Best of WWE: Raw and SmackDown 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 - Blu Ray coverThe good folks of WWE Home Entertainment graciously sent me this DVD set of the Best of Raw & SmackDown 2014 and I finally had a chance to sit down and catch it all.

Despite my disgruntlement with some of the booking decisions, there was a number of fun matches last year and a good portion of them occurred on the two flagship shows. Time to break it all down!

DISC 1

An Epic Year — Just as I was bracing myself to hear the droning sound of Michael Cole’s voice throughout this set, I was pleasantly surprised to see Byron Saxton introduce himself as the host of the set instead. Since this is a best of the entire year, the set would have benefited from more of Saxton setting up the matches and angles to help explain what’s happening at various points.

WWE: Elimination Chamber 2014
Qualifying Match

The Shield vs. John Cena, Sheamus & Daniel Bryan
RAW • January 27, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 -  John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus vs The ShieldI hate, hate, hate these kinds of matches when the winner is so blatantly obvious. Gee, will John Cena, Sheamus and Daniel Bryan — the three single stars — be able to beat the faction to get into the Elimination Chamber?

While the end result is hardly in doubt, this was a fun main event, which saw The Shield isolate Cena for an extended portion and use their superior tag tactics to maintain the advantage for much of the match. Unfortunately for The Hounds of Justice, The Wyatt Family interferes to further their feud with Cena costing The Shield the opportunity to vie for the world title. More importantly, this serves as the perfectly logical basis for the beef between The Shield and The Wyatt Family — one of 2014’s (and the decade’s) best matches. Rating: 3 out of 5

Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
RAW • February 3, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 - Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton RAWOrton and Bryan have quietly developed a quality rivalry with some solid matches since Orton snatched the title from Bryan at WWE: SummerSlam 2013 [Blu-ray]. Orton was being punished by The Authority in some confusing storyline and had to face each of his Elimination Chamber opponents. Not surprisingly his match against Bryan proved very entertaining as they got enough time to build a quality contest even with the unwelcome presence of Corporate Kane. Rating: 4 out of 5

#1 Contender’s Fatal Four-Way Match for the Intercontinental Championship
Rey Mysterio vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Mark Henry
SmackDown • February 14, 2014
(Alternate Commentary with Zeb Colter)

Winner gets a shot at Big E’s title. Hmmn, three faces and one heel … While this one has another clear cut winner everyone’s game to make getting their more fun than the end result. I still remain ridiculously old school and would much rather have an elimination match where the best man — not necessarily the first man — wins. Rating: 3 out of 5

John Cena vs. Cesaro
RAW • February 17, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 -  John Cena vs CesaroIt amazes me how much hate Cena gets despite producing some of the company’s best matches in a decade (and a few legitimate all-time classics) while doing his part to get new stars over. Can you see Stone Cold losing to The Miz at Wrestlemania? Or Triple H losing his title to then up and coming Sheamus?

In another Elimination Chamber build match, Cena does everything short of losing to get Cesaro viewed as a top level star. This match got a good amount of time and still felt like there was more we could get from this pairing. Cesaro should have come out of this like Sting after facing Ric Flair in the first The Best of WCW Clash of the Champions [Blu-ray], but management seems confused how to develop more than one top-tier talent at a time. Easily the match of the set. Rating: 5 out of 5

The Next GuyI’m so hating on these random fans who are interviewed to share their thoughts on 2014’s big occurrences. I want to be a talking head in a WWE video! This time, they discuss how Cesaro got a huge morale victory and came out of it like a bigger star. If only the writers shared the fans’ beliefs.

The Deadman vs. The Beast and Brock Lesnar & The Undertaker’s WrestleMania XXX Contract Signing
RAW • February 24, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 -  Undertaker Brock LesnarPaul Heyman delivers another in his now countless string of great promos discussing how Brock wanted the title shot at Wrestlemania and how there won’t be any winners as the one who leaves with the title will have to face The Beast Incarnate. For now, Brock needs a dance partner at Wrestlemania – cue The Undertaker, who makes a dramatic return and is game for facing Lesnar. After Brock signs, Taker stabs through (?) Lesnar’s hand to sign the contract and chokeslams him through the table. Never a big fan of Brock getting punked out in a segment especially at the hands of the aged Undertaker.

Batista Goes “Hollywood” & Batista Bashes the WWE Universe
SmackDown • February 28, 2014

Fans discuss Batista’s return and lackluster reception by “The Universe.” In recent years, the fans are very choosy about which returning superstar they’ll support especially if the veteran gets in the way of a beloved star getting his hard-earned title shot. Batista 2014 just didn’t have the same explosive power as he did in his prime and the fans let their displeasure of Batista’s cushy road to the title be known. Fortunately, Batista could adapt to the fans’ fickle taste and easily reverted to his “Boo-tista” heel persona.

Batista vs. Dolph Ziggler
SmackDown • February 28, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 -  Batista vs Dolph ZigglerZiggler takes offense to Batista questioning where all the real men have gone in the WWE locker room. This is a bit of a styles clash as Ziggler is game to bop around the ring on offense and during his heat segments, but Batista’s offense doesn’t look all that devastating to take down The Show Off. Underwhelming showcase for Big Dave here. Rating: 2 out of 5

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos
RAW • March 3, 2014

The Usos had quietly become the best tag team in the WWE and they couldn’t crack The Shield’s stranglehold on the belts as they watched another brother team — The Rhodes — knock off Reigns and Rollins and lose to Triple H’s old DX cronies.

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 - Usos vs New Age OutlawsUnlike Batista, the Outlaws’ shtick didn’t completely rely on their dynamic offense (with apologies to Billy Gunn) so they more easily fit in the modern WWE. That still didn’t mean they weren’t too old to be the tag team champs. The Usos are up for the challenge though and get a perfectly acceptable match out of the Outlaws before finally capturing tag team gold. Better moment than match, but the Usos deserved this spotlight moment. Rating: 2.5 out of 5

The Usos’ MomentFan take on The Usos’ win. Neat hearing the fans talk about Rikishi and now cheering for his sons.

CLICK HERE FOR DISC 2