Judge Ike Oden's wrestling name is "Mr. Ridiculous."
Their death-defying actions bring fans to their feet.
I was born with a natural inclination to jump off high stuff onto my enemies, crushing them with 50-foot plummeting leg drops and bodyslams. The only thing that stops me as an adult is the "Don't Try This At Home" disclaimer at the beginning of my favorite wrestling DVDs. I have long cursed WWE for discouraging my burgeoning backyard wrestling career as Ohio's greatest lucha libre wrestler. The aerodynamic ass-kickery on display in Wrestling's Highest Flyers only embitters me more.
Spread across the three discs of Wrestling's Highest Flyers are roughly eight hours of matches. Among the highlights are:
• WWE Championship Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Vader (Summerslam 1996)
• J-Crown Cruiserweight Championship Match: Ultimo Dragon vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. (World War 3 1996)
• Intercontinental Championship Tournament Finals: Kofi Kingston vs. Christian (Smackdown 2010)
• Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Brian Pillman (Halloween Havoc 1992)
• Great Muta vs. Sting (Japan Supershow 1991)
• Juventud Guerrera, Hector Garza, Lizmark Jr. vs. La Parka, Psychosis, Villiano IV (Bash at the Beach 1997)
• ECW World Television Championship Match: Eddie Guerreo vs. Dean Malenko (Hardcore TV, 1995)
• WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Gurrero (Halloween Havoc 1997)
• 1-2-3 Kid vs. Hakushi (Summerslam, 1995)
• WWE Light Heavyweight Championship Match: Taka Michinoku vs. Pantera (In Your House, 1998)
Despite my unfulfilled life's goals, I'm happy to say that this set more or less lives up to its name. The majority of the matches are free of gimmicks and false-endings, and those that do have twisty plots, interferences, or disqualification endings all earn them appropriately. That's not to say the fights are all perfectly chosen, but they aren't cheap or top heavy with back-story.
The collection of wrestlers profiled are diverse in style and period, ranging from masked Mexican grapplers (Mysterio, Guta) to retro favorites ("Superfly" Snuka, Sting) to young punks vying for Intercontinental titles (Kafi). The roster of fighters picked should please WWE fans young and old alike.
Unfortunately, not all of the matches are created equally. WWE is stingy with including the more high-profile pay-per-view matches they've held throughout history. Summerslam and Great American Bash matches are typically awesome, but the wraparound feature packs in high-flying highlights from various Wrestlemania, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble specials without actually including the matches in question. This gives me the feeling that for every star profiled, we're given a second-string "high flying" match within the context of their careers. I understand the WWE has to be conservative with picking their matches for budget releases like these, but I can't say I appreciate this teasing much, either.
Eight out of ten times, the matches featured are great. Then comes along one or two that remind you that WWE is withholding on certain levels. For every three Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge/Christian ladder match (epic doesn't begin to describe it), we're given a Brian Pillman vs. Alex Wright snoozefest. The set has at least one underwhelming match per disc, but with five or six matches on each, the imbalance is tolerable.
The strength of the wrestling content makes the wraparound segments, boringly hosted by Josh Harrison, seem unnecessary and gimmicky.
Particularly lame is the inclusion of the "sky cam," a chest mounted mini-camera strapped to each wrestler being profiled (Kofi, John Morrison, and Evan "Air" Bourne among them) as they re-enact their trademark high-flying moves.
While this sounds potentially fun, without an actual match going on you're essentially getting the equivalent of a guy flipping off a ladder onto a mat, from his chest's POV. It's boring, bewildering, and a waste of valuable running time that could be used for more wrestling action. That said, each of the stars are great sports about the nonsense, and the matches that follow these interludes are always awesome. Fast forward at your own avail.
Technically, the disc acquits itself. Given the nature of the content—matches culled from over twenty years and three different wrestling promotions—the video is utilitarian, ranging from VHS quality (the ECW matches specifically) to high-definition (post-2000 WWE matches). Audio matches to boot, with older matches saddled with very low, fuzzy audio tracks and newer matches given the up-to-snuff treatment you expect from modern day matches.
WWE also includes six bonus matches and more Sky-cam footage with Jamie Noble.
Not guilty off the top ropes.
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