Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

extremeI’ve always been a fan of these extreme rules PPV’s from WWE. For me they hark back to the good old days of ECW and the more brutal side of wrestling. Tables, ladders, chairs, bins, bats; all is fair game and for this very reason everything is a bit more unpredictable. Ever since WWE went PG-13 its rare to find events that hark back to the previously mentioned ECW or even WWE during the 1990’s attitude era. There has been the odd match here and there but it is these extreme rules matches that really bring back the good old days. In fact the Extreme Rules PPV started as an ECW (well the rebooted 2006 season) event called One Night Stand which ran from 2006-2008 before getting renamed to what we know today.
With such a large array of talent in the WWE nowadays and with many pushing the slightly edgier violent side can this event be one to truly remember or just another middle of the road PPV much like the latest Wrestlemania? Let’ have a look.
The Usos VS Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows:
Tag team matches really arn’t what they used to be but with this being a Tornado Tag match (all four wreslers in the ring at the same time) it instantly makes it slightly more interesting. Almost straight away we have out of the ring action with the Usos trying to survive a reasonably vicious onslaught. There re some pretty brutal moves performed especially by the heavy hitters Anderson and Gallows, but that isn’t to say the Usos are lightweights. The Usos throw some pretty cool highflying moves but they seem to be lacking something. The chemistry just doesn’t seem quite there and everything feels a bit too planned like they don’t quite trust one another in improvising. Overall its better then the usual tag match which every PPV seems to require but it definitely isn’t required viewing.
Rusev vs Kalisto:
Here we have the David vs Goliath match of the night. I have never really seen anything worthwhile in the character of Rusev. It almost feels like WWE is trying to find another wrestler like they used to have in ‘The Big Show’. A large intimidating figure who is almost unstoppable. Rusev for me doesn’t have the needed presence. As a character he is almost a satire which is so incredibly over the top, is hard to take seriously. This match rally is the usual filler for the bigger matches of the night. I’m sure some people will enjoy it but it’s just fairly boring and never feels like it belongs in Extreme Rules. There is nothing really to keep you viewing apart from the fact that you know that the upcoming matches of the night should be awesome.

After a rather stupid an tiresome talk by ‘The New Day’ we are treated (I say it very loosely) to yet another tag team match;
The New Day vs The VaudeVillians:
Its sad to see some good wrestlers reduced to this stupid representation of wrestling. At one point Big E was a truly brutal wrestler as he worked his way up through NXT but now is just a shadow of his former self. Its just a disappointing idea which just gets worse every time they come out. The match is literally your usual pay by play tag match that everyone has seen numerous times before. Nothing new, nothing particularly original, just a fairly poor match which has next to no redeeming features.
Kevin Owens vs The Miz vs Sami Zayn vs Cesaro:
After a pretty awesome video build up it’s quite nice to see what might be an awesome match between a group of talented and brutal wrestlers. We get a good mix of styles and characters ,all of which play quite nicely off one another. It opens with a little clever unexpected humour, but quickly develops into quite a technically impressive display of complicated manoeuvres and some good chemistry. Everyone has their time to shine and stand in the spotlight while the others get beaten up. Its nothing necessarily new but it is performed very well. It’s very watchable and there is always something interesting to watch going on. There are some very clever fake falls an constant uncertainty of who will win. This is the sort of match I enjoy, as it builds nicely and stays consistently fun. If anything it falters a little towards the end of the match but even then it doesn’t detract too much.
Chris Jericho vs Dean Ambrose:
Now this is the first truly massive match of the night with two of the biggest stars in WWE. We get an epic build up even if it is a little silly. The setup for the match is very reminiscent of TNA wrestling’s ‘ Raven’s House of fun in which weapons are hung around the ring ready to be used. The only difference here is the items are a lot more tame for the most part. It almost feels like they are trying to be like their older more violent selves (well at least Chris Jericho who’s been around for a long time) but are being held back by the more family friendly take on wrestling. It’s a bit of a shame as this really should be a good extreme match. Even when the barbed wire two-by-four gets into the hands of Jericho, it’s never actually used, its casually thrown aside. It harks back to the reasonably recent Dudley’s match in which they were about to light a table on fire but never got a chance. It feels like WWE can’t decide how it wants to be. It keeps teasing and teasing but never fully pays off (well it occasionally does such as Reigns vs Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31). In a PPV entitles Extreme Rules you’d expect more extreme matches but this really is lacking. Jericho and Ambrose work well together but I can’t help but feel the match would be far better on a different wrestling promotion such as TNA. Its a real shame as both wrestlers are capable of so much and here they are wasted in a PG version of what should be a truly brutal and breath-taking match. Its definitely not the worst match of the evening but it really isn’t the best these two can produce.
Charlotte vs Natalya:
Charlotte is easily one of the most unlikeable and most annoying characters to come out of the WWE Divas program. She lack talent and has literally no redeeming features. I understand she is meant to be the ‘bad guy’ but still she sucks. WWE are really trying to make divas matches more interesting but they are sorely lacking.  There is only so many times you can watch such an awful character and individual perform in a ring next to some truly talented individuals. I find it sad that WWE constantly has to rely on these stupid twist endings to matches to try and keep people watching. If anything it has the complete opposite effect as its less about skill and more about bad writing. A new low point for the night.

AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns:
AJ Styles has been my favourite wrestler since watching him in both Ring of Honour and TNA. He is what WWE has been lacking over the years and someone who brings his years of experience to the ring. It’s amazing how from his first appearance in the new roster at Royal Rumble he has taken over and has quickly risen to places many wrestlers have hoped for. I will admit that his amazing assortment of moves has been trimmed with the PG-13 nature of WWE which does put a bit of a knock on his performance but he is still up there with the best, if not the very best. Reigns is truly intimidating and has created a great character which for some reason the fans of WWE seem to dislike. The two of them work off one another superbly and they really do put on a good show. It is easily the best match of the night. It never feels as extreme as it should do and it would be mazing to see these two battle it out in one of the other wrestling promotions which arn’t so worried about being so family friendly. There is a lot less in the way of highflying manoeuvres then I would have expected but what we have is a pretty good battle of brawn. Yet again it is spoilt by the need to have a stupid intervention by the Usos, Anderson and Gallows. Its still a really good match and is well worth watching, it’s just a shame Styles isn’t given more leeway to bring his more dangerous yet very phenomenal aerobatic manoeuvres to the ring. Its the best thing of the night and really the only worthwhile match of the event.
Overall the event was a dud which happened to have one awesome match and a couple of middle of the road ones. It’s a shame that WWE won’t go back to having the attitude it used to and I feel it is holding them back (even if they have managed to buy up most of the best talent form the different promotions).
This event gets a thumbs down from me.

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hellAnother month, another WWE PPV. With so many events it must be hard to craft a decent fight card that is both interesting and gripping while not just being the same old thing that we’ve seen time and time again.  With Hell in a Cell WWE shows it’s more brutal side alongside its Extreme Rules PPV from earlier in the year. This show generally has a few good matches and some of the PPV’s hold some of the very best matches in WWE history.

So where does 2015’s show stand?

First up we have a 6-man tag team match: Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and Neville vs Sheamus, King Barrett and Rusev. The match has some great talent involved from wrestlers like Neville who are always great fun to watch. We have this quick reasonably high-flying team vs a much more hard hitting team who are meant to be the ‘intimidating’ ones. It’s quite a fun match which starts well and follows through to an OK ending. the fight features some great moments but a lot of it we’ve seen before.  I’m not too keen on either Sheamus or Rusev so that didn’t help my enjoyment of the match but at the same time it didn’t detract too heavily. It’s a pretty solid match that does what you’d expect.

Next up: Alberto Del Rio vs John Cena for the WWE United States Championship. With Del Rio just back on the scene this match was quite a big deal for him. Even though Cena has his fair share of haters, he is still one of the biggest talents on the current roster. He’s a reliable fall back and is always a fairly good watch. This match is no exception. It’s pretty fun and they play off each other well. Again it isn’t anything that new and fresh but its ok. Its pretty predicable and plays out how one would expect but it’s still highly watchable.

Onto the first Hell in a Cell match of the night: Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt. Now this is more like it. After the feud that’s been going on for the past year, it all culminates here between 3 of WWE’s finest pieces of talent. As usual the two of them have a stunningly good chemistry and everything they do works. The match starts off with a bang and just gets more and more brutal as we progress. Both are great to watch and are endlessly captivating in their performances. They hold nothing back and they really look like they are taking some pretty powerful hits. This is as good as any of the matches the two of them have had over the last year and may even be one of my favourite. It really stands above your usual matches and shows what two great wrestlers can do given time and a steel cage.

After such an amazing match how can the PPV follow it? Well the answer is not very well. We have the obligatory tag team match which I held out a small amount of hope for: The New Day vs The Dudley Boyz.  Let me start by saying I hate the tag team of The New Day. I find them tiresome and just not fun to watch. On the other side of things I’ve grown up really liking the Dudley’s from their days in ECW, through WWF, TNA and back to WWE. I though that even if the match wasn’t great that the Dudley’s would bring in the entertainment. Alas I found the match boring and very tiresome. It was easily one of my least favourite matches of the night and just felt like it was there for the sake of filling a match slot. There are worse matches out there but this one really wasn’t for me.

