Covering the time-period of Backlash 2009 until WrestleMania XXVI, this covers what many is considered the WWE calendar year (much like April 1st to March 31st is the financial year) and features fifteen complete matches taken from the hundreds of bouts contested over the 12 months. Fifteen might sound like a measly amount, but when you add in the fact you get pre-show hype videos for some of the bigger matches as well, it’s a lot of content and the majority of the bouts belong in the list.
Running Time: 416mins (6hrs 56mins)
- Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Edge v John Cena – Backlash (April 26, 2009)
- ECW Championship Match: Christian v Jack Swagger – Backlash (April 26, 2009)
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Jeff Hardy v Edge – Judgment Day (May 17, 2009)
- Michael Cole & Matt Striker
- Mask v Intercontinental Championship Match: Rey Mysterio v Chris Jericho –
- The Bash (June 28, 2009)
- 6-Pack Challenge for the United States Championship: Kofi Kingston v MVP v The Miz v Jack Swagger v Carlito v Primo – Night of Champions (July 26, 2009)
- Michael Cole & Matt Striker
- Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena v Triple H v Randy Orton Night of Champions (July 26, 2009)
- Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler v Rey Mysterio – Summerslam (August 23, 2009)
- Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Jeff Hardy v CM Punk – Summerslam (August 23, 2009)
- Michael Cole & Matt Striker
- “I Quit” Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena v Randy Orton – Breaking Point (September 13, 2009)
- Michael Cole & Matt Striker
- Tag Team Hell in a Cell Match: D–Generation X v Legacy – Hell in a Cell (October 4, 2009)
- Bragging Rights 14-Man Tag Team Match: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger & Kofi Kingston v Chris Jericho, Kane, Matt Hardy, Finlay, R-Truth, David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd – Bragging Rights (October 25, 2009)
- Traditional Survivor Series Match: The Miz, Jack Swagger, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, & Dolph Ziggler v John Morrison, Evan Bourne, Matt Hardy, Finlay, & Shelton Benjamin – Survivor Series (November 22, 2009)
- Ladder Match for the ECW Championship: Christian v Shelton Benjamin – WWE TLC (December 13, 2009)
- WWE Women’s Championship Match: Michelle McCool v Mickie James – Royal Rumble (January 31, 2010)
- Michael Cole & Matt Striker
- Streak v Career: The Undertaker v Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 26 (March 28, 2010)
- John Cena discusses his match from Backlash
- Christian discusses his match from Backlash
- Rey Mysterio discusses his match from The Bash
- Kofi Kingston discusses his match from Night of Champions
- Rey Mysterio discusses his match from Summerslam
- John Cena discusses his match from Breaking Point
- Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase discuss their match from Hell in a Cell
- Matt Hardy discusses his match from Bragging Rights
- The Miz discusses his match from Survivor Series
You’ll have seen most, if not all of the matches already, so you’ll know whether this collection is for you or not just by glancing at the match listing. Also when looking at the match listing, you can see that WWE deserve a lot of credit for trying to include as many wrestlers as possible while not compromising the quality of the set. 35 wrestlers are involved in matches across the three discs, with Jack Swagger making the most appearances with a total of four, beating Cena and Triple H, who both have three, and a host of others who have two showings. Undertaker only makes one appearance (on disc three) and it won’t take a wild guess to figure out which match it is.
If you’re a fan of stats, here’s a list of the wrestlers involved (in numerical, then alphabetical, order) and how match matches they feature in.
- Jack Swagger – 4
- HHH – 3
- John Cena – 3
- Christian – 2
- Cody Rhodes – 2
- Dolph Ziggler – 2
- Edge – 2
- Finlay – 2
- Jeff Hardy – 2
- Kofi – 2
- Matt Hardy – 2
- The Miz – 2
- Randy Orton – 2
- Rey Mysterio- 2
- Shawn Michaels – 2
- Shelton Benjamin – 2
- Ted DiBiase- 2
- Big Show – 1
- Carlito – 1
- CM Punk – 1
- David Hart Smith – 1
- Drew McIntyre- 1
- Evan Bourne – 1
- Jericho – 1
- John Morrison – 1
- Kane – 1
- Tyson Kidd – 1
- Mark Henry – 1
- Michelle McCool – 1
- Mickie James – 1
- MVP – 1
- Primo – 1
- R-Truth – 1
- Sheamus – 1
- Undertaker – 1
Cena v Edge opens the show after a brief intro by our hosts, Striker and Cole, competing in a Last Man Standing bout that is fought in front of a super-hot crowd who are into every single move these two make. Some people just click when they’re in the ring against each other and Edge and John Cena do that in spades. Oh, and the finish to this was one of the most memorable in recent memory. Explosive doesn’t cover it.
The weakest match on the first disc is the Six-Pack Challenge, but even that has plenty to like about it and has a great finishing sequence. Before we get to that, Christian and Jack Swagger have a great encounter for the now-defunct ECW Championship, while Jeff Hardy v Edge and Rey v Jericho are stunningly executed and fought in front of a rabid crowd eager to be involved vocally. On a side note, it was great to hear Jim Ross on commentary again. I know it’s not productive to look back when you can move forward, but Good Ol’ JR was a once-in-a-lifetime announcer who made the big matches huge and the huge matches epic.
Disc two continues the journey with an epic Triple Threat for the WWE Championship between Orton (the champ), Cena and Triple H that was set up with a tournament on RAW and a nice little angle with Ted DiBiase, Sr. and Legacy. The hype video does a sterling job, as always, in making the encounter seem like such a huge deal. It’s a really good match with a really good finish and carries on the good work seen on the first DVD.
