Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Jinder Mahal: Someone To Look Up To And Admire By Pete Stevens

 
 
Mahal in his previous incarnation with the WWE
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the pro wrestling business. I’ve been a part of it (10 years) and a fan for a combined 30 years. I’ve taken just lately to writing about my thoughts and feelings on certain subjects and this is another one. 

I recently read online that during a press tour of India to promote WWE’s upcoming show, Kane was quoted as saying that Jinder Mahal is a superstar that should be admired for his change in attitude. Kane makes reference to Mahal’s 2014 release and spoke about the way Mahal conducted himself while being away including becoming a better wrestler and the drastic changes to his physical appearance. I understand that this interview took place in India to promote the forthcoming show which Mahal is due to headline in a match against the COO of the company Triple H however, it got me thinking. 

In the bigger picture, should we all not respect Jinder Mahal for his most recent accomplishments a little bit more than we do? 

I understand that some purists and wrestling die hards were outraged when the company went left field and chose to put the WWE Championship on Jinder and the rise of the ‘Modern Day Maharaja’ began. I admit, I thought it was going to be a transitional champion kind of situation and the company would keep with the safe cards like AJ Styles (champion now) or Randy Orton. A near enough 6 month reign would be the result of it all which even if you appreciated it or not brought fresh new light into the tired and tested main event scene. 

Mahal with his 3MB cohorts heath Slater & Drew McIntyre
In 2014 Jinder Mahal was released from his contract. At the time of his release he was a member of 3MB. Prior to 3MB he had bounced around the mid card with a couple of mediocre winning streaks. He was the runner up to Seth Rollins in the final of the NXT Championship Tournament and was also the on screen brother in law to The Great Khali. Jinder was re-hired by the company along with Curt Hawkins, Rhyno, Shelton Benjamin and a few others to bulk out the rosters during the brand split. Not long into Mahal’s return he begun to make some big changes to his physic and attitude in the ring whilst finding himself in a team with Rusev. Mahal would look like an absolute beast leading intro Wrestlemania where he again came second in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal however, the ground work was already being laid down for him to rise to the top of the Smackdown brand and lead it as it’s champion.

Mahal in more recent times when he was WWE champion
Taking a step back from his accomplishments during all of this I’d like to go back to concentrating on the point Kane was making. Jinder Mahal is a character. Love him or hate him he isn’t real. Yuvraj Singh Dhesi was giving a second chance with a company that doesn’t really give second chances very often (okay goldust being the exception) and he chose to reinvent himself to give himself a fighting chance to survive.

As I said earlier wither you like him or not as a performer it’s immaterial.  Personally I feel he should be admired and ultimately looked up to as someone who took the measures to better himself within his workplace to stand out from the pack instead of just filling the hole in the roster which ultimately he was brought back to do. Take a quick second to look at the rest of the returning stars. Rhyno was Tag Team Champion and got a push on smackdown but has done nothing since the brand switch moved him to Raw. Curt Hawkins gimmick is that he’s lost every match since the start of his career and Shelton Benjamin has been shoved into a 2.0 tag team. You may argue that Mahal has done nothing but alter his appearance and that his level of wrestling skill hasn’t changed at all. Against the skill of the veterans I mentioned above I would strongly argue that if his push was solely based around in ring skill then chances are he would be jobbing to the stars as well and in some way maybe he knows that. Look into his past again for a second. WWE tried multiple times with Jinder to make something of him and nothing happened. When he was Average Mahal you never saw him knocking down doors to get to any championship glory. 

In an industry STILL (WWE at least) dominated by big men with impressive physical appearances Mahal has perfectly played the one card he did have for success and he played it extremely well. 

Changing his physical appearance is the best thing Jinder Mahal has ever done for his career and it says a lot about his personal character and his willingness to want to succeed. He was given a second chance at a dream career where he hadn’t made the best of it the first time round and has hit a home run this time round. 

Surely that’s something to look up to for anyone in any industry. 

