It’s time once again to dip into the ever-growing pile of DVDs sent to me by the good people at Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity, on behalf of the mighty WWE. This time around we’re going back to 2012, but not to any specific point, because this review sees us taking a look at the three disc set of The Best of Raw and Smackdown 2012.
As is the custom with these things let’s begin with….
Raw, January 23rd
Internet fave Zack Ryder goes up against Kane in a falls count anywhere match.
What we had here was basically a one-sided encounter. Ryder got in a little offence at the beginning, but from then on Kane used him as his human punching bag around ringside, through the fans and then up onto the stage.
Ryder then managed to get in a few more blows, but when the big monster chokeslammed him through the stage that was it. Kane then turned his attention to Ryder’s girlfriend Eve until his rival John Cena arrived on the scene, sending Kane scurrying for safety through the crowd before Ryder was carted away on a stretcher.
Raw, January 30th
It’s a battle of the champions as WWE Champion C.M. Punk goes up against World Champion Daniel Bryan.
Whenever you put these two in the ring together you know you’re going to get a quality encounter, and though this may not have had the prestige of their matches later in the year it was still pretty good.
Both guys put on great performances as they matched each other in every department, but just as it looked as if they were moving towards the finish Punk’s rival Chris Jericho came down to the ring, and after throwing Bryan out of the ring he took Punk down with the code breaker. It was then announced that Bryan was the winner by disqualification.
Smackdown, February 3rd
An old rivalry was renewed as Wade Barrett faced Randy Orton in a no disqualification match.
This was just one big fight, and a pretty enjoyable one at that as they fought all over the place beating the proverbial out of each. Orton took the upper hand early on until the Brit pushed him off the top rope and through a table in the middle of the ring.
A pair of chairs were later brought into the equation, and just when it looked like Barrett would get the win with his wastelands finisher Orton countered with an RKO. But that wasn’t enough for the Viper. A second RKO onto a chair finally sealed the deal for him.
Smackdown, March 9th
It’s on to six man tag team action as Randy Orton, Sheamus and the Big Show faced World Champion Daniel Bryan, Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes and the Miz.
This one was kind of cool. It featured some great action throughout as both sides acquitted themselves extremely well.
Sheamus played the part of the punching bag in this one as the bad guys did a good job of working the Irishman over, and when he managed to get the hot tag to Orton it signalled the start of the all hell breaking loose segment. Show took care of Rhodes by chokeslamming him over the top rope and then chasing him backstage while Sheamus took care of his World title rival when he threw Bryan into the barricade.
This left Orton alone with Miz, and after avoiding the skull crushing finale Orton took his man out with the RKO for the winning pin. But just as he was celebrating his win his rival Kane ran through the crowd and attacked, instigating a brawl which took them all around ringside and through the fans.
Raw, April 2nd
Santino Marella faces two challenges for his United States title as he defends against both of Vickie Guerrero’s boys, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler.
Not really much to write home about here, mainly because the action was interrupted by the commercial break. Swagger and Ziggler spent a great deal of time doubling up on the champion, but when Ziggler went for the pin after avoiding the cobra it didn’t sit too well with his buddy, leading to the inevitable breakdown in their relationship.
This gave Marella the chance to make his comeback, and after taking care of Ziggler he struck Swagger with the cobra for the winning pin.
Afterwards Swagger and Ziggler chased Marella up the ramp, and they looked all ready to attack until Brodus Clay appeared on the scene. Ziggler went for the big man before he was sent running for cover, while Swagger decided to stay put.
Smackdown, April 6th
It’s Wrestlemania re-match time as Kane continues his rivalry with Randy Orton in a no disqualification match.
This is probably the best match on disc 1, and that’s saying something considering there’s a Punk/Bryan match on this thing. It’s an all-out brawl, more or less a continuation of their previous brawl after the six man tag, but with a lot more oomph in it.
There were quite a few good moments here, such as when Kane avoided the RKO on the stage and took his man down with a DDT, or when Orton returned the favour a few moments later back in the ring, this time with the aid of a steel chair, a weapon which, ironically, Kane himself had brought into the match.
So after an absolute ton of fisticuffs and a few well-placed chair shots Orton gained a measure of revenge for his Wrestlemania defeat when he pushed the monster into an exposed turnbuckle and then finished him off with an RKO for the winning pin.
