WWE's Smack Down celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and to cash in on that, the marketing machine behind the league has unleashed WWE: The Best Of Smack Down - 10th Anniversary 1999 - 2009, a three disc collection of highlights and clips from the long running weekly event. There isn't really much of a plot here, it's wrestling after all, but the hours and hours of content does prove to hold up well and it makes for a whole lot of fun. Basically presented as a '100 greatest moments' countdown show, here's what you'll find in order across the three discs that make up this set:
The first disc starts off with an introduction from Michael Cole and Matt Striker that sets things up nicely before launching into some cool footage showing off John Cena's abilities with The Spinner from April 14, 2005. From there we get to spy some backstage drama with Unlikely Merger from October 31, 2002 where Stephanie McMahon finds herself the recipient of an unexpected kiss! Here Comes the Chokeslam from July 10, 2003 puts Big Show against Brock Lesnar with a pretty surprising twist while A SmackDown Tradition explains how the Thanksgiving program came to be and how it has since become a regular yearly occurance.
Back to the brawling, we get to check out Randy Orton going against The Undertaker from September 16, 2005, a match that is supplied in its entirety. It's a solid match showing the two in their prime. Mattitude is a fun bit with The Hardy Boys, giving Matt a chanceto show off just as much as his more showman-like Brother, explaining how 'Mattitude is practiced in over 100 countries.' Show Hunters is a clip from September 23, 2004 where Kurt Angle shows The Big Show whose boss by shaving his head. Rey Mysterio Versus Eddie Guerrero is a great match from these two long time rivals from September 9, 2005. The final match of their long running series takes place in a steel cage and it's a surprisingly tough and intense bout that really lets these two strut their stuff. A good intro explaining their rivalry sets it up nicely and this is the best match on the first disc.
Mr. America introduces us to the uber-patriotic wrestler who bore a suspicious resemblance to Hulk Hogan, it's a fun look back, while Out Of Tune from July 19, 2001let's Stone Cold Steve Austin tune a guitar over Ed McMahon's head to announce his comeback. Signs of Friendship is a fun bit with Edge that takes place backstage while the Chris Jericho versus Chyna match from December 30, 1999 pits man against woman in a fun match that ends with some interference from some surprise participants.
Hardcore Injury from June 29, 2000 replays the moment where Hardcore Holly got his arm broken Kurt Angle while No Way Out from February 24, 2000 is a fun bit with Mick Foley, and Triple H that winds up with Foley locked inside a cage like an animal being fed pizza through the bars. Another awesome moment on the first disc is the excellent Return of Piper's Pit from April 10, 2003 where Hot Rod interviews Vince McMahon with predictably unpredictable results. I miss Piper, probably the coolest of the WWF superstars from back in the day. Carlito versus John Cena from October 7, 2004 is a great title match that shows how and why Cena got to be as popular as he is. The aptly titled Sewage Bath clip from October 9, 2003 pits Eddie Guerrero and a sewage hose against a rather unhappy The Big Show, while The BoogeyMan bit gives us a look back at one of the most ridiculous wrestlers in the history of the league as he eats some rancid human flesh for an adoring crowd and a shocked Roddy Piper. The Hulkster Returns is just that, a big where Hogan comes back to an adoring crowd on January 23, 2003. It's pretty cool to see the crowd just go insane to celebrate the most popular wrestler in the history of the sport. Triple H versus Tazz is a decent match from April 20, 2000 that's very physical right from the overly dramatic opening. A very solid championship title match from start to finish. The Bar Room Brawl is a clip from January 20, 2000 sets the A.P.A. against The New Age Outlaws in a scrap that takes place inside a bar room while Gore! Gore! Gore! from August 9, 2001 feature a cool bit where Rhino sneak attacks Christ Jericho. Time To Play The Game, from September 23, 1999, squares Triple H off against The Big Show in A Chokeslam Challenge, Viscera in a fun Casket Match, Kane in an blazing Inferno Match, Mankind in a Boiler Room Brawl (Foley is a real glutton for punishment) match and The Rock in a Bull Rope Match featuring the late, great British Bulldog doing referee duties. Good stuff! Rock `N' Sock Connection is a fun bit where The Rock and Mick Foley/Mankind decide to call it quits and go their separate ways - The Rock basically dumps poor Mick. It's a very entertaining clip collection with some fun commentary. Hulk Hogan versus Chris Jericho is a great match from May 2, 2002 in which two bit timers go at it in a No DQ Match. There's a really solid chemistry here, these two go at it with all the skill and tenacity you'd expect making for a very entertaining bout. Gold Medal Thief from August 30, 2001 is a bit where Austin steals Angle's gold medals while Gold Medal Auction July from 29, 2004 sees Eddie Guerrero follow a similar course of action much to Angle's dismay. The Funeral Fight is a ridiculous bit where Dawn Marie Wilson presents a public viewing for her deceased husband which results in a diva showdown! Life Sucks from May 11, 2000 is a screwy speech from Ed McMahon that segues nicely into a bit an amusing bit with Al Snow and Steve Blackman that showcases the two basically bickering.