I’d call this a dream come true. 

Pete. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

WWE Network: We Wish You The Best In Your Future Endevours By Joel Yentis

I have decided, I am cancelling my WWE Network subscription. I don’t use it. New content doesn’t appeal to me. The nail in the coffin will depend on this weekend’s quality – no pressure then WWE.

You see, my problem is time and environment. Once the kids are in bed, I have a few hours to spend with the wife which, lies the second problem; trying to negotiate a night watchingwrestling. WWE isn’t easy to watch at the best of times, let alone when the current product just doesn’t make any sense. When I introduced the wife to wrestling back in 2009, her first comment was “do they do risk assessments?” when watching a money in the bank ladder match. A fair point, I suppose. Then a large amount of reasonable  questions followed, “why do they always do moves facing the camera?” or “why are they always distracted when someone else’s music plays?”. Dearest wife, I have no answer. I don’t think many people have answers, including the decision makers.

So my valuable, marital time is at a premium, WWE is not an option. Fortunately, I have two other subscription services which, are cheaper than the “New York” territories offering and more importantly, a more common sense approach to content. Another subscription service we have is Netflix and, we really enjoyed watching GLOW together as well as non-wrestling related shows such as American Vandal, Toast of London to name but a few. A few hours of free time every night and, with all these options available, we tend to go for Netflix (also cheaper than the WWE Network) then, if I feel lucky I will offer up a New Japan English Commentary show or, if I am really feeling lucky, a Rev Pro Cockpit show.

With time at a premium, this week I have found having plenty of free time. Once I get the kids to bed, I am on my own. The wife is out doing a play (because we are middle class… Amateur Theatre Dahling). I can sit in and watch whatever I want (and play Football Manager at the same time – MULTITASKING!). What have I chosen to watch this week? Well, to watch Rev I have to plug in my Chromecast, connect my Macbooks Chrome, log in and then Cast. New Japan is the same process – but this has improved greatly (I now no longer need Google Translate – Huzzah!). For the WWE Network, I just hit the apps button on my remote and go to the WWE App, Michael Cole told me how to install it and everything (I have a Smart TV – told you I was middle class). Ease of use doesn’t seem to affect me. I can log onto the site nice and easy and browse the network. I even get emails from John Cena, Roman Reigns and Charlotte Flair to tell me amazing new events are coming to the Network. Thanks guys. This week, I have been mostly watching Rev Pro Global Wars Shows 1 and 2, New Japan Power Struggle (again) and PWG BOLA 2017 Night 1. Really enjoyable ways to spend an evening or two.

Why don’t I use the Network then? Well, I have lived throughmost of their 90s to date archives. Putting in the hours when I wasn’t married, with kids and a mortgage. No, I lived these events when I had a social life – which I didn’t have because I was in my room watching wrestling.

Nostalgia seems to be a big reason to have the network, but I don’t need nostalgia in my current free time. I have vintage video games for my nostalgia fix, plus a lot of the content from the Attitude Era for example doesn’t age particularly well. There are plenty of more qualified folk to point this out, but the way women were portrayed at the time has no place in my house. The Attitude Era and all ECW shows are a no go option for me these days. I want new, up and coming, different, challenging viewing options and, in its current form the WWE just doesn’t offer me that. Even with NXT – it is formulaic; focused on being a TV product rather than a sport on TV. Can you imagine Ronaldo getting screamed at for not turning to the hard cam to do his celebration? Or how about Roger Federer serving for the match and accidently lookingstraight into the camera? If it is “Sports Entertainment” why isn’t there emphasis on the sport? We don’t scream at the Sky Sports commentators for talking about what is trending online during a match or the editors cutting away every time someone completes a tackle. It’s time for me to just give up on the network. I thought it was everything I ever dreamed of, but in reality, Over the Top services such as Rev Pro, Progress, NJPW World etc IS what I dreamed of. Current product of the highest of qualities with an archive should I wish to go back. 

