Continuing WWE’s year of outstanding Pay-Per-Views comes May’s offering. It begins in a strange fashion as the event starts immediately with an in-progress Battle Royal, not with the traditional video package and introduction from the commentators. This is different but not in a bad way, there’s something to be said for being thrust directly into the action, especially a multi-man match which has an important prize; The winner can choose whether to take on the Intercontinental Champion (Cody Rhodes) or the United States Champion (Santino Marella) later in the show. It spoils nothing to tell you that Christian wins and takes on Cody Rhodes later in the show, as the match is advertised in the Blu-Ray description. As with all Battle Royals, there are a handful of people who you believe have a chance of winning, padded out with a bunch of people who have zero chance of success, but it’s still fun nonetheless. I believed The Miz or Christian had the best chance of victory, as nobody else looked on their level, but I still had fun watching the hectic rumble.
The second match is as exciting as the first as the team of R-Truth and Kofi Kingston defend their Tag-Team Titles against Vickie Guerrero’s charges Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. This match contains all the enjoyment that you would expect from the four men involved and leads nicely into a feel-good Diva’s championship bout when Champion Beth Phoenix defends her title against a returning Layla. Layla really has improved during her year-long hiatus and this is one of the better Divas matches in some time. As Layla was a surprise entrant it becomes obvious that the crowd were expecting the return of the formidable Kharma and seem deflated that it wasn’t her, which is a real shame as Layla’s return was a genuine shock and also an impressive outing for the UK born Diva.
The second best match of the night is next as the World Heavyweight Championship is on the line in a Fatal-Four Way. The Champion Sheamus takes on three of the best in Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and long-time rival Alberto Del Rio in this scintillating encounter. On any other PPV this would have been the best match of the event but there’s no shame in taking the second-prize to CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. This is hard-hitting, relentless and at times technically beautiful as all four men bring their A-Game. Definitely one of my favourite PPV matches of the year thusfar and it is as exciting to watch the second or third time around.
The Miz takes on Brodus Clay in a throwaway match, however, The Miz dances like Michael Jackson in perhaps the most bizarre moment I have seen in some time, and honestly, is one of the reasons to watch this show as it hasn’t failed to be as hilarious or cringeworthy on repeat viewing (and I have watched it A LOT!) Which segues into the match that was set-up earlier in the evening as Battle Royal victor Christian chooses his opponent to be Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes. This match is, of course excellent, even if I didn’t agree with the result. Although Cody’s unwavering certainty that Captain Charisma will choose to take the ‘easy win’ over Santino as he sucks up to Christian backstage in a bid to save his title on such short notice is very amusing. Cody Rhodes is such a special talent. I hope WWE realise this and elevate him soon.
This is for the World Title, this should have been the main event, CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan is not only the match of the night but also a strong contender for WWE Match of the Year. If you were wavering on whether or not to purchase this disc then this is your decider, it is just fantastic. A technical masterclass by two of the best wrestlers in the world. These men are no strangers to each other from their time on the Independent circuit, and it shows. This is just a phenomenal match-up between two men who are at the top of their profession, a real joy to watch. Expect this to show up on many ‘Best of’ compilations for years to come, simply breathtaking.
Ryback takes on Hunico’s amigo Camacho in a decent little bout which features more competition than Ryback’s usual squash matches to calm down the crowd after what should have been the main event of the evening. I don’t envy the quasi-comedy match of John Cena vs John Laurinaitis having to follow that white-hot encounter between Punk and Bryan. The match is okay but is basically a timewaster or TV match and in no way should have headlined a Pay-per-View. The finish was obvious from the moment that John Laurinaitis fired The Big Show on the previous Monday’s Raw and the stipulation was pointless. It’s enough of a distraction to not put a dampener on the night’s festivities, but it has no re-watch value.
The Blu-Ray exclusive features include an incomplete episode of Monday Night Raw and a match and segment from Smackdown. All of these releases should include at least one complete episode of each show to show you what led to the PPV and, ideally, the follow-up episodes of Raw and Smackdown from the week following the PPV to see what the fall-out was. For £17 (£12 on sale here) it could stretch to two discs to include these features and it would make it more appealing to me and I suspect, others too.
All in all this release deserves: 8/10
20-Man People Power Over the Top Rope Battle Royal
WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler
Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins receive their assignments from Eve
Divas Championship Match
Layla vs. Beth Phoenix
Matt Striker Interviews Randy Orton
Fatal 4-Way Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton
Eve and Cody Rhodes discuss People Power
Brodus Clay vs. The Miz
Intercontinental Championship Match
Cody Rhodes vs. Christian
Josh Mathews Interviews CM Punk
WWE Championship Match
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan
Eve and David Otunga discuss the main event
Ryback vs. Camacho
John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis
Home Video Exclusive
Matt Striker Interviews Sheamus
Over The Limit – 20th May, 2012
Blu-ray Exclusive Content
Monday Night Raw 14th May, 2012
Triple H addresses Brock Lesnar
Big Show vs. Kane
Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. The Miz, Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger
John Cena confronts John Laurinaitis
SmackDown 18th May, 2012
John Laurinaitis disagrees with The Board of Directors
CM Punk vs. Kane