Disc One ends really nicely with a great match where Batista, Rey Mysterio, Finlay and Jeff Hardy take on MVP, JBL, Kane and Brian Kendrick from October 3, 2008. Finlay and his Leprechaun pal Hornswoggle are ridiculous but most fans wouldn't have it any other way and it's not like the other wrestler's aren't just as goofy in many ways. It's a pretty solid group effort here, not the best match in the set by any stretch but an entertaining one and a good way to finish off a strong first disc.
Disc Two starts off with a bit about Mr. Kennedy in which we see some of his Smack Down performances before we see a bit called Rough Landing from September 9, 1999 in which Mick Foley is tossed a big pit by The Big Show. Stephanie's The Champ from March 30, 2000 is a look at the moment when Stephanie McMahon the woman's championship title after defeating Jackie. From there, Randy Orton takes on Hardcore Holly in a full match from April 25, 2002. It's a good fight that leads into the next clip where we see Kurt Angle Win The Gold from February 10, 2000. The New Tag Champs clip from December 16, 2005 shows Batista and Rey Mysterio becoming the WWE Tag Team Champions after blasting away at MNM in memory of Eddie Guerrero. Heidenreich Poetry is a goofy bit from September 16, 2004 where Heidenreich reads Michael Cole a poem after kidnapping him, which leads into the next match where The Rock takes on the Dudley Boyz from March 9, 2000. The Rock shows his usual charisma here, and it's a fun match.
A Lethal Dose of Poison from January 24, 2002 is a bit where Vince shows up and tells the crowd he's going to bring back the NOW while the Parking Lot Brawl from September 11, 2003 features John Cena and Eddie Guerrero going at it for the belt in a parking lot. Lots of cars get wrecked. Rey Mysterio versus Matt Hardy is a great match from June 5, 2003 held in San Diego with Mysterio's family in attendance. The Sincerest Form of Flattery is a funny bit where The Rock makes fun of The Big Show (which leads into a montage of other amusing impersonations) while the Superhuman Strength clip lets the seven foot tall five hundred pound The Big Show get his time in front of the camera as we see a few Smack Down highlights he was involved in. You're Hired! From April 11, 2002 shows Vince McMahon hiring Stacey Kiebler as his assistant after she makes a very good case for herself. Back to the wrestling itself, up next is a match where Rob Van Dam takes on Steve Austin on September 4, 2001. From there we see a clip with Edge and Vickie that recounts their sappy relationship before moving back to Stone Cold Steve Austin as he stalks DX on October 28, 1999, with some help from Kane and The Rock - a fun bit.
Debra's Cookies is another comedic bit, this time with Vince McMahon, Stone Cold and some home made cookies, while Stinkdown! recounts what it's like getting the 'stinkface' from Rikishi, a nightmare inducing move if ever there was one, before moving on to more butt related clips. The next match is Team Angle versus Tajiri and Eddie Guerrero from May 29, 2003. It's a fairly acrobatic match that takes a bit of time to get moving but which ends nicely.
Rock And Busta is a clip from July 11, 2002 in which The Rock joins Busta Rhymes for a song in Atlantic City, while Fate Fulfilled from December 19, 2008 shows us how Jeff Hardy celebrated winning the championship belt. Billy And Chuck's Wedding is a clip from September 12, 2002 in which the two men decide to have a 'commitment ceremony' in front of a packed house and conducted by a rather unorthodox officiator only to get interrupted at the end by The Godfather and an army of hot chicks. The Tribute To Eddie from November 18, 2005 is a touching bit that reminisces about the late wrestler's career
Where is Foley? Is a great highlight reel of Mick Foley's Smack Down appearances with a specific focus on where his offices tended to wind up. A Classic Hit from September 9, 1999 is a silly bit where Jeff Jarrett takes on The Fabulous Moolah and then take things out on Mae Young. Up next is another steel cage match, this time with Eddie Guerrero taking on JBL from the July 15, 2004 episode. With the WWE title on the line, these two give it their all and give the fans a rock solid bout with plenty of action and intensity. Air Mysterio is a great clip from October 31, 2002 where The Big Shows uses his size advantage to toss poor Rey into the crowd. Noble And Nidia is a clip highlighting some drama between hillbilly Jamie Noble and Nidia - it's more of a make out session than much else. Back to the brawling we get a chance to watch Kurt Angle throw down with The Undertaker from July 4, 2002 with the Undisputed Title on the line. It's as strong a match as the ones between these two that came before it, though the ending is ridiculous even by the league's standards.
