Monday, 25 October 2010

WWE Highest Flyers - Disc 1 Review By Shaun Nichols

Ricky Steamboat vs. Brian Pillman ***1/4
Evan Bourne vs. Zack Ryder **1/4
Jimmy Snuka vs. Samu **
Juventud Guerrera, Hector Garza & Lizmark Jr vs. Psychosis, La Parka & Villiano IV ***3/4
Shelton Benjamin vs. Shawn Michaels ****
Ultimo Dragon vs. Rey Mysterio ***3/4
Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko ****1/4
Ultimo Dragon vs. Psychosis ***1/4
Chavo Guerrero vs. Jamie Noble *3/4

This is the first of three discs and this release is hosted by Josh Matthews who indicates that this is some kind of unofficial countdown of the best high flyers. Before the disc starts you get the usual trailers which were the Jericho dvd which is excellent, details of a new Cena dvd which looks pretty good if you're a fan and finally the Big Show's film Knucklehead which looks horrendous.
We start with a quick package on Steamboat and then onto his Halloween Havoc 1992 match against Pillman, Pillman had recently turned heel but it was before he joined up with Steve Austin to form the Hollywood Blonds. Match was very well worked and told a very simple and straight forward story. That being that Steamboat was able to outwrestle Pillman, until much to Brian's amusement he had to resort to cheating to take control. What we didn't get is any high flying, surely that would be the point? Steamboat wins coming off the top and pinning Pillman with a sunset flip. Come on guys we could have got the legendary crossbody finish. Also interesting is that Jesse Ventura's commentary was removed so we had Jim Ross going solo.
Next wrestler highlighted is Evan Bourne, the quick 60 second packages are very well done. Shockingly we get a match from Superstars (the WWE C show) against Zack Ryder which was fine for what it was but again very little in high flying. What is clear is that WWE fans really like Bourne as a talent and you have to wonder why the WWE have so far refused to use him to the best of his ability. In the only high flying move of the match Bourne gets the win with the 450. He also demonstrates the move in a skycam segment which sounds interesting but really isn't.
Back to the time machine and we head to 1984 and onto Jimmy Snuka. His match against Samu (called Somoan #3 in this) was very basic especially when Samu was on offence. Come the big comeback, our commentators Gorilla Monsoon & Pat Patterson go crazy putting over Snuka and to be fair the fans react big as well. Again we don't get the finish you would expect as Snuka gets the win with a crossbody and not the Superfly splash as I was expecting.
A fantastic package showcasing WCW Cruiserweights is next, followed by a Lucha Libre 6 man tag from WCW Bash at the Beach 1997. Some fans and the unique WCW commentary team, Mike Tenay apart don't really know what to make of this. Psychology isn't a factor at all and the match follows the usual Mexican formula of the technicos outsmarting the rudos who make a fine job of bumping into one another in a form that the Three Stooges would have enjoyed. We did get a lot of crazy dives and the match is very fast paced and also very enjoyable. The rudos come unstuck when they substitute Villiano V for Villaino IV when Hector Garza hits a standing moonsault for the win.
It's the Shelton Benjamin package next and then we see the match that should have made him a big star which was his match against Shawn Michaels in the Goldrush tournament from Raw in May 2005. Like many Shawn Michaels's matches this told a very clear story which was that in the early stages HBK was being out-wrestled and out-thought by his younger opponent. This works to such an extent that the fans really get into this match and start buying the close falls and teased finishes. Then to top off this really good matches we get arguably the greatest finish to a match seen on Raw. Benjamin attacks with a springboard only for HBK to nail him absolutely perfectly with his superkick for the win. An excellent match.
In the spotlight next is Ultimo Dragon and his J-Crown title defence against Rey Mysterio from World War 3 in 1996. I always enjoy watching Dragon wrestle but never understood why apart from the fact he was Japanese that he was lumbered with Sonny Onoo as his manager. He wrestles such a clean babyface style it doesn't work having a heel manager in his corner. This tells the story of Dragon using his superior mat wrestling to control Mysterio for long periods of time which keeps the crowd a little bit quiet. From the ten minute mark we start to see Rey's big comebacks which are slick reversals and great dives. However it's not enough to stop the champion retaining his titles.
The last wrestler featured on Disc 1 is Eddie Guerrero and of all the matches they could have featured they chose a mat wrestling classic from ECW in 1995 when Guerrero and Malenko were battling over the TV title with Eddie defending in Dean's hometown of Tampa. Fans were surprisingly quiet for a lot of this and I was surprised to see a fan sitting opposite the hard camera wearing a builders hard yellow hat for absolutely no reason. This was a superb wrestling encounter but again you don't really see much high flying, you get the odd dropkick, headscissor takedown and Eddie hits a frog splash for a close two count. There's a good spot where both wrestlers end up on the floor and a fan this being ECW offers Eddie a chair to use which Eddie reacts angrily to, I found this really funny. Malenko gets the win with a roll up after a series of reversals. Eddie takes this well and presents Dean with the TV title before he suckers him a short arm clothesline to keep the feud going. Really good stuff.
Each disc gets extras and Disc 1 we get to enjoy a solid Ultimo Dragon match against Psychosis from Uncensored 1997 which no doubt one match of the night because Uncensored PPV's always tended to be awful. We also see a six minute match featuring Chavo beating Jamie Noble with the frog splash from a Smackdown taping in the UK from 2008 in a typical TV match. There was a funny sign saying that Wenger needs Batista, as what I'm not sure of. There is also a 90 second feature called Flight Turbulence where you see wrestlers taking big bumps such as Brock nearly breaking his neck at Wrestlemania after screwing up a 450, Undertaker falling into a pile of tables, Kurt Angle's classic moonsault miss in the cage against Benoit and the Foley dive off the HITC and onto the commentators table. It finishes with the message that we should not try this at home.
Disc one certainly presents a strange selection of matches and the first three I felt were missed opportunities, the worst of which was the match choice for Evan Bourne which beggars belief. Surely they could have chosen his PPV match against Jericho this year would have been far better. Some matches like Guerrero-Malenko I'm really pleased that they featured but would not describe it as anything remotely built as a high flying wrestling match. However it is still a very entertaining disc overall and I'm looking forward to watching the other two discs which I will also review shortly.

1 comment:

  1. Great review Shaun, I am looking forward to this one although from your review I am concerned about the lack of content.......... Got an order on e-BAY so I'll let you know.... good writing though matey - N£O