Kliq Rules, The Review

Well Shawn Michaels is full of Kliq-Kliqitty-Kack.


Kliq Rules WWE Blu-ray packshot
Title: The Kliq Rules
Starring: Shawn Michaels,
Kevin Nash,
Scott Hall,
Triple H
Genre: Sports, Documentary
Runtime: 8 Hours 03 mins
Studio: WWE
Certificate: 15
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: UK: Sep 07 2015
See If You Like: Monday Night War Vol. 1

Just like real life sports, there are times where the backstage lives of professional wrestlers are way more interesting than the actual on-field/in-ring occurrences. The way the notorious back of house politicing group called The Kliq went around making and breaking various World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment and later (to an extent) World Championship Wrestling performers on the basis of their ideal world of the wrestling business earned them more enemies than friends. Such a shame too that the five were immensely talented and may be more renowned to the hardcore fans for their actions and hard partying ways rather than their matches. The Kliq Rules is a documentary filmed by the backstage winners of the Monday Night War between WWE & WCW although there is a fair amount of balanced reflection and scope for even the most casual wrestling fan to form their own opinion.

The Kliq were comprised of heartthrob tantrum filled wrestling prodigy Shawn Michaels, bonafide stud maverick to future addiction trainwreck Scott ‘Razor Ramon’ Hall, giant bodyguard cool cat smarky funnyman Kevin ‘Diesel’ Nash, underdog high flyer company jumping Sean ‘1-2-3 Kid/X-Pac’ Waltman and lastly baggage handler to company man journeyed Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque. Whilst tremendously talented individually in the squared circle of professional wrestling, their joint politicising to management lead to notoriety backstage. Despite the group being pulled apart with members leaving for other organisations, the five remained firm friends despite numerous fallings out with one another. For over 20 years, the bond still remains strong as we see the group’s beginnings to the crowning achievement of members inductions to the WWE Hall Of Fame.

With some understandable “history is written by the winners” mentality that seems to plague the WWE and their documentaries nowadays when it comes to looking back at elements of the Monday Night War of pro wrestling in the late ’90s, I fully expected The Kliq Rules to be a massive spin away from the dodgier aspects of their power plays… yet most of the members are rather open to talking about it; a refreshing respite in an industry that is usually only keen to talk about the positives.

Kliq 01 Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, X-Pac, Scott Hall,

Winding up the locker room with lies about their show bonuses and openly critiquing others for cocks-ups is the sort of actions which would not endear you to peers after all. Freely speaking about how they would go to important figureheads like Vince McMahon the owner of WWE and telling him who they think is best for the wrestling business, their sickening actions almost have to be applauded for being as ballsy as they are. Whilst the majority of the Kliq members interviewed tend to admit that their methods were underhanded to other members of the locker room, turned-christian Michaels does not cover himself in glory when he says that other talent should have done the same thing and manned up to Vince also, if they weren’t happy with what they were doing. This is from the same man that would throw a hissy fit (with documented proof & footage as seen in the documentary) until things went his way in the script and presentation. Hardly something a man of God would expect to say if you ask me. To be fair, there is some legitimate regret to some of their actions, like the infamous ‘Curtain Call’ incident where most of the Kliq ignored kayfabe (the upholding of your wrestling character whether you’re a face/good guy or heel/bad guy no matter what) at a time when it was still strong to publicly say goodbye to the crowd at Madison Square Garden.

