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WWE: Top 25 Rivalries(2013)
No synopsis for WWE: Top 25 Rivalries.
For more about WWE: Top 25 Rivalries and the WWE: Top 25 Rivalries Blu-ray release, see WWE: Top 25 Rivalries Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: John Cena, The Rock, Hulk Hogan, CM Punk, André the Giant, Triple H
» See full cast & crew
WWE: Top 25 Rivalries Blu-ray Review
Is this set without rival?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 4, 2013
Big names, bad blood, and a long history of strong dislike or, even, hate. The sorts of things that define rivalries often produce the match-ups that fuel rating and bring in the cash. Every sport has them: Steelers-Ravens, Red Sox-Yankees, Celtics-Lakers, Canadiens-Bruins. When the rivals clash, throw all the charts and statistics in the trash, particularly if both of the opponents are at the top of their respective games, when it's clear that every punch will be met with a greater-force counterpunch. Those sorts of huge rivalries don't stop at team sports or even in the world of "legitimate" sports. The WWE has, over the years, enjoyed more than its fair share of intense rivalries that have pushed ratings and resulted in some of the most highly anticipated and highly rated moments, matches, and events in professional wrestling history. Whether they're manufactured from the ground up, whether they evolve over time into something more than just a mere meeting of the muscle, or whether they're legitimate, immediate rivalries shaped by honest bad blood and spurred on by cheering fans and dollars pouring into pockets, the rivalries in professional wrestling are quite unlike any other. They help ascend regular old sports entertainment into something electric, something palpably in the air even hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles away, evident as it seeps through the television set, thicker than the pyrotechnic smoke and bigger than the flexing muscles that come with every punch, each kick, and all the pins and submissions and trash talking that shape the best of the WWE.
WWE personality Renee Young hosts Top 25 Rivalries, though certainly her contributions take a back seat to the action that comes quickly and frequently as the rivalries are introduced, shaped, and shown. But more on that in a moment. Top 25 Rivalries builds with a chemically inspired narrative, its green-tinted elemental titles very much in the mold of Breaking Bad. Hopefully the notion of "chemistry" aiding these rivalries begins and ends with the figurative use of the term and the miracles of whey and casein protein powders and creatine and amino acids aiding the wrestlers in their pursuits and not something a little more scientifically nefarious. That's a different thought for another day, though. No, Top 25 Rivalries does fine job of explaining the place of, as Young tries to put it, "negative" chemistry, not so much like that of a pitcher and catcher or a quarterback and his wide receiver but rather the kind of attraction that comes from clashing, the meeting of opposing forces, the proverbial battle between the two biggest kids on the block who duke it out over nothing other than an animalistic want for supremacy. Certainly, though, there's also a place for positive chemistry between the rivals, even if it's still built through attracting opposite forces. Sometimes, it's opposite personalities or simply complimentary skill sets that allow both wrestlers to perform at their best with the other in the ring, a mutual understanding of the maneuvers required to put on a fabulous match and fuel the audience's enthusiasm. Whatever way one wants to describe the chemistry in the square circle, it's ultimately just something the wrestlers, their handlers, and the audience just feel, and when the rivalries are at their peak, something that audiences absorb.
The chosen rivalries represent a solid cross-section of wrestling history. There's a wide variety of talent, from household names to "who?" and from wrestlers-turned-movie stars to faces only the most ardent and longest-lasting WWE fans would probably recognize. And that's a good thing. The best wrestling doesn't necessarily always come from the biggest names or the most lucrative eras. Sure there's a reason why people like The Rock and HHH and Hulk Hogan are where they are and have enjoyed where they've been, but the foundation of professional wrestling runs much deeper than its greatest stars. There's still plenty of star power on display here, and no doubt fans will find plenty to discuss with the rankings, not only positioning but who was excluded and why. But chatting it all up is almost as fun as watching the action itself, and Top 25 Rivalries does a fine job of blending the two together. The dissection of each rivalry includes plenty of interview clips but also a nearly nonstop assault of hard-hitting, muscle-building, sometimes even a little bloody video clips that, edited together and in conjunction with a few still photos and all of the commentary, do a great job of weaving together the tale of each individual rivalry. Never does the main program feel sluggish or, on the other end of the spectrum, like it's rushing. WWE Home Video has found a very nice balance that compliments the subject matter very well. Add in a whole lot of bonus matches across both discs, and this feels like one of the best the WWE has put together, particularly considering the detail, variety, and timespan. In other words, it's a veritable history lesson of professional wrestling.
