Reviews from Across the Pond: The John Cena Experience
Posted by Jack Stevenson on 09.14.2012
I know you'll probably have already made up your mind as to whether you'll enjoy this DVD by reading the title, but please click to read anyway!
THE JOHN CENA EXPERIENCE
Before we get underway, I suppose I should share my opinion on John Cena; a good, solid worker who can rise to great or dip to below-par depending on opponent, storyline or mood.
Disc 1- Documentary
Have you ever watched one of those two minute video packages on a slow episode of WWE Raw that feature John Cena making a TV appearance or filming a movie or meeting some soldiers, and thought to yourself ďgosh, I wish these would all be put together to form a ninety minute documentary that we would then have to pay for the privilege of viewing?Ē If you did, then you will love the John Cena Experience. If, however, you were looking for a documentary that imparts interesting information about one of the most fascinating and controversial performers in WWE history, you are going to be sorely disappointed.
The first hour of the John Cena Experience sees him feature on the 2009 Tribute to the Troops, appear on the TV show Psych, talk College Football on ESPN, toss the coin at the Fiesta Bowl, rehearse the movie Legendary, model for his official action figure, record a song for the Legendary soundtrack, and appear on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. On paper, itís impressive they were able to cram so much of Cenaís life into one hour, but on DVD it really isnít, for three reasons. One, that not one of the aforementioned segments offers any genuine insight into Cenaís life besides from the fact that itís busy and heís popular. Two, that none of the segments are particularly interesting, unless you like watching brief Psych clips and John Cena purporting to like music while simultaneously destroying it with his awful song for Legendary. And three, that despite each segment lasting about five minutes, many of them are heavily padded and feel like they go on for a million hours. Watch him rehearse the same fight scene over and over and over and over again for Legendary. Chart his progress in the Fiesta Bowl Parade, minute by minute, autograph by autograph. Spurn the DVD to watch paint dry as Cena sits on a chair and stares into a face scanner while plugging the Mattel action range. Resist the urge to slit your wrists in order to curtail the suffering. Remind yourself that the stop button is a viable option.
After all these tiresome vignettes are done, we move onto watching John Cenaís responsibilities during Wrestlemania weekend, and guess what; things become slightly interesting! For the first time we do really get the insight into his life the DVD initially promises. We see him sign 3,000 photos in a row in an oddly hypnotic segment. Iím not even exaggerating; he stands in a dingy little room, just signing autographs onto an endless supply of photos. It takes him one hour and fifteen minutes. Next, we see him taking part in the Wrestlemania Golf Challenge, which isnít as dull as it sounds. He performs his final workout before the big event, then heads to the Make-a-Wish Pizza Party in touching scenes. Finally, after an appearance at the Hall of Fame event and a rehearsal for his Wrestlemania entrance (I never even considered that there would be rehearsals for his Mania entrances; I guess I just thought they happened spontaneously) itís time for the big match itself- Batista vs. John Cena at Wrestlemania 26. The documentary does a great job of making this feel like a momentous bout in the career of John Cena, and while we sadly donít get to see the full match on the DVD itself, the clips we see just about do the occasion justice. If the program ended there, we could say that this dire documentary at least ended on a high note.
But it doesnít end there, as we are forced to watch John Cena attend a car auction. Cena clearly likes cars, and he insists on telling us about them in punishing detail, using language I donít understand. Even though Cena has been doing a multitude of things outside the ring in this documentary, theyíve all at least had theoretical value to wrestling fans in that they might be interested to see Cena on Psych, or filming his movie, or having his action figure done. Whether or not you are a wrestling fan will have no bearing on whether you find this interesting; it is solely down to if you like cars. I donít believe a portion of a wrestling DVD should shun itís target audience in such a way, and I certainly donít think they should do so with a segment that just goes on for years, but what do I know? Iím not a film-maker. Thankfully, if you make it through this part of the broadcast there isnít much left to put up with, as we get some more moving but ultimately unsubstantial Make-a-Wish footage, and conclude with Cena back in his natural habitat; Monday Night Raw. He does some promotional work, gives Heath Slater an Attitude Adjustment, and gets some stitches removed to bring the documentary to a rather arbitrary conclusion. But at least itís over.
