The WWE has held numerous shows in the United Kingdom over the past three plus decades. Matthew Roberts takes a look at WWE Home Video’s latest DVD release Best of UK Classics which compiles some of the most memorable UK Classics shows since 1989.
We kick this two disc set off with a match many would probably never have realised ever took places on these shores, Hulk Hogan against Macho Man Randy Savage from the London Arena in October 1989. This is the first ever WWE show in the UK and was shown live on Sky One. With satellite TV in general and the WWE itself in it’s infancy in the UK at the time they could still pull a crowd of 15,000. Despite it’s UK TV showing, this is in some ways a classic House Show match from the time. The two don’t need to do much to send the crowd wild and the shenanigans with Miss Elizabeth and Sensational Sherri go down well too. Modern day fans may be a little nonplussed by the action but old-timers (like me) will enjoy it. Hell even the sounds of Tony Schiavone and Lord Alfred Hayes on commentary are pleasing on the ear in terms of nostalgia.
We skip forward to Wembley Stadium and Summerslam 1992 next. It’s no surprise that they choose the main event match pitting Bret Hart against Davey Boy Smith to put on here. As ubiquitous as that match has become no “UK Classics” set would be complete without it.
From there we go to 1997 and the WWE’s first ever UK-only pay-per-view, One Night Only. The choice from this is the Bret Hart/Undertaker match. Some (i.e. me) could make the argument that this is the last truly great match of Bret’s career, although there are perhaps one of two of his WCW matches that come close. The non-finish is unfortunate, but can’t negate the sheer effort both men put in before that. We then get to Rebellion 2001 (which probably ties with ONO as the best of the UK-only ppv’s) and a riotous Stone Cold Steve Austin/The Rock match. Ok so it can’t match up to their WrestleMania matches but it’s still great fun (and was a riot live in the Manchester Arena).
Disc 1 rounds off with the “one hour” Raw match from April 2007 between Shawn Michaels and John Cena, which goes around 40 minutes in it’s clipped (i.e. adverts taken out) form here. You certainly don’t see many Cena matches like this, anyway.
Disc 2 starts with a Raw April 2013 match between The Undertaker & Team Hell No and the Shield. It’s here for the star power rather than any real quality but it’s an enjoyable TV match. A match between Cesaro and Sheamus from a November 2015 Raw is really only here because English footballer Wayne Rooney is at ringside and gets into it with Wade Barrett.
From there it’s November 2017 and AJ Styles against Jinder Mahal, which would seem an odd choice out of context. But, of course, Mahal is the WWE Champion and this marks the first time that the WWE Title changed hands in the UK. It’s poles apart from the NXT UK Title match from October 2022 that follows between Walter and Ilja Dragunov on many different levels. If you’ve never seen this match it’s certainly one you need to check out.
We round things off with Gunther and Sheamus from 2022’s Clash at the Castle. It’s another cracker and it’s fascinating to watch the Walter/Gunter matches back to back.
You can’t really complain about the choices here; they are all either packed with star power, have historical value or are proper, well, bangers. Some extend to having two out of those three and the odd match even can lay claim to all three. You could easily have added a third disc from other shows over the years but you would either be mining matches from the same shows (One Night Only and Rebellion, for instance, had other good matches on them) or perhaps picking matches that wouldn’t fit the criteria I’ve looked at above.
All in all this is a great trip down memory lane and is a very entertaining watch.
9 out of 10
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE. Thank you to WWE Home Video for our review copy of WWE Best of UK Classics which is out Monday 24 April on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.