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Best of Raw & Smackdown DVD average at best
By BLAINE VAN DER GRIEND - SLAM! Wrestling


If WrestleMania 28 was any indication, then 2012 was definitely one of the most successful years in WWE history. And perhaps there is no better way to remember it than by watching the Best of Raw and Smackdown 2012 DVD that the WWE recently released.

The three-disc set is hosted by Josh Mathews, but I'm not sure if that was a great choice for a host, considering that majority of his 2012 was spent on Smackdown only.

So let us sit back and take a look at some of the highlights of this past year.

DISC 1

Kane vs. Zack Ryder in a Falls Count Anywhere Match (Raw -- January 23, 2012)

I'm not sure why this match was on a DVD entitled The BEST of Raw and Smackdown 2012, as it was one of the more infamous feuds of the year. Ryder came out with his ribs taped up, selling the injury from his previous altercation with Kane. I don't think Ryder got in one offensive move during this entire match, as Kane really dominated in this one. There was kind of a non-finish here, where Kane chokeslammed Ryder through a steel platform at the top of the ramp. The match was called off, but it didn't matter to Kane, who looked as though he was about to inflict more damage, only to be chased off by John Cena. Eve Torres came out as well and shed some tears for Ryder, but neither she nor Cena were very convincing here.

Chris Jericho "Speaks" (Raw -- January 23, 2012)

This wasn't one of his most memorable Highlight Reels, but it was one that everyone was looking forward to, after all the trolling he did in previous weeks.

CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan in a Champion vs. Champion Match (Raw -- January 30, 2012)

These two men have had some classics last year alone. This match was really good as well, but I don't think it was quite up to par with some of the other matches they've had. Just as CM Punk looked like he was about to put Bryan away, Chris Jericho came from out of nowhere, yanked Bryan out of the ring and delivered a Code Breaker to Punk. The match was ruled a disqualification in favour of Bryan, because Jericho made contact with him first.

Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett in a No Disqualification Match (Smackdown -- February 3, 2012)

This was another match between two guys who seem to have great chemistry. The problem is that I've seen so many better matches between the two. I guess this match lived up to my expectations, but did not exceed them. Orton hit an RKO out of nowhere and then finished Barrett off with a second RKO on a steel chair.

John Cena has some choice words for The Rock (Raw - February 20, 2012)

The focus was WrestleMania and this was one of Cena's better promos of 2012. He made some great points about The Rock coming and going as he pleases, while Cena remains loyal to the WWE and its universe.

Randy Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and The Miz in a 6-Man Tag Team Match (Smackdown - March 9, 2012)

It appeared as though everyone was shifting into WrestleMania-mode by this point, except for The Miz and Randy Orton. But that would all change by the end of this match -- at least for Orton. The combatants paired off, leaving Orton and Miz in the ring, with Orton picking up the victory for his team via RKO. After the match, Orton was dragged to the outside by Kane, who made a random appearance, and brawled with Orton through the crowd.

The Rock Concert (Raw -- March 12, 2012)

I thought the performance was entertaining as always, but kind of counter-productive at the same time, considering that the program with Cena was supposed to be a serious one, while this was more comedic. But then again, it was just a case of The Rock being The Rock.

Santino Marella vs. Jack Swagger vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship (Raw - April 2, 2012)

I always liked Swagger and Ziggler as a tag team, but I think they both deserved to be in higher positions than this. Santino is a very entertaining character, but I think that under the circumstances, him being a champion kind of devalues the championship. The story here was that Ziggler and Swagger were working together against Santino, until their egos got the best of them and basically made the match every man for himself. Santino was able to capitalize on this and pull off the victory by pulling out the cobra. Brodus Clay then made an unnecessary appearance after the match and just about headbutted Ziggler into the fourth row.

Brock Lesnar Returns (Raw - April 2, 2012)

While it certainly wasn't the greatest follow-up, the actual return was fantastic. There was word going around at this time that Lesnar had signed with the WWE, but people were still having their doubts. It was something that you definitely had to see to believe. And what an impact Lesnar made on his first night back, delivering his signature F-5 to the WWE's top star, John Cena.

