OMEGA: Uncommon Passion
In 1997 the professional wrestling landscape was vastly different. The Monday Night Wars were in full swing, the internet "newz" sites were just catching on, everyone was talking about "The Big Three", and OMEGA was burning up the backwoods of North Carolina. Perhaps placing OMEGA on that level is overstating the importance of the small southern indy, which was started by Matt Hardy and Thomas Simpson, but that seems to be what this loving documentary attempts to accomplish.
"OMEGA: Uncommon Passion" is a 2-disc DVD set from Highspots documenting the ups and...well, mostly the ups... of the Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts. If nothing else, I have to give Matt credit for coming up with an original name, though listening to his account, it appears to be more of a divine revelation. Hardy and Simpson were racking their brains trying to come up with a name, running through all the three letter possibilities, all containing a "W" and an "F". Finally, one night Matt awoke from a deep sleep, peered out his window into the starry sky and the name OMEGA came to him instantly. Kind of like the idea to have his best buddy Adam Copeland drive his girlfriend around while Matt was out injured. The main program of the documentary is broken up into biographies of several of the bigger names to emerge from Omega including Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Shannon Moore, Shane Helms, Joey Matthews, Christian York, Jason Ahrndt, Cham Pain, Steve Corino, Otto Schwanz, and Thomas Simpson. The bonus features consist of a few promos, some interview outtakes, and 6 matches. The set is packaged nicely, and the production is well above that of an average indy. The one complaint I do have about the production is with the sound. The volume isn't normalized at all. At times it is difficult to hear the speaking at all, while at other times unexpected volume jumps will send you jumping for your volume button.
Most of the feature biographies are pretty shallow, with only Matt, Jason Ahrndt, and Thomas Simpson getting any real content. We learn that Matt was the brains, Thomas was somewhat of a money mark, and Jason Ahrndt, who wrestled as Venom, was the OMEGA talent with the most big-time potential. We also learn that Matt has a bit of a Messianic complex, as he pretty much blackballed Jason because of a dispute involving a girl. As we all know, this becomes a recurring theme in Matt's life. I'll also point out that Thomas Simpson's interview segments are incredibly entertaining in part due to his ultra-southern feminine accent. While it is somewhat touching to know how much he cares about his friends, it's hard not to laugh when he breaks into tears remembering the moment that Matt and Jeff signed with WWF.
As I've already pointed out, the importance of OMEGA as a wrestling organization is highly exaggerated here. Steve Corino even makes a case that instead of big three; it should have been big four. One look at the crowds from the matches let's you know that there was never a real shot of that happening. Still, what can't be overstated is how much major league talent came out of this tiny, little organization. Matt, Jeff, Shane Helms, Shannon Moore, and Joey Matthews have all been featured regularly on WWE TV and PPV. Matthews, Christian York, Cham Pain, Corino, and Otto Schwanz all spent time in ECW. The tragic story of the disc, Jason Ahrndt, was part of the Mean Street Posse before substance problems (and possibly the wrath of Matt Hardy) derailed his career.
The matches featured here aren't bad at all, though adding commentary would have been a nice touch. Most of the work is very lucha-inspired, with lots of high spots and big bumps. In fairness, this was done before most of those spots were completely overexposed, so it did seem fresh and exciting at the time. Far and away the best match of the set is The Hardy Boyz vs. The Serial Thrillas (Shane Helms and Mike Maverick). This was the Hardy's last match before leaving for WWF, and they did a very good job of putting over the team that would in theory be the new face of OMEGA. The crowd for that match was larger than normal, and the heat was off the charts. None of the matches are bad, but I do wish more matches would have been included, and more explanation on why these particular matches are important.
In conclusion, this DVD is much like OMEGA itself; full of potential, but never quite delivering. For any fan of the Hardy's or others involved with OMEGA, I would recommend this disc. I would not recommend this to someone looking for deep-digging stories or a DVD full of wrestling action. Overall, I'd grade "OMEGA: Uncommon Passion" a B-.
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