The Divas are next up: Charlotte vs Nikki Bella. As with most Diva matches this match follows a fairly standard routine. It features some good moments and has a great ending but in all it is still lacking something that makes the Women’s matches in productions by TNA and ROH.  It’s a shame as there is talent here but there is far to much fake drama to actually fully enjoy the match.  It’s better then quite a few of the Diva PPV matches from recent events so I guess that’s something.

Kane vs Seth Rollins is the next matchup and one that I was really looking forward to. Rollins in recent events has been slightly tiresome as the character he’s created is just a big too fake, but at the same time he does put on a good show and up against Kane I expected a great battle.  What I got was merely an average fight. I really didn’t get much out of it. Maybe it was because the Reigns / Wyatt match from earlier in the night was so amazing that I just didn’t get all I could have from this match.  It’s worth a watch but as with some of the other matches this evening, just felt a bit flat.

After the slight disappointment of the previous match I actually quite enjoyed the next match: Kevin Owens vs Ryback. Both wrestlers are on good form and play off one another pretty well. I’ve grown to quite like Owens in recent times and even more so after watching more of his matches from his days on the Indie circuit. There are some ups and downs in the battle and overall it does what you’d expect and provides a good bit of entertainment.

Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker. After their recent feuds this was the match which would decide who was the best. It’s a match that’s been building for months and now finally we get to see the two square off again, this time in a Cell with no escape. The match starts off brilliantly and continues to build in momentum. the match is brutal and both men show their strength and power. It’s a stunning match that has moments of pure genius. This is easily one of the best matches of the year and is edge of your seat entertainment. Just when you think it can’t get better Lesnar throws something new into the equation. I loved this match so much.  The one fault of the match is the aftermath which leaves a pretty sour taste in the mouth.  But up until the very end it is what all of WWE should be.

All in all Hell in a Cell 2015 was a pretty good event. It’s a must watch for the 2 Hell in a Cell matches and the others simply pad out the runtime. I’m glad I sat through the mediocre matches just so I could get to what was one of the very best matches of the whole year. It’s well worth giving a shot.

payback

Another month, another WWE PPV. Being one of the events that’s reasonably close to Wrestlemania and one of the newer PPV’s in the WWE (replacing No Way Out in 2013), does Payback suffer the fate of being just another series of TV matches pushed onto a larger stage?

The first match sets about making a bold statement; Sheamus vs Dolph Ziggler. In recent times Sheamuss has started to be pushed quite hard into the foray again after a little time knocked out from the spotlight. He has a ‘bad-boy’ image and sets to be a more brutal wrestler. Ziggler on the other hand is the polar opposite; fun, quick and funny. The match is fun and features a good series of interaction between the two stars. There are a fair few moments when you had no idea who would win. It also gets pretty brutal and overall is a pretty damn fun match. It doesn’t do much new but it does do what it does very well. 7/10

Next up is the tag team match of the evening; The New Day vs Tyson Kidd & Cesaro. I really dislike The New Day, I find that they try too hard at being fun and they just fail on every level. This leads me to automatically have a sour taste in my mouth when watching them. The match itself is fair. It features some epic moments and some cool moves but I found it dragged on a bit and outstayed its welcome slightly. 6/10

Bray Wyatt vs Ryback proves that this PPV does hold some shine. I love watching these two battle it out. In recent times I have really grown to like Wyatt’s character and feel that he is a great performer. Ryback, while I don’t like him that much, does give us this good powerplay that is brutal. The match is pretty good and they play off one another well. It’s worth a watch and if nothing else proves that Wyatt is a great watch. 7/10

After a few cool promos we are presented with one of the other big matches of the night; John Cena vs Rusev. These two have had a fair few fights in the past few months and most have been merely ok. I don’t think too much of Rusev and I’ve begun to grow tired of Cena, so I really wasn’t looking forward to this match. I was pleasantly surprised. The match is a long gruelling one which goes back and forth and gives both wrestlers the time to truly shine. The strength of both of them is amazing and they lets off some brutal attacks on one another. I really enjoyed this match and It was one of the great surprises of the night. 7/10

What do we have next I hear you ask! Well it’s the Divas match for the evening; The Bella Twins vs Naoimi & Tamina. As with most Divas matches, there’s the usual drama that’s thrown in for no other reason than to create a false friction (and so they need less time actually wrestling). These wrestlers can do a god job when they want to and to be fair they aren’t that bad here. I’ve seen far worse Divas matches but they still have some way to go to make their matches stand up with the best WWE matches.  We get some good moves but a lot of it looks very tame and contrived to be really enjoyable. 6/10

With nothing truly outstanding so far in the event King Barrett vs Neville seems to try and re-catch the onlookers with some high flying moves from the Latter mixed and some brutal hits from the former.  It does a pretty good job at this. The whole match plays out quite nicely and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. It is spoilt a little by a slightly silly ending but overall it’s one of the better matches of this PPV. It’s well worth a watch, especially if you like either or both of the wrestlers that are involved. 7/10

