DVD REVIEW: BEST OF RAW VOL. 1 & 2
I'm watching Raw while going through Austin withdrawal, I need a Stevewieser. Raw is on and I'm watching a no-name Tough Enough reject pin Bradshaw in under a minute. Not only that, but this isn't even the best TE reject. Jake from TE2 could kick this guy's ass all the way back to Harvard. And wasn't Bradshaw supposed to be getting a push. Wasn't he main eventing Raw teaming up with Austin vs. the NWO, not so long ago. I bet when he sees Chris "Harvard" in the looker room he gives him the hazing from hell. These new guys in the WWE like Chris Nowitski, Jackie Gaida, John Cena; their names make them sound like guys I went to high school with. Can we get them some wrestler names? I can root for the Prototype, but not for Cena. Where would Sting have gotten had he been called Steve Borden? Can you picture Edge starting out as Adam Copeland? His theme music starts off, "You think you know me?" We'd say yeah, you're Adam Copeland. We know you, because your real name is on your tights.
And didn't Bradshaw pin Brock Lesner at a house show. These days they are pushing Brockberg down our throats. My friend, a casual wrestling fan, calls this "Pushing the No-names." And Brock is booked as the poor man's Goldberg. Booking the Next Big Thing as a Goldberg rip-off isn't a great start. And Goldberg himself was originally booked as a Steve Austin ripoff. So we are left with a ripoff of a ripoff. Makes me want to see the original Stone Cold Steve Austin. So I put in the first DVD of a 2 DVD set I got for $30. It says the Best of Raw vol. 1, but in truth 95% of the stuff is from 1998. So it is really the Best of Raw 1998, with a few Heat clips included just for giggles. Here we go!
The Best of Raw vol. 1
The Good: The DX skit as the Nation is shown in short clips, but it is funny as hell. The episode when McMahon first brings the cops to the ring to arrest Austin. This started an overused trend of the heel using the cops to arrest the face. (Since when are cops heels?) Only this time it is done right as the police are an impartial party. Once they hear Vince admitting to assaulting Steve Austin, they arrest Vince instead of Austin. Also good is when Vince called the Undertaker and Kane handicapped and they realistically beat the crap out of him. I liked this version of the Undertaker and Kane where they both had superpowers. The Undertaker could levitate and teleport and Kane could shoot fire at people. Then when Vince is in the hospital Austin sneaks in and assaults him with hospital equipment. Thus coining the nickname "Bedpan McMahon."
The Bad: Same stuff I didn't like at the time, that I still don't like. Too much Foley. He had 4 characters and I didn't care for any of them. Too much of the Stooges - Patterson and Brisco. I think McMahon just used them as his own inside joke. DX "invades" WCW. Really, they just hung around the building of the show and acted cool while not interacting with anyone actually in WCW. The best part, which wasn't shown, was when they went to a WCW "Sold-Out" show and found them trying to give away free tickets.
The last scene when Austin threatened McMahon with a fake gun like he was going to shoot him. Very tacky and in very poor taste. By the way, I know why the USA network had to censor parts, but did the WWF really have to censor their own DVD?
The Ugly: Paul Bearer & Chyna - pre-plastic surgery
The Unsung Hero: Road Dogg Jessie James, the most popular member of DX. Yes, even more than Triple H at the time. Made the New Age Outlaws a great team with a great intro. Did a D-Lo Brown impersonation, better than the real D-Lo. Won the WWF Hardcore championship at a time when that belt meant something and was a good champion too.
Missing in Action: Sable. At the time, she was one of the most popular WWF Superstars. Along with Sunny, she brought back the popularity of the female valet. She also made popular the intergender/mixed tag team matches with Marc Mero. And the WWF resurrected the Women's Title just for her. I don't care if she did sue the company, she was a big part of WWF Raw in 1998 and she belongs on this DVD. Golddust is also absent from the DVD, but not missed by me. On the other hand, Marlena is missed.
Match of the Night: It's a tie between two matches. The first is Austin + Undertaker vs. Mankind, Kane, + Paul Bearer in a hell in a cell match. (6/14/98 - 10 min.) This was great. I loved the psychology of the match. When Stone Cold came out by himself, he wasn't about to enter the ring while he was outnumbered. Instead, he was smart enough to wait outside the ring and pick his opponents off one at a time. Then Undertaker got revenge on Bearer inside the cell and while Mankind and Kane tried to enter the cell, Austin beat them up. I liked how Austin and Kane recklessly climbed to the top of the cell and fought there. There was no decision in this match, but that happened at many a Raw back then. Austin just stomped a mudhole in his opponents until he got tired or until tv time ended.
The second match is Undertaker + Kane vs. Mankind, Ken Shamrock, + The Rock. (9/28/98 - 18 minutes) I love this match for many reasons. The first is that they were all neutral - neither good nor bad. At this time a lot of wrestlers in the WWF occupied that grey area of being a "tweener" started by Steve Austin. "There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys...There's only you and me and we just disagree." The second thing I really liked is that they just took their five top guys, not named Austin, and put them all in the ring together. It's such a simple concept that it worked. Also, the thing amazing about this match is that out of the five biggest stars the one with the biggest pop was the Rock. He was the most over with the crowd even when he landed the people's elbow on the Taker. (Even though a mere two months earlier he had a match vs. X-Pac on this DVD. In what seems like a Bizzaro World the crowd cheered for X-Pac and hated the Rock chanting "Rocky Sucks!") He also pinned the Undertaker with a Rock Bottom to get his first big victory here and legitimize himself as a top star.