My £9.99 a month saved will go back into wrestling, through live attendance, merchandise, subscriptions etc. It will not go to corporate America any longer. Yuk, I am turning into one of “those guys”.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

WWE Presents NXT: From Secret To Sensation DVD Review By Keagan Barnes

NXT is WWE’s third brand, well known for it’s tendency to create stars in such a short time. This DVD was dedicated to that with a list of NXTs top 25 of all time. In the last review I did, I covered the ‘30 Years of Survivor Series’ DVD and in that I was very critical. However, the things I criticised were improved and I can’t see a fault in this DVD. 

 Disc 1:
We start off with Tom Phillips giving a brief introduction to NXT. He name drops a few alumn who’ve gone on to do great things and then the list gets underway.. The list entries have a video package but with sections in between, quizzing other WWE/NXT stars about the performer. This was really well put together and this is what the survivor series dvd, in my opinion, was lacking. 
The top 25 were all deserving of their place on the list. There was a few surprise entry numbers. That was bound to happen though. The list of illustrious superstars included greats like: Triple H, William Regal and John Cena. It was also very cool to see the NXT Superstars and alumn talk about their peers in such a positive way. Also, it was great to reminisce and look back at some great gimmicks and matches. 
Cesaro made the list, which wasn’t a shock considering what he did for the brand in its early days. A lot of people picked up on that. His feuds with Sami Zayn and William Regal should definitely be in the conversation for best rivalry in NXT’s early days. Like I just mentioned, it was great to see peers praise Cesaro and his contribution to NXT. 
One which surprised me was Paige. She defitnitely deserved to be put on but due to the situation she’s in with WWE at the minute, I wasn’t sure that she would be. A big name who didn’t make the list such as: Roman Reigns or Dean Ambrose could’ve made the list instead. It was easily done. In my opinion, Paige definitely deserved a place on the list over those two.
The superstar input wasn’t scripted and you could definitely tell. It added a sense of sincerity which can’t be faked. It was wrestlers giving their genuine thoughts on their colleagues. This was made more apparent on Alexa Bliss’ entry more than anyone’s. Many stars said that they didn’t believe she was going to do much in the WWE. Reminiscing about her old cheerleader gimmick, it was crazy to see how far she’s come. The change from over-the-top cheerleader to intense bad girl was drastic and will arguably go down as the best image change in NXT history.
Tyler Breeze made the list! I love Tyler Breeze, he’s my favourite NXT wrestler of all time.. His schtick was so original and he had the charisma to perfect it. He put on solid matches and the NXT higher ups thought that much of him, they used Liger’s one off WWE appearance in a match against him at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. The fact that he’s gone to SmackDown Live and is now doing something completely different to his NXT gimmick while perfecting it to the same degree, proves that he’s a fantastic performer. 
NXT Tag Teams got their own segment prior to the Top 10 countdown but none of them were ranked. It was a collection of video clips for each team. The Vaudevillians were included and it was cool to see Simon Gotch again I guess. The Ascension was really cool to see at their most dominant. A lot less like the Road Warriors cosplayers they later became. Enzo and Cass at their best, The Revival in their earlier days and DIY were all welcome additions to the list. It was a great compilation of teams and the tributes were fitting to the guys that made NXT weekly TV so entertaining.
The new generation of NXT was represented by none other than Ember Moon. Although receiving a low placement on the list, it was still cool to see her on it. It felt like just yesterday she debuted and wowed everyone with her appearance and unique in ring offence. It just adds to the point I started off this review with, NXT are really great for creating stars in a short time. 
Finn Balor. His position is high obviously and I think it’s also pretty predictable. However, it’s predictable with good reason. Finn Balor elevated NXT and is the longest reigning champion in the brands short history, putting on barnburners every time his championship was on the line. Every time Balor was in a feud with someone it felt like a big deal. 
This disc finished on a positive note, looking to the future of NXT and all the stars on the rise. Superstars name dropped here included: Aleister Black, Billie Kay & Peyton Royce and Ruby Riot.
Disc 2: 
This disc had a collection of classic NXT matches including an untelevised contest between Xavier Woods and Big E Langston from 2011. 
My 5 Match Recommendations:
  1.  Non-Televised Match - Big E Langston vs. Xavier Woods - NXT (Pilot Episode) 
  2. NXT Championship Match - Seth Rollins vs Corey Graves - NXT January 2, 2013.
  3. Fatal 4-Way Match for the NXT Championship - Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd - NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way. 
  4. Adrian Neville vs. Tyler Breeze - NXT January 15, 2014. 
  5. Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn - NXT June 12, 2013.
Disc 3: 
Like the disc before it, this had a collection of NXT classics. From this disc I recommend the following 5. 
My 5 Match Recommendations: 
  1. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - NXT TakeOver: Dallas 2016
  2. NXT Women’s Championship Match - Asuka vs. Ember Moon - NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II
  3. NXT Championship Match - Finn Bálor vs. Samoa Joe - NXT (Lowell, MA) April 21, 2016
  4. Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss - NXT July 6, 2016
  5. NXT Women’s Championship Match - Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch - NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable 2015.
Final Thoughts:
All in all, I believe this DVD is an all round fantastic set. Great list, great matches and I for one, thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Definitely recommend.
Rating: 8.5/10
Buy or Not to Buy: BUY HERE

