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Running Time: 352 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: May 16 2011
As part of the Tagged Classics series, the original WWF Year In Review shows for 1993 and 1994 were re-released. Unfortunately, according to UK distributor Silver Vision (who were technically the ones releasing these DVDs rather than WWE), the original master tape for the 1992 Year In Review is unsuitable for re-release (which is a shame since this was a VHS that I did not purchase back in the day), meaning that the YIR series on Tagged Classics begins with the 1993/1994 annums.
This was an interesting time in WWF history, as it marked the dying days of the Hulkamania era and the emphasis on the New Generation. It's clear that while the in-ring quality of WWF action improved over the mid-1990s, but the general popularity of the Federation was in decline. Indeed, the arenas for weekly television were much bigger at the beginning of 1993 than they were by the end of 1994; in fact, large-scale arenas wouldn't host WWF/WWE television shows again until early 1997. In the meantime, many of the big names who departed the WWF were not suitable replaced, so while the crop of talent in the company was generally good, very few were truly over, meaning that there is a smaller cast of memorable characters on the 1994 disc.
YIR 1993 begins, funnily enough, in late 1992 with a Yokozuna squash match victory (Yoko had recently arrived in the WWF). From there, we see newcomer Doink attack Crush with a fake arm (really), Giant Gonzales invade the 1993 Royal Rumble match by attacking The Undertaker, and a home video exclusive match between Gonzales and Randy Savage, which has a confusing ending (a quick side note: most home video matches from the late-1980s to the mid-1990s generally have countout or disqualification finishes). We then see Ted DiBiase meet Brutus Beefcake in the Barber's comeback match on Raw, which ends in a Money Inc beatdown of Bruti' that sets up a big WrestleMania IX match between DiBiase and IRS and the combo of Beefcake and the returning Hulk Hogan. Around this point, we see a tribute video to Andre The Giant, who passed away in January 1993, and was named the first ever Hall Of Fame inductee.
Mania IX is highlighted here by Doink vs. Crush, which in my personal opinion has one of the best finishes ever to a match (some will disagree but I stand by my belief; just look at this image and tell me this wasn't a great WrestleMania moment), and by Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna, preceded by their contract signing segment, which segues into Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan, the latter of whom wins the WWF Title abruptly (in a moment which I enjoyed at the time, but has since come to be remembered as one of the most controversial examples of Hogan's backstage influence; picture AJ Styles winning the WWE Title, then losing it to Kevin Owens at WM 33, only for Owens to immediately lose it to John Cena at the same Mania in an impromptu bout, and you should get an idea of how people feel about Hogan's win here). WM IX is generally considered to be the worst WM ever because it had no great matches at all, but to me these two moments raise WM IX above the likes of WM 2 and WM XI (which is definitely the worst WrestleMania ever in my opinion).
Another exclusive match between Bam Bam Bigelow and the undefeated Tatanka is followed by standout clips from the most memorable episode of Monday Night Raw in 1993, (the year when Raw first debuted, although that fact isn't acknowledged here), where Marty Jannetty returns to challenge old partner turned enemy Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Title, and the 123 Kid, previously cast as a jobber, pulls off arguably the greatest upset in WWF/WWE history by pinning upper mid-carder Razor Ramon. We then see their rematch, set up by Razor offering increasingly large amounts of money, which actually has a screwed-up ending (Kid was meant to plant Ramon with a top rope move only for him to slip, setting up some nervy moments that led to 123 leaving with the money as planned; because this was 1993, this all seemed normal as opposed to a botch).
Next up is an interesting situation: Doink faces Mr. Perfect in a King Of The Ring qualifier, which is actually their third such meeting after two draws. The KOTR final between Bret Hart and Bam Bam Bigelow and the post-match capers with Bret and Jerry Lawler are here, as is the follow-up between Bret and Lawler at SummerSlam (preceded by Bret vs. Doink, initially a substitute bout until Lawler revealed that his supposed injury was a ruse). It's interesting that we don't get Hogan's WWF Title loss to Yoko at KOTR 1993, since this was his last televised match for the company until 2002 (by the way, this match was originally set to be Hogan vs. Bret Hart until Hulk allegedly refused to lose to The Hitman; of course, the programme wouldn't have acknowledged this fact even if Hogan vs. Yoko was included).
