Having mined the Attitude Era for all they could it was perhaps inevitable that the Ruthless Aggression phase of the WWE would get similar Network/Home Video treatment. This set brings together the five episodes that comprised Season 2; Ruthless Aggression 2!
Episode 1 features a rather well-known face. The Rock. Yet with a promise to look into the “Hollywood” Rock persona it at least promised to look at a side of his career that perhaps doesn’t get the air time that his other exploits gain.
After a quick reminder of how huge The Rock was in the early 2000s, we are reminded that his decamping to Hollywood left a sour taste in some fan’s minds, although it’s perhaps fair to say that even a “full-time” Rock might have got booed against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8. Brian Gerwitz gives some valuable insights into the backstage process of Rock’s official heel turn, whereas most of the Rock’s sit-down clips are cribbed from previous releases/documentaries. Overall though it does a good job of summarising just how great this version of the Rock was.
Episode 2 is entitled “Innovations” and generally takes a stab at looking at the new match types and concepts the WWE unveiled at this time. Make your own joke there if you want to.
It takes a look at some of the newcomers who joined the WWE (around the time of the “invasion”) before taking us to the birth of Raw Roulette. Which, in case you forget, gave us William Regal as a “showgirl”. Lita talks about her steel cage match with Victoria on Raw before we concentrate on the Elimination Chamber. Again Brian Gerwitz is an informative talking head. There are some cool backstage/empty arena shots of the wrestlers ahead of the debut of that match at Survivor Series 2002.
From there we go to the creation of the Money In The Bank match, with Chris Jericho given credit for the idea (in collaboration with Gerwitz and Michael Hayes). Edge admits his misgivings about being put in the match were well and truly misplaced.
There is the humility to talk about some less successful innovations (such as the Concrete Crypt and the Punjabi Prison match) before the internet era hits and we discuss Taboo Tuesday and Byte This. The point may be that whilst not every idea may turn out to be a success, without trying something new nothing new will ever stick.
Episode 3 brings us the “First Revolution” as WWE remembers for once that there were talented female wrestlers around before the modern age. Back in 2001 with TV time at a premium with a roster loaded with ex-WCW talent, there was an imperfect storm as years of conditioning meant that WWE fans apparently didn’t want proper wrestling for the women and neither were they allowed to go out there and provide it.
Still, with Finlay taking charge behind the scenes the tide did turn somewhat with him not only training up the women but pushing for them to be allowed to do more than they ever had before. We touch on the step backwards that was the Diva Search before taking a look at Molly Holly getting her hair shaved at WrestleMania XX (without her suggestion that she would do so there was no women’s title match scheduled) before going over the Lita/Trish feud for the hundredth time. We finish with clips of the first women’s Royal Rumble which saw a lot of the names mentioned in this episode return. A bit rushed, but a nice look back at different times.
Ruthless Aggression 2; penultimate episode takes us through the “Resurrection of Shawn Michaels”. This is another familiar story but one that bears re-telling. There’s no real sense in going over the ins and outs but whatever you think of HBK, the fact he could come back in 2002 after four years out and end up being better than ever is a remarkable thing.
We close with “Securing The Future”, which focuses on the development of new talent. We start with the Performance Centre before going back to the time when things were very different. At one point all the WWE had was a dingy studio in Stamford. Even partnering with Dory Funk’s Funkin Dojo only improved the aesthetics slightly. There is some neat archive footage of the likes of Edge, Christian and Kurt Angle training.
From there we go to OVW and whether it is a coincidence or not, under the guidance of Danny Davis and Jim Cornette, that part of “developmental” was responsible for honing some of the most recognisable talents of the era such as Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Batista. We move on to Tough Enough (an acquired taste I never quite acquired, to be honest) as everyone tries to say that there was no resentment towards the guys who got into the business that way. We touch on Deep South and Florida Championship Wrestling as well as NXT (as it was). Like all of the episodes on here, it’s not as deep as it could be and does the usual WWE trick of ignoring the things it doesn’t want to talk about but, again as per all the episodes, it is an entertaining enough look at its subject.
7 out of 10.
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch.fm for providing our copy of Ruthless Aggression 2, which is available on DVD from 5th May 2022. You can buy your copies from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here.