WWF/WWE-Wrestlemania 20 (2004) (NTSC)
Trailer-No Way Out, Godsmack CD
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Additional Footage-The Rock 'n' Sock Connection
Featurette-NYC Press Conference
Featurette-Pre-Match Comments (4)
Additional Footage-Dudley Boyz vs. Lance Storm & Val Venis
Featurette-Post-Match Comments (9)
Interviews-Cast-'Byte This' With Eddie Guerrero
Short Film-The Mania Of Wrestlemania
Featurette-Wrestlemania's Ten Greatest Matches Ever
Gallery-Photos, Facts And Results
|Year Of Production||2004|
|Running Time||273:32 (Case: 510)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Kevin Dunn|
Paul Michael Levesque
Rob Van Dam
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Where It All Begins Again.
The WWE builds its year toward a March climax at Wrestlemania. It's where all the year's storylines are (at least temporarily) resolved and traditionally acts as the promotion's showcase to demonstrate its top talent giving their all.
Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. Wrestling is a physically risky, largely impromptu, seat-of-the-pants performance, and it's impossible for everyone to pull out their best performance when they want it the most.
Wrestlemania XX was held at Madison Square Garden, New York - the 'home' of the WWE, and as an 'anniversary' 'Mania, all the stops were pulled out. 12 matches, including seven title matches and the return of three legends were all on the card. The DVD is also loaded with promotional extras, including two forty-minute-plus featurettes.
When reviewing a wrestling DVD, especially ten months after it first went to air, one has to remember the nature of the business - driven at least as much by the soap-operatic storylines as by actual, in-ring action. At this remove, it's hard to recapture the emotion that was built behind some of the matches. The Undertaker's return after four months off and bringing his original gimmick out of the cupboard. The reformation of one of the WWE's most popular tag teams, neither of whom had wrestled regularly in years. The promos shown throughout the feature do all they can to remind you, but if you came in late they mean much less than they do to a regular viewer. All you're left with on later viewings is a host of pageantry - some excellent, some painful - surrounding 141 minutes of wrestling in a 273-minute feature.
The matches presented on the card were:
US Title - Big Show (c) vs John Cena: A slow match, with the giant unable to step up to a pay-per-view pace. Although the commentators did what they could, the match was an unexceptional undercard affair that was ended before it started to drag.
Fatal Four Way. World Tag Team Title - Rob Van Dam & Booker T. (c) vs Dudley Boyz vs Garrison Cade & Mark Jindrak vs La Resistance: A much higher tempo in this match, especially at the start of the match, but with a number of unnecessary rest-holds when fresh people were still waiting outside the ring.
Chris Jericho vs Christian: A higher-quality match than the first two, with Christian taking a rare opportunity to shine in an extended singles match. I didn't understand the resolution of this feud's storyline at the time, but at this remove it really doesn't matter.
2-on-3 Handicap Match. Rock 'n' Sock Connection vs Evolution: This match is presaged by an excellent promotional piece highlighting the microphone skills that are currently lacking in the WWE. Unfortunately, the match itself was doomed to bad luck. The cameras missed a couple of big 'spots' over the course of the match, and Mick Foley's four years away from the ring were apparent. The Rock's return - in his less-muscular Hollywood persona - showed that he still knew how to give the fans a show, and his time in the ring was... I have to say it... electrifying. Unfortunately, the match petered to an unsatisfying conclusion and afterward the cameras lingered a little too long in the ring on a Mick Foley that time and bodily percussion have worn away to less than that which we'd wish to remember.
2004 WWE Hall of Fame Induction: I've generally failed to mention the interstitial promos throughout the DVD, but this one went too long to neglect. Clips were shown of the recent induction of WWE Hall-of-Famers, including snippets of video of the wrestlers in action, before the inductees were presented live to the crowd. Unfortunately the whole thing took too much time and smacked of yet another promotion for another WWE DVD rather than contributing to the pay-per-view that was underway at the time.
Playboy Evening Gown Match. Sable & Torrie Wilson vs Stacy Keibler & Miss Jackie: I quote from the commentary over the match. "So who do you pick in this?" "Who the hell cares?". I have to agree. It's a very brief match between four women in lingerie, apparently to prove who should have been Playboy covergirls. If this sounds confusing, it means that you really aren't drunk enough to watch this sort of thing.
Cruiserweight Elimination Championship - Chavo Guerrero w/ Chavo Guerrero Sr vs Nunzio vs Jamie Noble vs Tajiri vs Akio vs Funaki vs Shannon Moore vs Ultimo Dragon vs Billy Kidman vs Rey Mysterio: It irritates me that WWE is unable to build around their cruiserweight division, but a decision seems to have been made to get as many of them into and out of the ring in the shortest period of time possible. This match could have been a series of showstopping spots, but instead sees one wrestler after another perform their trademark move and then be quickly eliminated.
Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar - Stone Cold Steve Austin as Guest Referee: This was obviously intended to be one of the night's biggest events, putting the two unstoppable monsters in a ring with each other and giving the striped shirt to the recently-retired fan favourite. Unfortunately, the audience knew the contract situation of the two wrestlers (Lesnar was leaving to trial with an NFL team, Goldberg was going to Japan) and gave them hell from the outset with chants of "you sold out". This obviously affected both wrestlers, who had one of the worst matches ever seen at a Wrestlemania. Neither even touched the other for the first three minutes, the crowd started booing loudly after three and a half, and the first move that wasn't a simple lock-up took until over five minutes after the opening bell. Crowd chants of "boring", "we're not watching" and "you both suck" echoed throughout the auditorium and were crisply and clearly delivered through both the front and surround speakers. It's surprising that the WWE chose not to remove these chants from the mix before the DVD was produced, but nothing could save the match itself. Interestingly, the audience was so dead that they couldn't even bring themselves to mug for the cameras in the crowd shots afterwards.
Fatal Four Way. WWE Tag Team Title - Scotty 2 Hotty & Rikishi (c) vs APA vs Basham Brothers vs World's Greatest Tag Team: A match that really should have had the opportunity to run longer, but didn't disgrace itself. The crowd was almost silent throughout the match, apparently frustrated by the last one.
Women's Title - Victoria (c) vs Molly Holly: Stipulation match - should Molly lose she will have her head shaved. This match was far better than it had any right to be, especially allowing Molly the chance to show that there are technically competent wrestlers in WWE's female division. Again, the match was briefer than it could have been and the crowd were still subdued, although starting to warm again. Since seeing this on the pay-per-view, I'd forgotten that announcer Jim Ross mentions during the match that he rarely wears underwear, but if I have to have nightmares over this again, I believe that it's only fair that I mention it.
WWE Championship - Eddie Guerrero (c) vs Kurt Angle: Wow. Every so often a match comes along to remind you why you started watching wrestling in the first place. This is one of those matches. Easily the best pay-per-view match since Angle wrestled Benoit at Wrestlemania X-Seven. A technical-style match with relatively few high spots, but two men at the top of their industry took each other around the ring and back again in a phenomenal display.
Undertaker vs Kane: The Undertaker's first match back from four months off, having been taunted into returning to his original "Dead Man" gimmick by his brother who had recently abandoned his. This was an odd little match, and while it was nice to see the Undertaker using his old entrance music and routine, the new-style ring outfit and bangs that made him look vaguely like Mary Tyler Moore had replaced Linda Blair in The Exorcist gave an odd cast to a match that really only existed to allow the Undertaker to perform all of his old school moveset and roll his eyes back into his head a few times. Nevertheless, this was quite acceptable as a filler match before the final main event.
Triple Threat. World Heavyweight Title - Triple H (c) vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit: Once again, there were a few high spots - including one from the Spanish Announce Table - and some exceptional bleeding that rivalled Ric Flair at his best, but the match stood as a brawl of reasonable quality for a pay-per-view, compounded by an exceptional finish.
The feature finishes with a four-minute highlight package of the matches you've just seen.
This Wrestlemania's quality was very inconsistent, but most matches stood under their own merits. Unfortunately, one expects more from a Wrestlemania and the sheer quantity of matches on the card (allowing none to go over 25 minutes) meant that there were internal limitations on how much could be done in the time, but one can't help but think that maybe the WWE could have done a little better by sacrificing quantity for a higher level of quality.
This DVD is presented in the 1.33:1 ratio that the pay-per-view was originally broadcast in and is not 16x9 enhanced. Note that this is an NTSC release, so your equipment will need to be NTSC compatible to play it back.
The level of sharpness and noise on this disc was somewhat difficult to determine, as the level of compression was so great that MPEG artefacts were the order of the day. Blacks were good during pre-recorded promos, but the mat colour showed substantial noise.
Colours were highly saturated, in keeping with WWE's style. Skin tones often look somewhat ruddy, but this is a feature of WWE's broadcasts as well.
The discs, especially the first disc, showed signs of substantial overcompression. Macro blocking and the Gibb effect were present throughout, often severely, and the disc showed signs of degenerating even to VCD quality. Pauses also show a level of interlacing.
No subtitles were recorded on this disc.
