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Raw & Smackdown: The Best of 2011

Other // PG // January 31, 2012
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Bobby Cooper | posted April 16, 2012 | E-mail the Author

As a lifelong wrestling fan that unfortunately never has time to watch the full shows anymore, I was stoked to pick up Best of Raw and Smackdown 2011 and catch up on all the latest. From the Rock's return and CM Punk's scathing promo to the mostly excellent wrestling action, this 4 disc set promises nearly 10 hours of the best that the WWE had to offer in 2011.

Fans who love in-ring action will adore this DVD set. The WWE markedly improved its overall match quality since I was a regular viewer (up to 2006). I was thankful to notice many clean pins, less reliance on gimmick matches, and even a late attempt to revive the dead tag team division. I'd still like to see the titles given more prestige with lengthier title runs. It's absurd that John Cena is already a 10-time WWE champion and Randy Orton has held both titles 9 times total.

Obviously, the WWE would be silly to include a bad match on this set, but the variety of superstars included is impressive. You can expect a healthy dose of the WWE's varsity squad: John Cena, Randy Orton, and CM Punk. In 2011, Alberto Del Rio and The Miz cemented themselves as top heels; this set includes plenty of the two. Alberto Del Rio my favorite WWE heel since The Rock's original heel run with the Nation of Domination that catapulted his career. I was disappointed that The Miz wasn't featured a more prominently. Outside of the usual headliners, you'll also be treated to the rise of Sin Cara as well as the simple, but effective King Kong Bundy-like dominance of Mark Henry.

Best of Raw and Smackdown 2011 also includes many brilliant moments such as R-Truth's hilariously spiteful heel turn and The Rock's Fruity Pebbles slam. The best moment in the entire set, however, was CM Punk's incredibly honest, shoot-style promo that eviscerated the WWE and Vince McMahon. This promo stands among the best "shoots" in professional wrestling history.

While the set is a WWE fanboy's dream collection, casual fans will be disappointed by the lack of context given to the matches. The WWE's outrageous storylines are the hook that keeps viewers coming back to their shows twice a week. Unfortunately, this set almost completely ignores the match build-ups. Even hardcore fans would appreciate more context to refresh their memories when they play the Best of 2011 discs years from now. I wanted to know why some of these guys were such bitter rivals. What kind of smack did they talk beforehand? How badly did the maul each other in previous run-ins? What happened when they met at the pay-per-view match that settled the score? The DVD set rarely answers these questions directly answered, although viewers can infer some of the information from the commentary. A small, thirty second introduction that described the match context involved would have vastly improved the quality of Best of Raw and Smackdown 2011.

Only one Diva match, Melina vs. Natalya is included in this set. I have no issues with this decision--Diva matches are usually when I make a snack-run or hit Skip on the DVR. Some fans, however, might be disappointed with the absence of Kelly Kelly or the Bella twins. Also notable is the complete lack of Late November/December 2011 content. Either it was a holiday season for the WWE or they ran into production time constraints.

Below is the complete match listing:

Disc 1

  • Falls Count Anywhere Match for the WWE Championship
    The Miz vs. John Morrison
    Raw - January 3, 2011
  • Intercontinental Championship Match
    Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston
    SmackDown - January 7, 2011
  • 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
    Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio
    SmackDown - January 7, 2011
  • Divas Championship Match
    Natalya vs. Melina
    Raw - January 24, 2011
  • The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan
    Raw - February 14, 2011
  • The Rock Returns to Raw
    Raw - February 14, 2011
  • John Cena Responds to The Rock
    Raw - February 21, 2011
  • The Championship Coronation of Dolph Ziggler
    SmackDown - February 18, 2011
  • A Stone Cold Referee
    Raw - March 7, 2011
  • "The Rock" Attacks John Cena?
    Raw - March 14, 2011
  • Steel Cage Match
    Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio
    SmackDown - March 18, 2011
  • Intercontinental Championship Match
    Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett
    SmackDown - March 25, 2011

