The 2009 - 2010 season of SmackDown marked the tenth anniversary of the long running sports entertainment show and to celebrate (or, if you prefer, cash in on) it the WWE have released this three disc set containing the best of the season - a greatest hits package, if you will. The first disc starts off with a bang, with a quick introduction to what the October episodes had in store before bringing us up to speed on The Rock's triumphant return to SmackDown from the October 2nd, 2009 episode. Sure, it would have been nice to see him get back in the ring on the show that he helped name, but it's still a blast seeing him here, trash talking in his inimitable style and showing, with his sense of humor, why he remains one of the most popular wrestler's in history.
From there we move into 'The Biggest 8-Man Tag Team Match in SmackDown History' in which John Cena teams up with Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker to take on Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase, Cody Rhodes and CM Punk. This is a solid match in which Cena actually takes a pretty serious beating from the competition. It doesn't overstay its welcome and remains consistently exciting throughout and shows what a weasel Punk really is and it sets the stage for the Hell In A Cell pay-per-view. This theme is further explored in the next match in which The Undertaker takes on CM Punk in a World Heavyweight Championship Match from the October 23rd episode.
From there we move on to the only November episode highlight in this set, starting with a great '2 Out of 3 Falls Match for the Intercontinental Championship' in which John Morrison takes on Dolph Ziggler. Again, this is a good choice for inclusion here as Morrison and Ziggler make for some pretty entertaining wrestling
The December highlights start off with the 'Number One Contender Triple Threat Match for the Women's Championship' in which Mickie James and Beth Phoenix get in the ring with Natalya for the title. It's a better than average Divas match but it still lacks the intensity of some of the other matches in this collection. It does manage to tie into the storyline well, however. Far more exciting is the 'World Heavyweight Championship Match' in which The Undertaker takes on the amazing Rey Mysterio from December 25th, 2009. As fans know, this was a pretty intense match in which Mysterio was doing his best to stay out of The Undertaker's reach, and for good reason because when the big man connects the biggest little man feels it. Batista shows up here and this storyline would have long reaching implications throughout the rest of the season.
January kicks off with a look at the Batista/Mysterio feud now underway before launching into the 'Number One Contender Steel Cage Match for the World Heavyweight Championship' in which the former allies throw down to see who will be the one to get back in the ring with The Undertaker to get a shot at the title. Mysterio moves as quickly as he can here, and you can't blame him what with being stuck in a cage with someone far larger and more powerful than himself, and parts of this match feel more like a chase scene but it turns out to be a pretty solid bout. It's interesting to see Batista in full on 'Animal' mode here, trying to crush Mysterio and beat him down rather than just get win the match.
From there we move on to some storyline highlights involving CM Punk before moving into the February highlights which start with Edge's returns to SmackDown from February 5th, 2010. Fans will appreciate seeing him appear here, though it's too short. This segues nicely into the later part of the season, but not before we see the 'Triple Threat Money-in-the-Bank Qualifier Match' in which John Morrison throws down with R-Truth and his old foe Dolph Ziggler. This match is a lead in qualifying match to one of the Wrestlemania main bouts but it also works in some of the Nexus storylines that would play an increasingly larger part over the next year or so. It's a good fight with a lot of energy and enthusiasm behind it with Morrison actually getting bumped around a lot and doing more than just playing the pretty boy. Moving back into the storyline involving Edge, we jump into the Edge versus The Miz match from the February 26th, 2010 episode in which these two WWE superstars square off against one another for the first time. Egos clash and lots of trash talking occurs and this turns out to be plenty entertaining stuff.
February turns into March and after some storyline recaps we get our first match of the month with The Undertaker taking on relative newcomer Drew McIntyre from March 19th, 2010. There was a whole lot of controversy surround McIntyre thanks to some meddling on McMahon's part, which makes the set up rather interesting, but the match is really no contest. The 'Raw versus SmackDown Money-in-the-Bank 10-Man Tag Team Match' is a massive bout in which 'bad guys' Kane, Dolph Ziggler, Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin and Drew McIntyre team up against 'good guys' Christian, MVP, Jack Swagger, Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston from the March 26th, 2010 episode. This match was really there simply to promote the (then) upcoming Wrestlemania pay-per-view but it's a good one with a lot of great action and each of the ten participants getting their moment in the spotlight. It also has long reaching implications in regards to McIntyre's storyline.
