Thursday, 28 August 2014

WWE Live in the UK (May 2014) DVD Review

WWE Live in the UK (May 2014) is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now, available from Recorded on the 19th and 20th May 2014 at the O2 Arena in London, England, the two live shows are split into four TV shows, Raw, Main Event, Superstars and Smackdown. Raw is main evented by a clash between Seth Rollins and Batista, alongside John Cena taking on Luke Harper and Paul Heyman's Cesaro battling Sheamus, as well as five other matches. Main Event see's Damien Sandow go one on one with R-Truth, with one other match. Superstars is main evented by Jack Swagger and Cody Rhodes, with one other match. Smackdown is main evented by a No Disqualification contest between Batista and Dolph Ziggler, as well as Tag Team confrontation between The Wyatt Family, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and Tag Team Champions The Usos and three other matches. The commentary throughout the set is provided by Bryron Saxton, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, John "Bradshaw" Layfield and Tom Phillips. The special features include one other match, as well as eleven additional segments. 

For this review, I'm going to split the DVD up into it's separate TV shows, as well as special features. I think this will be the most effective and coherent way of looking at the product. 

The main story that runs throughout the 1095th episode of Raw is the battle between John Cena and The Wyatt Family, with this storyline both opening and closing the show. Bray Wyatt's opening promo is captivating, adding to character backstory and pushing Wyatt's Last Man Standing Match with Cena at the upcoming PPV. Cena's ambush set up his main event match with Luke Harper well, giving The Wyatt Family a reason to seek revenge. A Renee Young interview with Cena and The Usos later on in the show, provides a solid promo from Cena and an opportunity for The Usos to deliver on the mic also. Wyatt is provided an opportunity to reply, with a short and succinct promo, with both adding depth to the Cena vs Harper clash later on. 

Harper vs Cena closes the show, and didn't quite live up to my expectations. Whilst the match does have it's moments, like Harper hitting a lovely German Suplex as Cena goes for a Five Knuckle Shuffle and Harper's impressive hurracanrana, the majority of the bout is a clunky affair with Cena and Harper not seeming to click in the ring. Luckily, the show does manage to end on a high note, as the match breaks down as The Usos and the rest of the Wyatt Family get involved. The show ends with Wyatt managing to gain a level of revenge on Cena for the earlier attack and setting up the upcoming PPV contest nicely. 

The real main event of the show for me, was Seth Rollins taking on Batista. Similar to Harper vs Cena, both sides had some mic time before the match, with The Shield producing a solid effort detailing their desires for a fight with Evolution, which the crowd ate up, whilst Triple H gave Batista a pep talk backstage. After a nice swerve opening, the match does struggle to find it's feet in the first few minutes, but once it does it develops into a decent TV main event, with Batista and Rollins finding a groove that works well for them, producing some solid action in the ring. The most exciting action of the match, actually comes from the outside as Rollins and Batista's respective factions, begin a wild brawl, with a couple of fun spots. The actual ending is a little disappointing, although the action after makes up for it and leaves the crowd wanting more, which is exactly what a TV show should do. It's difficult however, not to spot the similarities between this match and the Harper vs Cena one. 

Stephanie McMahon's "State of the World Heavyweight Championship Address" feels a little over scripted and forced as she runs down the absent Daniel Bryan and the London crowd. The crowd seemed to be putty in her hands, reacting exactly how she was expecting throughout the segment. It did feel a little strange to not have someone come out to reply to the thing she was saying and therefore this left the segment feeling a little flat to me. The Bad News Barrett video package was a nice touch however. 

The match of the night is a heavyweight tussle between Paul Heyman Guy, Cesaro and then United States Champion Sheamus. Whilst not the strongest match that these two have had, it's still an enjoyable brawl, with both men giving their all throughout to create a solid back and forth encounter with some decent near falls. The bout is hurt however, by the crowds reaction to the competitors, as Sheamus clearly isn't over with the London crowd, it really is time WWE gave him something fresh and exciting to do. 

