Next week will see the latest WWE DVD and Blu-ray release hit stores in the United States (on 20th October for fans in the UK & Europe and early November for WWE fans in Australia) – “John Cena: Greatest Rivalries”. This three disc DVD set collects together John Cena’s greatest rivals from his 10+ year WWE career as he gives his thoughts on each rival.
Today here at WrestlingDVDNews.com, we decided to mix up the review a little. I’m sure you are aware John Cena is quite the polarizing figure in WWE – while he has legions of the WWE Universe behind him, a rather vocal percentage of the Universe think that he “sucks”.
With this in mind this review will be a special “Let’s go Cena” vs. “Cena Sucks” look at the new DVD and Blu-ray, by both myself (Mark) and Daniel.
I will go through the DVD and argue what is good about it (the “Let’s Go Cena”) and Daniel will argue what is not so good about it (the “Cena Sucks”). We will conclude with whether or not “John Cena: Greatest Rivalries” is: “Let’s Go Cena DVD” or “Cena DVD Sucks”.
FYI: All of the “Lets go” points will be written in blue, while the “Sucks” arguments will be illustrated with red text. So let’s take a look at John Cena: Greatest Rivalries….
Daniel: So, ANOTHER John Cena WWE DVD release?
Mark: Well, yes. It really doesn’t feel like it, but it has been almost four years since John Cena last had a WWE DVD release (of course no one counts the “Superstar Collections as “proper” releases) but considering that Cena is the top merchandise selling superstar (maybe due to the quantity he actually has) WWE hasn’t really exploited this on home video. Since his debut Cena has only had three DVD releases (Word Life, My Life and John Cena Experience) when you compare this verses Hulk Hogan during his 80s/90s run there were about five volumes of “Hulkamania” on VHS plus quite a few other Hulk Hogan tapes released, so do we WWE DVD folks really have it that bad when it comes to John Cena sets?
Fair enough. I remember being actually quite excited for his last one, John Cena Experience. That might have had something to do with it being (if I recall) the first Superstar set on Blu-ray format. Nonetheless, it left me disappointed.
One feature of this set which is really cool, and honestly popped me the first time I saw them, was the very cool Street Fighter-esque match graphics which represent each of the rivalries. Another thing which is nice is how they are updated to each of the bouts to reflect John Cena and his opponents in the era that the matches take place. Video packages on the DVDs are usually quite generic so this video game style to them feels really refreshing. At times you even kind of wish it were a video game!
Yeah but Punk’s on there. He’s a Blu-ray exclusive so he’s never going to be selected on the DVD! We’re into the interviews after those admittedly cool intros but I’m noticing early on in the feature that Cena doesn’t really discuss the “RIVALRIES” as more often than not he is discussing only the “RIVALS” themselves in a general fashion. Maybe this one should have been called John Cena: Greatest Rivals?
Well, it’s nice to see Cena himself got involved in the set. This was something which looks to have annoyed a sizable percentage of the guys and girls reading WrestlingDVDNews.com with the recent Best of Sting DVD, where he wasn’t involved at all. John Cena: Greatest Rivalries is the antithesis of the Sting set as the comments here ONLY come from John Cena; no others are involved at all.
A negative point of the interviews though is that while John Cena is discussing the rivals in the upcoming matches, he really makes no references to the actual match which is coming up. Did you catch that? In all honestly it’s like they filmed these segments without planning what the preceding match would be. Wait, did they? So with these interviews not being very long nor referring to specific moments/events of the rivalries, there’s not a whole lot of substance between content. You need some with a match compilation set to avoid monotony.
In terms of the production, the set is presented as normal in widescreen format with the older footage in the video packages panned and scanned to fill the screen with the match footage and (where 4:3) plain black sidebars have been utilized. Hopefully this is the new norm now with WWE DVD releases and we are finally rid of those fancy pants patterned sidebars. This is presented perfectly.
All well and good, but none of the matches feature any date graphics, which when you are jumping around in time (like this set does) would have really helped me while I was watching. I kept having to pull out the box or my favorite website in the whole wide world (WrestlingDVDNews.com – of course) to see what match was coming up next or indeed when the match I was actually watching took place. Yeah, I need context!
The Parking Lot Brawl match against Eddie Guerrero: shades of the “Iron Circle” match (does anyone even remember that)? Cena and Guerrero hold their no holds barred battle in the centre of a circle of cars surrounded by superstars. This one was a fun and physical match, with many weapons being utilized along with the cars themselves.
