WWE's WCW's Greatest Pay-Per-View Matches is a three disc DVD set that chronicles some of the most important bouts to have taken place on WCW's Pay-Per-View broadcasts. Bouts from the likes of Starrcade, The Great American Bash and Halloween Havoc feature heavily throughout as presenter Booker T leads us through the action.
As a presenter Booker is a solid choice for this set, as he not only offers knowledge on a large period of WCW history, but also brings a strong energy and enthusiam to his segments, which is always a bonus!
The matches kick off with Ric Flair challenging Ron Garvin for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship inside a Steel Cage. It's a decent bout, but Garvin's lack of connection with the crowd, means they are fully behind Flair throughout, which harms the overall feel. In contrast the crowd clearly adores Dusty Rhodes as he takes on Barry Windham for the United States Heavyweight Championship in a bout from The Great American Bash 1988. Whilst the pace is slow by today's standards, this match still has a lot to offer, telling a good story, whilst also containing some decent spots like Rhodes delivering a diving cross body. It's a shame so much of the bout is built around Windham "Claw" submission hold as the move does nothing for me what so ever. Five months later Dusty Rhodes teams with Sting to take on The Road Warriors at Starrcade 1988, in an average tag bout, that is let down by some messy action at points and a frustrating finish.
After a string of average matches, this set really kicks into gear with Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat's classic bout from Chi-Town Rumble in February 1989. I absolutely adore this match and for me it is an instant five stars. Both men work together perfectly throughout, creating a must-watch wrestling match. The only downside is the camera's occasionally deciding to show SOME GUYS who play some sport in the US, instead of the action. The match that had to follow was always going to struggle in comparison, and whilst Lex Luger and Flyin' Brian have surprisingly good chemistry, Luger's atrocious selling kept pulling me out of the action. The final match on the disc see's Sting challenging for Ric Flair's NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The bout features solid wrestling throughout, with strong psychological elements thrown in, based around Sting's injured knee. It is let down however by Sting rarely selling the knee, and relying on the commentary team to remind the audience after it is pretty much forgotten by the wrestlers in the last five minutes of the match.
The second disc kicks off with a dull Steel Cage bout between Lex Luger and Barry Windham. It's made even more boring by an apathetic crowd chanting for Ric Flair, who had recently departed WCW for a run in the WWF, throughout the contest. The finish is also baffling, with the steel cage gimmick barely being used throughout the match.In contrast, Flyin' Brian and Jushin Thunder Liger's bout over the Light Heavyweight Championship from Superbrawl II, starts off with a crowd that couldn't care less about the contest and finishes with them gripped by the action taking place within the ring. It's a well paced, epic, light heavyweight contest. with a mixture of crisp chain wrestling and high flying spots. Only Brian not selling the leg that Liger worked early on in the match would stop me giving this bout the perfect five stars. As usual Jesse Ventura's commentary has been turned down, although it can still be heard feintly if listening through headphones, which is slightly distracted, as is seeing Ventura talking at ringside and not being able to hear his voice. It's the same for the following match, as Jim Ross goes solo again as Sting's Squadron (Barry Windham, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, "The Natural" Dustin Rhodes, Sting & Nikita Koloff) battle Paul E. Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance ("Stunning" Steve Austin, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko & "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton) I enjoyed this match a lot more here than on the War Games boxset as it benefits from being the only match using the gimmick here. It's a bloody, violent battle with Austin and Windham both bleeding buckets. There's strong storyline elements thrown in as well, with a lively crowd making this a compelling battle.
The set continues with Cactus Jack and Vader's Texas Death match from Halloween Havoc in 1993. The match is a superb example of Hardcore wrestling done right, as the two men beat the shit into each other for twenty minutes, with some great spots involved. The gimmick harms the match however, with rest periods in between the ten counts, and a bizarre finish, if this was a straight last man standing bout it would have been a lot more enjoyable.
