Friday, 28 April 2017

DVD Review: WWE Double Feature: Elimination Chamber 2017 & Fast Lane 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 363 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: May 1 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

WWE are now releasing solo-brand DVDs as part of a twin-disc set, which makes a lot of sense given that we now receive approximately two supershows per month, between the biggies like WrestleMania and SummerSlam. This particular Double Feature set is a cool one as it shows how both brands set the stage for their major matches at WrestleMania 33, although from an in-ring and booking standpoint, there's a lot left to be desired.

Beginning with Elimination Chamber, then, and the best way I can describe this card is that it was a one-match show. That match is, of course, the Elimination Chamber clash for the WWE Championship. It's in the top five Chamber matches of all-time as everybody involved (defending titleholder John Cena, AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, The Miz, Baron Corbin and Dean Ambrose) gets a chance to shine and puts forth maximum effort, all within a new-look Chamber which allows for more spots, and slightly safer risk-taking, than ever before. This is one of the year's best matches so far, and I can see the participants in the 2018 Chamber match struggling to top this one next year.

Elsewhere, it feels like more like a special episode of SmackDown than an SD-only PPV. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James is okay but not as good as most people were hoping. The psychology for Dolph Ziggler vs. Kalisto and Apollo Crews is all wrong (I've never worked as a wrestling booker, but I don't think it's unfair to make that claim, as it negates the fairly decent action that we get). The Tag Team Turmoil clash is alright, although it would have been more exciting if one of the teams challenging for American Alpha's titles had been built up enough to come across as a serious threat to the straps.

Nikki Bella vs. Natalya is watchable but has a screwy ending, which extends the feud but adds to the B-level nature of the card. Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper is the strongest match on the under-card by a mile, as it makes Harper look great against the selfless Viper, making the most of Orton's free time as he awaited the identity of his WWE Title opponent at Mania. Finally, Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi for the SmackDown Women's Championship could also have been better, partly as the crowd were anticipating the main event by this point, and the finish is a little off which left Naomi with an injury.

Therefore, Elimination Chamber isn't exactly the best WWE card of the year; judged as a whole, it's the weakest SmackDown-only supershow since the second Brand Extension began. Fortunately, the main event saves the day, and makes the event worth watching (although Orton vs. Harper is also a strong showing by both). The first disc also has the Kick-off Show clash between Mojo Rawley and Curt Hawkins as a DVD extra.

As for Fast Lane: wrestling-wise, it's the better of the two cards overall, but booking-wise, it starts well and then slowly declines. Besides the (included) Kick-Off show tag match pitting Akira Tozawa and Rich Swann against The Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar, Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn is a strong start to the event, with Sami helping to make Joe look like a million bucks, as the saying goes, in Joe's first PPV match since joining the main roster. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass is alright; it's not the best doubles match that you'll see this year, but it serves its purpose and has some cool spots. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax is another David vs. Goliath-style match which works based on the more crowd-pleasing result, so in that respect it's a success.

Something which definitely wasn't a success was the two-bonus-matches-in-one segment, where Jinder Mahal somehow manages to earn a PPV match with Cesaro (little did fans know then that Jinder would get a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship just weeks later, in a match which will happen at Backlash), which is okay but has no drama due to the predictable result, and then a first-class burial by Big Show of the (apparently-injured) Rusev. I hate to use the "b-word", since a lot of fans nowadays throw it around willy-nilly without understanding what it means (John Cena and Roman Reigns apparently "bury" everybody they ever defeat, which is nonsense), but I do feel that the term is applicable to this situation. Frowns turns to smiles with the best Cruiserweight Championship match on the main roster since its revival up to that point, an excellent and brutal Neville vs. Jack Gallagher clash (Gallagher's headbutts look vicious).

