Friday, 15 January 2016

WWE Survivor Series 2015 DVD Review By Dave Adamson

The focus of Survivor Series 2015 was clear - The Undertaker, with 25 years of destruction behind him, still being an ominous presence within the WWE, whilst a new Heavyweight Champion would be crowned as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament would conclude.

Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, polar opposites when it comes to the crowd’s feelings, collided with Alberto Del Rio and Kevin Owens, respectively, in the opening two tournament matches, with Reigns and Ambrose heading towards a championship showdown later in the even.

Elsewhere, we’d see the WWE Divas Championship contested by Charlotte and Paige in a fine example of what women’s wrestling should be and how it should be presented.  Tyler Breeze took on Dolph Ziggler and it certainly wouldn’t be Survivor Series without the titular match… of which we get one.

Ryback, The Uso and The Lucha Dragons took on The New Day, Sheamus and King Barrett, whilst a second Survivor Series elimination match took place in the pre-show as Goldust, the recently-returned Dudley Boyz, Neville and Titus O’Neill took on The Cosmic Wasteland, The Miz and Bo Dallas and is featured as a “special feature” on the DVD.

In a marquee appearance, The Undertaker teamed with Kane, reforming The Brothers of Destruction, to take on the wily, slightly deranged and utterly captivating Wyatt Family.

It’s clear where the appreciate of the fans sits as 2015 drew to a close - Owens vs Ambrose holds their rapt attention, whilst Alberto Del Rio can do no wrong as he takes on the unappreciated Roman Reigns.   The New Day have well and truly hit their stride with their irreverent mic work (including Sheamus attempting to be cool) and considerable in ring skill.  Paige and Charlotte work wonders with each other, in the longest singles match of the show, and the fans are truly behind the match, this is also true of fellow NXT star Tyler Breeze as he takes on Dolph Ziggler. 

The awe that the WWE Universe holds for The Undertaker is tangible as they wait, with baited breath, for his arrival.  WWE, once more, do the Deadman justice as they evoke images of the Phenom of old, celebrating an impressive twenty-five years at the top of his game, a bona fide legend held in the highest of regard.  The confrontation between The Brothers of Destruction and The Wyatt Family plays to all of their strengths as the two cult-like families collide, but feels a bit short.

The main event sees Ambrose and Reigns face off in a match where Ambrose may have the fan support, a rather amusing line in humour and tough brawling, but it’s the modern-day Superman that is Reigns who gets the upper hand… until Sheamus cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase.

Away from the matches, JoJo continues the tradition of backstage interviews without substance and Renee Young entertains with the regular panel, joined by Byron Saxton, Booker T and Corey Graves.

As always, WWE PPV releases are spot on when it comes to sound and video quality and it shows, as is oft the case, how far ahead of much of the competition WWE are when it comes to presentation.  Commentary is handled by JBL, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, telling the story, filling in the gaps and bringing it all together with varying degrees of success.

A single disc release that features the PPV and the pre-show, Survivor Series doesn’t offer anything more or less than you’d expect.  Whilst much is made of twenty-five years of The Undertaker with Survivor Series, it’s a shame they didn’t do a separate tribute for the DVD.  It’s a bit of a barebones release, but one that collectors will no doubt want to add to their collection.

