Review: WWE ‘Top 25 Rivalries in Wrestling History’ DVD & Blu-Ray

May 31, 2013 by Joe Israel

WWE Top 25 Rivalries in Wrestling History DVD & Blu-ray

While they usually look entertaining on paper, the past countdown DVDs from WWE have ranged from average to disappointing.  Because of this, I don’t think expectations were all that high for the Top 25 Rivalries in Wrestling History.  The match listing, on paper, didn’t seem particularly exciting either.  Of course, there are always going to be concerns that the countdown will be ranked ridiculously (as Top 50 Superstars of All Time was).  I think this particular list will get the least number of complaints, though.  A nice balance is given to different federations throughout wrestling history, and while there are always going to be a few choices to quibble with, overall it’s not too bad.

The main feature on Disc 1 of the Blu-ray runs 2 hours, 50 minutes, with about 1 hour, 40 minutes of bonus matches.  Disc 2 contains 2 hours, 50 minutes of bonus matches, with an additional 90 minutes of Blu-ray exclusive features.  The Blu-ray is rated TV-14.

   

 

“Irresistible Force, Immovable Object”: The Main Feature

WWE Rey Mysterio Vs Eddie Guerrero

As I alluded to earlier, the countdown, without question, is the best one the WWE has released yet.  There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the basic ones is the choice to do a Top 25 instead of a Top 50 (or Top 100) as has been done in the past.  This allows for about 7 minutes focusing on each of the rivalries on the countdown.  While this may not sound like too much time, it actually worked out pretty well.  I felt like we were able to get a good sense of the overall feud, while still focusing on some individual matches and moments at the same time.  Not surprisingly, the WWE did a great job choosing which footage to include here.  The 25 rivalries chosen were pretty nicely balanced as well.  You get rivalries from all different eras, and from different promotions.  The countdown is never going to be perfect for everyone, but on the whole, it’s hard to complain too much.  Sting/Hogan and RnR Express/Midnight Express were probably the only really questionable omissions, but at the same time, it’s hard to make a strong argument to remove any of the rivalries that were included.

Shane Douglas in WWE Top 25 Rivalries DVD

Another great choice the WWE made for this countdown was to only interview one superstar to discuss each rivalry.  This allows the superstar to really go in depth on the rivalry, rather than just cutting to a bunch of guys making pretty superficial remarks.  They also made sure to never choose one of the two men involved in the feud.  This allows for a nice outside perspective.  The choices the WWE made were, across the board, quite inspired, from Vince Russo discussing Austin/McMahon to CM Punk breaking down Hogan/Savage.  They even sought out NWA referee Tommy Young to discuss the Flair/Steamboat rivalry.  My favorite was probably hearing Bret Hart talk about the Angle/Lesnar feud.  The only choice that I can see getting any complaints is the Miz discussing Rock/Austin, but this has more to do with the “internet community” being conditioned to hate everything about the Miz than anything else.  He does offer some nice insights.

WWE Renee Young Hosting DVD

The only part of the feature I didn’t particularly care for were the interspersed host segments with Renee Young.  Young was fine, but she isn’t exactly given much to do.  The WWE decided to go with a chemistry theme for the overall set.  This sounds fine at first, but they end up going totally overboard.  And this is coming from someone who actually enjoyed college chemistry!  The comparisons made between the rivalries and different elements are silly, and they don’t add anything to the set.  After about the second segment, I found myself skipping through these entirely.  I think this is the first time I’ve skipped through the host segments on any countdown or match compilation set, which I think says something about the quality here.  But if you skip through these, you’ve got a really entertaining feature overall.

 

“Grudge Match”: The Matches

WWE Championship Match: Hulk Hogan Vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper (War to Settle the Score, 2/18/85) – * 3/4

This match actually has the feel of MTV, the network it aired for.  The action is pretty constant, and it quickly degrades into a serious of interferences and celebrity cameos.  Not the blow-off to a feud that Hogan and Piper should have received.

NWA US Championship “I Quit” Steel Cage Match: Tully Blanchard Vs. Magnum TA (Starrcade, 11/28/85) – **** 1/2

Watching this match, you can truly feel the hatred between these two men.  The close-up image of Tully trying to drive the wooden spike into Magnum’s head is one of the great images from wrestling history.  An historic brawl that must be seen.

Wrestling Rivalries Abdullah The Butcher Vs Bruiser Brody

Bruiser Brody Vs. Abdullah the Butcher (WCCW, 7/87) – **

This is one of those matches that wasn’t really designed for “star ratings”.  Fun while it lasts, but it doesn’t really come together as a match.