A Beat the Clock Challenge to gain a shot at the Intercontinental Championship is a bizarre affair. Big E and Ryback kick off proceedings in an unremarkable match, which the crowd couldn't have cared less for. Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio contest a dull, sloppy match with no sense of urgency to beat the time. Dolph Ziggler vs Mark Henry is the most interesting match of the Challenge, and even that suffers from a skewed psychology that just doesn't work. However, the Beat the Clock Challenge is saved by an appearance from Bad News Barrett who appears to take out Rob Van Dam with a Bullhammer Elbow, going on to cut a great promo that works his home crowd perfectly, with Rule Britainia playing being a great way to close things off. 

Elsewhere, then Diva's Champion Paige competes against Alicia Fox in a rough and tumble diva's match, which features some good spots and sound psychology. It's not perhaps the homecoming that Paige should have been afford though. A mixed tag match between R-Truth & Naomi and Fandango & Layla never happens, meaning Truth's entrance feels entirely pointless. The return of 3MB as The Union Jacks is a fun segment, although the interuption of Rusev and Lana goes on for a little too long for my liking. An in ring segment involving Adam Rose, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter works as a nice refresher before heading into the main event. 

This certainly isn't the strongest episode of Raw, there's ever been, and to be quite honest, there's nothing that I would label as "Must Watch" on this episode. The three big matches on the show do what they need to do to push the angles forward to the next episode and build towards the Payback PPV, but beyond that this is an entirely missable episode of Raw. 

As with Raw, Smackdown is dominated by the John Cena vs Bray Wyatt feud, with The Wyatt Family opening the second hour of the show, with another strong promo from Bray, depicting Cena as a corporate monster (very different from how Cena would be painted in his feud with The Authority later in the year) with some good visual language. Wyatt switches the focus nicely from Cena to Harper and Rowan's opponents later in the night, Tag Team Champions The Usos. A strong promo that showed Wyatt has much more depth than he is often given credit for. The Usos and Cena get a chance to reply in an interview with Renee Young, with both The Usos and Cena delivering good promos, with Cena's actually being quite funny

Whilst The Usos vs. Harper and Rowan is essentially a abridged version of their PPV matches, this doesn't stop the match form being an entertaining affair. The bout builds nicely towards the hot tag, with Harper and Rowan both producing some nice looking offence, before erupting into a series of exciting moves from The Usos. The finish is screwy, but this allows for more build up towards the Cena and Wyatt match on PPV, with the two teasing a confrontation to close the show. 

Batista and Dolph Ziggler duke it out in an engaging No Disqualification match, which is the best match on the show. It's a back and forth brawl, with plenty of nice spots to keep the attention, including a nasty looking Fameasser attempt from the apron to the steel steps. Ziggler brings a nice intensity to the match, that brings out the best in Batista, who puts in more than enough effort, with the live crowd enjoying this one a lot. Whilst Batista's return was much maligned, this bout proves that he had more to offer WWE than the internet gave him credit for. 

In an attempt to help ticket sales for this event, WWE added Hulk Hogan to appear on the show. If I'd have payed to have seen Hogan, I would have been very disappointed. His appearance, alongside Jimmy Hart, is simply to shill the WWE Network and it's then upcoming show Legends House, which wasn't still isn't available in the UK (officially). A complete waste of Hogan's time and real let down for the fans in attendance. 

Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus tread water in a match that happened. The pair simply go through the motions until Cesaro get's involved, with neither seemingly looking to get the win. Cesaro's interaction with Sheamus after the match is good however. Bo Dallas makes his debut on the main roster with a decent encounter, which get's over Bo's character nicely. Tag Team Women's action is painful to watch as Nikki Bella & Eva Marie take on The Funkadactyls, the wrestling is messy and it's unclear who the crowd is supposed to be rooting for. Vickie Guerrero reminds us that she was the General Manager of Smackdown at this time, with an interaction with Adam Rose. The crowd enjoys it, but it's undoubtedly filler, with no real direction. 

