Though it may not seem like it sometimes from my show reports, Smackdown has long been and continues to be my favourite wrestling show. Between what I consider to be the best in-ring talent on any roster and a great blend of long matches and to-the-point promos, SD! has, more than Raw, Impact, Nitro or any other show that has flashed across my TV screen in the last decade, entertained me and kept me liking the wrestling business.
So you can imagine my excitement when I first heard, a few months back, about the new DVD release, The Best of Smackdown. Packed with highlights and matches, The Best of Smackdown is, perhaps surprisingly, a better compilation than the similar tribute DVD that came out a couple years ago for WWE Raw.
Narrated by Michael Cole and Matt Striker, The Best of Smackdown takes viewers through the top 100 moments and bouts in the show's decade-long history. Mixed in is insight from some of WWE's personalities, including CM Punk, John Cena and Michael Hayes. Most of the moments are shown in their entirety with commentary surrounding them and the matches are done with intros by Cole and Striker, while others are clipped. Some of these are expected, like the Iron Man match between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar (though I hope that bout eventually will make it to WWE DVD in its entirety), but admittedly there are a couple disappointingly chopped, like the parking lot brawl between John Cena and Eddie Geuerrero.
I'm giving this compilation a thumbs up because WWE produced this properly. It wasn't a clip job or a mash-up like some of the specials you see on StarTV -- this was a full out tribute to the late-week brand of wrestling.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let's talk about the list. Rather than complain about one segment being lower than another, I'd like to make a few observations:
Whoever came up with the list really knew their stuff. There are very, very few moments or matches here that one could argue do not belong on the list, and those that were truly horrible (Torrie/Dawn Marie comes to mind instantly) were kept to a minimum.
Watching the DVD made me wish that Kurt Angle was still part of WWE. It was made abundantly clear throughout this DVD that Angle, more than any other superstar, has been the face of Smackdown for the majority of its run.
Eddie Guerrero is a bigger star than perhaps we realized when he was alive. Eddie is probably second to Kurt in clips and was in the number one match on the list -- the No DQ all-time classic vs. Edge.
The Smackdown Six werenít given the proper credit they deserved. Eddie, Chavo Guerrero, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Angle and Chris Benoit were, week-in and week-out, the reason to watch SD! for a good long time, but because of the latterís appearance embargo, we donít get any matches or clips from those awesome times.
WWE did, however, show highlights from the TLC 3 match (All Canadian Chrises vs. E&C vs. Dudleyz vs. Hardyz), which was clipped well enough that they only showed Benoit's face once.
Hulk Hogan had a pretty big impact on Smackdown and still could pop a crowd when he returned to WWE the first time. Of course, Hoganís longest run this decade was on Smackdown, which included the Mr. America angle.
Conversely, Brock Lesnarís appearances are fairly minimal. A couple of his classic moments, such as the kidnapping and staircase toss of Zach Gowen is not included here.
The DVD appears to have been assembled prior to the 2009 WWE Draft, which means that the fantastic matches we were recently treated to involving John Morrison, CM Punk and Jeff Hardy donít make the list. I guarantee that at least one of these will make the second decade compilation (just 10 more years until thatís released!).
Bearing all this in mind, as I said before, this DVD set is a definite must-own. The misses are far outweighed by the hits, and those hits are very well executed. Pick up The Best of Smackdown today!
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Jon Waldman is the co-editor of SLAM! Wrestling: Shocking Stories from the Squared Circle. To hear more of Jon's opinions on the wrestling biz, come see him and Greg Oliver live in Winnipeg at our book launch, Thursday, November 5, 7:30pm at McNally Robinson's Polo Park location.