We're heading into WWE territory once more for my next review, and this time around we're going to dip into the ever-growing pile of DVDs sent to me by the good people at Fremantle Media as we take a look at the three disc set entitled Best Pay-Per-View Matches 2012.
And there's no better place to start than with.....
January 28th, 2012
It's Royal Rumble time as Dolph Ziggler, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero, challenges C.M. Punk for the WWE title, with Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim General Manager of Monday Night Raw John Laurinaitis as the special referee.
Before the match began big John took to the microphone to announce a change of plan, that he would be serving as the outside official instead of the in-ring official, no doubt because of the performance review he was set to face the following night. He then proceeded to banish Vickie from ringside.
So with all of that business out of the way these two put on a pretty decent encounter. Both guys were very well suited to each other as they stringed together some nice back and forth sequences with numerous pin and submission attempts.
The drama came when Punk tried to put his challenger away with the GTS. Ziggler managed to work his way off his shoulders before pushing the champion into the referee, and while Laurinaitis was checking on the official's condition at ringside Punk had Ziggler beaten on three occasions, after the GTS, with a roll-up reversal, and when he tapped to the Anaconda Vice.
Needless to say that this didn't sit too well with our champion, and after a brief verbal altercation Laurinaitis pushed the official back into the ring just as Punk was trying to take Ziggler out with another GTS. But as he spun around Ziggler's legs clobbered big John in the back of the head. The big guy wasn't too happy himself now as he blamed Punk for his pain.
The end came a few moments later. After Ziggler made his comeback, countering another GTS attempt with a Famouser Punk finally put his man away with a second GTS, and as the referee started his count Laurinaitis joined him as they both counted to three.
February 19th, 2012
It's onto the Elimination Chamber, with the Great Khali, Cody Rhodes, Santino Marella, Wade Barrett and the Big Show challenging Daniel Bryan for the World title.
This certainly proved to be an eventful encounter for all concerned, and with enough back-story that would take me volumes to explain in detail. The main story was the rivalry between Bryan and Show, with Marella as the emotional favourite after he'd won a battle royal to replace the injured Randy Orton.
The action was pretty good throughout. Show put on a great performance as a weapon of destruction, especially when he broke into Bryan's pod and beat the proverbial out of him. Most of the other guys, in particular Rhodes and Barrett, also put in top notch performances, although Khali's brief cameo was all but forgotten by the time the match ended.
As for the eliminations Khali was the first man to go. After taking down the others with chops and choke bombs within seconds of entering the match the Big Show came off the ropes and took him down with a spear for the pin.
Show was the next man to go. Having taken out his frustrations on Bryan Rhodes and Barrett teamed up to take him down, with Rhodes connecting with a couple of Disaster Kicks and a DDT before taking the pin after Barrett connected with a top rope elbow.
Then, as Rhodes celebrated and watched as Show crawled out of the cage Marella came up from behind and rolled him up for the pin. Rhodes, clearly embarrassed by his loss, took Marella down with the Cross Rhodes.
The Englishman fell next. Having failed to take Marella out with a top rope elbow Bryan came flying off the top with a diving head butt, with Marella picking up the pieces and taking the pin.
This left Bryan and Marella as the final two, with the champion viewing his opponent as easy pickings. His underestimation nearly proved costly as the Italian put up a spirited performance, avoiding the diving head butt before taking his man down with the Cobra. It didn't get the job done though, and seconds later Bryan synched in the Yes Lock. Marella held on for as long as he could until he tapped out to give Bryan the submission win.
Afterwards, as Bryan celebrated his win, his Wrestlemania opponent Sheamus came down to the ring, and when Bryan tried to connect with a kick Sheamus took him down with White Noise.
April 1st, 2012
Speaking of the grand-daddy of them all, it's on to the end of an era match at Wrestlemania 28, with Triple H taking on the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match, with Shawn Michaels as the special referee.
If you've never seen this match then you've missed one of the greatest matches in WWE history. It's a true classic, a perfect piece of storytelling that will be remembered for decades to come.
This match had everything, a tremendous back-story that had been built up since their encounter the year before, tons of great back and forth action, and three outstanding performances from the best of their generation.
It began with the Dead Man unloading with his strikes in the corner. Triple H made a brief comeback before Taker began throwing him around the cage like a stuffed toy. But as the match went on the drama just grew and grew, and all three protagonists began to come into their own as the combatants began to beat the proverbial out of each other and the referee began to doubt his place in the grand scheme of things.
These two gave everything they had, and then some. They hit each other with the ring steps, there were countless brutal chair shots, as well as the trusty old sledgehammer. There were Tombstones and Pedigrees and submissions, and even after all that they still couldn't put each other away.
Finally, after Taker pleaded with his opponent to stay down, Triple H gave him the crotch chop. That was enough for the Dead Man as he clobbered his man with the sledgehammer and took him down with another Tombstone. A three count later and the era ended. The Undertaker had kept the streak alive.
