Thursday, 29 January 2015

The 50 Greatest Finishing Moves In WWE History

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 438 Minutes
Certificate: 12
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: September 24 2012

When the concept for this DVD was announced, I felt it would be a stretch to provide relevant content that would also be entertaining over the course of three discs. A lengthy countdown with a chunk of old matches has worked many times before, but was this too small a theme to base such a release on? And how would the matches tie in with the theme, or would they be there just as filler? After watching the DVD, I was pleasantly surprised: yes, the theme is not the most appealing and, no, it is not going to win any DVD of the year awards, but it does provide a decent amount of entertainment that should make it worth your time.

The countdown is self-explanatory and follows the typical formula of short clips on each entry with comments from different talking heads. The order of moves shouldn’t ruffle too many feathers, and there is a wealth of archive footage on display as the moves span several decades and a few key eras in history. The comments, on the whole, don’t add a great deal but are inoffensive. Basically, I would summarise the countdown as fairly entertaining visually, and you should complete the sub-two hour feature in one sitting, but at the same time it’s unlikely that you’ll have the urge to watch it twice.

To be honest, I derived more enjoyment from the matches, which span from the 1980s to 2010. Before going through the bouts, though, I should point out that the matches are not listed within the inside cover of the DVD box or on any inserts within the box. This means that you would only know what matches are on this set by flipping through the menus or browsing online. It isn’t a deciding factor on whether to buy the DVD or not, but it is a source of annoyance for anyone who does buy it.

The matches then: it was only on reflection that I realised how most matches here included a memorable finishing move moment or were somehow based around such a move. That may be stating the obvious when discussing wrestling, where most matches end via a recognised finishing move, but it does prove that a little bit of thought did go into the match selection here.

The Jake Roberts-Rick Rude finisher match is fun but a little short; Mr. Perfect vs. Texas Tornado is surprisingly exciting for a match of that era; and whilst Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund is a pretty good technical wrestling match, it is most memorable for Backlund’s post-match attack on Bret, which includes his famous “What have I done?” expression that was one of the most unintentionally humorous wrestling memories for me growing up as a fan.

The Outsiders vs. The Giant (and in a way Lex Luger) is highlighted by an insane Jackknife Powerbomb by Kevin Nash on the future Big Show: Mankind vs. Jerry Lawler is decent but a slightly odd inclusion; Too Cold Scorpio vs. Rob Van Dam delivers enough high-flying to satisfy fans of the original ECW; and the star-studded Hogan-Flair-Sting-Page WCW Title match, refereed by Randy Savage, has one or two strange moments but is still a nice finish to disc two.

Disc three enters the new millennium, and starts with three TV tag bouts that, whilst entertaining enough, feel a little bit like filler (although the first of these matches, held right before Survivor Series 2001, does have an ending with relevance to the finisher theme). The Rock vs. Goldberg is the most famous of the matches included here but is a slight notch below expectations at the time; Lita and Trish Stratus, meanwhile, provide a rare Divas main event on Raw, and one which did justify its top billing on that particular episode.

The DVD concludes with three multi-man matches from more recent times, all of which have their moments, but taken out of context may seem strange to some viewers (for instance, fans unaware of the HBK-is-broke storyline of 2008-9 will be baffled as to why Shawn Michaels deliberately loses to John Bradshaw Layfield in the Raw Fatal-4-Way). There are also a couple of bonus finisher breakdowns, and a segment from the AWA where Sgt Slaughter demonstrates the Cobra Clutch (but doesn’t let go; what a villain!).

In conclusion, The 50 Greatest Finishing Moves In WWE History is not quite as bad as some would have you believe; that being said, the countdown featured here is not exactly the most enthralling to be produced by WWE, and although the matches seemed more relevant to the DVD theme than I had previously thought, they still feel a bit random, with no truly must-see bouts included. So, I would rate this DVD as one from which you should receive some level of enjoyment, but it isn’t one which you absolutely need to own.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10 – Okay

Monday, 26 January 2015

Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 372 Minutes
Certificate: 12
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: November 17 2014

Ooooh Yeahhhhhh! This DVD provides a long-awaited documentary on the life and times of the legendary Macho Man, Randy Savage, along with a selection of matches. But does this live up to the hype?

