Friday, 14 October 2016

Brock Lesnar: Eat. Sleep. Conquer. Repeat.

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 419 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: October 17 2016

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

Originally, the plan was for Brock Lesnar's latest DVD to feature a full documentary of his career, from his NCAA days to his original WWE run to his controversial exit from the company to his UFC adventures to the highlights of his WWE return. Unfortunately, while we do have some pre-match comments from The Beast Incarnate, the main documentary feature was cancelled shortly before the official DVD announcement. It's a big disappointment, because after his previous DVD Here Comes The Pain (which you can read my review for by clicking here) contained almost all of his top matches in his 2002-2004 WWE tenure, a second match collection here feels a bit shallow. There are some memorable matches on display, as you will read about shortly, but given Lesnar's part-time status, there are unlikely to be many fans who haven't seen Lesnar's output in recent years, resulting in a compilation that, without the documentary, has little reason to exist.

There is plenty of good action, though, and disc one does focus on Lesnar's original WWE run. Brock was originally on a developmental deal which saw him train in Ohio Valley Wrestling, so it's nice to have a rare OVW bout pitting Lesnar and Shelton Benjamin against the lesser-known Chris Michaels and Sean Casey from 2000. Even rarer is a non-televised scrap with Mr. Perfect from January 2002, shortly before his official WWF/WWE debut. From there, we have some slightly more memorable action in the form of a Lesnar vs. Rob Van Dam main event from Raw, at a time when Brock was far from the finished article but in the midst of a huge push nonetheless, and the disc ends with two PPV battles from 2003: a great showdown with Kurt Angle from SummerSlam, and an adequate Biker Chain scrap with The Undertaker, who would become arguably Brock's most famous opponent, from No Mercy. Discs two and three then focus on Brock's 2012-2015 WWE highlights.

From this point, the content will be familiar to anybody who owns the Best PPV Matches DVDs. Since Lesnar only has a few televised matches per year, that shouldn't be a big surprise. Nevertheless, many of the bouts are understandable inclusions: his scraps with Triple H from SummerSlam 2012 and Extreme Rules 2013 are engaging, intense brawls, and his SummerSlam 2013 battle with CM Punk was Punk's final truly great WWE encounter.

Ironically, the next two matches on the DVD were not on the Best PPV Matches 2014 collection, but they are arguably Brock's two most memorable matches since his return. Not least the first of this double-header, where Brock takes on The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX in a bout which isn't a classic by any means, but is the most talked-about match in many years due to its unforgettable result (hint: 21-1). Then, John Cena becomes the first true visitor to Suplex City in an amazingly one-sided WWE Title defence against Lesnar from SummerSlam 2014.

After that, Lesnar faces Cena and Seth Rollins in a superb three-way from Royal Rumble 2015, and his brutal clash with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31 is another memorable spectacle, partly due to its surprise ending. After a quick, almost squash-like win over Kofi Kingston from Beast In The East, we have another one-sided battle between Brock and Rollins from Battleground 2015, before a surprisingly bloody and violent (by modern standards) Hell In A Cell war with The Undertaker from the show of the same name concludes proceedings.

The action is of a high quality throughout, at least from the end of disc one onwards, and Lesnar fans will consider this to be something of a near-complete collection of his most memorable moments since his WWE return in 2012 (although his comeback match, a UFC-esque destruction of Cena at Extreme Rules 2012, is strangely not included). The negatives about this DVD, besides the cancelled documentary, are that the action is a little too familiar, meaning that few die-hard fans won't already own most of the content featured here, and Brock's matches have become so one-sided and have such a predictable layout (as Paul Heyman would say, "Suplex, repeat, suplex, repeat, suplex, repeat" etc) that many fans have gotten tired of Lesnar's matches. They remain something of a must-see attraction, as evidenced by the reaction to his pummelling of Randy Orton at this year's SummerSlam, but it is about time that somebody conquered The Conqueror, otherwise his matches in late 2016, 2017 and beyond will only breed more resentment and apathy.

More than perhaps any other wrestler-specific DVD, this is one aimed primarily at fans of the man himself, given Lesnar's Marmite-like status (i.e. you either love his matches or you hate them). Since I am rating it from a neutral standpoint, I will say that this is an entertaining retrospective of Brock's comeback run, with some older bouts thrown in as a bonus, and that most of his key moments from 2012-2015 are here. If you're a big Lesnar fan, this is worth adding to your collection. Even so, a proper documentary could have elevated this into a package worthy of Brock's mega-star status; as it is, it is one which may only be fully appreciated by those who wish to take a trip to Suplex City.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 - Good

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