The John Cena Experience is a massive missed opportunity. Love him or hate him, Cena has an interestinglife, and to get some genuine insight into it could be fascinating. He could have been asked about key matches in his career, whether he truly is affected by some of the negative crowd reactions he receives, what effect his hectic lifestyle has on his personal life. We could have gone into more detail on his preparations for his Wrestlemania match, and included the bout with Batista in full as a nice conclusion to proceedings. It might not have been on the level of the Rise & Fall of ECW, but it would have been interesting and potentially insightful. The only way this documentary is insightful is if John Cena spends his entire life attending important events and having wrestling matches while never experiencing any emotion aside from Ďhappy,í Ďtired,í or Ďintense.í Itís a massive waste of two hours; bland, boring and banal. I recommend you throw this disc into the sea. But keep the other two...
Disc Two- Matches 2004-2007
Understandably, given the tone of the DVD, there are no matches from Cenaís heel run, so we dive into his career in the latter stages of 2004 for...
JOHN CENA VS BOOKER T IN THE FINAL MATCH OF A BEST OF #5 SERIES FOR THE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP, NO MERCY 2004
Obviously Cena and Booker are tied at two apiece going into this final match in the series, and in addition, the championship will change hands on a DQ or count-out. Booker is the reigning champion coming in.
This is quite good. John Cena is the stronger and younger competitor but is over-zealous at numerous points in the match, allowing Booker to gain a foothold in the match. After a fairly slow start, Booker gets the first near fall of the match with a spinebuster for two. He throws Cena to the floor and dumps him into the steel steps, but attempting to do it again backfires for Book, as he himself is sent into the steps. Back in the ring, Cena busts out a pretty decent crossbody to bring Booker down for the two count, a move I donít remember seeing him use recently. We then get the usual Cena routine, culminating with a Five Knuckle Shuffle for two. Cenaís pumping up the shoes, but Booker slips out the backdoor of the F-U and lands the Book-End! The cover only gets two though. Fuming, Booker grabs a chair, but is reminded by Charles Robinson that if he uses it heíll lose the title. Thinking better of it, Booker drops the chair and returns to the ring, but the Scissors Kick misses by a mile, and the F-U doesnít! One, two, three! Cena wins the championship! ** ¾ I was surprised at just how short this match was, as the cagey opening portion seemed to be signalling something much longer. The finishing stretch seemed quite rushed as well. Still, on the whole the match was pretty solid, with both guys pulling out some big moves, keeping the pace quick and never stopping to rest.
JOHN CENA VS KURT ANGLE IN A NUMBER ONE CONTENDERS MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, NO WAY OUT 2005
Something I donít understand; people complain these days about John Cenaís humour being too puerile and child friendly, but here there are adult fans brandishing signs that say ďRuck FulesĒ on them while cheering for Cena in Kurt Angleís own hometown. I mean, itís pretty much just shit quasi-wordplay, pretty much on the level of poop jokes, but apparently itís OK to find it funny because it kind of sort of includes a swear word.
