DVD / Blu-Ray

John Cena: Hustle, Loyalty, Respect – DVD Review

Matthew Roberts reviews WWE Home Video UK’s latest release; John Cena: Hustle, Loyalty, Respect.

Matthew Roberts spends six hours plus with Internet favourite John Cena, courtesy of WWE Home Video’s latest release.

It’s unlikely that many in the “IWC” will be salivating at the prospect of a two-disc, fifteen match collection of John Cena matches from a 2015-19 time span.  There is also, however, no point in denying that there are many fans who will be more than happy to spend that much time with a Cena collection.  Personally, whilst the prospect of fifteen matches from John in one sitting doesn’t fill me joy there has to be the recognition that Cena has been involved in many great matches; someone who can carry The Great Khali to a good match will always get points in my book.  The question going in to this DVD is whether or not the good of Cena will outweigh the bad…

We start off, it has to be said, with a match that offers up a little bit of both sides; his United States Championship match with Rusev from WrestleMania 31.  It’s a spectacle worthy of the biggest show of the year (partly due to Rusev’s tank!) and as a match it is a good effort.  But whilst it is a cliché to go to the Cena burying people trope so early into the review, it’s not a match that does Rusev many favours.  Even less when you consider the feud goes on for two more PPV’s, both of which Cena won.  Indeed the Payback 2015 “I Quit” match with Rusev is also included here.  Again it’s a good effort and I have no problems with the babyface taking the feud ender and making the dastardly heel say “I Quit”. But when that babyface has already won the big matches, it does all seem rather pointless. Those two matches bookend two Raw United States Championship defences against Stardust and Sami Zayn.  The former appears to have been included just to show Cena’s dominance over an “AEW” guy.  The latter match is a very good  affair which, due to WWE’s booking style, wasn’t actually a “passing of the torch” style loss for Zayn but you cannot fault the lengths to which Cena goes to put over Zayn as an equal in a very even match up indeed.

The Battleground 2015 match with Kevin Owens is also a very good one.  Admittedly, again, Cena had already defeated Owens at Money in the Bank so this is another match that really didn’t “need” to happen but it’s exciting and you could almost be forgiven for thinking Owens might actually win.  A Raw match with Seth Rollins from the same month is even better and at least Cena’s win here was a set up for the Champion vs. Champion match at Summerslam. Which isn’t on here, perhaps because Cena loses that one. 

Disc one finishes with a Raw US Title defence against Dolph Ziggler which is decent enough without ever really threatening to be memorable.

There’s nothing from 2016, perhaps because John’s only win on PPV that year came when teaming with persona non grata Big Cass and Enzo.  Two losses to AJ Styles that year on PPV in singles matches are ignored in favour of his 2017 Royal Rumble win against the same opponent.  Whilst there’s obviously comments to make there, in terms of match quality you cannot argue.  Their SummerSlam 2016 match was good, but their Rumble match the following year is even better.  And that can’t all be down to Styles being a miracle worker. We skip forward to August 2017 for a SmackDown match with Shinsuke Nakamura in what could only be termed an interesting clash of styles.  Cena actually loses this one, clean, and this is certainly one occasion where you can’t accuse Cena of not putting over an opponent. 

A match with the IWC’s other favourite son Roman Reigns from No Mercy 2017 is another good effort too.  That it was thrown together on a “B” show with little preamble was perhaps a sign that Cena’s career was well and truly winding down even then.  Due to the circumstances, the “WrestleMania main event calibre” match fails to really grab you like it might have done in an 80,000 stadium setting but it’s nevertheless a very good match even if it’s not the “passing of the torch” moment it could have been.  Not sure who the Internet would have given the credit to though. 

A Raw match with Elias is nothing much, whilst a 2018 match against Finn Balor, with a spot in the Elimination Chamber match at stake, is better.  A no-DQ match with Kane from March of that year is pointless, whilst his match with Triple H from the Greatest Royal Rumble is the equivalent of watching a Rolling Stones greatest hits concert.  It’s fun, it’s entertaining (up to a point) but all things considered, the two did it so much better years ago.  Things round-up with one of Cena’s few 2019 matches, as he clashes with Balor, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin in a match to decide who faces Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.

If you’re not a fan of John Cena, you’re unlikely to be swayed by this collection, as good-to-great as many of the individual matches are. Indeed, only the most ardent of his fans will be able to watch this set in one sitting as match-after-match of Cena does tend to highlight the, shall we say, similarities in his work output.  That said, the majority of matches here are well worth watching and are proof that for all the vitriol thrown his way, John Cena can deliver where it matters.

Format Reviewed; DVD

Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE

Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of John Cena; Hustle, Loyalty Respect which is out Monday 27th May on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.

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