Roman Reigns gives Braun Strowman his best match to date in a great big-man battle, and though many fans disapproved of the result, WWE was never going to sacrifice Roman to Strowman right before he would face (and defeat, and ultimately retire) The Undertaker at WM 33, nor should it have. (Incidentally, the aforementioned "b-word" came out again from fans disgusted at Roman giving over, which given the way that this match played out was ridiculous.) The booking goes bonkers with Bayley vs. Charlotte for the Raw Women's Championship: Charlotte had regained her title after losing it to Sasha Banks on Raw so often that WWE probably felt doing that again here, after she lost the title to Bayley on Raw, was counterproductive. However, in putting over Bayley (and Sasha is involved in the finish, so it's not a clean win), everyone is left scratching their heads: why didn't WWE a) save Bayley's first title win for WM, b) make a bigger deal of Charlotte's much-hyped PPV winning streak ending here, c) save Bayley's first title win for here, at Fast Lane, or d) book a Charlotte DQ win would have maintained both Bayley's reign and Charlotte's streak, adding further justification for what would be the four-women match at WM 33 for the title? This isn't Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but I think that option D would have been the way to go; any of those would have been better than what we received.

And then there's the main event between Kevin Owens and Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship, which lasts 22 seconds, and features much stalling from Owens before a Chris Jericho distraction leads to a Spear-and-Jackhammer title win for Goldberg (sorry to post a spoiler, but you surely cannot spend money on this DVD if you do so to watch a long title match between Owens and Goldberg). I have to be honest, I didn't mind how this played out because the Goldberg push made sense in its execution, because Goldberg had previously smashed Brock Lesnar in 1:26, and because I find Owens to be slightly overrated (let the Internet come crashing down now!). If Goldberg had beaten Lesnar in a 20-minute epic and then became the champ in 22 seconds, then it would be a different story. Nevertheless, it's still not an ideal way to end a PPV, and this should have happened on Raw where the manner of the main event would have been deemed more tolerable and not resulted in so much (inevitable) outrage from "smarks".

So, if nothing else, it's an eventful twin-disc set. The best match is on disc one, but most of the remaining action is adequate at best. Disc two has more to offer from an in-ring standpoint, but the booking is occasionally very frustrating, and the main event lasts less time than an average trip to a urinal. Considering that you really are getting two DVDs for the price of one with this Double Feature set, I'd recommend it so long as you take everything that you see with a pinch of salt and just enjoy the action for what it is in the better matches, not to mention that the Chamber match is exceptional. Others may wish to save their money for the bigger, and superior, show that these two events set up when it comes to DVD, which of course would be WrestleMania 33.

Overall Rating: 7/10 - Respectable

DVD Review: WWE: Best Of 2000s

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 666 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 4
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: April 24 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

WWE's latest compilation brings together a plethora of impactful matches from 2000-2009, spread over four discs and more than eleven hours (check out the actual number of minutes for this DVD above). It's a weighty collection compared to other DVDs on the market, but that's okay because, to truly showcase the best of the decade, three discs simply wasn't enough given the length of some matches here. Oh, and many of the matches are superb, making this a truly epic DVD set.

Hosted by Mick Foley (who sort of reprises his old Commissioner gig with one-liners and suitably nostalgic props, along with guest appearances by current WWE stars), the DVD opens proper with Triple H vs. Cactus Jack, a belting Street Fight from Royal Rumble 2000 for the WWF Championship. Foley at the time cited this match as one of his very best, and almost everybody agrees that this bloody war truly put HHH on the map, having slightly struggled to gain acceptance as a main event heel. Next is the original TLC clash between Edge and Christian, The Hardyz and The Dudleyz from SummerSlam 2000, which is simply amazing; the rematch at WrestleMania X-Seven arguably topped it, but regardless this was unbelievable, and the deserving Match Of The Year in most polls.

Disc one continues with the first ever Three Stages Of Hell clash between HHH and Stone Cold Steve Austin from No Way Out 2001. It's fought at a slower pace (understandably, given the three-falls trifecta of stipulations) and Austin's crowd reactions aren't quite as strong as they were in, say, 1999, but this is still a really good brawl, and the personal rivalry between the two is maintained throughout, an almost alien experience when watching today's WWE product. Next up, we have the incredible WM X7 main event between The Rock and Austin, a simply mesmerising battle which shockingly ended with the much-discussed Austin heel turn, hence why many consider this to be the end of the Attitude Era. That's not the end of the disc, though: that would be Rock vs. Booker T from SummerSlam 2001, an entertaining battle but a slightly anticlimactic end to the first quarter of the DVD after four matches which were very good or outstanding.

