WWE – Undertaker – The Complete Wrestlemania Collection (Cert 15)
6 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 713 minutes approx.
Release Date: November 14th
The Undertaker may have retired earlier this year but you know that won’t stop WWE from continuing to make money off his name. This latest home video collection is not just an example of this but also a cheeky one at that.
As the title states, this is the Complete Wrestlemania Collection – i.e. every match The Undertaker has ever had at the biggest show of the year, but it isn’t a completely new presentation. Cast your mind back exactly five years to the release of The Streak 21-1: R.I.P Edition, a 5-disc set which collated all of Taker’s ‘Mania matches up to his loss to Brock Lesnar at WM 30. This version is basically that set with an additional disc to feature the matches from WMs 31-36.
What makes it cheeky is that despite the new title, minor revamped artwork, and extra disc, it is the exact same product for the first five discs; they have made no effort to create a new intro or wrap around features, just repackaged The Streak discs under a new name. Therefore, when you pop the discs into your DVD player, you’ll see the 2015 WWE “Now, Then, Forever” intro, followed by the title sequence saying The Streak 21-1: R.I.P Edition and not Complete Wrestlemania Collection.
It’s one thing to reissue old material but not change the actual presentation is cheapness and duplicity personified. However, five years is a long time and I know WWE has since garnered many new fans in that time, many of whom won’t have purchased The Streak set and the idea of having all 27 ‘Mania matches in one handy collection will be of huge interest to them. And I’m sure they won’t be as picky as me about the misleading title issues either.
Now, here is where I play the role of hypocrite, because I can recycle old material too. If you wish to read my opinion of the first five discs then click HERE to read the review of the original release. That way I don’t have to repeat myself and can get right on with discussing the addendum disc instead.
Beginning with WM 31, the year after the Streak ended at the hands of Lesnar, this was built around whether Taker was actually done, and the psychological damage of that loss would affect his performance at the Showcase of immortals. At that point, who better to get into Taker’s mind than cult master Bray Wyatt, still in his original incarnation before he went all supernatural and schizophrenic himself.
The problem is, Wyatt didn’t have much of a win-loss record to appear as a threat to any of the major names, having been neutered by the likes of John Cena and Roman Reigns, so he should be much of a problem for the Deadman. And he wasn’t! Interestingly, the Streak didn’t reset, so Taker went 22-1 after this.
WM 32 saw Taker face off against Shane O’Sweat in a Hell In A Cell match which was set up on RAW when Shane returned out of the blue after many years away and demand a match to earn control of RAW. Whether it was because Taker was also coming back after an absence, or because the fans knew Shane would do something stupid, this match actually boosted ticket sales for this event and PPV buys (this was pre-WWE Network). And as we know, Shane did do something stupid by leaping off the top of the cell!
Up next was Taker vs. Roman Reigns from WM 33, a match which again hinted that Taker was done for good when left his hat and coat in the ring afterwards, his bespoke riff on the old tradition of a retiring wrestler leaving his boots in the ring. Not a good match, Taker’s hip gave way leading to surgery hence the many blown spots, and of course, the crowd hated Roman since we were in the middle of his mega push as the company ace.
Calling the WM 34 bout against Cena a “match” is a little spurious. It was more of an angle as Cena wasn’t sure if Taker would answer his challenge, and first dealt with Elias before the Deadman showed up. Despite Taker being in better shape this year this was a glorified squash that barely went four minutes. Still, a win is a win I guess.
Finally, Taker’s Wrestlemania run officially ends with a bang but a different kind of bang from before. Throughout this collection we’ve seen him in title matches, casket matches, No DQ matches, and Hell in A Cell matches, but at WM 36 his Last Ride came in the form of a cinematic match. Because of the Covid pandemic, wrestling either took place in empty buildings or they would pre-tape them as mini-films.
Some worked, some (or most) didn’t, but with Taker you knew his supernatural gimmick would ensure the lines between genius and nonsense would be blurred. AJ Styles was the opponent and the Boneyard Match would be Taker’s swan song. Having embarrassed himself against Goldberg in Saudi Arabia a few months before, this was arguably the best way for Taker to bow out. Again, not really a match more a spectacle but somehow it worked.
And there we have, every match from Undertaker’s unparalleled Wrestlemania run from start to finish in one handy box set. It still makes for an interesting watch to chart the journey from WM 7 in 1991 when Taker and newly appointed manager Paul Bearer were still figuring out the nuances of this deadly heel character the fans were cheering, to the Phenom he would become in just a few short years, through the humanising Biker Taker period and back to the Deadman.
2022 saw Undertaker hang up the boots for good and even if this release is a slight mickey take especially for anyone who bought the 2015 version, it can’t be denied it is a fascinating chronicle of a legendary wrestling career.
Rating – ****
Man In Black