Best Pay-Per-View Matches has always been one of my favorite DVD releases of the year. I don’t buy every PPV event on DVD, so it’s nice to get a collection of the best matches from these events without having to buy each and every one. The DVD also works as a nice survey of the year in question. I think this particular collection shows that the year 2012 has been a really great year for in-ring wrestling in the WWE (even if they don’t like saying the word wrestling anymore). CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, and many others have really stepped up their game, and we got great appearances from The Rock, Triple H, The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar.
Unlike many of my other reviews, I’m not dedicating an entire section to “The Format” of the DVD. It is hosted by Scott Stanford, and he only occasionally appears throughout the DVD. It doesn’t add anything. Discs 1 and 2 of the Blu-Ray each run approximately 4 hours. Disc 2 contains 2 hours of “regular content” and 2 hours of Blu-Ray exclusive content. The Blu-Ray is rated TV-PG.
WWE Championship Match (Guest Ref: John Laurinaitis): CM Punk Vs. Dolph Ziggler (Royal Rumble, 1/29/12) – *** 1/2
As good a match as you would expect between these two. Laurinaitis is a bit distracting here; I’m still not positive what they were going for with his involvement.
World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Daniel Bryan Vs. Big Show Vs. The Great Khali Vs. Santino Marella Vs. Wade Barrett Vs. Cody Rhodes (Elimination Chamber, 2/19/12) – *** 1/4
One of the weaker Elimination Chamber matches in its short history. There are some fun spots, but as a whole it’s nothing special. Santino is used very well in this match, though, and it shows that he can be used as much more than just a comedy character.
Hell in a Cell Match (Guest Ref: Shawn Michaels): Triple H Vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVIII, 4/1/12) – *****
I know most fans do not go the full 5 stars for this match, but I honestly feel that the storytelling in this match is unparalleled and is enough to earn the 5 stars. I’ve never seen a match filled with this level of emotion, and I was completely invested in it. Michaels adds so much to the match as guest referee, and the match serves as a great “end of an era”.
The Rock Vs. John Cena (WrestleMania XXVIII, 4/1/12) – **** 1/4
This match ended up delivering as well as I expected. The atmosphere in the arena helped push the match over the edge as well. The Rock proved he could still go in the ring, and Cena was a great opponent.
Divas Championship Match: Layla Vs. Beth Phoenix (Over the Limit, 5/20/12) – * 1/4
Your token divas match for this set. Nothing special here.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Christian Vs. Cody Rhodes (No Way Out, 6/17/12) – *** 1/2
A great technical match, something we’ve been seeing more and more of in the WWE. This match is also a good showcase for Rhodes, someone who showed a lot of improvement as he moved up in the card in 2012.
WWE Championship No Disqualification Match (Guest Ref: AJ Lee): CM Punk Vs. Daniel Bryan (Money in the Bank, 7/15/12) – ****
Not nearly as good as their match at Over the Limit, but still a very good match. I liked the choice to have AJ get “knocked out” shortly into the match; this allowed Punk & Bryan to have a lot of time to wrestle without AJ serving as a distraction.
Triple H Vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam, 8/19/12) – *** 1/4
A bit of a disappointment, but still a very solid match. The storytelling is fantastic, but the match moves a bit slowly. The WWE succeeded in giving this a “big match feel” as well.
Randy Orton Vs. Dolph Ziggler (Night of Champions, 9/16/12) – *** 3/4
A great match, and another great showcase for Ziggler, one of WWE’s 2012 MVPs. I believe the WWE edited out Orton cursing out the fans and flipping them off (I didn’t notice it), but part of me hopes I just missed it and it was left in to show how immature Orton’s 2012 was.
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.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Sheamus Vs. Big Show (Hell in a Cell, 10/28/12) – *** 1/4
This might have been the biggest surprise of the year. I didn’t expect Sheamus & Big Show to have an awful match, but I don’t think many fans were expecting them to have such good chemistry. The last few minutes of this match in particular are really great.
Blu-Ray Exclusive Matches
Ambulance Match: John Cena Vs. Kane (Elimination Chamber, 2/19/12) – ** 1/4
The feud between Cena & Kane was one of the weaker storylines in the WWE this year, and for some reason, the two men never put together quality matches. This match has some entertaining highspots, but drags and doesn’t totally come together.
World Heavyweight Championship 2 out of 3 Falls Match: Sheamus Vs. Daniel Bryan (Extreme Rules, 4/29/12) – **** 1/2
An excellent technical contest, which showcased both Bryan & Sheamus’ skills extremely well. After the disappointment of not getting a full match between the two at WrestleMania, we were treated to a classic the next month.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Christian Vs. Dolph Ziggler Vs. Tensai Vs. Santino Marella Vs. Damien Sandow Vs. Tyson Kidd Vs. Cody Rhodes Vs. Sin Cara (Money in the Bank, 7/15/12) – *** 3/4
Like most Money in the Bank matches, there are some great highspots, but this match never really elevates past “spotfest”. There weren’t many storylines going on between the competitors in the match, which gave most of the highspots less meaning.
WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match: CM Punk Vs. Ryback (Hell in a Cell, 10/28/12) – **
This was a unique match, because the WWE wanted to make Ryback look like a monster without making Punk look weak. There’s some solid storytelling here, but the match itself moves really slowly, and the finish is a bit of a disappointment.
As I mentioned in the opening of this article, this really was a great year for Pay-Per-View Matches, which makes this a great DVD overall. I think the WWE did a nice job in choosing which matches to include. Almost every match ranks above ***. I can understand not wanting to include Punk Vs. Jericho from WrestleMania or Punk Vs. Bryan from Over the Limit since they were both just released on the Punk DVD, but we really should have gotten the Punk/Jericho rematch from Extreme Rules. That is probably the largest omission. The only match that I really don’t think should have been included was the Cena Vs. Kane Ambulance Match. The Cena/Kane feud was one of the worst WWE storylines this year, and the match isn’t great. Even though Punk Vs. Ryback isn’t great, I don’t have a problem with this being included because I like that Ryback got a spot on the DVD; he was a big part of the WWE this year. Whether it was intentional or not, I also liked which superstars got the most matches throughout the set. There was a lot of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, and John Cena, and these men felt like the workhorses of the WWE throughout 2012.
Most fans already know whether or not this DVD is for them. If you already buy each PPV on DVD, then the only real reason to get this would be to get some of the matches in HD for the first time. For fans like me who don’t buy every PPV, I think this is an easy recommendation, and probably the best installment of the Pay-Per-View Matches series yet. There are a lot of great matches on here, and it caps off a great 2012 nicely.