Finally we get to the most anticipated event of the night, the epically built up Fatal 4-way; Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins vs Randy Orton. This match has had a lot of momentum thrown towards it as the 15 minutes of promos and build up video show before anyone even enters the ring. Each of these stars proves that he is his own individual person. They are all interesting to watch by themselves but together they all work like a perfectly formed unit. The chemistry is great and each wrestler looks like they are having a great time (in a dramatic ‘I’m not happy’ kind of way). There are so many stand out moments in the match including one that blew the fans humble minds. I loved this match and would say that it stands above all other matches that the PPV had to offer. A definite must watch 9/10

The DVD boasts great audio and visual presentation, but this has come to be expected from all of the recent releases from WWE.

Overall the event was pretty average but the final match demands that it be seen. I’d say it’s worth giving the whole event a shot. It’s definitely not as good as the other PPV’s this year but then again there has only been 4 so far (two of which being the biggest of the year). Here’s looking forward to seeing what WWE has in store for the rest of the year.

summer

Following on from the epic surprise at Battleground, Summerslam 2015 aims to make the fights bigger and more brutal then previous years. We even get a fun speech to open the night from the hardcore legend Mick Foley which is fun and gets the crowd into the mood.  The crowd are vocal which really helps the atmosphere as there is nothing worse than a bored crowd (well there is but you get my gist).

So straight into the first match of the evening;. Sheamus vs Randy Orton.  Form the beginning of the match it’s obvious it’s going to be a brutal battle between the two performers. It’s a good fun to-fro match doesn’t break any new ground in terms of what it does but it is highly watchable and never outstays it’s welcome. I must say that I do tire a little of Sheamus being the @big bad guy’ as he isn’t really that interesting a wrestler. 6/10

Next we have a Fatal Four-way: The Lucha Dragons vs The New Day vs Los Matadores vs The Prime Time Players. The whole thing is pretty bad in my view. All 4 teams are annoying and really lack any proper chemistry. They do let off some good high flying manoeuvres but that isn’t enough to to save this tiresome match. 3/10

Luckily next up we have a fairly good match; Dolph Ziggler vs Rusev. This is your classic quick versus big match with Ziggler propelling himself around the ring trying to avoid Rusev’s massive strength. It’s a pretty fun match with some impressive moments and some brilliant chemistry between the two of them. Ziggler helps keep everything amusing with his usual fun style of wrestling. The ending does let the match down slightly but overall it worth a watch. 7/10

Now come the promos for one of the big matches of the evening; Neville & Stephen Amell (Yes the Green Arrow himself!) vs Barret & Stardust. The build-up is absolutely awesome and really gets you pumped up for the match. There is a large focus on the reasons of why the actor Amell is having to fight and how Stardust believes that he is actually the Green Arrow . It’s all very silly but at the same time is really fun. The actual match is pretty damn awesome as well. Neville throws himself round the ring as is expecting, landing some really impressive aerial manoeuvres while Amell stands on the side line. I was expecting Amell to not get involved but to his credit he jumps in the ring and does a really good job. He puts his all into it and seems to be loving every moment of it. The whole match is some good silly fun that hides some pretty impressive technical wrestling. 8/10

Ryback returns to WWE after a bad injury in what could have been an awesome match; Ryback vs The Miz vs Big Show, but it quickly falls into a silly mess. It’s ok and there are some brutally hard hits thrown around, but as PPV match it really does lack any real kind of spark. It could be worse but it really is very average. 6/10

The arena goes dark and the epic promos for Wyatt and Reigns’ epic feud begin. They tell an awesome story through the clips and show how well-crafted each of the characters are. When the promos end one of the headline matches of the evening begins; Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns vs Luke Harper & Bray Wyatt. From the entrances of the superstars, we know this match is going to be something special. Reigns and Wyatt especially have such presence in the ring that you can’t help but look on in awe. The match itself is brutal and stunning to watch. Each wrestler works well together and you can see they have a great respect for one another and a great level of trust. Some of the moves are truly brutal and looks dramatically painful.  The only thing that doesn’t quite work (and in my view, never has) is Ambrose’s bouncing punches off the middle rope. They looks silly and really are a pointless series of moves. Everything else though is spot on and really elevate this match towards the top of this year’s matches. 9/10

With the previous match being so awesome it was going to be hard to follow. John Cena vs Seth Rollins aims to do this but unfortunately fails. The match has a good build up and has some good moves thrown in, but it all feels very stale. We’ve seen it all before and there is nothing new. The match is overlong and culminates in a rather predictable and rubbish ending.  6/10