I think the scenes after the match said it all though, when Michaels helped the Undertaker to his feet before raising his hand, as both men held the Game to stand, the 70,000-plus crowd gave them a standing ovation as they made their way backstage.
Still at Wrestlemania, it was on to the first of the once in a lifetime moments as the Rock faced John Cena.
When I first saw this match I seem to remember that I wasn't exactly that complimentary about it, and while I can understand why it was included on this collection I still wouldn't call it one of WWE's best matches of 2012.
The action was okay, and the performances of the two protagonists can't be faulted, but it just seemed to lack that certain spark, that certain indefinable thing that makes a match great, and given the hype that surrounded this one it's quite frustrating.
The big moves came out about halfway through this encounter, and inevitably each man kicked out after the other's finisher. It was then that, once again, I got the feeling that this match was getting a little too long in the tooth, and it could have done with being five or perhaps even ten minutes shorter.
The end eventually came when Cena looked to put his man away with his version of the People's Elbow. That particular move never happened as Rocky leapt to his feet to take the winning pin.
One little bit of advice about this chapter. Although it lasts over 50 minutes the first twenty minutes or so is taken up by a couple of live performances I've never heard of, so if you want to get straight to the introductions press fast forward.
May 20th, 2012
It's on to Over the Limit as Layla defends her Divas title against Beth Phoenix.
The only women's match on this collection was one of those short and sweet encounters. Layla began like a house afire until Beth began to target her bad knee as she used her size and strength advantage to good effect.
But when Layla countered Beth's press slam attempt with a DDT her comeback began. She almost got the pin after rolling through Beth's Glam Slam attempt, and a few moments later she took the win with a quick neck breaker.
June 17th, 2012
It's on to title action as Cody Rhodes challenges Christian for the Intercontinental title at No Way Out.
Rhodes came into this match looking to regain the title he'd lost the month before in an impromptu match, and right from the beginning this proved to be a quality encounter.
It began with some nice back and forth exchanges until Rhodes took the advantage and worked over Christian's previously injured shoulder. Rhodes basically tied the limb up with a variety of holds. The action soon spilled out to ringside as Christian made his comeback, beginning with a DDT on the floor.
The next few moments saw numerous pin attempts, and it looked all over when Christian took his man down with the Killswitch. But when Rhodes kicked out of the pin attempt Christian went to his back up move, only for Rhodes to raise his knees when he came down from the top rope with a frog splash.
Some frantic exchanges followed until Christian ducked the Disaster Kick attempt and took his man down with a spear for the title retaining pin.
July 15th, 2012
With A.J. Lee as the special referee Daniel Bryan challenges C.M. Punk for the WWE title in a no disqualification match at Money in the Bank.
Unless you lived in a cave last year then you'll know that this particular situation centred on the love triangle involving these three. There were break-ups, marriage proposals, slaps, kisses and a whole load of crazy stuff going on, as well as the occasional first class wrestling match.
This was a great piece of storytelling from all concerned. As everyone wondered if A.J. was going to take anyone's side these two put on a tremendous back and forth and hard hitting encounter. It was definitely one of the highlights of last year.
Although these two are known for their technical prowess they showed off their brawling skills from the outset. They began in the ring, but it wasn't long before the action spilled out to ringside and the barricades and ring steps were used as weapons.
When the action returned to the ring the delightful Miss Lee took an accidental hit when Bryan pushed Punk into her as she stood on the ring apron. She began holding her neck after she tumbled to the floor, and as she was taken backstage for medical treatment a second official came in to take over her duties.
Shortly afterwards some weapons came into play. A kendo stick was used by both men as they beat the proverbial out of each other, and as the match progressed it looked like it could go either way, especially when A.J. cam skipping back down to the ring to resume her duties.
That was when things got even more interesting. First she had the boys fighting over a steel chair, and then she would favour one man for a few minutes before quickly reversing her decision and favouring the other. It certainly was a good performance from the future Raw GM. One minute she acted crazy, the next she acted as if she didn't know what she was going to do.
But after Punk survived the Yes Lock and Bryan survived the GTS the champion introduced a table into the match, and after they fought each other on the top rope Punk finally took the upper hand and put his man through the table with a top rope back suplex. He then groggily went for the cover as A.J. counted his title retaining pin.
August 19th, 2012
It's the hottest event of the summer as Paul Heyman guy Brock Lesnar takes on Triple H at Summerslam.
Now this wasn't a wrestling match, it was a fight, pure and simple, and it was made more of a fight when Triple H gave the referee pre-match instructions not to disqualify or count anyone out.
From the get-go Lesnar overpowered his man and immediately went for the kimura. The Game resisted and managed to fight his way back into the match, and from there the action made for viewing that was both brutal and compelling at the same time.