Anyway, the match is very, very good. Angle controls the early mat exchanges as youíd expect. Cena only gets into the match when he ducks a clothesline from Kurt and takes the Olympic Gold Medallist over the top rope with one of his own. John doesnít give his opponent any time to rest, beating him across the announce table. Back in the ring, Cena lands a suplex for two. He tries, perhaps optimistically, for the F-U, and Kurt simply slips out the backdoor to the floor to stall. When he returns to the ring heís met with another barrage of right hands, but Cena exposes himself with a particularly wild swing, allowing Angle to slip behind him and drop him with a German Suplex into the turnbuckles! Nasty. Kurt then spends several minutes wearing down his foe with classic wrestling manoeuvres; suplex, backbreakers, submission holds and the like. Cena threatens a fight back, but Angle thwarts him with a Triple German, and gets a two count from it. Finally Cena makes a more concerted comeback, landing a Spinebuster for two. Spinning back suplex gets the same. FU is countered again with a roll-up for two. The two men race back to their feet, with Angle getting the advantage with a belly to belly suplex. He attempts the Angle Slam but Cena rides it out and drops Kurt with a DDT. He tries for... an undistinguishable move, which Angle counters with a victory roll. Ankle Lock! Cena is in agony but he counters swiftly by propelling Kurt to the floor. As the former WWE Champion tries to get back in, John flies into him with a well executed top rope guillotine legdrop. The Doctor of Thuganomics is rolling, and continues his momentum with the F-U! One, two, not three, but so close Cena thinks it was! The time he wastes mistakenly celebrating allows Kurt to drag Cena down and viciously work over the ankle, even slamming it into the steel post. Once sufficient damage has been done he nails the Angle Slam, and slaps on the Ankle Lock! Cena makes the ropes but gets dragged away. He comes close a second time but finds his leg grapevine. Criticise Cenaís acting all you want, but his gruff squeals of pain here are excellent. With one last effort, Cena drags himself over to the ropes, but Kurt wonít let go. Cena kicks him backwards... and into the referee, who slumps to the floor in pain. His mind whirring, Angle grabs Cenaís chain and wraps it around his fist, but John Cenaís got one last push left in him! He shoves Kurt into the turnbuckles, grabs him on the rebound with the F-U, and picks up the victory! **** ¼ This was absolutely fantastic, and Iím really surprised it doesnít get discussed more. Iím not a big fan of Kurt Angle, but his performance here was magnificent; at first thinking he could simply ride out Cenaís aggression, wear him down slowly and pick up a comfortable victory, then desperately targeting the ankle when he realised he was in real danger of defeat, before finally thinking he had the match sewn up, only to get overconfident and cost himself the match. For his part, John Cena contributed some crisp offence and sold very well. There were a couple of moments when both Angle and Cena recovered surprisingly quickly from the F-U and Ankle Lock respectively, but even that seemed to highlight both menís determination and adrenaline, rather than any lapse in selling. A really, really good match, and one that you really should see if you havenít already.
JOHN CENA VS SHAWN MICHAELS VS KURT ANGLE IN A TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, TABOO TUESDAY 2005
This is pretty much just your usual Triple Threat match; two guys do a sequence, one gets knocked to the floor, the third guy replaces him, repeat ad nauseum. Iíll cut them some slack in this case though, being as Shawn Michaels didnít even know heíd be wrestling until moments before the bout. This is the first match on the DVD when you can hear ďCena sucks!Ē chants alongside ďLetís go Cena!Ē There are a handful of fun sequences. Angle, Michaels and Cena all attempt the Angle Slam, Sweet Chin Music and F-U on one another in quick succession, only for none of them to be successful. Kurt and Shawn form an uneasy alliance to double team the champion, hurling him into the ring post and out to the floor. HBK clears the announce table as Kurt bounces Cenaís head off the ring steps. They hoist the champion up, and dump him through the table with a front suplex! And then immediately start laying each other with stinging chops! This triggers a long and not particularly interesting sequence between the two challengers. Most of it features Michaels fighting against a body scissors from Kurt. He eventually escapes but immediately gets dropped with a belly to belly. He tries to do the same off the top rope but Shawn shoves him to the mat. He tries to regain his balance and hit the Flying Elbow, but Angle intercepts him before he can and hits the Super Angle Slam! Cover! One, two, not three! And here comes John Cena with clotheslines for all! And a baaaaaaaaaaaaaack body drop for Michaels! He slams HBK with the spinning back suplex, and the boos are becoming really noticeable now. Angle drags him out to the floor and throws him into the barricade, only for Michaels to wipe him out with a tope con hilo! Back in the ring Michaels starts to really take control, taking out Angle and Cena with an impressive chain of moves. He takes both himself and Cena down with a flying forearm, then kips up... into a belly to belly over the top rope from Angle! John hits a spinning back suplex from Angle, then nails the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He attempts the F-U, but Angle rolls out of it and into the Ankle Lock! And grapevines it! The crowd thinks thereís a new champion on the way, but Michaels saves the day with the elbow drop! Sweet Chin Music to Kurt! A desperation F-U to Shawn! And Cena nabs the victory! *** ¼ This was actually pretty good, all things considered. As I mentioned in the match review most of the match was just two guys fighting while one lay on the mat or the floor, but the sequences that did utilise all three men were slick and creative. The finishing stretch was very exciting, and it was interesting to once again see Cena win not necessarily because of his natural wrestling ability, but because of his determination and intelligence. Good match, though perhaps a little underwhelming for a PPV main event.