The Divas are next as is customary for every PPV event. This event has a three team elimination match in the hope to do something interesting with its female wrestlers; Team Bella (Alicai Fox, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella) vs B.A.D (Sasha Banks, Naomie, Tamina) vs P.C.B (Paige, Charlotte, Becky Lynch). Divas matches generally fall flat for me as they generally are just boring hair pulling affairs but here they do seem to try. It’s not as bad as the usual matches but it feels very much like they are trying to take a page out of TNA Wrestling with the style of match they are going for. It wasn’t a bad time but there are definitely better matches out there. It feels like in recent years WWE has dialled back the Divas matches and watered them down a lot which is a shame. 6/10

The penultimate match of the evening; Kevin Owens vs Cesaro feels very misplaced. It feels much like a TV match and not something for a PPV. I found that the whole match was very boring and tiresome with very little chemistry between the two of them and very little to keep someone watching apart from the fact that it’s the penultimate match. 4/10

So we get to the ultimate event of the evening, the one that has been building since Wrestlemania 30. The match that aims to be one of the biggest of the entire year; Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker. The build up is phenomenal with interviews with other superstars and some stunning highlights. WWE never cease to nail a good promo. The crowd are roaring with anticipation as the two epic warriors enter the ring. Both are intimidating and have such powerful presence about them. Even though The Undertaker is pushing 50, he still can hold his own against the firey spirt of Lesnar. The match is brutal with punches and moves echoing through the arena. It really is an epic to-and-fro battle to the death (well almost death).  Everything is going so well in this near perfect match until the ending, which is almost bad enough to smash all that has been built before to the ground. This is easily one of the biggest disappointments of the night. The match itself is easily one of the best of the year, but the ending really does knock it down. It’s a match well worth watching but be warned that the ending may leave a sour taste in the mouth. 9/10 for the match itself, (1/10 for the ending)

The whole evening is a good night overall with two matches that I’d consider must-watches for any wrestling fans.

The disk is as expected from WWE and provides us with great visual presentation and a stunning audio mix. You really can’t go wrong with the presentation.

While the some of the matches were not that good, most served to be watchable at the very least and at least help make the great matches feel even greater. Overall a good PPV with two truly stand out matches.

beast in east

When I first heard about this DVD I was expecting it to be a retrospective of Brock Lesnar, what with the title being what it is and all of the promo artwork featuring Lesnar in full intimidating form.  Upon receiving a copy I was surprised to find that it is actually a PPV from July 2015 which took place in Tokyo. This was a big deal for WWE as it was the first time that they did a full PPV and aired it live across their network. I knew nothing of this event but was intrigued to see what would be different (if anything) from the usual US shows.

From the get go we can see that the arena is a much more intimate affair then the big venues that WWE tend to use. It’s not small by any sense of the word but it feels much more like an Indie event from the likes of PCW rather than the big guns of the WWE. It’s a nice change and I really liked the feel you get from watching it (which is helped by the really enthusiastic Japanese audience). There are lots of things that resemble the old fashioned days of ECW with a much rawer vibe to everything.

With the great set up onto the actual matches;

First up we have Chris Jericho vs Neville in an amazingly old-school match that is fun and really energetic once it gets going. Both wrestlers put their all into the match and give the audience what they want. The crowd seem to love what is going on and their pleasure is infectious. With these two wrestlers, you never quite know what to expect and they don’t fail to impress with high flying moves, grappling and some brutal looking hits. I loved this match and felt like it was a send back to the attitude era. 8/10

Next we have the obligatory Divas match which is a Triple threat: Paige vs Tamina vs Nikki Bella. I usually find Divas matches tiresome as they generally feel samey and never really go anywhere other than maybe a few good moves. Here though I was surprised that the whole match felt a lot rougher than usual and each of the Divas felt like they were throwing themselves fully into it. This was a definite surprise and was probably one of the better Divas matches I’ve seen in a long time. 7/10

We are introduced to the usual epic promos that WWE have become masters at putting together.  These all pretty much focus on Lesnar and how he ‘destroys’ everyone he faces. As always the promos really pump up the arena and set up the match perfectly.

This leads us to the main event Brock Lesnar vs Kofi Kingston. When Lesnar enters the arena the crowd literally erupts in cheering. You can see that even through his hard demeanour he is enjoying it.   You kind of know what to expect nowadays with Lesnar and he does what he does best and puts on a brutally awesome show of strength and power. The match may be short but it is oh so sweet. 8/10

How do you follow up such an awesome fight I hear you shout. Well by having one of the most epic and incredible entrances in recent years by Finn Balor as he makes his way to the ring for the next match Finn Balor vs Kevin Owens. The whole entrance feels like a theatre production and is just stunning to watch.  Owens’ entrance is nowhere near as cool but he still has his burtal uncaring swagger to the ring. The match is a proper to-and-fro battle between good (Balor) and evil (Owens). They pull surprises constantly and keep the audience guessing. Without spoiling the ending, the praise the winner gets is beautiful and really powerful. 8/10

