The History of the WWE Championship
The first thing I thought when this disk started was 'Oh thank the Lord above it's Jim Ross hosting this DVD' as he brings his unflappable enthusiasm to every second of this set, contributing introductions to matches and overviews of the history between them. Good Ol' JR's knowledge, whether it's all been researched for him or not, is so precise that you believe every single word he says. He doesn't break kayfabe on the set, but is able to analyse each title change and match with such clarity that you understand the reason why Hogan or Sammartino held the title for so long. I like the fact WWE doesn't shy away from the classic 1970's bouts of Morales, Backlund and Billy Graham and that every major WWE Champion gets a good showing on the set.
Covering the WWE from the 1970s to today we get twenty-five matches over three disks and nearly nine hours of action, this is a phenomenal amount, but of course doesn't cover everything. There are some notable absences (Undertaker, Ric Flair, Yokozuna and Mick Foley) however, to make up for this WWE have included a timeline of all the WWE Champions since 1971 with a 'multimedia highlight' from that title change, though I do wish it was more than just the pin fall and this would have made it a much better feature than it is.
All Twenty-Five Matches Marked Out of Five None: Terrible. * OK. ** Good. *** Great **** Excellent. *****Perfection!
WWWF Championship Match: Ivan Koloff vs. Pedro Morales (****)
Terrible quality, but use of a new commentary by Jim Ross makes this more wonderful than it actually is. Morales, though probably unknown to most people, was a great wrestler in his time.
WWWF Championship Match: Bruno Sammartino vs. Killer Kowalski (**)
As the trainer of Triple H, I expected Kowalski to be the perfect wrestler.
Instead he's clumsy in the ring and this is a very awkward brawl.
WWWF Championship Match: Bruno Sammartino vs. "Superstar" Billy Graham (***)
This is a great match and reminds me of the Savage Hogan match. Both work well with each other and this match ends wonderfully.
WWWF Championship Match: "Superstar" Billy Graham vs. Bob Backlund (***)
This is worth watching for the commentary alone (As with most WWE disks I do wish it was available without though!) as Bobby Heenan is on great form.
Steel Cage Match For The WWE Championship: Bob Backlund vs. Greg Valentine
Again has great new commentary from Heenan. This is an exciting cage match even though I'm not a fan of either wrestler, but this match is certainly one of the highlights of this first disk.
WWE Championship Match: Bob Backlund vs. Sgt. Slaughter (**)
Again, I'm not a fan of either wrestler and this was an ugly brawl that did nothing for me. And why this match and not Iron Sheik's title win over Backlund?
WWE Championship Match: Iron Sheik vs. Hulk Hogan (****)
This is an obvious choice. A great match, with Sheik on fine form attempting to 'humble' Hogan. Not a technical masterpiece, but entertaining nonetheless.
Steel Cage Match For The WWE Championship: Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy
Why? Why? Why? I agree Hogan should be represented on this set, but not with this match!
Steel Cage Match For The WWE Championship: Hulk Hogan vs. "Mr. Wonderful"
Paul Orndorff (***)
It's sad that there are so many steel cage matches on this disk as by this one (the third) the cage means very little. Hogan's feud with Orndorff was perfect and this match was a highlight.
WWE Championship Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (***)
Another obvious choice and possibly one of the most over-hyped matches of all time. Not as amazing as people say, but a good match to watch.
WWE Championship Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (***)
Again why? Why have two Hogan vs. Andre matches? One or the other, but not both! Oddly, this is actually better than the infamous Wrestlemania III match.
WWE Championship Match: Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. Hulk Hogan (*****)
Best match on this disk. Savage was a great wrestler and a wonderful Heel.
The emotion leading into this match seeps into the match and makes you care so much about the outcome.
WWE Championship Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior (*****)
Too most fans (Myself included) this will be the first match you'll watch. A perfectly executed bout. Hogan and Warrior never did anything better than this.
Steel Cage Match For The WWE Championship: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (*****)
One of the best Bret Hart matches in existence. The reason is the use of his own brother Owen Hart in a perfect rivalry that culminated in this great match.
Iron Man Match For The WWE Championship: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (****)
Usually, described as the best match in history. I'm not so sure, it's a good match, but after a while I get bored and it's only really the last ten minutes that make this match exciting and memorable. The length of this match is also the reason why there aren't as many matches on this disk!
WWE Championship Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind (***)
Both Mankind and Michaels push each other to the limits. This great match is sadly let down by an odd ending.
WWE Championship Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (*****)
Wonderful match from Stone Cold and I wish that more matches from him in his prime (1998-1999) were included, some wonderful moments and a great ending to this match.
Street Fight For The WWE Championship: Triple H vs. Cactus Jack (****)
Triple H in one of the best matches of his career. A great match and certainly one of the best on this disk.
Triple Threat Match For The WWE Championship: The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle (**)
The inclusion of this match makes no sense to me, other than they needed to include a Rock match, but Rock vs. Triple H Judgement Day 2000 would have been better! Not a great match, but watchable.
WWE Championship Match: The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (***)
If it wasn't for the ending this would be the best match on this disk. Rock and Austin had some great matches together, but I don't think this is their best. Their match at Wrestlemania XV or Backlash 99 was a lot better.
Undisputed WWE Championship Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Chris Jericho
Great start and pointless ending. This should have been the greatest night in WWE history. It wasn't, but it wasn't too bad.
Triple Threat Match For The Undisputed WWE Championship: The Rock vs.
Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle (****)
This is exactly how a Triple Threat match should be. All three look like they could win, getting enough offence in each and so it kept you guessing throughout.
Undisputed WWE Championship Match: The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar (***)
How great was Brock Lesnar? Watching this match makes me wish that he was still in the WWE. He had better matches... mainly against Angle, but this is the match that put Brock on the map. Feels far too short though.
WWE Championship Match: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (*****)
If you are looking for the best example of 'wrestling as an art' then this is the match for you. Other than Bret Hart, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit were/are the greatest technical wrestlers in the business. Though I usually hate this type of match, the use of rest-holds and submissions is done with such fluidity that it's truly mesmerising.
Triple Threat Match For The WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho vs. Christian (**)
Just like the Cage Match. The Triple Threat is featured too often on this disk so that by this time (three times on one disk!!!). Whereas the previous was an even playing field this match feels anything but. I agree give Cena a match as he is clearly the most popular superstar in WWE today, but is this match really the best he could offer. Terrible way to end this disk and even JR looks unsatisfied!
As with most 'Best of' disks from the WWE I expected to be let down by some of the choices and in a way I was. I expected at least mostly four to five star matches, but instead felt depressed at the fact that only twelve (less than half) here. The fact that for every other match on the second and third disk I kept thinking 'oh this was a better match' started to annoy the hell out of me. I get the feeling that though WWE say these were chosen by fans that most are here because they (like I was) were curious at what Killer Kowalski was like, or how good the infamous Hogan vs. Andre match was.
Because of this so many great matches were left off. (I would list them, but I would need another thousand words!) The fact that they kept teasing us with matches, such as showing us Eddie Guerrero's victory, without actually including the match just kept annoying me. Another annoying point was that as this was looking at the WWE Championship the title reigns of the World Champion were ignored. I can only hope that a second set is being prepared as the reign of Chris Benoit is possibly the greatest thing WWE have done in the last five years. Though saying that I can't knock the intentions of the WWE, as this is clearly one of their best releases and there is enough here to keep me and most new and old fans entertained for a good long while.
Reviewed by David Simpson on October 20, 2006.
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