Tuesday, 7 April 2015

DVD Review: WWE Live in the UK November 2014 Part 1 - Monday Night Raw

With WWE embarking on their annual post-Wrestlemania trip to my side of the pond there's no better time to look at the last time they were here as we take a look at the DVD release of WWE Live in the UK November 2014.

The last time we took a look at the Live in the UK series we broke it down into two parts, which is what we're going to do this time around as we take a look at disc one's content, Monday Night Raw.

The Segments
With two weeks to go before the Survivor Series the main storyline concerned the recruiting process for both Team Authority and Team Cena, and with Vince McMahon's bombshell announcement the previous week that the Authority would be ousted if their team lost the drama was turned up a notch or two, with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon recruiting Mark Henry, Rusev, and, apparently, Ryback. With Team Cena's Jack Swagger eliminated from the equation early on Cena's team looked in dire straits thanks to the Authority's intimidation tactics, but as the evening went on both the Big Show and Sheamus signed up for Cena's cause, with the events following the main event match between Cena and Ryback adding even more drama.

The only outside the ring segments saw Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt continue the build-up in their feud.

The Matches
The first match of the evening was the first of the Team Authority vs. Team Cena battles with Seth Rollins facing Zeb Colter guy Jack Swagger.

This was a nice little way to kick off the in-ring action. Rollins' orders had been to take Swagger out of action, but the real American proved to be a tough opponent as he dominated the early going with his power advantage.

Rollins came back into the match, but just when it looked like he was going to get the pin Swagger countered with his ankle lock. Rollins barely survived and made it to ringside, only for Swagger to follow him out so he could apply the hold again. A non-physical interruption from the new stooges saw Swagger break the hold, and this distraction led to Rollins ramming his man head first into the ring post, and once they were back between the ropes Rollins took Swagger down with the curb stomp for the winning pin.

Rollins wasn't finished there though. As the ringside doctor was giving Swagger the once-over the stooges moved him out of the way so Rollins could deliver a second stomp. He then threatened to do the same to old Zeb before he left the ring with his cronies. All of this put Swagger out of action, taking him off Team Cena.

The Divas were up next as Alicia Fox took on Paige. Moving on.....

The only title match of the show saw Sheamus challenging Rusev for the United States title.

With the Authority's stooges watching from ringside what we had was a big Irishman fighting a big Bulgarian who lived in Russia for an American wrestling title in the birthplace of the Beatles. It would probably have been easier for me to say that this match had an international flavour to it.

Anyway, it was a pretty entertaining encounter, with Sheamus looking to win back the title he'd lost after Raw went off the air the previous week. This one was quite a bit longer than that particular match, with both guys putting in good performance as they tried to beat the proverbial out of each other. Rusev always looked one step ahead of the former champion though, and it took a big effort on the Irishman's part to stay into the match after the big man wore him down a little.

Eventually Sheamus managed to work his way back into the match and take control, but Rusev headed for higher ground when he was about to set up for the brogue kick. Sheamus followed him out of the ring for a brief brawl, but when he found himself distracted by messrs Noble and Mercury, so while Rusev made it back into the ring the referee counted Sheamus out while he dealt with the stooges.

The tag team match of the evening saw Los Matadores taking on the Miz and his stunt double Damian Mizdow.

Well we had the usual stuff from Miz and his team, this time with the added flavour of a Mini Miz. And to think Hornswoggle was once Stephanie McMahon's half-brother! The straight-to-DVD star did most of the work in this one as Mizdow did his annoying stuff on the ring apron before his boss let him into the match for a few seconds. Eventually there was a brief brawl between Mini Miz and El Torito before Mizdow tripped one of the masked guys as he suplexed Miz into the ring. The stunt double then held on to his leg while his boss took the winning pin, as well as all the credit.

Then it was back to Team Cena versus Team Authority action as Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler faced Mark Henry in a non-title match.

Not really much to write home about in this one. Henry basically threw Ziggler around the ring like a dog's toy, with Ziggler managing to get in a few mainly useless blows of his own. But when the action spilled out to ringside Ziggler managed to send the big man over the ringside barricade. This didn't sit too well with Henry, who grabbed a chair and threw it at Ziggler, earning him an immediate disqualification.

