WWE – The John Cena Experience (Cert PG)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 117 minutes approx
Regular readers of my wrestling reviews will know that I am not exactly John Cena’s biggest fan. So the idea of spending a further two hours of my life with the WWE’s invincible and omnipotent hero was a prospect I considered on a par with being locked in a room with David Cameron, George Osbourne, Katie Hopkins, a flatulent warthog, a leprous zombie and a million spiders – i.e: not too enthused!
But, I ask you to prepare some ice skates for the lord of the underworld as I am forced to write words of praise towards the polarising chappie after seeing this bargain priced DVD, which takes a unique behind the scenes look at three months in the life of John Cena the wrestler, the actor, the rapper, the company ambassador and the record breaking wish maker.
This footage for this release was originally filmed at the end of 2009 beginning with the annual Tribute To The Troops show from that year to the weekend after Wrestlemania 26 in 2010. It may only cover a four month period but we get to see just how much Cena is expected to do on behalf of the WWE and, on rare occasions, for himself in that time period. Anyone expecting to see any matches will be disappointed as there is a grand total of about 15 seconds of in-ring action in this programme but as you’ve probably guessed it’s not about that.
Featuring narration via interviews from the man himself we begin with Cena and a host of WWE stars paying their annual visit to the US troops serving in Iraq, meeting the men and women of the armed forces in hospital and serving on the frontline. Next they cover his guest appearance in a US TV show called Psyche where everyone heaps tons of praise on Cena for being a natural actor and a charismatic presence on set. I don’t see it myself and while I may be a tad jaded, he just comes across as John Cena here. Similarly the making of the film Legendary, shown later on, also sees high praise bestowed upon our subject, for playing an ex-wrestler with a drink problem of all things! Rumours Jake Roberts was considered for he role are unsubstantiated!
While Cena the actor leaves a lot to be desired a more familiar version to us is shown when he is called upon to promote WWE on famed US sports channel ESPN, spending a large chunk of a whole day going from show to show and answering the same questions over and over from clueless hosts. Amazingly Cena handles himself with great patience and poise whereas I am sure others would have been tempted to powerbomb the interviewers through their desks.
The next adventure in our man’s busy diary is detailed over an extended collection of vignettes concerning something called the Fiesta Bowl which is an annual American Football game, held that year ironically at the same venue as Wrestlemania 26. Cena is going to toss the coin to start the game which is apparently a prestigious role. Similar to Wrestlemania, the event is held over a whole weekend with a parade, gala dinner and other happenings, where the organisers claim Cena was the most mobbed celeb in the history of the event. While he was well received and well supported, the footage shows that this was hardly Beatlemania levels of crowd adoration but if the Americans are good at anything it is hyperbole.
Incidentally, a suited and booted Cena mentions that he was wearing cufflinks at the request of his wife. Remember this was 2010 and they divorced last year but it’s interesting to hear this line when his current relationship with Nikki Bella has been a major storyline in the Total Divas “reality” show.
Cena’s Make-A-Wish work is highlighted here as he receives an award for his 140th wish (he’s now exceeded 400 – up yours Bieber with your paltry 200 and boasts of being the top wish maker!) and takes some time out to bring a smile to the faces of many young kids, spending the day with them and again at the 2010 Money In The Bank PPV. Regardless of how I feel about Cena the wrestling character, this side of his work is deserving of praise and it’s amazing to see him approach this with the same energy and humility as he does any other public appearance.
While there is no wrestling action to speak of the backstage footage from the Wrestlemania weekend should provide sufficient interest for grapple fans. From signing 3000 photos in two hours to a torturous workout and more, Cena is busy as ever and again we have to wonder where he gets the energy from. Even he admits his sleep after the Hall Of Fame is his first break in months!
My beef has always been with John Cena the wrestler and the tacky over protected superhero character he plays on TV, but even I am forced to admit the man behind this goofy over exposed persona deserves a lot of credit. This DVD shows the selfless commitment he has made to his job and the accompanying burden of being a high profile ambassador for the WWE, a tireless role of great responsibility which he has accepted with grace and little complaint.
Perhaps the constant endorsements become a little grating after awhile, with Cena being hailed as great actor, rapper, song-writer, cultural icon and potential second coming but again, credit where it is due for this philanthropic activities. If he could only learn to wrestle better and cut a decent promo…
Cena fans will understandably be bursting with pride at the end of the two hours and while this may not win him any new admirers, I think even the most ardent will at least have a new found respect for the man after watching this. He has mine.
English SDH, German and French subtitles
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black