Randy Orton vs. Kane in a WrestleMania Rematch (Smackdown - April 6, 2012)

I never really understood why Kane suddenly started wearing a mask again, but this feud kind of made sense, considering that Orton assaulted Kane the previous summer in somewhat of an unprovoked attack. This match was actually better than their WrestleMania match, but I'm not sure it belongs in a Best Of set.

Daniel Bryan Tells Off AJ Lee (Smackdown -- April 6, 2012)

I think these two brought out the best in each other in 2012, and this was a great example of that. Bryan was the verbally abusive boyfriend, while AJ was the innocent, submissive girlfriend. Some have called them a modern day Randy Savage and Elizabeth.

DISC 2

John Cena and Brock Lesnar Confrontation (Raw -- April 9, 2012)

Brock Lesnar was booked so well at this time, and he was perhaps the most talked about man in pro wrestling. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time until they dropped the ball with him, but in this segment, he looked like a beast. I really enjoyed the pull-apart at the end, and having the entire locker room come out to separate these two, further emphasized the importance of this match.

CM Punk vs. Mark Henry in a No Disqualification Match for the WWE Championship (Raw - April 16, 2012)

I forgot all about this match, but going back to watch it made me remember how good it was. I think it was one of the best matches of Mark Henry's career, so I understand the need to include it on this DVD. I especially enjoyed the end, where Punk came off the top rope to drive a steel chair into a downed Mark Henry's face.

Primo and Epico vs. R Truth and Kofi Kingston for the WWE Tag Team Championships (Raw - April 30, 2012)

This was an interesting match to put on the DVD. It certainly wasn't one of the better tag matches of the year, but it is perhaps the match that restarted the tag team division in this company. Kofi and Truth captured the titles on this night with Trouble in Paradise.

Randy Orton vs. Sheamus (Smackdown -- May 18, 2012)

I think these two have always had great chemistry in the ring, and this match was no exception. They have had better matches in the past, but I thought this one was very competitive and it looked as if it could have gone either way. After a back and forth exchange, Sheamus was able to surprise Orton with a schoolboy for the win. However, not to be outdone, Orton would have the final word, so to speak, dropping Sheamus with an RKO after the match.

Big Show goes on a Rampage (Raw -- May 28, 2012)

The scheduled match between Big Show and Brodus Clay never took place, but in the end, I don't think anybody complained. While it did Clay no favours to be beaten down so decisively, it really elevated Big Show to a whole new level and established him as a top heel in the company.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Christian vs. Jack Swagger vs. The Great Khali in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match to Determine the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Title (Raw -- June 11, 2012)

As I recall, the match was made as a result of Alberto Del Rio being removed from his championship match at the following pay per view, due to injury. This match was a lot quicker than most fatal 4-ways, but I did appreciate that they got Khali out of there early, and I really enjoyed the closing sequence between Ziggler and Christian. Ziggler eventually went on to become the new number one contender.

Heath Slater vs. Vader (Raw -- June 11, 2012)

This angle may have been the saving grace of Heath Slater's career. Being in the ring with veterans such as Vader and Psycho Sid allowed Slater to show off his personality, which may have earned him some brownie points with the powers that be. The match itself was actually not that bad. Slater was bumping like crazy, and for a man north of 50, Vader didn't look half bad either.

Santino Marella Hosts 'Sign of the Night' (Smackdown -- June 22, 2012)

This was a very odd segment, but it was a very entertaining one at the same time, and probably the best use of Santino. He basically had to go out to the ring and point out all of the creative signs. Then he found a woman in the crowd with a Santino sign, so he brought her into the ring, and she planted a big wet one on him, leaving traces of lipstick all over his face.

Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler (Smackdown -- June 22, 2012)

These two had a pretty good TV match, but I've seen Ziggler in so many better matches with so many other guys, so this kind of paled in comparison. There was a cool spot where Ziggler delivered a dropkick from the floor, with Sheamus' neck hanging on the middle rope in the ring. I also really liked the finish, where Ziggler ate a Brogue kick that snapped his head back like a slingshot.