Below is a sampling of the included rivalries:
WWE: Top 25 Rivalries Blu-ray, Video Quality
Top 25 Rivalries runs the gamut of WWE picture quality, from the fuzziest standard definition material from waaaay back in the day to the most recent 1.78:1 high definition goodness. As the standard definition material -- retaining its original aspect ratio and flanked by WWE-themed "black bars" -- ages, it shows a fairly drastic uptick in quality from wavy, sloppy material plagued by false colors and lousy details all the way up to some pretty satisfying and crisp images that show significantly improved clarity, stability, detail, and color. To be sure, all the SD footage displays its share of native problems, but as always with older WWE footage the material looks as good as can be expected. The SD material does not factor into the overall score. The HD video clips generally look great. In fact, the worst of the bunch comes from the Renee Young segments. They're nicely defined, sharp, and as colorful as her attire and the backdrop allow, but there's a light harshness to the image, likely from the contrast between Young and her artificial background. Otherwise, newly minted interview clips look fine, with strong skin and clothing details, sharp graphics, and only light blocking across the darkest corners of the background and light shimmering on some of the clothes. Likewise, the HD wrestling footage that features wrestlers like Cena and CM Punk show a fine crispness, high details, and accurate colors. As always, WWE fans familiar with previous releases will know exactly what's coming in this one.
WWE: Top 25 Rivalries Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Top 25 Rivalries features the tried-and-true WWE staple soundtrack, Dolby Digital 5.1. As with the video, the track runs a fairly wide gamut of quality. The rivalries span decades, therefore the audio source material spans decades. There's a fairly equal balance between classic sound clips and newly recorded interview commentary. The latter sounds always crisp and well defined, as expected, but the former displays some understandable variances in clarity, spacing, and accuracy. For example, the sound bytes from the Punk-Cena rivalry segment prove greater than those from the Angle-Lesnar rivalry which prove superior to the Brody-Abdullah segment. In all instances, though, the basic elements flow well enough, but expect a fuller, richer sound from the newer material that delivers its elements spread further than the confines of the middle-front portion of the soundstage, expanding to the sides and back for crowd noises and music. Basic overlay music plays with fine clarity and aggressive, but still balanced, surround support. The graphic that introduces each rivalry enjoys very big, positive, rumbly music. Like the video, this is a fine track, one with some ups and acceptable downs, but contextually it all plays as about as well as can be expected.
WWE: Top 25 Rivalries Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Top 25 Rivalries contains a healthy assortment of bonus full-length matches across both discs. Disc two includes a few Blu-ray exclusives.
Disc Two Blu-ray Exclusives:
WWE: Top 25 Rivalries Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Top 25 Rivalries isn't quite as thorough as the real diehard fans WWE might wish, not short in execution but rather in the amount of content delivered. After all, the UFC managed a breakthrough release with its Ultimate 100 Greatest Fights, a gargantuan set that really delivered an almost unearthly amount of content and without quite the rich history and wide array of personalities that have graced the WWE over the years. That said, this is still a great program that runs the gamut of wrestling history, sure to satisfy those who want a one-stop experience for what amounts to a nice little history lesson of the biggest names, personalities, and of course, rivalries in the world of professional wrestling. WWE Home Video's Blu-ray release of Top 25 Rivalries features solid picture and sound. Plenty of extra matches are included. Highly recommended.
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