Wednesday, 7 October 2015
When the WWE Network was due to launch, the announcements concerning potential content referred to live events (house shows) that would be included in the proposed additional programming. While we have seen some specials from NXT, the inclusion of any other live shows outside of the regular TV and PPV shows have, so far, been limited to this single event held in Japan's Ryōgoku Kokugikan hall back in July, although it was announced at the recent Night Of Champions PPV that a second was in the works for Brock Lesnar's Road To Hell tour; a show eminating from New York's Madison Square Garden. Hopefully there will be much more to come on this front from WWE as, if this disc is anything to go by, the Network specials will add value to the award winning on-demand service.
The audience is audibly and visibly into the action from the outset and provide a great atmospheric backdrop to the show throughout. Opening with a great, varied contest between Chris Jericho and Neville, the match is a wonderful blend of technical grappling and dazzling high-flying, as you may expect from these two. A decent triple threat match between Nikki Bella, Tamina Snuka and Paige is next, with all three putting in a good effort but ending anticlimactically, especially given the solid and decent exchanges which form the main body of the bout. Predictably, the match between Brock Lesnar and Kofi Kingston is completely one-sided and despite his novelty attraction status, it begs the question as to why the event was named for what is essentially a squash match.
The next bout unquestionably steals the show, as Finn Balor clashes with NXT Champion Kevin Owens in an absolute classic. Brutality, excellent psychology and all-round outstanding action make this a pleasure to watch and is one that will go down as one of the best NXT title matches thus far, which is no meagre feat by any means. Balor's Championship win here, in front of a somewhat hometown crowd (having trained and played out the majority of his career so far in Japan) is met with an explosive applause and rabid adulation.
Lastly, the event closes with a markedly mediocre main event, pitting John Cena and Dolph Ziggler against Kane and Wade Barrett in a match which would be more at home on an episode of SmackDown than a big event. While the action here is fine, it is completely clear that the main event spot should have been given to Owens and Balor. Ending the card on this note is a head-scratcher but then again it was a WWE live event and not an NXT show, so you can kind of understand the logic (even if it does beggar belief that any booking committee would put more value on this than on the standout stars of the development league).
The disc also includes bonus matches pitting Cesaro against Diego (of Los Matadores) and the remaining members of New Day (Big E Langston and Xavier Woods) against the Lucha Dragons. While each match is under 10 minutes (bell to bell), the action here is strong for undercard offerings and these are welcome additions to the release.
Overall, this is a strong DVD and is recommended if only for the show opener and NXT title match. In my opinion, the whole show is pretty strong complete package and is a better offering than many recent WWE TV or PPV outings.
Saturday, 3 October 2015
While the Monday Night Wars have had a lot of coverage on WWE programming, this collection of documentaries delves into the period to a degree never seen previously, and provides perspectives, stories and experiences that even the most educated fan will find informative, interesting and surprising. Completely candid accounts from the key players in the industry at the time, as well as current stars who were influenced by the wars, give this an incredible depth. The documentaries were first available on the WWE network, but the discs also include some extras which make this even more of a loaded set, courtesy of post-episode analysis for each installment by Eric Bischoff.
Disc one includes episodes on Chris Jericho and the influence of ECW. Disc two then gives us the volume's title episode by analysing the rise and career of The Rock before delving into the Women/Divas role at the time. The third disc looks at the mainstream pop culture elements of the war, with celebrity appearances and the crossover appeal of many top stars before moving on to the rosters, factions and defections which were the cornerstone of the battle between the two industry giants, then an episode dedicated entirely to the backstage faction which held perhaps the most influence, The Kliq. The final disc starts with the self-explanatory title 'Mistakes In The Battlefield', looking at the errors which cost each side (mainly WCW) their ratings supremacy, before we move on to 'The Fall of WCW' and 'Life After Wartime', where we explore the final days of WCW, Vince's purchase of the dying brand and the stars who would later appear on WWE programming.
