It is what it is.
C. W. Fitch | Wichita Falls, TX | 03/11/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Usually, when wrestling fans see a DVD collection like this, they think they're in for a treat. The cover to this DVD features one of the hottest commodities in recent pro wrestling history, John Cena, and also boasts that the business' "biggest superstars" are on display in over 4 1/2 hours of nonstop action before they became such huge successes.
Why isn't this flying off the shelves? I mean, WWE has put out several "insider" DVDs about their biggest talent of the past and shown how they rose to the top: The Undertaker, The Road Warriors, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart...the list goes on. Nostalgic wrestling fans eat that stuff up, so why not release a DVD comp with footage of some of today's biggest stars and how they "broke in"? Should be a big success, right?
Sales-wise...not exactly. Entertainment-wise...well, maybe...
The first thing you should look at is the company that put this collection together: XEG (Xtreme Entertainment Group). In case you're not familiar with them, this is the same company that distributes collections like "The Bum Fights Collection", "Backyard Wrestling", "The World's Deadliest Fight Clubs", and various "Girls Gone Wild"-type videos. Ring a bell? Well, if it does, you should also expect the same type of quality in "Road to Glory".
In theory, the product seems pretty solid. It's a collection of past talent from Rick Bassman's developmental wrestling promotion, UPW (Ultimate Pro Wrestling), and quite a few of the faces you'll see are very recognizable. Of course, there's John Cena (going by the ring name "Prototype", and looking a lot more ripped than he is now), but you'll also come across other familiar faces like Horshu (Luther Reigns in WWE), Chris "Masters" Mordetzky, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, and Frankie Kazarian (all popular in the TNA organization), and Heidenreich, to name a few. Many of the guys you'll see here ended up making it as far as the WWE midcard, and some others went on to become independent wrestling legends.
The bulk of the collection is the matches these guys have with each other, but there is also just a bit of footage of the wrestlers practicing their promos (smack talk before a match), working out and rehearsing in the ring, and talking about what UPW is all about, which is developing wrestlers for potential greatness.
Now, you have to keep in mind that since UPW is a developmental organization, the quality of these matches in general is not going to be that great. And that's true; some of the matches are just plain awful to watch, especially if you've been watching WWF/WWE most of your life. The best advice I can offer when considering buying this collection is that you've gotta take it for what it is. This was basically put out there for those wrestling fans who may be curious as to what top players like John Cena were like while they were learning the ropes of pro wrestling. The footage and matches were shot with low-quality cameras, and the "arenas" are high school gyms and nightclubs with maybe a hundred or so people in attendance. The video and sound quality goes up and down, usually while the matches are taking place. You'll be fiddling with your remote quite a bit while you're watching.
The "shining" moments in this collection come mainly with guest appearances from the greats, like Rob Van Dam, the Road Warriors, and Diamond Dallas Page (who, coincidentally, celebrated his 76th birthday the day this DVD collection was released). A few of the matches in here are actually pretty good as well and show some very cool sequences; one particularly memorable is Christopher Daniels and Rob Van Dam in an independent brawl for the ages, despite the ring breaking a couple of minutes into the match.
Bonus features on the 2nd disc include trailers for other XEG products (the trailer for "Backyard Wrestling" is just sick to watch), footage from UPW's "Promo School" (more wrestlers practicing their promos), and a comedy skit called "Bruce Laundree" featuring Heidenreich and ripped karate dude Patrick Nguyen. You'll think it's either hilarious or completely stupid.
(I couldn't decide, although I did laugh at it.)
In a nutshell, this collection does what it set out to do. It doesn't do it that well, but you will indeed get an inside peek at what developmental wrestling organizations are like, and how they can actually produce a superstar or two. Take it for what it's worth, but don't expect much in the way of quality. Caveat emptor."
ROAD TO CONNECTICUT & TELEVISION
Shadow Fire Promotions, Inc. | Chicago, IL United States | 02/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you have grown up on watching ONLY wrestling on TV, such as WW, or WCW, then you WILL hate this, as mentioned by the previous reviewer. This is NOT WWF or WCW. This isn't filling the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, or the Pontiac Silverdome with 50,000 screaming fans.
It's also not what this DVD is about, and it's not for the fan of WWF, or WCW. This is independent wrestling, and if you're a fan of what you see on TV each week, then you more than likely think that tons of bodybuilders call Vince McMahon every day and are instantly hired and put on TV. (Although considering some of the talent currently in WW, it's easy to believe that!) Contrary to popular belief, wrestlers don't just call McMahon and are instantly signed to the WWF. It takes years and years of experience to earn a spot on television, and even longer to main event. Some are pushed to the top faster than others based on their charisma and ability, but generally, it takes a while, just as in any other sport or form of entertainment, you have to learn what you do and be good at it.
This is about what fans of wrestling on TV know nothing about. The independent circuit. All across the U.S., there are small independent promotions (independent of WW) that hold shows usually a few times a month in local gyms, nightclubs, bars, etc. This is where the people you see on TV come from. This is where you learn your craft, the art of the promo, and get ring time. This is for people who don't care about if WW calls them or not. They wrestle because they want to wrestle, because they love the sport. Fans are usually as low as 5-8 to highs of 1000-1500. Sometimes, you'll see wrestlers who are in the twilight of their career, or perhaps looking to reinvent themself and their career wrestling on the independent circuit. Every so often, like in the case of the UPW promotion, or NWA Wisconsin (independent home of Ken Kennedy and Hornswaggle), you'll find an independent promotion that is looked at more frequently than others, due to the quality of the training received by the wrestlers, and while not an "official" developmental territory, they do often use the fact that several of their wrestlers have gone on to WW as a selling point of their shows.
While sometimes these shows do have local TV access through cable access TV, or if the quality of their videos is good enough, can score a deal to have their shows on a local INDemand, or downloadable. However, most of the time, their shows primarily generate revenue from the live ticket sales, and the sale of merchandise such as DVDs, autographed photos, and t-shirts.
So, if you're looking for the slick, glossy, picture perfect sports-entertainment production values that a billion dollar corporation produces by hiring television executives and professional video production and distribution companies, then don't buy this. You'll hate it. However, if you're a fan of wrestling and not sports-entertainment, and want to see what it's like when you're first starting out as a wrestler, and are more in favour of good wrestling and don't need the slick production values to enjoy your shows, then pick up this DVD, and gain new appreciation for what these talented athletes go through. Then, when you're done, find a local independent promotion, attend one of their shows, and tell them you're a new fan. You'll find the independent wrestlers are usually far more accessible than your favourite WW superstar, and are generally more grateful for your support.
Support your local independent wrestling.