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Csonka Reviews WWE’s John Cena: Greatest Rivalries Blu-ray Set

October 14, 2014 | Posted by Larry Csonka
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Csonka Reviews WWE’s John Cena: Greatest Rivalries Blu-ray Set  

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In the spirit of full disclosure, the following DVD set was provided to 411 by WWE for review purposes.

  • The DVD set is scheduled for an October 14th, 2014 release.
  • Runtime is approximately 9 hours.
  • Synopsis: For the first time ever, relive all the classic feuds with John Cena himself as he gives insight into the rivalries that defined his WWE legacy. From his early confrontations with Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho, to career-defining battles with Shawn Michaels, JBL and Triple H, to his most recent conflicts with Batista, Randy Orton, CM Punk, and The Rock. Experience all of John Cena’s greatest rivalries in this definitive collection and witness the evolution of John Cena into one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time.

    * The chapters menu is cool, with an old school Street Fighter look, including 8-bit Cena theme music.

    Book on Knowledge: Cena calls Eddie Guerrero a tremendous book of knowledge. Eddie always made you earn it in the ring, respect and knowledge wise, but Cena says that he was lucky enough to catch Eddie during the part of his career when Eddie was willing to teach, and Cena wanted to learn.

    Number One Contender’s Tournament Match for WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Eddie Guerrero – SmackDown • April 3, 2003: This is Basic Thuganomics Cena. I hadn’t watched a lot of Eddie in a long time, which made me go back to watch more because you almost forget how good he was. Cena was very rough during this time, but worked hard. Eddie was so smooth. Cena won with the “Death Valley Driver” they called it at the time in 5:00. It was just ok, rough in spots. []

    Chicken Soup: Cena always thanked Eddie after matches, and says that Eddie always spoke with him about his work. He was quick to compliment, but was also quick to give criticism. Eddie basically showed him to make “Wrestling Chicken Soup,” and noted that you can always alter the recipe, but that the basics always worked.

    Parking Lot Brawl: John Cena vs. Eddie Guerrero – SmackDown • September 11, 2003: This is a match that would never happen today. Cena with a long, gay innuendo filled rap to begin. They used a lawnmower and garden tools, as well as tossed each other onto the cars repeatedly. There was lots of broken glass and cuts on the guys from all of that. Eddie won in 8:00 with a frog splash off of a mini van onto Cena, who was on the hood of a car. [**]

    Honed My Craft: Cena praises his time in OVW, noting the great staff and work environment. He compares his class (with Lesnar, Orton, Batista and Benjamin) to the NFL’s 1983 QB class (Kelly, Elway, Marino and O’Brien).

    OVW Championship Match: Prototype vs. Leviathan – Ohio Valley Wrestling • February 23, 2002: Obviously we’re super early career wise here for both guys, they look great and then the rest is rough. I love when matches like this are included on DVDs because it really makes you appreciate the growth of a performer. Cornette does well selling the importance of the match on commentary. Leviathan (Batista) no sells a briefcase shot and hits the demon bomb on Prototype (Cena), but we get shenanigans and they do the old ether rag on Leviathan, leading to the Prototype victory. Never change Jimmy. []

    Different Dynamic: Cena loved the fact that during the brand extension so many guys were kept apart, especially he and Batista. He felt that it lead to a bigger feel for matches, unlike today when everyone is working almost every show.

    WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match: John Cena vs. Batista – Extreme Rules • April 25, 2010: This was a match that I felt was really good and going to be great as both guys worked so hard and were making everything work. And then they shit all over it with John Cena turning into Bugs Bunny and duct taping Batista’s feet for the win. Keep it simple and don’t do dumb shit. It wasn’t clever and made Cena look like a bitch. [***½]

    Special Individual: Cena puts over how special a performer that HBK was. He always delivered great performances, but also made his opponent look great. Cena says he always worked hard, but that working with HBK was special because it felt like a night off. Cena notes how good HBK had to be to do that because he admits that he feels like a lumbering oaf in the ring at times. He’s honored to be a small note in HBK’s history book.