The set covers the period from every conceivable angle, looking at the characters, promoters, storylines and performers who made the wars so memorable and helped their respective companies reach the heights that they were each able to scale at different times. The talking heads and highlight clips are all well selected and the detail and insight the viewer gets into the on-screen and behind-the-scenes happenings of the era are unparalleled. Highly recommended for any fans of any age.
WIN WWE Beast In The East On DVD thanks to our friends at Freemantle (UK Residents ONLY) - Closes October 5th 2015, details elsewhere on www.wrestlingslasthope.com
Thursday, 1 October 2015
Volume 3 of The Very Best of WCW Nitro does leave you wondering if it’s a case of diminishing returns. At what point, for example, does “the very best” step down to being “the best”?
Running at seven hours, DDP hosts a compilation of more than thirty matches, with backstage segments filling in some of the WCW stories that were taking place at the time. There’s very few bad matches here, though not all of them are the most memorable. It’s a great catalogue for the wrestling greats, with many championship matches and marquee events showcased.
Watching the likes of Guerrero, Malenko, Guerrera, Jericho and others in action is a reminder of how great WCW was in its day. Whilst the bigger names are well represented through the nWo and the all encompassing nature of that group, women’s wrestling is massively understated, as is the contribution of Chris Benoit. That said, it’s a package that covers the breadth of WCW Nitro, with heavyweight matches of Hogan, Hall, Nash, Flair and Sting mixed in with the cruiserweight action of Guerrera, Jericho and Eddie Guerrero. Elsewhere, there’s matches that can only be described as oddities - Rick Steiner vs Hak, anyone?
Matches are shown in their entirety, with commentary intact - so, viewers will be able to familiarise themselves with the occasionally questionable commentary as the promotion descended into the madness that it would later become.
Occasionally, additional context is added to matches by DDP, as he reveals his own recollections with the humour, but for the most part it’s a collection of isolated matches, scattered throughout the years, from 1995 to 2001. It’s possible, for fans unfamiliar with WCW, to pick up the ongoing stories thanks to the commentary, and it certainly does leave the viewer wanting to find out more - it would have helped immensely if the matches were introduced with an on-screen graphic showing the date, instead of having to wade through the DVD menus to find out what happened when. More DDP offering context to the matches would have also helped immensely.
|nWo Black & Red: Lex Luger, Sting, Kevin Nash & Konnan|
The decision to replace three themes - Jericho gets his WWE theme, Sting gets his Crow-era theme and Hollywood Hogan gets… a generic rock guitar theme - does stand out a bit at first. That said, it’s not a deal breaker for the action on show here, just a tad anachronistic for anyone who is more familiar with the product.
From start to finish, it’s an entertaining, though occasionally bewildering, package - some of the backstage segments drag on with nWo takes over Nitro being longer than most matches - and there’s only so much of the nWo getting the upper hand that you’ll be able to take before it gets boring. Despite the prominence of the nWo, the wrestling action is still superb and any opportunity to relive the cruiserweights, Flair, Bret Hart and others in action is worth watching.
If you’ve already purchased volume 1 & 2, chances are you’ll be up for purchasing volume 3. Starting with volume 3 would be an unusual buying decision, but it’s certainly worth picking up if you’re after a bit of classic wrestling action.
Wednesday, 30 September 2015
Thanks to our friends at Freemantle here we have a copy of WWE's Beast In The East on DVD to win, all you need to do is answer this simple question, who did Brock Lesnar beat in the final of the 2002 King Of The Ring?
Tweet your answers to @WLHSTU or via email to email@example.com
The competition ends on October 5th so get them in ASAP.
Thursday, 3 September 2015
Across three DVDs, WWE Home Video explores the history of, arguably, the most divisive, influential group in WWE wrestling history.
As Shawn Michaels points out, many people find the idea of The Kliq fascinating and this hour long documentary will fuel the fascination as it brings together all five members of the group - Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman - to talk about their history, reason for being and commitment to the business.
Occasionally, they are portrayed as a collective of egos that were able to manipulate the egos of others, for better or worse, and all the members are in reflective mood about what they did, how it affected others and what it did for the business. More than this, though, The Kliq come across as friends with a shared interest and passions for their work that drove them to make good, bad and outrageous decisions.
