Best Pay-Per-View Matches has been one of my favorite DVD series for the past few years, so I was looking forward to this one like always. While I hadn’t seen every PPV match from this year, a lot of my favorites that I had seen were included, and I hadn’t had a chance to revisit many of them yet.
I am not a big PPV DVD collector, so this DVD serves a great role for me. There are plenty of PPV’s with only 1 or 2 great matches (yes, even Battleground had a good match), and it’s nice to get those matches without needing to buy the full show on DVD.
Like last year, I’m not going to do a separate rundown of the format of this DVD. It is hosted by Renee Young, and she is fine. Her segments are completely random; they have her giving specific introductions for some of the less important matches, and skipping over big matches entirely. I can’t say anything bad about her performance, but the segments still weren’t really needed. Disc 1 of the DVD runs 2 hours, 15 minutes, Disc 2 runs a little over 2 hours, and Disc 3 runs 3 hours. It is rated TV-PG, and there are no noticeable edits.
WWE Championship Match: CM Punk Vs. The Rock (Royal Rumble, 1/27/13) – *** 3/4
Punk & Rock string together a solid story here, but the match is a little slow, and I think that prevented it from being a classic. I also really did not like the ending. It made sense for the storyline going on at the time, but it was a disappointing way to end CM Punk’s long title reign. It did help make The Shield look important, though.
John Cena, Ryback, & Sheamus Vs. The Shield (Elimination Chamber, 2/17/13) – *** 3/4
After the classic six-man tag at TLC, this match showed that The Shield could get it done in the ring without the use of gimmicks. Sheamus, Cena, & Ryback serve as a great team of traditional good guys to try to stand up to The Shield, but The Shield always seem like they are one step ahead. It made those three look smart, which I think was important.
Undertaker Vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania 29, 4/7/13) – **** 3/4
After a number of years wrestling other good guys at Mania, it was nice to see Taker wrestle a full-on heel. Punk certainly played up to that, and came across as one of the biggest jerks seen in the WWE in a long time. This worked really well against Taker; they had an excellent dynamic together, and gave us a classic match. I may be biased because I was part of it, but the great reactions from the crowd help as well. I also was happy to see Living Colour’s performance included.
WWE Championship Match: The Rock Vs. John Cena (WrestleMania 29, 4/7/13) – *** 1/2
While the crowd may have helped Punk & Taker, it was not as kind to this match. All of the intrigue from their first encounter seemed to disappear for the rematch, and this match never got out of first gear until they started hitting finishers. It became too reliant on this, and the idea of Cena needing redemption as the main story was a little silly. I do love the moment where Cena looks like he is going to hit a People’s Elbow, but stops short instead. It’s one of my favorite in-ring moments of the year from WWE.
Extreme Rules Match: Randy Orton Vs. Big Show (Extreme Rules, 5/19/13) – ** 3/4
As an Extreme Rules match, this worked pretty well. It’s not exactly revolutionary, but it gets the job done. It does reach the rare accomplishment of allowing both men to look strong after the match is over. It took a lot for Orton to “slay the giant”. I wish they could have allowed Orton to continue using the Punt Kick after this match.
Steel Cage Match: Triple H Vs. Brock Lesnar (Extreme Rules, 5/19/13) – *** 3/4
I have to give Triple H & Lesnar a lot of credit for coming up with a completely unique match here from their previous two, and this one might be my favorite. It makes the Steel Cage look like an important gimmick again, especially after how it impacts Lesnar’s knee during the match. The ending of the match also is well done; Lesnar looks dominant, but he still needs to use nefarious means to come up with win over Hunter.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Wade Barrett Vs. The Miz Vs. Curtis Axel (Payback, 6/16/13) – ***
This is exactly what I am looking for from a short multi-man match. The action is non-stop from bell to bell, and there are a lot of cool counters and double-team moves. I also really enjoyed the unique finish. A great choice for this DVD to represent some of the mid-card talent from this year.
Divas Championship Match: Kaitlyn Vs. AJ Lee (Payback, 6/16/13) – ** 1/2
One of the more intense divas matches in WWE history here. Kaitlyn & AJ do some great character work (although Kaitlyn’s tendency to smile when she is in submissions is a little distracting), and that leads to a really great story.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler Vs. Alberto Del Rio (Payback, 6/16/13) – **** 1/4
Wrestling storytelling at its finest. It’s tough to pull off a double turn, and this is probably the best it’s been done since Hart/Austin in 1997. It’s impossible to not sympathize with Ziggler as he takes a hell of a beating. Del Rio plays his ruthless role perfectly as well. At times, you start to believe that the injuries are legitimate. I was on the edge of my seat throughout.
