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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 233 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: February 9 2009
WWE were back in the UK for its November 2008 tour, which was very memorable to me as I attended both nights of tapings, and mingled with many of the wrestlers in their hotel (well, I say mingled but it was really just getting the chance to meet some of them, but there were truly spontaneous moments, such as a moment when trouble nearly kicked off between the WWE stars and a group of kickboxers, and the alleged visual of JBL being so drunk that he collapsed; all of this is true, by the way).
At this point, we were into the PG era, although it wouldn’t be until 2009-10 when WWE’s lack of creativity and minimal progression of mid-card stars led to fans bashing the PG nature of the product. The shows were more than reasonable at this point, if not quite to the level of, say, 1998 or 2005. Fortunately for UK fans, the crew must have been looking to prove something whilst they were in Manchester, because all three tapings are well worth watching and were the best overall set of UK tapings to date.
Raw looked to bring an end to some long-running feuds, following the popular resignation of bumbling GM Mike Adamle the previous week, and Chris Jericho regaining the World Heavyweight Title from Batista that same night. To that end, we get a fun Kane-Rey Mysterio match, a teased Batista-Randy Orton confrontation, and a very good Last Man Standing match between Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho to officially end their superb rivalry. In addition, we get the end of Santino Marella’s Intercontinental Title run at the hands (or the knee) of home country hero William Regal. This was probably the best episode of Raw in months, even without John Cena (who would return from injury shortly afterwards at Survivor Series) and CM Punk (who wasn’t used even though he was there, for some reason).
ECW had long evolved into something only slightly more important than Heat or Velocity, but this particular edition of ECW had arguably the brand’s best match of the year. Matt Hardy’s ECW Title defence against Finlay (another UK rep) was an incredible match, which was a bigger achievement when you consider that Hardy was working through an injury). And SmackDown had a strong Extreme Rules main event between Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker with a surprising outcome. (Although it isn’t included here, WWE actually recorded two episodes of SmackDown on that evening; on the second episode, Jeff pinned Triple H in a non-title match, making this the best night of Jeff’s career before he would become WWE Champion at Armageddon the next month.)
The DVD is rounded off by two retro matches from past UK tours: The Undertaker vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan (HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!) from 1991, and Shawn Michaels vs. Crush from 1993. Neither is a great match, but both are fun to revisit, especially for Bobby Heenan’s outstanding and hilarious heel commentary. The presentation is to the usual WWE standard by this point, following major problems with the first LITUK DVD and minor issues with the second one, and so it shan’t be brought up again in this series of reviews.
From an in-ring standpoint, WWE had been enjoying one of its best ever years on PPV, and this is showcased by the fact that all three television shows here have at least one really good match. Ironically, the PPV which these tapings were setting up, Survivor Series, was the only card all year to be largely panned, partly due to the Jeff Hardy angle (or the presentation of it, anyway) and the dull-as-f–k Triple H-Vladimir Kozlov action from said show.
Nevertheless, this is by far the strongest of the initial Live In The UK DVDs, and possibly the strongest of the entire series. No doubt these episodes will end up on the Network, but while you wait for this development, I would definitely recommend getting this DVD. Note: JBL’s drunken collapse is not included.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good