With comments, including from Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo, as well as former WCW/WWF talent, The Kliq Rules manages to humanise a group that has become as revered as it has been reviled. Casting them as a group of friends, there’s no doubt that some of the stories are sanitised for general consumption, but the explorations are still fascinating, including the Curtain Call moment, which features brief comments from the guys in the crowd who filmed that - now infamous - footage. From the heady heights, to the demons that plagued most of the members, as Shawn Michaels puts it “as you look back, it’s not hard to see why we got heat”. With contributions from others who were there at the time, the lengths of their power is explored, revealing how fragile the business and its personalities were.
So much is covered in the hour long feature, without being truly warts-and-all, that it makes another compelling entry in the catalogue of WWE Home Video documentaries - a series that has continued to look, with occasionally stark reality, at the history of WWF/WWE and its greatest moments. From the inception through the Hall of Fame, The Kliq are a close group with their own jokes, their own mentality and an undeniable impact upon the business that is still felt today.
Now in a position where, older and (maybe) wiser, anything The Kliq say is highly unlikely to tarnish their legacy and hearing them speak in such an open manner makes this documentary all the more interesting. Watching them, backstage, riffing on each other, it can only be a matter of time before the WWE Network/WWE Home Video realise the potential of a series of roundtables where these guys can just talk.
A three disc set, disc one features the main documentary itself, with the other two discs featuring key matches from the era of The Kliq - from Razor Ramon vs The Kid through to the Ladder Match at Wrestlemania X, The Outsiders in WCW, the return in early 2000 of Hall and Nash to the WWE, and their later work together - forming a greatest hits for wrestling fans, but lacking any commentary or context that would help fit them into the overall history of The Kliq.
For any wrestling history fans, there’s a chance that the stories are familiar, but The Kliq Rules is still work purchasing as it gives those involved a chance to speak, albeit through the prism of WWE, about what really happened and how it all came about. This, alongside the Monday Night War series and the various recent documentaries about The Kliq members in their various combinations, build a truly engaging history lesson.
You can buy this set on DVD or Blu Ray over at wwedvd.co.uk
Monday, 31 August 2015
Venue: Nationwide Arena (Columbus, Ohio) USA, Live PPV Date: 14th June 2015, Released On DVD: 24th August 2015
WWE's Money In The Bank 2015 is out now on DVD, boasting an impressive card with guaranteed excitement, highlighted by the titular match of the show and a main event Ladder Match between Seth Rollins and former Sheild teammate Dean Ambrose. Definitely a disc which many fans have been eagerly anticipating, this event also featured some great undercard action from the likes of Kevin Owens vs John Cena and a decent tag team championship bout.
The two ladder-based outings bookend the show, starting with the multi-man Money In The Bank Ladder Match to open the disc in explosive fashion. This serves as an excellent stage for Neville & Kofi Kingston to showcase their creative aerial talents, Dolph Ziggler to demonstrate his superior athleticism and for Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Kane and Randy Orton to try to outdo one another with brutality and cunning. The performers all work to their strengths to make this a solid, varied and entertaining match with the usual highspots and dramatic devices, but delivered in a way that keeps the bout fresh and exciting throughout. While the ending is slightly underwhelming, the incredible action served up throughout makes this one you will certainly revisit and enjoy, especially along with some of the other excellent matches on offer.
The Divas Championship match between Paige and Nikki Bella is competitive and features some good exchanges. It is also one of the beginning moments of the current Divas Revolution, so may prove to be a historical point of interest in women's wrestling, depending how the plans for the division continue to unfold. Ryback vs Big Show for the Intercontinental championship is a brief encounter but has some impressive feats of strength and high impact power moves which make it watchable. It seemed to be a pattern up until this point on the disc that the action was highly watchable, but the endings were slightly disappointing or deflating for various reasons. The same could not be said for Kevin Owens vs John Cena. While the result may not please everyone, the brilliant bout ends in a suitably dramatic, gripping and exciting way, building to a crescendo which had fans on the edge of their seats and reacting to each man's every move. The crowd are audibly into the match from the outset, but are built to a frenzy towards the end, which always adds to the atmosphere when watching a match back after the fact. The gruelling back and forth warfare between the two is littered with thrills and ferocity, making it one to watch for anyone who has not yet had the pleasure, and one to own for anyone who has. An exciting post-match exchange means that those who didn't like the match result still feel satisfied with the way this portion of the disc comes to a close.