Ricky Steamboat and Steve Austin battle over the US Heavyweight Championship in a sound Veteran vs. Up and Comer contest, with Steamboat allowing Austin to look like a star. The finishing sequence is exhilirating, how WCW and Eric Bischoff didn't recognise they had not only a breakout star in Steve Austin but the future biggest star the industry has ever produced is anyones guess. In the final match of Disc 2, Hulk Hogan's soap opera style theatrics combine with Ric Flair's technical to create a compelling World title bout at Halloween Havoc in 1994. Throw in Mr. T as Special Guest Referee and surround the ring with a Steel Cage and it seems like WCW is onto a winner here. That is until an overbooked ending including Jimmy Hart removing Sensuous Sherri's skirt, a run in from Sting and masked man with a lead pipe, make the final few moments a little tedious to watch.
Disc three kicks off with one of the biggest moments in wrestling history as The Outsiders and their mystery partner take on Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage. This match has been present on a number of different DVD sets, and whilst the action isn't particularly great during the actual match, this one is all about the finish. The crowd reaction is always good to see.
Diamond Dallas Page and Randy Savage's No Disqualification tangle from Spring Stampede is a fun bout. Whilst the action isn't always as crisp as it should be, there's enough to keep the attention of the viewer throughout. I coud've done without the strange goings on after the bout though. Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Eddy Guerrero from Halloween Havoc 1997 is a quality Lucha Libre style bout, with all the flips and tricks that you'd expect. There's a lot of really pretty wrestling here, and stuff that still makes me say "Wow" in 2014, so I can only imagine what watching in 1997 would have been like. The finish is truly spectacular.
Bret Hart and Randy Savage's bout from Slamboree 1998 is as dull as dishwater as the two go through the motions for 15 minutes, before a convulted ending reveals this bout as a set up for another Hogan vs Savage feud. WWE obviously wanted to include a Bret Hart match on the set, and with Hart finest PPV matches for WCW coming against Ric Flair, who we'd already seen four times and Chris Benoit, it's almost as if they picked a match at random. From the bizarre Road Wild PPV (held at motor bike festival, because why wouldn't you hold a wrestling PPV there) we get Chris Jericho defending the Cruiserweight title against Juventud Guerrera in a decent cruiserweight bout. Jericho does his best to gain some heat from an audience that isn't made up of wrestling fans. There's some good wrestling, but this bout lacks the fire needed to take it too the next level, with a crowd that couldn't care less not helping at all. Goldberg's World Heavyweight title defense against Diamond Dallas Page is one of the best bouts of Golberg's career. The psychology is strong, with Goldberg's selling also very good throughout, making the finish mean something! The face vs. face type matches doesn't always pay off but it works very well here.
After the mess that was Hulk Hogan exiting WCW at Bash at the Beach 2000, Booker T and Jeff Jarrett attempt to rescue the situation in the main event of that PPV. Unfortunately the pair are let down, by an over booked mess of a finish and a random brawl around the arena in poor rip off of what ECW had been doing for sometime. When the two are allowed the wrestle the action is good, but they don't get very long to show us what they can do. A six man ladder match for the Cruiserweight title has some really good spots in it, with Shane Helms and Jamie Knoble both standing out. However, once again some bizarre booking, with the match presented as a tag team match that only one man can win, and eventually having it won by two men, and a dodgy first five minutes, harm what could have beena rival to WWF's TLC matches at the time. The final match on the set, is the final match WCW ever presented on PPV as Scott Steiner and Diamond Dallas Page collide in a Falls Count Anywhere bout over the World Heavyweight Championship. For what it's worth, this is a sound contest, with some good brawling presented by both men. Both Steiner and Page play their roles very well, it's just a shame we get another over booked mess of a finish, but hey that was WCW for you!
