WWE Before they were Superstars 2
May 5, 2003
With the current trend of reality shows giving us tales of ‘After they were Famous’ and how the stars we used to adore have fallen into decline, it’s nice to once in a while get a glimpse at before they were famous. Ordinary guys and gals as they lived before the fickle hand of fate touched and polluted them. Of course with the WWE Superstars there was never anything particularly ordinary and down to earth about them, even when they were spindly teens.
This is the second volume of Before they were Superstars and features Brock Lesnar, Tazz, Al Snow, Randy Orton, Christopher Nowisnki. Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Torrie Wilson and Rob Van Dam, the latter being something of a disappointment. Fans of RVD will know that before he broke through into wrestling he appeared a number of decidedly dodgy martial arts action flicks playing such characters as ‘The Claw’. Van Dam’s film career was then on a par with what I presume Van Damme’s is now. Confused? Indeed I would love to see both Van Dam and Van Damme team up, either in the ring or in some brother in trouble action movie. The potential is huge.
Anyway, back to the DVD. The profile of RVD didn’t even mention his less than successful film appearances, which was the part I was truly waiting for. Instead it covered his school days, holidays and refusal to lose the weight required to make the high school wrestling team. His goal of becoming a pro-wrestler took a turn for the better though when he discovered that the Iron Sheik lived not too far from him. Would you be able to tell from RVD’s style that the Sheik trained him? Me neither.
By the impact that The Next Big Thing made in the WWE you would assume that he’d been winning everything he ever entered in the sport of wrestling. Not so apparently. In fact, Brock was described by his High School coach as ‘nothing special’. He was big, yes. He was strong and aggressive. He also had his fair share of defeats. Brock himself said that if he had achieved his goal and won the state championships he probably wouldn’t be in the WWE now. He had some unfinished business that made want to prove that he could be a winner.
We get treated to some of the footage from Brocks early bouts in High School, and his temper at defeat was clear to see. Thankfully we never see that in the WWE, probably because he hardly ever loses.
The once great wrestler of Tazz takes us back to his high school, where he seems almost proud to boast of its dangerous reputation. There is a sadness in his voice as he sees that the football field has actually been improved, so that no more can players slam each other into exposed manhole covers. Strangely Tazz says that the proudest moment in his career was debuting in the WWE, yet since he arrived his ring status has gone so far down the pecking order that he now doesn’t bother at all. Instead working on his commentary career. Paul Heyman happily takes the plaudits for discovering Tazz and admits to trying to coax the brawler into using the microphone as Tazz refused to speak in public. He’s certainly over that now.
Al Snow was a tale of dedication and belief if ever there was one. He’d been wrestling for 15 years before he finally made the breakthrough into the big time. He actually debuted in the WWE as ‘Avatar’, a character based on a Power Ranger, but Vince wasn’t impressed and sent Al Snow packing back to whence he came. Al was distraught by this at having waited so long for his break only for it to end after one performance. The discovery of a mannequin head gave Al the character angle he was looking for and it wasn’t long before Vince called him back.
It’s strange for Randy Orton to be featured on this series, as there was never really a time before he was a Superstar. The second third generation Superstar in the WWE (the other being The Rock) Randy was destined for greatness from the star. Other than interviewing his father and grandfather there wasn’t much they could show. Maybe in a few years he’ll have some highlights, but for now you may as well skip this one.
Christopher Nowinski’s arrival in the WWE was well publiscised. Losing at the last hurdle to Maven in Tough Enough he went back to the indy circuit in the hope that six months down the line he could try again. As he said himself, there was no way the WWE would invest so much time and money in making him into the bad guy to just let him go away. According to Nowinski’s football coach, he was a lazy player and needed a kick up the ass to get him motivated. I guess that’s what the WWE gave him as well.
Shawn Michaels was actually fired by Vince McMahon?!? It’s true, HBK was dismissed for a ‘bar incident’ that he denies. Still, it gave Shawn a chance to hone his skills and come back to the WWE some time later the Heartbreak Kid.
All of Michaels’ friends were jealous of his good looks and his way with the women, yet for some reason Shawn would always deny it. He was very shy apparently, we’d have never guessed. Shawn dropped out of college to become a pro-wrestler, after convincing his dad that it was the right thing to do.
The pioneer of ruthless aggression, John Cena has made one of the biggest impacts in the WWE. Not bad for someone who just likes getting naked a lot and doesn’t take himself seriously at all. An exhibitionist inside and outside of the ring John loves to show off his body. That’s about all of the background you get on Cena, need we any more? One of the special features on the DVD is Cena’s debut match against Kurt Angle though, and that is definitely worth watching a few times.
On the Chris Jericho section we get to find out what Y2J is all aboot. Chris met up with Lance Storm when they were both trying out to be pro-wrestlers, and Lance said he was relieved to see Chris because everyone else had no chance of making it. That’s why the two of them latched onto each other; they were both natural athletes. OK Lance.
Some of Chris’ early work on the indy circuit and in WCW is mightily impressive. Of all the Superstars featured Chris is the one you see as a child and say ‘yeah, he’s gonna make it.’ Of course another aspect to Y2J is his musical ‘talent’. He could have been a rock star, or a wrestler. I think he made the right choice. Still, there are plenty of opportunities for fans of Jericho’s vocal abilities to see how that all started.
I’ve saved the best to last, the delectable Torrie Wilson, surprise surprise had trouble with her weight. Not surprising actually when you learn that she was told, as a 14 year old, to lose 5 lbs by a modelling agency. If girls are told this by people they look up to, can we complain when so many develop anorexia or bulimia? Thankfully sh overcame her weight problem when she realised that athletic body building women looked better than thin unhealthy women. Being told not to lose any more weight by her modelling agency also hammered home the fact that she was too thin.
Torrie, like so many attractive girls, had an army of brothers watching her every step. They’re together again for this film telling how difficult it is to see Torrie in matches, and bikini contests when she’s their little sister. Tough break guys.
This DVD also features a selection of bonus moments, among them is an interesting tale of pain and dedication from Al Snow about he spent all of his money to compete with some wrestlers. It sounded like a con to be honest, as he didn’t actually get anything out of it apart from bruises and pain.
HBK’s debut as one half of the tag team ‘The Rockers’ is also featured, with Vince commentating. I found the commentary more interested to be honest. He’s speaking like a commentator but you know he’s actually evaluating new talent like this, and if they don’t impress they won’t compete again.
One of the best debuts of all time is featured when Chris Jericho entered WCW in 1996. His match against Alex Wright was a classic.
We also get to see RVD’s dedication, or is it desperation, in full when as a teenager he accepts the Million Dollar Man’s challenge to kiss his feet in the ring after a match. Disgusting.
There are also two Easter Eggs on this DVD on John Cena and Chris Jericho, highlight their names on the right of the screen and press right.
There’s a lot of information on this DVD but also a lot more that has been left out. It would be nice too if just once when people were interviewed about celebrities whom they knew as kids would come out and say that they hated them. Still, what is here is great for the fans.