Disc 2

  • Edge Says Goodbye
    SmackDown - April 15, 2011
  • A New Side of R-Truth
    Raw - April 25, 2011
  • WWE Championship Match
    John Cena vs. The Miz
    Raw - May 2, 2011
  • World Heavyweight Championship Match
    Christian vs. Randy Orton
    SmackDown - May 6, 2011
  • Riley's Revenge
    Raw - May 23, 2011
  • World Heavyweight Championship Match
    Randy Orton vs. Sheamus with Christian as Special Guest Referee
    SmackDown - June 3, 2011
  • 6-Man Tag Team Elimination Match
    John Cena, Randy Orton & Alex Riley vs. Christian, R-Truth & The Miz
    Raw - June 20, 2011
  • Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes
    SmackDown - June 24, 2011
  • CM Punk Speaks His Mind
    Raw - June 27, 2011
  • Christian vs. Sin Cara
    SmackDown - July 1, 2011
  • Mr. McMahon is Relieved of His Duties
    Raw - July 18, 2011
  • Streak in Jeopardy?
    Raw - March 28, 2011

Disc 3

  • WWE Championship Match
    Rey Mysterio vs. John Cena
    Raw - July 25, 2011
  • Intercontinental Championship Match
    Ezekiel Jackson vs. Cody Rhodes
    SmackDown - August 12, 2011
  • Falls Count Anywhere Match
    John Morrison vs. R-Truth
    Raw - August 15, 2011
  • Alberto Del Rio vs. Daniel Bryan
    SmackDown - August 19, 2011
  • WWE Tag Team Championship Match
    David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty vs. Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne
    Raw - August 22, 2011
  • Steel Cage Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
    Randy Orton vs. Christian
    SmackDown - August 30, 2011
  • Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes
    SmackDown - September 9, 2011
  • The Cutting Edge with Randy Orton & Mark Henry
    SmackDown - September 16, 2011
  • Mark Henry is Unleashed
    Raw - September 19, 2011
  • Special Challenge Match
    Dolph Ziggler with Vickie Guerrero vs. Zack Ryder with Hugh Jackman
    Raw - September 19, 2011
  • Lumberjack Match
    Mark Henry vs. Christian
    SmackDown - September 23, 2011
  • CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio
    Raw - September 26, 2011

Disc 4

  • John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne & Mason Ryan vs. Alberto Del Rio, Christian, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger & David Otunga Raw - October 3, 2011
  • Vote of No Confidence
    Raw - October 3, 2011
  • John Cena vs. Sheamus with Referee Triple H & Commentator CM Punk
    Raw - October 10, 2011
  • Mask vs. Mask
    Sin Cara vs. Sin Cara
    SmackDown from Mexico - 21st October, 2011
  • Street Fight
    Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes
    SmackDown - November 4, 2011
  • World Heavyweight Championship Match
    Mark Henry vs. Daniel Bryan
    SmackDown - November 4, 2011
  • Champion vs. Champion Match
    CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler
    Raw - November 21, 2011

Video: The video is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. This is the DVD set's greatest weakness and is nearly a deal-breaker. The video quality is heavily pixelated and often distracting. For this reason, I highly recommend spending a few bucks more and picking up the Blu-ray set if that's an option. The Blu-ray version also includes much more content.

Audio: The audio is presented inĀ  Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. It's a good mix with crowd ambience occupying the surrounds while the wrestling sounds and commentary take place on the front stage.

Extras: None.

Bottom Line: For WWE video collectors, is an easy purchase. This set highlights, in full, the best in-ring action and mic work of 2011. Unfortunately, the DVD set is missing significant content such as the Undertaker's return that is included on the Blu-ray set. If you own a Blu-ray player, you should purchase the Blu-ray version over the DVD with its vastly superior video quality and match content. Casual wrestling fans will still need to do some Googling to add context to some matches, but this set serves as a good summary. Rent It.

Bobby is a programmer by trade and a wannabe writer. Check out his other reviews here. You can also check out his blog about harmless nonsense or follow him on Twitter

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