Wednesday, 12 November 2014

WWE The Best of Sting DVD Review

WWE's The Best of Sting is out now on DVD (There's a Blu Ray version too), available from www.wwedvd.co.uk. The three disc set features thirty two Sting's matches between 1986 and 2001, with a short documentary chopped up and used as a bridge between matches throughout the set. The set includes matches against the likes of Bret Hart, Steve Austin, The Great Muta, Ric Flair & Vader.




Finally WWE produces a Sting DVD...and then doesn't include a new Sting interview. This set could easily have been realised whilst Sting was working elsewhere and it feels like a bit of a cop out for WWE only to use old interview clips from 1995 and 1998, both of which stick to kayfabe. That being said, the interlinking segments for the DVD do what they need to do, and whilst they won't offer up any new information for seasoned WCW fans, they will be useful in filling in the gaps for those not so familiar with the Stinger. There's a number of talking heads included alongside the voiceover, these include Sting's contemparies like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Lex Luger, to those who were fans during the period, like Brodus Clay, Natalya and Dean Ambrose, giving a good mix of how those inside and outside of the industry at the time felt. A full documentary would have been nice and perhaps that's what they're saving the Sting interview for. I wouldn't be surprised to see a "shoot" appear on the Network to help push the subscribers up, to be honest. 

The Matches

Disc One


Disc One goes from April 1986 to September 1990, covering Sting's runs in the UWF, NWA and WCW. Kicking off the set is the obligatory Blade Runners match, which is exactly as you would expect, as the pair take on the duo of Bret Wayne Sawyer and Sean O'Reilly on UWF Power Pro Wrestling. The footage here is not great at all. Things improve with a fun tag match teaming Sting with Rick Steiner against Ron Simmons and Mike Rotunda. Whilst the teams are clearly thrown together, there's enough in this one to keep you entertained. The first of four matches against Ric Flair comes from a January 1998 episode of NWA Pro Wrestling. This is curious simply for the finish, as whilst the pair are beginning to put together a compelling bout, the TV show finishes so the end of the match isn't present. Why include half a match on the DVD? 

An October bout from WCW Main Event against Stan Lane is unremarkable, nothing particular wrong with it, but nothing to write home about either. Into 1989, and Sting is really coming into his own as a babyface, as he takes on Butch Reed on a March episode of Main Event. An enjoyable contest with both men working hard for each other. The ascent to the top continues with a belter of a match with Mike Rotunda over the Television title on an April episode of World Championship Wrestling. Sting has the crowd in the palm of hands and with an electric comeback, some good false finishes and a dramatic conclusion this is the strongest match, so  far. 

An August edition of Power Hour witnesses a disapointing bout with Ron Simmons, as whilst the crowd is off, this brawling battle fails to get anything resembling a flow together, which is a shame. A month later on the same show, the pace completely changes as Sting takes on The Great Muta. It's a refreshing change with Muta and Sting really bringing something different, unfortunately the finish is dissapointing, but the crowd still loves Sting. Into 1990 and for the third time this year, The Great American Bash bout with Ric Flair is included on a DVD set. Check out the reviews of WCW's Greatest PPV Matches or The Best of The Great American Bash DVD for my thoughts! Disc 1 concludes with match with Dutch Mantell from Main Event in September, that is essentially a squash match to showcase Sting and build the feud with the Four Horsemen. 

 

Disc Two 


Disc Two picks up the action in June 1991 at Clash of the Champions XIV, as Sting and Nikita Koloff have a fun grudge match. I'll skip over the fact that Koloff no sells a piledriver! In a curious little match, Sting teams with The Great Muta to take on The Steiner Brothers at WCW/NJPW Supershow II. The Japanese crowd offer a completely different feel to their US counterparts and the flow of the match is completely different to anything else on the set. Sting's feud with Van Vader is also showcase, as the pair do battle on Worldwide in February 1992. Certainly not the best match the pair have had, but there's still plenty to enjoy here, with Sting being incredibly easy to get behind as a babyface. A weird finish let's this one down. 

An big eight man tag World Championship Wrestling in February, seeing Sting team with Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes and Barry Windham to take on Rick Rude, Larry Zbyszko, Arn Anderson & Beautiful Bobby, works nicely to build on current feuds and allows for a few more faces to appear on the DVD. In June, a bout with Diamond Dallas Page on Saturday Night is a pointless inclusion. Into 1993 and Barry Windham is the opponent on a February episode of Saturday Night. This is a rather basic match, that is well worked by the pair, with an extremely TV finish. 

