To anyone who’s never seen or had the fortune of being at an actual WWE live show, let me tell you, it’s something else. Especially in the UK where WWE live shows are always something special. WWE only travels to the UK twice a year, and only the most hardcore of wrestling fans seem to attend these RAW and Smackdown tapings, so combine the hunger with the passion, and what do you get? You get liquid gold.
This 2 disc DVD set is an archive of WWE’s latest visit to the UK, with the full RAW, Smackdown, Main Event and Superstars tapings included on the disc, as well as a couple of extra special features. So, what’s on the plate? Well, to understand any of this going on, we have to travel back to November of last year. The Authority was in full swing in WWE, ruling with an iron fist, so CEO of WWE Vince McMahon declared that at the upcoming PPV, Survivor Series, the Authority and John Cena would each form a team, where if Team Authority lost, they would be relieved of their power. Not only that, we had the recently returned Bray Wyatt in the middle of a heinous onslaught on Dean Ambrose‘s body and character, Dolph Ziggler in the middle of an underdog’s reign as Intercontinental Champion, and Ryback was the free agent going into the Survivor Series pay-per-view. How did all of these elements collide and unfold?
Well, let’s take a look and see, starting off with Disc 1 – Monday Night RAW!
Monday Night RAW
RAW has been a bit of a strange beast since Daniel Bryan‘s injury, and still is since his return, having continual ups and downs. This show was no exception. It kicks off with Cena in the ring, cutting a promo which I really wish could be sent to the head honchos at WWE right now. Nevertheless, Cena does the best to overcome the overwhelming boos of the Liverpool crowd. And you know what, he does a fantastic job. Props to John Cena for actually winning over a hostile crowd by just speaking. Either way, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon make their way out and do their usual heel work, followed by Ryback, who is put on the spot and is asked to join either Team Cena or Team Authority. Ryback responds by attacking Cena. Guess that was his answer. This segment was really heated and super enjoyable, especially since it did such a good job of putting Ryback over hard without him even having to say a single word. Go big guy!
RAW rolls on with the obligatory shots of Liverpool landmarks, and of course, their most famous sons, The Beatles. The first match of the night is Jack Swagger VS Seth Rollins. Of course, Jack Swagger has fallen so hard since his days of being World Heavyweight Champion, but this match had a single purpose, and it was to put over Mr Money in the Bank. The UK crowd even gets behind the US nationalist. All in all, a good match with the right ending. We then have a pretty awesome video package that covers the history between Ambrose and Wyatt. Dean then cuts a promo to the camera, classic Jon Moxley style, and in a separate segment, we have Kane tell Ryback he has his back in the main event, to which Ryback responds he doesn’t need it. Two really fantastic segments back-to-back, but this was a really plot heavy RAW, which was a shame, as usually WWE shows in the UK tend to be more wrestling based rather than segments, if that makes sense.
Either way, we go back to the ring where Paige is making her entrance to the sound of “ENGERLAND!” chants. Paige defeats Alicia Fox with the Rampaige in a pretty standard match, but it gives the crowd a good opportunity to react to Paige returning to England. We head backstage to Stephanie trying to convince Rusev and Lana to join the Authority. They say they’ll think about it. We get a vignette for The New Day, the stable consisting of Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E. These vignettes were really enjoyable, but it’s just a shame they haven’t done much since debuting. We’ll wait and see on that one. Continuing on, we see HHH and Stephanie…again…this time they’re watching RAW, and they have a lover’s spat, but they quickly make up.
Back to the ring, we have Rusev celebrating his United States Championship victory with members of the Russian Federation, and of course, Lana. Lana gets in some good old WW2 cheap heat, but Sheamus runs down. We get Sheamus VS Rusev in a rematch for the title, but J&J Authority interfere and give Rusev the DQ loss to keep the belt. A shame, since this was a PPV quality match, but it kept both guys strong. After the break, Rusev and Lana officially join team Authority, and following that, we get another segment (!) with Rollins trying to get Ryback on his side this time, despite their history. Los Matadores, accompanied by El Torito, make their way to the ring to face Miz & Mizdow who are accompanied by…Mizswoggle?! That’s Hornswoggle Miz, for those not in the know. Either way, short match, but fun, with Mizdow up to his usual stunt double shenanigans.
We go backstage and Ziggler and Cena talk for a bit, but then HHH steps in and bans Cena from ringside for Ziggler’s match with Henry. Ziggler makes his way to the ring, only to be shockingly interrupted by, uh, Luke Harper’s eyes. Real creepy. Bit of a shame that this turned out to be a a botch-filled match, but in the end it was just a farce as Henry attacks Ziggler with a chair. Ziggler is about to receive the World’s Strongest Slam onto the steel steps, but WEEELLLLLLL Big Show waddles on out and saves poor old Ziggy, and on top of that, joins Team Cena. Big Show still needs to find out whether he’s heel or face and stick to it, but other than that, it’s good they keep Ziggler as the underdog face in peril. Following this, Sheamus officially joins team Cena.
