Seeing as this is simply the RAW, Smackdown and ECW television broadcasts, most of the people reading this review will have already seen them already. The same argument can be made for the PPV releases, but it’s virtually unheard of to release a single episode of the weekly televised wrestling show for the DVD market. Of course, these are no ordinary shows… these are the “Live in the UK” broadcasts.
Running Time: 169mins
WWE Live in the UK: October 2007 Edition
Chapters – Disc 1 (RAW)
- William Regal reveals his plans for the evening
- Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
- Santino Marella vs. Val Venis
- Jonathan Coachman backstage
- Mr Kennedy vs. Randy Orton
- Mr. McMahon introduces Umaga
- Jillian Hall vs. Candice Michelle
- Hardcore Holly gives Cody Rhodes a pep talk
- Brian Kendrick vs. Rory McAllister
- Todd Grisham interviews Shawn Michaels
- Cody Rhodes vs. Hardcore Holly
- Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton
- Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena (RAW – April 23rd, 2007)
Chapters – Disc 2 (Smackdown & ECW)
- John Morrison in-ring interview
- Handicap Match: CM Punk & Kane vs. Big Daddy V, John Morrison & The Miz
- John Morrison & The Miz backstage
- Balls Mahoney interview
- Backstage with Armando Estrada & Vickie Guerrero
- Elijah Burke & Nunzio vs. Jesse & Festus
- The Miz vs. John Morrison
- Great Khali vs. Kane
- Interview with Matt Striker & Big Daddy V
- Chuck Palumbo vs. Chris Masters
- Matt Hardy & MVP backstage
- Matt Hardy vs. Finlay
- Drew McIntyre vs. Brian Major
- JBL interviews Batista
- Deuce & Domino vs. Jimmy Wang Yang & Shannon Moore
- Jamie Noble visits Vickie Guerrero
- Undertaker vs. Jamie Noble
- MVP vs. Rey Mysterio
As with all the previous UK editions of the TV shows, the fans create a different atmosphere to most RAWs, etc (with the signs being a benign highlight at times).
The RAW broadcast begins with a look back at the previous week’s show (which was the night after No Mercy and Randy Orton’s WWE Championship victory). The reason for this was to hype the HBK v Orton bout that main-events the first disc.
William Regal gets a good pop from his countrymen as the show proper opens up in his backstage office for a pre-credit sequence segment. Orton makes an attempt to ingratiate himself with the General Manager, but it does him no favours as Regal comes out the arena and plays the fans beautifully in an unusual babyface role. Instead of giving the WWE Champion what he wants (a Triple Threat between HBK, Jeff Hardy and Mr. Kennedy to soften them up before Cyber Sunday), the GM places him in three matches over the course of the evening against those same three wrestlers.
That one announcement sets the tone for the entire night and also helps push both Orton and the title into the forefront of the broadcast.
With seven matches on the card, it obviously was pretty much the Randy Orton show, but, to me, that isn’t a bad thing as it gives the potential for (at least) three RKOs in one night too.
The opener with Orton v Jeff is a decent TV match that kept both guys strong regardless of the result, while his match with Kennedy (who works the crowd very well – a good portent of what was to come with his current babyface run) was a mild disappointment (mainly due to the poor finish). His main event with Shawn Michaels was far too short and also marred with a non-finish ending. It makes sense to promote Cyber Sunday and to keep the champion strong, but two non-finishes in three matches is too much in this writer’s opinion. Orton does sell the Sweet Chin Music better than anyone on the roster though, so it’s not all bad.
The rest of the show isn’t too bad either, with Santino Marella (being gold on the mic as always) being put up against Val Venis in the first non-Orton match of the evening. Santino has a character that, as my good friend Beltmark has said, is invincible. He can be defeated by anyone on the roster and come out the next week arrogant as ever.
It’s always nice to see Val Venis on TV (the guy is seriously being wasted at the moment), and the match is a nice change with Santino being on the offence for most of the early going. Marella really works the character at all times and follows the advice Jake Roberts once gave me (“Your match starts the minute you walk out that curtain). It’s the type of match you won’t remember ten minutes after you watched it, but the action is decent enough.