These were kind of a mixed bag for me. While there’s some really good stuff here such as John Cena’s impassioned promo against the Rock, Brock Lesnar’s return and Daniel Bryan dumping A.J. Lee after his eighteen second World title loss at Wrestlemania the downer was the Rock’s Rock Concert, in which he spends about ten minutes aiming childish musical insults in Cena’s direction. It was as if he’d forgotten he was cutting his promo in 2012, and not 1998.
Raw, April 16th
It’s a trip to merry old England as Mark Henry challenges C.M. Punk for the WWE title in a no count out no disqualification match.
Now this wasn’t too bad as far as power versus speed battles go. Henry spent a great deal of time throwing Punk around the ring like a stuffed toy, and when the champion made his somewhat fleeting comebacks the big man always managed to shut him down.
Then came Henry’s mistake. Earlier in the match he’d wedged a chair in the corner between the top and middle rope, and having whipped Punk into the corner the champ dodged the bullet when Henry came charging forward and went head first into the steel. Punk then retrieved the chair and climbed to the top rope, using the chair in a Macho Man elbow drop-like move for the three count and win.
Raw, April 30th
The championship action continues with Primo and Epico, accompanied by Rosa Mendes, defending their Tag Team titles against R-Truth and Kofi Kingston.
This one had a rather unique beginning with Primo “attacking” Truth’s buddy Little Jimmy. This did nothing but enrage the challenger, who ended up on the receiving end as he took on the punching bag role.
Eventually he managed to get the hot tag to Kingston, who proceeded to clean house. The lovely Miss Mendes jumped onto the ring apron in an attempt to distract Kingston, but this backfired when Kingston pushed Epico backwards and Truth dropped him neck first onto the top rope. A trouble in paradise kick later and Truth and Kingston had won the gold.
Smackdown, May 18th
It’s another match for the Viper as Randy Orton takes on World Champion Sheamus in a non-title match.
This was the pre-cursor to the World title fatal four way at Over the Limit a few days later, and it proved to be a highly competitive match. The performances of both guys were pretty good here.
Orton took the upper hand early after he rammed Sheamus’ previously injured shoulder into the ring post. The Viper looked almost heel-like as he worked over the limb, but eventually the Irishman made his way back into the match to dish out some punishment of his own.
But try as he might the big man just couldn’t put Orton down, and as they moved into top gear and brought out the big guns Sheamus countered Orton’s RKO attempt with a roll up for the win.
Afterwards Orton showed his respect for the champion by shaking his hand. He then changed tact completely by finally taking his man out with the RKO.
Raw, June 11th
It’s a fatal four way elimination match to determine the number one contender to Sheamus’ World title with Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Christian and the Great Khali.
This one began with Khali showing his usual limited move set as he took care of all three men with a few chops and head butts. Thankfully when he was sent packing the match quality improved drastically as the other three put in good showings.
As for the eliminations, Khali was the first man to go. With the other three having targeted the big man Christian put the icing on the cake with a frog splash from the top rope, with Khali pinned by all three of his opponents.
Christian was then left in a virtual handicap match against Vickie Guerrero’s boys, but after taking a few minutes of punishment he came back into the match to take Swagger down with the killswitch. Then, to the annoyance of his manager, it was Ziggler who came back into the ring to pin Swagger for the three count.
This left Christian alone with Ziggler. Despite suffering an ankle injury at the hands of Swagger Christian put up a good fight, but with Ziggler taking advantage of the injury it wasn’t long before he took his man down with the zig-zag for the winning pin, earning the title shot at No Way Out a few days later.
Later on the same show, Heath Slater went on his legend quest against the man they call Vader.
This was basically a squash match. Slater got in a few blows, and even went for a bodyslam at one point, but apart from that it was Vader going through the motions and looking very slow whenever he got back to his feet, and about three minutes later he took Slater out with the Vader bomb for the winning pin.
Smackdown, June 22nd
It’s another outing for Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler as he takes on World Champion Sheamus.
This non-title affair was a re-match of their championship encounter a few days before at No Way Out. Ziggler had come up short on that occasion and was looking to get straight back into the title hunt, and he looked pretty impressive in doing so.
This was a very good outing for all concerned. Sheamus took control early on, and Ziggler looked completely out of it after the Irishman took him down with a fall-away slam against the barricade at ringside, but after the commercial break the Show Off had come back into the match, using his speed and finesse to take the upper hand.
