WWE's Best Pay-Per-View Matches 2014 is out on 12th January on DVD, available from www.wwedvd.co.uk. The three disc set features compiles the biggest matches that aired on PPV from between January and October 2014 and is a UK exclusive. The set includes matches featuring the likes of Evolution, Chris Jericho, The Shield, Cesaro, Daniel Bryan and more.
This set is a straight up match compilation, there's no real introduction and no intercontecting presentation. This works just fine as the set flows from match to match rather nicely, with the appropriate pre-match hype videos being shown where necessary being more than enough to get you up to speed with the storylines involved in the match you are about to see. Presentation wise there isn't much more to talk about, this is a rushed together set to attempt to cash in on the new years market, which is made abundantly when you realise the last two PPV's of 2014 (Survivor Series and TLC) are not represented on this set. (As with the set itself, a lot of the content below has been lifted from our reviews of the PPV DVD releases)
Kicking off the set is Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan from the Royal Rumble. The bout tells a strong story, with some terrific selling from Bryan, a great opener for both the Rumble PPV and this set.
The much anticipated encounter between The Shield and The Wyatt Family from Elimination Chamber is next. Plenty of well paced, exiting action, with all six men being used well, although on repeat viewing it does lose something of the buzz that it originally had. The eponoymous Elimination Chamber match is included as Randy Orton's WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line against John Cena, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, Christian and Cesaro in an entertaining near 40 minutes of action. Sheamus and Cesaro's continued physical battle makes them the stand-outs of the bout, with Cesaro's numerous attempts at the famed Cesaro Swing. It's a much more story driven Chamber than the previous incarnations, with elements such as Bryan's injured shoulder, Christian's desperation and Orton's previous matches against his opponents all being referenced heavily. It is however let down by a contrived screwy finish, with way too much interference for a bout of this type.
Daniel Bryan's quest for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship continues through two matches from WrestleMania XXX. Kicking off against Triple H, in a match that plays to both men's strengths, a story-driven affair, as Triple H dominates his smaller opponent, working the arm and shoulder throughout, with the crowd lapping up every moment. It's certainly the best match Triple H has taken part in in quite some time, even pulling out a Tiger Suplex, which of course lands right on the injured shoulder. Anyone who's read these blogs, check out Twitter account or spoke to me in person, knows that this the type of wrestling that I absolutely love and therefore it was a treat to see it performed so well on the Biggest Wrestling show of the year. The story continued later on in the night, with the winner taking on Batista and Champion Randy Orton in a compelling Triple Threat encounter. At times, it verged on becoming overbooked, with a lot of intereference, but as all the pieces fell into place, including a terrific performance from Randy Orton. A nasty looking Batista Bomb into Leaping Neckbreaker from one announce table to another is perhaps the spot of the match, before a dramatic and tense ending that felt fitting for the 30th edition of the spectacular.
A strange inclusion is the WeeLC match between El Torito and Hornswoggle, because it didn't actually air on PPV, coming from the Extreme Rules Kick-Off show, although
it does feature 3MB and Los Matadores working their arses off throughout. On the main Extreme Rules show, a lively Intercontinental Championship match between Big E and Bad News Barrett is a decent heavyweight encounter. It is, however, let down by the crowd's negative reaction towards the babyface Big E. Also featured is a six man tag between The Shield and Evolution. A big match atmosphere can be felt before the match even begins, with the match itself being put together very nicely, getting the correct reactions out of the crowd at the correct moments. Some top draw spots and credible wild brawling makes this a worthy inclusion. Personally, I would've put the Kane vs. Daniel Bryan main event in, instead of the WeeLC and Intercontinental Championship bouts, although I can understand that these other two matches add a bit more variety to the set.
At Payback, Sheamus puts the United States Championship on the line in an intense, physical brawl with Cesaro. After a slow first couple of minutes, the match builds nicely with both men proving why they deserve a renewed focus in WWE storylines. From the same show, John Cena and Bray Wyatt go to war in a belting Last Man Standing match. With a supporting cast of The Usos, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper to keep things interesting, this match concludes Cena and Wyatt's feud nicely. Personally, I think Sheamus and Cesaro had a better match at Night of Champions later in the year, and if I had to pick I'd have chosen the Shield vs. Evolution match from this show, over the one from Extreme Rules.
The traditional Money in the Bank Ladder match is included here, over it's World Heavyweight Championship counterpart. It's a strong offering, even if the finish is a little flat. Whilst Rob Van Dam, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler plays their part in the match, this is the Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose show as their lengthy feuds begins to build in intensity.
Battleground saw The Usos and The Wyatt Family's Luke Harper and Erick Rowan go at it in a Two out of Three Falls match. A well structured and exciting effort from the four, that has the Tampa Bay Times Forum eating out of the palm of their hands throughout. Harper and Jey especially put in a shift, crafting a slick and hectic sequence, laced with dramatic near falls that builds well towards the finish. A battle royal for the vacant Intercontinental Championship has enough thrills and spills to keep the attention, especially once some of the deadwood is eliminated and means a few extra guys get a royalty check I suppose. Although the Fatal Fourway main event of the show would have been a more worthy of an inclusion.
WWE's second biggest show SummerSlam offers three bouts beginning with
Paige and AJ Lee battling over the Diva's Championship, in a spot-heavy contest, that doesn't have enough time to offer up anything else, this bout is criminally short at under five minutes. The surprise of the show came from a good Flag Match between Jack Swagger and Rusev, it's chock full of great selling by both men and some impecable storytelling. Finally, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose's Lumberjack match is an exciting and creative spot-fest, that doesn't get the time it deserves to tell a satisfying story. In my opinion, the two strongest matches of the show are left out here, Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena are glaring exclusions from the set.
Three matches are also chosen from Night of Champions as The Usos put the Tag Team Championships on the line against Gold & Stardust in a good solid tag team encounter to start. Chris Jericho almost makes up for his dull feud with Bray Wyatt, with a belter of a match with Randy Orton. The pair of veterans put together an engaging wrestling match, that is super crisp and full of near falls that keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. The crowd that is initially indifferent for this one, is completely into everything the two do by the end of the match. The finish is perhaps the biggest let down here. Brock Lesnar and John Cena going at it over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is another solid encounter, featuring a strong story that does a lot for both men. The finish again is a little flat and annoying, so maybe including their SummerSlam encounter instead would have been a better idea
Hell in a Cell is the last show to get a look in (as we all know the year ends in October), with an enthralling Two out of Three Falls Match, between Dolph Ziggler and Cesaro over the Intercontinental Championship being included. The match is filled with sound storytellling, partnered with some sound wrestling and cool spots. John Cena and Randy Orton's Hell in a Cell match see's the two put together a number of interesting sequences and use the Hell in a Cell gimmick well. The storytelling in the first three quarters of the match are strong, with Orton attempting to get the pinfall at every opportunity and Cena fighting from underneath, it's a shame that most of this hard work is lost in closing stages of the match. Whilst the bout is also harmed by the lack of crowd involvment, it is still a good Hell in a Cell match and more than worth a watch. I was surprised not to see Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins' Hell in a Cell match also included.