The documentary, lasting around 90 minutes, begins a little awkwardly with a car accident sound effect, followed by tributes by Randy’s brother Lanny “The Genius” Poffo on the sight of the crash which led to the Macho Man’s death in 2011. From there, it covers Randy’s life from growing up to his pre-wrestling baseball career and then onto his entry into wrestling and, in 1985, the WWF.

Significant time is devoted to Savage’s growing popularity and main event status in the Federation, as well as his classic feuds and matches with Ricky Steamboat and Hulk Hogan, and his at-times rocky marriage with Miss Elizabeth (the two divorced in 1992). We then revisit Savage’s role as spokesman for Slim Jim, his exit from the WWF for WCW in 1994, his charity work, his WCW run, his post-WCW banishment from WWE, the death of Elizabeth in 2003, his attempts to move away from wrestling and his second wedding in 2010 to Lynn, and his own tragic demise on May 20 2011. Across the feature are comments from most of Savage’s top opponents and co-workers, along with family (including his mother and, as stated, his brother Lanny) and friends.

It is a strong, in-depth documentary of the Macho Man, which pays tribute to his legacy but also does not ignore his flaws. One big positive is the use of an interview by Savage recorded in 1993, which is surprisingly informative for a filmed discussion from this era, and which provides context for some stories that, without this input, may have seemed incomplete. The talking heads are relevant and have worthwhile comments, although Lanny rejecting certain views on Randy’s relationship with Elizabeth seems like a bit of a whitewash based on the overwhelming percentage of wrestlers who believe that these opinions are true.

On the down side, the opening scene is slightly unsettling. Three of Savage’s greatest feuds (with The Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts and Ric Flair) are not acknowledged at all in the documentary, which is disappointing (hey, the incident when the snake bit Savage is covered on the OMG DVD). And whilst it is refreshing of WWE to acknowledge that Savage was never provided with a return to WWE, and notes that there was anger which somehow couldn’t be overcome, it doesn’t really explain why (at least from WWE’s standpoint; Savage’s gripes with the company are mentioned), which is disappointing for what was a key selling point of the documentary.

(The reason behind the WWE-Savage problems is one of wrestling’s great mysteries. Some explanations are plausible, other rumours are more scandalous and probably untrue. What is known is that Savage left the WWF an hour before a live Raw, according to Jerry Lawler on the Greatest Wrestling Stars Of The ’80s DVD, which no doubt upset Vince; but Savage did apparently negotiate with the WWF in the late 1990s about a possible return, so it seems an example of a grudge which simply did not heal. That being said, Savage did film a commercial for WWE All-Stars and promote his classic action figure in 2010, none of which would have happened had there been massive hatred on both sides; it does seem like wounds were in the process of healing at that point, which only makes his death the following year even sadder.)

The matches spread across discs two and three are largely enjoyable, ranging from a few lesser-known bouts against Ricky Steamboat (one of which is surprisingly bloody for a PG-rated DVD), several 1980s clashes from the Boston Garden, and rare bouts against Harley Race, Bad News Brown (which feels bizarre considering the time in which it took place and has an abrupt ending), Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and Shawn Michaels (according to Lanny, Savage had pitched for a long-running feud with HBK by which to end his WWF career; that this was declined is a reason why he chose to defect to WCW).

The most famous match included is his SummerSlam 1992 WWF Title defence against The Ultimate Warrior, a really good match which proves that the Warrior did possess more than a couple of moves, and which links nicely into his never-before-released WWF Title loss to Ric Flair a few days later, and is a great example of wrestling storytelling. Flair reappears in a WCW Title Cage bout; Savage also has WCW matches against Arn Anderson and Diamond Dallas Page to conclude the DVD.