Badstreet Rules Match: Kevin & Kerry Von Erich Vs. Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts (WCCW, 2/88) – ** 3/4

I was very surprised by this match.  The street fight style gimmick was used really well, and I was interested in the story throughout the whole match.  The ending is disappointing, though.

Hulk Hogan & “Macho Man” Randy Savage Vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant (Summerslam, 8/29/88) – ***

Another match I was surprised by.  This match is paced very well to play to the strengths of everyone in the match, and it had the feel of a main event match even if the title wasn’t at stake.

Undertaker Vs. Mankind (King of the Ring, 6/23/96) – ***

This match played to the strengths of each man very well.  Mankind was pretty new to the company at this point, and they do a great job making him look like a big deal.  A nice “stepping stone” in the feud.

ECW Tazz Vs Sabu Rivalry

Tazz Vs. Sabu (Barely Legal, 4/13/97) – **** 1/4

Knowing that this match was built up for a year leading to ECW’s first PPV, Barely Legal, you can really feel the “big match” atmosphere. The storytelling in this match is superb. It epitomizes what ECW was best at: combining great wrestling with the hardcore action they became famous for.  The match is given plenty of time to grow, and the finish works nicely.

Tommy Dreamer Vs. Raven (Wrestlepalooza, 6/97) – ** 3/4

I’m not a huge fan of this style of match, but Dreamer & Raven are probably two of the best at having crazy brawls.  This match gets really good at the end, though.  As the conclusion to a feud, I didn’t have a problem with all of the run-ins, and the near falls are done really well.  Even if there is a lot of “kicking out of finishers” and ref bumps, they work really well here, and even knowing the ending, I was on the edge of my seat.

WWF WWE Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Vince & Shane McMahon

“Winner Take All” Handicap Ladder Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. Mr. McMahon & Shane McMahon (King of the Ring, 6/27/99) – ** 3/4

This match is way more fun than it has any right to be.  Say what you want about Vince and Shane as in-ring competitors, they are really good at taking an ass-whooping.  While not a technical masterpiece, I was really entertained with this match, and the crowd was really into it, which also helped.

WWE Championship Match: Triple H Vs. The Rock (Backlash, 4/30/00) – ** 1/4

This match was a disappointment for me.  The first 2/3 of the match were very by the numbers, and it never really has a chance to switch to another gear because of all the run-ins.  Watching this live, I’m sure the constant run-ins were entertaining, but looking back on the match, it feels a bit overbooked (something the Raven/Dreamer match I talked about earlier was able to avoid).

WWE Championship Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. The Rock (Rebellion, 11/3/01) – *** 1/2

I appreciate that Rock & Austin tried to do something different with this match.  It didn’t feel like their earlier WrestleMania matches, especially due to Austin working as a heel.  It doesn’t quite reach the level of those previous matches, and ultimately serves as a nice lead in to that year’s Survivor Series.

WWE Rivalries Kurt Angle Vs Brock Lesnar

WWE Championship Match: Kurt Angle Vs. Brock Lesnar (Summerslam, 8/24/03) – **** 1/4

Angle & Lesnar pretty much always put on great matches, and this one is no exception.  It is very different from their WrestleMania match, and features much more psychology than I was expecting.

WWE Championship Steel Cage Match: John Cena Vs. Edge (Raw, 10/2/06) – ***

I’ve always been a fan of the Cena/Edge feud, but this isn’t one of their more memorable matches.  I’d call this an above average TV match, but nothing more than that.

 
Blu-Ray Exclusive Matches

WWE Shane McMahon Cody Rhodes

WWE Championship Match: Triple H, Batista, & Shane McMahon Vs. Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, & Ted DiBiase (Backlash, 4/26/09) – **

I found this match to be painfully boring.  While there isn’t really anything technically wrong with it, it didn’t hold my attention at all.  I also didn’t like how bad the match makes Rhodes & DiBiase look in the first 10 minutes or so.  They get buried by the other three men.

CM Punk with WWE Championship

WWE Championship Match: CM Punk Vs. John Cena (Night of Champions, 9/16/12) – **** 3/4

Punk & Cena have amazing chemistry, and this match is no different.  Fantastic storytelling that leads to a satisfying way to have a non-finish in the match.  Punk’s reaction to finding out he was still champ is wonderful.

