Saturday, 23 August 2014

WWE Ladies and Gentleman, My Name is Paul Heyman DVD Review

WWE's Ladies and Gentleman, My Name is Paul Heyman is out now on DVD and Blu Ray, available from www.wwedvd.co.uk. The three disc set, features a documentary detailing the life and career of Paul Heyman. There's also a number of Heyman's greatest promos from AWA, NWA, WCW, ECW and WWF/E and three matches including the likes of The Hardy Boyz, CM Punk, Jim Cornette, Brock Lesnar & The Midnight Express.



This set was quite arguably the most-highly anticipated WWE documentary in recent years. I have to say, whenever a set like this is released, such as the CM Punk: Best in the World set or Triple H: They Kingdom come, I always try to keep myself fairly reserved and sceptical, to avoid a potential disappointment. I needn't have worried with this one.




I know this DVD has got good review after good review, and it's going to be difficult to say anything that hasn't already been said. It really is that damn good. As with his promos, Heyman is a captivating interviewee, it's very easy to sit and listen to him tell his stories (even if you're never quite sure if he's simply spinning a yarn, but that's part of the fun). The story of Heyman's career, moves at a good pace, moving quickly from subject to subject without ever feeling like it is skimming over the details. It also feels like some real craft has gone into the placing of the interviews, which has been missing from some WWE documentary sets, as it uses a number of themes to tie the story up together, for example the discussion of Heyman's family (his Mother in particular) really rounds off the set, giving a real human element to Heyman. 


The other interviewees are well picked, with all the interviews being brand new for the set, with the likes of Gabe Sapolsky, Jim Ross, Bill Apter and CM Punk all presenting intriguing insights into the life of Heyman. One criticism I've had of previous WWE documentaries (Triple H - Thy Kingdom Come in particular) is the overly positive nature of the interviews, making the sets feel more like an ego wank, this isn't present here. This makes for a much more enjoyable watch, whether that be criticisms over the handling of ECW or Stephanie McMahon and Jerry Lawler who clearly don't like Heyman very much at all.




My only real criticism about the documentary is the lack of a few key interviews that would have really pushed this onto the next level. I'm talking the likes of Vince McMahon (once again conspicuous by his absense) Shane McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Jim Cornette. I think all of these names would have added an extra dimension to the set, although some of there relationships with WWE might not have allowed this to be possible. I also thought that there were a few too many dramatic close-ups of Heyman, which did feel a little out of place. 





Promos







Disc Two contains a treasure chest of Heyman interviews and promos from AWA, NWA and ECW. I would review them all individually, but I think that might be a bit of overkill as I'd be saying a lot of similar stuff about each, so I'll give a quick overview instead. You can see Heyman improving in the earlier interviews, as he finds his feet and develops his own interview style. At first he attempts to simply get himself over, as Heyman develops he begins putting the entire AWA over (something that he'd put to good use when in control of ECW) this allows him to put his charges over which he get's better and better at as the set goes on. 

As Heyman moves to the NWA the quality of his promos see's a distinct improvement, with the terrific feud between Heyman's Original Midnight Express and James E. Cornette's Midnight Express. Seeing these two great talkers battle it out, in a series of intense and dramatic settings, got me really hyped up to see a match between their respective teams. It was a shame then that I had to wait until the third disc. I would've like to see have a match between the two slotted in between the promos. After all that is the point of a promo.

Ric Flair's appearance on The Dangerzone is just as good as one would expect, with both men on top form, getting over storylines and upcoming matches. This made me a very happy boy. Appearances alongside Jim Ross show an early chemistry between the two, that would come to a culmination with the pairs stint on commentary for WWF in 2001. 

However, where Heyman really came into his own was with the formation of the Dangerous Alliance. Including Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Larry Zybyszko, Beautiful Bobby and Madusa, the group allowed him really stretch his creativity and managerial muscle. The segment where Heyman is introducing each member of the group showcases his ability to get others over, as he runs through their attributes. Another segment that does this well is the Paul E awards, which of course all go to member of the Dangerous Alliance, it's superb slice of heel Heyman at his best, which get's the crowd riled up nicely.

After leaving the WCW, Heyman headed to ECW, and this selection of promos allow for the viewer to see a different side of Heyman. Whilst the previous promos had always been passionate and intense, seeing Heyman without the shackles previously seen in the AWA and NWA footage , is a whole different beast. He manages to get over everything he needs to say about upcoming matches, whilst also taking shots at both WWF and WCW, and piling his promos sky high with cultural references. This simply wasn't seen at this time and helped to set ECW apart from their competition and create the rabid fan base. The promo that almost cracks up Joey Styles is absolute gold. 