Sunday, 22 October 2017

WWE '30 Years Of Survivor Series' DVD Review By Keagan Barnes

On the 23rd of October 2017, WWE will release the '30 Years of Survivor Series' DVD set. I sat and watched the discs back to back to back and have the following to say about the set.
Disc 1: 
The DVD kicks off with no introduction or host/s with the only thing given being the Survivor Series transitions they've been using for the last few years. The first disc is a top 30 of the best Survivor Series moments. It felt like an hour long YouTube video. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the disc but I feel like it could've been put across better. 
Each place on the list has a video package similar to those used in WWE today and boy have the video team knocked it out of the park here. I have a few issues with placements on the list but nothing too drastic. Do I believe that number 1 should've been number 1? Yes, without a doubt. Despite being controversial and pretty obvious, it couldn't have been anything else. It also felt nice that everything on the list deserved to be on it and that none of it was just there to fill places up. It was also nice to see people no longer affiliated with the WWE involved in the list too. People like Demolition, CM Punk, Hulk Hogan and Alberto Del Rio all featuring prominently. 
Another thing that could've been improved was the amount of information given. We were just presented with the video and had to make our own assumptions. There is a list with names of moments online at wrestlingdvdnetwork(dot)com but you shouldn't have to go out of your way to find it. I'm not going to spoil the list placements but I'm going to give you my personal favourite moments that were put on the list. 
  1. The Undertaker Returns at Survivor Series 2004
  2. The Shield Debut
  3. The First Elimination Chamber 
  4. Winner Takes All - Team WWE vs Team Invasion
  5. Team Cena vs Team Authority / Sting Debut.
I don't have much to say about the first disc besides the lack of information and the presentation of the list leaves this DVD with the untapped potential of being fantastic. 
Disc 2:
The second disc is a collection of matches from the earlier Survivor Series which were mentioned on the list. This collection of matches is nice and are definitely must watch. 
My Top 5 however: 
  1. WWE Championship Match: The Undertaker vs Hulk Hogan @ Survivor Series 1991.
  2. 5-on-5 Elimination Match: The Bad Guys (Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, The British Bulldog & The Headshrinkers) vs. The Teamsters (Jeff Jarrett, Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart) @ Survivor Series 1994.
  3. No Disqualification Match for the WWE Championship: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Diesel @ Survivor Series 1995.
  4. WWE Championship Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Sycho Sid @ Survivor Series 1996.
  5. Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship: Triple H vs. The Rock vs. The Big Show @ Survivor Series 1999. 
It was so nice to listen to Brain on commentary again too. 
Disc 3: 
Similarly to Disc 2, this was a very nice collection of matches beginning from the attitude era spanning to the current era. Like the previous, must watch matches. The last two discs are what makes the set worthwhile in my opinion. 
My Top 5 Matches: 
  1. Steel Cage Match to Unify the WWE & WCW Tag Team Championships: The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz @ Survivor Series 2001
  2. WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show @ Survivor Series 2002
  3. 6-Pack Challenge Match for the Vacant WWE Women’s Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Lita vs. Jacqueline vs. Molly Holly vs. Jazz vs. Ivory @ Survivor Series 2001
  4. 5-on-5 Elimination Match: The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) & The Real Americans (Jack Swagger & Cesaro) vs. Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Rey Mysterio, & The Usos @ Survivor Series 2013
  5. Tournament Finals for the Vacant WWE Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose @ Survivor Series 2015
Conclusion:
The set was good. Not fantastic, not bad, just good. The list was mediocre but was made up for by the quality matches on the other discs. I still do recommend it but I just thought you might want to know what you're buying before you buy it. 
Buy or Not To Buy: BUY from WWE DVD UK 
Rating: 6.5 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

