Wednesday 25 November 2015

The Undertaker: The Streak – 21-1 (RIP Edition) DVD Review By Dave Adamson

Recapping the epic Wrestle Mania streak of The Undertaker, The Streak 21-1 takes us through The Phenom’s many Mania matches, before ending with the one that ended it all.

A five disc DVD set that shows the evolution of The Undertaker from his first Wrestle Mania in 1991, with his match against Superfly Jimmy Snuka, it wouldn’t be until Wrestle Mania XII that his matches would go over 15 minutes, as he faced Diesel, whilst his matches after Wrestle Mania XXIV go to close to 25 minutes or longer.

This DVD set doesn’t just chronicle The Undertaker, it chronicles the evolution of the WWF into the WWE, the reverence with which The Dead Man is held by the fans and the way that, over two decades WWF/E commentary has changed - from the early days of The Streak with Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon setting to the standard for exciting, confrontational commentary, to the peerless storytelling of Jim Ross and his broadcast colleagues, to what we hear today.

Though, in between matches with greats like Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Diesel, Triple H and Shawn Michaels, we see a small number of matches that would be best forgotten - Giant Gonzalez in the only DQ victory and Big Boss Man amongst them.
Undertaker Finishing Off Ric Flair (WM X8)

A true wrestling icon, with one of the most spectacular themes in wrestling history and an entrance that is as memorable as anything he does in the ring, it’s impossible not to get blown away by the entrances for WM XXV, emotional as The Undertaker faces Shawn Michaels at Wrestle Mania XXVI and referees the match at WMXXVIII, or being on the edge of your seat as Triple H faces him at WMXXVII and it’s at this point that you start to question whether his best matches were in the later years as he proved, time and again, that he is a man who pushes himself to physical extremes, raising the bar with each event.

This isn’t to take away from earlier matches - he faced future Hall of Famers and legends of wrestling - Ric Flair, Diesel, Jake Roberts and a much younger Triple H would all fall victim to The Streak - and the fans were delighted with each victory as he left a wake of destruction and the tally rose year on year.  The emotion is there as the fans were truly behind The Undertaker, gripped by his presence and enthralled by his every move.

More than twenty years of dominance, his loss to Brock Lesnar may have sent shockwaves through the WWE Universe, but has done nothing to diminish the legacy of The Undertaker or The Streak.

The video footage shows just how fantastic the WWF always were - full frame or widescreen, the camerawork is second-to-none, the commentary and sound are well balanced and engaging, whilst the quality of the footage is still exceptional.  Some wide angle shots suffer from a degradation in quality (especially in crowd shots) due to the DVD format, but the action in the ring still looks fantastic whether it’s early 90s or early 2010's.

Probably The Best Match Of The Streak against Shawn Michaels (WM 25)
 Whilst this five disc set may not have any extra features, behind the scenes footage or commentary, it is a testament to one of the most impressive men in WWE’s history and his ability, over more than two decades, to entertain.  A must have for WWE fans and wrestling history enthusiasts, The Undertaker: The Streak - 21-1: The RIP Edition, to give it it's full name should be on everyone’s Christmas list.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Is Wrestle Mania 30 The Worst Thing To Happen To Wrestling Fans? By Paul Smiles