The final match of the evening is a tag-team event; King Barrett & Kane vs Dolph Ziggler & John Cena. Again I have found in recent events that the tag team matches have been the same old and have got very tiresome before their eventual end. But this match was a good fight. There are a bunch of fun interactions between everyone and they all seem to be having a great time. I was pleasantly surprised by this match and, as with all the other matches of the evening thought it was one of the better matches in this year’s PPV scrapbook. 8/10

Overall I loved the whole event and found that it was a consistently fun and at times brutal time. Each match is worth it’s runtime and each has a great vibe to it.

The actual disk is visually as good as every other recent release and is stunningly sharp and watchable. The audio isn’t as great but that is down to the acoustics of the arena as much as anything else.

Extras-wise the disk contains 2 extra matches Cesaro vs Diego and Newday vs Lucha Dragons. The Cesaro match is pretty good with some good interaction between to two and is an OK watch. The tag match with Newday on the other hand was pretty poor but it doesn’t help that I dislike both teams and really don’t think they should exist within the WWE.

Altogether this event is a must watch for any fans of modern WWE or even those who have fond memories of ECW and the attitude era of WWE. Hands down the most consistent PPV of the year.

battleground

As with all of WWE’s pay-per-views, Battleground 2015 features an almighty build up video highlighting all of the major events leading up to the night. This does an amazing job of pumping the audience up for what is to come and is something that the WWE video editors have become masters in constructing.  This can sometimes lead to large expectations that are never met. With this year’s PPVs all being pretty strong or have at least containing enough to make them worth watching, is Battleground 2015 one of those nights or is it a failure?

THE SHOW:

The event begins with an ok match: Randy Orton vs Sheamus; It’s the usual sort of match between the two of them. It starts reasonably boringly and gets slightly better as it progresses. It’s nothing special but is perfectly serviceable. It doesn’t help that the audience don’t seem to be entirely on board until towards the end.

Next we have the Tag-Team championship match: The New Day vs The Prime Time Players; We get a pretty mediocre match which features the odd interesting manoeuvre but is ultimately not great. On the plus side the match is over pretty quickly, leading us to one of the big matches of the night.

Roman Regins vs Bray Wyatt; Now this is more like it. The build-up video is incredible and highlights the great characters that are Wyatt and Reigns. It really gets the adrenaline pumping and makes for a stunning spectacle. This is followed by Wyatt’s phenomenal entrance that as always sends shivers down the spine. It is so well crafted and really highlights the power Wyatt holds over the audience. From the get go both Wyatt and Reigns are on top form and put in a great show. Each hit looks brutal and each move works. They are great performers and really work well together. The match is constantly unpredictable with both wrestlers getting their moments to shine. This is a stunning match and one that is a definite watch.

Following the amazing Wyatt/Reigns match is the Divas Triple threat match: Sasha Banks  vs Charlotte  vs Brie Bella; As usual the girls have lots of energy but seem adamant in expelling it by shouting at one another rather than putting on a great show. It’s boring, tiresome and ultimately not really worth a watch. The divas have proved in the past that they can give out good matches that rival their male counterparts, but this really isn’t one of them.

The second big event of the night was the United States Championship: John Cena  vs  Kevin Owens; What starts out as a pretty cool match, quickly becomes a paint by numbers style occasion where the performers just go through the usual routines. Owens and Cena work well together and they get the job done, it’s just they don’t succeed in doing much more. It’s worth a watch for the interactions between the two of them but it really isn’t anything special.

This leads us onto the main event:  Brock Lesnar  vs Seth Rollins; This match has one of the most epic build ups I have seen. Each wrestler is presented in such a way that neither is the bad guy. Lesnar is as intimidating as ever as he stands against Rollins. Form the start we are given a brutal and epic show of power from Lesnar which highlights how strong he is. Rollins gets some good moves in and uses his speed to get around. It’s a match that doesn’t break new ground, but it’s one that is still awesome all the same. It also has one of the best and stunning surprise endings in recent years. It’s a definite must watch.

When all is said and done, Battleground 2015 doesn’t stand out as a phenomenal event, but it is one that features two stunning matches and one of the big WWE surprises of 2015. It feels like they are trying to hard to push the new NXT talent into the roster that they lose some of the old-school magic. It’s by no means bad, and I stand by the awesomeness of the Reigns/Wyatt and the Lesnar/Rollins matches. It’s worth a watch at the very least.

AUDIO/VIDEO:

As with all of the recent WWE productions the audio and visual presentation on the Blu-ray is stunning. Colours pop and the whole experience looks great. The audio is as good as the picture highlighting the crowd chants as well as the wrestlers in ring taunts. Blu-ray really is the best way to experience these matches.