Back to more ladies action. AJ has a match and beats Brie Bella with the Black Widow. Not much else to say. Brie is still Nikki’s butler kind of thing, and we get to see part of a segment from WWE App where she’s actually wearing a tuxedo. Wonder who that’s catering to? Anyway, Nikki Bella is somehow the better wrestler, so I’m glad they centered the feud around AJ and Nikki, as opposed to Brie. Post match, Nikki attacks AJ, and this was to build up to their match at Survivor Series, of course, and a good way of doing it. Following this, we get Adam Rose making his way to the ring, and for the first time in forever (Frozen reference, because why not?) the crowd really gets into his theme and sings along with it. Take note, everyone else. This is why WWE shows are so fun when the crowd is into it – it amplifies everything that’s going on up to ten. Rose loses to Tyson Kidd as the Bunny, er, twerks or something? I don’t know. Mid-match, Erick Rowan walks around for some reason. He was looking for something. Kidd wins with the sharpshooter. Kidd is super talented, and even short matches like this show that, but on the second disc of the DVD we’ll really get to see the Canadian fly. Wyatt cuts a fantastic Cactus Jack-esque promo on Ambrose. Nice and simple.
And now, time for the main event. Not the show, but the match. The show is later. Anyhow, Cena comes out to the crowd still singing “John Cena Sucks!” to the tune of his theme, but at least he’s receiving less boos this time. Ryback comes out and has Authority behind him. The biggest surprise in this one is that Ryback actually got a lot of boos and “You sold out!” chants in the match, as he gave the majority of the offence. Ultimately, as most RAW main events end, Kane interferes and causes the DQ, causing Ryback to turn on the Authority! Genuine shocker! Everyone from both teams fights each other, but Ryback walks out standing tall. We fade to black as a limp Ziggler (not a euphemism, I promise) is thrown into the office of HHH and Stephanie McMahon. The perpetrator turns out to be Luke Harper, who declares he is a team player. Guess the Authority just got Harper on their team.
And that was RAW. A standard fare, leading up to the clash at Survivor Series, but as is the case with all of these shows, it’s the crowd makes it THAT much better.This was probably one of the stronger booked RAW episodes in a little while, with only small amounts of fluff. Too many segments though. Anyway, time for wrestling!
WWE Main Event
The Main Event starts off strong with Stardust VS Adam Rose. Rose walks out with the win here, the only issue being that due to Goldust and Stardust turning heel lately, and Rose being in the middle of a heel turn, they didn’t really know how to react to either guy. Fun match, but nothing to write home about.
After that, we get Cameron VS Alicia Fox, and the less said about this, the better. The only good part about this is they used the picture-in-picture effect so the ladies had promos on the way to the ring, but Cameron’s was so cringe-worthy it negated the entire effort. Doesn’t anyone know any other Beatles songs besides Yellow Submarine?
Those matches aside, NXT Champion Sami Zayn makes his way to the ring for what turns out to be one of the best matches in the collection against, in his second and not even final appearance on the DVD, Tyson Kidd. Kidd is a workhorse, and if you haven’t seen Sami Zayn (formerly Ring of Honor and independent wrestling superstar El Generico) in a match before, then this is a damn good place to start. Kidd really does some awesome heel work here, using his wife to his advantage. To be fair, this is a match we’ve seen many a time in NXT, but it’s great to see it on a slightly bigger stage, especially amongst the rabid UK crowd who warm to Zayn very quickly. Both Kidd and Zayn use a mix of high flying, and of all things, unique powerhouse moves that very few people can replicate. I can’t say enough good things about this match. Kidd wins after using the assistance of Natalya to his advantage.
The main event of main event time now. It’s Justin Gabriel VS Dean Ambrose in a match that nobody thought they wanted to see, but hey, it turned out fantastic either way. It’s quite funny, there seems to be an insurgence as of late, with Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel and Seth Rollins all being heel high fliers, which is something that’s been rare in the past, but I digress. A shame Gabriel left WWE, but matches like this show just how vastly underused he was. Ambrose wins with the double arm DDT (Not Dirty Deeds, bloody Michael Cole!) and then cuts a promo on Bray Wyatt.
And that’s Main Event, a pretty fun one hour show. Probably better all around than Superstars, which serves more to recap RAW than anything else, but either way, that’s up next.
Superstars only had two matches on it this time. The rest of the one hour show is fluffed out with video packages and recaps from RAW, etc. However, the matches are pretty unique. First up, we have Sin Cara (being played by Hunico, of course) taking on Curtis Axel. It seems like Axel really has the potential to be a big star, but he’s missing that one big storyline to make him huge. Maybe, given recent happenings on TV, we’ll have it happen soon. Who knows? Anyhow, it’s a good bout, with Sin Cara picking up the win.