Daniel Bryan After His Biggest Win Ever at Wrestle Mania 30
Now before you immediately answer NO! NO! NO! Then allow me to explain why. I was lucky enough to be in the Superdome in New Orleans. It was an amazing show from start to finish and truly fitting of the 30th anniversary of Wrestle Mania. The problem I have with that isn’t the fact they ended Takers streak it was Daniel Bryan. Now again let me say I love Daniel Bryan, I have since his ROH and PWG days and no one in that stadium was happier to see him lift that title in the last match. The person wasn’t the problem it was the situation it created for us fans.
 The whole situation came out of nothing, which people forget, If Punk had not of left you would have seen Batista and Orton and Bryan Sheamus and Punk HHH. But Punk leaving left them in a hole, and a pretty big one. So they looked to Bryan and rightly so he was hot that year and he deserved every second of his spotlight going into Mania. Thinking quick they built The Authority vs Fans they has been flirting with for most of the year and used Bryan as the figure head. It took off like a rocket and using fans disdain towards their use of Bryan they had 2 months of TV already wrote. The angle came off beautifully and Mania 30 is a moment I will never forget seeing the underdog win the title. But as soon as the confetti was swept up that’s when we had a problem. 
 Fans already fuelled with internet and social media now believe they have the power because WWE gave them what they wanted once. So now we have a dire situation where the some fans current mind-set is always set to winge. Now I am a company man meaning through thick and thin I usually support WWE even when what they have done is bad and watching for 20 odd years has had me see a computer GM and some of my favourite superstars not given the spotlight their talents deserved. I am however also a realist meaning I know that for every Austin vs Tyson moment in attitude era there were 5 or six segments where people feuded over a missing gym bag or someone giving birth to a hand (all happened) If we booked WWE how some fans wanted then anyone who worked for ROH would be world champ and no internet favourites would ever loose. We only have 3 singles title on the main roster and people forget that, People have forgot that in most cases wins losses do not matter, but that’s a different column for a different time. Look at Roman Reigns, his performance at Survivor Series and Royal Rumble 2013/14 won the the adulation of the fans, he was over and during Shields battles with Wyatts. People wanted him to be next in line, it was in his blood, he was (and still is BTW) a great worker and was only natural for him to hold the title.  Fast forward a year and his moment is needlessly urinated on by the booing members in attendance. They didn’t get Bryan, they didn’t get what they want so they boo, and boo and boo. WWE has made this rod for their back and again after last night’s PPV they can do no right, people angry for Reigns winning and even worse for Sheamus cashing in.  Bryan getting the shot as deserved as it was, was in essence a gap filler we don’t decide angles, pushes, anything at all. Have we sometimes got some spotlight on people? Sure Austin, Zack Ryder, CM Punk were all helped by the fans but ultimately the man in the ivory tower has final say. And given fact he has a multimillion dollar company and fans still turning up every week then he isn’t doing as bad as people just love to make out. 
Short But Sweet: Roman Reigns Wins Then Loses The WWE Title
We need to just sit back and see where the ride takes us, Boo who you like but please take your mind-set back before Mania 30 and remember the term best for business is not a gimmick, Its sometimes the right thing, sometimes totally wrong but they will do what they want no matter how many tweets you send, memes you make or shows you claim you don’t watch (even though we all know you do) So my advice as company man/realist, Enjoy it, If you stop enjoying stop watching but that nullifies your ability to throw your proverbial toys from the pram. The story from last night should have been the near 15k fans who braved a credible terrorist threat in a world terrified of radical attack just to watch WWE, it wasn’t it was how the evil office are being boring again. Let’s just enjoy it. If we include NXT this is the greatest collection of wrestlers at any time during wrestling, anytime in history the list we have now is unbeatable, so let’s enjoy it or at least try.

Monday 23 November 2015

WWE Christmas Collection DVD Review By Dave Adamson

WWE latest in its range of low priced, stocking filler DVDs is the perfect gift for wrestling fans at Christmas.

Presented by Mick Foley, and his daughter, Noelle, the programme itself is called “Ring in the Holidays” and gives us almost three hours of WWE Christmas-themed action from Santa’s Village as they go on a search for Santa.

Interspersed between Foley’s quirky humour, we see a collection of Christmas themed matches, all guaranteed to either raise an eyebrow or raise a smile.  WWE’s Christmas offerings has regularly thrown aside the seriousness of its product, much to the delight of the audience - watching US troops gathering to support Santa is still a wonderful experience - and we get a good representation of that silliness here - No Ho-ho-ho-holds Barred, boiler room brawls, Tajiri and Bubba Claus, Christmas Present on a Pole - the list goes on and it’s all for pure entertainment.