JOHN CENA VS EDGE FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, ROYAL RUMBLE 2006
Edge goes into the match as champion, having cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Cena at the previous PPV. Cenaís entrance is truly bizarre; he walks down a slightly elevated, smoke emitting platform, firing confetti at the WWE fans, before hopping into the ring. Joey Styles immediately brands it one of the greatest entrances in WWE history.
The challenger gets off to the better start, shrugging off Edgeís attempts at mat wrestling and clotheslining the champ down. A side slam gets a two count. The Rated-R Superstar bails to the floor, and shoves Lita in the way when his foe tries to follow. Momentarily distracted, Cena finds himself susceptible to a spear into the steel steps! Ouch. When the Doctor of Thuganomics tries to re-enter the ring he gets met with a baseball slide so hard he flies, somewhat melodramatically, into the front row. In spite of this he is able to break the count. This doesnít stop Edge from mocking the ĎYou Canít See Meí taunt. Duelling ďLetís Go Cena/Letís Go Edge!Ē chants as champion whips challenger back into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Edge gets a two count off a Missile Dropkick. Cena threatens a comeback by shoving his opponent off the top rope and trying for a Legdrop, but Edge rolls out the way. Again the match almost tilts in Cenaís favour as he hoists the champ up for an F-U, but finds himself blinded by an eye-rake. Edge ascends to the top rope with a maniacal look in his eyes and lands a high crossbody, but Cena floats through for a two count. The challenger finds himself clasped in a sleeper hold before he can really build any momentum though. With Cena having powered out Edge opts to try for a Spear, but he misses by a mile and staggers back into a DDT. John runs through the usual, culminating in the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Lita distracts the referee from making the company. Cena grabs her, Edge charges at him, Cena ducks, and the devious couple collide, knocking Lita off the apron. F-U! STF-U! Edge taps, and the champ is here! *** This was perfectly fine as a lengthy Raw main event, but you have to feel that if Edgeís title reign was to conclude so abruptly, it could have been done in more memorable fashion. They put together a perfectly fine story with Cena starting hot, Edge wearing him down throughout the middle, then the fan favourite Hulking up and securing the feel good victory, but it all felt little more than perfunctory. Still, as a stand-alone match it was perfectly entertaining and included some exciting sequences, so it remains worth watching, just also a bit of a missed opportunity.
JOHN CENA VS EDGE, TRIBUTE TO THE TROOPS 2006
I know itís not in the most ideal of circumstances, but it is refreshing to see a crowd composing entirely of adults, cheering the faces, booing the heels, reacting with excitement to what goes on in the ring, and generally just having a really good time.
This match obviously isnít as intense as some of the other instalments in this rivalry, but it is gloriously good fun. Edgeís old fashioned heel tactics go down a treat in a venue where even a punch gets a reaction of pained Ďoohs,í and Cena plays the gutsy fan-favourite very well. The champion takes a big spill to the floor after Edge forearms him off the top turnbuckle, and the Rated-R Superstar decides to mock ĎYou Canít See Meí as we head to a commercial break. We return with Cena trapped in a body-scissors. He eventually powers out of it and evens things up with a Throwback. Both men make it off the mat at the count of nine. Edge opts to try for a steel chair, but the official quickly removes it from the ring. As heís doing so though, John Cena hooks a schoolboy roll-up, only for there to be no-one to make the count. Edge opts to bust out the Camel Clutch, but inspired by chants of ĎUSA!í Cena powers out with an Electric Chair. The competitors once again make it up at nine for a slugfest. The Champ wins it and runs through his usual, culminating in the Five-Knuckle Shuffle. Edge wriggles out of the F-U though, and drops Cena with the Impaler DDT for a close two count. The Conceited Canadian heads up top, Cena joins him and tries for a Super F-U, but Edge slips down to the mat and utilises an Electric Chair of his own. Could we see the Spear? No, we could not. But we do see the F-U, and a three count for John Cena! ** ¾ A hugely entertaining and surprisingly long match. If John Cena and Edge were transported back through time to the Philadelphia Spectrum in 1985 and instructed to put on a solid main event, Iíd imagine they would come up with something like this. Nothing particularly high risk, but some entertaining sequences and a satisfying finish in front of a terrific crowd. Good match.
