WWE – Live In The UK – May 2014 (Cert 12)
2 Discs (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 284 minutes approx.
Once again we Limeys are privileged to get what most other countries outside of North America and Canada don’t – a twice yearly set of TV tapings from the WWE. While this is something we should be proud of it is unfortunately a double edge sword as I’ll explain in a little more detail later.
For now let’s take a look back at the events which took place at the O2 arena on Monday May 19th and Tuesday May 20th. The first night saw the WWE’s flagship show Monday Night RAW being recorded just two weeks before the Payback PPV and a result the show wasn’t the usual filler it has been in the past.
RAW opened with the Wyatt family cutting off the opening ident montage and Bray Wyatt leading the crowd in a sing song. It has to be said the image with the phone lights while the arena is darkened is one to behold and adds a lot to the mystique and aura of Wyatt’s promos. Later on in the show John Cena brings out The Usos as his back up and in the hope it would stop the crowd booing him when he faced Luke Harper. It didn’t.
Elsewhere Divas champion Paige made her first homeland appearance since joining the WWE while Summer Rae made her return from filming The Marine 4 to begin her feud with Fandango and/or Layla depending on how you view this situation. And newcomer Adam Rose finally got a big reaction from a live crowd as opposed to the hitherto apathy he had received which caused WWE officials to believe his gimmick was DOA.
This show also featured a Beat The Clock challenge to determine the number one contender to Bad News Barrett’s IC title featuring Big E, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam, Alberto Del Rio and Mark Henry as the participants. And to further the main feud between The Shield and Evolution Batista faced off against Seth Rollins in match where Triple H abused his authority to stack the deck against Rollins, but The Shield were one step ahead of their opponents.
For the live crowd who are watching this show back, the big news was the segment which saw Stephanie McMahon dupe the fans by coming out to Daniel Bryan’s music to address the World Title situation. This ruse caused the fans to bombard Steph with nuclear heat so loud her promo couldn’t be heard. So, the audio has been tweaked a bit here so her screechy voice is loud and clear and the fans chants are buried in the background.
Smackdown wasn’t a particularly memorable show except for two things – the first UK WWE appearance of Hulk Hogan since 1993 (he was over here with TNA in 2013) where he told us we’d be getting the WWE Network soon (still waiting WWE) and the debut of Bo Dallas. Those of you with good memories may recall Bo first appeared in the 2013 Royal Rumble where he eliminated Wade Barrett then defeated him on RAW the next night before disappearing. Well Bo is back with his new inspirational character urging us all to Bo-Lieve.
In an utterly confusing moment Summer Rae, who we are supposed to accept as the babyface in the feud with Layla/Fandango, was a heel referee for a Divas tag match. Was Russo moonlighting while secretly “advising” TNA too? Meanwhile Vicki Guerrero was embarrassed by Adam Rose and John Cena was in the corner of the Usos as they faced Harper and Rowan, offering such sagacious advice as “tag him”. Brilliant.
Included as ever in this set is Main Event which doesn’t air here in the UK and frankly is a missable show although this episode is worth a watch only for Paul Heyman’s always entertaining promo. The less said about Damien Sandow dressed as Sherlock Holmes the better.
A slice of history can be found in the extras in the form of a match from the first ever UK Rampage in 1989, pitting WWF champ Hulk Hogan against Macho Man Randy Savage. It’s the usual affair with tons of stalling from Savage, Sherri liberally interfering and Hogan beating both up before no selling the Elbow and winning. Elizabeth, who is sporting some hideous hair extensions, gets involved too in what is her most animated performance to date.
With the arrival of the WWE Network came the pre and post show panel interviews and features that usually accompany PPVs. Now for the first time these are featured here in the DVD extras, which includes the post RAW segment featuring Bad News Barrett.
And this brings me to my “double edged sword” comment from earlier. Yes it is great that the UK gets these shows but Vince McMahon for some reason has decided to not give the fans what they want with regard to our homeland heroes. By having Paige lose a match so decisively in her first UK TV appearance while Barrett is kept off TV altogether save for a run in is frankly spitting in the face of the UK fans. In the aforementioned post show segment Barrett tries to talk to the fans but the Authority keep cutting him off, turning off the lights and muting his mic.
We all know Vince likes to humiliate wrestlers in their home towns back in the US but surely on the international front he should be more accommodating? Unfortunately this won’t stop the loyal fans from buying tickets for the next TV tapings in November but as it only twice a year Vince and WWE should give us UK fans or money’s worth when our homeland heroes come out.
As ever this set is great memento of the two evenings for fans in attendance while the additional TV extras help lift this beyond an otherwise pedestrian release.
UK Rampage 10th October 1989 London Arena
Hulk Hogan and Miss Elizabeth plan revenge for Macho Man Randy Savage
WWF Title Match – Hulk Hogan (c) (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Sensational Sherri)
Paige’s Journey to the WWE
RAW Kick-off Show
Brad Maddox speaks on the State of the WWE World Title
Paul Heyman and Cesaro arrive at RAW
Stephanie McMahon Addresses the State of the WWE World Title
RAW Backstage Pass
Rob Van Dam promo on Bad News Barrett
John Cena refuses to give up
RAW After The Show Live!
Bad News Barrett has some “Bad News” for The Authority
Triple H Speaks with Michael Cole at the O2 Arena
Smackdown Kick-off Show
Renee Young reports on the atmosphere backstage in London
Batista gears up for his match against Dolph Ziggler
Rating – ***
Man In Black