The second disc opens with the spectacle that was Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan from WM X8. From a wrestling standpoint, it's probably the weakest match on the DVD, but forget about the technical side of things: there's a strong argument that this is one of the most memorable matches of the entire decade, if not WWF/WWE history, and therefore it more than warrants its place here. If technical wrestling is still what you came to see, though, then Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho from WM XIX will be down your alley, as it's a really good match that helped to kick-start Shawn's modern-day run as Mr. WrestleMania (that being said, I'd have preferred HBK vs. HHH from SummerSlam 2002, as that brawl just edged this contest in my opinion).

Speaking of technical wrestling, there's a real treat up next on the DVD as Kurt Angle defends his WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar from a 2003 episode of SmackDown in a 60-minute Iron Man match. Relying little on major spots and more on simply absorbing wrestling, psychology and conditioning, this is an excellent contest, probably the best SmackDown match ever, and this collection includes the complete version with commercial breaks absent, which is a nice touch. Disc two ends with a match that is entirely different but no less gripping: the brutal No Holds Barred match between Foley and Randy Orton from Backlash 2004. This probably did more to put Orton on the map than the Rumble 2000 clash did for HHH, since Randy was still a rising star at this point. Funnily enough, it still probably remains Orton's best ever match, while Foley also considers this to be his finest work.

Disc three opens by spotlighting the women's division, with a strong effort between Trish Stratus and Lita from when they main evented Raw in December 2004 (Lita almost breaking her neck is unfortunately the most memorable aspect of the bout). Then we enter absolute classic territory again with one of the greatest WWE matches ever: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle from WrestleMania 21, which is wrestling perfection in every sense of the word, and a must-watch for all WWE fans. This match alone would have been enough to put either man in the WWE Hall Of Fame, a dream match which totally lived up to the hype and surpassed it too.

The DVD rolls on with the violent Batista vs. Triple H Hell In A Cell contest from Vengeance 2005. This ended their famous rivalry and, while fans had warmed to Batista hence his rise up the ranks, this was the first time when The Animal truly shone from an actual in-ring performance standpoint, albeit with HHH doing everything possible to put him over as a killer. Yet another amazing match follows as Kurt Angle and The Undertaker put on a phenomenal match at No Way Out 2006; the undisputed in-ring highlight of the year, it was every bit as good as Angle vs. Michaels from WM 21, and an early sign of the string of show-stealing Streak-defending performances we would get from Taker at WrestleMania in the future (more on that shortly). Disc three ends with Edge vs. John Cena under TLC rules from Unforgiven 2006, which despite some blown spots is an absorbing battle, held in front of a red-hot hometown (for Edge) Toronto crowd.

The final disc kicks off with Cena and Michaels colliding for nearly an hour in London in April 2007, in one of the best Raw matches of all-time. Strangely enough, a filler (yet very good) Edge vs. Orton bout from the following edition of Raw comes next, which feels like an odd inclusion. I can't even suggest that it is here to showcase both men since they make appearances elsewhere on the DVD. It's still worth going out of your way to see, though, as is HHH vs. Jeff Hardy from No Mercy 2008, a great back-and-forth bout which almost sees Jeff finally become WWE Champion. In hindsight, this probably should have been the night when he did so, because his Armageddon 2008 success was tempered by his sudden title loss at Royal Rumble 2009.

The standard reaches "all-time great" territory yet again as we see Michaels and Undertaker put it all on the line, and then some, in their five-star classic from WM 25; considering the level of action we had already seen on the DVD, it says something that this may be the very best match of them all. Finally, we get another excellent outing between Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio from The Bash 2009, in the best match of what I consider to be the year's best feud. Some of the spots in this match are so simple, and yet so very good. Michaels vs. Taker might have seemed like the more appropriate way to close proceedings on this set, but Y2J vs. Rey is also a fine way to bring this incredible collection to a close.

Some quick notes: you may notice that some chairshots are shot from different angles or trimmed entirely, as are instances of choking. I don't mind this, given the reasoning, but if you own these matches already, these edits could put you off buying the DVD. On a more positive note, we get the pre-match promo videos for many of the matches featured here, which is really cool in the early portion of the DVD when the videos effectively persuaded you to want to watch a match to see two guys tear each other apart. Oh, and My Way remains the soundtrack for the Rock-Austin promo video, which if you have ever seen it before is a very good thing.

