You can't see Judge Daryl Loomis...thank goodness.
"I said 'Excuse Me!'"—Vicki Guerrero
I've been a pro wrestling fan since I was a little kid and remain one to this day, but 2011 was the first year since college (when I had no television access) that I watched basically no wrestling programming. It's not for lack of interest, but for lack of confidence in the quality of the available product. Though I've been disgusted with what WWE offers its fans today, I try to keep up with it a little bit, but I've become out of touch. That's why I was happy to receive WWE: Best PPV Matches 2011 in the mail. It gives me a chance to at least see what storylines Vince McMahon and company have been working with and look at some of the new blood. We have fourteen matches over three discs here, so let's have a look.
Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler: This is a pretty fair match from the Royal Rumble for the World Heavyweight title. I've never been a huge Edge fan, but Ziggler cuts a decent promo, at least in the little bit I've seen from him. He's accompanied to the ring by Vicki Guerrero, the widow of the late great Eddie Guerrero, and she's super irritating. It's not the best match on the set, but these guys work together pretty well for an entertaining contest.
Elimination Chamber: Here we have the first of two matches that announcer Michael Cole calls "The most dangerous structure in the WWE!" and, while I'm not sure how that's supposed to work, the Elimination Chamber is a pretty good gimmick. Here, once again for the World Championship, we have champion Edge taking on Rey Mysterio, Wade Barrett, Kane, Drew McIntyre, and the Big Show. The match starts with two in the ring, while the other four are in pods. Every few minutes, another is released and the last man standing wins the belt. This one is good and violent, but it's far from the best version of this match they've put together. The announcers crack me up every time they hold it, though. They sell that the pods are made out of the world's strongest glass to keep these huge men at bay until they're released, and then marvel at how strong they are when they break the glass. Yet, the "glass" always seems to collapse like plexi. I wonder why that is.
Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes: From Wrestlemania (the one PPV I actually bought this year, because I never miss it), the veteran luchador takes on the youngest son of the legendary "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes" under one of the dumbest storylines of the year. See, a few weeks before, the two were in a match. When Mysterio delivered his signature 619 swinging kick, he supposedly hit Rhodes in the face with his knee brace, causing "severe facial trauma," despite the fact that Rhodes was clearly fine. Nonetheless, I like Rhodes and I've been enjoying Mysterio for many years, so this was a welcome match that, unfortunately, did not live up to my expectations. Too gimmicky and too short, but it's still an okay contest.
Undertaker vs. Triple H: Two of the biggest stars of the last two decades go at it one more time, as Triple H tries to break the Undertaker's undefeated Wrestlemania streak in a No Holds Barred match. Will he do it? I wouldn't bet against either man, but what I can always bet on is a solid, well performed match by two old hands who know how to work inside the ring better than almost anybody. It's not the fastest-paced match in the world but, for what it is, it's nearly perfect.
Christian vs. Alberto del Rio: In a ladder match for the vacated World Title (which Edge had to vacate for legit medical reasons), Christian, one of my favorite wrestlers of recent years, takes on the nephew of the legendary Mil Mascaras, Alberto del Rio, a really solid up-and-comer. This isn't the wildest ladder match ever put together, but it's quite good, with some nice spots and good overall psychology. One of the better matches on the set.
Rey Mysterio vs. C.M. Punk: Like his previous match in the collection, Mysterio can work with just about anybody, but when he's facing one of the very best wrestlers in the world, as Punk clearly is, some really good stuff can happen. Unfortunately, the match is a little short, but it's pretty sweet.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: I like the Money in the Bank gimmick, which puts a briefcase that "contains" a contract for a title match at any time and any place, but eight people fighting over a ladder is a little too busy for my taste. This time, we get Alberto del Rio, Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger, R-Truth, the Miz, Alex Riley, and Rey Mysterio. If that sounds like a handful, it's because it is. Fans of lots of flips and stuff will get a kick out of it, but I like more than just a bunch of dudes jumping around. There are some good moves, but there's just too much going on for me to get into it.
John Cena vs. C.M. Punk: Since he stopped his terrible rapping, I haven't really liked Cena very much and, as one can tell from the crowd, he's a polarizing figure in the ring. Still, Punk is a genuine stud out there and can work with anybody, including this stiff. It's a very good match, not the best on the set, but the best I can remember Cena working in a long, long time.
Christian vs. Randy Orton: A second No Holds Barred contest pits two of my favorite recent wrestlers for Christian's World Title. The match isn't perfect and a little bit too one-sided, but these guys know how to work a ring and put together a really good match.
Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry: Here is where things start to get kind of lame, as one of the worst wrestlers ever to be given a massive guaranteed contract, only to spend two-thirds of it injured, Mark Henry, gets another push from Vince McMahon, who has always loved a strong man. Let's be clear, Henry can't wrestle and can't put on a decent match, no matter how hard Orton tries. And try he does, putting on some good feats of strength against his behemoth opponent. Nonetheless, it can't save the match, though it isn't the worst collection.
Triple H vs. C.M. Punk: This was the match I most looked forward to, but typical interference-ridden matchmaking keeps it from being the classic it could have been. Still, when they're in the ring on their own, these guys tear it up with some great wrestling and one huge spot that sends the frenzied crowd over the edge. When it all breaks down, it becomes somewhat disappointing, but there's so much good stuff here that it remains my favorite match on the set.
Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix: This match shows exactly how far women's wrestling has fallen, and this comes from someone who has been a fan since GLOW. Beth Phoenix has the size and the ability, but Kelly Kelly, hot as she may be, is totally worthless out there, and this is a worthless match. It's even sadder that this is the best women's contest they could come up with from the entire year.
Hell in a Cell: A triple threat match in the other structure deemed WWE's most dangerous pits John Cena against C.M. Punk and Alberto del Rio for Cena's Heavyweight Championship. It's a good contest that may not live up to some of the ridiculous things the cell has delivered in the past, but it's good an violent with a satisfying finish.
Mark Henry vs. The Big Show: Unfortunately, we are forced to end the collection on a very low note. I really like Big Show; he's fun. This match really shows off the limitations of Mark Henry, though. When pitted against somebody not so athletic, the match is a plodding affair that is included for one reason: the ring breaking spot at the end of the match. It's a fun bit, but they've already done it, showing once again Vince McMahon's contempt for the memories of wrestling fans. Outside of that five second sequence, the match is awful and more time is spent getting these two hulking creatures onto stretchers than the actual contest lasts.
The collection has an image that accurately represents the WWE's high quality production values and the sound is top notch, but there are no extras on the collection at all.
Aside from the women's match and the final contest, it's a good set. Still, that this is the absolute best Pay-Per-View had to offer in 2011 tells me all I need to know about why I'm not as active a viewer as I once was.
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