The superb build-up to Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger at SummerSlam and match highlights are shown, and the disc concludes in September 1993 with a strange tag team title bout between The Quebecers and The Steiners. (I actually originally got this tape on the final day of 1993, so it stands to reason that the final few months of the year aren't included.) Oh, and we got a quick look at the hilariously cheesy yet weirdly awesome WrestleMania song released that year to coincide with WM IX, as well as a short music video tribute to Randy Savage. Savage, by the way, hosts this programme in comical fashion due to his delivery; at one point, he says "The title is on the LIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEE". Savage's presenting of this disc is worth the price alone, such is the entertainment value of it.
While 1993 largely focuses on key moments as opposed to the year's biggest matches, the 1994 disc places a greater emphasis on significant PPV encounters. It strangely begins in August by recapping the Two Undertakers storyline (which I personally thought was great, at least for the 1994-era WWF), followed by the Undertaker vs. Undertaker match at SummerSlam (which is slow and a bit dull, but not an absolute stinkbomb like some would have you believe). We then see the Headshrinkers face the Quebecers for the Tag Titles from May 1994, and to show that the timeline is all over the place on disc two, we then step back two months further to WrestleMania X. Alundra Blayze's Women's Title defence against Leilani Kai is nothing special, and the same goes for a mixed tag pitting Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon against Doink and Dink. Randy Savage vs. Crush under Falls Count Anywhere Rules is better, but before we tackle the truly big Mania X matches, the programme jumps to the poor Roddy Piper-Jerry Lawler match at King Of The Ring 1994 (why did this happen? If Piper was having one more match in mid-1994, why not have him face Shawn Michaels or even Bret Hart again?)
The producer of the original 1994 tape may have been drunk, because we now jump back to WM X, but at least it's to an absolute classic: the Ladder match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels. It's slightly overrated by modern standards, but at the time this was one of the best WWF matches ever, and fittingly is shown in its entirety (most matches across the two discs are either mostly complete or in highlight form). This is followed by Diesel snatching the IC Title from Razor shortly after WM X, and Razor's rematch against Big Daddy Cool at SummerSlam. It appears that the chronology was decided by importance rather than time, because after covering the Razor-Shawn-Diesel saga (all Kliq members, by the way; that's probably not a coincidence), the show moves onto the Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart feud, a legendary brother vs. brother rivalry which dominated the year (the explanation of this by Gorilla Monsoon, who hosts disc two, raises a smile).
We get the full story about how Bret vs. Owen came about, including their Tag Title shot against The Quebecers (them again!) at Royal Rumble 1994. We then get their awesome WM X match, followed by the two WWF Title matches at Mania whereby Luger and Bret both challenge Yokozuna for the title. (They both won the Royal Rumble, which is strangely not shown here, and so both got a title opportunity at Mania.) Both are really only memorable for their conclusions: special referee Mr. Perfect screwing Lex out of the title (to wild cheers, by the way), and Bret capitalising on a Yoko mistake to pin him and become WWF Champ. In contrast to the first disc, which was Yokozuna-heavy (no pun intended), these quick match clips are the only real time we see Yokozuna on the entire 1994 programme. Following these bouts, we see Owen Hart face Razor Ramon in the 1994 KOTR tournament final (former NFL commentator Art Donovan's announcing here was ridiculously bad), and the incredible Bret-Owen Steel Cage match at SummerSlam which closes the second disc. (Random thing here, but why the hell is Bret Hart not on the cover of the 1994 disc? And why on the cover of the 1993 disc do we see The Undertaker fighting Mr. Hughes when this is not an included match?)
This DVD is a great way to explore life in the WWF during the years 1993 and 1994. That being said, if you enjoy this and think "I'll watch more 1993-4 matches on the WWE Network", you'll soon find that this DVD pretty much showcases the ONLY great matches or moments from this period, save for a few exceptions (mostly involving Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in some way). To be fair, this was still the 5-PPV's-a-year phase, so Survivor Series aside (which isn't covered on the 1994 disc either), every supercard is covered in some way. The 1993 disc does a better job of actually providing a Year In Review month-by-month, although the 1994 section actually spotlights the biggest matches of the annum under scrutiny.
As someone who watched the WWF during these years, I really enjoyed this twin-DVD set for nostalgic reasons. Modern WWE fans may be less enthused and possibly even horrified by the action on display at different times on the two discs. In fairness, though, the 1994 disc has a couple of great matches, even if the Ladder match is the only one in its entirety (match quality on the 1993 disc isn't very good at all). If you were a fan at the time or if you're interested in learning about the WWF between the Hogan years and the Attitude Era, this DVD is a good option; otherwise, you may enjoy it, but there may be moments that make for a frustrating viewing experience.
Overall Rating: 7/10 - Respectable