As stated, one should find a lot of entertainment and plenty of action across the match selection; however, if you did not purchase Macho Madness: The Ultimate Randy Savage Collection, released in 2009, you may be wondering where Savage’s most high-profile matches are. The answer is in the question: the previous Macho DVD contained all of his greatest bouts, and understandably did not want to repeat content here. I was fine with this, but you may not be.

So, does Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story live up to the hype? To me, it kind of does, but there are definitely some missing chapters from the documentary, and the match selection is good but not comprehensive. Despite these flaws, I still rate this as a good wrestling DVD which old-school fans should buy; you just need Macho Madness to complete the package.

Ooooh Yeahhhhhh!

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good

Sunday, 25 January 2015

John Bishop Live: The Sunshine Tour

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 75 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: 2entertain
Released: November 14 2011

Back in 2009, I attended a number of events which had a connection to my beloved Liverpool Football Club, but which also allowed for some comic relief. And, in each instance, the man who provoked the most laughs was a relatively unknown local comedian named John Bishop. Now, as a huge Liverpool fan himself, this was his perfect target audience, and his jokes and actions were thought-out yet simple enough that onlookers of all ages couldn’t help but laugh.

Since then, of course, Bishop has rose in prominence to become one of the UK’s most well-known comedians, as well as a familiar face on prime-time British TV. Despite this, however, he remains loyal to his local Liverpool roots, often bringing football – and LFC in particular – into his live shows as a key element. This was true of his most recent show, on the Supersonic Tour, which I attended, and the same applied to one of his earliest productions, the Sunshine Tour which ran from late 2010 to summer 2011. It is this show which is the subject of the below review.

I attended a show on this tour in Liverpool as well, although it was one of his final performances on the tour in his home city which is the version we see on the DVD. Hopefully that wasn’t too complicated to explain; but I bring this up to share my views as both someone who attended at the time and as a viewer re-watching the show, as I recently did.

The best way to describe Bishop’s comedic stylings and delivery is “friendly”. By that, I mean that John speaks his mind to the audience as if he is speaking within a group of friends, informing those present of his escapades as if he was talking in the pub or over the phone. There’s no sense of “I’m the star and this is the show”; yes, it is a performance and some elements are definitely for show (which isn’t a bad thing, by the way), but like other Liverpudlian comedians such as Ricky Tomlinson, one gets the feeling that you could speak to Bishop without awe or restraint, that you can talk to him as if he was your mate, and Bishop speaks to the crowd in the same way, from using scouse slang and local landmarks to simply presenting himself as a regular bloke rather than a comedy superstar.

As for the show itself: Bishop tends to focus on several key events or topics, relevant to his own experiences, and build his material from there. Here, Bishop notes how he slowly became more famous and received more, and at times unusual, offers for work. But he also regularly refers back to life as a typical father, and the comical problems that come with it. He reassures struggling parents that their difficulties are shared with him and that teenagers really are awkward; however, he may be alone in his tale of trying to educate his kids how cool the 1978 film Saturday Night Fever is in the current decade, although he emphasises that replicating John Travolta in the movie was his dream, a dream he (sort of) makes a reality with his show-closing homage to the 1970s flick (think “Night Fever” and fans of the film should know what scene he is re-enacting).

I personally really enjoyed Bishop’s stand-up here at the time, but probably more so in hindsight, interestingly. It is early in his career, so his shows have become stronger since 2010/11, but it should still provide a plentiful of laughs and ridiculous scenarios for those who enjoy sitting back and giving a performer the chance to make them smile. One warning I would point out for those unfamiliar with John’s style of comedy is that much of it has a local flavour, and there are quite a few football references, so if you are not into local humour or indeed local football, this may not be your cup of tea. I do think, however, that this show has enough humour to satisfy any comedy-lover, regardless of whether you have an affection to Liverpool or not.

Other points on his material are that there are very few actual jokes; the comedy comes from the situations encountered by Bishop and his explanation of them, so don’t expect a huge number of one-liners. Oh, and there’s a certain amount of swearing, but if stand-up comedy is your thing, then that shouldn’t be too big an issue with you.

