DVD releases featuring a ‘definitive’ countdown of Superstars, Legends, Events or Moves always cause discussion and are bound to controversy as Wrestling is so diverse that whatever style attracts you may not be represented properly (in your view) in a DVD like this. I have to say that whilst the order in which they appear is arguable, it’s difficult to argue with the majority of the moves listed. Some however are ridiculous.
The documentary is long but moves at a comfortable and natural pace, featuring talking heads discussing their experiences in the hold or their enjoyment of watching the move applied as a young viewer. For once the talking heads are a bit more diverse, there’s somewhat of a British invasion as Mason Ryan, Wade Barrett, William Regal and Drew McIntyre pop up for almost every entry. William Regal is very interesting as a veteran who has experienced the moves firsthand but also as a lover of wrestling who explains why a move is devastating or effective. This reminds me. Matt Striker. Oh dear. Matt Striker knows his wrestling, Matt Striker LOVES the sport. Matt Striker is unbearable. He comes across as such a slimy character that every scene he is in renders it practically unwatchable. He is probably being completely truthful and honest but he seems so insincere and creepy that I don’t believe a single word he utters. I hope to never be subjected to his off-putting personality again.
My favourite interviewee has to be Drew McIntyre (closely followed by a hilariously enthusiastic Daniel Bryan), he’s the same age as my Sister so listening to him enthuse about his childhood favourites is familiar to me as we grew up at the same time, but also incredibly endearing. I hope he is interviewed for future DVDs. Kofi Kingston, The Miz and Cody Rhodes also pop up and this is an extremely good thing as Cody, in my view, is a very knowledgeable and fascinating person. His opinions matter to me and I enjoy hearing his views on Wrestling. I just love listening to guys who know and adore the sport, whether that was from growing up as a fan or growing up within the sport, they just lead to such interesting segments and it makes me smile.
The list itself kicks off with John Bradshaw Layfield’s “Clothesline From Hell”. While it was a very hard-hitting variation of the Stan Hansen ‘Lariat’, it is… well, it’s a clothesline, it’s like including a brutal Collar-and-Elbow tie-up to me, it’s a rudimentary move, done well, admittedly, but of the 60 years that WWE has existed we are only having fifty finishers included so surely it has to be the crème de la crème and a clothesline just doesn’t fit the bill for me. This issue is raised again later as Rob Van Dam’s excellent ‘Five-Star Frogsplash’ makes the grade and everyone talks about just how beautifully executed and painful it was and then some ten spots higher is Eddy Guerrero’s Frogsplash, and the same thing is said for that. So surely, the definitive frogsplash belongs to ‘Latino Heat’ as he was placed higher than RVD. So why is the same move included twice? It makes little sense to me.
Within the top ten we have The Rock’s ‘People’s Elbow, which is a signature move, his finisher was the Rock Bottom, and that was hardly impressive. Maybe this list should be called “The most memorable finishers” rather than “the greatest”. However, some great finishers were included that I thought wouldn’t even be dreamt of, like The Honky Tonk Man’s beautiful Swinging Neckbreaker “The Shake, Rattle & Roll” which is a very aesthetically pleasing move from what is essentially a comedy character from the eighties. So just when I feel anger, they throw in a Rude Awakening (should have been higher placed) or a Perfect-Plex and my venom subsides.
Of the current and recent crop, the absolutely gorgeous Rolling Cross-Armbreaker (Alberto del Rio) is omitted, which is a shame as it is both vicious and visually pleasing. There’s no C4 which looked amazing when executed by the formidable Paul Burchill, CM Punk’s GTS is included, when his Anaconda Vise is so much more appealing and cruel and Rey Mysterio’s signature 619 is featured but his frankly angelic Hurricanrana doesn’t cut it? No picture perfect Shooting Star Press from Evan Bourne? Cody Rhodes’ gorgeous ‘Beautiful Disaster’ is not here, but the Attitude Adjuster and Brock Lesnar’s F5 are both in as are Edge’s (appalling) Spear and Goldberg’s Spear/Jackhammer combo, when they are the same move, it’s the Frogsplash argument all over again. It’s familiarity over execution which is perhaps the biggest fault. There’s a lot to criticise here, but also a lot to praise.
Some people have complained that it is in kayfabe (described as though wrestling is real) but I understand why it is done this way, it would seem very silly to hear peers and veterans talk about moves as though they don’t hurt. I feel it is described enough to not ruin immersion but also without insulting the viewers intelligence. I quite liked the way it was presented. I need to believe that people are afraid of being Superkicked or being caught in a chokeslam, that is more important to me than hearing someone laugh about how they didn’t jump in time and got sandbagged. I want to feel that the threat is real.
In the end, you will be happy, get mad, laugh and learn with the Superstars and see moves you never thought you’d see again. That to me, is enough. There are omissions and some moves that belong nowhere near a best move list are on here. It’s all subjective and a matter of opinion. It is an enjoyable ride and I’ll watch it again and again. It’s good enough like this, but wait, we have two more discs of unbelievable action to get through, so here we go:
Disc Two and Three have a selection of truly amazing matches. There are encounters from ECW, WCW and TV and House Shows that are hard to find. I never thought I’d see the great bout between Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude again and yet, here it is and it’s still as good as I recalled. There isn’t a single match here that I skipped, everything is gold and I feel spoiled by this content. It is such a fantastically researched and compiled DVD set that I feel just for the documentary alone, it is worth the purchase. Then you see the goldmine of great matches and it becomes essential. I am really impressed by this set and it needs to be on the shelf of anyone who loves wrestling. It’s just excellent, flaws and all.
50 greatest Moves Countdown and extra moves that didn’t quite make it.
Sgt. Slaughter Demonstrates The Cobra Clutch on Tony Anthony
World Wide Wrestling – 10th December, 1981
DDT vs. Rude Awakening Match
Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude
Madison Square Garden – 24th October, 1988
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Mr. Perfect vs. Texas Tornado
Dayton, Ohio – 13th January, 1991
WWE Championship Match
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Bob Backlund
Superstars – 30th July, 1994
WCW World Tag Team Championship Match
Kevin Nash & Scott Hall vs. The Giant & Lex Luger
SuperBrawl VII – 23rd February, 1997
King of the Ring Semi-Final Match
Mankind vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler
King of the Ring – 8th June, 1997
Rob Van Dam vs. 2 Cold Scorpio
Living Dangerously – 1st March, 1998
Four Corners Match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship
‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. Diamond Dallas Page vs. Hollywood Hogan vs. Sting
With Special Guest Referee “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Spring Stampede –11th April, 1999
Chris Jericho & The Rock vs. Kurt Angle & Stone Cold Steve Austin
SmackDown – 15th November, 2001
Rob Van Dam & Bubba Ray Dudley vs. Brock Lesnar & Eddie Guerrero
Raw – 3rd June, 2002
No Disqualification Tag Team Match
Shawn Michaels & Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Jericho & Christian
Raw – 17th February, 2003
The Rock vs. Goldberg
Backlash – 27th April, 2003
6-Man Elimination Match
Bubba Ray, DVon & Spike Dudley vs. Evolution (Triple H, ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair & Randy Orton)
Raw – 14th July, 2003
WWE Women’s Championship Match
Trish Stratus vs. Lita
Raw 6th December, 2004
Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match to become the Number One Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship
Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton vs. JBL vs. Chris Jericho
Raw – 29th December, 2008
Fatal 4-Way Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Undertaker vs. Batista vs. Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
Bragging Rights – 25th October, 2009
Six Pack Challenge Elimination Match for the WWE Championship
Sheamus vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho vs. Edge vs. Wade Barrett
Night of Champions – 9th September, 2010