    John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – RAW • April 23, 2007: This was the unexpected 56-minute match that took place in London, and it still kicks ass. I feel that this is on par with the WrestleMania 23 match. This near Broadway was a really damn fine effort by both men, in hindsight I’d have chopped about 5-minutes as the final few moments felt labored and as if they were completely out of steam. This is a great addition to the DVD, Michaels is a legend and I love great wrestling. [****¼]

    Learned So Much: Cena states that when working with HBK, HBK was nearing the end of his run while Cena was still moving forward. He hopes that his enthusiasm helped motivate HBK some nights. He again reiterates that he can be a lumbering oaf but learned so much from HBK.

    John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – RAW • March 10, 2008: You realize when you go back and watch a set like this how much you miss people like HBK and Eddie Guerrero. Really good storytelling early on as HBK was able to control and counter Cena’s strength with experience and smart mat work. HBK also used a lot of Flair’s trademark working the knee spots, which also worked so well because he was facing Flair at WM 24 two weeks after this show. It was a quality and fun 13-minutes of action until the limp dick finish via Orton run in. I know it would have been foolish for one to lose two weeks before Mania, I was just digging the match and hated that it ended that way. [***½]

    Gifted: Cena says he always believed in himself and the work he did, but Randy Orton is one of the most gifted performers he has ever worked with. He even calls Orton the “HBK of his generation” in that he’s such a smooth worker and makes it look so effortless.

    WWE Championship Match – John Cena vs. Randy Orton – SummerSlam • August 26, 2007: The build to this was good I thought, Orton had transformed into a very credible challenger and with the streak Cena had been on, it was easy to get excited for a good match. And a good match it was. In my opinion this match was the polar opposite of the rest of the show. It was a good match with inspired work, guys working hard and it felt like a PPV match, a BIG TIME PPV match. Then you add in the crowd aspect, who all felt as if this was a BIG TIME PPV match due to their love and or hate of John Cena. I have said before, while it is not traditional, John Cena works on many levels as your champion. People will either pay to see him lose or pay to see him win. They pay to cheer him and they pay to cheer against him. The first 6-8 minutes were a bit slow and uninspired; not slow as in building up because it would be a long match, it was just there. But then they picked it up and things got good. I haven’t liked past encounters of theirs, as I thought they didn’t work well together but that was all gone this time around. This was a damn fine main event match, both guys worked hard, and the crowd reacted in kind. [***¾]

    Brought out the Best: Cena says that Orton always brought out the best in him and hopes that he did the same for Orton. They are very different performers but that is what makes them work.

    John Cena vs. Randy Orton – RAW • February 10, 2014: Have you seen these guys wrestle before? It’s a lot like that just about all of those matches. They did the Reader’s Digest/Best of match here, and it was perfectly fine. By the time 2014 rolled around, I just didn’t want to see these guys feuding or having matches. [**½]

    Hard-Nosed: Cena compares JBL to a hard-nosed football coach, like a Vince Lombardi. He always expected the best from everyone, and always gave him best. Cena said that they would beat the hell out of each other and would be able to laugh about it afterwards. They share a mutual respect due to that.

    WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. JBL – WrestleMania 21 • April 3, 2005: At the time this was labeled one of the most under whelming WWE Title wins in WrestleMania history. Nearly a decade later, and I cannot complain. This was the early days and Cena did the get beat up and hit one move out of nowhere with no build or really good selling for the win. Even then the agents were lazy as hell. It was the beginning of the new Generation with Cena as WWE champion. I’d say Cena on top, but since Triple H had the world title at that time, he was “the guy, brother.” [**]

    Heavily-Calloused: Cena says that the outings with Eddie, Lesnar, Angle and Taker made him a calloused performer, so in other words, he was prepared to work with JBL. The one thing he loves about wrestling is being different and all of the different styles. JBL’s style was hit hard and hit often.

    John Cena vs. JBL – RAW • June 9, 2008: This was a little 10-minute TV match that was just fine. Although, since many of their PPV matches were far from great, I won’t really argue. [**]

    Talk You into Building: Cena feels Jericho is like a Muhammad Ali, he talks you into the building and can sell about any match. And then when he gets you into the building he always entertains you.

    “You’re Fired! Match” for the WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho – RAW • August 22, 2005: This was Chris Jericho taking a break from the business for two years, and Cena was the guy to take him out of action. Cena and Jericho, to me, only worked together “ok” and not nearly as well as Cena did with guys like Edge or Punk. I always felt that they had chemistry issues that prevented them from achieving greatness. [***]

    Gave Me a Chance: Cena feels that he owes a lot of his early success to Jericho. Early on people looked at Cena and didn’t think he had it and Jericho felt that Cena deserved a chance and was willing to work with him.

