Monday, 26 September 2016

WWE Best Pay-Per-View Matches 2015

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 503 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: January 18 2016

And so we come to the most recent WWE PPV round-up collection, which (obviously) focuses on supershow action from 2015. The artwork is slightly generic, but the use of different wrestlers on each of the disc's menus emphasises the new talent which has risen up the WWE ranks, as well as the veterans who gave us memorable matches on PPV. And we get plenty of them here: 2015 was one of WWE's best years on Pay-Per-View ever from a match quality standpoint, and a great number of the really good encounters are here.

We have a host once again, this time being Corey Graves. There aren't any pre-match promo videos, but each PPV covered has a recap video showing most of the match highlights, which is a nice touch that should be repeated in future sets (although some don't half drag on). And whilst this DVD was released to the US market (unlike that of 2014), there was still no Blu-ray version, meaning that this collection once again exceeds the 8-hour mark, giving us more matches. Too many matches? I'll let you be the judge of that. Also, the on-screen watermarks are not present here, but strangely the frame-rates seem slower on certain DVD players for this collection, which I cannot explain.

Anyway, we kick off with what may have been the best PPV match of them all in 2015: a phenomenal Triple Threat showdown between Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Seth Rollins from Royal Rumble. Then, it's Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan from Fast Lane, at a time when the WWE fan base had just turned on Reigns following the calamitous booking of the Rumble match. WrestleMania 31 is up next, and whereas the 2012 set had a third of its running time taken up by Undertaker vs. HHH and Rock vs. Cena (including promo videos, the WM 28 footage took up around two hours of that particular DVD), the round-up of WM 31 goings-on lasts less than an hour here. But we still have Rusev vs. Cena, a respectable encounter, and the surprisingly violent Lesnar-Reigns main event which gives birth to the term "Suplex City" and has a very memorable conclusion involving Seth Rollins and the Money In The Bank briefcase. Funnily enough, the recap of WrestleMania only specifically spotlights one match (Lesnar-Reigns) and largely ignores Sting-HHH, Sting's first ever WWE match. Could that be because of the participation by the now-fired and black-balled Hulk Hogan? Hmmm ...

Disc one doesn't end there, as we get Tyson Kidd and Cesaro against The New Day, which is good but has a slight filler feel to it. Reigns vs. Big Show, an unexpected treat under Last Man Standing rules, would have been a better way to end the first disc. Disc two opens with Payback's Fatal Four Way between Rollins, Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton, which exceeds expectations, before moving onto Elimination Chamber and the good yet occasionally confusing and overly long WWE Tag Team Title Chamber match (six teams were involved, although some entrants seemed to forget the elimination rules), and the terrific Cena-Kevin Owens match which made KO a major WWE player in one night (his first main roster match, don't forget).

Money In The Bank is featured next, and here I felt the producers made a mistake. Having both the MITB Ladder match and the Rollins-Ambrose Ladder match on this DVD feels a bit overwhelming; one should have been chosen over the other. I would have preferred the MITB match because, whilst not one of the best, it's fought at a fast-pace and doesn't last too long. Seth vs. Dean, on the other hand, is a bit of a chore to sit through: it has its moments and is undoubtedly a good match, but it lasts way too long, and features some frustrating lack of selling by Ambrose towards the end. We even get Seth's short post-match interview, meaning that the entire match presentation is nearly an hour long. Which is fine if the long match is a classic, but it isn't. You will enjoy quite a few spots from the battle, and both men should be credited for the effort they put forward, but the number of times that you'll be checking your watch during this will be high (or your phone; I check my iPhone for the time because, hey, I'm technology savvy! I wish.).

Rollins vs. Ambrose lasts so long that one needs a break before watching disc three. When you do resume your viewing, you get a pretty good Charlotte-Sasha-Brie 3-way in the first official match of the "Divas Revolution" (Stephanie McMahon is once again given the credit for this move, despite the efforts of the ladies being the true motivation), and another great Cena-Owens match, both from Battleground. I would have preferred their second, and arguably best, match from MITB here too instead of the overly long Seth-Dean bout, but you can't have everything, I suppose. We do get the brutal Undertaker-Brock Lesnar main event from SummerSlam, which is very compelling, and their surprisingly bloody and violent Hell In A Cell match to close the DVD on a high. In between, we get Nikki Bella vs. Charlotte in a decent match that is remembered more as a transition to officially kicking off the "new era" of women's wrestling in WWE, and Seth Rollins vs. Sting, which is cut short due to Sting being injured, possibly in a career-ending fashion (both Nikki-Charlotte and Seth-Sting are from Night Of Champions). Yes, Survivor Series and TLC are absent yet again, although neither show provided a truly classic match, although they did have their moments (Undertaker's 25th anniversary match, Sheamus cashing in MITB on Reigns, Roman going ballistic on HHH, Kalisto's insane Salida Del Sol off a ladder ... on second thoughts, where the hell are Survivor Series and TLC matches???).

This is a very good set; as noted earlier, 2015 probably saw more strong WWE supercard matches than ever before, and with NXT talent continuing to move up to the main roster, 2016 should prove to be even better. Therefore, a set highlighting the year's top matches and moments was always likely to be great, and so it has proved. The PPV recaps are a bit too long at times, but they are a cool addition, and as noted earlier, hopefully they will be used again in the future. The only big downside is that an hour is taken up by that Rollins-Ambrose Ladder match; it might sound like I'm being too harsh on that match, but it really is draining to watch on a three-disc collection!

It's interesting to see how the WWE roster has changed since the Best Pay-Per-View Matches DVD series began with 2009-2010. Veteran names like Shawn Michaels and Edge have retired, Rey Mysterio and Batista have moved on, and some slightly younger stars like Jeff Hardy and CM Punk being unlikely to return in WWE in future. Massive names like Rock and Lesnar have returned and, in Rock's case, he may indeed wrestle once again in the future (Lesnar will continue wrestling for WWE until 2018 at least, apparently). Other legends like HHH and Undertaker are still around, but only wrestle occasionally. After a troubled few years, the roster has been revitalised and one can now expect a very good match or an excellent one on almost every single PPV event, and on most TV shows too. This is thanks to the likes of The Shield, Daniel Bryan (whose future remains up in the air) and, more recently, Kevin Owens. And, funnily enough, John Cena is still WWE's number one guy when you really analyse the big picture, although as this set shows, he had more truly great matches in 2015 than probably the previous six years combined.

Of course, it remains to be seen what matches we'll get on next year's set, or even if we'll get another entry in the series, with the diminishing DVD sales and the continued focus on the WWE Network. However, if DVDs are still your thing and 2015 sounds like a good year of WWE action for you to relive, I would definitely recommend this compilation for you. Just try not to doze off during Rollins-Ambrose at MITB (okay, last one! It was a good match, honest!).

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 - Excellent

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