Friday, 8 January 2016

DVD Review: WWE The Beast in the East

In my last review of 2015 I took a look at WWE’s Elimination Chamber show, an event that fell under that radar for those of us who don’t subscribe to the WWE Network.

So for my first review of 2016 I’m going to continue in a similar vein by taking a look at another network-exclusive event that was subsequently released on DVD here in the UK, an event that saw Brock Lesnar returning to Japan for The Beast in the East.

The show began with Chris Jericho taking on Neville.

The network audience were given a real treat to begin their show. This veritable battle of the generations featured two wrestlers who matched up extremely well in one of those battles with so many twists and turns you just couldn’t avert your eyes for fear of missing something.

Jericho proved that he could easily match Neville in the aerial department, while Neville proved that he could easily hang with the legendary Y2J as they put on a tremendous back and forth battle that had the Japanese fans eating out of the palm of their hands.

Both men came close to getting the win on numerous occasions, and Neville’s high-flying prowess served him well in that respect. It also led to his downfall though. The Englishman was intent on putting Jericho away with the red arrow, and when he went for it a third time Jericho brought his knees up to counter. He quickly followed up by locking in the walls, and even though Neville had managed to survive that move the first time around the second time was a charm when he tapped out to give Jericho the submission win.

The first title match of the show saw Paige and Tamina challenging Nikki Bella for the Divas title. Moving on.....

Then it was on to the man that everyone wanted to see, as the New Day’s Kofi Kingston took on the impossible task of going up against Brock Lesnar.

Can you say squash match kiddies? This was a case of feeding the prisoners to the lions. Kingston had a couple of good moments, but once the Beast got his hands on him it was all over bar the shouting.

In short, young Kofi didn’t stand a chance. A couple of trips to Suplex City were followed by an F5 before Lesnar ended Kingston’s suffering with a pin.

Lesnar’s work was far from over though. Another suplex and F5 to Kingston brought his New Day buddies Big E and Xavier Woods down to the ring. Two more F5’s followed as Lesnar made an example out of them a couple of weeks before he challenged Seth Rollins for the WWE World title.

More title action followed as Finn Balor challenged Kevin Owens for the NXT title.

I’ve heard so much about this match over the past few months, and all of it was justified, because for over twenty minutes these two put on a tremendous back and forth encounter, the proverbial slobber knocker if you will, that had the Tokyo fans on the edge of their seats.

It began with the demonic Balor racing out of his corner and dropkicking Owens in the chest. The Irishman quickly raced up to the top rope, but sadly for him the quick win wasn’t on when the champion rolled out of the ring.

The champion soon made his comeback though, which led to some nice back and forth exchanges, and as I watched it dawned on me that perhaps I wasn’t really watching a WWE-style match, but that I was watching hard-hitting Japanese-style encounter.

Both competitors took it up a notch or three as the match went on, with Owens adding a little spice into the mix when he stole a few moves from his rival John Cena’s move set. Balor never gave up though, and as both men moved into high gear and brought out their big guns it was Balor who took the upper hand.

Twice before he’d tried to put Owens away with his coup de grace stomp from the top rope, and with the Japanese fans cheering him on he took the champion down with two dropkicks, and as Owens lay prone on the mat Balor climbed to the top rope and finally put his man away with his finisher of choice. A three count followed as Balor claimed the NXT title.

It was then that the legendary Tatsumi Fujinami came down to the ring to congratulate the new champion, but when Balor offered his hand to Owens the now-former champion refused and left the ring to a chorus of boos.

The final match saw King Barrett and Corporate Kane take on Dolph Ziggler and United States Champion John Cena.

While I’m not really sure if you can call this a main event it was still a pretty good way to end the show, and even though all four men put in good performances it did seem to drag a little bit towards the end.

Both Cena and Ziggler took the punching bag treatment here, with Kane and the King doubling up on them to good effect at times, but after Ziggler countered Kane’s chokeslam attempt with a DDT the hot tag to Cena signalled the start of the all hell breaking loose moment, which actually didn’t last that long. Their was a brief four-way brawl until Cena took Barrett down with the attitude adjuster for the winning pin.

DVD extras come in the form of the two dark matches, with Cesaro taking on Diego and Xavier Woods and Big E of the New Day facing the Lucha Dragons.

In conclusion – well, the good people at Fremantle Media, the company that controls WWE DVD releases here in the UK have to be commended once more.

You see, I’m sure there are quite a few people in this world who don’t really want to subscribe to the WWE Network, and who prefer watching television shows and films on television. I definitely fall into this category, especially as I don’t own a gaming console with online access and I’m on a very limited budget. Which is why I’m pleased people like me have the chance to watch some of these network events on DVD.

The show itself was very good. It was nice to see the WWE regulars competing in front of a different sort of crowd, away from the bright lights of Raw and Smackdown, even though there were quite a few familiar chants from the Tokyo branch of the WWE Universe.

As for my match of the night there was only really one contender, so this time around my prestigious no-prize goes to the incredible Finn Balor/Kevin Owens encounter.

So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give The Beast in the East the thumbs up. While we’re at it, let’s give a thumbs up to Fremantle Media as well, in the hope that they’ll release more WWE Network shows on DVD in the future.

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