I love it when WWF/E comes to good old Blighty to put on a show. So many great British shows indeed from yesteryear, such as Mayhem in Manchester, Capital Carnage, the annual Insurrextion and Rebellion pay-per-views and of course, a little event that went by the name of SummerSlam 1992(!)
Sadly, all UK pay-per-views ceased after 2003 (SHAME!). Since then, WWE has upheld the traditional UK visit by hosting Raw and SmackDown there at least once a year. And Silver Vision have subsequently released these visits to Great Britain on DVD.
Unfortunately, like other Live in the UK releases, this offering from November 2009 is mostly unspectacular, with few matches that are worthwhile. There is some good stuff to be found, but is it REALLY worth buying a collection of normal episodes of Raw, ECW, Superstars and SmackDown? Well, if you're bargain hunting, then this release MAY be worth considering (this IS under a fiver!), so long as you're not expecting to find anything LEGENDARY.
Emanating from the Sheffield Arena, you have the complete, commercial-free editions of Raw, ECW, Superstars and SmackDown. Again, it's hardly what you'd call a major offering from WWE Home Video. Aside from there not really being any classic matches, these shows were running into Survivor Series 2009; an event that had an appalling lack of hype with only two real storylines (Kofi Kingston/Randy Orton & Batista/Rey Mysterio) going on at the time.
With minimal effort from the WWE, it was up to the wrestlers and on-screen characters to generate whatever excitement they could in this mostly dull period. Starting with Raw, us Brits (and boxing fans) are given a real treat as our very own Ricky Hatton takes up the celebrity guest-host honours. As a genuine fan, Ricky's enjoyment of WWE makes him a likeable host for Raw. Despite his mic skills being poor, Hatton shares some enjoyable moments with D-X, John Cena, Chris Jericho & Big Show and Chavo Guerrero.
But the Raw episode here is mostly tedious and by far the weakest WWE show on offer. The Divas bout with Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox is sloppy, Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton is boring, and then rising-star Sheamus crushes British talent David Deville in a forgettable squash. The only real moments of interest from Raw are the VIP Lounge segment with MVP, Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston and Legacy, an Evan Bourne/Jack Swagger bout and an okay main-event between D-X and Unified Tag Champs Jeri-Show. The Boxer vs. Wrestler match between Ricky and Chavo is just embarrassing, in that it only serves to popularise Hatton at Guerrero's expense. (Expecting something like Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather from WrestleMania 24 was CLEARLY too much to ask!)
Moving onto ECW, this brand was obviously on its way out (it would be replaced by NXT in February 2010), having forsaken its heritage a long-time ago, and now used only as a breeding ground for new talent. But as a wrestling show, it still managed to give some quality stuff and push some promising stars. Word of warning, though...SKIP the god-awful "Abraham Washington Show"! It's a bunch of torturous drivel with Abraham Washington proving himself absolutely unbearable. Then there's another shameful squash of British talent (Jason Blackwell, this time) at the hands of Vance Archer. So instead, focus on a solid match between Paul Burchill and Goldust and the EXCELLENT main-event between Christian and William Regal for the ECW Championship. This represents the kind of bout that made ECW's final days worth watching, and featuring a guy like Regal (True British Legend!) against the awesome Captain Charisma, this title match is the HIGHLIGHT of this DVD, making ECW a fine show indeed.
Not a lot to say about Superstars, really. No storylines, no angles here whatsoever. But there are actually some very good bouts indeed featuring Matt Hardy vs. David Hart Smith, Zack Ryder vs. Shelton Benjamin and MVP vs. Ted DiBiase. So this show is alright for wrestling quality, but at the end-of-the-day, it's STILL forgettable.
The BEST show on the DVD (and best on wrestling telly today!) is definitely SmackDown. Featuring greatness such as Undertaker as World Heavyweight Champion, CM Punk, Batista, Rey Mysterio, LayCool and the best storylines and wrestling around on weekly telly, SmackDown is simply so good to watch.
Sadly, even this show suffers. Vicious fights like Finlay vs. Drew McIntyre and an Intercontinental Championship bout between John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler shape up promisingly, before they end prematurely. The Morrison/Ziggler bout in particular is overshadowed by their more memorable 2-out-of-3 falls match on the following week's SmackDown. And yet another ridiculous WWE mistreatment of local British talent occurs when female wrestler Lisa Taylor gets destroyed by Beth Phoenix (although the Glamazon truly is devastating here!).
Still, CM Punk vs. R-Truth is a good opener to kick things off, Mickie James vs. Natalya is a fine women's bout, and the rare main-event meeting between the Undertaker and Chris Jericho is another really excellent offering for British fans that DOES end things on a high-note!
Some fab goodies for special features here, also. A photo recap of the WWE European Tour from Autumn 2009 and TWO rare matches; a brilliant 20-Man Battle Royal from 1991 (featuring a who's-who of legends like the Undertaker, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, L.O.D., Shawn Michaels and the British Bulldog!) and a terrific handicap match for the WWE title from Rebellion 2002 which sees then-champion Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) defend against Edge.
All this makes the November 2009 edition Live in the UK merely `okay', overall. For the price it is now, it's an acceptable enough bargain, and fans who actually attended these shows will enjoy the trip down memory lane. But there's not enough material to make this an essential purchase for everyone else. And if you've no inclination to check out Survivor Series 2009 (which is actually rather good), then it's completely understandable. There are much better WWE UK offerings out there. Take it or leave it.