It then became obvious that this was part of Henry's plan all along when he continued his attack after the bell. But just when he was about to slam Ziggler onto the ring steps the Big Show, whom Henry had attacked the previous week, came down for the save, and after a brief tug of war over the steps Henry ran for cover before Show announced that he'd joined Team Cena.

More Divas action followed as Divas Champion A.J. Lee faced Brie Bella in a non-title match.

This was when Brie was still her sister Nikki's personal assistant, and it was Nikki who put her into this match in the hope that she'd soften A.J. up a little before their title match at the Survivor Series. As with the previous match there really isn't much to tell off here, with Brie tapping out to A.J.'s black widow submission before Nikki jumped into the ring and attacked the champion from behind, taking her down with the rack attack.

Then it was on to Adam Rose, accompanied as always by his annoying entourage, a few of which I recognised, taking on Tyson Kidd.

Two things of note happened in this match. As Rose and Kidd were doing their stuff in the ring Erick Rowan came down to ringside, and walking around ringside for a few seconds he took off his mask and announced "she's not here" before walking off through the crowd.

When everyone turned their attention back to the match Rose had Kidd in a prone position near the corner, but before he could do anything he had to stop the Bunny coming down from the top rope. This gave Kidd time to recover, and a few moments later he locked Rose in a sharpshooter for the submission win. Afterwards the Bunny tried to apologise, but ended up getting kicked in the gut for his troubles.

The main event saw John Cena taking on Ryback.

The odds seemed stacked against Cena before the match even began when Team Authority came out behind Ryback as he made his way to the ring, and once the match started the big guy dominated the majority of the action, although Corporate Kane wasn't too happy with Ryback's performance as he ordered him to be more aggressive.

Cena's moments of offence were quite fleeting, and after Ryback survived an STF Cena barged Kane off the ring apron before Ryback took the Cenation leader down with a spinebuster. But while he was setting up for the meathook clothesline Kane jumped into the ring and attacked Cena. The referee called for the bell immediately, giving Cena the disqualification win.

Ryback wasn't too happy with what had just happened, and when Seth Rollins tried to act as peacemaker the big guy decked him. The numbers soon became too much for Ryback though, and after they dispatched him from the ring they turned their attention back to Cena. New team members Sheamus and the Big Show tried to make the save but soon found themselves on the end of a beating as well, and it was only when Ryback recovered and came back into the ring to clean house that Team Authority got a taste of their own medicine, more or less announcing his resignation from the team.

But as the show went off the air a ready-made replacement came to light as Luke Harper threw a limp Dolph Ziggler into the Authority's office.

Disc one is where you'll find the extras, with a match from the 1991 UK Rampage show with Andre the Giant accompanying the Rockers as they take on Mr. Fuji's Orient Express, and a fan's eye view match from after the Smackdown taping, with Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose taking on Kane and Bray Wyatt.

In conclusion - long-time readers will know that I'm not really into watching Raw these days, so I really only get to see a full episode when I review these releases, so this is a somewhat unique experience for me these days.

Anyway, this was a pretty good build-up show for the Survivor Series. The storyline about who would join Triple H's crew and their attempts to stop anyone from joining John Cena's cause was played out perfectly. Vince McMahon's added stipulation definitely added a little spice into the mix, and this was a great way to set up that massive main event, which, if you recall, led to the first WWE appearance of a certain former WCW superstar.

The matches were kind of how I expected them to be. There were a couple of throwaway encounters that didn't really mean much in the grand scheme of things, and while Cena versus Ryback probably had a few of you on the edge of your seats a few months ago the Sheamus/Rusev United States title match was the best match on this show, which is why it get's my prestigious match of the night no-prize.

So as we look forward to disc two of this collection, where we'll look at Main Event, Superstars and Smackdown, let's end this piece by giving the first part of this collection the thumbs up.

With thanks to Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. WWE Live in the UK November 2014 is available to buy online at www.wwedvd.co.uk.