Dot Net DVD Review: WWE's The Epic Journey of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Feb 24, 2012 - 12:47 PM

By Will Pruett

At long last wrestling fans finally have a full documentary of The Rock’s career. WWE’s previous DVD releases for Rock have featured match collections, but the actual story of his career has been missing. This release fills that void, but the results are mixed.

First of all, the interview content from The Rock comes off just about as you would expect it to. Rock constantly guarded. He doesn’t reveal much that you didn’t already know. There is one moment at the top of the release where Dwayne mentions that he never actually left. This just comes off as patronizing. He says it in a tone that honestly disrespects the fans that probably already feel abandoned by him.

Interestingly enough, this documentary also does a great job of justifying The Rock’s transition into Hollywood. While some of it actually feels like a commercial for WrestleMania XXVIII, it also defeats John Cena's basic premise going into that match.

The main stars in the interview segments are Triple H, Mick Foley and Chris Jericho. Both of them are candid as they discuss their feuds with Rock and his rise to the top. They are fairly complimentary of Rock going to make movies, which, at least coming from Triple H, surprised me.

The documentary is extremely well done. It spends a large amount of time on his early career. Sure, we do not get a whole lot of Flex Cabana action, but the time spent between his Madison Square Garden debut in 1996 and heel turn in 1997 was far more than expected. The Rock was honest as he mentioned the flaws of the Rocky Maivia character and how they were apparent from the beginning. Jim Ross’ interviews also help to enlighten these sections.

While Farooq and Rock’s rivalry with him is not mentioned a whole lot, his rise to being the leader of the Nation of Domination is. Their feud with D-Generation X was covered and it leads to the great first part of the Triple H and Rock feud. While Steve Austin and The Rock may be most people’s favorite Rock feud, I am particularly fond of Rock and Triple H’s career-spanning feud. This segment and the ones that followed about these two made me quite happy.

When The Rock's career took off and movies began to call, the documentary covers each of his first few roles. They mention how he went from a wrestling star to a Hollywood sensation. This also begins the period where Rock was part-time and largely absent from the company. They discuss the SummerSlam 2002 Main Event where Rock was booed out of the building despite being a babyface wrestling Brock Lesnar, the monster heel.

There is a fine line of kayfabe walked as WWE discusses Rock's 2003 heel run. They mention fans being mad at him for leaving constantly and the new "Hollywood" Rock character. They also explain it as Rock finding a new way to entertain fans, even if they did not want it. This is one of those areas where this documentary really failed. In an effort to make Rock a man of the people they patronize their most loyal fans (who are likely the ones buying this set).

We go straight from "Rock concerts" to the 2004 comeback to team with Mick Foley in Madison Square Garden at WrestleMania. Mick Foley mentions how he did not think he was a big enough deal for Rock to want to team with. This makes Foley seem like the charity case that Rock took under his belt, which is not true.

When covering Rock's absence from WWE, they once again play the quote from Rock saying that he never left. Triple H has an interesting quote here saying that Rock did not know how great being in front of the fans was until he left it. They don't make it seem like Rock was doing something for WWE by coming back. Rather, they say that Rock was getting what he wanted and the "WWE Universe" happened to benefit.

Finally, the documentary covers WrestleMania XXVII and the challenge and march into WrestleMania XXVIII with the last few moments feeling like a commercial for Rock and John Cena's WrestleMania showdown.

The extra features on this release seem pretty incomplete. WWE has already put out a definitive match-only DVD on The Rock and it is still where you must go to see most of Rock's greatest matches. That set really seems like a companion piece to this one. It is odd that hardly any of the matches covered as epic and important on the documentary are included. That said, I love the effort put into including new matches. As a complete Rock set, both DVDs are worth picking up.

We get the bottom of the barrel with this one. There are a few gems, but when we get Rock vs. Hulk Hogan II from No Way Out 2003 instead of the far superior original match from WrestleMania X-8 it is hard to get excited. On the Blu-Ray disk we also get some more recent Rock moments including his Survivor Series match teaming with John Cena.

Overall, this release is a mixed bag. It doesn't match up to the amazing releases that WWE has been putting out with the Bret and Shawn set and the Steve Austin set. There is not the level of honesty that those three brought to their recent sets in this one. Rock always seems just a little bit glossier than you want someone to as they look back on their career. The documentary covers him well and for that, I can give this a mild recommendation. If this shows up on Netflix, watch it there. If not, it is worth a purchase, especially if you love Rock.

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