Jillian Hall v Candice is as you would expect, while Rory Highlander v Brian Kendrick at least gets both men some airtime (although the highlight of the match is Cade & Murdoch on guest commentary). The match between Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly is ok, but it at least had a storyline that played out nicely over time and is bearing fruit today.
The backstage segments are pretty forgettable too, but there is some fun to be had trying to spot UK wrestlers (Darren Burridge gets the best camera angle) in the background when The Coach chases Hornswoggle through the catering area. There is also a poor skit with Hardcore Holly the most stilted promo in history to hype his match against Cody Rhodes and a backstage interview with HBK that basically has Shawn threatening to do some damage at Cyber Sunday.
The best segment is when Vince has a brief chat with Andy Simmonz (a genuinely nice guy who gets a pop from the live crowd) before introducing Umaga to come down and take him out.
Umaga is another who portrays the little nuances of his character perfectly, and he shows it nicely in this glorified squash match assault. The segment really puts across Vince’s maniacal side as well as Umaga’s destructive potential… and no matter your opinion on whether the destruction did damage to Andy’s UK persona or not, the guy can lay claim to having being involved in a Steel Cage (as well as a First Blood and Street Fight) match on Monday Night RAW.
Watch when Umaga goes to ram Simmonz into the steel cage; the camera cuts to the fans and we get a shot of two good looking girls (one in red and a stunner in the centre of the screen). Next to them is an empty seat, behind which looks like the reason the seat is vacant… a veritable sphere of a female who appears to have eaten the person who was in front of her. Only in the UK right enough.
The ECW broadcast is the weakest of the three shows features, but that doesn’t mean it’s a poor outing for WWE’s third brand.
This was pre-Miz & Morrison (the “Dirt Sheet”era), so the highlight of recent ECW shows had still to happen. It was also during Big Daddy V’s push as a monster, so he is also heavily featured in the opening segment to hype the ECW Championship match at Cyber Sunday. Miz, Morrison and Big Daddy V all plead their case for being voted into the match at the PPV. CM Punk (the current champion) also gives his two-cents as well.
This leads to the opening contest as Punk’s potential PPV opponents team up to face the champion and his mystery partner; Kane. The match does a good job of showcasing all the competitors in the lead up to the big show, with everyone getting good spots in over the twelve-minute running time of the bout.
To digress for a second, I really enjoyed BDV’s run as a monster heel and feel it could have gone a lot further than it did. Some see it as a relic of the 80s, but I, for one, enjoy having a fat monster crushing all before him.
The Miz and John Morrison have a verbal confrontation backstage to set up the main event singles match between the two (with Miz landing a sweet left hand in accepting Morrison’s challenge).
In the last two matches on the show, Nunzio teams with the underused Elijah Burke to take on Jesse & Festus. The match is your basic “Biscuits & Gravy” bout; Jesse takes a pasting, tags out to Festus and the big man cleans house (which, to be fair, is usually a fun sight to behold) and Miz takes on Morrison in a grudge match to hype the Cyber Sunday contest even more.
Miz v Morrison is a decent encounter, but at this point, Miz wasn’t the performer he is now, and as such, the match doesn’t hit the heights it would today. The non-finish doesn’t help.
Other segments feature the story of the Balls Mahoney/Miz feud, a stilted promo from Mahoney (why they put him in these situations rather than just have him smash people in the skull with a steel chair) and the start of the ECW/Smackdown talent trading agreement. It’s also strange to see Vickie Guerrero as a face during her interactions with Armando Estrada.
The first thing that is prevalent is that JBL is on commentary. That alone is reason enough to enjoy the Smackdown show. As good as Foley has been (he is better than Coach anyway), JBL has been the best commentator WWE has had in the last ten years.
The show opens with a recap of Undertaker showing up at the end of the Finlay/Rey match to let give Batista (on guest commentary) a message… your title is mine. After that, it’s time for the opening match as The Great Khali takes on Kane. No matter your opinion on Khali’s in-ring skills, it’s still an awesome sight to behold whenever a man the size of the Punjabi police officer is in battle.
