Generic Pre-Review Wrestling Disclaimer: Long before my affinity for globetrotting documentaries, Martin Scorsese films and The Criterion Collection, I found a soft spot for professional wrestling. Don't ask me how this happened; it just did. Despite this declaration, I shower daily, all my teeth are accounted for, I have a college degree...and, most importantly, I have a wife with the same merits. I'm not alone, of course. The wrestling fans I know aren't slack-jawed yokels; they simply appreciate the spectacle and illusion that this genuine sport creates, in the same way movie lovers enjoy fast-paced fights and thrilling chase sequences. Long story short: we know this stuff is "fake", but we like it anyway. Give us a break.
Sometime during the last 15 years or so (beginning mostly with a series of low-tier events titled "In Your House"), WWE began to dilute their pay-per-views by offering them on a monthly basis. This isn't quite at the level of having Christmas every day, but you know what I'm getting at: special events just aren't as exciting when they're more frequent. The May slot was originally held by an "In Your House" event titled Judgment Day; a year later, it was known as Over The Edge, the infamous night where Owen Hart's life was tragically cut short. From 2000 through 2009, Over The Edge was changed back to Judgment Day; as of this year, it's now known as Over The Limit. Like roughly half of WWE's pay-per-view output, Over The Limit features no regular "gimmick" main events...unlike, say, Survivor Series or Royal Rumble. In other words, it's populated by a series of mid-card and championship bouts and resembles a larger, longer version of one of WWE's semi-weekly shows. Of course, the frequency of the company's programming ensures that we've seen some of these pairings before, and for free.
Even so, Over The Limit is a largely satisfying show from start to finish, featuring stars from both of WWE's regular Raw and Smackdown brands. Only two gimmick matches and a minimal amount of filler allow Over The Limit to gain a decent amount of straightforward momentum from start to finish, yet some of the larger main event matches don't quite manage to steal the show. Even so, there's very little to outwardly dislike here---and in all honesty, it's better than at least half of 2010's pay-per-views thus far. Held on May 23 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI, Over The Limit includes the following matches:
Complete Match Listing
(8 matches on 1 single-sided DVD)
Kofi Kingston vs. Drew McIntyre [IC Championship Match]
Ted DiBiase vs. R-Truth
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk [S.E.S. Pledge vs. Hair Match]
The Hart Dynasty vs. Chris Jericho and The Miz [Unified Tag Team Championship Match]
Edge vs. Randy Orton
Jack Swagger vs. The Big Show [World Heavyweight Championship Match]
Maryse vs. Eve Torres [Divas Championship Match]
John Cena vs. Batista ["I Quit" Match for the WWE Championship]
As mentioned earlier, there aren't many memorable moments here...but on the other hand, there really isn't a bad match in the bunch. Kofi Kingston's match with Drew McIntyre gets things started on a high note, offering plenty of action and a solid follow-up to their previous encounter. Ted DiBiase's brawl with R-Truth is another winner...and though it's sure to draw some heat for the wrong reasons, long-standing fans of the WWE should appreciate the return of the "Virgil" character. The "S.E.S. Pledge vs. Hair Match" between CM Punk and Rey Mysterio sounds a little goofy on paper, but there's plenty of back-and-forth action and a finish that could've easily gone either way. The Tag Team Championship match between The Hart Dynasty and Chris Jericho / The Miz should also please fans of team-based wrestling; I haven't seen The Hart Dynasty wrestle much, but they're fairly impressive here.
Edge vs. Randy Orton and Jack Swagger vs. The Big Show are mildly disappointing due to non-finishes (which really don't have their place on a pay-per-view, in my opinion), but fans should still appreciate the efforts of all involved. Surprisingly enough, even the Divas match delivers, thanks to decent wrestling and a slightly longer format than usual. Finally, Batista and John Cena's "I Quit" Match for the WWE Championship piles up plenty of pain and suspense to close the show on a relatively high note; even though this type of match isn't my favorite, it's a fairly successful effort in many regards. Overall, this is one of WWE's better pay-per-views in recent memory, though it may not age quite as well due to a low number of genuine surprises and high spots.
On the technical side of things, this DVD is on par with recent WWE releases: production values are decent enough and all matches are free from edits. Additionally, a trio of appropriate bonus features is included here---and while they aren't exactly earth-shattering, there's more effort here than on most stand-alone WWE DVD releases. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 displays, Over The Limit 2010 looks to be on par with most current WWE releases...but that's not necessarily a free pass. Notable amounts of pixellation, edge enhancement and compression artifacts can be seen during many entrances and fast-moving sequences, which has been a long-standing problem we've undoubtedly become accustomed to. Colors are generally bold and bright, though reds pop out almost unnaturally at times. Certainly not a five-star presentation overall, but this is probably about as good as we'll get from WWE.
The audio is presented in a robust Dolby 5.1 Surround mix, which does a fine job of recreating the WWE live experience. Crowd noise and play-by-play commentary come through loud and clear, creating a satisfying soundstage overall. A Spanish 2.0 play-by-play track is also available, though it's not quite as dynamic overall. As expected, optional subtitles and Closed Captions have not been provided.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the plain-wrap menu designs are basic and easy to navigate. The 164-minute main feature has been divided into 10 chapters (one per match and significant "filler" event), while no obvious layer change was detected during playback. This one-disc release is housed in a standard black keepcase and includes one promotional insert.
Kudos to WWE here, as they've managed to put more than one minor bonus feature on this one-disc release. Leading things off is a Bonus Match from the previous week's Monday Night Raw; specifically, it's a no-DQ match for the U.S. Championship between The Miz and Bret Hart (10:48). There actually is a short match buried in this ten-minute timespan, but it won't be a surprise if you watch it after the main feature. Also here is a Bonus Segment featuring "surveillance footage" from the Straight Edge Society's locker room after CM Punk's match (1:25). To avoid spoilers, I won't divulge what occurs during this brief segment.
Closing things out is a collection of amusing Commercials from the previous week's Raw (4 clips, 3:33 total), featuring Santino Marella, Ted DiBiase, Goldust and The Great Khali. Overall, this is a short but sweet collection of bonus features---and given the non-stop nature of WWE storylines, it's good to have some extra lead-in and closure for Over The Limit (though the dark match between MVP and Chavo Guerrero is nowhere to be found). Like the main feature, all extras are presented in 16x9 widescreen and do not include optional Closed Captions or subtitles.
Far from the very best WWE pay-per-views but far from the worst, Over The Limit 2010 gets by with a series of solid matches from start to finish. Only a small minority of these matches could be considered mild disappointments, yet a lack of truly memorable moments also limits this show's replay value. Thankfully, a decent technical presentation and a few appropriate bonus segments offer support for the main feature, making Over The Limit a title that rabid WWE fans should add to their collections...even if they already caught it the first time around. Overall, this one comes mildly Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, second-guessing himself and writing things in third person.