D-Generation X Reunites (Raw -- July 23, 2012)

It wasn't one of the best D-X moments of all time, but it was good for a nostalgia pop. It had been a while since all D-X members have been in the ring at the same time, so this was really special to see. I especially liked the exchange between Shawn Michaels and Billy Gunn over the 'We've Got Two Words For Ya' line. Of course, it would have been nicer if they didn't have to bury Damien Sandow in the process.

Rey Mysterio vs. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Alberto Del Rio in a Fatal 4-Way Match to Determine the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Title (Smackdown -- July 27, 2012)

I think everyone involved looked really good here. This match was for the basic purpose of setting up SummerSlam feuds, and they certainly accomplished that with Bryan and Kane here. I really enjoyed the finish, where Rey Mysterio had the match won over Daniel Bryan, only for Ricardo Rodriguez to yank Rey out of the ring, allowing Del Rio to steal the victory.

Ryback vs. Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match (Raw -- August 6, 2012)

I may be in the minority, but I actually liked Hawkins and Reks as a team. As individuals, I'm not so sure, but I thought the tag team had potential. Apparently Ryback had a different opinion, as he just mauled these two. Reks and Hawkins got in a bit of offense, but it still wasn't enough, as Ryback walked right through them and finished strong with a Shell Shocked for Hawkins.

DISC 3

CM Punk and John Cena Have Words (Raw -- August 20, 2012)

Fans are so used to seeing CM Punk always get the better of his opponents on the microphone. This was one of the rare occasions when the opponent fought back. Punk's opening statement was really good, but I thought Cena made some very good points with his rebuttal and ultimately turned this debate in his favour. Naturally, this upset Punk to the point that he lost his composure and delivered a swift kick to the back of Jerry Lawler's head.

Daniel Bryan and Kane Attend Anger Management (Raw -- August 27, 2012)

This was a tremendous angle, and it was one that really brought out the best in Kane. For years, we had only seen Kane, the monster; but here, we were getting Kane, the comedian. His self-introduction was classic. I thought the guy who played Harold was great, as was Dr. Shelby. Daniel Bryan was also very good at doing what he does.

Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes (Smackdown -- August 31, 2012)

These two had a decent match, but I'm not sure why it needed to be on this set. The closing sequence was great, where they kind of exchanged pinning combinations for a while, until Rey eventually got one that worked. Cody attacked Rey after the match, but then Sin Cara ran out for the save and placed one of his masks over Cody's head.

John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio in a Falls Count Anywhere Match (Raw -- September 3, 2012)

The match was okay for what it was. There was an impressive spot where Del Rio delivered a belly-to-back suplex to Cena through the announce table. In the end, CM Punk interfered and helped Del Rio pick up the win. We also saw the return of Paul Heyman, who had the most disgusted look on his face, as he looked down at a fallen Cena; I loved it!

BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES
We reviewed the DVD. Here's a list of what matches are on the Blu-Ray:
  • Santino Marella vs. Jack Swagger, U.S. title match, RAW * March 5, 2012
  • CM Punk & Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan & Kane, RAW * June 18, 2012
  • Intercontinental Championship Match, The Miz vs. Christian, I-C title match, SmackDown * July 27, 2012
  • Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan, Street Fight, RAW * July 30, 2012
  • The SmackDown Debut of Miz TV, SmackDown * September 28, 2012
  • Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett, SmackDown * October 26, 2012
  • Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow (Smackdown -- September 7, 2012)

    This was a very random match to have on this set, and I'm not really sure why it was on here. It wasn't a bad match, but it certainly wasn't anything spectacular. I thought the star of the match was actually Dolph Ziggler, who was on commentary. The end came where Sandow got himself voluntarily counted out. Orton and Ziggler exchanged words after the match, which quickly turned physical. As Orton tried to set Ziggler up for an RKO, Sandow ran back to the ring, only to take the move himself; I thought he was supposed to be smart.

    Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston (Raw -- September 24, 2012)

    I remember this match as if it happened yesterday. Come to think of it, it was yesterday that I re-watched it. I would say this was one of the best TV matches of the year. Vickie Guerrero, R Truth and Little Jimmy were all ejected from ringside before the match started. This match just flowed so smoothly and at a very quick pace. There were a lot of false finishes near the end and Ziggler eventually got the duke off the Zig Zag.