Similar to Raw, there isn't anything here that I'd say you were missing out on if you hadn't seen before. The Batista and Dolph Ziggler bout is entertaining if you have nothing else to do, but even then I'm sure you wouldn't stay awake at night stressing that you hadn't seen it yet. Unlike Raw, there is no real storyline progression as everything simply treads water. 

Main Event is top and tailed by a mini-feud between Cesaro and Mark Henry. The show kicks off with Paul Heyman trying his hardest to get some heat for Cesaro, but never quite managing it. This isn't particular Heyman or Cesaro's fault, the crowd simply just wants to cheer Cesaro, which is something that harmed Cesaro's entire run with Heyman. Mark Henry's interruption set up their main event skirmish nicely. Therefore, when Heyman attempt to get the match changed later on, it is very frustrating as the match is changed to an arm wrestling contest.  This means the show ends on a rather flat note, with no real main event contest. 

Damien Sandow continues his gimmick of dressing up as stuff, turning up as Sherlock Holmes for a dull bout with R-Truth. Truth simply doesn't look like he's bothered with the match, barely selling simple moves like headlocks and no selling a series of punches from Sandow garnering absolutely no reaction. I simply wasn't invested in the match, and wasn't given a reason to get invested, by the end of the match is was completely bored. Not good.

It would get worse however, as it was time for an Aksana match. The unlucky opponent this time was Naomi, with the commentators attempting to get over a fierce rivalry between the two, due to Aksana injuring Naomi's eye a few months ago. Unfortunately, that fierce rivalry isn't seen in the ring and whilst Naomi's offence does look good and Cameron does a good job of cheer leading on the outside, that doesn't save this match from being a dud.

This is quite possibly the worst episode of Main Event, I have ever sat through. There is no main event match, and the other two matches on the show are piss poor. A real disappointment for a show that usually delivers, at least one good match. 

Superstar is main evented by Cody Rhodes taking on Jack Swagger in a smooth bout with a good layer of storytelling involved. Swagger works Rhodes' arm throughout the early part of the match, which I summised was to impact on Rhodes' ability to hit the Cross Rhodes, which came into play later in the match, unfortunately Saxton and Phillips didn't pick up on this. There's plenty of near falls, Zeb Colter and Goldust doing some good work at ringside and jolly good finishing sequence, as well. One of the better matches on this set. 

Elsewhere, Big Show took on Titus O'Neil in a match. That's probably a bit harsh on both O'Neil and Big Show who clearly worked hard, I just simply didn't have any interest in seeing this match. Considering WWE were trying to push Big Show ahead of Daniel Bryan in November, it really does show how far the World's Largest Athlete has fallen in six months. 

I don't watch WWE's poor relation often, but I have to say I rather enjoyed this episode of Superstars. With the removal of the Raw replays that had been present on previous Live in the UK sets, this episode flows rather nicely, can't really ask much more from WWE's D show.

Special Features

WWF UK Rampage 1989/First WWF UK Event

The first disc features footage of WWE's first ever event in the UK in 1989 from London Arena in London. Opening up with "Mean" Gene Okerlund interviewing Hulk Hogan and Miss Elizabeth about Hogan's upcoming main event match with Randy Savage. It's a generic Hogan promo, until the arena's PA system interrupts making most of the interview inaudible. Miss Elizabeth saying she planned on slapping Savage in the face seemed a bit out of character as well. 

The Hogan vs Savage match is also included, as the two ATPW Hall of Famers battle over the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. The crowd absolutely loves this match, going wild for the slightest movement of the competitors. There's plenty of stalling from Savage and a lot of involvement from Elizabeth and Sensational Sherri at ringside. Whilst the match builds nicely towards it conclusion and Hogan no-selling an Elbow drop is a nice moment, it's difficult to feel that this match is any different from what the pair were wrestling on house shows across America at the time. That said, it's still a nice addition to the set. 

