JOIN MATTHEW ROBERTS AS HE LOOKS AT THE LATEST WWE HOME VIDEO RELEASE, WHICH PROMISES A LOOK BACK AT THE BEST PPV MATCHES OF 2017.
Despite what some observers would have you believe Generally the WWE usually delivers on PPV. Most shows, at the very least, offer up their fair share of good to great matches. So theoretically a “Best PPV matches of 2017” compilation should be a winner. Even if it stops at the end of October with TLC. And whilst the usual commercial and political concerns mean that this set of 19 matches wouldn’t necessarily be what I would have put together as the “best” of the year, there is enough great stuff on here to make this a worthwhile compilation.
We start off, as you’d expect, with the Royal Rumble PPV and there is no denying that AJ Styles battle with John Cena was a genuine Match of the Year Candidate, regardless of promotion. The match effectively highlights Styles’ claim to be the premier worker of 2017 and also shows that, for all his faults, when Cena is put in a high-profile situation he can be relied on to deliver. Randy Orton and Luke Harper from February’s Elimination Chamber show has less star power than the opener but is a great match nonetheless. It’s the kind of match (competitive encounter between established star and “up and comer”) that the WWE could do a lot more of, even if in hindsight this was nothing more than a stop on Orton’s road to WrestleMania and Bray Wyatt. Which is handy, as Bray Wyatt’s Elimination Chamber win follows this match. It’s a good effort, even if again hindsight shows that it was not to be the start of Wyatt’s permanent residence at the top of the card on Smackdown.
The biggest show of the year is represented by three matches. Long time readers of my reviews will know of my lack of interest in seeing Shane McMahon wrestling. I would never deny the effort (or his guts) but the fact remains that if a “regular” wrestler was given the opportunities he was it might actually get someone over. Of course being opposite AJ Styles meant that his WM match was always likely to be good. And it was, even if it was clear after about two minutes that Shane was out of his depth here. The mixed tag team match that pitted John Cena & Nikki Bella against The Miz & Maryse was little more than a shoot for Total Divas. The WWE tried to ramp up the tension beforehand with The Miz’s arch impersonations of Cena but the match belied any of this and was clearly only ever about the post-match popping of the question. At least Goldberg and Brock Lesnar assembled a gripping, if short, match that successfully erased memories of their Survivor Series encounter from the previous year. It was undoubtedly the highlight of Bill’s return.
Post-Mania season kicks off with a pair of matches from Payback. Alexa Bliss and Bayley was decent enough, even if Bliss would go on to have better bouts in 2017 that aren’t included here, but Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns had a good match, from the start of one of the feuds of the year. We go from the sublime to the ridiculous next though as one of 2017’s worst moments is revisited as Jinder Mahal unseats Randy Orton to become the new WWE Champion at Backlash. I don’t care if you want to try some revisionist history on Mahal. He was unsuited to the role to begin with, and did nothing whilst on top to prove any different. The kindest thing I could say is that he improved; but the facts remain that he was a flop as champion.
At least we get back to the good stuff next with Extreme Rules’ Five Way match between Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins. It’s a superb effort. The history making (and controversial) Women’s Money In The Bank match follows this. Whilst never really threatening to surpass the great men’s matches of its kind it’s another good effort. You pay your money and take your choice over whether the James Ellsworth ending was a slap in the face to the “Women’s Revolution” or a successful heat building exercise. Either way, it’s unlikely to be showcased the next time Stephanie McMahon is eulogising to shareholders, press and the media about how she has led the revolution.
Samoa Joe tackles Brock Lesnar from the amusingly titled (to me anyway) Great Balls of Fire PPV and it’s as good a match as you could expect when protecting Lesnar’s aura is the main aim. It’s one of those things that you simply have to accept if you watch WWE (even if Lesnar’s match with Styles effectively showed how you can protect Lesnar and still enhance his opponent). One of the tag team feuds of the year, New Day against the Usos’s, is showcased next with a match from Battleground. It’s a good effort, though not the best they would have. Similarly, The Bar against Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins from SummerSlam is a good effort but perhaps not quite to the level of some of their other encounters from 2017 (some of which were not on PPV so not eligible for inclusion here, of course). The fourway between Lesnar, Strowman, Reigns and Joe from SummerSlam is another genuine MotY candidate and is definitely worth its inclusion here.
The five way Women’s match from No Mercy is less successful, and appears to be on here purely to get some of the participants in the match featured on this release, but is still a worthy effort. Quality wise, we’d have been better served with the inclusion of Bliss’ bout with Mickie James from TLC but then perhaps the WWE might then have had to acknowledge that in 2017 they were still building a Women’s feud around one woman being too old and the other trying to incite insults from the crowd about the looks of her opponent. Viva la revolution, hey?
Reigns and Cena’s “WrestleMania quality” match from No Mercy had to be included here. It was good, but far from great, and re-watching it now just reinforces how little the match meant; it changed absolutely nothing for the winner or the loser. More Shane O’Mac is up next as his overly long Hell In A Cell match against Kevin Owens is included (at the expense of the superior New Day / Uso’s clash from the same show). Things wrap up with the Finn Balor / AJ Styles match from TLC, which is considered more noteworthy than Kurt Angle’s return to the ring at the same show. In terms of match quality it was the right decision, even it Balor/Style didn’t quite hit the heights you might have hoped for. Although given the thrown together nature of the bout and the travel schedule Styles had leading up to it you can’t really complain too much about it.
And that’s it. Production deadlines mean there’s nothing from the superb Survivor Series show (where Charlotte and Alexa Bliss had the best women’s match of the year from WWE PPV and Brock Lesnar had his best bout in years against AJ Styles) but again, this happens every year with these compilations so it’s just something WWE fans have to put up with.
Even the “lesser” matches on this compilation have merit, either in the ring or from a “moment” point of view, and all in all this is a great compilation of 2017 ppv matches.
Photos courtesy: Fetch, Fremantle Media, WWE
Format reviewed: DVD
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