Ziggler and Mysterio had a great midcard feud over the IC Title and the match at Summerslam shown here was the zenith of that rivalry. It’s just a pity that WWE didn’t capitalise on it and the recovery for Dolph is still ongoing today. The second disc moves on from the midcard and takes us back into the main-event of Summerslam and the fantastic storyline between CM Punk and Jeff Hardy (my pick for the feud of the year on Smackdown). Playing off the well-documented lifestyle choices of the men behind the characters, this angle was more “real” than virtually everything else that took place in 2009. This TLC match is fantastic, full of great action, dramatic close calls and a crowd that are on fire from bell to bell. The aftermath angle with Undertaker is omitted, however, so that tidy piece of business will need to wait for another day.
Closing out the second disc is a match that, when it was announced, caused a collective groan to echo around InternetLand. Cena and Orton had faced each other so many times in a short period, apathy was bound to set in… until the WWE production crew weaved their vignette magic. Suddenly, it became a must-see contest that had a lot to live up to. And live up to the hype it did. Fought differently to most “I Quit” matches, Cena took lot of (legitimate) punishment, none more than when he was cuffed and beaten by a Singapore cane at the ringpost (the welts and cuts look unbelievably painful), and the finish was awesome. The visual of Cena, cuffed TO his opponent, using all his strength to stop Randy from running and staring at Orton with a look of “you are f*cked” on his face, was also an amazing sight to behold. So far, nine matches in and not a duffer among them.
The big question then is can the final disc follow suit? The answer is yes, yes it can. Shawn Michaels makes his first appearance of the year as DX enter the Hell in a Cell and bring their surprisingly competitive feud with Legacy to a close. Truth be told, I’d rather WWE included the Submissions Count Anywhere battle they had at Breaking Point, but this is still a very good bout with great psychology that builds from their two previous PPV matches.
The main event of Bragging Rights was a really fun mass-tag that gave most of the wrestlers involved a fair shake of the stick, while the other big tag encounter, the Traditional Survivor Series Tag Match, features a lot of the young talent breaking through the ranks in WWE and it’s interesting to see where the surviving trio of Miz, Sheamus and McIntyre are now in their respective roles. In fact, this match could’ve been subtitled “The Future of WWE Collide” due to it featuring so many of the up-and-comers like Ziggler, Bourne, Miz, Drew, Sheamus, Morrison and Jack Swagger.
Moving on from the multi-person matches, the last three bouts are all one-on-one matches, with Christian and Shelton Benjamin putting on an absolute blinder of a Ladder Match to allow the ECW Championship some sort of dignity as it was phased out with the demise of the ECW television show on Sci-Fi. Following on from that, however, is the biggest practical joke WWE have ever pulled. At least I hope it was a joke.
The “match” between Mickie James and Michelle McCool lasted TWENTY SECONDS and features a total of two moves (one of which is missed). There are literally hundreds of matches in WWE that could and should have taken its place in this collection. Even amongst the Divas, if it had to be a female match, there are plenty that could’ve been used. This is the only black mark of the set and is a huge insult to the ladies involved (they had two or three other matches against each other), the other wrestlers in the company who didn’t make the set, the other wrestlers who did, but could have taken this spot and the fans who are meant to believe that this is one of the fifteen best matches in WWE from April 2009 to March 2010. If you showed this to a fan who was new to wrestling and told them that this was WWE’s best fifteen matches of previous year, they’d wonder what all the fuss is about if THIS is, at worst, the fifteenth-best match.
I almost turned the DVD off in protest, but up next is the perfect example of why I’m a wrestling fan. A perfect build, hyping the perfect match to have a rematch and the perfect stage to host it. Undertaker v HBK at WrestleMania XXV was epic, the build to Undertaker v HBK at WrestleMania XXVI was equally as epic, and the match was easily the best of the twelve month period being chronicled. My only complaint is that the Placebo-soundtracked hype vignette isn’t used as I genuinely believe it’s the pinnacle of the WWE production staff’s career… and for those who’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know what high praise that is.
What match to close the show, it’s so good it removes the bad taste left by the Divas and leaves me with a huge grin on my face as I head off to watch the extras. Absolutely spellbinding, with the amazement added to by the fact these guys should be taking it easy at this stage of their respective careers.
A load very short in-character comments from the wrestlers involved. Rey Mysterio’s is nice because it shows some of their WCW work as Rey talks over it to give the fans the impression this feud had been going of for over a decade, while Legacy’s is great because it’s done pretty much out of character… and it’s all the better for it.
Oh, and The Miz, as always, is awesome.
This is a stunning collection of matches, with only one stinker among the gems on offer. A good mix of wrestlers on show, with a nice mix of match types and some awesome finishes. New champs crowned, titles successfully defended and new stars in the making all add up to an essential purchase in my book… and that’s before we even get to the multitude of vignettes from the WWE production crew. My main gripe is that the set isn’t in widescreen, which isn’t the end of the world, but does detract a little bit.
The set I reviewed was the DVD edition, but I feel it’s only fair to mention that the Blu-Ray version has a few extra matches. These are:-
- Singapore Cane Match: Great Khali v Kane – Breaking Point (September 13, 2009)
- Unified Tag Team Championship Match: Chris Jericho & Big Show v Batista & Rey Mysterio – Hell in a Cell (October 4, 2009)
- Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match for the Unified Tag Team Championships: D-Generation X v Chris Jericho & Big Show – WWE TLC (December 13, 2009)
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Rey Mysterio v The Undertaker – Royal Rumble (January 31, 2010)
The Khali/Kane match doesn’t deserve to be on the list, but the other three are worthy inclusions if you decide to go for the High-Def approach.
In summary, fourteen out of fifteen matches are well worth revisiting and the pre-match hype videos add to the spectacle, meaning this is well worth purchasing if you come across it.