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16:08 - 12th February 2015, by Michael Campbell

WWE The Best of Raw: After the Show (FSM 106; May 2014)

information: – Blu-ray Region: Region B • Distributor: Fremantle Media • Price: £29.99 • Other info: 540 mins • Release: Out now • Weblink: www.WWEDVD.co.uk

Most FSM readers will be aware of how live Raw events work, and the fact that dark matches and segments occur on a frequent basis. Casual fans, however, may have no idea about how much actually transpires off-screen. For both contingents, therefore, The Best Of Raw: After The Show is a unique collection.

As you might expect, this is an experience rather like watching the bonus features of a film. That’s largely a result of the lack of commentary, and the loss of both consequence and importance to many of the events (although Renee Young does fill in some of the gaps). For the uninitiated, this will prove to be most strange during the matches, which are accompanied only by the crowd noise and, occasionally, loud moments of spot-calling.

As far as the tussles themselves go, they aren’t bad at all. Ric Flair and Triple-H versus Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels is a fine effort, though the prolonged sight of Flair’s backside – one of his favourite comedy spots – is less welcome. Triple-H clearly enjoys hamming up his Flair tribute act, leading to some rib-tickling moments that give this a real house show feel. John Cena takes on Edge in a fiery Streetfight that provides a unseen peek at their excellent rivalry, while Orton does battle with Triple-H in a predictable squash. Better is a Money In The Bank 2011 preview, as Cena takes on CM Punk in his hometown of Boston. This scrap boasts some inventive sequences, and great interaction with Cena’s father. A highlight for many will be the fun post-WrestleMania XXVIII Raw tag match, in front of the Miami crowd that kickstarted Daniel Bryan’s “Yes Movement”.

There’s also room for serious moments, such as 2003’s Ric Flair Appreciation Night, and another touching event comes in the form of an 80th birthday party for The Fabulous Moolah that provides cake, kisses, and tears.

The main protagonists in much of the footage are, of course, The Rock and Steve Austin. “Stone Cold” is an underrated comedian; whether it’s singing horribly in Nashville in 2001 before ripping on individual members of the audience, or sharing beers with Hulk Hogan in the mist of Hogan’s 2002 run, nobody provides better entertainment value. Likewise, The Rock is absolutely brilliant in his crowd interactions, and dishing out good-natured jibes at those with whom he shares the ring.

In a great snippet from 2002, Booker T and Goldust attempt to get The Undertaker do a Spinaroonie, and appearances by The Rock, Triple-H and Vince McMahon soon turn this into a massive rib on “The Deadman”. Austin’s famous, beer-soaked “marriage proposal” to Lilian Garcia from 2004 is another highlight. Elsewhere, Bubba Ray Dudley displays surprising rhythm in a 2000 segment that boasts The Dudleys, Too Cool, Chris Jericho, and The Big Show indulging in a lengthy dance sequence.

As with the vast majority of WWE’s recent releases, it’s Blu-ray owners who benefit most from the plethora of available footage. Exclusive to this version of the set, for example, is the excellent Bret Hart Appreciation Night from May 2013. Additionally, Edge battles John Cena and Triple-H in a fast-paced Triple Threat Steel Cage bout, which has a fine finish. Less exciting is a dull Ryback versus John Cena Tables match, but there are decent extended segments, featuring Austin and Garcia, Cena and Sheamus, and Cody Rhodes and The Rock.

With beer-swilling, singing, dancing, and some wrestling, The Best of Raw: After The Show underlines what WWE is all about. So much so, in fact, that one wonders if the comedic elements of the main shows shouldn’t be a little more like this.

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