In an oddly short documentary of just over an hour, there is an inkling of not covering all the aspects of the various members. A similar in topic of Nash’s disastrous run as the booker/head writer of WCW would have fitted in given how well his vision of a wrestling company away from his friends would have been, for example, not to mention the glossing over of some of the guys’ personal demons. I do see that’s not quite the point of the doc as we’re celebrating how the five came together to change backstage power for their own ends and it is left to the viewer to decide whether it was better or worse for it on the conceptual scale, i.e. there’s no mention of hard facts like Nash’s reign as WWE Champion in 1995 being one of the worst money making runs in company history. As such, there has been a conservative effort to seek out people who were at odds with The Kliq at times and get their view point which does improve the balance of the doc considerably. Former Extreme Championship Wrestling alumni Shane Douglas who is quick to slag off the Kliq and other big name wrestlers in shoot interviews elsewhere is more calm here in a WWE production in a bizarre case of hell freezing over almost as his relationship with management isn’t exactly rosey. His admittance that he chose to quit WWF back in the day rather than put up with characters like Michaels and their B.S. which would lead him to violence against them is rather telling of the atmosphere back then.

Kliq 02, X-Pac Triple H

Whilst this is a slick WWE backed presentation that is well on the way of joining their top tier of legitimately great and endearing documentaries, The Kliq Rules tries a few new tricks which don’t go over well. The talking head parts are set behind a terrible looking blue screen and the heads themselves are clearly asked a bunch of questions on various topics in wrestling, not just about the Kliq themselves, which I feel is a cop out since I want a specialised experience – not what Lex Luger thought about them as he was bum rushed through a deluge of questions. That short runtime of just over an hour still baffles me post-viewing as there is elements that could and should have been expanded on. Whilst the topics proposed are far from soft, some real challenging and facing up questions would have not gone amiss either as it’s something your hardcore wrestling fan would be interested in, and it would be different from the countless book, podcast and Youtube video opinions on the group.

The really nice touch though which sets The Kliq Rules above other done to death docs on the Monday Night War of wrestling is the ludicrously great get of rare home video behind the scenes personal clips of the group. A true treasure which breaks away from the numerous wrestling clips nicely, it adds to the admittedly charming story arc throughout the documentary of seeing this group of five friends going through thick and thin professionally and personally to being recognised by their peers and fans alike in entering into the WWE Hall of Fame. The balance of whether the Kliq was good or bad for the wrestling business overall is entirely left up to the viewer with next-to-no sugar coating or avoiding the negative qualities and relationships they built – an all too rare focus for any documentary for any subject, not just wrestling. The effort to track down some of the talking heads is incredible – not only for some of the wrestlers who disliked the group, but also the two superfans who were lucky enough to record on their own video camera ‘Curtain Call’ which was at an untelevised event, so if it wasn’t for them, we and WWE would never be able to acknowledge the event with video proof.

Kliq 03, Shawn Michaels Scott Hall

What pumps The Kliq Rules into must buy territory for any real wrestling fan on Blu-Ray is the magnificent selection of matches WWE have assembled. Before I’ve bashed releases for having quite a few extras from the WWE Network but here the match assemblers have seen sense and thrown in some non-Network curiosities. There are one or two matches from forgotten C-level show Action Zone for Michaels’ sake! Most of the matches are between Kliq members which makes sense since most of the group had their best wrestling storylines and scraps with one another. The long repeated Ladder match between Hall & Michaels is on another WWE release again but it is a genuine classic and a historic match. I do like the story-arc you get going from the early exchanges from the start of the group in the mid 90’s all the way to this year’s overbooked cameo filled extravaganza between Triple H and Sting from this year’s Wrestlemania 31, which shows how far the group have come.

In a crowded market of repeating the same wrestling war from yet another angle, The Kliq Rules manages to nose ahead by telling the story of five friends who didn’t want to rule the world exactly, just to make it in their own image for what they perceived to be better. Whilst the documentary portion in itself is a tad too short and some aspects left untouched, the level presentation of evidence whether the Kliq were good or not for the wrestling industry is fabulous. The balance of the talking heads and the effort to include some of them, from performer to fan, is on the same level. The stupidly high match quality of the extras are well worth your money alone, making this an easy recommendation. Worth it alone just to hear Nash recall how he tore his quad and went home injured for a year and collected his pay cheque with a sarcastic “Nice work if you can get it”. Marvellous.

Terry Lewis@lewisonlife.

Ratings 09 Buy from Amazon.co.uk Buy from Amazon.com