If you haven't heard of this recent DVD release previously, don't worry - you're not alone. It's a WWE Home Video exclusive for Canadian audiences.
For the uninitiated, "Our Nation's Pride: The Best Of Canadian Superstars" is a collection of semi-recent NXT, WCW and WWE matches featuring -- you guessed it -- one or more prominent Canadian athletes.
Hosted by fellow Canadian and recently-released announcer Kyle Edwards (whom I'm convinced would have been a phenomenal broadcaster for WWE as he demonstrated when talking about wrestling under his real name Arda Ocal), none of these matches are necessarily unavailable elsewhere -- in other words, you can probably find them all on the WWE Network -- but it's still a unique concept that hasn't been done before by WWE. Or at least, not recently: I vaguely remember a Coliseum Home Video release titled "Canadian Fan Favourites" or somesuch.
The opening match is an underappreciated classic, as Sami Zayn battles Cesaro at the very first WWE Network special known as NXT ArRIVAL. The storytelling abilities of both men is just incredible (as they recently demonstrated again on Raw) and the narrative of Zayn doing whatever it took to win (and then losing!) was just a great emotional roller coaster to take fans on.
The next match was another NXT contest that has recently been waged on the main roster, as Sami Zayn took on Kevin Owens from NXT TakeOver: Rival. While the two have arguably had better matches, this one had a great story behind it and the audience was incredibly into the action.
From there, we're shown a No Holds Barred Match between Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio from the 2009 Extreme Rules pay-per-view for Mysterio's Intercontinental Championship. The two men had a heated rivalry at this time, and this is the match where (seven year old spoiler alert), Jericho pulls off Mysterio's mask mid-619 to gain the pinfall and the championship. Having read about this match in Jericho's book The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea, it was interesting to watch it again, given the pressure the two men were under to execute the finish properly.
Next up was Chris Jericho challenging John Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2005. While this match was fine and definitely helped established Cena as a credible champion, I'd be hard-pressed to consider this one of Jericho's best matches.
From there, we stayed with Cena as his U.S. Title Open Challenge in Montreal, as the challenge was answered by local boy Sami Zayn (introduced by Bret Hart, no less). While this was a great wrestling moment (and had a huge crowd reaction to boot), an injury to Zayn early in the match hampered what could have been a modern classic.
A few weeks later, he had the first encounter between Kevin Owens and John Cena (is this a Canadian superstars DVD or a John Cena one?) at Elimination Chamber 2015. Years from now, this may be seen as the moment where Owens stepped up to the plate and established himself as a big player, much as Cena did against Kurt Angle in 2002.
The final match on the first disc is a Women's Championship match with champion Lita defending the belt against the retiring Trish Stratus at Unforgiven 2006. In front of her hometown Toronto crowd, Stratus regaining the championship was a magic moment and while it wasn't an all-time classic, you can understand why this was added to the collection.
The second disc begins with the same event that the first disc ended on, as Edge defends the WWE Championship against John Cena in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. This was a brutal match and I daresay one of the best for either competitor in that era. Having attended this show in person, I distinctly remember the incredibly angry crowd reaction when Edge lost the championship in front of his hometown fans. Even once fans had exited the building and beginning their various commutes home, there was just a vibe of frustration.
A ladder match follows from No Mercy 2008 between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels, and it truly highlights the greatest hits of both competitors. The Jericho-Michaels feud around this time was one of the best parts of WWE programming, and this ladder match was at the heart of it.
One more TLC match is shown, this one between Edge and The Undertaker from One Night Stand 2008 with the vacant World Heavyweight Championship hanging in the balance. I'd completely forgotten about this encounter, which sees The Dead Man being forced to "leave" WWE (for, um, a few months) and Edge regain the Big Gold Belt.
From there, we're shown some older encounters, including Pat Patterson battling a pre-Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase for the Intercontinental Title in 1979. Not a terrible match, but a bit hard to watch in today's glitzier environment.
Intercontinental Champion The Mountie defends his newly-won championship against Rowdy Roddy Piper at the Royal Rumble in 1992. It's not an incredibly long match, but tells part of a great story, as Piper won the gold and then tried to duplicate that in the evening's Rumble.
Bret Hart versus Owen Hart from WrestleMania X is next, and it's one of those matches that truly stands the test of time. Between the story of the reluctant rival brothers finally squaring off and a title opportunity for Bret hanging in the balance, this is classic WWE (actually, WWF) storytelling, with tons of neat twists and turns to keep the crowd glued to their seats. Having said that, I would have rather seen the Hart brothers' cage match from SummerSlam that year on this DVD.... but I'm not complaining.
Next we're shown the "Terri Invitational Tournament" (TIT - get it?) ladder match between The Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian at No Mercy in 1999, which is an all-time classic and set the tone for future TLC and multi-person ladder matches. Looking back now, it's still a great match but it doesn't seem as unique as it did at the time. No fault of either team... it's just an observation from watching the match some 17 years later.
Finally, we close with a match from Monday Nitro, with Booker T defending his WCW World Championship against Lance Storm. It's not a bad match, per se, but there were definitely better Storm matches (and even Storm matches from WCW) that they could have featured, although I do realize this was one of the highest-profile bouts in his career. Still, I would have taken Storm versus Hugh Morrus from WCW or Storm and Mike Awesome against Edge & Christian from WWF InVasion over this one any day.
Overall, this is a cool collection of matches that pares nicely with a 2-4 of Molson Canadian (or, if you prefer - Alexander Keith's) to sit back and watch on Canada Day weekend. But I'm not sure it's a must have by any stretch, eh?