Isn’t it always the case that the best match at Wrestlemania is not a main event title scuffle? You can look back quite a ways to Wrestlemania VII, as Macho Man tangled with Ultimate Warrior in a showstopper. Wrestlemania XIII? Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret the Hitman Hart in a bloody, grueling bout that demanded your attention.
Wrestlemania XXVII gave us the Undertaker and HHH in a no holds barred slaughterfest. Spanish announce table? Gone. The Cole Mine? Gone. Every shred of energy those two men had going into the match? Gone.
That shouldn’t take away from the rest of a classic and surprisingly well rounded Wrestlemania, one that somehow managed to turn the Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler battle into something entertaining. Even Snooki’s debut in the ring (and hopefully her retirement match) provided some thrills, spectacular maneuvers, and fun finish. The WWE’s push to a softer, gentler professional wrestling doesn’t dilute anything on display here, providing enough violence, aggressiveness, and Dwayne Johnson interludes to satisfy.
While Wrestlemania may miss the Money in the Bank ladder match that has become tradition recently, the card opens with what would become the retirement bout for Edge, giving him a grand send-off as he smashed the car of Alberto Del Rio. Moments signify this edition of the Vince McMahon spectacle, appearances by Pee Wee Herman, a simply gorgeous top rope, long-standing suplex by Cody Rhodes on Rey Mysterio, and yes, the Undertaker being backflipped through the announce table. That one is pretty hard to forget. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
Oh WWE, when you will you learn? Wrestlemania XXVII is a four hour event, saddled on one BD-50 with a bonus match and additional preview. It only uses 42.7 GB, meaning there’s a little bit of breathing room, but in reality, this one needs to be stretched across two discs. The evidence is in the picture, a 1080i presentation (as is the norm for all WWE Blu-rays) that exhibits inferior compression from insufficient space.
Being a sport sold on fast movement and extravagant motion, pro wrestling needs all the help it can get on hi-def, and sadly this one only appears a hair better than the cable pay-per-view broadcast. The stage itself glimmers with over-the-top lighting, decent enough when the camera pans in on someone coming down the ramp, but when it pulls back to set the scale, forget it. The screen becomes awash with blocking, that awe-inspiring crowd is simply too much for a digital presentation to handle. The 1080i material means you’ll find some visible aliasing within parts of the image, the ring apron for example breaking down into blocks or the referee’s striped shirt producing interlaced artifacts.
No WWE event will look superb by any stretch, the nature of their obviously digital productions proving problematic in terms of texture and detail. Close-ups, stuff like the Rock chatting backstage, are acceptable given the source. In the ring, skin takes on a plastic-like quality, the combatants bad enough, the crowd well beyond the point of being smoothed over. The ring ropes exhibit distracting mosquito noise, and smearing can become predominant during fast camera pans. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s the occasional halo or outline to deal with.
Color is pleasing enough, the audience bathed in a deep, vivid blue for most of the show. Flesh tones are slightly warmer than the norm, although we are dealing with typically tanned, muscle-bound brutes. Black levels are fine, the arena more than once going dark for an entrance. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
In order to fit the entire event on one disc, hi-def audio stops being a possibility. Instead, this Dolby Digital 5.1 track is as good as it will get, adequate enough for a show like this. The crowd is always active, if seeming a little dampened in comparison to the in-ring stuff. Slams, punches, and chops take on an aggressive reverb that dominates the audio. You’ll feel every blow you should, especially the chair shots during the HHH/’Taker battle. Commentary is situated nicely in the center, balanced enough to lift itself above the other elements.
Backstage pieces carry an unnatural echo, the effect a bit overwhelming even for locker-room type spaces. The surrounds seem to carry more weight than the center here, and are even a millisecond behind, enough to make it seem like something is wrong with the mix itself. While there’s certainly an echo present given the rather empty environments, this is overcooked to the point of being burned. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]
As is tradition, there’s an extra match on the first disc, one that starts as a US Title bout between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan before turning into a battle royale… and no title match. There’s an additional promo for the Edge/Del Rio brawl too. The second disc houses the entire Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, not the chopped up, edited version that aired on USA Network. Tagging along are highlights from the Monday Night Raw following Wrestlemania. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]
Note: Interlacing, while a problem with this disc, is not as bad as it appears in these screens. That’s merely a by-product of the process.