JOHN CENA & SHAWN MICHAELS VS RATED RKO FOR THE WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS, RAW 26th FEBRUARY 2007
Cena and Michaels are champions going into this. Both teams are doing the Ďpartners that respect but donít like each otherí shtick. Earlier in the night, Rated-RKO reminded John Cena of Michaelsí history with dumping his partners, so thereís tension between the champs.
The WWE Champion quickly starts playing Ricky Morton in this one, getting slowly worked down by Rated RKO after a couple of brief, even sequences. Cena eventually comes back by dodging an Orton charge into the turnbuckles and catching him on the rebound with a bulldog. Hot tag to the Heart-Break Kid! Flying forearm to the Legend Killer, followed by the trademark kip-up and the HBK Elbow! Edge tries to intervene but gets sent over the top rope by Cena. Michaels tries for Sweet Chin Music on Orton, but the rule-breaker ducks, and Cena has to react quickly to stop himself from taking Shawnís finisher. The champions exchange words as we head to commercial break, and we return with Edge wearing down Shawn Michaels. Downward Spiral gets two. Orton tags in and unleashes the chin-lock. Michaels tries to fight out but gets dropped by the Orton Backbreaker. Tag to Edge who continues the red hot, rest hold action with a thrilling Sleeper. Michaels pulled the silliest facial expressions when trapped in these sort of holds. HBK fights out with a back suplex, crotching Edge on the top rope as he does so, and itís tag to Orton, hot hot tag to John Cena! The WWE Champion runs through Randy with the usual, finishing with the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He tries for the F-U, but Edge pushes Orton off and into the referee! The Rated-R Superstar tries to set up Cena for the Spear, which is countered into the F-U, which is countered into... the two men kind of just falling over. Never mind. Randy Orton has the World Tag Team Championship belt in the ring, but Shawn steals it from him and cracks Edge across the back with it. He then channels Eddie Guerrero by throwing the belt back to Orton, creating dissension in the ranks of Rated RKO. Fuming, Edge opts to simply wak out the match, leaving Randy prone to a Sweet Chin Music, F-U, and three count! ** ½ Long portions of this match featured very little happening, but when things did they were purposeful and entertaining. The finishing stretch was exciting as well, though the finish was fairly predictable even with the match taken out of context of the storyline. A decent Raw outing featuring four big stars, but itís probably not worthy of inclusion onto this DVD.
