Friday, 5 January 2018

DVD Review: WWE Best Pay-Per-View Matches 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 547 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: January 8 2018

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

Once again, WWE has provided a round-up of what it considers to be the top PPV matches of the previous year on DVD. And once again, the final two months of the year are omitted, presumably due to the timing of its release (meaning that such crackers as Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles from Survivor Series are ignored), but it's clear that this will not change anytime soon. So, let's move onto what IS here - because there's plenty to cherish.

Not least the first match on the set, which to me is the best WWE match of the entire year; AJ Styles and John Cena put on a terrific performance at Royal Rumble with the WWE Title at stake, with over 52,000 spectators looking on. Next, we get a hidden gem in Randy Orton vs. (a pre-Bludgeon Brothers) Luke Harper from Elimination Chamber, and an outstanding Chamber contest for the WWE crown, which sees Bray Wyatt temporarily take his place as SmackDown's top dog.

The focus then shifts to WrestleMania 33, with three memorable yet very different matches. AJ shines again opposite Shane McMahon in the unexpected show-stealer. John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse exists purely to set up Cena's proposal to Nikki after the match, and to be honest, the bout doesn't belong on this particular DVD. Better is the short yet blistering brawl between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar, which concluded their feud on a high. It's interesting that The Undertaker's last match against Roman Reigns (which headlined Mania) isn't here. Might this be a hint that Taker plans to wrestle one more time?

As for Reigns: he pops up next to face Braun Strowman at Payback as part of their superb rivalry. This follows the Bayley-Alexa Bliss clash from the same show, which elevated Bliss to the position of Raw's #1 female, while unfortunately beginning Bayley's rapid decline. Jinder Mahal's shock WWE Title win over Randy Orton from Backlash is next, and whilst not a great match, it's probably the pick of Jinder's tumultuous WWE Championship reign, which in itself was one of the year's biggest stories.

We then get a firecracker of a Fatal Five Way from Extreme Rules, followed by a match involving five females; the first women's Money In The Bank Ladder match. I still maintain that James Ellsworth having a hand in the finish (quite literally) was a neat heat-seeking device, though I realise why it upset a lot of people, given the historic nature of the occasion. Great Balls Of Fire is then represented by another brief yet exciting war between Lesnar and Samoa Joe, and whilst it's a shame that The Hardyz are nowhere to be seen here, we do get The Usos and The New Day, whose rivalry was only just getting started in their Battleground stormer that is featured to close disc two.

The best two matches from the main card of SummerSlam appear next: a superb doubles clash pitting Cesaro and Sheamus against Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, and the incredible Fatal Four Way main event that sees Strowman come across as the biggest monster on planet Earth (not the documentary). Another Fatal Five Way clash follows, with the Raw women's division getting a real chance to shine, and the first Roman Reigns-John Cena showdown from the same No Mercy event (which I still maintain should have been saved for a WrestleMania, even if that was the point of the build-up).

To round things off, we have Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens under Hell In A Cell rules from the event of the same name (which features a trademark crazy Shane bump and a shock heel turn for Sami Zayn), and the thrilling meeting of Finn Balor and AJ Styles from TLC (which was only announced around 48 hours beforehand, due to Bray Wyatt going down with an illness). There are no extras to speak of, but Renee Young being on hosting duties makes up for that, right?

It's always tricky to be able to recommend these PPV compilations at a time when the WWE Network allows fans to watch all of these matches and more, along with tons of other content, for only £9.99. Assuming you're not a Network subscriber, though, or if you're simply an avid wrestling DVD collector, then you should love this three-disc set. There's barely a dull match to be found, and almost all of the year's top supershow encounters are here, along with almost all of the company's most featured performers being spotlighted at some point. The Best PPV Matches series rarely disappoints, and the 2017 edition is no different, making it a fine way to kick off WWE's year of DVD releases.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 - Excellent

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