The extras include a behind-the-scenes look at his DVD show, a look at how his Night Fever homage was made, John’s pre-show visit to the Royal Albert Hall in London, and some mock TV adverts which we are told by Bishop that he had auditioned for. Overall, they add a good helping of entertainment and giggles to what is a humorous stand-up comedy DVD.

Compared to his fellow comedians, ranging from Peter Kay to Jimmy Carr, John Bishop’s shows will most appeal to his local fan base – which means that your tastes in humour and your personal feelings on local comedy and football-related material will be the deciding factor in whether you decide to purchase this DVD. Assuming that his brand of humour is down your street, I would definitely recommend it; but even if you aren’t a big fan of his or you are unfamiliar with his work, I still think you should give this performance a chance; after all, stand-up comedy is all about making people laugh, and regardless of your personal tastes in humour, this show from The Sunshine Tour will succeed in provoking from you a lot of laughs.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good

South Park Season 16

Image Source: Wikipedia
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 702 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
Released: October 7 2013

The sixteenth season of the adult-orientated animated comedy South Park is now available on DVD. After so many years, some may think that the show would be out of ideas or that its long-running blend of mature (or immature, if you prefer) humour would be stale; but the 2012 series proves otherwise and, based on the episodes here, actually ranks as one of the show’s strongest seasons to date.

The first disc begins with Reverse Cowgirl, which looks at toilet humour (a criticism of the show in its earliest years) from another angle whilst also lampooning increased and at times unnecessarily high security of certain places. The highlights here are a ridiculous yet hilarious scene involving Gerald Broslovski (Kyle’s dad) and a strange belief by Butters being proven to be true. Cash For Gold is a little less funny, but it’s hard not to laugh at Marvin Marsh (Stan’s grandad) heavily criticising a studded bolo that he bought him, and arguably the series’ daftest yet insanely funny background song yet. Faith Hilling, whilst not the strongest episode of the season, has its moments and perfectly sends up the concept of how Internet memes grow in popularity only to suddenly fade away.

Jewpacabra is an Easter special but, unlike its hilarious predecessor in 2007 (imaginatively titled Fantastic Easter Special), this episode doesn’t deliver many laughs and too often causes confusion, resulting in a weak show. Fortunately, the series rebounds with Butterballs, which covers bullying in a way that only South Park could: by somehow making scenes featuring such a negative subject hilarious. Butters getting revenge on his bullying grandmother ensures it has a happy ending, although the actual conclusion is a music video that, again, only South Park could conjure up, whereby Stan ends up “Jackin’ it in San Diego”. For long-time series fans, this sums up the ridiculousness of the show and will no doubt go down as one of the programme’s funniest and most memorable musical numbers.

The second disc opens with I Should Never Have Gone Ziplining, which combines a parody of reality shows with real-life footage of the programme’s four central characters; it is a slow starter but evolves into a hilarious episode, and the use of actual people to portray the boys is unexpected and results in some visuals which, had they been animated, may actually have been less funny. Cartman Finds Love is a misleading title in that he actually tries to play Cupid (literally) for two classmates. His attempts to have the two black kids in the class become a couple because he feels it should be that way involves numerous twists and turns, including an attempt to convince others that he and Kyle are a gay couple. It could easily be an episode that causes controversy but, told as it is, it is perfectly acceptable and is one big comedic gem, and a series highlight for many fans.

Sarcastaball delivers laughs but the running joke perhaps lasts too long and overall is slightly disappointing for an episode based around Randy Marsh (Stan’s dad, once a background player but arguably the funniest character on the show nowadays). The next two episodes, however, are both truly hilarious and are my personal favourites of season 16. Raising The Bar lampoons Honey Boo Boo, provides plenty of classic Cartman one-liners and includes a short yet comical and catchy tune about James Cameron. Insecurity, meanwhile, focuses on paranoid fears leading to increased security which, at one point, actually lives “inside you!” This is a truly classic episode, with highlights including an old man’s head-turning and hilariously graphic ‘old wives tales’, advertisements for Insecurity that sound awful on paper but are tear-inducingly funny on-screen, and the South Park men’s belief that a UPS man must be having sex with Kyle’s mom because “what kind of sane, normal person would have sex with Kyle’s mom?” Oh, and there are Bane parodies and daft exchanges when security fails to help Cartman. Truly hilarious, and one of my favourite South Park episodes ever.