So, there you go. What a wrestling compilation this is: there are at least half-a-dozen genuinely classic matches, with a lot of strong support from other bouts featured. I would like to see this simple yet effective DVD theme continue in the future, and no doubt we'll get a Best Of 2010s set at some point (which could feature HBK vs. UT from WM 26, the two UT-HHH battles, Cena vs. CM Punk from Money In The Bank 2011 and a lot more). There is probably enough material to even warrant a sequel to this set, since there are a fair number of high-profile contest absent here (such as TLC II, HBK vs. HHH from SummerSlam '02, Rock vs. Austin from WM XIX, Foley vs. Edge from WM 22, any of the Undertaker-Batista battles and HBK vs. Ric Flair from WM XXIV, and that's just for starters). What this DVD does demonstrate is that, despite the decline in WWE's popularity throughout the decade, and the general negativity about the product which would grow over time, the company delivered plenty of truly incredible matches and moments throughout the decade, probably more than any other ten-year stretch in its history.

This set won't be for everyone, simply because all of the matches have been previously released on multiple occasions. That aside, this is one of the best wrestling DVD compilations that I have ever seen, stacked with classic matches, memorable feuds and iconic moments, along with recapping a large portion of WWF/WWE history from the first decade of the 21st century. Sure, I would have possibly switched the occasional match for a bout not featured here, but the DVD has virtually no weak points, and the pre-match promo videos which are included, and Mick Foley's hosting segments, are the icing on the cake. A brilliant collection.

Overall Rating: 10/10 - Perfect

Friday, 14 April 2017

DVD Review: Finn Balor: Iconic Matches

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 73 Minutes
Certificate: 12
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: April 17 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

The Iconic Matches series continues with Finn Balor. It's a cheap and cheerful series of WWE compilations, featuring just a couple of bouts at a bargain price. It's also debatable as to whether the matches in question are truly "iconic". However, all three showdowns included on the Finn DVD are worth watching, and the timing of its release is clever since Balor has just returned from a long injury lay-off (although he may now be looking at more time off following a concussion suffered at the hands, or the forearm, of Jinder Mahal on Raw this past Monday).

The first match pits Balor against (Adrian) Neville from NXT Takeover: Rival from February 2015, which is a superb encounter, and Neville's last major scrap before departing the NXT brand. Next up is Balor vs. Tyler Breeze from NXT Takeover: Unstoppable from May 2015, a clash which is a fine start to what was a(nother) exceptional Takeover event, and a demonstration as to what Breeze can do if given the opportunity (which he rarely is on the main roster). Finally, it's Finn challenging Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship at Beast In The East from July 2015, and in the intimate surroundings of Tokyo's Budokan Hall, a venue synonymous with Balor while he competed in New Japan Pro Wrestling as Prince Devitt, there's a big-fight feel to what is another strong battle. Incidentally, Balor is the Demon for all three of these bouts, so if you're a fan of the Demon persona (and who isn't?), this is an added treat to the action on offer.

Considering the budget-friendly nature of this DVD, this is as good a mini-collection of Finn Balor as one can expect. All three matches are either really good or excellent, and the Demon entrances are worth reliving too. Finn Balor fans will obviously be interested in this, but other WWE fans should pay the fiver or so to get this one, since it's a perfect retrospective of Balor's early days in NXT, as well as a glimmer of what we can expect from Finn on the main roster over the next few years in WWE.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 - Good

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

DVD Preview: WWE Double Feature: Elimination Chamber 2017 & Fast Lane 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Provided By: Fetch Publicity

The following story is courtesy of Fetch Publicity ...

Featuring not one but two Pay-Per-View events from the Road to WrestleMania, WWE Home Video presents over 6 hours of WWE action, Elimination Chamber 2017 and Fast Lane 2017 Double Feature!

WWE Champion John Cena hopes to continue his championship reign against AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose, The Miz and Bray Wyatt inside the punishing structure known as the Elimination Chamber! “The Viper” Randy Orton continues his Road to WrestleMania as he takes on Luke Harper! And the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship is on the line as Alexa Bliss takes on Naomi. Who will escape with their hand raised at Elimination Chamber?