EXTRAS:

The Blu-ray disk features a fair ly good selection of extras including extra matches and interviews;

R-Truth  vs King Barrett –Battleground kick off show

Post-match interview with Paige, Becky Lynch and a special guest

The New Day teach the power of positivity to JoJo

BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES:

John Cena responds to Kevin Owens – WWE RAW 22 June 2015

8 man tag match: The New Day & Bo Dallas vs the Lucha Dragons & The Prime Time Players – WWE Smackdown 25 June 2015

Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins & Kane – WWE RAW 29 June 2015

WWE championship contract signing – WWE RAW 13 July 2015

SUMMARY:

Overall this, like most of WWE’s recent releases is well worth checking out. Taken as a whole event, the night may not be amazing but what it lacks in this respect it makes up for in a few stunning matches. With strong audio and visuals, as well as a wide selection of good extras, this is one WWE Blu-ray that is well worth owning.

DANIEL BRYAN: Just Say YES! YES! YES! – DVD review

DANIEL_BRYAN

As a kid I loved watching wrestling on TV, I really did but as I grew older I went through a long hiatus (from when I was in my early teens during the attitude era of WWE (then WWF) until 2013) of not watching any at all. I don’t really know why but I guess I couldn’t get my head around the ‘soap opera’ like nature of the storylines. In the last couple of years I have gotten back into watching Wrestling big time. From WWE, through to TNA, to Shimmer, to Ring of Honour and even back to ECW, I love it all. As I was getting back into watching WWE I had no idea who a lot of these new ‘superstars’ were and one of the names that I constantly heard but never really knew was Daniel Bryan.

What better way to get an understanding of who he is than to check out the new biographical DVD set charting Bryan’s wrestling career from little league indie wrestler to becoming one of the most popular stars in the sport. The DVD set contains 3 Disks which I will break down below;

Disk 1:

The first disk of the set contains the 1 hour documentary ‘Journey to Wrestlemania’ which was originally produced for the WWE network. Here though we have some extra footage including extended and new interviews with stars of past and present.

It is laid out much like all of the WWE network specials of recent years and offers a pretty decent glimpse into Bryan’s career both before and during his time in the big leagues. It is a fascinating journey and one that Bryan happily takes us on. We get to watch highlights of his career in short snippets of matches as the documentary flows to the ultimate showdown at Wrestlemania XXX. It flows at a brilliant pace and never gets boring. If anything it would have been nice for the documentary to have been even longer but C’est La Vie.

The interviews throughout are amazing and offer an insight of who he is as a friend and as an in-ring wrestler. WWE have gone all out getting interviews with everyone from modern stars such as ‘The Miz’ and ‘Seth Rollins’ all the way through to WWE hall of famers ‘Shawn Michaels’ and ‘Stone Cold Steve Austin’. It is a real walk down memory lane seeing some of these people again and helps elevate this special from the rest.

The most brilliant part though has to be Daniel Bryan himself who sheds insights into his personal life, his working life and even the inner workings of professional wrestling. He lets us in on how some of the matches are planned and why certain events take place. It’s amazing how open he is and how brutal honest he seems to be. He also comes across as the most humble person you could meet and genuinely seems to be nervous being named a ‘superstar’.

Throughout the hour I learnt so much about him as a person and as a performer that I now understand why the WWE Universe love him so much. He’s the underdog that was never meant to reach the big leagues. But he did and here we get to see how he did it.

Disk 2:

The disk goes straight into Daniel Bryan introducing the first full match of the set which he gives a good insight into as it is one of his first WWE try-out matches. The following segments between the matches delve even further into some of the subjects mentioned on the first disk. He’s an incredibly good talker and thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. One thing that really stands out is his genuine care for the other wrestlers in the ring and how some matches he dreads doing as he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. He breaks it down and explains that it’s a show and it’s made to be enjoyable rather than being a series of real fights.

The following is a short breakdown and quick review of each of the matches contained on the disk:

AMERICAN DRAGON (DANIEL BRYAN) & SHOOTER SCHULTZ VS BRIAN KENDRICK & LANCE CADE

WWE tryout match 28/8/00

It’s interesting seeing the raw potential of some of these stars before they broke into the big time. It plays out well and feels very much like a classic Attitude Era battle between a mixture of high flyers and grapplers. Bryan at this point hasn’t quite figured out his style but still puts on a great performance, even if the audience aren’t really on his side. A solid 8/10 match

JAMIE NOBLE VS BRYAN DANIELSON

18/01/03

Bryan going under his real name puts on a pretty good show but fails to deliver a particularly memorable performance. The match drags on a bit and is overall nothing amazingly stand out. A very middle of the road 5/10

CHRIS JERICHO VS DANIEL BRYAN

NXT 22/03/10

In the ten years of performing on the indie circuit we can see that Bryan has started to develop his style and here we get to see it properly for the first time. This is where the underdog angle started to begin and you can see why people started to get on his side (although it would be a few years before people truly loved him). The match has some fantastic moments and is great fun. It would be one of the stand out matches on the set if it wasn’t for a slightly underwhelming ending 7/10.