Kane v Khali is a plodding encounter that JBL does his best with in regards to putting over both men and the impact of their respective blows. It’s the standard Khali match with the nerve hold, punches, chops, but it is annoying that it is another contest that ends with a non-finish. Still, it gives Big Daddy V an excuse to come out and do what he does best (followed by Matt Striker giving a quick backstage promo to hype his man).
Chuck Palumbo v Chris Masters (neither of whom are on WWE TV at the moment) is a match that really has no place on a flagship WWE show. Chuck has a fantastic right hand punch and the Masterlock was over, but the bout sucks worse than Billy Gunn at his peak. The fans in attendance didn’t really care for it much either, popping more for Victoria attacking Michelle McCool than they did for any exchange between the ropes.
Other matches on the show were Matt Hardy v Finlay (in the match of the night), Drew McIntyre (someone I have had the honour of facing between the ropes myself) v Brian Major, Jimmy Wang Yang/Shannon Moore v Deuce & Domino, Jamie Noble v Undertaker and MVP taking on Rey Mysterio in the main event.
MVP/Rey and Matt/Finlay are great contests, while the tag match and Drew/Major bouts are ok, but forgettable enough not to really matter. Undertaker v Jamie Noble is a fun squash that actually puts Jamie Noble over as someone who is not afraid to fight, even when he is hopelessly outmatched.
Segments on the show include a recap of Umaga killing Andy Simmonz, Matt and MVP hyping their Cyber Sunday contest, Jamie Noble having a chat with Vickie Guerrero (that leads to his match against Undertaker after a hilarious apology and diatribe from “The Pitbull”) and JBL interviewing Batista as JBL tries to get the fans to choose him as the special referee for the World Heavyweight Championship Match between Undertaker and Batista.
All of the segments have a purpose and move storylines along, while JBL shows that he is infinitely better on the mic than he is between the ropes. All in all, it’s a decent Smackdown, but not a must see show.
There is only one extra, but it is a belter. From the RAW in the UK after Wrestlemania, this is the near hour-long (non-title) rematch between HBK and John Cena that was a very strong contender for 2007’s Match of the Year awards. This really is an epic in every sense of the word and, in my opinion, makes a mockery of all those who say Cena doesn’t belong in the main event. The action is very well paced and the finish is the perfect example of an “out of nowhere” sequence
The match isn’t shown in its entirety (the commercial breaks are still present), so it’s not quite the full hour the actual match went. Instead it’s the forty-five minutes shown on TV that we get here. Truth be told though, this match is reason enough to buy the DVD.
If you were at the shows, then this would be a fantastic reminder of your time at a WWE television broadcast. For the rest of us who have already watched it on TV, it’s less so.
There are a few things wrong with this collection, the main one being that it is a pre-watershed edition of the shows on offer. This means that all the weapons shots have been edited out with either freeze-frames or cuts to the crowd. It is incredibly frustrating, especially as the DVD is a –rated release.
Another frustrating aspect is the running time of the three shows. To put this in perspective, RAW runs for 1h29mins, ECW for 45mins and Smackdown an incredulous 1hr19mins. With RAW being shown as live, there is no excuse for not showing the action that occurred between the commercial breaks.
The final frustrating thing is the lack of extras. As great as the Cena/HBK bonus match is, there was plenty of scope for extra titbits showing the wrestlers backstage, out and about in London, etc to pad out the discs.
Also, the sound on the ECW section is pretty poor compared to the RAW and Smackdown shows, so you’ll need to ramp up the volume to hear things clearly.
This is not an easy disc to grade. While the presentation is top-notch (as all WWE releases are), and the matches themselves are at worst decent, it is still just single episodes of the weekly TV shows and as such, aren’t as much of a must-buy as a PPV or profile release would be.
The sight of seeing some guys I know from the UK scene is nice and the bonus match is probably the best feature on either disc, so it had aspects that were great to me personally.
Overall though, this isn’t quite up to the standards of previous WWE releases.
Points: 7/10 (one point for the HBK v John Cena rematch)