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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 282 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 20 2009
With WrestleMania in the rear-view mirror, WWE was back across the Atlantic for its April 2009 UK tour.
To be fair, WM 25 wasn’t particularly good; besides the all-time classic that was The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, much of the card was a disappointment. Fortunately, the television shows were still worth watching, and this set of tapings in London bridged the gap between the 2009 Draft and the era in which the roster changes would be implemented. This leads to some pretty star-studded bouts across the board, although the match quality isn’t quite to the standard of the November 2008 UK tour.
From Raw, we get a good Triple H-Randy Orton No Disqualification match, although this occurred at the height of the never-ending HHH-Orton conflict. Rey Mysterio meets Big Show in a short David vs. Goliath bout. Batista makes short work of Chavo Guerrero. Kane faces CM Punk. And John Cena takes on Chris Jericho in front of a crowd who detests Cena, even more than what fans largely did at the time. It’s packed with big names, though as I said, even the best match is only adequate.
ECW is completely skippable, and is only worth watching if you fancy seeing the recently-returned Christian and Jack Swagger sign a contract for their ECW Title bout at Backlash (or Hornswoggle vs. Natalya). I should mention that by now WWE had added Superstars to its weekly slate (just one week prior, in fact), so we get that taping here, which includes Edge vs. Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio teaming with CM Punk against Big Show and Kane. Superstars wasn’t actually on a UK channel at this point, so this would be the only presence of Superstars in the UK until late 2009. Incidentally, this was (supposedly) the only weekly show to feature talent from all three brands, but despite its general insignificance to the scheme of things (it would be a C- or a D-show by late 2010), it played a role in creating the feeling that there is far too much WWE television output, which as we all know applies to a great degree today.
Finally, there’s SmackDown. Again, it’s star-studded, and features The Undertaker against Big Show in his first SD match post-WrestleMania. The outcome is unexpected, and this would actually mark Taker’s removal from television until he resurfaced at the end of SummerSlam 2009. The tag main event sets up the 6-man match at Backlash (Batista and Shane McMahon vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase), but it just feels weird, not least because none of the four were or would be on SmackDown roster-wise.
The bonus material here is decent. We get two dark matches (William Regal vs. Dolph Ziggler and R-Truth vs Umaga), a photo recap of the tour, and the unforgettable main event of One Night Only 1997 between Shawn Michaels and The British Bulldog (which was very controversial and annoying, but I’ll cover that another time).
This is a pretty good series of tapings, although nothing is massively memorable. In some ways it marks the end of an era, along with Backlash the subsequent Sunday, as the subsequent changes made by the Draft led to a pretty poor time for Raw, but a great time for SmackDown from a wrestling standpoint. It’s safe to say that WWE would love to have this many bona fide headliners on its television shows today.
Overall Rating; 7.5/10 – Good