DVD Review: WWE Live In The UK: April 2008

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Image Source: Amazon

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 217 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: September 15 2008

The second Live In The UK DVD takes in the April 2008 tour. This was coming off a tremendous WrestleMania XXIV (I attended it so I’m biased, but even if I hadn’t it was an incredible Mania to watch), which combined with the return of many stars from injury, and other recent comebacks for the likes of Chris Jericho and Big Show, raised hopes that the UK tapings would be superior to those held the previous October.

As it turned out, any improvements were only slight. Granted, Raw does feature a title change (when Beth Phoenix defends the Women’s Title against Mickie James), a pretty good angle involving Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho (which helped to sow the seeds for their outstanding feud later that year), William Regal challenging for Randy Orton’s WWE Title in his home country, and a first-time match between Triple H and John Bradshaw Layfield. ECW has a reunion of The Brothers Of Destruction as they tackle John Morrison and The Miz, who by now are a well-established combo as WWE Tag Team Champions. And SmackDown is alright, which even has a Batista-Undertaker main event, even if it ends in a dissatisfying manner and can’t hold a candle to their other battles during this era.

Generally, though, there’s still nothing massively appealing on any of the shows. The content of Raw is fairly good, but the best match is probably Orton-Regal, and even that is only decent (Regal nearly breaks Orton’s neck with a botched suplex during this match; incidentally, Orton’s long WWE Title run began right before the October 2007 tour, and would end shortly after this tour). The aforementioned ECW tag bout is a cool spectacle, but that particular show has no other stand-out moments. And SmackDown has its moments, but again it’s not really a vintage episode.

There was still the feeling at this point that WWE television tapings in the UK had a second-rate feel to them, which by and large they had ever since they began in October 2004. SmackDown had usually done the better job of trying to make English tapings fairly memorable (Eddie Guerrero turned heel on one such taping in April 2005), but with the exception of Cena-Michaels from April 2007, the Raw tapings almost all felt insignificant; as if you could afford to skip them and watch the US episode the next week to find out what happened. Not least because John Cena and Mr. Kennedy were both absent from Raw due to filming commitments. Admittedly, they would miss other Raw events while attempting to play the real-life role of The Rock, but it speaks volumes that the film productions were timed so that both men just happened to miss the UK tour. Jeff Hardy was also missing, but that was his own fault due to a drug-related suspension.

Fortunately, the presentation is better here; it was the final few weeks before the PG era began, but of the slightly violent action that we do see, nothing is edited out. The screen quality seems a bit off, perhaps because it isn’t in wide-screen as most WWE television was at this time, and there’s a weird screen effect to the O2 Arena-filmed scenes, as if everything moves a little too quick (which I can’t explain). As bonus footage, we get some quick clips of the tour (including one of The Sandman mingling with UK fans, even though he was fired the previous September).

WWE television in spring 2008 was a big improvement on that of October 2007 due to the return of many big names and, in the case of SmackDown, the surprisingly entertaining Edge-Vickie Guerrero romance. And the PPV events from around this time were of a high standard, with some ranking amongst the greatest WWE supershows of the era. The TV shows were still only fair, though, with the occasional great episode here and there. This is a much wiser purchase than the October 2007 Live In The UK release, but it’s still only average.

Overall Rating: 5/10 – Average