Spring starts off with some fun bits involving Jack Swagger before yet another 'Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship,' this time with Swagger getting into the ring with Edge and the mighty Chris Jericho from the April 16th, 2010 episode. Swagger was defending here and he does a fine job as do his two competitors with each one really working hard to get the belt. We then get a bit more insight into the Edge/Christian storylines before moving into May Highlights that starts off with the second Divas' match in this set, the 'Handicap Match for the Women's Championship' with Beth Phoenix and LayCool from May 14th, 2010. Again, a better than average match that furthers the storyline, provides some good entertainment and fails to really ignite the way that you might want it to. More interesting and more fun is the match with Rey Mysterio versus CM Punk, from that same night. Both men have been better than they are here but Mysterio's typically impressive speed and maneuverability put him in a class of his own while Punk's obnoxious persona makes him the guy you love to hate.
Spring turns into summer and the June highlights start off with a big one, the 'SmackDown Battle Royal Winner Earns The Final Spot In The World Heavyweight Championship Fatal 4-Way Match
4th June, 2010 that works its way into the Mysterio/Undertaker storyline and brings Kane to the forefront once again. June finishes off with a decent match in which Matt Hardy takes on up and comer Drew McIntyre from the June 25th episode before we move into the July section. Here we get one of the more impressive tag team non-title matches of the year in which Rey Mysterio teams up with Big Show to square off against Cody Rhodes and Jack Swagger. Seeing Show and Rey work together is a lot of fun and Rhodes and Swagger are completely entertaining in their own right. All in all, it was fun match with a lot of good moves and a few cool surprises. From there we're back to the Drew McIntyre storyline in a match where he dukes it out with Christian from the July 30th, 2010 episode. It's a good fight, but it doesn't really contain much in the way of suspense or surprise, though it does work into the ongoing McIntyre storyline well. July comes to a finish with a great 'No Disqualification Match' in which Rey Mysterio and Jack Swagger go at it in an anything goes bout from July 30th, 2010. These two have been around long enough to be able to really work it, though Mysterio's ankle injury holds him back at times.
August starts off with the 'Intercontinental Championship Match' with Kofi Kingston against Dolph Ziggler from August 6th, 2010. This match is remarkable simply because it shows a leaner, meaner and more intense Kingston than we've seen before as he really lets Ziggler have it. Really solid wrestling from both parties and a lot of 'out of the ring' action keeps this one consistently intense and unpredictable. Also strong is the Rey Mysterio versus Alberto Del Rio match from August 20th, 2010. Del Rio, making his WWE debut here, gets off to a really strong start and proves himself a pretty capable opponent, using what advantages he can as often as he can to really give it his all.
The set concludes with the September highlights that begin with a match where Kaval takes on Drew McIntyre from September 10th, 2010. This match is over before it really begins but it does a good job of segueing the NXT talent into the more mainstream SmackDown universe though Kaval, as fans know, wouldn't really rise the way other NXT talent would over the next few months. The set winds down with a segment called 'The History of the Brothers of Destruction,' that being the Kane/Undertaker tag team, before closing out with the last match in which The Undertaker once again takes on CM Punk from the September 10th, 2010 episode. With The Undertaker still recovering from an injury sustained earlier in the season, he's technically at the disadvantage but it's a good match with both men putting in all the effort they can muster and ending the season on a high note.
Any time the WWE puts out a 'best of' set such as this, fans are inevitably going to complain that something important was left off and this release is no exception. There could have been more focus put on some of the different storylines but what's here is good and if you're a fan of the long running program, this three disc set is a good way to get most, though not all, of the important bits from this particular season, which happened to be a very good one overall, in one convenient package.
All of the material in this set was broadcast in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen 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 across each of the three discs. Color reproduction looks alright and skin tones are fine but the black levels can sometimes be a little blotchy looking, which seems to be pretty common with WWE DVDs. Everything is watchable enough, but it's not unreasonable to have expected slightly better video quality than what we get considering how good some of this stuff can look, particularly in high definition.
WWE: The Best Of Smack Down - 2009 - 2010 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. 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, though the Blu-ray release supposedly comes with three bonus matches not included in this DVD set.
The 2009 - 2010 season was a good one for Smack Down and this three disc set is a great way to relive most of the high points of that season. Obviously it can't please everyone, and each fan is going to have his or her complaint as to one specific bit that was left out - such is the nature of the best with releases like this - but the WWE have done a good job of capturing most of the important parts and highlights and as such, this set has got a whole lot of entertainment value packed within. The presentation is fine, even if there aren't really any extras, and WWE: The Best Of Smack Down - 2009 - 2010 comes recommended.
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.