None of the matches will be considered the greatest of all time, but they are all wonderfully entertaining and it’s good to see WWE put such effort into their budget range.  Most of the matches come from the post-2011 WWE and many of the names will be familiar to even the newest WWE fans. It takes us up to Christmas 2014, with Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt, but also includes a couple of older matches - Xanta Klaus, anyone?

Foley, has he has proved over the years, is a charismatic host and narrator and it doesn’t stop with WWE Christmas Collection.  The DVD would have been worth buying for the sheer number of matches, but Foley is the icing on the Christmas cake.

Sunday 15 November 2015

WWE Annual 2015 DVD Review By Nathan Hunt

Best Of Raw & SmackDown 2014 & Best Of Pay Per View Matches 2014
WWE's 2014 was probably a lot more eventful than you remember. I wouldn't have said off the top of my head that 2014 was a particularly memorable year for the sports-entertainment juggernaut, but looking back over this bumper 6 disc set, which gives a good overview of the complete year, there was more good output than I remembered. There is also a lot of average output to fill up some room, but much like the TV and PPV output from month to month, they are trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of fans and there are points of interest for some people which will not necessarily appeal to everyone.
The collection is split into two sets of three discs each; 'The Best of Raw & SmackDown' and 'Best PPV Matches'. The TV part of the set is hosted by Byron Saxton (who does his best to navigate through some of the tenuous segues that he is given) and features bonus footage of fan reactions and analysis on some of the matches and performers which, although kayfabe, is usually interesting and adds a bit of context to the action.
Starting on the wrong foot, the Best Of Raw and SmackDown opens with a six man tag match pitting John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus against The Shield which, while decent, is also forgettable and formulaic. The interference at the end of the match means that it ends in a DQ, which begs the question as to why this was deemed good enough to be included on a 'Best Of' collection. Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton is a much better bout; enjoyable action with a good pace and build of drama and suspense - a generally better example of what type of thing belongs on a disc labelled 'Best Of'. The first SmackDown offering is a fatal four way match pitting Rey Mysterio, Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger against each other for number one contendership of the IC title, which is better than it sounds on paper. The eclectic talents on display make for an enjoyable mix of action and they maintain a good pace throughout. The match between John Cena and Cesaro from Raw is brilliant and is definitely one of the more memorable matches from Raw in 2014. It leaves me with somewhat mixed emotions as this was from one of the times that Cesaro was getting a good push up the card, which was inevitably stopped and quashed without any payoff or apparent reason. Even so, despite that context, the match is excellent and well worth checking out. It's extremely hard to watch the crowd reactions and believe that Vince McMahon said that Cesaro can't connect with the WWE audience. After the match there is some bonus footage where fans give their perspective on Cesaro's performance and sing his praises, which brings that point home even more. Batista vs Dolph Ziggler from SmackDown is surprisingly good, although the lengthy promo segment before it could have been edited without losing any value. The New Age Outlaws against the Usos is a strong and emotional outing for the tag team titles and Luke Harper makes a good showing of himself in a singles match with Cena, while the visible and audible crowd reactions  for both matches demonstrate that WWE are still capable of whipping their fans into an excited frenzy. Paige's debut against AJ Lee on the Raw after WrestleMania is a sensible inclusion as the most memorable TV moment of the year for the Divas division, whereas the SmackDown debut of Bo Dallas is underwhelming and is another reminder of mishandled talent being lost in the shuffle later down the line. The best part of this was the fan comments included before the match itself on the disc. Bray Wyatt vs Chris Jericho in a Cage match and Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins from Raw are two of the highlights of the Raw and SmackDown portion of the set, while a triple threat elimination match from Smackdown in the UK featuring Ziggler, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd is a refreshingly good showcase of some of WWE's most talented in-ring performers.