A handful of promos done in front of the ECW live crowd before shows are truly a sight to behold. Whilst the usual schtick on WWF and WCW is intact, it's the way that Heyman works the crowd into an absolute frenzy, making sure they were hot for the rest of the show and felt like they were part of something. The closing segment of the second disc, is the infamous "I dare you to through me off the air" promo, after TNN decided to replace ECW with WWF's Raw. A terrific shot on the "Network" that really should be seen. 

The third disc leaps into Heyman's time with WWE. By this time Heyman is a completely polished performer who knows how to get the desired reaction out of the crowd, whilst simultaneously relaying any information that WWE wanted to get over to the audience. This is seen clearly as Heyman introduces new charge Brock Lesnar, with terrific direction that keeps the camera always on Lesnar, Heyman's words hammer home what the viewer can see on the screen. Brock Lesnar is a beast. 

Three promos from WWE's version of ECW are also present, straddling the original One Night Stand and the start of ECW as it's stand alone brand. All three offer something different, firstly showcasing Heyman's ability as a babyface, as he rips into JBL and his cohorts infront of the pro-ECW crowd in hilarious fashion. Up next it's time for Heyman to sell the new ECW brand, which is bitter sweet in hindsight as Heyman truly seemed to have a passion for the upcoming product. It wouldn't last long, as Heyman turns up on ECW TV a few weeks later and whilst it's great to see an ECW show in Madison Squared Garden, it's clear that all isn't quite right at this point. 




Following Heyman's return to WWE in 2011, there's a cavalcade of top promos as Heyman represents Brock Lesnar and CM Punk, before begining ATPW's Feud of 2013 with the later. From a magnificent segment with Vince McMahon to the genius "Paul-cano" interview with Renee Young, these promos put a strong case together that Heyman's latest run has been the most enjoyable of his career. If only it weren't for Ryback and Curtis Axel's appearances that case would be pretty much closed. 


Stories


There's also a handful of extra stories included within the DVD set, involoving Heyman telling some terrific stories about breaking into the business (including calling Freddie Blassie "Mr. Magoo"), as well a split interview with Jerry Lawler as the pair discuss their issues with each other. Others stories include Todd Gordon's exit from ECW, Vince McMahon paying for Heatwave 2000 and Stephanie McMahon detailing the incident that lead to Heyman's departure from the Smackdown writing team. All are fantastic inclusions that add depth to the documentary feature. 


Matches


Rounding off the set is a couple of matches, beginning with Midnight Express bout mentioned earlier. Heyman's Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose battle James E. Cornette's Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane in an enjoyable slice of old-school tag team action. Surprisingly, WWE Home Video haven't opted for a feud closing match, as it's clear, from the finish this bout is supposed to lengthen the feud. It is sloppy at times, but Heyman's selling of a punch from Cornette makes up for it in sheer hilarity. 

Heyman teams with Brock Lesnar next to take on The Hardy Boyz at Judgment Day 2002. It's clear what the plan is here, as The Hardy Boyz bump all night long for Lesnar, which makes him look like an absolute beast. It's a solid storytelling bout, that gives the Hardyz just enough offence for it not to be considered a squash. The finish is clever, allowing Heyman's team to keep all of the heat, as Lesnar sky rocketed to super stardom.

The final match, see's Heyman team up with then Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel, to take on CM Punk at Night of Champions 2013 in an Elimination Match. It's not a particularly bad bout, with Heyman's clashes with Punk being extremely entertaining, there just isn't much chemistry between Punk and Axel, which leads to some lazy exchanges and a rather dull opening. It does showcase, Heyman's feud with Punk nicely however, although that feud was all about the build up promos, with Punk's bout with Lesnar being the only match that really delivered the goods. 


Finally...


I can't recommend this set to wrestling fan's enough. The documentary is solid gold, being both entertaining, informative and perfectly crafted, it is perhaps the best spotlight WWE has ever produced. The promos that follow should be studied closely by anyone looking to get into the wrestling business, as they act almost as a step by step guide on how to cut a promo, with Heyman changing up his styles a number of times for whatever suited the situation. The added stories add extra depth to the documentary, whilst the few matches are intriguing in their own right, even if they aren't all five star bouts.

To put it quite simply, go and buy this DVD.


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