World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Cody Rhodes Vs. Dean Ambrose Vs. Wade Barrett Vs. Jack Swagger Vs. Antonio Cesaro Vs. Fandango Vs. Damien Sandow (Money in the Bank, 7/14/13) – ****
I was really impressed with the ingenuity in this match. At this point, we had already seen a lot of Money in the Bank matches, and I had thought that we had pretty much seen it all. These seven men do a great job coming up with some unique spots. There also are a number of storylines going on in this match, which helps make it a lot more meaningful. Cody Rhodes ascension in the latter half of 2013 began here.
No Disqualification Match: CM Punk Vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam, 8/18/13) – **** 1/2
This match has it all: great action, solid storytelling, and even a bit of comedy. Since his ascendance in 2011, Punk rarely played the clear underdog role, but he does a great job here in trying to slay Lesnar. I especially liked his use of MMA holds to try to beat Lesnar at his own game. From an in-ring standpoint, this has certainly been Lesnar’s best match since his return.
WWE Championship Match: John Cena Vs. Daniel Bryan (Guest Ref: Triple H) (SummerSlam, 8/18/13) – **** 1/2
I don’t think anyone was surprised that Cena & Bryan had such good chemistry, and they put together a strong wrestling match. Bryan looks like he deserves to be in the main event, and Cena shows that he can hold his own in the ring with Bryan. I refuse to believe anyone thinks it is OK to chant “You can’t wrestle” at Cena after watching this match. They bring the best out of each other, and put together a number of cool spots within the overall story. The post-match moment with Orton is included here as well.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio Vs. Rob Van Dam (Night of Champions, 9/15/13) – ***
While this match is very nicely put together, it felt like there was something missing. I think the biggest issue was that Del Rio and RVD don’t have the greatest chemistry. Del Rio is very intense the entire match, but RVD is fairly nonchalant. This prevented it from becoming great. I didn’t have a problem with the non-finish to the match; it did a nice job setting up a rematch.
Divas Championship Fatal 4-Way Match: AJ Lee Vs. Natalya Vs. Naomi Vs. Brie Bella (Night of Champions, 9/15/13) – ** 3/4
Another solid divas match; each woman gets the opportunity to hit her signature moves. I honestly felt that this match made me want to see each of the three challengers get her own opportunity to challenge AJ one on one for the title. It’s impressive to see how much Brie Bella has improved, and it’s a crime that Naomi isn’t getting more opportunities in the ring.
The Shield (Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns) Vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust (Battleground, 10/6/13) – *** 3/4
At first glance, this match may seem like a fairly standard tag team match, but the emotions help push it over the edge. This is one of those matches that loses a good deal of its luster when taken out of context. Knowing that the real-life Rhodes family is coming together to literally fight for their jobs against the men who played a role in getting them fired, you can’t help but get invested in the match. This makes it much more entertaining.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio Vs. John Cena (Hell in a Cell, 10/27/13) – *** 1/2
While Cena and Del Rio have had a lot of matches in the past, this is probably my favorite match between the two. As I mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to make Cena look like an underdog nowadays, but they do a good job here coming off of Cena’s elbow injury. Del Rio looks like the same ruthless guy he was when he faced Ziggler, which makes the underdog story work. I found myself hoping that Cena would “overcome the odds”, which isn’t something I do too often.
WWE Championship Hell in a Cell Match: Randy Orton Vs. Daniel Bryan (Guest Ref: Shawn Michaels) (Hell in a Cell, 10/27/13) – *** 1/4
For some reason, Orton and Bryan never had a classic during their series of PPV matches at the end of 2013. This might have been because of the storyline, but for whatever reason, something prevented me from ever getting too invested in these matches. My favorite aspects of this match were the things involving HBK and HHH, which probably shows where the highlights of this feud really were. It’s still a solid match, but I feel like Orton & Bryan were capable of something better.
As is usually the case, I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of Best Pay-Per-View Matches. As I continued watching through this DVD, I realized that in terms of in-ring wrestling, the WWE may be better now than it has ever been in the past. There have been a ton of excellent matches. Overall, this was a great year for WWE, and it shows throughout this DVD. Of course, there are a few matches that I wish would have been included, but there’s very little that I would have wanted removed. Simply put, there were too many good matches for just a regular 3-disc set. The only match that I feel was a questionable choice was the Randy Orton Vs. Big Show match from Extreme Rules. It was a decent match, but it wasn’t particularly memorable. Even the divas division is the best it’s ever been; this is the first time that more than one divas match has been included on a Best PPV release, and I enjoyed both of them quite a bit.
Of course, I was a bit disappointed that this wasn’t released on Blu-ray. I’m guessing this was due to low overall sales numbers, and releasing only a DVD would help cut some production costs. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this trend continues into 2014; we should probably be happy we are still getting home video releases outside of the major PPV’s in the first place. Regardless, if you don’t already own all the PPV DVD’s from this year, then I would highly recommend picking this set up. If you’re someone who has given up on modern-day WWE, I think this DVD will help change your mind about the quality of the in-ring product. Every match on here is solid, and you get three modern classics. I watched almost the entire DVD in one day; I think that should say something!