Not spectacular, but certainly strong, the tag team championship is an outing that you won't need to skip through as the New Day and Prime Time Players deliver a decent combination of styles, taking us into the main event of the show. The ladder match between Ambrose and Rollins is a complete war and the two make the most of the rules (or lack thereof) by taking the brawl outside the ring, around the arena and utilising the various tools at their diposal around ringside, making it stand apart from the ladder-based encounter from earlier in the evening. Given ample time, the two unleash an eclectic and well-told story of brutality and passion which sells their desire for the championship as well as their own heated rivalry. Inventive offense and a stellar finish leave the disc with a strong conclusion.
The discs extras are fairly average, although the Kevin Owens vs Neville match from Raw is certainly a welcome addition to the disc and adds some extra value and the Seth Rollins handicap match against J&J Security is entertaining too. Between the main event, the Money In The Bank Ladder Match and the Owens/Cena battle, MITB 2015 is a release which comes highly recommended and is well worth the pricetag. It is definitely an event that you will revisit time and time again, serving as a strong outing in it's own right and a welcome addition to any collection.
Purchase the DVD (or Blu-Ray) from HERE
Purchase the DVD (or Blu-Ray) from HERE
Sunday, 30 August 2015
A home video presentation that focuses on the music of WWE, Signature Sounds explores the world of wrestler’s themes.
Signature Sounds is a department from the recent glut of WWE Home Video documentary releases which have focused, primarily, on documenting the history of WWE, the wrestlers and the business at large. This is akin to the countdown specials that Channel 4 broadcast, except without the annoying comedians who gurn at the camera as they deliver their banal judgement.
With Jim Johnston as the man behind many of the themes, this documentary showcases his work in the form of twenty five of the best themes, covering how the themes were developed and composed, with brief comments from the wrestlers (in the form of archive footage for those no longer on the roster).
Listening to Johnston pull apart some of the themes reveals so much depth to his work that is often missed. His worth across decades is covered, with Ultimate Warrior, Sunny, The Rock, Primetime Players and Fandango all featuring in the countdown. Watching him perform the leitmotif of some of his work, on a variety of instruments, shows the musical versatility of a man whose work we all know, without really knowing who he is.
There’s some interesting trivia thrown in - how Johnston constructs the lyrics, the techniques he uses and how he occasionally eschews them, as well as the artists that were involved. It’s also fun to hear some of the talent, including Vince McMahon, talk about their themes, though some are in character, whilst others don’t appear to be.
It is, however, a short affair, running at 52 minutes and lacks real depth, leaving the viewer with a fluffy, unchallenging affair. Some exploration of unused themes (he talks about The Rock and what didn’t work), complete Titantron videos, more behind the scenes interviews from others involved in character development or how the entrances were choreographed - all this could have helped flesh out the story and given the work the treatment it deserves.
The Extras feature further tracks that weren’t covered in the Top 25 - a Top 25, it seems, that was chosen by the WWE. With six tracks in this section, it does beg the question of why not just include them in the main feature? Johnston talking about Shawn Michaels’ departure theme and its original purpose and William Regal talking about his Real Man’s Man theme are the highlights of these extras.
Also featured on the DVD is the “making of Gold-lust”, giving the type of behind-the-scenes coverage that all the tracks should have had, and “The Music of WWE Studios” which also features Johnston talking about the films and the added stress that these presented - it’s not so much a feature as a chapter of something bigger.
Oddly, the DVD is available for around the £5 mark from most online retailers, which sets it as an ideal stocking filler, except it’s being released on 31 August 2015.