WWE SmackDown 20th Anniversary DVD Review

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WWE SmackDown

Running Time: 370 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: October 14 2019

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

Due to all of the excitement surrounding the official beginning of it being broadcast on FOX, SmackDown has suddenly become WWE‘s most talked-about brand. Not so coincidentally, this happens at the same time as the blue brand marks its twentieth anniversary on the air, and so to celebrate the occasion, the latest DVD focuses on some of the more memorable matches and moments from down the years on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights.

It fittingly opens with the main event of the very first SD as Triple H battles The Rock for the WWF Title with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee with a significant finish. We then cycle through some 24/7 shenanigans, not of the current title held by R-Truth but of the old Hardcore belt that Crash Holly so proudly defended, as he clashes with The Headbangers and Gerald Brisco in comical fashion. After a Thanksgiving food fight (a random inclusion), we get Chris Jericho vs. Rhyno, and a Gore that destroys the original SD set, paving the way for the now-famous “fist” entrance way.

This being the Attitude Era, there were plenty of key events covering every emotion possible. Stone Cold Steve Austin garners heel heat as he dumps Kurt Angle’s gold medals into a river and he earns huge laughs as he destroys Booker T in a supermarket in a timeless angle. Between those, though, is Vince McMahon’s address on SD immediately after 9/11, an event that is one of the true milestones in SmackDown history. Heading into 2002, we get a Vince/Stacy Keibler segment that led to McMahon’s reactions becoming a popular gif; John Cena debuting against Kurt Angle; Hulk Hogan teaming with Edge against Billy & Chuck (which is nowhere near as legendary as WWE suggests); and an Edge/Chris Jericho bout inside a Steel Cage.

Edge pops up again to fight Eddie Guerrero in a strong No Disqualification match. Rey Mysterio winning the Cruiserweight Championship from Matt Hardy (in the main event, no less) in his hometown of San Diego, California is followed by perhaps the most famous SmackDown moment of all, that being when Brock Lesnar became the first man to suplex Big Show off the ropes and thus destroying the ring below them. To round off disc one, we get another Vince moment from the inaugural Tribute To The Troops, and Eddie Guerrero’s celebratory party after he won the WWE Title in 2004.

So far, so good, as the first five years are covered, but we soon run into problems. While disc two starts off with the hilarious Kurt Angle parody of Shawn Michaels, Batista joining forces with Rey Mysterio to face MNM is fun, and King Booker’s coronation as SmackDown royalty is amusing, the DVD then suddenly jumps way ahead to the end of 2008 and Jeff Hardy’s own WWE Title “Hardy Party”, as Jim Ross said on commentary. Hardy facing CM Punk inside a Steel Cage the following August is a worthy inclusion, as is Christian vs. Randy Orton from May 2011 (which comes after a piece on Edge’s sudden retirement), but then we take an even greater leap forward to the summer of 2017 and the modern era.

The past two years are covered well, though whether some of these selections deserved to be included is debatable. The women’s MITB Ladder rematch is a good choice, though I would disagree with the official anointing of Rusev Day, even if it did get over huge. AJ Styles dethroning Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion in Manchester, England is another sensible inclusion, but while The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The New Day has its moments, but it isn’t even New Day’s best SmackDown outing. AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan is historic and has a shocking ending, while Kofi Kingston vs. Kevin Owens feels like filler, and is a somewhat anticlimactic way to end the DVD.

Because WWE DVD compilations are mostly restricted to two discs nowadays, it meant a whole host of potential chapters in SmackDown’s history were ignored. But that still doesn’t explain why the period from 2006 to 2017 is barely touched upon. I realise that SD wasn’t a priority in the early 2010s, but even in the late 2000s, we had The Undertaker’s feuds with Batista and Edge, the latter’s classic relationship with Vickie Guerrero, and the year 2009 boasting some of SD’s greatest ever matches (Mysterio vs. John Morrison springs to mind). Even 2016, the year that SD became significant in WWE’s eyes again and saw the development of several new stars, is not covered whatsoever. Whomever was in charge of putting together this DVD only reinforced the feeling that certain years in WWE are simply not worth talking about, which may explain why the top stars from that era do not get the respect that they fully deserve.

Despite this, WWE SmackDown 20th Anniversary is still an enjoyable trip down memory lane, and almost every truly landmark event is covered at some point. It just would have been nice for the selection of matches and angles to have been more comprehensive and fairer to SD’s history, in which case this could have been an essential purchase.

Overall Rating: 7/10 – Respectable