The Superstars of Raw get in the Fast Lane on the Road to WrestleMania! For the first time ever, Universal Champion Kevin Owens meets Goldberg in the main event of WWE Fast Lane! Bayley looks to make her first title defence against “The Queen of Pay-Per- Views” Charlotte Flair in a rematch for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship. “The Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman looks to extend his impressive undefeated streak against Roman Reigns. Plus much more from your favourite Raw Superstars!


Match Highlights:

Elimination Chamber 2017

WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match
John Cena (Champion) vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin

Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Alexa Bliss (Champion) vs. Naomi

Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James

Fast Lane 2017

Universal Championship Match
Kevin Owens (Champion) vs. Goldberg

Raw Women’s Championship Match
Bayley (Champion) vs. Charlotte Flair

Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn

Plus more action and DVD extras!

We like it because:

We’re six months into WWE’s all-new brand split and both Raw and SmackDown Live are firing on all cylinders. It’s never been more evident than in these two spectacular Pay-Per-View events – each brand’s last respective stop on the Road to WrestleMania and now brought together in one awesome double-feature DVD!

Elimination Chamber lives up to the event’s brutal history with a hard-hitting main event inside the Chamber itself. Most exciting is the prospect of seeing AJ Styles inside the Chamber for the very first time. True to form, he delivers a phenomenal performance against SmackDown’s top stars – and the end of the match will have you following the buzzards with a brand new WWE Champion!

There’s also exciting action from Randy Orton, American Alpha and Becky Lynch – all looking to prove that when it comes to stunning in-ring action, SmackDown Live can’t be beaten!

Not to be outdone, Raw fired back with the just-as-incredible Fast Lane! Kevin Owens' championship defence against Goldberg will go down as one of the most shocking and controversial matches on Pay-Per-View, while Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman put on a powerhouse display as they battle for dominance on the red brand!

Charlotte Flair and Bayley also pull out all the stops, alongside top performances from Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Enzo and Cass, Neville and Jack Gallagher!

Don’t miss out on this first ever Raw/SmackDown Live double-feature!

WWE Double Feature: Elimination Chamber 2017 & Fast Lane 2017 will officially be released on DVD on Monday May 1 2017.

For more information, click here.

Friday, 7 April 2017

DVD Preview: Finn Balor: Iconic Matches

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Provided By: Fetch Publicity

The following story is courtesy of Fetch Publicity ...

Relive three iconic matches from Finn Bálor‘s time in NXT and discover why his quiet, deadly precision and his periodic transformation into the terrifying "Demon King" has made Finn Bálor a firm fan favourite with the WWE Universe!


Match Listing:

NXT Takeover Rival 2015 - February 11 2015
Finn Bálor vs Neville

NXT Takeover Unstoppable 2015 - May 20 2015
Match To Determine The #1 Contender To The NXT Championship
Finn Bálor vs Tyler Breeze

Beast In The East - July 4 2015
NXT Championship Match
Finn Bálor vs Kevin Owens

We like it because:

Finn Bálor is one the New Era’s most exciting Superstars: athletic, charismatic, and occasionally demonic. He’s also a bona-fide worldwide wrestling sensation!

The mysterious Irishman has won multiple championships and wherever he goes across the globe, fans love him – his legend has spread fast across countries and continents.

This collection features three of his best matches on his journey to becoming NXT Champion and the first ever Universal Champion in WWE. It shows just what an incredible talent he is – not to mention his almost supernatural connection with the WWE Universe.

Whether you’re just discovering Bálor or you’re already a hardcore fan of his “Demon” personae, this is an essential part of your collection!

Finn Balor: Iconic Matches will officially be released on DVD on Monday April 17 2017.

For more information, click here.

Monday, 3 April 2017

DVD Review: WrestleMania Monday

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 363 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: April 3 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

Over the last few years, the episode of Raw held the day after WrestleMania has become almost as anticipated as Mania itself. Whilst the post-WM Raw has always served the purpose of pressing the reset button, so to speak, and acting as a platform for debuts, returns and even retirements, since 2012 the combination of truly major developments and increasingly raucous crowds have led to this being the most watched, and most eagerly-awaited, television show of the WWE Calendar.

