Unlike the 1980’s and 1990’s sets previously released by WWE Home Video, the Best of 2000’s set does not attempt to profile the superstars of the “era”. Instead it concentrates firmly on the matches. And whilst any match list from any decade will always provoke discussion over what should and what shouldn’t be on the agenda, it’s fair to say that for the most part this collection delivers a lot of great action.
It’s hosted by Mick Foley, with guests Enzo & Big Cass, Charlotte Flair and Bayley. If you like Mick, you’ll like his links. He may have been running short on material when he filmed them though judging by the repeated XFL jokes and more Al Snow ribbing.
Disc one kicks off with the tremendous Cactus Jack / Triple H Streetfight from Royal Rumble 2000. What is doubly pleasing is that it is preceded by the video package used for the event. Many of the matches on the set are and it provides a context for the matches that you then see.
Just as good is the SummerSlam 2000 TLC match pitting The Hardy Boys, The Dudley and Edge & Christian against each other in an awesome stunt-fest that still stands up today. Triple H and Steve Austin’s Three Stages of Hell match from No Way Out 2001 perhaps hasn’t aged as well, but it’s still a strong effort from both men. Just don’t think too closely about the wisdom of Austin doing the j-o-b here weeks before the match that follows; WrestleMania 17’s Austin/Rock classic. If you haven’t seen this, you’ve no excuse now. Hindsight suggests to some that the heel turn was a mistake but it’s worth remembering that at the time most thought Austin had done all he could as a WWE face.
The first disc rounds off with The Rock challenging Booker T for the WCW World Title at SummerSlam 2001. An average match which only serves to remind us all of how unbalanced the Invasion angle would prove to be.
Disc Two kicks off with two matches I was privaleged enough to be on hand for LIVE! Hulk Hogan Vs The Rock from WrestleMania X8 was never going to be a technical tour de force that Dave Meltzer would give Six Stars to and it’s a fair point that on video 15 years later it loses something. But there’s no denying the atmosphere and Hogan’s well deserved reputation as the master manipulator of crowds. The Shawn Michaels / Chris Jericho match from the following years’ Mania is by far the “better” match but it can’t hold a candle to it’s predecessor in terms of crowd reaction.
A personal favourite of mine is up next as we get the first TV match of the set. From September 2003 we get the Smackdown Iron Man match between Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle. Fans only used to “suplex city” might have their eyes opened at just how much Lesnar could do first time around in the WWE. Disc Two rounds off with the brutal Randy Orton / Mick Foley match from Backlash 2004. Mick Foley certainly was one for putting his body on the line to get others over.
Disc Three opens with the December 2004 Raw match that saw Trish Stratus and Lita main event raw. For historical reasons it deserves it’s inclusion on this set but it’s not a great match by any stretch of the imagination. It does not compare well with the best of the current “Women’s Revolution” matches. Another HBK ‘Mania classic is next as he tangles with Kurt Angle in a match that almost gets overlooked when debating Michaels’ Mania resumé but one that is certainly worth revisiting. After a good Hell In A Cell bout between HHH and Batista (which brings back fond memories of that feud), Angle is pulling duty again, this time against The Undertaker from No Way Out 2006. It’s another stormer.
We end this disc with the Edge / John Cena Tables, Ladders and Chairs match from Unforgiven 2006. It was already common for fans to mock Cena at this time but he goes toe-to-toe with Edge in a near 30 minute classic here. That didn’t stop the boos of course (and the show hailing from Canada didn’t help matters).
The final disc kicks off with another John Cena match, this time a near hour long Raw match with Shawn Michaels. It’s good rather than great, but if nothing else you will admire the herculean effort from both men. An Edge/Randy Orton match from Raw is an odd inclusion but in one respect is probably the one match on the set that hasn’t been played to death on previous releases. A Triple H / Jeff Hardy match from No Mercy 2008 is another great one and knowing that Jeff does go on to lift the World Title later on his career means that the disappointment of his losing effort that many felt at the time is no longer a factor.
Although it is one of the matches that has been played to death, there was no way that the WWE could leave the WrestleMania 25 classic between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker off something purporting to be the best of the 2000’s. The Bash 2009 match between Rey Misterio and Chris Jericho can’t follow that, but it ends the collection on a high note nevertheless.
As stated at the beginning, there is no way that a set of this nature can please everyone. Any fans from the time period will have their own matches that they think should have made it. But with the odd exception, every match on this set is very good indeed. Some are bona fide 5 star classics. Even those that aren’t generally deserve to be here on historical merit.
Off hand I can’t think of any set the WWE has released that has been this good in terms of match quality. It genuinely earns full marks from me!
10 out of 10.
Photos courtesy: Fetch, Fremantle Media, WWE
Format reviewed: DVD
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