THE MIZ VS DANIEL BRYAN

Night of Champions 2010 – UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

This is when the crowd started getting onto Bryan’s side after all of the vocal abuse he was getting from announcer Michael Cole. The match is ok and the two have a great chemistry in the ring. It is a very grapple heavy match with some enjoyable moments 7/10

BIG SHOW VS DANIEL BRYAN

Smackdown 06/01/2012 – WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

We again have a pretty solid offering as the two stars really play off one another well. The match has the classic to and fro nature that many of the best matches have and it keeps you wondering who will win. It’s not an amazingly long match but it’s pretty fun. It’s another match however that is let down by a highly disappointing ending which the audience seem to agree with 6/10

SHEAMUS VS DANIEL BRYAN

Extreme Rules 29/04/12 2 out of 3 Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Championship

This is a long match and one that I’m thankful is on the disk. It is great fun and really is a battle between the two stars. They have a great chemistry and they both have some stand out moments in the match. This is one of my favourite matches on the disk but it isn’t perfect 8/10.

CM PUNK VS DANIEL BRYAN

15/07/12 – NO DQ MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP

This is an absolutely stunning match (even if some of the soap opera parts with AJ Lee get in the way at times). It feels very raw and very brutal. In a way it harks back to the 2006 reinvention of ECW (before it got tamed down). I loved this match and was constantly wondering who was going to win. 9/10.

TEAM HELL NO! (DANIEL BRYAN & KANE) VS KOFI KINGSTON & R-TRUTH

16/10/12 – WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

For a time WWE thought it would be amusing to have a running joke of Bryan and Kane having to go to anger management classes leading to their eventual team up. This is a very fun match full of jovial action and some stand out amusing moments. It’s not necessarily a ‘great’ match but it sure is a fun one. 7/10

Disk 3:

The third disk of the set further continues the same layout as the second disk with matches punctuated by interviews:

DANIEL BRYAN VS JACK SWAGGER, CESARO & RYBACK

22/07/13

This has all the makings of being an epic battle with Bryan having to fight 3 opponents one after the other. What we got though was a merely average series of fights that never really felt anything but mediocre. They aren’t bad per-say but they definitely aren’t that good 5/10

JOHN CENA VS DANIEL BRYAN

18/09/13 – WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

The match starts off quite slow before building into a really great match. There are some brilliant moments in the fight and Cena and Bryan seem to be having a blast fighting one another. 8/10

DANIEL BRYAN VS RANDY ORTON

17/03/14

I loved the ECW vibe that this match had. It felt far more brutal then your usual WWE match. Orton and Bryan are both in their element as they fight backwards and forwards in this great No DQ match. 8/10

DANIEL BRYAN VS RANDY ORTON VS BATISTA

Wrestlemania XXX 06/04/14 – TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR WWE CHAMPIONSHIP

For the penultimate match on the disk we have a truly stunning match that easily surpasses all other matches in the set. The match really is a brutal battle between 3 powerful individuals and it really keeps you glues to the screen trying to figure out who is going to win. Each has their own distinct wrestling style and this helps give the audience everything they could want from a PPV match. 10/10

We then get a break from the matches and have another chunk of documentary with Bryan explaining about his bad neck injury that could have put him out of wrestling for good. We see footage of him trying to figure out what to do until we see his big announcement that he would be returning to wrestling. The announcement is straight from the heart and is immensely powerful in a way that WWE has never really been before in my view.

DANIEL BRYAN VS ROMAN REIGNS

Fastlane 22/02/15 – WINNER FIGHTS BROCK LESNAR AT WRESTLEMANIA XXXI

As a final match on the disk we get another great battle between 2 great stars. I really like both of them it was slightly unfortunate that I knew how the match would end. Even though I knew the outcome it didn’t really effect the greatness of the match 8/10

 

So when all is said and done I thoroughly enjoyed the 7 hours I spent watching these DVDs. I’ve grown to really like Daniel Bryan which is unfortunate now that, in the wake of Wrestlemania XXXI he may have been forced to retire from wrestling due to a serious injury. It’s kind of heart-breaking when you see Bryan talking about it being his passion and that it’s what he truly loves doing on the DVD and knowing that he may never wrestle again. Here’s hoping he recovers and steps back into the four sided ring.

So do I recommend this set?

There’s only one suitable answer to that question;

YES! YES! YES!