The third and final disc starts with Going Native which sees Butters attempt to embrace his Hawaiian roots. This is another episode which has its moments but overall isn’t exactly a series highlight. Nightmare On Face Time, another Randy show set this time at Halloween, is better as he purchases Blockbuster Video at a time when nobody whatsoever in South Park rents DVDs the old-fashioned way, resulting in funny exchanges between Randy and almost everyone he encounters, and also harms an attempt to prevent a store robbery as Stan can only participate in Halloween adventures via FaceTime on his iPad.

The penultimate show, A Scause For Applause, is a spot-on parody of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal whilst also referring to Dr. Seuss and Pussy Riot, all involving Jesus and Stan. This is definitely worth watching, and provides a lot of laughs, but it may not be to everyone’s tastes (although chances are that the average South Park fan is not easily offended by the show’s content). The season-ending episode is Obama Wins!, which ties the 2012 Presidential election with the sale of Lucasfilm (including Star Wars) to Walt Disney, and includes interludes by Morgan Freeman which, he explains, allow him to grow extra freckles. I felt this episode was slightly overrated, but it’s still a great end to the series, and the way in which the two seemingly unrelated key plot-lines suddenly become interlinked is done expertly. The DVD extras consist of short audio commentaries about all 14 episodes, as well as six deleted scenes from across the season.

Considering that South Park’s popularity peaked in its earliest seasons, and that some say the mid-2000s was its golden age in terms of quality output, season 16 is a strong entry in the show’s legacy. Some episodes are classics, several others are in the ‘highly recommended’ category and even the weaker shows still have their moments and are not by any means terrible. Overall, then, season 16 is one of the top five in South Park history and, thus, the DVD release (with a small number of extras, admittedly) is one that all fans of the show should purchase.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Bottom Line

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 571 Minutes
Certificate: 18
Number Of Discs: 4
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: November 28 2011

Released in late 2011, this DVD dedicated to Stone Cold Steve Austin looked extremely appealing beforehand: a feature-length documentary on Austin’s career, a selection of his greatest matches (as picked by the great man himself) and a round-up of his most memorable promos and angles would all be included over the course of four discs. And, fortunately, the product lives up to the hype, resulting in an essential purchase for WWE fans new and old.

The documentary on disc one, as stated, charts the life and times of the Texas Rattlesnake, from growing up and getting his start in World Class Championship Wrestling, to his stints in WCW and ECW, to his amazingly successful run in the WWF/WWE to his post-retirement success (although, as a 2011 release, this does not cover his hugely popular podcast The Stone Cold Show, which debuted in April 2013). Along the way, many outside-the-ring incidents are covered, including his notorious firing from WCW boss Eric Bischoff over the phone, his neck injury problems, and his infamous 2002 walk-out from WWE. Interspersed are comments from his peers, ranging from Vince McMahon to Bret Hart to CM Punk and many others. The documentary, running 150 minutes in total, may cover a lot of familiar ground to long-time fans, but all the key subjects are tackled in-depth, there are still a fair amount of revelations, and Stone Cold is honest and forthright with his opinions, even admitting that his 1995 WCW firing was a blessing in disguise. Add to that plenty of archive clips, and a few extra stories outside of the main feature, and this documentary ranks as one of WWE’s best.