Overall: A-, Very good DVD, I recommend it with reservations. The first part is an hour of short clips without much wrestling. The second part of extras is around 2 hours with all the matches that makes it worth getting. Don't get the video; because it is an hour long all of clips. Also, only get the DVD if it comes with the extras. They make a version of the DVD without the extras for a lower price, but don't be fooled. It cost $12 but is only an hour long and not worth buying in my opinion.
The Best of Raw vol. 2: 1999
The Good: The Undertaker tries to kill Austin using various methods; a shovel, a knife, a crucifixion, a ritual sacrifice. This was the kind of over the top stuff that I loved. The Ministry vs. the Corporation was really a great angle. It was heel vs. heel. The Ministry kidnapped Stephanie, and the Undertaker couldn't decide whether he wanted to sacrifice her or marry her. Before he could decide, Austin ran in to the ring and made the save. He overcame tremendous odds and saved the day like Superman. Then he gave Steph back to Vince and didn't expect any gratitude. It was at its best when Shane was leading the Ministry. Once Vince took over the Ministry as the greater power, the angle went downhill. Austin as the CEO had its funny moments. Austin riding to the ring in the beer truck incident was also fun. This led to his match at Wrestlemania 15 against the Rock.
We also see Mankind win his first title by pinning the Rock with an assist from Austin. The Rock and Sock Connection had some fun moments especially This is Your Life episode with the Rock. It featured the Rock and various people from his life that he hasn't seen in years. And when they would come to the ring the Rock would insult them and kick them out in a comedic fashion.
The extras have the match where Shane and Test jump from the top of the cage. That Shane is one crazy guy to come off the top with a cross body onto the Mean Street Posse. We have a match between the Big Show and the Undertaker. The Undertaker gets chokeslammed through the ring apron! A good tag title match between the Rock and Mankind vs. Triple H and Kane (10 minutes). And a good match between the Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian from 10/5/99. This was the second match in the Terri Invitational Tournament. The weird thing is that neither team would wind up using her services. It was good, but too short only 5 minutes long
The Bad: Too much McMahon: both Vince and Shane. It shows the match where Shane wins the European Title. We see Mankind losing the title the day after Summerslam 99 to Triple H. (I hate these day after PPV title switches.) One chapter claims to explain the End of DX. I watched it closely both now and back when it happened and I still don't know why they broke up. (It may be the fault of Stephanie - the WWF's version of Yoko Ono).
The Good and Bad: Y2J makes his first appearance on 8/9/99 and the crowd loves him. There were over a dozen Jericho signs even though only the net fans knew for certain that he would debut. This shows the power of the net. Even though he gave a heel speech about saving the WWF, he was still over. Only he interrupted the Rock who was way over. This was a great interview segment. THE BAD: Highlights of Chyna beating Jericho for the IC title. This was a bad feud that seriously made Jericho look bad. Don't remind me about how bad it was.
The Ugly: Brisco and Patterson in a match vs. Chyna. Chyna and Mark Henry feud and go on a date.
The Unsung Hero: Lets give it to three tag teams. At this time, the tag team scene was very, very good. The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, and the Acolytes all get this award. You may ask why the Acolytes are in here. I think they are a real underrated tag team. They started out as the Undertaker's lackeys. But, they had good matches with some great double team moves. A double powerbomb, double neckbreaker, and a double shoulderblock. This was a great time for tag team wrestling. By the way, Christian deserves as much credit as Edge. He was half the team and held his own. I also liked the Hardy Boyz much better at this time.
Match of the Night: The best thing on the main DVD was the introduction to the 1999 Royal Rumble. (1/17/99 - 12 minutes) Here they had a Corporate Royal Rumble the prior week on Raw. A Corporate Rumble features everyone in the Corporation and DX against each other in the style of the Royal Rumble.
The winner of this match would become the last entry in the real Royal Rumble, #30. After all of the members came out, Vince McMahon made a surprise appearance and seemed to win the Rumble. Only then in a double swerve, Chyna came out and eliminated Vince. The crowd was electric and this was a great match.
Match of the Night (Extras): The extras are very good. They feature matches in their entirety. Here I picked the two best matches out of the extras. The first is the "I Quit" match between Triple H and the Rock. This match (1/25/99 - 11 minutes) took place the night after the Rumble where the Rock scored a controversial victory over Mankind in an "I Quit" match. Both men gave it their all on this night. They brawled into the crowd and the Rock used his mike skills and the microphone during the match. Triple H was winning the most of the time, but the end came when the Corporation came to ringside. Kane was going to chokeslam Chyna unless Triple H said, "I Quit." Triple H in full babyface mode, quit the match to save China. After that China hit Trips with a low blow and the Corporation beat him down.
The second is the Hardy Boyz vs. the Acolytes for the tag team titles (7/5/99 - 7 minutes). Back then the Hardys did all kinds of crazy stuff. Once they started naming all their moves like poetry in motion, they got soft. They started only doing their signature moves and it was predictable. Poetry in Motion to Twist of Fate to Swanton. Back then I liked when they would both jump off the top rope from opposite corners of the ring onto their opponent at the same time. One with the leg drop, the other with the splash. The Acolytes were also real good. It was short, but the crowd was real hot for this match. It ended when Michael Hayes used a cane on Bradshaw and Matt hit him with a tornado DDT. This was the first title win for the Hardy Boyz.
Overall: A-, Very good DVD, I recommend it. It spends less time on matches then the first. Still it has a good hour for the main DVD and little over an hour for the extras. The Minstry kidnapping Stephanie was one of the all-time greatest angles.
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