Daniel Bryan tying up Randy Orton on RAW
The break-up of the Shield is one of the few non-match segments that deserves to have been included on the disc as it is well executed and the historical significance of this moment will make it something that will no doubt be revisited, dissected and celebrated for years to come. The story unfolds quite well in the included content across discs two and three, including promos and an excellent Falls Count Anywhere bout between Rollins and Ambrose. The promo between Cena and Bray Wyatt (with an ominous choir of children singing 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands') is well executed, entertaining and different, making it a good inclusion on the set, and the Wyatts are represented quite well in general throughout. The other TV segments, such as the contract signing between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan's 'Occupy Raw' segment are good accompaniments to the Best Of PPV discs, but are largely useless on their own and could have been substituted for more matches to showcase some of the good quality bouts from some of the lesser celebrated but talented workers on the roster. The same can be said for the US title Battle Royal, the SmackDown 15 man tag match and the promo segment between Rusev and The Rock, as they are far from the best representations of the company's output. A title change with no build, a clusterfuck of underutilised mid-carders trying to squeeze their spots into an overpopulated match and a segment where a guest star makes the regular talent look stupid and weak are symptomatic of a company who is out of touch with the purpose and direction of their product. Regardless, these were deemed to be suitable for inclusion in their best moments of 2014. That being said, this part of the set does include more good than bad and the matches on offer are generally well selected.
Starting off the Best Of Pay-Per-View discs is the Royal Rumble match between Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt which is a great back and forth battle between two of the best all-round performers on the roster. Mixing brutality with technicality, the two demonstrate great storytelling and psychology in a great opener to this part of the collection. The Wyatt Family vs The Shield is also a brutal  and exciting war between the two most memorable and successful factions of the last decade, serving as an exhibition of the differing talents on both sides. Both of these are matches which most fans will want to watch over and over again. I have to admit that I am a sucker for gimmicks like the Elimination Chamber, so the inclusion of the 2014 Chamber match is definitely a plus point for me. 

Bray Wyatt squaring off with The Shields Roman Reigns
 A diverse mix of styles, some creative exchanges and the expected barbarity that comes hand in hand with the eponymous structure make this a rounded and exciting match. One of the unquestionable highlights of the set is Daniel Bryan's double header performance to open and close WrestleMania 30, in excellent performances with Triple H and then with Randy Orton and Batista to create the most emotional moment of the year. The Wee-L-C match between El Torito and Hornswaggle has some genuinely good action and is a credit to both performers. Unfortunately the way the action is called by the combination of the regular announce team and a set of miniature dress-alikes is derrogatory and only demeans and distracts from the efforts of the two and is pretty shocking for a company who are so outspoken about their anti-bullying policies. Wade Barrett vs Big E Langston for the IC title is watchable but average, especially compared to the later bout from the same PPV where Evolution battle The Shield, which is another major highlight of the collection. Cesaro vs Sheamus is a great outing from both and leaves you wanting more, while the Last Man Standing match which follows it between Bray Wyatt and John Cena is a masterclass in creating a chaotic tour de force with some excellent spots and a creative finish. Seth Rollins' Money In The Bank win is another great match which is worthy of inclusion, with all the trademark jaw dropping moments we have come to expect from these types of matches.
Paige vs AJ Lee from SummerSlam is more of an actual match than Paige's debut on Raw, and is one of the better women's matches in recent memory at that time. Rusev vs Jack Swagger in a Flag Match on the same PPV is a strong match for both and the Lumberjack match from later that same show between Rollins and Ambose is an exciting brawl, although it begs the question as to why the stipulation was chosen when the action unfolded in the way it did.
Other bouts such as Orton vs Jericho and the Usos battles with the Wyatts and then Goldust and Stardust are also among the highlights of these discs, ganering genuine emotion from the audience and beautifully building the drama and suspense to satisfying, decisive conclusions. A battle royal from the Battle Ground PPV (again for the IC title) is just filler and harks back to my comments about the similar offering from Raw in this collection being a title change without a storyline or build-up and a pointless addition to the disc. Cesaro vs Ziggler is excellent and the final chapter in the saga between John Cena and Brock Lesnar is a no-brainer to include in the set. The Hell In A Cell match between Cena and Orton to finish the set is a match that you think you have seen to death already, but is more enjoyable and varied than you may expect.
The Undertaker's Wrestle Mania streak came to an end at the hands of Brock Lesnar
One conclusion that I can draw from the set is that 2014 was the year of the Wyatt Family, showing dominance over some of the biggest names in the business and putting on some excellent matches along the way with an assortment of stars. This makes the set a must-own title for any fans of WWE's most charismatic heels, as it perfectly illustrates every aspect of their rise to prominence in the sports-entertainment landscape as a team and separately. There is plenty of other great action on offer too, so it's not just worthwhile for Wyatt Family loyalists. The final chapter of the Shield and their transition into solo roles is well represented and the performances of Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler provide some incredible action. There is plenty included here to make this worth adding to your collection, although the SummerSlam diomination of Cena by Brock Lesnar is notably absent from the set, which I feel would have been more suitable than some of the other choices, but there seem to be few other notable exemptions.
 You can buy this great DVD (or Blu Ray set) from

