|Image Source: Amazon|
Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 435 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: January 13 2014
Once more, WWE has released a compilation focusing on the year’s best Pay-Per-View encounters (well, those of the first ten months, anyway; and the match choices are always those of WWE, meaning some fan favourite bouts don’t get a look-in). Renee Young takes over hosting duties here, with PPV posters to assist her, erm, links, and the artwork has a slightly grandiose theme highlighting WWE’s biggest names … except for Brock Lesnar. That Lesnar isn’t included is unusual, and perhaps emphasises how his star doesn’t shine quite as bright as it should presently. We don’t get any promo videos for matches this time, which is a slight dampener.
Onto the action, though, and we have CM Punk vs. The Rock from Royal Rumble. Whilst a fun match to watch, that part-timer Rock was chosen to end Punk’s 434-day WWE Title reign PO’d the hardcore fans to a great extent, especially with John Cena winning the Royal Rumble to set up Rock-Cena 2 as the main event for WrestleMania 29 (I personally didn’t have a problem with the decision, although the fact that the People’s Elbow was the move to finish Punk off ruined one’s suspension of disbelief). After that, Elimination Chamber (an underrated show, in my opinion) gives us John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus vs. The Shield, a watchable yet fairly pointless match with a surprising outcome (at the time, anyway).
WrestleMania 29 is up next, and we’re treated to two of Mania’s top battles. The Undertaker vs. CM Punk is an awesome match, probably the best WWE match of the entire year; it isn’t quite as good as Taker’s WM showdowns with Shawn Michaels, but it is a classic nonetheless. Rock-Cena 2 has been criticised for simply existing by fans, meaning that they would have you think this match sucks. However, it’s entertaining and tells a logical story of Cena learning (or thinking he had learned) from his mistake the previous Mania against Rock. Overall, it’s probably a better match than their original in Miami, despite the fairly subdued atmosphere and the over-reliance on finishing moves near the end. I can understand fans moaning about this rematch because their WM 28 meeting was supposed to be “Once In A Lifetime”, but did anyone truly believe that, especially when Cena lost in Miami? Besides, if WWE has a match that sets records and has massive appeal, why wouldn’t they stage a rematch? Granted, the build-up to their second meeting was lazy by WWE, but that’s beside the point.
Disc two brings us to Extreme Rules with two matches: a better-than-expected Extreme Rules battle between hometown hero Randy Orton and Big Show, and an exciting Steel Cage bout between Brock Lesnar and Triple H. Their feud went on for far too long despite this only being their third match, but it’s engaging nonetheless. The only downside is that the crowd was so flat for their second clash at Mania, which was very well-executed; had the audience at MetLife Stadium (which I was a part of) responded better, the WM showdown could have been fondly remembered, and probably would have been included here too.
The focus on big names is reduced for the next few matches, as we get a couple of Payback bouts and a Money In The Bank Ladder match featuring much of WWE’s upper mid-card crew. Wade Barrett vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel (replacing the injured Fandango) is decent and has a cool finish, but probably doesn’t need to be here. AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn, however, was the best WWE women’s match in many years, and Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio is unexpectedly brutal and sees a double-turn pulled off brilliantly. As for the MITB Ladder match: it’s a platform for Dean Ambrose, The Rhodes Scholars, The Real Americans, Fandango and Barrett to shine, and it is a really good stunt show, although it’s still weird that WWE would hold a match starring seven heels and no babyfaces (even if one competitor, Cody Rhodes, begins his face turn during this encounter).
Disc three takes us to SummerSlam, probably the best PPV event of the year, and we get two big reasons why: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar is a believable and gripping war, and John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan is a thrilling, if slightly overrated, main event that has some huge post-match shenanigans which gave birth to what would become The Authority. Night Of Champions, in contrast, felt like a real B-PPV, as evidenced by the two bouts featured here: ADR vs. Rob Van Dam is good but not great and has a crap ending, and AJ vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi is average at best. Better is Cody and Goldust vs. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns from Battleground, with the careers of both Rhodes brothers and the job as NXT chief of Dusty Rhodes at stake; there’s a nice old-school feel to the match, mixed with the modern fast-paced, all-action style of those involved (and Goldust once again turns back the years with his performance here).
Hell In A Cell once again rounds off proceedings, as we get ADR vs. John Cena for the World Heavyweight Title (in Cena’s comeback from a triceps injury, which was meant to sideline him until 2014 but instead saw him return after just 2 ½ months), which is watchable but nothing special, and Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan inside HIAC for the WWE Title (which Triple H had put into “abeyance”, a fancy word for vacating it), and with Shawn Michaels as referee. It sounds like a classic waiting to happen but, whilst it is a good main event, there is something missing to prevent it being world-class, as was the case for all Orton vs. Bryan matches in the autumn of 2013, for some reason. Unlike previous entries in this series, one does not miss Survivor Series or TLC being absent because neither cards were exactly classics; that being said, Orton vs. Cena at TLC unified the World Titles, so that would have been a fitting way to round off the spotlight on 2013 supershows.
As it is, this is another good look back at WWE on PPV. I would have liked to see Lesnar-HHH from WrestleMania, Punk vs. Chris Jericho (CM’s return from an extended absence) at Payback and ADR vs. Christian (an excellent little match) from SummerSlam, but the truly essential supershow matches are all here. Punk’s two matches with Undertaker and Lesnar are the in-ring highlights, although Cena’s matches with Rock and Bryan are the two most important from a storyline standpoint. Elsewhere, there’s some good action across the board, with only a few matches feeling out of place. So, 2013 wasn’t really the best year ever for WWE on Pay-Per-View, but most of the supershow highlights from that period can be found here.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good