WWE Presents WWF: 1997 Dawn Of The Attitude DVD Review By Keagan Barnes

Panel: Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, The Godfather, Ron Simmons and Kane.
Going into this DVD I had mixed feelings. I wasn't sure if the lack of bigger stars would have an effect on this feature. There was no Stone Cold, there was no Rock and there was no Triple H. As time passed and as I was getting more invested, I can tell you that the star power didn't matter at all. If anything it just made it more interesting. 'Dawn Of The Attitude' was a joy to watch from start to finish and I found it to be very insightful. 
We start things off with the superstars describing the wrestling industry at the time. 1997 was a big year for WWE. Times were changing, the ratings war was in full swing and superstars were given an opportunity to use their personalities as their in ring persona. This gave a lot of stars the chance to shine. 1997 was a much simpler time in the wrestling business. You'd never have to worry about your character looking 'weak'. Wins and Losses never mattered and you wouldn't have to deal with hate on twitter. 
Slightly controversial topics included talks about Sunny and Chyna. 
The Guys: 
Shawn Michaels: Shawn recalls 1997 being a good year for him, his degenerate persona really helped him turn his negative backstage attitude into positive for the WWE. The first meeting of the Raw is War era was Vince telling the guys to put more of themselves into their characters. He remembers Vince being stubborn, the attitudes backstage were positive towards the war because all of the guys knew that WWE would be the last one standing.
Shawn was a very positive part of this DVD. He'll make you laugh, he'll intrigue you and you won't get bored of anything talks about. Definitely put in to be the leader of the table, Shawn shows that he certainly doesn't lack in charisma and makes for a good watch. 
Mick Foley: Mick never imagined himself playing Mankind. As a youngster, he always wanted to be the chick magnet. Bruce Prichard himself saw tapes of the promos Mick did as an 18 year old and this led to Mick's series of interviews with Jim Ross which he describes as really opening up his character.
Think you know all of the backstage groups? You probably don't know about this one! (If you do, well played) 'The Nerd Kliq' was a group of only 3 men. Kane, Mick Foley and Al Snow. The guys would chill out watching documentaries and reading books which completely contrasts with what was previously stated about personas. Looking back to 1997, you would never be able to guess that Mankind and Kane were avid readers.
Mick was definitely a huge part of WWE in 1997 as he is in this feature. He had rather interesting stories and takes and he just added to the natural feeling this interview gave off. None of the guys at the table were uncomfortable and I think Mick played a big part in that. 
Ron Simmons: Simmons gives us information on how he arrived in WWE. Vince would ask him a question, he'd answer bluntly with no beating around the bush. He said whenever he'd have an issue with race he'd tell the truth. Mick turns this into a light hearted joke asking if Ron asked Vince what was on his mind when Vince gave him The Sultan's helmet. This attitude of Ron's lead to the Nation of Domination's Farooq. 
Ron made his presence felt for sure. I was unsure about Ron being in this, heading in but by the end I was glad he was. He definitely contributed to discussions well.
The Godfather: The first thing The Godfather talks about was being in the background of the Nation of Domination as The Rock was being built up to become the megastar he is today. "Me and D'Lo were just there to take stunners and that's when I knew something had to change". Mick and Godfather recall the creation of his character and tell the story of how it came to be. 