 

“The Mega Powers Explode”: Closing Thoughts

I go into most new WWE Blu-rays with pretty high expectations, and they usually meet those levels.  This is one of those sets that did exceed my expectations.  The countdown feature is far better than it really has any right to be.  By using one superstar to talk about each rivalry, we really are able to get a good sense of WHY each rivalry was important.  Don’t come in looking for a timeline quickly running through each feud.  You aren’t going to get that, and, quite frankly, that would have been pretty boring.  I did learn a bit about some of the feuds with which I was less familiar, such as the Magnum/Tully and Freebirds/Von Erichs feuds.  But overall, you do get a great sense of what made each of the rivalries important.  It almost becomes a fun game trying to figure out who is going to talk about each rivalry.  Some of them are surprising, but when you think about it, each of them do make sense.

Stone Cold Steve Austin WWE WWF Champion

The match listing and bonus content for this set didn’t exactly light the world on fire when it was announced, but I will say that the match listing was fairly solid.  There aren’t any particularly BAD matches here, even if at the same time, there aren’t many total classics either.  I appreciated that they gave us a lot of Pay-Per-View and big event matches here rather than TV matches.  Most of the matches were given a lot of time, and are able to give you a nice sense of the rivalry.  I can understand why, due to time constraints, not each rivalry was represented in a match, but it did seem fairly random which were represented and which were not represented.  I know there will be a number of complaints about the amount of “repeats” on this set, and I do have a problem with the fact that some of the matches were included on compilation sets as recently as 1-2 years ago.  I feel like there should be a statute of limitations with this issue.  For example, the Magnum/Tully cage match hasn’t been put on a DVD in about 5 years.  I feel like enough time has gone by now to warrant its inclusion.  The Austin Vs. McMahons ladder match? That was on a DVD only 18 months ago.  That’s a little too soon.  If you are a match collector in particular, I wouldn’t say this is a set you need to rush out and get immediately, but if you do watch the bonus matches, there is a lot here to like.

WWE Shawn Michaels White Undertaker Promo

I also would say that this is not a set that I feel you need to own on Blu-ray.  The Blu-ray bonus features are pretty disappointing.  I’m glad we got at least one promo included, and it is a good promo, but not worth going out of your way to pick up.  The Cena/Punk match is fantastic, but I’m sure many fans already have it on the Best PPV Matches of 2012 Blu-ray.  And I was not a big fan of the six man tag team match.  If you are a die-hard collector, I’m sure you’re planning on getting the Blu-ray anyway, but if not, I would say this is an instance where you aren’t missing much sticking with the DVD.

While I would recommend this set, it’s not one that you need to rush out and pick up immediately.  If you like countdowns, you won’t be disappointed by the countdown.  The matches on here aren’t bad per se, but they aren’t particularly fantastic either.  I would call this a slightly above average overall release with a great main feature, and certainly worth picking up if you find it in a sale.  At the least, I would definitely recommend catching the countdown portion when it inevitably shows up on Netflix.  What did you all think? Let us know in the comments, and (Foley style cheap plug alert), I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that I recently joined Twitter, so feel free to give a follow @JoeIsrael_.

 
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41 Comments left on this article...

  1. Will says:

    What about Edge vs Matt Hardy????

  2. Danger Zone says:

    A bland compilation with some frustrating omissions and content. The most ludicrous segment was the Hogan-Piper recap with Dibiase Jr. where they totally omitted any mention of their continued feud in WCW. They acted as if the rivalry ended at WM 1. That’s the kind of thing that ails WWE product. Also in the Hogan-Savage recap you’d think they fought each other for the first time at WM V. Anyone with some knowledge of WWE history knows Savage and Hogan were wrestling each other in 86, it’s even on some of the DVD’s. People have already documented the missing feuds that should be on here, but leaving out Tommy Rich and Buzz Sawyer is a joke. I know footage is limited, but that was one of the most famous and brutal rivalries of all time.

  3. Stevie says:

    “Not the blow-off to a feud that Hogan and Piper should have received.”

    It wasn’t the blow-off to the feud nor was it supposed to be, it was the final angle going into the first WrestleMania. Think of it was the last segment of the go-home Raw/Nitro before a PPV. Watch it with that mindset and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

  4. Kane's Mother says:

    Nice review, but you didn’t really mention which rivalry packages were good or bad. Like when I watched I thought Punk was great for the Hogan and Savage one cause he’s a huge fan and remembered like every detail. And some of then like the Michael Hayes one for Shawn and Undertaker was very inside, which was cool. Not just like storyline stuff. But then Flair’s Freebird one was kinda dull and all he did was say they were great and the crowds were nuts. And I know you mentioned Miz for a bad choice, but Ted DiBiasse junior was the worst by far! He was the only one that really bothered me. He was probably like 2 years old during the first Mania but was talking about Piper and Hogan. Plus everything he said was generic crap, nothing insightful. Overall the program was very enjoyable, especially the few that went more inside. But those few random crappy ones like Hogan/Piper and the Freebirds held it back a little.