Quickly onto 1994 and "Stunning" Steve Austin is the opponent for a technical bout from Pro Wrestling in January. The pair look to be having a terrific Veteran vs Rookie encounter, until the DQ finish that is. The set charges on 1995 and the third bout with Ric Flair on Nitro in November. A shift from the technical wrestling seen between the two earlier in the set, this is a brawling grudge match, with Sting no selling his arse off and Flair being the heely bastard that we all know and love. The Dirtiest player in the game uses every trick in the book. Not the strongest bout the pair have had, but still an entertaining encounter. Sting lost the bleach blonde hair in 1996, we see him taking on Arn Anderson on Nitro, in a match that never feels like the focus of the programme, due to the commentary teams focus on the events of Bash at the Beach the night before. Luckily, Sting's post match promo is absoutely electric and is worthy of inclusion on it's own. The final match for the set see's Sting team with Randy Savage to take on The Boys, The Boys, they're The Nas-ty Boys, in another nothing TV match, from Saturday Night in July, that was used to build up Sting and Savage's partnership.

Disc Three


Disc Three includes the only segment on the set, as Sting becomes a Free Agent in October on Nitro. It's tense and keeps the story ticking over, but I'd have preferred another match. Hulk Hogan is the opponent at Starrcade in a match that has big time written all over it. The crowd is red hot and completely hooked by the action throughout, which definitely helps the match. Unfortunately, the finish is completely botched and ridiculously overbooked, it could have been so much better. A brawling tag bout from a February 1998 episode of Nitro is next as the NWO slowly begins to choke WCW. Sting teams with Lex Luger against Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage in a match that never really manages to live up to the star power in the ring. From Nitro in April, a World Championship match with Kevin Nash is surprisingly good, even if Konnan is at ringside. Sting works the big man's leg, an psychology abounds, until Hulk Hogan remembers he's the star of the show. 

A short brawl with Scott Steiner from Thunder in April, is another pointless inclusion, as the match has no substance at all. No one wants to be a heel as Sting teams with Kevin Nash against Harlem Heat on Nitro in June and the match suffers because of it. The four do put together some good action, but there's no one to get behind and the focus is clearly elsewhere. The Blade Runners reunite as Sting teams with The Warrior to take on Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan in a match bursting with start power. Try and find a fan of The Warrior's run in WCW and I won't even have to tell you have bad this match is. 

Bret Hart is the opponent on Nitro in October, a match that comes strangely the Monday before their PPV clash at Halloween Havoc. To be honest, this match is more of a segment than anything and does work nicely to set up their PPV contest. You'd think Sting facing Randy Savage in 1999 would be an appaling idea and it is. There's not a single wrestling move in the match, which is over booked to high heaven and feature Savage piledriving a referee, because WCW. Into the new millienium and Booker T on Nitro. The match is another that has bags of potential, with Sting's offence focused on Booker's knee and Booker selling like a bankrupt crack dealer. And then The Kiss Demon get's involved and you can almost hear the clicking of remote controls over to Raw.

The theme continues in a Two Out of Three Falls match with Jeff Jarrett on Thunder, as Sting and Jarrett's wrestling match struggles to shine through some silly over booking and ridiculous finish. Stevie Ray's obsession with commentary table is a highlight. Six man tag action from Thunder in October 2000, teams Sting with Goldberg and Booker T against Jarrett and Kronik for an enjoyable match. Goldberg is over as hell and the dynamic between the six men is nice, unfortunatley the finish is botched. 

The final match on set is the final match in WCW history. Sting vs. Ric Flair might not be the best match you've ever seen, but it's difficult not the feel the emotion between the two men and the weight of the occassion. It plays like a greatest hits and that's exactly how it should have been. 


Finally...


In terms of matches, the first two discs are where the bulk of the quality for this set comes from matches with Mike Rotunda, The Great Muta and Ric Flair are the stand outs for me, and there's a lot of good action elsewhere as well. Unfortunately, the final disc focusing on Crow Sting is severly lacking in satisfying action with almost every match that shows potential being crushed by some horrendous booking. Sting can clearly still go at this stage but is let down by those in charge, I would have liked to have seen a lot more clean finishes on this disc, or at least had the DQ endings build to the blow off match also being included.

Lacking the Sting interview does harm the set as a whole, and removes the "Must-Have" label that would have almost certainly been given to it, if that were the case. However, there is enough enjoyable action to satisfy the appetite, although I'd suggest throwing the third disc out of the window.



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