), struggling to make ends meet to support her young son (Noah Gray-Cabey, "My Wife & Kids"), discovers that her mirror image has a secret. A fugitive from justice (Leonard Roberts, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") continues to baffle authorities who twice have been unable to contain him. A gifted artist (Santiago Cabrera, "Empire"), whose drug addiction is destroying his life and relationship with his girlfriend (Tawny Cypress, NBC's "Third Watch"), can paint the future. A down-on-his-luck Los Angeles beat cop (Greg Grunberg, "Alias") can hear people's thoughts, which puts him on the trail of an elusive serial killer. In Japan, a young man (Masi Oka, NBC's "Scrubs") develops a way to stop time through sheer will power. Their ultimate destiny is nothing less than saving the world…

Heroes has it all and is a show not to be missed. Click Here to get the first season so you'll already for Season Two next month..

COMIC OF THE MONTH: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier - I apologize to anyone who wasted their time with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie a while back starring Sean Connery. Rest assured that they royally screwed the pooch on that one as the film version basically nothing in common with its comic book counterpart. Written by comics' all time greatest writer Alan Moore, LXG in comic form is one of the most satisfying forms of entertainment you will find. Trust me on that one.

Here's the hype: Written by Alan Moore. Art and cover by Kevin O'Neill. Acclaimed writer Alan Moore once again joins forces with artist Kevin O'Neill for THE BLACK DOSSIER - a stunning original hardcover graphic novel that is the next chapter in the fantastic saga of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN! England in the mid-1950s is not the same as it was. The powers that be have instituted some changes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have been disbanded and disavowed, and the country is under the control of an iron-fisted regime. Now, after many years, the still youthful Mina Murray and a rejuvenated Allan Quatermain return in search of some answers - answers that can only be found in a book buried deep in the vaults of their old headquarters - a book that holds the key to the hidden history of the League throughout the ages: The Black Dossier. As Allan and Mina delve into the details of their precursors, some dating back centuries, they must elude their dangerous pursuers who are hellbent on retrieving the lost manuscript…and ending the League once and for all. THE BLACK DOSSIER is an elaborately designed, cutting-edge volume that includes a 'Tijuana Bible' insert and a 3-D section complete with custom glasses, as well as additional text pieces, maps, and a stunning cutaway double-page spread of Captain Nemo's Nautilus submarine by Kevin O'Neill. Don't miss what's sure to be one of the most talked-about books of 2006! 208 pg.

Read those last couple sentences again. Not only is there a 200+ page story that is written by one of the best writers in the world, but there is bonus stuff like a 'Tijuana Bible' insert. Just incredible. Get this one before it sells out. Click Here to order.

Derek Burgan has been writing for the Wrestling Observer/Figure 4 Weekly~! family since October, 2005. He previously worked as a Punjabi prison guard. If you have any questions, corrections, feedback, comments and ideas, he can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it {plug}

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