Paige's Journey to WWE

I wasn't entirely impressed with this short video package. The title was slightly misleading as I thought this might have been a short interview with Paige discussing how she got to WWE in the first place. However, it's simply a collection of clips from her time in NXT, followed by her debut on Raw, beating AJ Lee for the Diva's Championship. Underwhelming.

Raw Kick Off

Three segments from the Raw Kick Off show are included, each introduced by the panel of Josh Matthews, Booker T and Alex Riley.

The first see's Renee Young interviews Brad Maddox, who negates Renee's questions about the World Heavyweight Championship situation and instead books the Beat the Clock Challenge. After watching Raw this is pretty pointless inclusion.

A much better inclusion is Renee's interview with Paul Heyman and Cesaro, as Heyman works his magic, ripping into Renee in spectacular fashion. It made me laugh, so I was entertained, it also made me feel sorry for Renee, so I was engaged. Couldn't ask for much more really.

In another needless addition, Renee attempts to interview Stephanie McMahon who refuses to answer any questions. If there was ever a piece of filler on a WWE DVD this is it. 

Raw Backstage Pass

Two segments from the Raw Backstage Pass show are present, once again introduced by the panel of Josh Matthews, Booker T and Alex Riley.

Bryon Saxton's interview with Rob Van Dam isn't the greatest  promo in the world, although I'm sure no one was expecting that from Van Dam anyway. However, I was impressed the Van Dam was still selling the effect of the Bullhammer Elbow he'd received from Bad News Barrett earlier in the show. 

Renee Young then catches up with John Cena for a short and generic promo, where Cena simply seems to fill in the blanks to push his match with Bray Wyatt at Payback.

Raw - After The Show LIVE!

A nice addition to the DVD, is the dark segment for Raw. We see Bad News Barrett head to the ring to hit Erick Rowan with Bullhammer Elbow, before getting the rub from John Cena and interacting with both Stephanie McMahon and Triple H of The Authority. Adam Rose turns up as well. This segment was a lot of fun, with Barrett basking in the reaction he receives from the crowd and enjoying his time in the spotlight with Triple H. It really is a shame that Barrett suffered an injury a few months after, because he really did have some good momentum at this point.

Michael Cole's Weekly Interview with Triple H

This is more of a chance to plug what WWE has coming up, than a particularly interesting interview. Subjects range from Daniel Bryan not being on the European tour, Evolution's feud with The Shield, Bo Dallas' debut and Hulk Hogan's appearance on Smackdown. Certainly not the best interview the pair had done, although Triple H does say the word "dweebs".

Smackdown Kick Off

There's two segments included from the Smackdown Kick Off, both introduced by the one man panel that was Josh Matthews.

First Matthews interviews Renee Young, in a strange segment, asking Renee about how the lockeroom feels about Daniel Bryan potentially dropping the World Heavyweight Championship on the next week's Raw. Seeing as this was the show before Smackdown, this segment doesn't make much sense at all.

Secondly, Renee interviews Batista about his upcoming match with Dolph Ziggler. Whilst Batista does a good job of putting over his match with Ziggler as something important and manages to tie it back in to his upcoming match at Payback, I'd have to question the idea that Batista "made his name" in No Disqualification matches!


As with many of these Live in the UK sets, I think it makes a nice souvenir if you were at either of the two shows on the DVD, however they aren't that enjoyable if you weren't. Raw and Smackdown both present shows with no real "must-see" moments, and beyond the Ziggler and Batista bout everything else is passable at best. Main Event is dire and whilst Superstars puts on a decent show, it's not worth buying the DVD for. Even with the plethora of extras, most are disappointing, with only the Hogan vs Savage bout and the dark segment to Raw offering anything at all. This one wasn't for me, I'm afraid. 

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