That was fun to go back and watch – a rather unique match and a cool ending with Chavo setting up the frog splash and Eddie’s funny line, “I’ve got a headache” – but quite frankly it needed to be fun because the featured Eddie Guerrero match before this one was seemingly just a throw away with Cena making short work of Eddie.
It was cool to see WWE use some of the old OVW footage, personally I haven’t seen much of this footage at all, and so anytime we get some OVW I’m up for it. It was also great to hear the “Louisville Slugger” Jim Cornette on commentary – he does an awesome job of getting over the action with his completely over the top style. However, it’s really refreshing to hear commentators commentate on wrestling – granted I didn’t feel the need to download an app while watching, but I did get into the match.
No comeback to that one? Nothing to say? Next up we get a John Cena vs. Batista match from 2010, which was 8 years removed from the last match we saw, and it was really nice to see the progression of both John Cena and Batista from their very early days right up to their career high in 2010.
While it is nice to see the progression of John Cena and Batista in the eight years between their two matches, I can’t look past the finish in this last man standing match – duct tape? Seriously, duct tape? C’mon… I don’t really want to be reminded of that.
Awesome to see the John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels match from London, England on here. This match is truly one of the better TV matches in WWE history and thus anytime it can be included on a set – it’s a huge plus for that release. At more than 45 minutes long, this WrestleMania 23 rematch wowed the crowd; which even warmed to Cena (a teeny-tiny bit) as the match progressed. And you were there, weren’t you?!
Regretfully the commercial breaks (staying with the action in those breaks) have not been added back into this awesome match up; that would have been a fantastic addition to the match. Yeah, I was there live in attendance in the 4th row for this one, so I’d live to relive it properly please! I can’t fault this match (perhaps my fondest experience at a live WWE show even ahead of attending two WrestleMania events, it’s just relentless and never simmers down) but I can fault that none of the commercial extensions look to have been added back into this or any of the TV matches on this release. We DVD collectors deserve a little extra, don’t we?
Mark: One year later and we have another rematch of the WrestleMania 23 match. This time the Shawn Michaels battles John Cena in a “WrestleMania Rewind” match from the March 10, 2008 edition of RAW. Again it was John Cena in there with Shawn Michaels – so it was never going to be a bad match was it? It was cool to see the WrestleMania 23 match referenced in the prior video package and then have two rematches included to represent the “Shawn Michaels Rivalry”. Also (I won’t spoil it too much) the finish of this match sets up perfectly for the next rivalry which is featured.
Daniel: Yeah, it would set up perfectly if you are watching on the Blu-ray. If you are watching on the DVD you’re going to have to change discs for the next rivalry.
We’re on to the rivalry with Randy Orton now. Actually, I think the SummerSlam 2007 match was one of the earlier and better John Cena vs. Randy Orton bouts which we were “treated” to over the years. I only recall a couple of matches prior to this.
Our next match comes almost SEVEN years later, yes these two have been feuding on and off for almost 10 years, and between these two matches I think we’ve seen one or two other matches between these two, but I’m not 100%. 😉 We’ve Cena nuff Orton vs. Cena ain’t we?!?
Well, while I’m not going to disagree there, but at least they picked their match from the February 10, 2014 edition of RAW, rather than the one at the Royal Rumble a couple of weeks earlier where the Pittsburgh crowd was ‘somewhat’ hostile.
During the video package interview for the Randy Orton rivalry, John Cena describes Randy Orton as the Shawn Michaels of his generation. Really? Unlike the Batista segment there is no real discussion of Randy Orton and John Cena coming up through WWE together and how in essence that makes them born rivals, especially as their careers were so close – even debuting on the main roster a few weeks apart.
John “Bradshaw” Layfield is up next, and while this isn’t one of their better matches, this was the one which really set John Cena up as a main eventer. Granted I would have preferred the Judgement Day blood bath, but more than likely this one was included to ensure the set didn’t have to go for a TV-14 rating. It’s something I can most definitely live with.
Catering to PG for Cena are we? As for the match, I get Cena was always going to win and should have, but that match was really short and underwhelming considering JBL’s great title run before going into this match. And there’s nothing really special at all from the next JBL match featured. It’s just a forgettable match up; the only interesting thing was the fact that Triple H was on commentary and as the Orton feud before you’d think the Triple H rivalry was up next, but no, this time it’s not.