The last disc opens with a clip called Motherslapper from March 23, 2000 in which Stephanie McMahon beats on her mother. From there we check out A Celebration To Remember from February 19, 2004 is a fun bit where Eddie Guerrero celebrates his title win while The Big Show Returns from September 9, 2004 is just that, a clip showing the big guy's return to the wring. Sexy Kurt from March 24, 2005 is a rather ridiculous moment where Kurt Angle shows off his sexy side as a goof on Shawn Michaels. Rock 'N' Sock versus The New Age Outlaws is a great tag team match from October 14, 1999. It's a pretty strong match with some funny comedy thrown in to keep it interesting. Mankind and The Rock were always great together and this is no exception.
The Houdini of Hardcore bit is a dumb spot involving Billy and Chuck and a carnival, while Mysterio Flies is a great highlight clip from July 25, 2002 where Rey climbs to the top of a massive steel cage and jumps down onto Lance Storm and Christian. The Undertaker's Revenge from September 26, 2008 brings the heavy back to the ring much to the horror of his former femme fatale cohort. Divorce Court is a funny bit where Vince's wife kicks him in the nuts in front of an appreciative crowd, a nice way to segue into the John Cena versus Kurt Angle June 27, 2002, Cena's debut WWE match. Icon Destruction August 8, 2002 brings 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan into the ring with Brock Lester, resulting in Hogan surprisingly getting his ass kicked. Get In My Belly is a clip from April 13, 2000 where The Big Shows proves he's got a sense of humor as he pokes fun at Kurt Angle, while Bald Is Beautiful from June 13, 2002 finds a shaved Hulk Hogan getting back at Kurt Angle. Border Patrol, a bit from April 8, 2004, is a dopey spot where John Bradshaw Layfield proves his patriotism by stopping illegal immigrants from coming into Texas illegally. Up next is a great No Holds Barred match where amputee Zach Gowen gets into the ring with Stephanie McMahon and The Big Show from July 3, 2003. Of course it plays up Vince's 'fear' of Zach, it's a pretty nutty match for the most part and plenty entertaining. Right Place, Wrong Time is a spot from July 27, 2000 Stephanie McMahon catches hubbie Triple H in a rather compromising situation with Trish Stratus while Ultimate Opportunist from May 11, 2007 shows Edge getting into a steel cage with The Undertaker and Batista to claim a suitcase full of cash.
The next match is Kurt Angle versus Brock Lesnar from September 18, 2003 though it doesn't present the entire hour long match, only highlights. Regardless, the good stuff is all here as these two just keep going and going and going. DX-plosion is a clip from April 27, 2000 where The Rock calls out Stone Cold Steve Austin who then proceeds to blow up DX's trailer in the arena parking lot. Up next is a bit entitled Batista Forfeits The Title from January 13, 2006 where the title holder gives up his belt after getting injured in a match against Mark Henry that left him sidelined indefinitely. The People's Elbow bit from September 30, 1999 is a great bit where The Rock, as a referee, takes down the British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith, which then leads into a match where Edge and Hulk Hogan take on Billy and Chuck from July 4, 2002. Edge is obviously ecstatic to be in the ring with Hogan and these two give a pretty good effort with the tag team title on the line.