Friday 13 November 2015

WWE Network: Short Of Classic Archive Content By Richard Edmund

 Twenty months into the life of the WWE Network and the classic archive content is still in woefully short supply, especially when it comes to (now defunct) non-WWE promotions whose tape libraries have been gobbled up by Vince and co. But even when talking about classic WWE content, what's available to date on the Network doesn't scratch the surface of what could be potentially made available. The often-quoted reasoning for this is that, of all the content so far uploaded on the WWE Network, the archive content that they initially put on there (old MSG house shows and a dozen or so episodes of WCCW) was some of the least-watched footage on the service. As such, it's clearly been decided that what WWE Network subscribers want isn't pre-80's WWE (WWWF/Capitol Wrestling) or footage from territory promotions.

Those 20 episodes of WCCW they initially uploaded have only been added to once, a singular episode made available out of order to celebrate black history month. Outside of this brief look at WCCW (one of the most historically important promotions in a number of great wrestler's careers) there is simply no territory footage available and (when looking at the content WWE has at their disposal) it's a crying shame. Here's the list of tape libraries WWE currently owns and yet does nothing with, at least when it comes to the Network;

. American Wrestling Association
. Central States Wrestling
. Championship Wrestling from Florida
. Eastern States Championship Wrestling
. Georgia Championship Wrestling
. Maple Leaf Wrestling
. Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
. Mid-South Wrestling/UWF
. Smoky Mountain Wrestling
. Stampede Wrestling
. World Class Championship Wrestling

The wealth of classic wrestling content across those eleven tape libraries is simply staggering, yet it's footage most fans will never get to see and (to WWE's mind) that's just as well, because why go through the arduous process of restoring and digitising archive content when Network subscribers just will not watch said footage? To older fans, or those who have gone back and sought out wrestling from the territory days, any such uploads to the Network would be very warmly welcomed, but WWE's data suggests that those fans make up a very small minority of subscribers and, therefore, shouldn't be catered towards. It makes complete sense from a business standpoint, but it still rankles to see so much quality wrestling essentially going to waste, when it could be given a new lease of life and introduced to a whole new era of fans, with the right approach.

And therein lies the problem - WWE's approach thus far has been to upload a few dozen out-of-context episodes onto the Network and then, after said episodes are watched by only a relatively miniscule number of subscribers, throw up their hands and say "well, we tried!" before forgetting the notion altogether. Why should someone who's never heard the name Von Erich start watching World Class? The WWE Network offers no answer to that question and many others, leaving the Vault section of the service looking like the oft-forgetten black sheep of the family. It's not enough to simply upload episodes (although fans such as myself would be greatly appreciative of that gesture, all the same), you have to give the fans a reason to care about the content, an insight into its worth that is currently lacking in the extreme.

But with all the resources WWE has at its disposal, surely such a thing should be possible? Younger fans might not be clamouring to watch random episodes of a territory they've likely never heard of before, but perhaps they'd watch a current superstar introduce and explain the importance of that footage. A Steve Austin or Mick Foley type, running through a top 10 of their favourite GCW matches, for instance. Or current WWE Superstars talking about the characters and matches that were an influence to them while them growing up. An MST3k-style show where WWE Legends gather to watch a selection of classic (and not-so classic) matches and shoot the breeze. Or, put WWE's top-notch editing and video package people to work making mini-documentaries that chart the history and explain the importance of classic feuds or promotions themselves. 