    World Heavyweight Championship Match: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho – Survivor Series • November 23, 2008: This match came off as a complete disappointment to me. It’s certainly not a bad match, but it severely lacks. There’s no urgency to the work, and the biggest thing is that they never fully explored Cena’s lack of confidence in returning from injury or the fact that Jericho was constantly outsmarting him and not allowing him to pick up momentum. Add that into some shady selling and it’s just good. [***]

    Special Feature – Behind the Scenes Look at WWE 2K15: This was a short, two minute feature, where Cena discusses the new game and we see his photo shoot. The best part of this was watching Cesaro wreck fools with uppercuts in a motion capture suit.

    Old Shoe: Cena says that Edge is awesome, and cannot say enough good things about him as a performer and as a person. Edge wasn’t supposed to get the shot he did, but he certainly proved worthy. They had so many matches, and it was easy and worked every time. Working with Edge felt like putting on an old, comfortable shoe.

    WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. Edge – RAW • October 2, 2006: This was a cage match main event on Raw, and was a pretty good match, but had a really fun finish. The Redneck Whirling Dervish (Cade and Murdoch) got involved to try and take out Cena, which led to DX making the save. Shawn superkicks Murdoch into the door, which then slams into Edge’s face, stunning him enough for Cena to hit the FU for the [***½]

    Who Am I ?: Cena doesn’t want to be known as just the best of a group that didn’t give a chance. It’s not up to him to decide who doesn’t get a chance; he enjoys working with everyone and giving chances. He would be disappointed if he didn’t give chances to others. Edge was the rival he needed at the time, and their rivalry produced a ton of great matches.

    World Heavyweight Championship Last Man Standing Match: John Cena vs. Edge – Backlash • April 26, 2009: Edge and Cena is another combination that I feel always works. I remember absolutely loving this match when it happened, and I still think that it is great. But the overblown finish with Big Show getting involved really hurts things for me. Last man standing matches aren’t easy to work, because the long counts aren’t as sexy as the near falls or submission attempts, but these two made it work very well. [****¼]

    Measuring Stick: Triple H is the Game and the true measuring stick in the WWE. You have to work with him for the chance to be a major star. So many worked with him and then faded away, but Cena kept on rising. Triple H can help decide who the true stars are, and that’s why he is a measuring stick for WWE performers.

    WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. Triple H – WrestleMania 22 • April 2, 2006: While they definitely had the crowd in the palm of their hand, and that is a big deal, the felt that the match failed on a basic wrestling level. They did their best in trying to make this come off as an epic encounter, and they succeeded to a point, but I just never got into the work. There has to be something more than just a crowd reaction as the main event at a WrestleMania, and as such I believe that it failed in that. This isn’t a knock on Cena, and this isn’t a HHH bashing session. They got the crowd going well, and I dug the atmosphere, I just never felt emotionally invested in any way. [***]

    Advice: Cena says that Triple H is very knowledgeable. Cena says learns from everyone, but more so with Triple H because he has seen and done it all. Cena says Triple H helped him grow as a performer, because Triple H knows so much about the business.

    John Cena vs. Triple H – RAW • October 19, 2009: This was a match that didn’t even main event the show, but easily stole it. I personally think this match is superior to the WrestleMania one from three years earlier. For me, everything clicked in this match and the 20-minutes flew by. I had forgotten all about this match, and it was well worth going back to watch. I would say that since I completely forgot about this match that this would be classified as a forgotten gem. [****]

    Global Phenomenon: Cena says the Rock is just awesome. His name is a global phenomenon at this point, and he wanted the feud because he has always been compared to the top stars of the 90s. Rock is an all-time great, but he didn’t want Dwayne, he wanted the best, he wanted the Rock. Cena said to go to the next level as a star he needed to face the Rock, and by doing so, he feels he got to that next level.