Oh The Godfather is great in this. I've always found Charles Wright an interesting man to read about/listen to. Everyone frequently talks about the three faces of Foley but no one really talks about the four faces of Mr Charles Wright. I felt the same about Charles as I did about Ron coming in and once again, I'm glad he was in it.
Kane: 1997 was a good year for Kane. He mentions how the fact that the wrestling aspect of WWE in 1997 took a backdrop to the character aspect was a big help to his career. Kane is such a down to earth guy and this DVD made it apparent. 
Kane didn't really talk much throughout this feature which is made evident by my lack of notes on him. This is probably to do with the fact that Kane debuted in October of 1997 and may not have had as much to say as the other guys did. He was still a very welcome addition to the panel and I don't think he was out of place whatsoever.
Disc 2:
Disc 2 is focused on matches and segments from the first half of 1997. There are some nice little gems on here and I'm going to list the 5 you should definitely check out.
Matches and Segments:
  1. Bret Hart vs Mankind - Shotgun Saturday Night, January 25th 1997. 
  2. European Championship: Owen Hart vs British Bulldog - RAW, March 3rd 1997.
  3. Jim Ross interviews Mick Foley - RAW, May 1997.
  4. WWF Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Bret Hart - Wrestlemania 13, March 23rd 1997.
  5. Street Fight - Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Bret Hart - RAW, April 23rd 1997.
This disc is my favourite of the pair, solid matches throughout even though I'd already seen a few it was great to rewatch.
Disc 3:
Disc 3 is focused on matches and segments from the second half of 1997. Similar to disc 2, disc 3 has some nice little gems on it. Here's 5 you should definitely check out.
Matches and Segments:
  1. Flag Match - The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Owen Hart & The British Bulldog) vs Steve Austin, Dude Love & The Undertaker - RAW, July 21 1997
  2. European Championship: Shawn Michaels vs The British Bulldog - One Night Only, September 20 1997
  3. Stone Cold Stuns McMahon - RAW, September 22nd 1997
  4. WWE Championship Match: Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels - Survivor Series, November 9th 1997
  5. European Championship: Shawn Michaels vs Triple H - RAW, December 22 1997.
Conclusion: 
All in all I found this DVD to be fantastic. If you like shoot interviews then this is definitely the DVD set for you. 'Dawn Of The Attitude' really pulls back the curtain and gives you insight to how WWE was back then. My initial doubts were proven to be stupid and I believe if it was a table of a different 5 guys it may not have been as interesting. I can't recommend this DVD enough and the fact that there is another 2 discs of just matches makes this even better value for money. 
Buy or Not to Buy: Buy! 
You can PRE-ORDER it on DVD or Blu-Ray (which comes with extras) right now over at www.wwedvd.co.uk
Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Nathan K. Major Gives Some Thoughts On Chris Jericho's New Book – No Is A Four Letter Word

I pre-ordered this book way back in January while browsing and randomly coming across it, I didn’t even know Jericho was working on a fourth book, and up to this past week forgot all about it, until it landed on my kindle for my reading pleasure.

For those new to the Friends of Jericho, this is, as I mentioned, his fourth book, going in I was expected another volume of his consistency excellent memoirs, while there are a fair share of great stories from Chris’ time in the squared circle and music, what I read was entirely different.

You see, this book sells itself as a ‘self help’ book, a concept I’ve always been against, if you needed to read someone’s book, that isn’t self-help, that’s help, but I digress. Thankfully this book shares the same humour as Y2J’s previous entries (which means cheesy jokes and 80’s references galore, natch) and he leads into each ‘principle’ with a witty name and the story behind it, then segueing into an anecdote or two.

