Friday, 11 December 2015

DVD Review: WWE Christmas Collection

We’re nearing the middle of December, which means that we can all start thinking about Christmas. Although with some television channels here in the UK having shown Christmas-themed movies for months now you’d be forgiven for thinking that Santa Claus did his rounds in October.

So without further ado let’s take a look at WWE’s attempt to convince us that it’s the season to be jolly by taking a look at the recent DVD hosted by self-confessed Christmas nut Mick Foley and his daughter Noelle, the WWE Christmas Collection.

And as is the custom with these match collections let’s start at the very beginning with.....

December 20th, 1999
The collection begins with our host giving us a couple of Christmas-themed matches of his own, beginning when Mankind faced Santa Claus in a boiler room brawl on Raw.

If you expecting the hardcore legend to kick jolly St. Nick’s backside here then you’d be extremely disappointed. Mankind’s night began when he was attacked by the Mean Street Posse while he was being interviewed by Michael Cole, who ended up shoving him into the boiler room.

He soon met the jolly fellow inside, but rather than beating up his childhood hero he decided to let Santa leave the room under his own power so he could claim the win.

But as soon as Santa had left Mankind found himself assaulted by three guys dressed in Santa outfits, and after sending those guys packing he was then attacked by two more Santas, who quickly turned out to be Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg.

It took some doing, but Mankind managed to fight off their attack. Another Santa, one with a very familiar big nose, then clobbered him from behind, and after several shots with an obviously-loaded gift sack this Santa showed that he knew how to play the “Game” by leaving the boiler room to claim the win.

December 19th, 2005
Our host’s second Christmas-themed match sees him taking on John “Bradshaw” Layfield in a no ho ho holds barred during Raw’s Tribute to the Troops in Afghanistan.

This one started with Santa, garbed in camouflage trimmed with fluffy white, coming to the ring and basically bad mouthing everything before cancelling every holiday known to man, including St. Patrick’s Day. It was then that another more traditional Santa came out and confronted him, challenging this impostor to a match.

The masks, or rather beards, quickly slipped when the Santas were revealed to be JBL and Foley, and after Foley took control with several well-placed gift sack shots he went too far when he tried to clobber JBL with the pillow he’d be using for padding. Needless to say that the shot had no effect on the millionaire.

JBL’s period of dominance lasted only a few seconds, and after Foley took him down with his underhook DDT he finished him off with Mr. Socko, much to the delight of the military personnel.

December 23rd, 1995
With Foley’s own Christmas-themed matches out of the way it’s on to the rest of the collection, beginning with one of the most ill-conceived gimmicks in WWE history as Kris Cringle’s evil brother and Ted Dibiase guy Xanta Klaus takes on Scott Taylor on Superstars.

The guy who took on the Klaus gimmick certainly had a lot of Balls, but the idea was flawed because you could only really use him for about four or five weeks a year.

The match itself is quite uneventful, a run of the mill squash match which lasted under two minutes when Klaus locked in a camel clutch. In fact the most interesting thing about this segment was the promo that was aired during the match in which Dibiase promised to reveal his hand-picked Million Dollar Champion. I wonder what happened to that guy.....

December 24th, 2001
It’s back to Raw as Tag Champion Bubba Ray Dudley faces Cruiserweight Champion Tajiri in a Santa Claus match.

So what do you get when you dress two former ECW stars in Santa outfits? Action-wise this wasn’t too bad. These two put together some nice little sequences, with Bubba getting some assistance from his little helper Devon every now and then.

Tajiri managed to fight back after Bubba missed a senton from the second rope, but when Devon tried to interfere again Taz raced down to the ring and pushed him off the top rope. This confusion gave Tajiri the chance to spray red mist into Bubba’s eye, and two well-placed kicks later and the Japanese Buzzsaw had the pin.

December 25th, 1989
A slight detour to Prime Time Wrestling sees Bobby Heenan talking about the true meaning of Christmas.

Well, sort of. It’s kind of a fun piece here with Heenan, dressed as Santa, and Gorilla Monsoon in the Prime Time studio with Heenan ranting about how Santa doesn’t exist, while in a nearby studio an irate Roddy Piper has a few choice words for the Brain.

