Thursday, July 17, 2008

WWE The Ladder Match DVD Set – Disc 2

1. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian vs. Dudley Boyz – (WrestleMania X7) - TLC Match - 8
2. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho vs. Edge and Christian vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz - (Smackdown! ’01) - TLC Match - 7
3. Edge vs. Christian - (No Mercy ‘01) – Ladder Match - 6

4. Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero - (RAW ‘02) – Ladder Match - 6
5. Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy - (RAW ‘02) – Ladder Match - 5
6. Kane and Hurricane vs. Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy vs. Bubby Ray and Spike Dudley vs. Chris Jericho and Christian - (RAW ’02) - TLC Match – 7
7. Chris Jericho vs. Christian - (Unforgiven ‘04) – Ladder Match - 6

The first match featured on the set’s second disc is the second TLC match, this one, from WrestleMania X7, was on a huge stage for these performs to either shine or sink. I like this better than the first TLC, which I reviewed on disc one, as the performers seem more confident and collectively working to do something big here. Another major element that’s different is the inclusion of Spike Dudley, Rhyno, and Lita to the proceedings. Now, while I’m generally a stickler about disliking interference in matches, I think it significantly improves things here, as it adds a sense of urgency to the affair. There are tons of tasty big spots, too, for all of you sick bastards that like your favorite wrestlers in paraplegic states. Not that I’m judging you! The match from Smackdown! is unanimously pimped but I wouldn’t get too carried away. It moves forward with reckless abandon, but has its share of “holy shit” moments that deserve some recognition. It’s the match that broke Benoit’s freaking neck, so that should say something about its utter intensity. Jericho rocks a manly beard, which helps the match’s cause, and Jeff Hardy almost dies once which is a TLC staple.

Edge and Christian one-on-one doesn’t have the pizzazz of any of the matches preceding it on this set. There’s a fair share of hurty bumps, but the selling is hit-or-miss, about as slapdash as convincing a cocktail waitress to blow you on her fifteen-minute break. Both guys just grimace a lot, clutch their ribs, and this makes up the bulk of a much too long match. It’s as long, in fact longer I think, than any of the “big” TLC matches ever were. They’re too similar and the St. Louis crowd is not interested at all. RVD and Eddie have much better chemistry, and a hotter Edmonton crowd, so I prefer their singles ladder match although I can’t grade it higher as it’s got a few cons, too. The biggest being they both seem a half step off, botching and tripping over spots left and right, also although beyond their control, other factors like a fan running in and their only ladder being malfunctioned didn’t exactly help. Eddie does a respectable job lying around to take all of Rob’s big, showy offensive spots, even when it means getting his face and body crushed. The ending gets seriously flubbed, too. RVD slips off the ladder while attempting his “Five Star Frog Splash” so they improvise and it’s depressing.

The Undertaker match is pretty much a squash. In a discussion with staff member Jessie he took a couple potshots at this bout. As it started, I was actually kind of digging it, as Undertaker’s selling of Hardy’s initial burst of offense was quite well done. But after that, as the match switched gears, Undertaker’s extended and relatively uninterrupted run of offense killed the match’s momentum dead in the water. While Jeff would bump, his selling wasn’t spectacular, which had it been, would have made this match seem as important as they were trying to get it across as. In that regard, Jim Ross has to be applauded as the MVP, as he was absolutely going nuts, trying to put over the possibility of Hardy pulling off “the biggest upset in history.” After the match as Undertaker drove his motorcycle up the entrance ramp Hardy got on the mic and screeched out some crap about how he’s “still standing”, etc. Undertaker came back down, presumably to pummel the idiot, but instead he raises Hardy’s arm in a sign of respect. I’m not too sure about that one.

The following TLC match is one that WWE has heavily publicized on multiple occasions as the best match ever in Raw history—I strongly disagree, but for what it is, this is pretty decent. Hurricane is listed as a competitor but never shows up. Bubba, who usually gets harped on in these things, actually gave his best performance on this set, eating a ton of big things including an awesome bulldog off of a ladder by Jericho that ended in a sickening face-first landing. Whenever Spike was involved he got killed, and sold the punishment well, largely because it probably really did hurt a ton. Jericho was rocking a nasty ZZ Top goatee and Christian was sporting a long, red singlet in one of his worst outfit blunders. RVD and Hardy didn’t really have any chemistry as a team, and much like this match, felt kind of forced. They do keep a quick pace and the selling’s adequate to moderately good throughout. The latter part has a lot of stuff where only a couple guys will be in the ring itself working, with all the rest miscellaneously lounging on the floor, something that I’ve always despised about these large gimmick matches. The Christian versus Jericho singles ladder match is interesting in comparison to the earlier Christian vs. Edge bout. Both matches went too long in my opinion, with this one not being paced as slowly or poorly, yet not reaching the level of cringe-worthy bumps the Edge match did. Jericho’s work in the WWE as represented by his stuff on this set shows a very uneven track record of performing. In some stuff, he takes some pretty risky bumps and shows flashes of the fire he had in his younger days competing in Japan. But here, he looks largely unmotivated and apathetic towards his craft.

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