Sheamus quickly got his second wind as it developed into a nice back and forth encounter, and even though Ziggler managed to counter some of Sheamus’ trademark moves like white noise a brogue kick out of nowhere took care of him, and a three count later Sheamus had his second victory over Ziggler in the space of a week.
Smackdown, July 27th
It’s back to fatal four way action, but not of the elimination kind, as Rey Mysterio, Kane, Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio fight it out for a shot at the World title.
As expected there was plenty of fast-paced action in this way. All four men pulled out all the stops as they went about their business, and there were also plenty of pin attempts foiled as they tried to get the one fall that was needed.
Although there were no big standout moments it was a well played out affair. Before they kicked things into overdrive Bryan looked like he was going through when ADR was about to tap to the yes lock, only for Kane to stop his hand from hitting the mat.
The next nearest was Mysterio. With both Bryan and Del Rio laying on the middle rope he took them both out with the 619, but when he pinned Bryan after a top rope splash ADR’s buddy Ricardo Rodriguez pulled him out of the ring. A now recovered Del Rio then went for the pin himself as he covered Bryan. A three count later and the title shot was secured.
Raw, August 6th
It’s the first meaningful opponents (if you can call them that) for the monstrous Ryback as he takes on Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks.
The second squash match of this collection saw Hawkins and Reks getting in a few good shots, but their offence lasted for all of sixty seconds before the big man took control. Hawkins became the canon fodder as a spine buster, a meat hook clothesline and the shell shock finished him off.
They were certainly a lot better here than on the previous disc. The Big Show going crazy and taking out Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth would definitely have been the highlight if it hadn’t been for the D-Generation X reunion from Raw’s 1000th show. Although it was interesting when Triple H said he’d be around for the 2000th show. That’s something I don’t doubt.
Smackdown, August 31st
Rey Mysterio takes on the man obsessed with unmasking masked wrestlers, Cody Rhodes.
This relatively short encounter saw Rhodes dominating for the most part, with Mysterio making a brief comeback when Rhodes went for the mask. The plumber’s grandson quickly regained control, but when he countered the 619 and went for the mask again Mysterio rolled him up for the three count and pin.
An unhappy Rhodes then attacked Mysterio as he celebrated, but as he made another attempt to remove his mask Sin Cara came down for the save. A drop toe hold from the new arrival took Rhodes down into the ropes again, and after Mysterio connected with the 619 the masked guys added further insult to injury by putting a Sin Cara mask on Rhodes.
Raw, September 3rd
John Cena takes on Alberto Del Rio in a falls count anywhere match.
This battle of number one contenders was a pretty decent affair, certainly on a par with their recent encounters. We had some nice exchanges in the ring before they took their battle to ringside, and it wasn’t long before the inevitable happened with the commentator’s table when ADR countered Cena’s attitude adjuster attempt with a back suplex through the wood.
Normally that would have ended the match, but the brawling continued up the ramp, with a brief stop there for a Del Rio suplex, through to the backstage area where Cena finally nailed his man with an attitude adjuster on a stack of boxes. It was then that his rival C.M. Punk appeared, kicking Cena in the back of his head. He then dragged Del Rio onto his fallen foe, and a three count later ADR had the pin.
Punk had a little more fun afterwards when he lifted Cena onto his shoulders and took him out with a car-assisted GTS, and as they drove off we saw none other than Paul Heyman in the driving seat.
Smackdown, September 7th
It’s the turn of our intellectual saviour Damian Sandow as he goes up against Randy Orton.
Lots of jaw jacking at the beginning of this one. As he made his entrance Sandow complained to the unwashed masses about his count out loss the weak before. A few moments later Orton appeared and informed Sandow that General Manager Booker T had changed Sandow’s match, replacing his original opponent with Orton. Needless to say that this didn’t sit too well with the brainy one. Then, as the match was about to begin, Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero came down to ringside for a spot of commentary.
So with all of that taken care of what followed was a decent match. Despite his complaints that he needed more time to prepare Sandow put up a pretty good fight against a man who seemed preoccupied with his rival at the commentary table.
Orton eventually made his comeback, but after he took Sandow down with his DDT and prepared for his RKO Sandow bolted and headed backstage as fast as he could, giving Orton the count out win.
Then, as Ziggler left his seat and mocked his man Orton blocked his path and clobbered him before throwing him into the ring, but just as he was about to take him down with the RKO Sandow returned for the save. It didn’t do him much good though as Orton finally took him down with his trademark move as Ziggler and Guerrero headed for the hills.