The first DVD has a RSDL change at 80:00, during the Rock 'n' Sock/Evolution match, and is not well-placed. The disc exchange to the second DVD is at 167:04, after the second Fatal Four Way tag team match. No other RSDL changes were evident during the 106:28 of the feature on the second disc or on the third.
The WWE has previously used 5.1 channel tracks quite poorly, but this DVD proves that it can be done exceptionally. In-ring chatter was clearly picked up and transmitted, and crowd chants, though typically indistinct, could be easily made out. Percussive noises were conveyed crisply. A couple of pops were noted in the surround speakers at the start of the Cruiserweight match.
The feature contained a 5.1 English Dolby Digital stream at 448 Kb/s and a stereo Spanish Dolby Digital stream at 192 Kb/s that sounded substantially flatter, with non-commentary noise especially being much more subdued.
The dialogue was distinct and perfectly synchronised.
Music was used incidentally, but was conveyed accurately, and in pre-recorded promos was pumped powerfully through the surround speakers, conveying an almost operatic sensation.
The announcers, promotional pieces and ring noise was channelled through the front speakers, with crowd noise and music during prerecorded promos coming from the surround speakers to give a truly immersive feel.
The subwoofer was used to add weight to the percussive noises, but was not overstated.
|Surround Channel Use|
These "trailers" would be described as 'Extras' by the same people who would describe a laptop that won't boot as having "excellent power management". Both are on Disc One before the menu screen, although they can be skipped past by chapter-forwarding, unlike the "Don't Try This At Home" (0:30) piece that insists you watch it all on Discs One and Three before you can get to the menu.
The main menus of each disc are animated, although the loading time is sufficient that I didn't notice until I was looking for it. Unfortunately, the animation is the highlight package mentioned in the "Plot Synopsis" section above and does contain spoilers.
The booklet included lists all matches and extras on a disc-by-disc basis, but does not contain chapter numbers.
A look at the briefly-formed but legendary tag team competing on Disc One. More a refresher than an introduction, it features snippets of some of Foley's best promotional pieces from this time.
Several wrestlers standing behind a lectern and saying how great it is to be at Wrestlemania. This becomes a theme throughout the Extras.
Billy Kidman, Rey Mysterio, Molly Holly and Mean Gene Okerlund standing next to an interviewer and saying how great it is to be at Wrestlemania.
The additional footage is that of a match held to determine the final entrant to one of the Fatal Four Way matches in Wrestlemania (and is therefore self-spoilering). The match itself is sufficiently good that it would have been among the best matches on the card. Even if you usually skip extras, you'll find it worth your while to watch this match.
John Cena, Rob Van Dam & Booker T, Mick Foley, Big Show, Chavo Guerrero & Chavo Guerrero Sr and Molly comment on their matches - Mick Foley doing so out-of-character. Superstar Billy Graham comments on his Hall of Fame induction and some fans talk about their favourite parts of the show.
Eddie Guerrero talks on WWE's webcast about becoming WWE champion.
Advertisements for Wrestlemania XX itself and five of the matches in it.
A promotional documentary, narrated by Jesse Ventura, of Wrestlemania XIX to be screened by UPN (which carries Smackdown! in the USA) to boost interest for Wrestlemania XX, focusing on the wrestlers' preparation for, and occasionally recovery from the matches. Features very little in-ring action, but does include shoot (out-of-character) interviews of most of the top-carders saying how much being at Wrestlemania means to them and looks at injuries that Steve Austin and Kurt Angle carried into and out of 'the big dance'.
Three segments deleted from the Mania of Wrestlemania for time purposes, looking at the lesser matches on the card.
Another promotional documentary, this time for Spike TV (the station that carries Raw in the US) and presented by Ric Flair as a forerunner to Wrestlemania XX, looking at Wrestlemania matches voted as favourites in a poll on wwe.com. This featurette glances at some excellent matches, but again shows insufficient in-ring action to show why they were considered to be so good.
Classified by year, features the results of, and some trivia and a handful of photos from, each Wrestlemania from the original to XIX.
10 questions are chosen randomly from a pool and clips are shown of wrestlers or announcers telling you whether you got the question right or wrong.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
The discs appear to be identical in Regions 1, 2 and 4.
The DVD's video is heavily compressed, but it's not enough to make the discs unwatchable. Audio is excellent, but let's face it - if you're going to buy the disc it's going to be because of the matches, which vary wildly in quality. The extras are many, including two TV programs and an excellent bonus match.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-86PW300A. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-512.|
|Speakers||Wharfedale Diamond 8.3 fronts, Wharfedale Diamond 8.2 rears, Wharfedale Diamond 8 centre, Wharfedale 12" sub|