The question, ultimately, is whether any of that is worth the effort to WWE and (judging by the dearth of recently uploaded archive content) it certainly doesn't seem that way, which is a real shame. Without WWE giving legal access to the libraries they own, those passionate and devoted enough will find the footage elsewhere, but it still seems a shame to me (and a real waste) that so much classic content isn't being made available and that zero attempts have been made to introduce and make such content accessible to newer fans.

WWE Night Of Champions 2015 DVD Review By Nathan Hunt

While WWE's recent TV offerings are often under fire for being too formulaic, stale and bland, some of their Pay Per View outings from this year have exceeded expectations and have boasted some really good matches. Not every card can be jam packed with amazing action and this one is a mixed bag in terms of the quality on offer.

Kevin Owens vs Ryback starts the disc in a match for the Intercontinental Championship. The match is slow and contains far too many rest holds, but the storytelling and psychology from Owens saves it from being a total snoozefest. The pace builds towards the end, which certainly helps, but the sudden ending (while it fulfills the purpose of giving Owens a traditionally heelish means of victory) ultimately lacks impact.
Dolph Ziggler and Rusev's cheesy and unneccesarily convoluted storyline in which they are competing for the affections of Lana and Summer Rae is recapped before we get to their bout. Plenty of eye-rolling moments from WWE TV are on offer here, but the two work hard to overcome this in the action which follows. They start out with a noticably faster pace than the previous bout and maintain this throughout, but it's just not captivating and falls short of what you may expect given the obvious talent possessed by both performers. I can't help but feel that these two would be able to do something more special if they were given something that they could sink their teeth into.
In both of the opening matches every move and exchange was performed well, but the substance is somewhat lost to poor presentation in both cases. No clear, decisive victories and characters being reduced to one dimensional caricatures make these passable but entirely forgettable encounters. Barring the title change in the opener, these are not going to be the reasons you will want to rewatch this in years to come.
This is followed by a highly entertaining confrontation between the Dudley Boys and New Day, blending nostalgia with energetic action and a helping of hilarity on the side. While the conclusion is somewhat lacking (again), the overall package on offer here is actually substantial and gratifying to watch, but a disqualification ending in a Dudley Boys match is always going to leave a slightly bitter aftertaste. This is then followed by the Divas Championship match between Nikki Bella and Charlotte, which gives us the first taste of genuine emotion on the disc. A strongly performed and dramatic battle concludes with a pleasing ending and gets the best reaction so far from the live audience. One of the best women's matches produced on WWE's main roster in recent memory, which will also mark the first reign for a potential future legend makes this the first major reason to own this DVD.
The Wyatt Family squaring off with Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and everyone's favourite regular surprise, Chris Jericho (The Shield Lite) is a good back and forth battle with a bit of something for everyone. It's probably wise (although a little disappointing) that they edited out the incident with the fan jumping into the ring before Jericho's entrance and being taken down by security. Braun Strowman of the Wyatt Family makes a good showing of himself as the old-school style strong big man, Reigns does his usual John-Cena-hybrid-with-Bill-Goldberg act and Harper continues his uncanny Bruiser Brody impersonation to great effect. The bout is the kind of orchestrated chaos that you would expect, with everyone hitting their signature maneuvers in between some brawling and explosive exchanges, peppered with the occasional aerials from Jericho and Ambrose. Jericho puts over newcomer Strowman in a really strong way and the right team come out with the victory, whatever arguments might be made to the contrary.
