The Main Event:
The 2010 season of WWE Raw was a good one, and this new three disc set from WWE Home Entertainment does a pretty good job of collecting the highlights and compiling them for repeat viewing. The set begins with the 2010 January premiere or RAW, showcasing an event that a lot of fans figured would never happen, that being the return of Bret 'The Hitman' Hart to the WWE. Hart was the guest host for the January 4th episode and the fans were absolutely delighted to see his return after a twelve year absence. Bret's on hand to deal with Shawn Michaels and appeared hoping to settle their differences. From there we move in to one of the best matches from the early part of the year when we get to watch D-Generation X take on JeriShow for the Unified Tagteam Championship. It's a good match with a lot of energy that furthers the long standing feud between the two teams. January's highlights conclude with a match between John Cena and Sheamus that is as predictable as you'd expect it to be.
February sees the Sheamus train keep rolling as he kicks the month off by battling Christian. If you're a Sheamus fan you'll appreciate this, if you're not, you'll probably skip to the more interesting match that's up next which is a Triple Threat Elimination Match for the Unified Tag Team Championship featuring D-Generation X versus CM Punk & Luke Gallows versus The Big Show and The Miz. This is a spectacular match with as much attitude and energy as you'd expect given who was involved. After this we get a barrage of clips involving the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker feud that are pretty amusing and that we all know become more important later on in the year. This is pretty entertaining stuff made all the better by some commentary from Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler.
March highlights start off with more John Cena related hype as we learn about what happened between he and Batista at the Elimination Chamber event, which is followed by a clip reel from this feud before we get to the 'Win By Pinfall Or Submission Only' match in which Shawn Michaels squares off against Kane. You just know this match is all going to tie into the Undertaker related issues Michaels was having this season and wouldn't you know it but who should make an appearance here but the dead man himself! March finishes off with a career retrospect on Michaels and then his farewell speech.
Commentary from Michael Cole and Lawler kick off the April section that starts with a good match between Jack Swagger and Randy Orton in which two of the most egotistical men in the industry throw down. Orton is phenomenal here, he really is one of the best the WWE has to offer and it's always a treat to watch him when he's bringing his best as he is here. This is followed by a Divas Championship Match with Maryse and Eve that isn't really all that interesting but which is at least marginally better than most Divas bouts tend to be. The best of the April material, however, is the Unified Tag Team Championship Match in which Big Show and The Miz go up against the Hart Dynasty for the title. The Miz calls Bret out to declare he and Big Show the best tag team around. Hart shows up, of course, but The Miz doesn't quite get what he wants from him.
When May rolls around we get some Randy Orton footage from Edge's talk show, The Cutting Edge, and some input from guest host Wayne Brady (really) before jumping into a good match that took place between Edge and Christian. These two always seem very evenly matched for whatever reason which makes their bouts a bit more genuinely suspenseful than other matches can tend to be. At any rate, it's a good fight and one worth watching all the way through. From here we go back to Batista, now in a wheelchair, who has to come to terms with The Hitman being appointed the new WWE General Manager. It's an amusing bit of drama that furthers the storylines running through the first half of the year. The month closes out with a match where John Cena and Evan Bourne take on Edge and Sheamus, another solid fight for what turned out to be a very strong month for the WWE.
June begins with some clips bringing us up to speed on the Nexus/Cena feud that has become a big of a big deal before the Raw superstars get into the ring with The Nexus for a flat out brawl. This was pretty entertaining even if you could see it coming a mile away. The first schedule match included here brings Chris Jericho up against Evan Bourne for a really acrobatic and athletic match that'll keep you glued to your seat.
July highlights start off with a match between Randy Orton and Edge - again, Orton brings his 'A Game' to this fight and is a blast to watch. He's just got that ferocity to him that makes him one of the best but Edge is no slouch either, so this makes for pretty entertaining stuff. This is followed by a Triple Threat #1 Contender Match in which Randy Orton and Edge have a rematch of sorts, this time with Chris Jericho thrown into the mix to keep things interesting, which is exactly what he does. This is top tier wrestling right here, though it's matched by the follow up in August which John Cena and Bret Hart showdown against Edge and Chris Jericho for a lumberjack match. This first match of the month starts tying in some of the earlier storylines and allows Hart to really strut his stuff and prove he's still got it. Jericho mania continues when he gets into the ring with upstart Wade Barrett and the month closes out with a battle between John Cena and The The Miz before we get a clip montage wherein CM Punk looks back at nine hundred episodes of Raw.
Summer turns into fall and we get some September highlights starting with some drama between The Miz and John Morrison gets a turn in the spotlight. We're brought up to speed on this story before being shown the 'Falls Count Anywhere Match' where Morrison gets into the ring with Sheamus for a non-title match. Morrison's schtick might be growing a little cold for some but he's still an immensely entertaining guy. The month closes out with a fantastic match between two of this reviewer's personal favorites, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho for the Heavyweight Championship title which pulls in some of the drama from the Sheamus feud leading up to the Hell In A Cell pay per view event..
October kicks off with some highlights from the Cena/The Miz storyline before presenting the first match which is a Champion vs. Champion Match bout with Daniel Bryan taking on the mighty Dolph Ziggler. Vickie Guerrero shows up here and causes trouble, as is her way, and CM Punk's antics come into play here as well when he tries to take over the announcer's booth. October is cut short and we plow headfirst into the November highlights beginning with a bit played for laughs with Santino before the best part of the year plays out in front of us when Rowdy Roddy Piper shows up to host Piper's Pit with John Cena and Wade Barrett. The audience loves Piper and for good reason, the man is a legend and he's still got that wicked sense of humor that made him a superstar in the first place. From there we're treated to two solid matches, the first with Randy Orton taking on The The Miz for the Championship and the second with John Morrison standing up to Sheamus for the WWE King Of The Ring contender spot. Both are very solid matches and worth checking out.
The December highlights bring the year to a close, starting with a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for the WWE Tag Team titles with Santino Marella And Vladimir Kozlov versus Mark Henry and Yoshi Tatsu versus The Usos versus Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel. This is a pretty massive match with a huge scale to it and while it's definitely got some surprising and exciting moments, it unfortunately never really explodes the way the best matches do. It's worth watching, but it's not as big a deal as some might have hoped for. Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler bring it all to a close with a 2010 Raw Recap in which they provide some commentary and insight into what's happened and where it might all go.
All in all, this is a pretty great season. We get to see Shawn Michaels, D-Generation X and Chris Jericho all go out on high notes and we get to see some new talent coming in to take their place. The return of Bret Hart and Roddie Piper to the WWE ring is a treat and will please long time fans, while many of the more established of the current crop like Orton and Cena all deliver the kind of dependably entertaining wrestling that has earned them their fan base in the first place. Some of the storylines involving The Nexus are a little hard to swallow and really push the already strained envelope of realism that the WWE seems to care less and less about as time goes on, but they're nothing if not entertaining. And really, that's the whole point of all of this.
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 Raw 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, aside from some previews for other releases that play before the main menu screen loads.
If you're a fan who enjoyed the 2010 season, and it was a pretty interesting one despite some corny storylines here and there, then this set is an easy and convenient way to basically get yourself all the highlights in one handy set. The content is good and the audio/video quality decent enough that the lack of extras isn't a big deal. Wrestling fans can consider WWE: The Best Of Raw 2010 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.