Raw, September 24th
Speaking of Mrs. Guerrero, her boy Dolph Ziggler is in action again as he takes on Kofi Kingston, accompanied here by his tag partner R-Truth.
Before the match began Guerrero taunted Little Jimmy as Truth tried to give him a drink. A brief argument ensued between the two as Ziggler and Kingston got involved, and when Guerrero got a soaking from Jimmy’s drink the referee banished her from ringside, along with Truth and Jimmy.
When the match finally got under way our two protagonists had an excellent back and forth battle. It was a joy to watch as these two went about their business as both guys put in impressive performances.
There were numerous near falls here as both men brought out the heavy artillery, with Kingston coming closest after he took Kingston down with his SOS. But when Ziggler threw his man upside down into the corner he quickly followed up with his zig-zag finisher for the win.
Smackdown, September 28th
It’s the turn of the Divas as Beth Phoenix takes on Natalya.
What started off with a handshake and a friendly exchange of holds soon changed when tempers flared and Natalya gave Phoenix a good old fashioned slap, and with the tension levels take up a notch or two the match got even better.
Phoenix barely survived Natalya’s sharpshooter when she managed to get to the ropes, and moments later Natalya barely kicked out of the pin after Phoenix’s glam slam.
Then Phoenix managed to climb onto Natalya’s shoulders, but just when it looked like she was about to get the win with a victory roll Natalya countered with a roll up, only for Phoenix to counter with a reversal for the winning pin.
It was then that GM Booker T’s assistant and Divas Champion Eve appeared on the stage, and because Phoenix had been implicated in the attack on Kaitlyn at Night of Champions Eve suspended her indefinitely.
Later on the show it’s a battle of the behemoths as Tensai takes on Ryback.
This one lasted less than two minutes. Tensai actually looked quite good as he unloaded with punches and headbutts, and he even blocked the meathook clothesline with a double handed choke bomb.
But when Ryback came back with a big clothesline that was it. A shell shock later and Ryback had the win.
Raw, October 1st
It’s another non-title outing for our World Champion Sheamus as he takes on Damian Sandow, accompanied by his tag partner Cody Rhodes.
There was no running away for Sandow in this one. In fact this may be one of the best performances he’s put in during his tenure.
This was a very entertaining encounter in which both men gave a good account of themselves. Sandow may have played the cowardly role a little before, but he more than held his own against the champion, standing up to him as he used a few good old fashioned wear down holds.
But the brawling Irishman kept coming back, and as Sandow fell down from the ring apron after those ten clubbing blows Rhodes tried to interfere, only to find himself pushed into the commentator’s table.
Rhodes then got into the ring as he tried to help his man. It didn’t do him much good as Sheamus took them both down with a brogue kick, and a cover on Sandow saw him take the three count and win.
Smackdown, October 5th
It’s an outing for Tag Team Champions Team Hell No as Daniel Bryan and Kane take on Alberto Del Rio and David Otunga.
Even though this was another of those short and sweet encounters it was a great example of how perfect the Kane/Bryan act was, dysfunctional in the ring, but perfect in it.
Bryan got the upper hand on Otunga early on, but a few moments later the bad guys gave him the punching bag treatment. Bryan managed to get the hot tag to Kane, who proceeded to clean house until ADR connected with his trademark kick to the head.
But as Del Rio prepared for his cross armbreaker Otunga tagged himself in. His spinebuster failed to put Kane away, and after the monster took the lawyer down with a chokeslam Bryan tagged himself back in and sealed the deal with a flying headbutt.
Oh, and needless to say there was a little argument between the champions at the end.
Later on the same show Paul Heyman guy and WWE Champion C.M. Punk took on Dolph Ziggler in a non-title affair.
It’s am interesting encounter that suffers because of the ad break, and because they weren’t given that much time. Being an all-heel battle probably didn’t help it that much either.
As for the performances they were okay, and I have to admit it was kind of cool to see them do the Ric Flair bump off the top rope spot when Ziggler sent Punk flying across the ring.
But that didn’t stop our champion coming out on top when Punk finally managed to put his man away with the GTS for the winning pin.
Raw, October 8th
It’s another battle for C.M. Punk as the WWE Champion faces none other than the boss, Mr. McMahon.