The latest WWE release focuses on this phenomenon, with a documentary being accompanied by a selection of matches and moments from down the years, all of which, of course, come from post-Mania editions of Raw. They include some of the most memorable and historic Raw moments of all-time, and some of the loudest crowd reactions in Raw history provided the soundtrack for them. All of which makes for a pretty entertaining DVD.

Beginning with the documentary, then: it's actually the same as the WWE 24 feature recently added to the Network, albeit with around 20 minutes extra footage. It is a behind-the-scenes look at last year's Raw-after-Mania, with comments from the talent who were about to make their Raw debuts that night (Apollo Crews, Enzo Amore & Big Cass, Baron Corbin), return (Maryse) or were set to debut/return shortly afterwards (The Vaudevillains, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson). We're treated to footage of some wrestlers being informed about their promotion to the main roster, along with candid thoughts on their WWE journeys to date (Cass notes that an unnamed WWE employee told him that he would have been fired a long time ago had he not been seven feet tall; to be fair, you can't teach that). There's also discussion and clips relating to the increasingly-crazy crowds, and quick highlights of past Raw-after-Mania moments, which I'll explain shortly as they're included in full on the remainder of the DVD.

The documentary is good, and it's cool to see the preparations for debuting talent (such as the new faces practicing their entrances, presumably so that the production team can ensure the best possible camera angles and lighting effects). I would have liked to have seen a greater focus on the classic post-Mania moments, as they weren't allocated a lot of time in the main feature, and the sound levels are unusually inconsistent near the beginning; one cannot hear what the wrestlers are saying at times as the volume of the background music is much louder. Otherwise, it's a watchable doc, but as noted you can watch a (shorter) version of this on the WWE Network.

The rest of the DVD takes us through the history of the Raw-after-Mania. Bearing in mind that Raw debuted in January 1993, we aren't given any clips from 1993 or 1994 (if my memory serves me correctly, Hulk Hogan becoming WWF Champion was barely even acknowledged on the post-WM IX edition of Raw), so our trip into the past begins with 1995. Bull Nakano vs. Alundra Blayze is one of the better Women's Championship matches from the era, and has a notable post-match angle. From the same show, Diesel and Shawn Michaels rekindle their friendship after an incident involving Michaels' bodyguard Psycho Sid, but bizarrely, there must have been an issue with the show's running time on the night (it was a one-hour show back then), because the key moments took place during a commercial break, the recap is very brief, and so when we're given a full replay of the events, it actually comes from the opening scenes of Raw from the following Monday. Weird.

Next up, Mankind makes his in-ring debut the night after WM XII against Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly, with the attendees who recognised Mankind as being Cactus Jack in ECW making their voices heard, but not so much as to dominate proceedings. We then jump to 1998 and, despite it only being two years later, the WWF product couldn't be more different as we get a Steve Austin-Vince McMahon angle and X-Pac's memorable return as a member of D-Generation X, on a night which some say marked the true beginning of the Attitude Era. There's nothing from 1999, strangely, so after that, it's a quick Chris Jericho-Eddie Guerrero European Championship match from 2000, but 2001 isn't represented at all, which is disappointing since that show included a Steel Cage showdown between newly-turned heel Steve Austin and The Rock.

So, it's onto 2002, and Hulk Hogan officially confirming his babyface turn in a promo alongside The Rock, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall (Nash genuinely took offence to Rock amusingly calling him "Big Daddy B---h" as it wasn't a scripted line, supposedly), and Brock Lesnar making his WWF debut by interrupting a Hardcore Championship match. Then, from 2003, we see a promo which essentially marked the end of Steve Austin's career (most fans assumed it was an angle that would lead to Austin wrestling again later in the year or the following year at a push; as it turned out, Austin has never wrestled again since), an enjoyable three-team match for the World Tag Team Championships (Chief Morley & Lance Storm vs. Rob Van Dam & Kane vs. The Dudleyz), and Goldberg's WWE debut in an angle involving The Rock, who was on fire as a heel whose fame from Hollywood had gone to his head. The years 2004 and 2006 aren't covered, so disc two ends with a forgotten gem of a three-way Intercontinental Title match from 2005 (Shelton Benjamin vs. Christian vs. Chris Jericho) and not one but two 10-team Battle Royals for the World Tag Team Titles from 2007, in an unusual slice of booking that dissolves the shaky John Cena-Shawn Michaels alliance (I found it funny that Jerry Lawler suggested during the first BR that Chavo Guerrero and Gregory Helms were involved, but they didn't show up until the second BR, and Lawler again mentioned them being participants without realising his earlier mistake).

