Judge Ike Oden dropped out of wrestling college in favor of film school, a decision that still haunts him.
Our review of WWE: Raw: The Beginning, published September 23rd, 2010, is also available.
"The Heartbreak Kid has left the building."
The longest-running episodic program in the history of television celebrates another year of sweaty, soap operatic action. Legendary wrestlers return to the fold while others fall from grace. Alliances are formed and broken. A mysterious general manager takes over and Raw as we know it threatens to tear itself apart. Raw: The Best of 2010 boils down one of Raw's best years into a greatest hits compilation of over 20 matches headlined by the biggest names in the WWE.
Raw: The Best of 2010 is one of the most consistently great WWE DVD compilations to come around in a long time. There's way too much content to cover in completion here (over nine hours), so I'll boil the set down to its most important events.
The return of Bret "The Hitman" Hart starts the year off with a bang, complimented with a classic monologue that gives a lot of closure to Hart's career, while opening up a fresh new plotline for The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best That Ever Will Be. Following Hart's reintegration, he enjoys a brief stint as G.M. of Raw. This storyline and the birth of the Hart Dynasty aren't quite as satisfying as they should be. That said, it's great to see Bret back in action, and the wrestling nerd in me welcomes his involvement in any capacity.
With the return of one wrestling hero comes the end of another. Shawn Michaels, "The Heartbreak Kid," follows through with a self-destructive pursuit of The Undertaker that ultimately breaks up D-Generation X and sees him losing a career-killing match to Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXVI (shown here in brief highlights). It all culminates in a farewell monologue that ranks as one of the most emotional moments in the history of Raw. HBK fans should own the set for this reason alone.
Beyond the nostalgia of seeing WWE wrestling legends come and go, Raw: The Best of 2010 boasts plenty of great feuds and storylines for the show's headlining superstars.
Randy Orton's rise to WWE Champion is as exciting as anything from The Rock or Steve Austin's anti-hero heydays. Orton tears through Jack Swagger, Edge, Chris Jericho, and pretty much everyone else who gets in his way. He's a charismatic performer whose silent intensity, speed and unpredictability has everyone rooting for him, even when he's RKO-ing good guys like John Cena, old pros like "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, or tools like comedian Wayne Brady (don't ask).
The only wrestler whose 2010 rise through Raw ranks with Orton's is The Miz, Mr. Money In The Bank 2010, who goes from fan favorite a-hole heel to WWE Champion over the course of the year. Wisely exploiting Miz's embarrassing history as a reality television personality, the wrestler' thirst for recognition beyond his past has him facing more WWE superstars on the set than any other wrestler, taking on everyone from Daniel Bryan to John Cena. The Miz cultivates deft athleticism with a post-modern sense of his own ridiculousness, cementing a place among WWE Superstars as the frat boy heel we all love to hate.
John Cena shoulders the bulk of Raw 2010's dramatic weight, cutting the legs out from Batista's career early on to find himself leading the war against Wade Barret and Nexus. I love a good wrestling federation civil war, and Cena's struggle with the Nexus has an excellent arc. Cena leads WWE's superstars in a unified front against the cowardly heels, but finds himself isolated, cornered, and, after losing to Barrett at Hell In A Cell 2010, assimilated to the group against his will. How he navigates the waters of his servitude is pitch-perfect, forcing Cena to ground his over-idealized persona in genuine human complexity (well, for WWE anyway).
The above paragraphs of praise make up about 95 percent of the set's moments. The remaining 5 percent of the set is especially painful. Diva matches are slim in number on the set and consistently unimpressive, while all attempts at humor on the show fails. Especially insulting is CM Punk's 900th episode countdown of Raw's 10 most morally corrupt (i.e. more outrageous) moments. The clips themselves are actually quite fun, but Punk's gimmick, capped of by a rebuttal from The Big Show, speaks volumes to why we all skipped Knucklehead and are preparing to skip The Chaperone. These flaws are pretty much par for the course for the WWE, and fans will roll their eyes and move past them accordingly.
Raw: The Best of 2010 continues to meet WWE's high standards DVD, with a great picture and sound mix (but no bonus features).
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