But just when it looked like the monster was going to dominate the action Triple H found a weak point when an exchange at ringside saw Lesnar going stomach-first onto the announcer's desk. He then doubled over in pain as Trips sought to capitalize on his old abdominal problems with a series of blows to his bread basket.
Although Trips had some success with that particular tactic Lesnar kept coming back, and while he survived a Pedigree and Triple H survived an F5 it looked all over when Lesnar was on the receiving end of a second Pedigree. It wasn't that easy though as Lesnar immediately went for another kimura when Trips went for the pin, and despite making it to the ropes the Game fell foul of his own pre-match instructions to the referee, and within seconds he was tapping out to give Lesnar the submission win.
Afterwards, as he refused medical attention Trips got to his feet and apologised to the fans, and as he received a standing ovation our esteemed announcers wondered if he was heading for retirement.
September 16th, 2012
It was the only non-title match at Night of Champions as Dolph Ziggler, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero, went up against Randy Orton.
For me this was the match that put Ziggler on the map. I remember at the time I wasn't too impressed with a non-title match being on a show that was meant to be about championship encounters, but after seeing this one my opinion changed drastically.
In short, this was an excellent match. Both guys put in tremendous performances from start to finish. Orton was his usual solid self, while Ziggler showed that he was more than capable of hanging with such illustrious opponents.
It was one of those matches that looked like it really could go either way, especially when Orton took his man out with his version of the DDT on the floor. But instead of taking the count out the Viper wanted to take the pin, and Ziggler held on long enough so he could put his foot on the bottom rope as the referee made his count.
The big guns soon came out as Ziggler made his comeback, but when Orton launched him up into the air and took him down with an RKO it was all over. A three count later and Orton had the win.
Later in the show it was on to another Paul Heyman guy, C.M. Punk, now a fully-fledged heel, as he defended his WWE title against John Cena.
For me this was the best match in their long-standing rivalry. It just had everything, tremendous drama, a ton of back and forth action, numerous false finishes, and two protagonists pulling out all the stops.
It began with Punk dominating the action, and whenever Cena went for one of his trademark moves the champion always found a counter move to stop him. This obviously frustrated Cena, but it also did no end of good for Punk's confidence, and for that of his ringside cheerleader.
As the match went on it became an ever more dramatic affair as both men brought out the big guns, but no matter what they did they just couldn't put each other away. There were numerous Attitude Adjusters, GTSs, STFs, and much, much. Punk even tried a Rock Bottom at one point.
But as everyone wondered just how this match was going to end Cena lifted Punk onto the top rope, and after a few moments of struggle Cena came down with a bridging back suplex. The referee made the three count, and Cena was declared the champion.
Then came the twist. Just as Cena began his in-ring celebrations the referee took the title belt away from him as the ring announcer announced that as both men's shoulders were on the mat the match was declared a draw, and Punk was still the champion. As Cena argued his case with the referee Punk attacked him with the belt before standing over him holding the belt high above his head.
October 28th, 2012
It's the final match of the collection as the Big Show defends his World title against the Big Show.
No fancy stuff in this one, this was a straight up fight as one big man and an even bigger man tried to beat the proverbial out of each other, and all in the name of the World title. And it made for compelling viewing.
Show dominated the match from the off as he threw Sheamus around the ring like a stuffed toy while delivering a series of earth-shattering blows. The Irishman did his best as he tried to fight back, but the big man managed to cut him off at the past as he dealt out more hard blows.
No matter what Show did Sheamus kept coming back for more. However, when the big man connected with his knockout punch Sheamus fell like a sack of spuds. But when Show went for the cover the Irishman kicked out, much to the amazement of just about everyone watching.
Slowly Sheamus began to work his way back into the match, eventually connecting with White Noise and the Brogue Kick. But each time the Irishman went for the cover Show kicked out as well, much to the amazement, well, you know the rest.
Sheamus then went for one last roll of the nice as he looked to put Show away with another Brogue Kick. Show had other ideas though, and as Sheamus came forward Show countered with another knockout punch. Once again Sheamus crashed down to the mat, and this time around Show was able to get the title winning three count.
In conclusion - after a few late nights viewing and a few thousand words we've finally reached this point again, so you're probably asking yourselves what my final conclusion is.
Well, I have to say that this compilation is pretty darn enjoyable. The matches here were certainly compatible with the title, and it was good to be able to go back and re-live some of these recent memories once again.
But I'm left to wonder if the good people of WWE are working by a new decimalised calendar. Did 2012 finish at the end of October? Or perhaps, in their opinion, there just weren't any matches from either Survivor Series or TLC that were good enough for this collection.
That one small gripe aside, this is a very good collection, which is why I'm going to wrap this thing up by giving this thing the big thumbs up.
With thanks to Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. WWE Best Pay-Per-View Matches 2012 is available to buy online at www.wwedvd.co.uk