You can pick the DVD up HERE

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

WWE Best PPV Matches Of 2015 Review By Dave Adamson

Say what you like about WWE and its booking, writing and seemingly endless stream of PPVs, weekly television and side products, it’s still at the top of its game when it comes to output and popularity - even in its worst week, WWE sets social media alight with often vicious opinion and this three disc box set is a crucible of the division of love and hate.
Introduced by Corey Graves, the three disc set acts as a selection box of matches from across 2015, with few surprises when it comes to the PPV appearances of Cena, Lesnar and company, but some arguably “fan favourite” matches in the form of Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. The New Day from Extreme Rules, Charlotte vs. Brie Bella vs. Sasha Banks from Battleground, as well as appearances from Daniel Bryan (vs Roman Reigns at Fast Lane), Kevin Owen (vs John Cena at Elimination Chamber), the fateful Sting confrontation from Night of Champions and both encounters between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker (at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell).
Further to the matches, there are highlights of the PPVs themselves, bundled together in short video packages and reminding us what happened throughout the year, without Corey Graves helping recap events that led into the key events, though it does seem to be a bit random as to when he does this.
Amongst the truly great PPV moments of 2015, it’s not a bad year for Cena - Rusev vs Cena, including the fantastic Rusev in a tank entrance, stands out, as does Cena vs Owens. Undertaker vs Lesnar, both times, are an example of the lengths that WWE talent can go to in order to entertain, whilst Charlotte features in the two women’s matches that WWE deign to be worth of the “Best PPV Matches” monicker, taking on Nikki Bella at Night of Champions for the WWE Diva’s Championship, in addition to the aforementioned triple threat. Seeing Cesaro and Tyson Kidd is a bittersweet reminder of how good and entertaining they were, especially against The New Day’s Big E Langston and Kofi Kingston who, at this stage, were still finding their feet in a stable. The various members of The Shield are well represented, too, as their individual stories crossed paths in 2015 and it, as with all the matches, make entertaining viewing. Whilst some may question the “wrestling” aspect of WWE, it can’t be denied that they provide “entertainment”.
Production values are, as is often the case with WWE, peerless and the crowd are incredible vocal, and audible, above the commentary team of Jerry Lawler, rolling out his jokes whilst offering his analysis, JBL with his cutting remarks and his ability to draw on his career as a frame of reference and Michael Cole who occasionally delivers his commentary as if he were in an old Smackdown video game.
What the disc set does show is the breadth of talent within WWE and how, for every current day main eventer, there’s a relative newcomer to the grand stage with a potentially bright future.
Whilst there’s an argument that every single match is available for a reasonable price on the WWE Network, it can’t be denied that this format, focusing on “the best” WWE has to offer, also has a place for casual fans who just want to stick a match on and enjoy it.
Buy the DVD HERE

Monday, 4 January 2016

Worst Year In Wrestling?

Well it's the end of the year and various fans, columnists, podcasters will be looking back at the year in wrestling and it was one of these that caught my attention. On a weekly basis I never miss the Don Tony & Kevin Castle Show (you can find it HERE) and on this past Monday's show towards the end, Don Tony said he thinks as a wrestling fan, which covers over 30 years, 2015 is the worst year he has seen in wrestling. His co-host Kevin Castle disagreed and brought up the 93-94 period. now, although I don't watch the current product, that period in the 90's I do remember.

In the WWF at the time, it really was poor, Vince McMahon was facing jail time and the promotion was being booked by Jerry Jarrett and was flooded with characters like Freddie Joe Floyd, The Goon & TL Hopper and over in WCW there wasn't much better going on, I mean they had 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan defeat the then 'Stunning' Steve Austin for the US title so that sort of tells a story in itself.

As DT said to Kevin, ECW was around then doing some decent stuff at a lower level as they were still under the Eastern Championship Wrestling banner and there were promotions such as the GWF (this is where Sean '123 Kid/X-Pac' Waltman & Jerry Lynn got their break) but overall, wrestling around this time in North America wasn't the greatest.

DT stuck to his guns and said this past year WAS the worst he has seen since being a fan. As I stated above, I personally don't watch the current product, I've seen the odd match from NXT when people have said I should if it was on one of their Takeover shows but it still doesn't really appeal to me even though NXT features many of the guys I was a big fan of when they were on the indies. I bring this up because although I was watching the product along with others in 93/94 I can't compare it to this years WWE because I don't watch it and there's nothing worse ripping on a product if you haven't actually seen it what many do with the indies when they see clips and judge it on the 'production qualities'.

So fans, was 2015 really the worst year in wrestling you've seen as a fan, I think it's probably best to look at it from a WWE only point of view.

Comment below or tweet me @WLHSTU with your thoughts.