    Beth Phoenix vs. Natalya (Smackdown -- September 28, 2012)

    I think it's safe to say that this was probably the best WWE Divas match in at least the last five years, so it's perfectly understandable how this match made the cut. It was a great match and I only wish it had been on Raw, so more people would have seen it. It really surprised me that Natalya kicked out of the Glam Slam, but she could not avoid the victory roll, which got Beth Phoenix the win.

    Ryback vs. Tensai (Smackdown -- September 28, 2012)

    At least they did not go with the match these two had on Raw, and for good reason. The best thing about this match is that it was kept short. It was really impressive to see Ryback lift a man of Tensai's size up for Shell Shocked. But unlike Rock and Cena, that was really only once in a lifetime.

    Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow in a Non-Title Match (Raw -- October 1, 2012)

    I was thinking that this match shouldn't have been on the DVD either, but then I remembered how long it was for a TV match, so I can sort of understand why it was selected. This was a grueling match, and I thought both guys worked extremely hard in it. I liked the end where Sheamus brought Cody Rhodes into the ring and gave Team Rhodes Scholars a dual Brogue kick to get the win. Of course, Sandow couldn't be disqualified for Rhodes being in the ring, since Sheamus was the one who brought him in there.

    Daniel Bryan and Kane vs. Alberto Del Rio and David Otunga in a Non-Title Match (Smackdown -- October 5, 2012)

    I think the only reason this match made the DVD is to explain the situation with Team Hell No being partners who can't stand each other. That was further emphasized here, when Bryan pretty much stole Kane's victory by pinning Otunga off of Kane's hard work.

    CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Non-Title Match (Smackdown -- October 5, 2012)

    This was a really great match, and it was so unique to have two heels go at it in the main event. I generally enjoyed the match, but I don't think Ziggler needed to do a clean job. Punk was able to finish him off with the GTS.

    CM Punk vs. Mr. McMahon (Raw -- October 8, 2012)

    This match quickly took an ugly turn, as Punk attacked Vince before the bell even sounded. It was definitely a memorable moment and I loved it when Punk grabbed Michael Cole's headset and yelled "What a Maneuver!" The match never really ended, as Punk tried to just walk away. Vince then decks Paul Heyman at ringside and takes possession of Punk's championship, daring Punk to get back into the ring. They exchanged kendo stick shots, with Vince getting the better of it, until a low blow from Punk. Ryback then marched out and chased Punk off again. Then John Cena came out and tossed Punk back into the ring to be destroyed by Ryback. Fortunately they didn't show what happened after the match, involving Punk and an unfortunate member of the WWE Universe.

    Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler (Raw -- October 22, 2012)

    This was another fantastic match, but it wasn't a very memorable one. These two went back and forth, with Kane eventually coming out to support Bryan. As Bryan tried to order Kane away from ringside, Ziggler capitalized on the distraction and hit the Zig Zag for the win.

    John Cena and Ryback vs. CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler (Raw -- November 5, 2012)

    I don't think we will be seeing Cena and Ryback team up again anytime soon. I thought Ziggler did what he does best and stole the show in this one. I loved it when he dropped about 15 consecutive elbows on Cena's chest and then proceeded to showboat. Ryback eventually got the hot tag and dominated. He finished Punk off with Shell Shocked to pick up the win for his team.

    Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio in a Falls Count Anywhere Match (Smackdown -- November 6, 2012)

    This could have been so much better than it was. I just can't believe that this is about the third Falls Count Anywhere match that I'm writing about in this review; it seems like this company's go-to match to settle a feud. Having said that, this feud really didn't impress me in general, and for a match of its type, this one was kind of boring. The end came where Del Rio missed a chair shot, which allowed Orton to sneak in an RKO on the steel steps, which were in the ring.

    The Best of Raw and Smackdown 2012 DVD certainly had its highs and lows. I'd say it was average at best, since there were a bunch of things on here that really should have been cut. However, there were several things on here that they definitely should have kept, and they were all worth watching again.


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    Blaine van der Griend is hoping that 2013 will be even better...