Disc three kicks off in unforgettable fashion via Ric Flair's retirement ceremony from 2008, and is followed by a forgotten Lumberjack match for the Unified Tag Team Titles between Carlito & Primo and The Miz & John Morrison from 2009. Batista's return from injury that night isn't here, nor is Shawn Michaels' retirement speech from 2010 (although it is on the Blu-ray). Therefore, we next turn to 2011, and the night when The Rock and John Cena officially confirmed that they would collide at WrestleMania the following year. However, the true reputation of the post-Mania Raw, from the truly massive moments to the red-hot crowd, began in 2012, as on a night filled with "Yes!" chants and some other unexpected shouts, Brock Lesnar makes a stunning return to WWE by flattening John Cena, which gets one of the loudest pops in Raw history. Amazingly, this reaction is trumped by the next moment, from 2013, as Dolph Ziggler finally cashes in Money In The Bank for a World Championship clash against Alberto Del Rio.

The crowd on that night took things to another level when it came to bizarre yet (mostly) amusing chants, which peaks when Fandango battles Kofi Kingston, only for the crowd to start singing his music, which soon led to his theme tune climbing the iTunes charts and momentarily making him a star. The 2014 show was less notable, though it still has its moments as featured here: The Ultimate Warrior cuts a promo in what would be his final televised appearance, as he would tragically pass away just 24 hours later, and Paige debuts against AJ Lee in a short Divas Title match (with a regrettably botched finish). The crowd was a bit hit-and-miss in 2015, with some chants taking things too far, but there was still fun to be had in the ring, with two enjoyable bouts included here: Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Title and John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose in the first United States Championship Open Challenge. The DVD ends, as one would expect, with the 2016 moments, as Zack Ryder defends the IC gold against The Miz and we're treated to a really good Fatal Four Way, with number one contendership for the WWE World Championship at stake, starring AJ Styles, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens and Cesaro (who replaced the "injured" Sami Zayn, although we see Sami backstage during the show after his injury angle took place at one point on the documentary, hmm ...).

There's a lot of fun to be had watching this, especially if one gets the Blu-ray version which includes further matches and moments. There are a couple of downsides, though. Although the Raw-after-Mania has become an event in its own right, I'm not sure if the proceedings warranted a full DVD release, as it focuses more on angles than matches, and the vast majority of those have previously been released on DVD. The other thing is that, if you have the WWE Network, you'll be able to find the vast majority of the content here (along with other moments like the aforementioned Austin-Rock Cage collision) in a dedicated collection, meaning that you could just watch everything there, and that's not to mention that every episode of Raw ever is now on the Network if you wanted to watch, say, the 1998 or 2012 shows in their entirety. The documentary on the DVD doesn't remove the references to WWE 24, a Network-exclusive series, despite adding further scenes, and the artwork for the DVD sleeve feels a little lazy, rather than something uniquely designed for this specific release.

Those aside, however, this DVD is a fun one to watch, and a worthy tribute to WWE's most unpredictable television show of the entire year. The timing of its release is clever, since we are just hours away from the 2017 Raw-after-Mania. It remains to be seen what we'll get from tonight's show (or SmackDown tomorrow, since it's the first live SD after WM, meaning that we may be treated to some magical moments there too), and one does wonder if it's always a good thing for the crowd reactions to go completely off the rails (it's great for one night, but with some performers it has spread to crowds throughout the year, and caused a bit of damage in the process). At its core, though, people watch WWE to be entertained, and this DVD definitely succeeds in that regard. The documentary is enjoyable, there's a few good matches here, and if nothing else, you'll be treated to plenty of the biggest or most memorable Raw moments ever, particularly over the last ten years.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 - Good