Next up, we get Big E VS Heath Slater. Big E is pretty over and gets some big cheers on his entrance, but man, does he get blown out of the damn water by Heath Slater, who is about as over as someone who rarely appears on RAW can get. Massive cheers and 3MB! chants for the One Man Band, who ultimately loses to the hoss from The New Day. It has to be said that this match really did what many others failed to do, and that was adapt to the crowd. As said earlier, the UK crowd is an unpredictable and wild beast, and on this occasion they chose to cheer Heath Slater (the heel/bad guy) over Big E, (the face/good guy). So what did Big E do? Well, he started to wrestle like a heel and play to their boos. Very smart decision. It’s decisions like that which show how Big E is more than just an average dumb big man.
Smackdown kicks off with a recap of RAW, because who doesn’t love those? We’re then thrust forward into the first segment as Y2J Chris Jericho presents the highlight reel, guests being this time, none other than HHH and Stephanie McMahon. Jericho and The Authority trade a bunch of insults back and forth, and we really see each half get under the other’s skin. It feels like, very much as HHH said, this was an attempt just to get Jericho to make an appearance and to pop the crowd. Whatever the reason, it was an enjoyable segment, and compared to most promos that kick off shows, at least it was short.
We cut to break and back, and we have Bray Wyatt taking on Sin Cara, who has changed his costume and is now Pikachu flavoured. Cara takes a lot of hard bumps, but it’s fairly obvious who was going to walk out with the win here, and Bray does so pretty quickly. Post match, Bray cuts a promo on Dean, who runs out, but Bray makes his way up the ramp, mic still in hand. WWE really tried its best at every opportunity to get this feud over, and it shows. After this, we get Bunny and Rose VS Stardust and Goldust. Goldust and Stardust win the match after the Bunny is pinned, and Rose finally turns on the furry furball, and it really works out for the best since despite his gimmick, Adam Rose is a really great heel worker.
Backstage, Dolph Ziggler recaps all of the Authority’s targeting against him over the past few weeks, but Ziggles says he’s not giving up without a fight in the triple threat Intercontinental Championship match against Kidd and Cesaro. After this, Ryback cuts his own promo, saying he won’t be on anyone’s team, but on Team Ryback. Two good promos again, back-to-back. The pacing in these shows was a little weird.
Finally, we get to what is probably the only contender (other than the Kidd/Zayn match) for being the best match in the collection. Dolph Ziggler defends his Intercontinental Championship against Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in an elimination triple threat match. What ensues is a unique encounter like none I’ve seen before, and I’d be quick to say this is one of the best triple threat matches in years in WWE, probably second only to the recent WWE title match at Royal Rumble. We get to see lots of unique situations with two moves being performed at the same time, but ultimately these shenanigans come to a close when Kidd capitalises on Ziggler’s Zig Zag and pins Cesaro, making it a one-on-one match between Kidd and Ziggler. The two go all out, and Kidd almost wins the belt, but ultimately, Ziggler walks out with the victory, and rightfully so. A must see match. Speaking of Kidd, we also get to see Natalya VS Layla in a pretty short match, with Summer Rae at ringside. Not much else happens other than Natalya winning.
Dean Ambrose is spotted backstage. He is about to get interviewed and Bray Wyatt jumps him, sending him into the wall with the Sister Abigail. As much as I love the two and their ongoing feud, I feel the entire thing was a bit rushed and overdone, especially across the four shows. After this, main event time. Kane comes to the ring accompanied by The Authority for his match with The Big Guy. It’s pretty standard, with Ryback getting in a bunch of his signature powerhouse offence, but ultimately and yet again, Kane causes the disqualification and Ryback wins by DQ. Post match, Kane attacks Ryback with the chair, but Ryback slams down Kane and faces off with HHH, nose-to-nose.
And that’s the end of that! Overall, this was a fun watch and an enjoyable collection to sit through, especially as someone from the UK. I’ve been to tapings in the Liverpool Echo Arena, much like this one, and I have to say, this is about as close as you can get to being there live. As I’ve already said, the UK crowd really makes the atmosphere something else. Overall, the shows could have been better, but for 2014 WWE, it was damn enjoyable. Also of mention is a bonus match with The Rockers and Andre The Giant VS The Orient Express from a UK show in 1991, and the dark match (untelevised match) with Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose taking on Bray Wyatt and Kane. The DVD advertises this as a “fan’s eye view”, but it’s pretty much the hard camera with no other camera shots. Still a fun watch.
WWE Live in the UK – November 2014 will be available on DVD from Monday 9th of February.
All images (C) WWE and credit to WWE.com.