Overall, this was fine three disc set that showcased a good cross section of WCW's PPV offerings, whilst they may not all be classic matches like Flair vs. Steamboat, the DVD does flow very nicely from one match to the other without an over whelming "burn out" feel. It's clear that WWE wanted to make sure everyone of WCW's big name stars were on this DVD, rather than simpy the Best matches from WCW PPV's otherwise we would have had a whole lot more of Ric Flair! I would have liked to have seen a few more added features like interviews with the wrestlers involved in the matches and maybe some new commentary from those involved (Steve Austin and Ricky Steamboat commentating on their match would have been a nice touch) to make this set stand out from the content already available on the WWE Network (for a cheaper price a month, for a lot more content) as Booker T's introduction aren't quite enough to shed the extra cash. If you're a completist buy the set, if you're not check out the higher reccomended matches on the WWE Network.
Vignette 1: Then, Now, Forever.
Vignette 2: Classic WCW PPV Moments
Segue 1: The Evolution of Pay-Per-View
Match 1: Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. "The Man With The Hands of Stone" Ron Garvin (C) - NWA Starrcade "Chi-Town Heat", 26th November 1987
Match 2: Singles Match for the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship: "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes vs. Barry Windham (C) with "The Executive Director of the Four Horseman" James J. Dillon - NWA The Great American Bash "The Price Of Freedom", 10th July 1988
Match 3: Tag Team Match for the NWA World Tag Team Championships: Sting & "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes vs. "The Legion of Doom" The Road Warriors with "Precious" Paul Ellering (C) - NWA Starrcade "True Gritt" - 26th December 1988
Segue 2: A Hall of Fame Rivalry
Match 4: Singles Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (C) with Hiro Matsuda - NWA Chi-Town Rumble, 20th February 1989
Match 5: Singles Match for the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship: Flyin' Brian vs. Lex Luger (C) - NWA Halloween Havoc, 28th October 1989
Match 6: Singles Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Sting with Junkyard Dog, Paul Orndorff, Scot Steiner & Rick Steiner vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (C) NWA The Great American Bash "New Revolution", 7th July 1990
Segue 3: Everything to Gain
Match 7: Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: United States Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Barry Windham. WCW The Great American Bash, 14th July 1991
Match 8: Singles Match for the WCW World Light Heavyweight Championship: Flyin' Brian vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (C). WCW Superbrawl II, 29th February 1992
Match 9: War Games Match: The Dangerous Alliance ("Stunning" Steve Austin, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko & "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton) with Paul E. Dangerously & Madusa vs. Sting's Squadron (Barry Windham, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, "The Natural" Dustin Rhodes, Sting & Nikita Koloff). WCW WrestleWar "War Games", 17th May 1992.
Segue 4: Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal
Match 10: Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal Texas Death Match: WCW World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader with Harley Race vs Cactus Jack. WCW Halloween Havoc, 24th October 1993.
Match 11: Singles Match for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin (C), WCW Bash At The Beach, 17th July 1994
Match 12: Steel Cage Match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: "Nature Boy" Ric Flair with Sensuous Sherri vs. Hulk Hogan with Jimmy Hart. WCW Halloween Havoc, 23rd October 1994
Segue 5: The Hostile Takeover
Match 13: Six Man Tag Team Match: The Outsiders & Hulk Hogan vs. Lex Luger, Sting & Randy Savage. WCW Bash at the Beach. 7th July 1996
Match 14: No Disqualification Match: Diamond Dallas Page with Kimberly vs. Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth. WCW Spring Stampede. 6th April, 1997.
Match 15: Mask vs. WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rey Mysterio, Jr vs. Eddy Guerrero (C). WCW Halloween Havoc, 26th October 1997
Match 16: Singles Match: Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth. WCW Slamboree, 17th May 1998
Match 17: WCW World Cruiserweight Championship Match: Juventud Guerrera vs. "Lionheart" Chris Jericho (C). WCW Road Wild, 8th August 1998.
Match 18: WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Goldberg (C)
Segue 6: Oppurtunity Knocks
Match 19: WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match: Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett. WCW Bash at the Beach, 9th July 2000
Segue 7: A Legendary Era