Unless you've ever been to a live event, specifically a TV taping, for the WWE, for you the show always ends when that old familiar copyright logo pops up and the announcer tells you to tune in next week/to Smackdown/to the next PPV/etc. For those who have had the privilege of making it to a Raw or Smackdown taping, they know for a fact, that there's often a little more. Most often it's a dark match, or in laypersons terms, a main event quality match that doesn't affect the storyline one bit and sees the faces get one up on the heels; the goal is simple: send the crowd home happy. But sometimes, fans get a treat and what occurs after the broadcast ends is magic, silly, awesome, or often all three rolled into one. This is where "The Best of Raw: After the Show" comes in. Hosted by Renee Young, this newest WWE release offers viewers of three discs worth of footage that occurred after the regularly scheduled broadcast ended; there are no announcers and no worry about editing or time constraints. The result is a one of a kind experience.
On a whole, "Best of Raw: After the Show" is a tough package to properly critique. Unlike a specific match compilation or superstar retrospective, there's not really an overarching purpose to the set apart from novelty value. As mentioned already, what happens after the broadcast ceases is merely for the entertainment of the paying customers and when presented out-of-context, almost two decades later, it succeeds or fails solely on its underlying entertainment value. There's a lot of silliness from Stone Cold continually beating up the Corporation all the way to an overly long segment where a ring full of heels and faces alike try to get the Undertaker to do Booker T's spinaroonie. It's footage that's loose on seriousness and truly all about getting a laugh.
The third disc however, does get a bit more interesting and is likely the disc in the set with the most long term impact as it contains some very iconic meetings and a good number of main event quality dark matches, ranging from John Cena and CM Punk to a fun, but semi-mind-blowing combination of John Cena and DX. On the entertainment spectrum, there's something for everyone, even the most casual fans, but the most devoted fans are going to want to add this to their collection and revisit it on more than once; sadly, at the end of the day, the novelty factory is great the first time around, but the lack of real context much of the action carrying on is to great for most to understand. A great release from WWE anyway you cut it though.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is more than serviceable for the main bridging segments, with archival material varying in quality depending on its age.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio is never utilized to full effect during the documentary portion, with the entire feature firmly rooted in a stereo soundscape. Archival footage is on par, if not bit flat and tinny at times. English SDH subtitles are included.
"The Best of Raw: After the Show" is a unique opportunity for viewers to see what only goes on at a live taping and to see the lighter side of their favorite sport spread across nearly two decades. Light on maturity, but heavy on sheer enjoyment, it's a set every wrestling fan should give a look at least once. Rent It.