The latest WWE produced collection for John Cena is not going to change anyone’s mind about him. If you love him, you will love a collection that shows him in a great light. If you hate him and blame him for all the ills (perceived or real) of the current product you will not flip 180 degrees after watching this. But casting a critical eye over John Cena’s Greatest Rivalries, is it any good and is it worth your money?
First things first, I loved the 8-Bit gaming style introductions to the feuds. OK, so by the time you are in the final hour of disc three it’s lost its charm, it is fun and was a nice touch as far as I was concerned.
The DVD aims to profile nine of Cena’s “greatest rivalries” (with a section on his feud with CM Punk being a Blu-Ray only exclusive) by giving us Cena’s thoughts on particular opponents and then two matches between the pair to represent the in-ring action.
The first problem is John Cena’s contributions. When he’s not taunting smart fans by saying things like he’s a man who believes in giving others the opportunity (arguing, for instance, that if not for his backing of Edge, the Straight Edge Superstar would never have been given an opportunity on top) his contributions offer little beyond brief platitudes for his opponents, outside of kayfabe limitations. Eddie Guerrero could be difficult, but taught Cena a lot. Batista wants to be the best. Shawn Michaels is the greatest ever. Randy Orton wants to be the best. JBL hits hard. Chris Jericho wants to be the best. Edge was a great talent. HHH is the measuring stick if you want to be the best. He and The Rock were wary of each other but they developed a mutual respect.
As an off-screen personality, I do kind of like John Cena, but he says so little of interest here that you wonder why they bothered taking this approach. That none of his opponents pop up with their comments is another disappointment. Also a missed opportunity is the fact that context isn’t provided for the rivalries beyond Cena’s generic platitudes. As limited as the WWE’s 25 Greatest Rivalries DVD was, at least it made some attempt to place feuds in context. Here you’re expected to know all about the feuds and why they were so great.
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So this compilation is pretty much going to live or die by its in-ring material. There is a pretty even split between PPV and TV matches. There’s two TV bouts against Guerrero which are entertaining, and the Parking Lot Brawl between them is something different from the normal Cena routine if nothing else. (And worth it for the glimpse of Cena’s old freestyle rapping gimmick beforehand). An OVW match between Prototype and Leviathan (Cena and Batista) is interesting but doesn’t point to the stars that both men would become. Yet, the Last Man Standing match from Extreme Rules 2010 is a good effort.
Cena’s near hour long match with Shawn Michaels from April 2007 Raw is perhaps over-exposed by now but it’s a sterling effort. It should be one in the eye for those “Cena can’t work” haters because even with an opponent like HBK, going for an hour and pulling off a great match isn’t something everyone can do. But as far as Cena is concerned there is no middle ground.
The two matches out of the three and half million that Cena has had with Randy Orton are adequate and whilst the WrestleMania championship match with JBL is “ok” it’s perhaps a necessary inclusion here. Two matches with Chris Jericho, from a 2005 Raw and Survivor Series 2008 are good quality without ever quite hitting top gear, whereas the matches with Edge (from a 2006 Raw and Backlash 2009) show just what superb opponents these two were for each other. Love or hate either man, you can’t deny they clicked in the ring.
A WrestleMania match with HHH may represent the “pinnacle” you reach for in the WWE but it’s not a great match (though it is in no way terrible) and the Raw match against him is the better of the two. We can’t end with TWO Rock matches, so we get a Q&A from Raw (with sights of Bret Hart and Booker T, to name two) and things finish with the WrestleMania “Twice in a Lifetime” rematch which is at least better than the first one.
The matches range from passable to excellent. They appear to have been carefully selected to show different sides of Cena as a wrestler and there’s little of the “routine” that many say makes Cena’s matches stale affairs. Of course haters will trot out the “carried by good workers” line for the good bouts on here but whatever his faults are, when Cena is motivated and up for it, he is capable of holding up his end of the bargain within the squared circle.
The only DVD extra is a brief feature on Cena’s photo shoot for the 2K15 video game. Essential it is not.
In isolation this is a decent compilation of matches, albeit with not much of interest to link them together and it fails to provide much context behind the feuds featured. But still, as stated, if you’re just basing it on matches alone there is plenty of entertainment and excitement to be found.
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