Heenan’s rant against all things Christmas continued through the various segments of the show until Piper left his studio and attacked Heenan, who was thrown out during a commercial break. The piece ends with Piper telling us about his own views on Christmas.

December 22nd, 2008
It’s on to mixed tag action on Raw, Santino Marella and Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix taking on World Champion John Cena and Trish Stratus.

This all came about when Cena’s interrupted Marella’s attempt to reveal the truth about Santa. Marella then challenged Cena to find a partner, with none other than local heroine Trish Stratus his choice.

So with all of that out of the way the encounter itself saw Marella do his usual comedy stuff, and despite the fact that she’d been out of the ring for two years Trish looked pretty decent in there, until Beth decided to use her as her personal punching bag.

The hot tag to Cena soon followed though as he quickly went through his routine. It was briefly interrupted by Beth until Trish took her out with a chick kick, which gave Cena the chance to put Marella away with the attitude adjuster for the win.

November 29th, 2011
Our host Mick Foley is in charge of a Christmas-themed edition of Smackdown, and it’s a triple threat of action from that show, beginning with Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston taking on Tyson Kidd.

This was back when Kidd didn’t even warrant a proper ring introduction, and although he put in a good effort in this rather short encounter it was Kingston who got the most offence in, and just to keep in the spirit of things he took the head off Michael Cole’s reindeer outfit before he came down off the top rope and took Kidd out with a cross bodyblock for the win.

Then it was on to the Miracle on 34th Street Fight between Randy Orton and David Otunga.

If this match proves anything it’s just how dangerous Christmas can be, especially when Orton throws his opponents into several Christmas trees. So you don’t think those things are dangerous? I used to get a nasty rash selling those bloody things years ago!

So apart from these two hitting each other with Christmas decorations and presents we also got a brief cameo appearance from Orton’s rival Wade Barrett. His attack failed to have the desired effect though, because just a few moments later Orton took Otunga down with an RKO for the winning pin.

The final match was the All I Want For Christmas Battle Royal, with the winner getting to ask Santa Claus for a special wish.

This is basically a bunch of lower-mid carders such as Jinder Mahal, Tyler Reks, Heath Slater and more against Sheamus, and special entrant Hornswoggle. Yes, you read that correctly. Hornswoggle entered this battle royal.

The little guy spent most of the match under the ring while the various entrants battled it out. He even eliminated Tyson Kidd at one point when he pushed him off the ring apron, but as the numbers decreased he found himself at odds against Mahal, Reks, Slater and Hunico, until Sheamus came to the rescue.

This left us with the rather unique scene of Sheamus and Hornswoggle threatening to throw each other out of the ring, and when the leprechaun refused to leave Sheamus picked him up and put him over the top rope. Hornswoggle held onto the top rope at first until Sheamus dragged him down to the ring apron.

But as the two faced off on the apron Hornswoggle looked crestfallen when Sheamus ordered him to eliminate himself. The big Irishman let his emotions get the better of him when he agreed to Hornswoggle’s request to hug it out, but the vertically-challenged one pulled a fast one and pushed Sheamus off the apron, winning the battle royal.

Sheamus didn’t look too pleased, until he got into the ring and raised Hornswoggle’s arm. As for his wish, a Christmas hug from Santa gave Hornswoggle the power of speech.

December 24th, 2012
It was the Christmas Eve edition of Raw that had a rather unique beginning. As guest host Santa Claus was throwing out presents to the crowd he was run over by Alberto Del Rio’s car. Everyone in the arena was shocked and concerned when old Saint Nick was carted away on a stretcher.

In the back the roster gathered to find out about Santa’s condition, and every one to a man lambasted Del Rio when he appeared on the scene. It was then that Booker T revealed that Santa’s last wish before he lost consciousness was that Del Rio face John Cena in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight.

So with Cena fighting to save the spirit of Christmas itself, what we had here was a hell of a lot more fun that the Orton/Otunga affair, and while it had it’s more serious moments this one was played for laughs, especially when they were opening the presents on the set looking for weapons.

