When they were first announced, I don’t think any of us DVD collectors really had high hopes for the Superstar Collection series. They seemed like DVD’s made mostly for casual fans, containing matches without much context. This did end up being true, but at the same time, they did a pretty good job doing what they set out to do. While we aren’t getting much insight into the careers of Cena or Ryder on these DVD’s, they still are put together smartly in completely different ways.
While the Cena set is simply a collection of solid matches from the past few years, the Ryder set actually does show his evolution as a character, paying off with his US title win at TLC 2011. Even if these DVD’s aren’t on the level of the 3 disc compilation sets we are used to, they still are nice additions to your collection (particularly the Ryder set), especially considering they are so inexpensive. Each set runs approximately 90 minutes, and are rated TV-PG.
“Woo Woo Woo”: The Format
Since these DVD’s are the first Superstar Collection releases, I’m going to start with a discussion of the format of the series in general. (In future Superstar Collection reviews, I won’t discuss this, unless something major changes). The format and packaging are the main thing that make it clear these are “budget” DVD’s. The packaging is very similar to most of the PPV DVD’s, but the artwork both on the outside and on the disc are very generic. Since the spines are all similar, the DVDs will look nice on your shelf once all of the series has been released, but they could have done something to make the covers pop a little bit more. I did appreciate that we were given full match details on the back of the box; this is something that could have been easily left off but was included. The DVD menus were also very bare-bones. I can’t imagine it would have cost that much more to include the superstar’s entrance music on a loop in the menu; this would have at least made it somewhat dynamic, even without videos (which I know do take up disc space).
Each of the DVD’s begin with a very short video (about 2 minutes) showing clips of the superstar. For the Cena set, it was clips of his entrances and some moments in the ring. For Ryder, it was mostly clips from his internet show. They don’t really add anything to the set, but at least we were given some type of introduction. I wasn’t expecting any more than that. The only downside was that they differed between the 2 sets. On the Cena set, they included a logo of his name during the video (see below). On the Ryder set, they didn’t include this. The fact that these sets aren’t consisted does somewhat bother me. Fortunately, even if the overall artistic formatting of these sets feels a bit cheap, this doesn’t take away too much from the content, which actually is pretty nicely chosen.
The John Cena superstar collection doesn’t really have much flow throughout each of the matches on the set. I would assume that the DVD is simply trying to show that Cena has had a versatile career over the last four years and has had match with a lot of the major superstars of the era for top titles. Fortunately, none of the matches are total stinkers. I think this was the right way to go for this set since they wanted to only include recent matches. There isn’t really much of an arc to his career from 2008-2011, so trying to force one wouldn’t work.
The Zack Ryder superstar collection did have a strong flow, and did the best job possible in showing the evolution of his career since he became “Long Island Iced Z”. It’s hard to do this without any type of interviews or voice-overs to bridge the different matches, but between the commentary on the matches and the matches themselves, you can get a sense of Ryder’s rise to eventually winning the US Title. Since the matches are mostly TV matches, they aren’t anything special, but they were well chosen for the story they were trying to tell. For what is essentially a budget DVD, this ends up being a pretty nice Ryder set.
“Come Get Some”: The John Cena Matches
World Heavyweight Championship Match: John Cena Vs. Chris Jericho (Armageddon, 12/14/08) – ** 3/4
A fairly standard match between these two men. Nothing too special, but nothing bad either. Relatively short for a Jericho title match.
WWE Championship Triple Threat Match: John Cena Vs. Triple H Vs. Shawn Michaels (Survivor Series, 11/22/09) – *** 3/4
A really smart match that takes its time to tell an interesting story. Well-paced, with the typically good storytelling you get from Triple H and Michaels. Cena works well with them.
Superstar of the Year Match: John Cena Vs. Randy Orton (Raw, 12/14/09) – **
A very generic TV match. Nothing worth going out of your way to see. I never thought Cena & Orton gelled all that well, but I haven’t seen too many of their matches from 2009.
WWE Championship Triple Threat Steel Cage Match: John Cena Vs. John Morrison Vs. The Miz (Extreme Rules, 5/1/11) – *** 1/2
An above-average cage match. Each man brings something slightly different to the match, and they gel together nicely. I didn’t love the fact that there was an interference in the cage match, but it doesn’t detract too heavily.
“You Know It”: The Zack Ryder Matches
Zack Ryder Vs. Christian (ECW, 7/28/09) – *** 1/4
A really good TV match that I was completely unaware of until now. I liked the fact that the WWE included a match when they were getting to get the “Long Island Iced Z” gimmick over as a heel. I can’t say I’ve seen every match of his, but this is probably one of the best matches of Ryder’s career.
Zack Ryder (w/ Hugh Jackman) Vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ Vickie Guerrero) (Raw, 9/19/11) – * 1/4
The match is too short to be anything special, but it is a great moment in Ryder’s career and definitely deserved to be on the DVD set.
Zack Ryder & John Cena Vs. The Miz & R-Truth (Raw, 11/7/11) – * 3/4
This match spent way too long doing the “babyface in distress” moment of the tag team match (they actually do it twice) and it derails the match. Also a somewhat questionable choice for the set because it really is focused on the Cena/Rock Vs. Miz/Truth feud. I guess Ryder teaming with Cena was a big moment though.
Zack Ryder Vs. John Cena (Raw, 12/5/11) – **
Another generic TV match. It’s given a decent amount of time, but isn’t anything special.
Zack Ryder & Randy Orton Vs. Dolph Ziggler & Wade Barrett (Smackdown, 12/16/11) – **
A fairly well paced tag team match, but ultimately not nearly as good as I was hoping it would be given the caliber of talent involved.
US Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler Vs. Zack Ryder (TLC, 12/18/11) – ** 1/2
For the time it was given, I think this match was very well paced. It tells pretty much exactly the story you would expect, but still does a good job at doing that.
“Rise Above Hate”: Overall Thoughts
Surprisingly, I think both of these sets end up being pretty easy recommendations. In the case of the Cena set, there is nothing new to DVD, so if you collect PPV DVD’s in addition to compilations, that set may be redundant. In my case, not being a huge PPV collector, I was glad I picked it up, if for nothing else then the two great triple threat matches. Since most of the content on the Ryder disc is new to DVD, this is an even easier across-the-board recommendation. For the prices that these sets are running, it’s hard to go wrong. In the end, I think this Superstar Collection will serve as a nice (but obviously incomplete) snapshot of the WWE from 2008-2011, and after watching these 2, I can say that I plan on picking each one up.
The UK will not be getting the Superstar Collection DVD series, but they will also be available in Australia. Keep checking WWEDVD.com.au for release details.