WWE – John Cena: Greatest Rivalries (Cert 15)
2 Disc Blu-ray / 3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 456 minutes approx.
Vince McMahon must have panicked when he looked at the calendar and realised that it had been a whole five months since he milked the fans of his favourite cash cow John Cena of their hard earned money with a new Cena related DVD and wondered if the universe would implode should we not have had enough of the most over exposed wrestler on the WWE roster today.
So, to stop the “Old Man”, as he is affectionately referred to by son-in-law Triple H, from having a breakdown we have this latest compilation of matches featuring everyone’s favourite multi-coloured T-shirt model. Yippee! Crisis averted!
Amazingly despite numerous other DVD releases dedicated to the 15 time world champion (think about that for a minute) there are still matches which had yet to be retrieved from the WWE’s extensive video vault and dusted off for our viewing pleasure. However since this selection comes late in Cena’s twelve year run with the major PPV matches already available elsewhere the bulk of the material in this set comes from TV bouts, many of which are likely to have been forgotten.
The presentation style is, for reasons never explained, in the style of an old Nintendo 8-bit video game main screen – in other words we see a large image of our grinning hero next to the slogan “vs” and a selection of potential adversaries whose blocky avatars are lined up next to each other. One by one they are selected at random and we get two matches from each, previewed by some mumbled words of praise from Mr. Cena himself.
Yup, no kayfabe here despite the title suggesting this would be all business, Cena talks openly in glowing terms of his opponents, how much he admired them, learned from the older guys and how great they were away from the ring too. This sort of undermines the “rivalry” concept, especially in light of two previous releases with a similar theme featuring Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin vs The Rock, if all “good guy” Cena can do is speak with reverence of his supposedly feared rivals!
Having been on top of the WWE totem for the past decade Cena has amassed quite a catalogue of opponents over that period, but only a snippet of them are represented here, and are mostly the usual suspects you’d lay odds on being featured. I refer of course to Randy Orton, Edge, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Batista. Rounding off the list of famed opponents are Eddie Guerrero Chris Jericho, JBL and The Rock. No Kurt Angle, Umaga, Big Show, Kane, The Miz, Nexus or even Brock Lesnar.
If you are wondering about CM Punk, he’s on the list but his matches are relegated to the Blu-Ray extras only, which is mystifying as he is featured in the main panel of avatars, likely therefore to cause confusion for those watching on DVD. I can only assume that Vince is still upset about Punk walking out on the company back in January.
The biggest surprise for many would be Eddie Guerrero’s inclusion as I am sure many of us had forgotten about their brief post-Wrestlemania 19 feud on Smackdown in 2003 with Cena as the heel, which culminated in a brutal Parking Lot Brawl (featured here). Nothing here is shown in chronological order so be surprised when the 2006 feud with Edge or the 2007 feud with HBK comes before his WWE Title win over JBL in 2005.
Aside from the long forgotten Guerrero footage the only real trip back into the far depths of the archive is a match to represent the Batista feud from OVW in early 2002, when Cena was known as The Prototype and Big Dave was Leviathan. For some unexplained and baffling reason, the legendary Jim Cornette, who was on commentary for this match, was identified on the subtitles as “Michael Titus”!! I’m not sure where they got that name from or indeed how they could mistake the instantly recognisable excitable tones of one of the all time greats in wrestling for someone else!
As ever with a release concerning WWE’s most polarising star its value lies with how much Cena you can take and how important having these TV matches on DVD/Blu-ray is to you if you are not a fully paid up member of the Cenation. The PPV matches are all available else where and range from the iffy to the enjoyable depending on who the opponent is.
Conversely the seemingly never ending feud between Cena and Orton (which continues to this day, 7 years after it first began), while deserving of a place in this set under the remit of the theme, reminds us of how little the WWE has really travelled during the “Cena” era and won’t win over jaded fans, no matter how completist the may want to be with their DVD collections.
Greatest Rivalries is either going to be viewed as a cynical release by those fed up with WWE continually ramming Cena down our throats or it is another welcome DVD collection of matches featuring the undisputed company ace to sit with pride of place among the T-shirts, posters, books, sweatbands, baseball caps, figures, DVDs and other Cena related merchandise.
Summary: Hardcore Cena fans only need apply.
English Subtitles for Hard of Hearing
Disc 1 only:
Behind the Scenes of WWE 2K15
John Cena vs. CM Punk – Raw – November 23rd 2009
Trying To Do My Job
Number One Contender’s Match for WWE Championship – John Cena vs. CM Punk – Raw – February 25th 2013
Rating – ***
Man In Black