Thursday, 5 March 2015

WrestleMania 25

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 432 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 6 2009

It's WrestleMania Season! And so we continue our look back at WM on DVD with WrestleMania 25.

The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania was very much hit and miss, with the show reaching the highest of highs in addition to some unfathomable lows. Nevertheless, the DVD release features enough engaging content to make it worth a try.

That the Tag Team Title unification match was held before WM 25 began is one of the many booking errors on the show; at least here the bout is included, making the decision less bothersome here. The PPV itself opens with Money In The Bank V. Although it's a very entertaining match, with stunning spots involving Shelton Benjamin and Kofi Kingston, to me this is where MITB began to lose its value. The casting was questionable, as stale veterans replaced promising newcomers who didn't wrestle on the show at all, and CM Punk winning for the second year in a row was not popular due to the demand for a win for the recently-returned Christian. Long-term, the victory did benefit Punk - but a Christian win should still have happened.

Next up is a 25-Diva Battle Royal; Santina Marella's antics aside, this is very much missable, made worse by the exclusion of the pre-match Kid Rock mini-concert which took up a load of air time and made the various Diva comebacks less momentous. Then, Chris Jericho tackles Jimmy Snuka, Roddy Piper and Ricky Steamboat, accompanied by Ric Flair and cheered on by Mickey Rourke. Jericho vs. Steamboat is awesome, but the rest of this match presentation feels too second-rate for a show of this magnitude.

The Extreme Rules match of The Hardyz deserves more credit than it is given: a forgotten gem, it is a great effort that is not remembered well due to the feud fizzling out within weeks. But it's still more memorable than the 21-second Intercontinental Title match between Rey Mysterio and JBL, who quits WWE immediately afterwards. Compared to Ric Flair's dramatic retirement at the previous Mania, this moment feels so insignificant that people forget it really was the end for JBL's in-ring run in the company, save for the odd surprise appearance.

At this point, WM 25 hasn't exactly been a vintage card; fortunately, it is etched in one's memory forever due to bout number six, The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Surpassing even the sky-high expectations of longtime fans, this absolute belter of a match is one of the very top clashes in both WrestleMania and WWE history. It contains a ton of major moves (including one which nearly went disastrously wrong as Undertaker fell short of a missed tope and landed on his skull), a massive amount of crowd noise, and a perfectly-told story of the veteran who might just have a way to end The Streak (Taker's expression after Shawn survived the first Tombstone was perfect, and matched the awe of the fans, including me, that HBK could withstand that move). After 30 minutes of first-class combat, a second Tombstone for Undertaker seals the win in a strong contender for Best Match Ever; this bout alone justifies a purchase of the WM 25 DVD. It is that damn good, to quote Triple H.

Unfortunately, the last two matches can't follow this all-time classic. John Cena's World Title win against Edge and Big Show exceeds expectations but is not exactly a Match Of The Year choice, and Triple H's WWE Title defence against Randy Orton simply doesn't deliver. I actually enjoyed the build-up, despite it being a familiar square-off, but on the night the crowd just wasn't there and, worse, nothing majorly exciting happened which could have made it a bout to remember. A chaotic No DQ fight was the way to go, especially given the personal nature of their feud. Instead, the match is largely dull, made worse by the lack of response, and so HHH's easy win ends the historic 25th WrestleMania on a bum note.

More entertaining is the 2009 Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. By this point, the HOF had become firmly established, and this is one of the strongest classes with The Funks, Koko B. Ware, The Von Erichs, Bill Watts, Howard Finkel, Ricky Steamboat and one of the most deserving Hall Of Famers of all-time, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Incidentally, Austin also celebrates his HOF induction at Mania before the main event; even taking into account that this show was held in his home state of Texas, the segment proves that Stone Cold is arguably the most popular and beloved wrestler in history.

The DVD wraps up with 24 recap videos highlighting key events of all WrestleManias up until this point. The DVD set itself also comes with a small booklet which also recounts the history of Mania so far (actually it's just the WM section of the original WWE Encyclopedia but it still serves its purpose), which is a nice touch.

In summary, this is nowhere near being the greatest WrestleMania ever. The HOF is enjoyable but also isn't the best ceremony to date entertainment-wise. And the added segments and book are good extras but nothing more. That being said, the DVD set delivers just enough entertainment to warrant a purchase. And, if nothing else, by buying WrestleMania 25, you'll get to see a genuine contender for Best Match Ever between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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