Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 517 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: August 27 2018
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
WWE’s latest DVD compilation is a straightforward round-up of SummerSlam’s best matches from the past 30 years. It is up for debate as to whether any bouts from the latest PPV, held this past Sunday, would have been worthy of inclusion, but the matches that are here make for one hell of a DVD set.
Hosted by Mean Gene Okerlund, and with old-school Report segments covering specific eras in the supershow’s history, things kick off with a very short yet very historic bout as The Ultimate Warrior finally ends The Honky Tonk Man’s record-breaking reign as Intercontinental Champion in less than 30 seconds from the original 1988 PPV. Next up, we get the memorable Two Out Of Three Falls bout between Demolition and The Hart Foundation from 1990. This is particularly poignant to watch right now given the sad and recent passing of Foundation member Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.
Bret Hart’s classic 1991 battle with Mr. Perfect is a notable omission, but we do get his showdown with The British Bulldog from 1992, arguably the most famous and greatest SummerSlam match of them all. Bret had a thing for stealing the show at SummerSlam because up next is his outstanding Cage match against Owen Hart in 1994. The WWF product was changing as we approached the mid-to-late 1990s, and the last two bouts of disc one reflect this: a violent Boiler Room Brawl between The Undertaker and Mankind from 1996, which has a shocking ending, and a great Ladder scrap between The Rock and Triple H from 1998.
Presumably for the same reasons that Bret vs. Perfect isn’t here (having a match being rereleased on many occasions), the first TLC bout from 2000 is absent. But we do have Jeff Hardy vs. Rob Van Dam under Ladder rules and a forgotten war between Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, both from 2001. The 2002 SS is considered to be the best by many, and two key reasons are up next: Shawn Michaels’ unforgettable return match against Triple H, and Brock Lesnar making history by dethroning The Rock as Undisputed Champion. Also on disc two are Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels (a fun 2005 match notorious for Michaels allegedly over-selling Hogan’s offence to a deliberately ludicrous level) and the first of many John Cena vs. Randy Orton PPV bouts from 2007.
By 2009, we were into the PG era, and arguably a bit of a slump period for the biggest event of the summer. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk under TLC rules is a fantastic brawl, though (featuring one of Hardy’s most jaw-dropping Swanton Bombs), and Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler is a strong opener from 2012. Next up is John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan from 2013, which is an excellent (though slightly overrated) match in its own right, but it becomes a legendary SummerSlam moment due to the post-match shenanigans.
From there, Brock Lesnar officially opens Suplex City (its name would not be anointed for a few more months) as John Cena takes 16 German Suplexes before succumbing to an F5 in a match that was stunning for its lack of Cena offence. The Women’s Revolution gets an airing with Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair in 2016 (during which Banks takes a frightening bump onto the back of her head). Finally, last year’s Fatal Four Way main event between Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe is gripping and chaotic, and is one of the better four-way battles that you will see.
To me, 30 Years Of SummerSlam is the best WWE DVD so far this year. Greatly superior to last year’s 30 Years Of Survivor Series, virtually every match is either great, historic or both, and it perfectly covers every era in the event’s history, as well as featuring all of the company’s top names from the last three decades at some point. Mean Gene hosting some occasional Reports adds a nostalgic feel and can’t fail to bring a smile to the face of a longtime viewer. Sure, there are some key SummerSlam matches missing, but even without these, this is an epic collection that definitely warrants a purchase.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10 – Classic