Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 356 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: August 16 2010
Considering the importance of major supershows to the WWF/WWE, it’s surprising that it took so long for them to begin a regular DVD series focusing on the top PPV battles of a given period. Nevertheless, the first such collection covered the 2009/2010 season, which means Backlash 2009 to WrestleMania XXVI in this case. Future editions of the series would take a more logical route of simply covering the year from January onwards. This meant that some events would be strangely ignored – but we’ll cover that in a future review.
Anyway, on this DVD, we kick off with an outstanding Last Man Standing (that sounded weird) clash between John Cena and Edge from Backlash, which was their final major showdown against one another. After that, we go to that card’s opening match, a fun Jack Swagger-Christian battle for the ECW Title. Then, we have a Judgment Day main event between Edge and Jeff Hardy which is far better than people give this credit for, and this being so different to the Cena LMS bout, yet with both still being of a high quality, illustrates just how damn good Edge really was. (By the way, many of the matches included here have their corresponding video promo packages shown beforehand, which is a nice touch.)
Extreme Rules is strangely omitted from this collection, but the next match is still a treat: Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio for the Intercontinental Championship from The Bash is a genuine classic, and has plenty of innovative spots and a clever finish, considering the Mask vs. Title stipulation. Closing disc one is a Six-Pack Challenge from Night Of Champions, where Kofi Kingston and company put on a pretty good effort in the face of what amounted to neglect from the WWE creative team on the Raw side at that time.
Disc two only has four matches, but they’re all worth watching. We stay with Night Of Champions for an entertaining Triple Threat clash between Randy Orton, John Cena and Triple H in a rematch from WrestleMania XXIV. That it was held when all combinations of this trio had been overdone to death impacted the good work that went into matches like these (and Orton vs. Cena was only just resuming, as we’ll see shortly). SummerSlam gives us two fantastic matches: Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler is as good a PPV opener as you’ll ever see, and the first sign of Ziggler’s true potential, whilst Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk under TLC rules is a great main event featuring another insane Swanton Bomb by Hardy. (Unfortunately, the post-match surprise return of The Undertaker isn’t included, which is a shame.) Then, co-host Michael Cole talks absolute b-ll-cks when he suggests that the far too long-winded and largely uneventful Orton vs. Cena feud of 2009 was one of the greatest rivalries of all-time, although their I Quit match included here from Breaking Point is very compelling and was the highlight of their lengthy saga from this particular year.
Disc three begins with DX vs. Legacy inside Hell In A Cell from the event of the same name. Although it’s a dramatic affair and tells a logical story, one can’t help but feel that all of the good work done by Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase is undone within moments by Triple H and his attempts to prove his superiority (certainly not the first time he has committed such an act). Next up, we have the 14-man clash from Bragging Rights which is okay but nothing more; admittedly, the audience looks stunned by Big Show’s betrayal near the end which meant that the match did leave an impact (although it shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise; it’s the flip-flopping Big Show that we’re talking about, after all).
The opening 10-man encounter from Survivor Series 2009 (Team Miz vs. Team Morrison) is an enjoyable showcase of younger talent at a time when such a thing was a rarity in WWE, but it’s not exactly the best Survivor Series match ever; it’s arguably most memorable for Sheamus accidentally kneeing referee Scott Armstrong in the back of the head, causing Armstrong to be concussed and sit out the remainder of the match (to their credit, the official switch was handled so effectively that few will have noticed, besides WWE replaying the moment of painful contact). Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin for the ECW Title in a Ladder match from TLC is an underrated gem, despite some occasional botches. Some observations on this match: the entire front row of the hard cam-side of the ring appeared to be empty (this was the opening match of that PPV, to be fair), and someone hilariously shouted to the then-bleach blond Benjamin “Your hair looks like you’ve been stung by a bee!”
The running time must have been a concern for the producers at this point, because as we enter 2010, the only contribution from Royal Rumble is a very short Michelle McCool-Mickie James match, and Elimination Chamber isn’t covered at all. So we jump ahead to the final match on the DVD, but it’s a belter: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, the main event of WrestleMania XXVI, Streak vs. Career. Having attended this one live, I can tell you that this was awesome; as a matter of fact, it’s one of the greatest matches in WWE history. To follow their outstanding WrestleMania 25 effort with something equally as awesome, and even more dramatic and important (Michaels would never wrestle again, as per the retirement stipulation), makes this a monumental encounter which hasn’t been topped in WWE since, and a fitting way to end this collection. Also included are some comments, mostly in-character, about certain matches, and a few extra bouts are thrown in on the Blu-ray.
Some additional notes: the box art seems very generic, as do the menus; they feel as if they were knocked up by somebody on Paint. Surprisingly, John Cena isn’t highlighted at all on the cover, unless you count his arm dragging Randy Orton (look at the picture and this will make sense). And whilst the links by hosts Michael Cole and Matt Striker are kept short, they’re still a bit annoying, especially the awful dialogue by Cole to try and segue from a Striker practical joke to the comedy provided by DX. Finally, Batista doesn’t appear on the main DVD at all (he is included on the Blu-ray), which is weird; sure, he left WWE shortly after this DVD was released, but Jeff Hardy had departed for TNA by this point and he is featured fairly prominently.
Those gripes aside, I felt that this was a really good compilation. If you own all of these events on DVD already, then this will be an unnecessary purchase, but even if you do, it’s nice to have most of the season’s top matches in one straightforward collection. There are some matches that you could argue deserve to be here, and likewise there are some questionable inclusions. But given the criteria to include a wide range of performers and match types, then this is as good a set as you could expect. And with plenty of memorable matches, not to mention that the DVD ends with a bang, this is a great advertisement for the WWE product from 2009/2010.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent