WWE – Wrestlemania Monday (Cert 15)

3 Discs DVD/2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 55 minutes approx.

The WWE has long propagated the idea of Wrestlemania as the biggest night of the year for them and certainly is the one that gets the most attention and hype. But over the past few years, a new phenomenon has occurred that is Wrestlemania related and it is largely fan orchestrated.

24 hours after Wrestlemania, comes Monday Night RAW, normally the beginning of a new direction based on the fallout from the PPV. Ever since Wrestlemania became a stadium event open to fans worldwide, overseas fans would make a long weekend of it, taking in AXXESS events, Hall Of Fame, NXT: Take Over, Wrestlemania and finally RAW.

With a mixed crowd comes a unique mix of reactions from an audience less Pavlovian than most, basically reacting how they want to and not how they are expected to. As a result, the atmosphere at this RAW is unlike anything heard for throughout the rest of the year, making it one of the must see shows of the WWE calendar.

This latest WWE Home Video release (aptly coming out the day after Wrestlemania 33) looks at this unique experience through the eyes of the WWE wrestlers themselves. From the interviews featuring the likes of AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Zack Ryder, Enzo & Big Cass, Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Sami Zayn, they find this an amusing event and embrace the madness, many proclaiming this to be their favourite night of the year.

However the documentary portion of this release in fact focuses more on the big surprise element of the post-WM RAW which quite often involves either new faces making their debut following a call-up from NXT or old faces retuning to the fold. Centred on the episode of RAW that followed Wrestlemania 32 last year, this is a look at the debutants, returnees and big winners on that night.

Up first is Apollo Crews, who only debuted in NXT in August 2015 and frankly didn’t set things on fire but someone saw something in him, and he made his main roster debut on RAW defeating Tyler Breeze in short order. Clips of Triple H given Crews the news about his call up are shown in between interview comments and footage of Crews backstage getting ready.

Enzo and Big Cass are next, although their road to the main roster is less gilded than Crews – in fact, both guys are lucky to still have jobs. Big Cass reveals that he was told he would be fired but the only reason he wasn’t was him being 7 ft tall. Knowing Vince’s propensity for favouring bigger wrestlers this won’t be a surprise, but the hurt in Cass’s eyes when he recalls this is palpable.

Archive footage of both Cass and Enzo from FCW and early NXT shows is an eye-opener, showing how far they have come, and judging by the backstage reactions from their peers before and after their RAW debut, they are a popular duo and have earned their respect for their hard work and perseverance.

Baron Corbin is the last call-up featured although his segment is perfunctory compared to the others. The remainder of this piece is dedicated to the returns of Cesaro and Maryse aka Mrs. Miz. The latter came at the expenses of Zack Ryder who won the IC Title at WM 32, then dropped it 24 hours later to The Miz in front of Ryder’s parents (Ryder’s dad looks like he could take half the locker room himself).

Other clips of interest include the arrival of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, who signed their WWE contracts at this show although it would be a few weeks before they debuted on TV. Photos from their New Japan stint (which is even name checked by Arn Anderson) are shown but no footage sadly but the reunion with AJ Styles is a heart warming moment for all three.

As far as revealing documentaries go, this one pulls back the curtain a lot further than others have before it, taken us into the locker rooms, into the fabled Gorilla Position and most importantly, behind the facades of the wrestlers. Who would think Miz, Maryse, Gallows, Owens,  Enzo would be such humble and levelheaded people? After seeing this, you’ll see that they are.

It is refreshing to see the WWE actually embrace the fact that the fans actually control the product and no more a better example of this is on the post-WM episode of RAW. The Roman Reigns push shows Vince is still calling the shots but he has at least learned to book around the caprice of the fans rather than ignore or spite them.

Running for a terse 55 minutes, the documentary portion only tells part of the story as the brief clips from yesteryear demonstrate, the post-WM RAW has been a fan-led event filled spectacle for a few years now. If you wanting to relieve some of the classic moments from the WM fallout then the extras features are for you.

Kicking off with arguably the first post-WM RAW to truly shake things up, we return to April 3rd 1995, the night Psycho Sid turned on Shawn Michaels (an angle botched by cutting to commercial right in the middle so the TV audience missed the important bits). Other noteworthy clips include Mankind’s debut (1996), the new DX (1998), Hulk Hogan’s face turn (2002), Brock Lesnar’s debut (2002) and return (2012) and the retirements of Ric Flair (2008) and Shawn Michaels (2010).

A healthy selection of matches form these shows are also included which provide much nostalgia from these periods, as well as cause us to strain our memories at trying to recall the faces from recent years we had since forgotten (Highlanders anyone? Cade & Murdoch?).  

In terms of a thematic compilation Wrestlemania Monday may appear superficially flimsy but the frank and candid insight the documentary provides us with and the fondness the match/segment collection engenders makes this a surprisingly worthwhile and enjoyable  release.

 

Extras:

HOH English Subtitles

Blu-Ray Only

Disc 2:

WWF Monday Night RAW – March 30th 1998 – The Rock & Faarooq vs. Ken Shamrock & Steve Blackman

WWE Monday Night RAW – April 3rd 2006 – World Tag Title Match – Big Show & Kane (c) vs. Spirit Squad

WWE Monday Night RAW – April 6th 2009 – Jeff Hardy, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio, John Cena & Ricky Steamboat vs. Chris Jericho, Kane, Matt Hardy, Big Show & Edge

WWE Monday Night RAW – March 29th 2010 – Shawn Michaels Retirement Speech

WWE Monday Night RAW – April 8th 2013 – WWE IC Title Match – The Miz (c ) vs. Wade Barrett

WWE Monday Night RAW – April 7th 2014 – Rusev vs. Zack Ryder

WWE Monday Night RAW – April 4th 2016 – Enzo & Big Cass Debut In WWE

 

Rating – ****  

Man In Black

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