Cena was lucky enough to find things like chairs and television monitors, while Del Rio’s ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez opened presents and found a pie and a teddy bear, which aren’t exactly the best things you can use in a street fight.

At one point it looked as if Rodriguez’s interference finally paid off when he jumped on Cena’s back and applied a sleeper. It was then that Santa, having made a miraculous recovery, appeared on the scene, and after clobbering Rodriguez with his sack he put a red sock on his hand and put ADR in the mandible claw. Cena then finished the job with an attitude adjuster to take the win.

December 23rd, 2013
It’s on to a Raw battle of Saint Nicks, with Mark “Good Santa” Henry going up against Damian “Bad Santa” Sandow.

This is basically like the street fights, except with the combatants dressed in Santa suits, which means it’s another fun kind of match in which people get hit by various Christmas presents. It’s not too bad I suppose, although you should look elsewhere for a five star classic.

Christmas was saved that year when Good Santa pinned his evil counterpart after the world’s strongest slam.

Later on, Summer Rae guy Fandango faced Dolph Ziggler in a Christmas present on a pole match, with the present a contract for a shot at Big E. Langston’s Intercontinental title.

This one was pretty decent. There was a big scramble for the pole at the beginning before they settled down for a spot of regular action and a couple of big bumps to the outside when they stopped each other from climbing up the pole again.

Ziggler’s best chance came after he’d taken Fandango down with the famouser, but after the dancer recovered he quickly joined the show-off in a battle on the rope. Both men came close to losing it until Fandango rammed Ziggler’s head into the pole and he fell down onto the ring steps below, giving Fandango the chance to reach up and claim the prize as his own.

December 22nd, 2014
It’s on to last year’s Christmas Raw, beginning with the Santa’s Little Helper divas tag team match with Alicia Fox, Naomi and Emma taking on Paige, Cameron and Summer Rae.

Well, even though it’s the season of good will to all men, as far as reviewing this particular match I’d still be damned if I do and damned if I don’t as far as Paige’s family are concerned. Moving on.....

Later in the evening it’s another Miracle on 34th Street Fight, with Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose rounding out this collection.

This was by far the most serious match in this collection, but then again considering that these two were in the middle of a heated feud you couldn’t really expect them to parade round in elf outfits.

Wyatt and Ambrose simply forgot that it was the season of good will to all men as they proceeded to beat the living daylights out of each other. The Christmas content was there as they threw each other into trees and clobbered each other with presents, but there was also a more serious side, especially when tables, ladders, chairs and kendo sticks were introduced into the equation.

But as is the way with these kind of matches it took something rather drastic to get the job done. Earlier in the match Wyatt had stuffed a kendo stick into one of the turnbuckle fittings, and although he’d been unable to use it before knocking Ambrose off a ladder by throwing a chair at him gave him the chance to ram his man’s face into the rather pointed object. A three count later and Wyatt had the win.

Ambrose managed to get a measure of revenge though when he set off a fire extinguisher in Wyatt’s face before he put him through a table with an elbow drop.

In conclusion – so we’ve  finally reached the end, but is this release a festive treat or the proverbial Brussels sprout that nobody enjoys?

Well, if you’re looking for one of those all-action compilations featuring a ton of earth-shattering matches then this isn’t the collection for you, but if you’re looking for a fun way to enjoy a few spare hours over the Christmas period then this will be right up your alley.

The majority of the matches here may be of the throwaway variety, the sort that will be forgotten by the time Granny has suggested a game of charades after the Queen’s Christmas speech, overall it’s a pretty fun collection.

As hosts Mick Foley and his daughter Noelle come across extremely well, and although I wished that the hardcore legend had gone to the trouble to brush his hair before he started he did a very good job here. He even managed to get an Al Snow joke in at one point.

So if you’re looking for a present that features Santas brawling with each other and getting hit over the head with presents then this is the collection for you, which is why I’m giving this the thumbs up.

With thanks to Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. WWE Christmas Collection is available to buy online at www.wwedvd.co.uk.