WWE 24 has become one of the more intriguing outputs WWE have produced in recent years. Most notably they have the yearly Wrestlemania 24 special, now a fixture of the post-Royal Rumble programming on the WWE Network, which goes behind the scenes at the biggest show of the year. The hook for these shows is that they show a mostly unfiltered view of the backstage goings on, and give fans a much bigger insight to the stories and people behind what you see from them "in-character". With these mostly operating as WWE Network exclusives, I was surprised to see this released as a DVD, but for those who do choose to purchase this set there is certainly some very worthwhile content here.
The first disc of this set includes two documentaries that very much intertwined. The first is Hardys: Woken which focuses on the return of Matt and Jeff Hardy to WWE at Wrestlemania 33, and how that came about. If you are a fan of The Hardys this is a great insight into what they had been up to since leaving WWE years earlier, their individual and collective struggles during that time, the birth fo the "Broken Universe", and why they returned. It's a lovely insight into both men's mindset, and the excitement from both brothers for their return to WWE is actually a great feel-good moment. The second documentary focuses on Wrestlemania 33 in a larger sense, looking at the backstage goings on, including Seth Rollins facing Triple H and returning to Wrestlemania after the disappointment of missing out on Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas the prior year due to injury, The Hardys, and of course the "retirement" of The Undertaker. While it is never referred to as a retirement, the vibe is certainly that Undertaker was done at this point, so his subsequent return perhaps takes some of the shine off this, but it is interesting hearing him speak candidly and out of character. Every year they produce these docs, and honestly it is one the highlights of the year for me giving WWE an opportunity to give the fans a glimpse behind the curtain, including all the drama and organisation that goes into such a huge event.
The second disc moves away from Wrestlemania somewhat, taking a look at the 2018 Royal Rumble, featuring the first ever women's Rumble match. There are some very telling and intirguing moments here, especially centred around teh surprise debut of Ronda Rousey. However, at points it feels a bit too self congratulatory, and alnost slightly revisionist when it come sto the rise of the popularity of WWE's women's division. Don't get me wrong, it's understandable form a PR perspective, but one of the things I enjoy about these 24 specials is that they are more of a peek into somewhere as fans we're almost not supposed to be, rather than an opportunity for the company to espouse it's latest media message. The final documentary here is a behind the scenes look at Raw 25. Again, there's some self aggrandising over the importance of Raw (but then a quarter of a century is a very long time for a show to be on air every week, in fairness) and some nice looking back at the history of the show. The backstage stuff is not the most eventful, but given the show was essentially intended as a nostalgia trip that can be forgiven and it still provides some interesting moments with the various returning legends. Again, nothing groundbreaking, but interesting nontheless.
Overall, WWE 24: Best of 2018 does provide some very good documentary content. There's everything you would have come to expect from the 24 specials, with the Wrestlemania and Hardys docs as the stronger two entries, but plenty to enjoy from the Royal Rumble and Raw 25 specials. However, more so than any single event that WWE releases on DVD or Blu Ray, this feels like one for the completionists and collectors. This content is available on the network and has been for a while, so unless you feel you have to have a hard copy of everything WWE puts out, or you don't fancy signing up for the network, this doesn't scream "must have".
EXTRAS: There are several matches provided on this two disc set that compliment the documentary offerings. The Ultimate Deletion match between Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt is a whole heap of fun, although nowhere near the level of the original Final Deletion, or even Apocalypto. The Hardys vs The Bar vs Gallows & Anderson vs Enzo & Big Cass is very enjoyable, and goes to show how huge a moment it was when The Hardys returned. The six pack challenge for the Smackdown Women's title from that same show as well as the Charlotte vs Asuka match from the following year seem like odd additions, but they are both very good PPV matches, so I'm not complaining. While the segment with Mr McMahon and Charlotte vs Ruby Riott are both pretty forgettable, the highlight for me from the extras comes from Yokozuna squashing Koko B Ware on the first Raw, which provided a lovely moment of nostalgia and shows how fun those old shows can be.