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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 517 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 4 2011
WrestleMania XXVII on DVD is a bit unusual. It includes a Mania which was built up like any other but, when the show was over, felt like a set-up event; a Hall Of Fame ceremony which is as good as can be expected; and a selection of extras which, while entertaining, feel surreal and are a bit restricted, as I will explain. That all being said, there is just about enough engaging content here that one should still find this an entertaining overall package, which I will now go in-depth on.
WM 27 opens with a promo by guest host The Rock. It is okay but not one of Rock’s most memorable segments, and although he was the host, at the time it still felt odd to open a Mania with a promo. (This must have annoyed Sheamus and Daniel Bryan; their scheduled bout was moved to the pre-show and whilst it is here as a DVD extra, the booking of this match on a stage like Mania, even if it technically wasn’t a WM match, is incomprehensible). In the ring, the opening match made even less sense at the time: a World Title match between Edge and Alberto Del Rio. It is a pretty good if underrated match, as Edge defeats ADR to retain the gold. Eight days later, Edge announced that due to a neck injury his career had ended; had this information been more obvious before WM, chances are that this match would have been a much more memorable WrestleMania moment.
Match two sees Cody Rhodes defeat Rey Mysterio; this is another under-appreciated bout which, at the time, felt like a star-maker for Rhodes. The following match is an incredibly rushed eight-man tag; it would take me longer to write the names of all the participants than to actually watch it (just know that it ends with a Big Show KO of Heath Slater). Next up, Randy Orton meets CM Punk in an eagerly-anticipated clash. Something about this felt a bit reserved, as if something was missing; had this one happened at WM 28 or WM 29, when Punk was more established as a main eventer, I feel it would have been greeted more warmly and generally been more exciting. That said, this is still a strong bout with a superb finish via an RKO on a mid-air Punk.
Match five is Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole. For a showdown between two announcers, this was built-up as if it was a massive grudge match (which it was, but Cole isn’t a trained wrestler). It isn’t a pointless viewing experience – special referee Stone Cold is entertaining as usual, and the match has some notable spots – but the end result of Cole winning by DQ at a WM (and Lawler had waited so long for a Mania match, and probably won’t get another one) still stands as an unfathomable outcome. Sure, it set up Lawler’s revenge at a later date, but were the extra few weeks of conflict really worth souring what would have been a perfectly acceptable WM moment for The King?
The semi-final is a six-person mixed-tag, again a bit rushed, which in retrospect was remembered more for John Morrison ignoring Trish Stratus (his own partner, and on a live broadcast of a WrestleMania!) in a misguided protest at her appearing to promote Tough Enough rather than a full-time Diva (i.e. his girlfriend Melina). The WWE Title main event between The Miz and John Cena is decent, but is let down by a poor double countout decision, and Rock restarting the bout so he could take out Cena and then beating up Mix after his win seemed bizarre. Surely, there was a better way to set up Rock-Cena than this, and one that didn’t make the biggest show of 2011 feel like a set-up event for the 2012 installment. It was also hard to believe at the time, and even harder to believe in hindsight, that The Miz actually main evented WrestleMania – and won!
Now onto the Hall … Hold on. I forgot to mention one match. Well, actually, I intentionally haven’t listed it yet, because it illustrates that if you take that bout away, WM 27 was okay in the ring but flawed in a number of ways. Had the card consisted of the above seven matches only, if would not be remembered that fondly.
Fortunately, it was saved by what on the night was match 6: The Undertaker vs. Triple H, No Holds Barred. I literally couldn’t wait for this match, partly because I genuinely felt that The Streak would end here. It was a point in Taker’s career where you began to wonder how many big matches he had left in him. Perhaps this would be his last stand – and for the hype to suggest HHH had nothing left to achieve besides ending The Streak, the suggestion that there could only be one “Last Outlaw”, and the fact that The Game was looking to prove wrong the doubters (including Shawn Michaels) who believed he simply couldn’t do it, all suggested a potentially historic match.
They rumbled for over 30 minutes in an incredibly epic clash. It was less about wrestling than some would have desired, but it told an amazing story of a valiant warrior in Taker, erm, taking everything HHH had to offer, and the punishment clearly taking its toll on him, but he still refused to give up. The Tombstone by HHH is the closest I ever thought anyone had come to giving UT that first WM loss – and for Undertaker to kick out of that resulted in an almighty crowd pop. Moments later, Taker sealed victory by submission with Hell’s Gate – but he had paid the price for keeping his Streak alive. He appeared to be in agony (I genuinely thought he was hurt), and he had to be carried out of the Georgia Dome on a motorised cart. The loser, HHH, left on his own feet (just about); the winner, Undertaker, did not. A truly incredible story told via a gripping wrestling match, and it also set-up their even bigger rematch at WM 28. This match not only stole the show at WM 27, it saved it.
The 2011 Hall Of Fame class includes Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The Legion Of Doom, Drew Carey (celebrity inductee; and possibly the least deserving and worst-received inductee in any Hall Of Fame ever), Sunny, Abdullah The Butcher, Bullet Bob Armstrong and star inductee Shawn Michaels. The HOF class is fairly strong, and the ceremony provides a good helping of entertainment; and, in contrast to Drew Carey, star of the show HBK is one of the most deserving inductees in any HOF in existence. On the whole, three hours well spent, and a production that does enhance the value of this DVD set.
The extras conclude with a presentation of highlights from WWE history over the fairly recent past, starting in the Attitude Era. It does include many key WWE events, but there are some flaws. Firstly, the timeline is vague and the moments, whilst memorable, feel random. Secondly, this portion of the DVD has no relevance to WM 27. Thirdly, and most importantly, the PG rating is in full effect here: many moments are heavily edited to the point of taking away key reasons for why they were memorable in the first place (e.g. the best lines from The Rock: This Is Your Life aren’t audible). A decent add-on, then, but if you really want to watch these moments, you should really watch them on another DVD.
This release of WrestleMania XXVII is a real mixed bag. The WM event has its moments and a true classic, but has a fairly large number of notable flaws. The HOF ceremony is the usual but is a good presentation nonetheless. And the compilation of moments is okay as a time-filler but has no other reason to be here. Really, I think Taker-HHH and the HOF are the reasons why fans should buy this DVD. It would be a tough sell otherwise, but with their inclusion, there is just about enough entertainment to make it a worthwhile purchase.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good