The love triangle between Triple H, Angle and Stephanie McMahon gets some time in the spotlight in Kurt Kisses Stephanie, a clip from when it all hit the fan on August 24, 2000. It was one of the longest running stories in the league, and also one of the goofiest. Back to the wrestling, we get to peep JBL going against Dollzilla from February 10, 2005. What? Yep. JBL gets hit by a tranquilizer dart and gets into a fight with an inflatable Godzilla doll. TLC III from May 24, 2001 is a video highlight reel from the first ever TLC match where WWE Tag Team Champions Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit get into the ring with The Dudley Boyz, Edge and Christian, and The Hardy Boyz. It's not the whole match, unfortunately, but it's a nice collection of hits and scraps. Blockbuster Champ is a clip from November 11, 1999 none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up and hangs out to receive an honorary belt from Vince before getting into a fight with Triple H and chugging beer with Stone Cold. From there it's back to the brawling with Jeff Hardy squaring off against Triple H from April 12, 2001 for the Intercontinental Championship title. It's a great fight with a lot of energy but there would be better fights between these two in later years.
Up next is the Champion Chairman clip from September 16, 1999 where McMahon and Stone Cold take down Triple H and basically steal back the Championship belt from him. Thuganomics is a clip Cena talks about how he cemented his legacy as a Caucasian rapper, while the Tribute to the Troops Cena, Austin, McMahon and a bunch of others show up in Iraq to show their appreciation to the troops. The Supermarket Brawl from December 13, 2001 is a look at a fight where Stone Cold Steve Austin fights Booker T inside a supermarket. Next up is the match where Edge takes on Eddie Guerrero in a No DQ match from September 26, 2002. Definitely a worthy highlight, this is an intense and surprisingly brutal match that really lets these two strut their stuff.
Bringing the set to a close we get a great clip collection called The Rock Says... in which we get a great clip of Rock moments from Smack Down. It's absurd and entertaining. Funeral Crasher from November 11, 1999 is a bit where The Big Show attends his dad's funeral only to see it crashed by The Big Boss man who shows up with a loudspeaker and makes trouble. Austin And Angle - Unplugged is a clip from July 12, 2001 where Stone Cold and Kurt hang out backstage and wow Vince with their acoustic guitar and singing abilities. The Pilot from April 29, 1999 a lock back at the very first episode of Smack Down and its undeniable influence and place in pop culture, while The Rock versus Triple H is a fantastic classic match from August 26, 1999 featuring Shawn Michaels as a special guest referee. As much of this match takes place outside the ring as it does inside it, and it's got a fun and unexpected guest appearance from Chyna to boot. The Bigger They Are... is a bit from June 12, 2003 where Brock Lesner tries to take The Big Show off of the top rope only to collapse the ring, and last but not least, we get a highlight reel from the 9-11 Tribute Show that took place shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 13, 2001. It might seem kind of corny to look for something like this from the WWE but it's actually quite well done and it was all broadcast live as a way to show the strength of the American spirit.
All in all, this is a pretty great look back at one of wrestling's most enduring events. Yeah, there are spots left out and sure it would have been nice to see all of the matches in their entirety and it goes without saying that the blurring of the old WWF logo on the earlier bits is annoying, but as far as presenting a greatest hits package goes, this set is pretty comprehensive. It mixes the fights up with some of the storylines and comedic bits that makes wrestling as dopey and fun as it is and provides some welcome commentary from a lot of the people who were there and made it all happen. Some of this material has appeared in other collections but a lot of it is here and here only, making it a great set for fans old and new.
All of the material in this set was broadcast in 1.33.1 fullframe and that's how they're presented on DVD. The quality is acceptable, but it's not great thanks to some pretty consistent compression artifacts noticeable in each of the three Smack Down collections. Color reproduction looks alright and skin tones are fine but the black levels can sometimes be a little blotchy looking. Everything is watchable enough, but it's not unreasonably to have expected slightly better video quality than what we get. Cramming three hours of content onto a single DVD will have that effect, unfortunately.
WWE: The Best Of Smack Down - 10th Anniversary 1999 - 2009 contains Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mixes across all three discs in the set. There are no alternate language dubs, subtitles or closed captioning options. The audio here is fine, there aren't any obvious problems to report. The dialogue is always easy enough to understand and there are no issues with hiss or distortion worth complaining about. The 5.1 tracks sound understandably fuller than the 2.0 tracks do, with some nice crowd noise coming from the rear channels but they remain front heavy for the most part. There's nothing reference quality here, but the sound is okay.
Each disc is divided into chapters - one for each match - and contains a static menu. That's it. This is about as barebones as they come.
WWE: The Best Of Smack Down - 10th Anniversary 1999 - 2009 is pretty much 'all killer, no filler' in that it presents a pretty killer highlight reel from the event's decade long history. Of course not everything is included here, it can't be over three discs, there's just too much, but they have done a nice job of providing what is essentially a greatest hits package for fans. Recommended, despite the lack of any extras.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.