Seth Rollins defends two championships on the show, first putting up the US Title gainst John Cena before going on immediately to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship defense against Sting. The first is a war with Cena, which is genuinely dramatic and exciting  and really enjoyable. If someone had told me a year ago that I would write that sentence about a John Cena match I would have laughed at them, but the truth is that the guy has really stepped up his game this year with his US title involvement and pair that with an incredible worker like Rollins and you have automatic gold on your hands. The battle with Sting which follows it elicits some warranted 'You Still Got It' chants for The Icon, who puts  on a really good performance. Despite a serious neck injury from a powerbomb into the turnbuckle from Rollins, the WCW legend was able to finish the match and this is a match that both can be proud of. Much more of an actual wrestling match than his WrestleMania debut against Triple H, this is a much better representation of Sting as a performer and is definitely essential for any Sting fans and collectors out there. What stands out in both matches is that Seth is just an incredibly gifted performer who can adapt to any opponent and is absolutely deserving of his place at the top of the card.
The extras for the disc are a post match interview with the Dudley Boys the six man tag match from the PPV kickoff show, pitting The Ascension and Stardust against Neville and the Lucha Dragons. The promo is well delivered but fails to really add any value to the match itself. The six man tag match meanwhile is enjoyable and showcases the high flying talents of the babyface team very well, while the heels definitely play more of a supporting role for the most part. The spot where the Lucha Dragons hit stereo somersault planchas at the same time as Neville hits an Asai moonsault is especially good and an obvious crowd-pleaser. As far as kickoff show matches go, this is a pretty good one and a welcome addition to the disc as it adds a type of match which would have been otherwise lacking. While there are obviously aerial moves and exchanges in other bouts, there was no cruiserweight stylings on offer from the main card, so this helped to flesh out the action. The decisive, clean pinfall victory finish helps too.
When you get this many inconclusive finishes and non-committed booking decisions on a card, it ultimately feels like a transitional show rather than a must-see or must-own title. There are certainly redeeming features and generally high quality action, but there is some definite filler in there too. The women's and Wyatt Family matches are two of the reasons that this ends up being a good all-round card, but without everything else being hung on Seth Rollins' shoulders (with the added incentive that this is one of only three Sting matches in WWE so far - because there was also that forgettable tag match on Raw the week before Night Of Champions), the show is largely no better than a decent episode of Raw. Two distinct, high profile and well executed matches with two of the industry's biggest stars make this a must-own for any Rollins fan and may even convert the minority who aren't already. If you're going to buy this for the main events you will enjoy the show overall, but there will undoubtedly be some chapters that will be skipped over more than others. Maybe not a 'rush out to buy it now' purchase, but one which should go on the wish-list for the good stuff on offer.
You can buy this title and many others including ones reviewed elsewhere on over at

