WWE – Live In The UK – November 2012 (Cert 12)
2 Discs (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 273 minutes approx.
Ever since the UK only PPVs ceased in 2003 we Brits were rewarded for our unstinting loyalty to the WWE in late 2004 when the flagship TV shows RAW and Smackdown (along with the secondary shows) were taped on our fair shores, something they’ve never done before. Since then the WWE have made two trips to this side of the pond on an annual basis – one in April called the Wrestlemania Revenge Tour and the Survivor Series Tour usually around November, both of which include the aforementioned TV tapings.
This two disc set features the complete episodes of both RAW and Smackdown recorded on the latter tour, as well as Superstars and – exclusively to this set– The Main Event, a show that doesn’t air on UK TV, all emanating from the LG Arena in Birmingham.
Monday Night RAW was taped on November 5th 2012 just two weeks away from the Survivor Series PPV and surprisingly it wasn’t the usual fluff show the WWE has a habit of delivering when in front of an international audience. In fact it was quite a news worthy show. It started off with The Miz quitting Team Punk leading to one of the most awkward face turns in the history of wrestling as well as Paul Heyman having to find a replacement. While he finds one, we learn later that the fate of the team is out of Heyman’s hands when Vince McMahon decides to change the main event of the PPV and forces CM Punk to defend his WWE title against Ryback and the medically cleared Super Cena. So team Punk needs not just another team member but a new captain while team Foley is also down a man. Elsewhere Vickie Guerrero continues to torment AJ Lee and Super Cena about their apparent affair and rogue referee Brad Maddox is called out to explain his actions at the Hell In A Cell PPV. The show was headlined by Super Cena & Ryback vs CM Punk & Dolph Ziggler.
Smackdown was recorded the next night Tuesday November 6th, promoted as a “Live” special in the US, which was a bit cheeky due to the five hour time difference but “wrestling” and “honesty” aren’t regular bedfellows as we know. Unlike RAW there isn’t much storyline progression to be found in this show. Only the Sheamus vs Big Show feud is continued when mobile phone footage of Big Show beating up both Sheamus and William Regal in a pub after RAW is aired. This leads to a tag match of Sheamus & Regal vs Show and Wade Barrett while the main event was Randy Orton vs Alberto Del Rio in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Just two matches were taped for Superstars but neither are memorable nor essential viewing while The Main Event, a show that airs on Wednesday Nights in the US, will be of some interest for UK fans who weren’t at the LG Arena for its taping. Just two matches again, the feature attraction being a hard hitting 20 minute collision between Sheamus vs Wade Barrett with Big Show on commentary. It’s a very good match but since we’ve seen it many times since on WWE TV since its appeal as a special attraction for tempted buyers is somewhat diluted.
For this reviewer, the real treasure of this release is the bonus feature on the first disc – the WWF Title match from Summerslam 1992 with the late great Macho Man Randy Savage defending against the Ultimate Warrior – or as Vince McMahon calls him on commentary “the ULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL-timate Warrrrr-Yah” in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. This was such a great match, easily one of the Warrior’s best, that shows how al the convoluted and OTT storylines of today aren’t needed to build to a classic world title match.
For those in need of a history lesson it goes thus: Some sixteen months after Warrior vanquished Savage from the WWF in a Career vs Career match at Wrestlemania 7, the pair met up again for the WWF title after Savage was reinstated in late 1991 and later defeated Ric Flair for the belt at WM 8. Flair’s manager Mr. Perfect got into the heads of both Savage and Warrior by convincing them both that the other had booked his services at Summerslam. It was that simple yet effective as the 80,000 at Wembley lapped it up as Flair and Perfect strolled out to ringside while the top two faces in the company were battling it out for the top prize. Just a wonderful slice of nostalgia for older fans such as myself – I just hope younger fans can appreciate the magic we felt back then.
The other bonus match on Disc 2 is from the December 1998 Capital Carnage PPV from what was then called the Docklands Arena which I attended! If you look very closely you can just about make me out in the top tier stalls behind the ring. Or maybe you can’t. Anyway The Rock was defending the WWF Title against X-Pac in an average outing.
This is the hard part. To be frank, while I appreciate the sentiment of a UK focused release, this isn’t exactly an essential purchase so it is hard to recommend since it is just a few episodes of the weekly TV product. In about ten years time it might make for an interesting look back but for now, it is has little commercial lustre. However, unless you are an absolute die hard WWE fan and have to have a complete collection of their DVD output then I won’t dissuade you. For anyone who attended the shows and perhaps didn’t record it off TV this will no doubt make for a nice, shiny and complete souvenir of your night out so knock yourself out.
Summerslam 1992 – WWF Title Match – Macho Man Randy Savage (c) vs Ultimate Warrior
Capital Carnage 6th December 1998 – WWF Title Match – The Rock (c) vs. X-Pac
Rating – ***
Man In Black