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12:00 - 17th February 2015, by Michael Campbell

WWE Greatest Wrestling Factions (FSM 107; June 2014)

Information: – DVD Region: Region Two • Distributor: Fremantle Media • Price: £29.99 • Other info: 423 mins • Release: Out now • Weblink: www.WWEDVD.co.uk

When WWE produces a themed compilation such as this, the company has a number of talented presenters capable of making it the package flow. It’s with some surprise, then, that Greatest Wrestling Factions sets its stall out as a more thrown-together release by having a very brief voiceover describe the concept of the wrestling faction, before the first segment begins.

To some fans, that may matter little in comparison to the footage of each faction or the anecdotes of various interviewees, but some chapters are far superior to others. DX’s segment earns points for the use of rare contributors such as Norman Smiley, but that aside, it’s essentially a highlight reel, and an overly familiar one at that. It’s a similar case with the nWo, which has been the subject of its own collection previously. At least with The Hart Foundation, a Flag match against a Steve Austin-led team is a heated affair.

Better, though, is the look back upon The Heenan Family, not just because it was a formidable band of villains, but because WWE features rarely examine managers’ charges as a collective. There’s some great footage here Heenan’s wrestlers, such as Mr Perfect, Andre The Giant and Rick Rude. Cesaro weighs in with a line that sums up Heenan perfectly: “Bobby Heenan never cheated, Bobby Heenan just helped his clients win”.

Heenan’s faction is poorly represented in match terms, however, as King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd face The Machines. Although it’s nice witnessing Andre on this side of the fence, it doesn’t feel representative of Heenan’s best work.

The Fabulous Freebirds, on the other hand, are showcased in an excellent eight-man Elimination bout. Anything other than a Freebirds versus Von Erichs scrap simply would not do, and Kerry, David, Kevin and “Iceman” King Parsons versus Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, Buddy Roberts and Jimmy Garvin is quite a spectacle.

Any memories of The Dangerous Alliance are always welcome, but while there is some tremendous footage of them here, the downside is that for all the talk of Rude, he is not in action on this set. Still, Steve Austin and Bobby Eaton opposite Sting and Marcus Alexander Bagwell remains a lot of fun.

ECW’s excellent Triple Threat group is not ignored either, with excellent contributions from Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman underlining their importance. Nexus is an interesting inclusion, if only to examine the difference in many of the members now. The footage of their debut on Raw is superb, although the talking heads spoil the fun in playing to the storyline. Nexus is represented by Raw’s 900th episode five-on-five Elimination match. Also worthwhile is the peek at Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation, and their shockingly good match with Guts and Glory from the 1994 Survivor Series.

Stevie Richards’ Right to Censor is examined in a welcome retrospective. Although RTC was limited and had a rather brief shelf-life, it did serve as a conceptually perfect antithesis to the often crass Attitude Era gimmicks. The six-man tag match from SummerSlam 2000 opposite Rikishi and Too Cool is hardly a classic, but is a good bit of fun. In a similar vein, Gangrel’s Brood is also spotlighted, and given its enduring popularity among fans, it is interesting to look back upon the memorably daft spell dousing people in fake blood.

Greatest Factions does cover plenty of ground, even dipping into the murky world of The Blue World Order and The Oddities, and attempting to sum up the infamously mishandled McMahon Corporation. There’s a peek at The Dungeon of Doom that trashes the ridiculous concept, and in many ways, the War Games match from Fall Brawl ’95 is so bad that it’s well worth watching.

This release is probably better regarded as a starter set. Serious collectors will be left wanting more from the better factions, and completists should also note that while the Blu-Ray is bang-up-to-date, The Shield and The Wyatt Family are ignored completely on the DVD set.

Still, some of the talking heads are great, with the likes of Dean Ambrose, AJ Lee and Cesaro making valuable contributions, though they’re at odds with the jarringly insincere efforts of Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole. Additionally, the featured contests include a number of other gems: The Nation of Domination versus DX is a decent battle from May 1998, and The Dudleys versus Evolution in a fine Elimination bout. Triple-H also returns alongside Batista and Shane McMahon to face Legacy in Backlash 2009’s exciting World title match.

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