    John Cena & The Rock Q&A – RAW • March 25, 2013: You can read 411’s report form the show, including al of the details from the Q&A at this link. My thoughts from that time: Jerry Lawler is the moderator, and to ask questions to John Cena and the Rock, we have Booker T, Mick Foley, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and Bret Hart. Flair was supposed to be there, but was sent home due to health issues. I tend not to be a fan of “debate” style segments, but for the most part I liked the promos here. It was seriously it was about winning and losing, and I felt the Hall of Fame guys added nicely to the segment. I am really glad that they dropped a lot of the comedy stuff and went with the serious tone for the feud, because that is what it needed. I liked Cena getting pissed when Rock discussed beating him, noting that he had Rock beat and only lost because he did something stupid. That played into the end, where Rock called out Cena, and left him laying with the Rock Bottom. The only real downside to the segment was that it felt really long, and that is not a good feeling. Overall a good segment, but far from a homerun.

    Sequel: Cena says Rock was loved in their feud, and compares it to Apollo vs. Rocky. They earned each other’s respect and feels working with Rock was a high point in his career.

    WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. The Rock – WrestleMania XXIX • April 7, 2013: In ways the match felt technically better at times than last year’s effort, but the crowd didn’t really care. Some token “Cena sucks” stuff, excitement for a finisher, but generally not much reaction and it really just did nothing to help you get into the match. They finally got the crowd into it on a few near falls and when Rock mocked Cena with the five-knuckle shuffle and they teased the finish based off of last year’s finish. They did the big “boo-yay” striking exchange, and then Cena got the Rock bottom for a good near fall. Cena then looked to do the same finish as last year, but knew better; unfortunately Rock also knew better and got Rock bottom for a close 2. Tons of finisher reversals followed, and Cena finally got the AA for the win at about 24-minutes. It was like they realized that shit wasn’t working, and after the teases from last year, they just started unloading with finishers and counters to finishers to get the crowd fully back. They were trying to tell this epic tale of redemption for Cena, which no one bought because it wasn’t like he ever stopped being John Cena. I ended up really liking the homestretch and feel they did a great job of getting the live crowd back into things, but it was far from the epic they tried to make it out to be. [***½]

    Underlying Passion: He feels that he and Punk share a passion. Cena loves the WWE, while Punk just loves wrestling. He says that they do things their own way, and may even do so to a fault. The Cena Punk feud was a perfect clash of personalities.

    John Cena vs. CM Punk – RAW • November 23, 2009: This is far from the gem that they had later in the set (from 2013) but is another good punk vs. Cena match. There are some combinations of guys that just seem to always have great matches together, Cena and Punk were two of those guys. [***½]

    Trying To Do My Job: Cena prides himself on being everywhere for the company. But when you are everywhere and people always see you, they can crave something different. Punk was that something different, and the fans loved him. Punk was the right opponent at the right time, and feels that their feud was an amplified version of Cena and RVD. Cena is happy with what he stands for, even with the criticism he gets.

    Number One Contender’s Match for WWE Championship: John Cena vs. CM Punk – RAW • February 25, 2013: This was the match that led to Cena vs. Rock II, and was the culmination of the two-year Cena vs. Punk feud. They played up the rivalry between the two, the fact that Punk had actually gotten the better of Cena, and that he was a real threat to Cena’s title shot. I wouldn’t call this a historically significant match on the level of HBK vs. Hart or Austin winning KOTR, but it is easily one of the best TV matches of 2013 (most felt the best), and since I always appreciate good wrestling I am fine with it being on the set. Punk and Cena have tremendous chemistry, and seem to deliver each time out. I rewatched this, and felt it came off even better than the last time I saw it. [****½]

    The final score: review Very Good
    The 411
    I feel that this is one of the more enjoyable DVD sets WWE has released in some time. The non-documentary format was perfect for this style of DVD, as we focused on the feuds and Cena’s thoughts on his opponents. I felt he came off very genuine and complimentary of the people he had worked with over the years, and that made me appreciate the efforts even more. You have some great matches with Edge, HBK, Punk and Triple H on here, which are great to go back and watch. I know it’s fun to mock Cena, and his booking can be frustrating, but this set also supports that he generally delivers in the big time matches.

    While the 9-hour run time seems like a lot to get through, the set was a very easy watch. We had some very good matches, some quality comments from Cena and while the PPV stuff is available on the Network, you have a lot of content that’s not (the OVW match, the early stuff with Eddie, and the later Raw stuff).

    I will give this Blu-ray set a thumbs up, it was a fun collection to watch.

  • article topics :

    John Cena, WWE, Larry Csonka