I’ve heard this described as Vince McMahon’s John Wayne moment, and that’s more apt than anything I could have come up with.
It began with Punk attacking McMahon from behind as he made his entrance, and just when it looked like it was going to be all one way traffic the chairman of the board showed how big his grapefruits are by beating the snot out of his champion, throwing him across the commentator’s table and then diving over it himself to get to him.
Eventually they got back into the ring, and when McMahon found himself in possession of a kendo stick Punk wanted no part of him and called for Paul Heyman to get his title belt. The only problem there was that Heyman soon found his path blocked by McMahon, who dealt with his former rival promoter with a big right. McMahon than got back into the ring and laid the belt on the mat in front of him, daring Punk to take it from him.
Punk was hesitant at first until he found a kendo stick of his own. It didn’t help him much though as McMahon still beat the snot out of him. But when Punk backed off a little and pleaded for mercy he delivered a blow south of the border.
Punk thought he could have things his way from then, but when his rival Ryback hit the ring he tried to head for the hills again. Then his other rival John Cena appeared and threw him back in, but when Ryback was about to take him down with the shell shock he bolted from the ring and escaped from the crowd.
Raw, October 22nd
It’s singles action for one of the Tag Team Champions as Daniel Bryan faces Dolph Ziggler.
With Vickie Guerrero given the job as Raw’s Managing Supervisor Ziggler was forced to go it alone against Bryan in what was a keenly fought and highly enjoyable contest.
It was a great back and forth encounter which, like many of the matches on this collection, could have been even better if they’d been given more time. It also had a little drama added to it halfway through.
After Ziggler suplexed Bryan out of the ring Bryan’s tag partner Kane made his way to ringside. He went on to observe the rest of the match, offering vocal encouragement when he could, especially when Bryan looked close to winning.
But that didn’t sit too well with old goat face, especially when Kane led the fans in a “yes” chant. Bryan got up onto the middle rope to protest, shouting “no” at Kane. It proved to be just what Ziggler needed as he came up on Bryan from behind and took him down with the zig-zag for the winning pin.
Raw, November 5th
It’s another trip to England and tag team action with WWE Champion C.M. Punk teaming with Dolph Ziggler to take on his rivals John Cena and Ryback.
This was touted as the Ryback’s first tag match, and the big man spent most of the time standing on the apron as Cena took the punching bag treatment. Punk and Ziggler looked okay as a unit, but they just seemed to lack that certain fluidity in their work.
Cena managed to eventually get back to his corner to make the hot tag to Ryback, who proceeded to clean house as soon as he entered the match, sending Ziggler over the top rope before taking Punk down with the shell shock for the winning pin.
Smackdown, November 6th
We’re still in England for the final match of the collection as Randy Orton faces Alberto Del Rio in a falls count anywhere match.
This was basically one big fight that took in the entire arena, and a pretty entertaining one at that. They began at ringside, but it wasn’t long before they were working their way through the crowd to backstage and back through the crowd.
ADR’s buddy Ricardo Rodriguez tried to interfere at one point when they were on the stage, but Orton soon dealt with him, beating him up and putting him in the good old fashioned red telephone box on the stage.
Back in the ring Del Rio finally applied his cross armbreaker, a move which Orton countered when he clobbered his man with a microphone. Moments later Del Rio went after the arm with a steel chair when Orton was draped over the ring steps, but after the Viper moved out of the way he quickly took Del Rio down with an RKO on those very same steps for the winning pin.
There’s only a couple of them on this disc, but they’re pretty darn good. The first sees John Cena lecturing C.M. Punk about respect, and the second is probably the best of the year with Kane and Daniel Bryan entering anger management.
In conclusion – after over seven hours of viewing and a few thousand words later it’s time to give you my finals thoughts.
This collection is pretty good. As many of you probably know I don’t really watch Raw and Smackdown that much these days, so this is a good way of seeing what those particular shows have to offer, and even though they leave the stand-out classics for pay-per-view audiences the matches here were pretty good.
I do have a couple of questions about this collection. Does the WWE calendar end on November 30th every year? Or did nothing of note happen on Raw or Smackdown last December? They can be the only reasons why there’s nothing from December on this collection.
So having gotten that off my chest there’s just one more thing to do before type’s cramp sets in, and that’s to give this collection the thumbs up.
With thanks to the good people at Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. The Best of Raw and Smackdown 2012 is available to buy online at www.wwedvd.co.uk
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!