It’s been a while since I saw the “You’re Fired” match up. This was of course Chris Jericho’s original exit from WWE, and it was cool to see the post match angle where Jericho was carried out included. It was unique then and still feels that way now.
That was good but how about this second Chris Jericho match featured? The Survivor Series 2008 match was John Cena’s return from injury and while his hometown crowd were into the match, personally I wasn’t. This is another example of a great title run coming crashing to a halt, in Cena’s first match back no less!
What really is apparent at this point is that none of these matches are given ANY historical context at all. They are just completely thrown at us, plus not having any date graphics on the matches is making them really hard to place in time (as they are jumping around in time as well). Granted, matches are thrown at us with no context on other sets, but when I see the matches as “extras” I don’t mind that so much. Here they are the main feature of the set and thus there should be some context given, shouldn’t there?
You’ve already made that point. If you want some context, look to the segments where John Cena discusses Edge and his rivalry with him – these are some of the better ones on the whole DVD set, and this has two match choices which I enjoyed. The cage match was a solid contest and the Last Man Standing match was also fun – I know the last man standing match has been released on a few sets now, but still it’s an enjoyable contest.
I’m watching the same segments. I thought going into this DVD that the one-on-one sit down interview with Cena would be a saving grace of the set. We don’t usually seem to hear from Cena in a candid way too often because to me he’s very much a company guy with a lot of stock answers. I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case in the interviews here since it’s a bit of a more relaxed setting, but nope, typical Cena!
WrestleMania 22 – Wasn’t this where “Let’s Go Cena” / “Cena Sucks” had its origins? This one is presented in full and does include the famous entrances by both the challenger: Triple “The Barbarian” H and champion: John “The Mobster” Cena (complete with his Punky mobster). Helluva match at the time, with a rather shocking ending I thought.
After the WrestleMania 22 match we move forward to 2009 and again there is no context as to why this 2009 match with Triple H is taking place or even what was going on at the time to continue the “rivalry”. In fact were Triple H and Cena even “rivalling” at this point, or was it a random TV match? I guess we won’t know – no context.
The Rock rivalry: I did enjoy the Cena vs. Rock feud the first time around. Let’s admit that the first match was epic, built for more than a year and most definitely living up to the hype. However, the second match….
…Not so much. That’s the one on here, you know! I really liked the idea of “Once in a Lifetime” the year before and the WrestleMania XXIX match turned out to be really forgettable. Yeah, The Rock was injured early in the match, but I don’t think this match came close to the first one. It didn’t help that the NY/NJ crowd didn’t feel as into the match as the Miami crowd was the year earlier either. So if we don’t remember the second match, I guess that does make the first “Once in a Lifetime” in a way. Ha.
What I think makes up for that is the inclusion of the “John Cena & The Rock Q&A” verbal promo in the lead up to their second Mania match. It’s really a good segment and it was nice to reach a promo on this set after all those matches back to back.
Let’s Go Cena 17 – Cena Sucks 17
In conclusion, if you’re a John Cena fan, then you were probably always going to like this DVD and Blu-ray set. If you don’t like (even hate – Daniel?) John Cena, then honestly there probably wasn’t anything that anyone said which would make you like this set. From someone who is usually more towards the not liking John Cena side, I will admit that this isn’t a bad DVD set by any stretch. Honestly, it wasn’t one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2014, in fact its way, way down on that list, but it was a solid set nonetheless.
There are most definitely improvements which could have been made to help make the set a little more enjoyable: from simple things like writing the dates on the beginning of each match, to providing us with even a 1-2 minute history package for each match to let us know what was going on – after all this was the main feature. I don’t feel that random matches are an issue when they are extras, like on a documentary set, but this wasn’t a documentary. Cena’s interviews bits were good, though they could have been more specific to the feuds.
All in all the matches which were chosen (for the most part) were very solid choices and it made for a solid DVD set, certainly not DVD of the year, but it certainly isn’t the worst *cough* Brothers of Destruction *cough*. You also get two extra John Cena vs. CM Punk matches if you opt for the Blu-ray, which look to be their first and last encounters with each other on WWE TV.
Ultimately, if I had to come down on just the one side, I would have to say that the “John Cena: Greatest Rivalries” DVD and Blu-ray is more “Let’s Go Cena” than “Cena Sucks”.
Get your copy of the “John Cena: Greatest Rivalries” WWE DVD/Blu-ray…
– UK/Europe: Pre-order now from WWEDVD.co.uk for October 20th.
– Australia: Pre-order now from WWEDVD.com.au for November 5th..