  5. ZT says:

    I know a lot of fans complain about repeat matches on sets, but I think that sometimes, depending on the subject matter of the release, repeat matches make sense, especially now with the WWE’s ability to include classic matches unblurred and enedited. I applaud their choices in some of the cases of choosing lesser known matches, but to me what really would have put the set over the top would have been to include some of the more iconic matches from feuds, regardless of being repeats or not. Include Austin/Rock at X-7. Include Rock/Triple H at SummerSlam 98. Include Undertaker/Mankind in Hell in a Cell. If you’re counting down the top rivalries, include their top matches. It just makes sense to me, and this is coming from someone who buys each release, so I have them all already.

  6. SRB says:

    The picture of the Butcher/Brody match is not the actual match on the set. Is that right?

  7. Frank Boris says:

    A “Greatest Rivalries” DVD and not a single Ric Flair match? No thanks… I might check out the countdown on Netflix when it comes on… or buy this when it hits the clearance bin.

    • Steve says:

      Yeah I agree with you. How can you not have Flair on here. Yet we get Guerero-Mysterious because it just wouldn’t be a WWE without cramming Eddie down our throat. Here is a great rivalry…Benoit-Booker T….2 seperate best of 7 series. But it would be blasphemy!

      • Dude says:

        A Flair match? So you can co,plain you have it already? Yea, they should have done that.

      • Steve says:

        Flair matches with Ricky were all like an hour long. You can get 2-3 other matches instead so they went that route.

        • metfan61 says:

          They could have shown one of there early tv matches or a tv match with Dusty and im sure nothing would need to have been left as these releases are getting shorter all the time

  8. RKO530 says:

    The documentary part was cool. I enjoyed it but am really bothered by 3 rivalries that were left out, which me personally, a fan of 25 yrs, would have in my top 15. How was Bret vs Austin not included? Maybe they felt too much Austin being he had 2 of the top 5. Also just as bothersome is no HBK vs HHH. This is the feud that got Michaels back into wrestling for another 8 years. Their rivalry went from Summerslam 02 through Badd Blood 04. They had street fights, 3 stages of hell, last man standing, and hell in a cell matches. Not to mention Michaels taking the title from HHH in the first ever Elimination chamber!! Also Bret and Owen should have been on here but WWE may not have been ready to feature Owen on a dvd yet. The match selection was terrible. There is only 12 or 13 matches, and many have already been released. The best match on the dvd is Rock vs HHH from Backlash 2000.

    • King Shabazz says:

      Great point. Personally, Bret vs. Austin was one of my personal favorite. It could be that Bret has be emphasized much as of late with his latest “Dungeon” release. But easily should have made top 3.

    • WrastlinnDVDCollector!! says:

      You gotta remember aswell is that matches like rock vs hhh from backlash 2000 are being released unblurred with the wwf logo intact for the first time for you american fans since the orginal vhs, so no point in complaining repeats because your better off having rock vs hhh from backlash 2000 then some crappy match, how many times has that match been released beside from the rock 3 disc dvd back in 2008, if rock vs hhh ladder match from summerslam 1998 was released again on this set you would have complained that is been released 2 previous sets,
      Your getting Rock vs Austin from rebellion 2001 which is pretty underated match from their rivalry and has never been released before on any other set yet if rock vs austin match from wrestlemania 17 was included you would have complained that match being 4-5 previous sets,
      Your getting really good matches on this and another fact is that these matches are on blu-ray which is even better, so i think this set is worth release with some of the best matches!!

  9. NickP says:

    I can never take a countdown set for what they are worth. I just think of this set as a collection of rivalries instead of ranked rivalries. I hope there is a volume 2 because WWE missed a ton of great rivalries.

  10. HunterWW says:

    Good to see the pro wrasslin’ on this release didn’t confuse ol’ Joe here….

  11. Giovanni says:

    I never thought i’d see the day that Shane Douglas would participate in a WWE production.

  12. SCOTT BYNON says:

    I really wish wwe would make a dvd of all Shane M matches and stuff he did in the wwe that would be the one I would get day one for sure .