Friday 6 November 2015

In The Midst Of A Wrestling Renaissance By Abby Maldonado

I was fortunate enough to attend the EVOLVE 49 show in Queens, NY on October, 17, 2015. Seeing Sami Zayn back in that environment, while under a WWE contract, was one of those surreal moments in Pro Wrestling that really doesn’t happen too often anymore. Another was the eruption of the crowd when HHH’s music hit, only to be fooled by the entrance of All Ego Ethan Page. And for that single solitary moment, people believed.

The landscape of professional wrestling has changed. Vince McMahon is changing his view of how to handle the sports entertainment industry outside of his domain. When McMahon went national in the 80’s, he basically tried to eliminate every territory in the country, or most of them anyway. But with declining ratings, the success NXT has become without the help of John Cena and the rising commodity of independent wrestlers on the market, I think McMahon finally sees the ability to do business with minimal investment while appealing to the most hardcore fans. Samoa Joe was the first example of this. An independent wrestler, keeping his name, his trademark, his character, and keeping an independent schedule while on the WWE network is something that no one ever dreamt would be possible. And now with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa having similar arrangements, I believe it’s only a matter of time before this becomes the norm for blue chip prospects on the independent scene.

If we try to recall history, in a modern day representation of wrestling territories, Pro Wrestling Guerilla would become the Southwest Territory feeding a star every year to the WWE system in a Hunger Games sort of tribute with the winner of its annual Battle Of Los Angeles. Five Borough Wrestling and Beyond Wrestling would become rivaling Northeast brands, invading one another with talent and promotional feuds, but stay far enough away from each other not to affect their respective businesses. Smash Wrestling maintains its independence on the Canadian circuit. NXT will have a lock on the Florida territory, while EVOLVE grows to be another nationwide touring group. There are far more companies that could play a part in this entire situation. There are too many of them to name. But idealistically, this fantasy would culminate annually at an event where all Regional/Independent Champions defend their respective titles, cross lines and continue to tell a story…

Independent promoters can uniquely boast first time match up’s with the bountiful roster of independent wrestlers and grass roots talent. And while there are very few matchups left for us to crave at the top of the food chain, with the few exceptions being Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Cesaro, there isn’t much left for us to want on top. The new wrestling fans want to see their champions grow from the independent scene, all the way to the main WWE roster. Vince McMahon is finally coming around to understanding there is an entire market out there for the taking, if promoted correctly. And luckily for fans, that same environment is impervious to bad booking.

Thanks for reading. And thanks to Stu Rodgers for the invite to write for Wrestling's Last Hope.
- @AbbyTheButcher

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Sting - Into The Light DVD Review By Nathan Hunt

WWE's new Sting DVD is basically what fans had hoped that the first would have been. While WWE's Best Of Sting box set was still a must-own release in it's own right, this one offers not only matches and promos, but a feature length documentary (75mins approx) which comprehensively covers the different stages of one of the most iconic, eclectic and celebrated careers in professional wrestling. Jam-packed with some fantastic extras and good insights, this is not only a must-see for fans of Sting, but for any wrestling fan.
The documentary uses a 'day-in-the-life' style framework, showing Sting travelling to WWE Headquarters in Stamford, meeting with officials including Triple H and Vince McMahon (although the Vince meeting is off-camera), getting ready for his first WWE appearance at Survivor Series and first WWE match at WrestleMania 31. This framing device forms a foundation from which the body of the documentary spirals out into the usual retrospective of Sting's incredibly rich life and career. Considering how much has been said and written about Sting throughout the years, this was a good choice in presentational style as it allows the disc to cover all the usual ground but with additional insight and a contextual basis which emphasises the importance of his finally signing with WWE. The well chosen and wholly appropriate talking heads include Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Jim Ross, Jerry Jarrett, Rick Steiner and Eric Bischoff.
Sting is candid when discussing topics such as his shortcomings in his early career, his views on championships and match styles, past negotiations with WCW and WWF and his dealings with other talents. He discusses the origins of the Crow-style character he morphed into in the late 1990's and the circumstances around the famous Starrcade '97 match against Hulk Hogan. While his time in TNA is glanced over, he surprisingly mentions them by name. While there is too much coverage on his personal spiritual beliefs, which are completely irrelevant, it does add a little insight into the man behind the paint and some of the other detail on his upbringing, training regimen and personal life is fairly interesting. Sting is always humble and is quick to give credit to others he has worked with or helped him in various ways. He admits that he never watches his own matches and it is really good to see him watch some footage back and genuinely enjoy  and take pride in seeing his old work (particularly when watching his match with Flair from the final episode of WCW Nitro, when the heartfelt pride is especially evident).
Here is Sting prior to his Wrestle Mania match with Triple H
 Extras include some documentary excerpts which add some further insight into Sting's career as well as some good stories from his life in the business and on the road. While some early offerings of the Bladerunners are only included as points of interest rather than classic wrestling matches, the bouts included here with Ric Flair, The Great Muta Cactus Jack, Rick Rude and the Steiner Brothers are all fantastic and well worth watching and revisiting, standing up as outstanding matches even nearly 30 years later.
Overall this is everything you may expect from a Sting DVD, plus a whole lot more. The extensive resources and wealth of material WWE have at their disposal has been put to good use in the creation of this release and I cannot imagine that any wrestling fan would be disappointed by this. Definitely one you will be reaching for again and again, this is highly recommended, genuinely enjoyable and a great addition to any collection.