Discs two and three highlight 11 of Austin’s greatest, most famous or most important matches. Entries from WCCW and WCW serve as a nice interlude to his WWF adventures, from the Austin 3:16 debut after defeating Jake Roberts at King Of The Ring 1996 to his star-making Submission match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 to the classic Attitude Era bouts with Dude Love, The Undertaker and The Rock. The actual number of matches is slightly disappointing (although the Blu-ray includes a few more matches, including his final battle against Rock at WrestleMania XIX) and one or two could perhaps have been replaced with superior showdowns. It’s also worth noting that, had the DVD been released one year later, all the Attitude Era matches could have included the WWF scratch logo unedited (the ban on showing and referring to ‘WWF’ was lifted in 2012, the explanation for which would require too much space to cover in full here). However, these two discs remain a hugely enjoyable trip through Stone Cold’s back catalogue and serve as a great round-up of Austin’s most legendary collisions. And besides, the match selection was chosen by Stone Cold himself, so if he feels that the bouts included summarise his career most effectively, who can argue otherwise?

The fourth and final disc includes a suitcase full of Austin’s most memorable interviews and incidents. Hollywood Blondes promos in WCW and his famously brutal ECW interviews on WCW personnel are followed by a fantastically entertaining round-up of his WWF/WWE mic work, which covers his famous face-to-face with Iron Mike Tyson; his brilliantly executed angles with Vince McMahon as part of their legendary rivalry (the greatest feud of all-time, in my opinion); and his more comedic material such as Austin and Kurt Angle’s attempts to cheer up Vince during the WCW/ECW invasion through the chicken soup for the soul that is music provided by a guitar, a pre-Royal Rumble 2002 promo that perfectly encapsulates the “What” phenomenon, and a Highlight Reel from InsurreXtion 2003 where Austin, Chris Jericho and Eric Bischoff ad-lib in a very entertaining fashion. The Blu-ray contains more material, including Austin’s 2009 Hall Of Fame induction and his subsequent celebration at WrestleMania 25.

On the whole, Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Bottom Line On The Most Popular Superstar Of All-Time is a more than fitting tribute to the legend that is Stone Cold. A hugely comprehensive documentary, a strong if slightly short selection of the man’s top matches and a massively fun look at his work outside the ring all combine for one incredible wrestling DVD package. If you already own it, re-watch it; if you don’t own it, buy it immediately; as a total package, it is arguably the greatest WWF/WWE DVD ever. And that’s the bottom line, cause Stone Cold said so.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10 – Classic

WrestleMania XXX

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 516 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: June 9 2014

The DVD content of WrestleMania XXX follows the same formula as previous WM DVD releases: the Mania event in its entirety, the 2014 WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony and a selection of extras related to the WM card. But is WM XXX a must-own DVD for WWE fans?

Beginning with the main feature, the 30th annual WrestleMania opens with a memorable segment involving WM host Hulk ‘Silverdome’ Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. This landmark interaction between the three icons is followed by the opening match, and part one of the show’s key storyline, as Daniel Bryan battles Triple H in a match to determine who will be added to the main event. Somewhat overlooked due to the context of the plot-line, this is a strong match and would have been WM worthy in its own right even if a title shot were not at stake. Bryan triumphs, but a post-match Authority attack puts his chances of leaving New Orleans as WWE Champion at jeopardy. Oh, no!

A short six-man won by the Shield against Kane and The New Age Outlaws feels a little surreal in hindsight, whilst the Andre The Giant Invitational Battle Royal gives a big hint as to who WWE does and does not value (or did and did not value as it may be) given that few of the many entrants were given ‘proper’ entrances. Cesaro surprisingly triumphs in a battle royal that exceeds expectations, and afterwards he seems to be the next breakout fan favourite in WWE – for 24 hours, anyway.

Next up was John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, another match that delivered more than expected beforehand, and was preceded by an awesomely spooky entrance for The Wyatt Family (accompanied by a live performance of their entrance theme). Cena’s victory was not welcomed by many fans, but that doesn’t reduce the entertainment of the bout. The presentation of the 2014 Hall Of Fame inductees is more difficult to watch with the knowledge that star inductee The Ultimate Warrior died just 48 hours later.