  13. rydiddy says:

    Wish this dvd came out when I had to learn the periodic tables I would’ve gotten an A+

  14. King Shabazz says:

    I enjoyed this wwe release. Granted almost all the matches were previously released, but I made the purchase more for the countdown. It did not disappoint as it served as a great refresher as far as rivalries are concerned (Rock n’ Roll express vs. Midnight Express should have made the cut-Sorry, but it was far stronger than Guerrero vs. Mysterio). The Chemistry theme was cool, but the girl host seemed out of place and not because she is a woman. She just seemed like she had no connection to the world of “sports entertainment” in the least. She seemed more like some part of a morning news cast. She was well spoken- didn’t even look like she needed cue cards, but as far as relating to the product she just didn’t have it. But if she slept with Vince Mcmahon, i guess it’s a spot well deserved.

    • Jammer says:

      Renee Young for years was on Aftermath, a show in Canada that discusses Raw and Smackdown. She knows her wrestling. She definitely has a connection to Sports Entertainment.

      • King Shabazz says:

        The woman has a history in wwe? This I did not know-thanks for the knowledge. Well, I guess they could have done worse by going the Sean Mooney route.

        • Kenny says:

          To be clear, I don’t think he said she was IN WWE. I took from it that she worked on a show up in Canada that discussed Raw and Smackdown. Not necessarily a WWE-produced show.

          And what’s wrong with Sean Mooney?! He’s better than 99% of the announcers/commentators in the company today! Then again, so is Todd Pettengill!! What a scary comment THAT is!

  15. hbkid718 says:

    Thanks for the review. I think I’m going to wait to purchase this and watch it when it pops up on Netflix.

  16. Lemo says:

    No Bret vs Austin !

  17. Jammer says:

    What feud does Shane Douglas speak about on this DVD set??

  18. Brian Kraemer says:

    I bought this last night. I have been waiting for this since I heard the listings.

    Shane Douglas on a WWE set? Oh hell yeahhhh

  19. WWEFAN13 says:

    Nice review. Although a question needs to be answered in all of your future reviews of the new DVD’s because it is one that many people like to know

    Does PG come in the way with this set? No bleeps, blurs or censors? Bloody matches? No edits? I know you said it’s TV-14 but WWE is sneaky sometimes and cuts parts out that isn’t “PG”

    So my question is basically did you see any edits of any kind in the release of this set?

    • Joe Israel says:

      The only clear edit I noticed (besides music), was that on a few occasions (but not all) they edit the announcers referring to the Attitude Adjustment as the F-U. This was the case on last year’s Edge DVD too.

      • Joe Israel says:

        There also were some pretty clear edits during one of the ECW matches due to profane language (you can say some things with a TV-14 release, but not EVERYTHING)

  20. Marty says:

    The documentary wouldn’t qualify as a “best doc” by any means, but it’s definitely a fun one. I too enjoyed having one narrator per rivalry. It reminded me a lot of the NFL doing that whenever they do one of their Top 100 Players of Whatever Time Period shows. I too enjoyed Bret Hart talking Lesnar-Angle (and he’s right about how difficult the transition from amateur to pro is). Vickie Guerrero talking about Eddie-Rey and Dominic’s role in things made me smile (I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the kid played his part so well).

    Vince Russo normally annoys me, but I was actually relieved that he was the one talking about Austin-McMahon. Was really scared that someone like Cena was going to be talking about it, especially with other modern stars talking about older rivalries just before that (Miz with Austin-Rock, Ziggler with Hart-Michaels, etc.).

    I also thought Renee Young did a fine job with the material she was given. Someone, she appeared more straight-laced and less corny than the Todd Grishams and Jonathan Coachmans of years past.

    The extras, as mentioned before, aren’t anything to write home about, but the ones that appear on DVD/Blu-ray for the first time (or for a while) aren’t bad. I dug the Von Erichs-Freebirds match surprisingly, since it wasn’t during the prime era of their feud. Austin-Rock from Rebellion is a nice companion piece if you have all their other matches. The less said about Bruiser-Abdullah, the better, but I usually feel that way about those two anyway (simply not a fan).

  21. jgreeds says:

    I really enjoyed the documentary on this dvd. This one exceeded my expectations, as well. Although I think I had lower expectations just because of the last couple Top Whatever countdown dvds. I do not necessarily agree with the list, and I don’t think anybody expected everyone to agree, but I did enjoy it. This dvd could serve as a history lesson to a lot of the younger fans who aren’t familiar with the older stuff.

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