This being Jericho, the stories he tells are amazing, dropping more names than a clumsy name tag factory employee (god, that was awful) he tells tales of times with the usual suspects wrestling wise, as well as stories concerning Metallica and Lemmy, to name but a few.

One prevailing lesson Jericho tries to get across is he did everything he put his mind to, to the best of his abilities and this book is intended to inspire others to do the same.

Throughout the book he drops a few none-too-subtle hints at another book in the future, which in all likelihood will be a return to his memoirs, he still has stories of a certain list to tell after all…

In summary, there’s plenty here to enjoy for fans of wrestling and music for the stories alone, and maybe a lesson to pick up along the way, it serves up a healthy dollop of the gift of Jericho. READ IT IN MAAAAAAAAAAN.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Kurt Angle: The Essential Collection review By James Russell

 Kurt Angle is one of the most historic WWE superstars of all time. He's a former two-time NCAA All American. He's a grand-slam champion in both TNA and WWE, not to mention holding the WWE heavyweight championship on 4 separate occasions. He was the 2000 King of the Ring winner and even voted #1 Wrestler of the Year in the 2001 PWI 500. And to top it all of - he's the only Olympic gold medalist in WWE history. This legend is truly one of the best of all time, and this DVD set proves it.

The first disc of this set covers the first 18 months of Kurt's WWE career and really reminds you of just how good he has been from the very start. From his debut at Survivor Series 1999 against Shawn Stasiak to winning the European Championship from Val Venus just 3 months later and then defeating Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship at No Way Out 2000 and unifying both titles. His beginning in WWE is second to no one. His KOTR victory over Rikishi is also on here and reminds you just how good a match this was. Then comes his first WWE championship victory over The Rock at No Mercy 2000 and successful defences against Undertaker and Triple H. The first disc ends with the amazing match against Shane McMahon at KOTR 2001. One of the most entertaining matches from around that time and definitely helped show just how tough Shane-o-Mac is.

Here is Angle vs Shane McMahon from King Of The Ring 1998
The second disc has more great matches against the likes of Stone Cold in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Edge, the WWE debuts of John Cena and Rey Mysterio; and even a hidden gem against Hulk Hogan from KOTR 2002. Watching this DVD helps show just how good Kurt is at changing his style against opponents with such unique styles over the years. But, this disc ends with a fantastic match between Kurt and Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2003 in a rematch from their Wrestlemania 19 classic. This, once again, was an instant classic. The third and final discs has another match against John Cena, also showing the classic footage of the infamous battle rap between the pair. It also shows a match between he and Eddie from Summerslam 2004 which is good, however I would've much rather preferred this to be their match from WrestleMania 20 earlier in the year. Then, we get the match which was match of the year 2005 in PWI against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 21. This match is nothing short of phenomenal, just like their Iron Man rematch which follows. We are then treated to a fantastic triple threat match involving the pair and John Cena. All 3 men were at the top of their game here.

The Classic Wrestle Mania 21 match against Shawn Michaels
The final match on this disc is an entertaining bout for the ECW Title against Rob Van Dam. But the true ending on this set is how Kurt Angle has finally came home to the WWE after 11 years. He is a different man to the one who left back in the Summer of 2006. He's overcome his demons, started a beautiful new family and is now the best man he can possibly be. Inside the ring, he lived a legendary career and will go down as one of the best of all time. And it's fantastic to see Kurt back on our screens again each week as the General Manager of RAW. But it's outside the ring that means most to Kurt. These days he lives his life the way he lived his Wrestling career - with the 3 I's: Intensity, intelligence and integrity. He truly is an Olympic hero, inside and outside of the ring; and this DVD set truly shows it. It's true, it's DAMN true!!!

You can purchase this DVD set from WWE DVD UK for £19.99