Then comes the bout that not only WM XXX but also the year 2014 will be most remembered for: The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar, and the end of the Streak. Opinions remain divided on whether Taker going 21-1 was the right call, although the number of those in disagreement with the outcome continues to grow. Either way, few moments in wrestling history have elicited the same, stunned reactions like those provoked by the finish of this match, and watching it again doesn’t reduce the power of this moment at all (strangely I felt a very slight anticipation that somehow Taker would win when re-watching it on DVD; that doesn’t happen, however).

The Divas Title bout, while again a pleasant surprise, can’t possibly follow Taker vs. Lesnar (even as an opener instead to disc 2). The main event pitting Randy Orton against Batista and (“Yes!”) Daniel Bryan for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship does raise the fan’s spirits, though, and it is one more truly memorable moment from WM 30 when Bryan raises both titles high in a huge leading of the “Yes!” chant after finally winning and forever proving to be more than a B+ player.

The highlight of the remaining content, which concludes on disc 3, is the 2014 Hall Of Fame ceremony in its entirety. The inductees are Lita (inducted by Trish Stratus; it covers much of her career but is a bit long-winded, particularly when covering how she broke into the business); Jake Roberts (inducted by Diamond Dallas Page; this focuses less on wrestling and more on Jake’s personal problem and, whilst almost uncomfortable at times, is a gripping speech that proves how anybody can rebound from setbacks if given the proper support, as Jake received from DDP); Mr. T (inducted by his son; T’s speech has no reference to wrestling as it becomes a very long tribute to his mother, which becomes hilarious when fans chant “What?” and Stone Cold Steve Austin bellows with laughter”); Paul Bearer (inducted by Kane and with his posthumous induction accepted by Bearer’s two sons Michael – who sadly passed away himself later in 2014 – and Daniel Moody, and concluded with a rare, in-character HOF appearance by The Undertaker); Razor Ramon (inducted by Kevin Nash; this is rushed due to the overrunning speeches from earlier on, but does include a Kliq reunion); Carlos Colon (inducted by sons Primo, Epico and Carlito, who compares the induction with his previous run in WWE); and The Ultimate Warrior (inducted by Linda McMahon.

Warrior’s first live WWE appearance since 1996 was eagerly anticipated and his speech covers much ground, but most notably, it acknowledges what had been a rarely-noted family life, as Warrior places great emphasis on how life as a husband and father of two young daughters trumps any of his accomplishments in the ring. The speech is tinged in sadness when viewing it again, though, given that the legendary Warrior died just three days later (which the DVD strangely does not acknowledge; I expected a post-ceremony tribute screen for Warrior, as seen on WWE TV in the week following his death). Overall, the ceremony is always engaging, the line-up is strong and despite the sadness which surrounds Warrior’s induction in hindsight, it stands as a very entertaining Hall Of Fame ceremony which all long-time fans will enjoy.

Also included on the DVD is the pre-show WWE Tag Team Title four-team clash. For a pre-show match, this is really good and should have been found a place on the main WM card. The Usos win, but Cesaro officially turning on Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter after the match, setting up his battle royal win on the PPV, is the most memorable part of a highly enjoyable tag bout. The remaining extras consist of studio interviews and highlight packages which were used to promote the main matches at Mania and this Mania as a whole.

At the time, I felt that the 2014 edition of WrestleMania was a very historic and memorable show, but one lacking in a true WM match for the ages. On second viewing, however, the Bryan matches are high-quality, Taker vs. Lesnar is not without merit even though the action may not have lived up to the hype, and all other bouts are as good as could be expected or better (including the pre-show match), resulting in a WrestleMania that is a strong in-ring show in its own right. Add to that the meeting of three icons, the death of the Streak and Daniel Bryan’s major victory and you have one of the top five WrestleManias of all-time, in my opinion. With a consistently enjoyable Hall Of Fame induction ceremony and satisfactory (but by no means must-see) extras based around the key WM bouts, the content all adds up to an incredible release. Had it featured a Shawn Michaels-level classic, WM 30 may have been the most legendary Mania to date; but even without such a clash, WrestleMania XXX is an essential DVD for wrestling fans, for both historical and entertainment purposes. So, is it a must-own? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Outstanding