JOHN CENA VS THE GREAT KHALI IN A FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, ONE NIGHT STAND 2007
A.K.A Ďthe match I instruct people to view when they try to say John Cena is somehow a bad pro wrestler.í
The crowd are 100% behind Cena tonight unsurprisingly, and the fan favourite starts the match smartly, peppering Khaliís legs with kicks and trying to stay out of the grasp of his gigantic challenger. That plan doesnít work for long though, as Khali catches him with a forearm and slowly works him down with Ďbowling shoe uglyí offense. The giant misses a legdrop though, giving Cena something to work with. He quickly lands a sloppy Throwback, then heads to the top rope, only for Khali to meet him there with a massive chop, sending the champion out to the floor. The cover gets a two count. The challenger clears the announce table, before trying for the lethal chop to the head. Cena blocks it, but ends up simply getting hurled over the barricade into the crowd. They battle their way into a clearing of sorts, where the champion bashes Khali over the head with a monitor. He desperately tries for the F-U, but the giant is too... gigantic. The fight through the crowd continues, although in reality itís more of a one sided beating. Itís a terrific visual to see Khali standing over the usually superhuman John Cena as he desperately tries to crawl to safety. The champion desperately rams a camera boom into his opponentís skull, before again trying for the F-U. Again, it doesnít work. The two make their way onto a crane that forms part of the PPV set. GK tries for the Two Handed Choke Slam, but Cena counters with an eye rake, then tries for the F-U for a third time... and this time, it works! And the champ is able to dump his foe off the crane and the stage! Recovering as quickly as possible, Cena makes the cover, and gets the three count! *** I never thought my main complaint about a Great Khali match would be that it was too short, but thatís exactly what I felt about this one. The two grapplers had a really good story to tell here. Usually, Cenaís heart and determination helps him overcome his deficiencies against more technically sound wrestlers, but this time it had to aid him in toppling a hitherto immoveable object. He was able to do so by fighting from the back foot, making the most of his opportunities and tenaciously pursuing the F-U until it eventually succeeded, and it all played out perfectly. The issue was, in fact, the little amount of time they had to work with; Cenaís comebacks and especially the climactic F-U would have drawn even more of a reaction if heíd taken a longer beating from Khali, or perhaps taken a memorable bump like a slam through the announce table. However, this match still worked very well and deserves plaudits, especially considering what they had to work with.
Disc 3- Matches 2007-2009
JOHN CENA VS LASHLEY FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, GREAT AMERICAN BASH 2007
A mixed reaction for both men here.
Lashley overpowers Cena in the opening lock-up, which is intriguing. He also gets Cena down to one knee on a test of strength, but the champion is able to power back to his feet. Lashley continues his early dominance by outwrestling Cena on the mat. He then charges at his opponent, but the champ trips him and comes close to cinching in an early STFU. Bulldog and a body slam gets a two count for Cena. Vertical suplex the same. The Doctor of Thuganomics tries for a clothesline, but Lashley ducks under and lands an impressive T-Bone Suplex! The commentary from JR and the King seems to be edited here, but I canít think why. Cena comes back with the Throwback and nails his impressive Guillotine Legdrop off the top rope for two. Then, out of nowhere, Lashley drops Cena with a gutbuster and quickly locks in a bodyscissors to turn the tide of the match. When both men return to their feet though, Lashley misses a charge into the corner, allowing John to run through his usual. The challenger counters the F-U by slipping out the backdoor, and drops his foe with a powerslam. Torture Rack Backbreaker! You donít see that move often. Cena slips out of an attempt at a running powerslam, and drops Lashley with the F-U, but appears too dazed to make the cover. When he eventually does so it only gets two. Lashley roars back with a pair of clothesline and steadies himself for the Spear, but Cena trips him as he charges and grabs the STFU! The challenger battles manfully against it and in the end is able to inch his way over to the ropes. Cena stops to have words with the referee, and that gives Lashley enough time to recover and hit the Spear! But he only gets a count! Fuming, the challenger takes Cena to the top rope. This proves to be a mistake, as John summons his strength, hoists his opponent in the air, and nails the Super-FU! And itís enough for the three count! ** ½ This was solidly entertaining, but nothing more than a spotfest really. The opening exchanges hinted at something more interesting, with the challenger seeming to have the championís number in every aspect. It soon degenerated into simply trading moves though, and Lashley didnít sell the FU or STFU well at all, popping up to land Clotheslines and Spears almost nonchalantly. At least every manoeuvre was well executed though, and the finish was suitably impactful.
JOHN CENA VS RANDY ORTON FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, SUMMERSLAM 2007
Despite his psychotic tendencies the crowd are solidly behind Orton in this one, and boo as Cena clamps on the opening headlock. The champ tries for an early STFU, but Randy scrambles to the ropes. A bulldog from Cena gets the first near fall of the match. He tries for a crossbody, but Orton smoothly ducks underneath it to the delight of the crowd. The champ crawls to the apron for refuge, but gets shoved into the announce table. We return to the ring for some Orton chinlock goodness. Cena powers out of it with a back suplex to bring about some hope for the champion, but he misses a charge into the corner, allowing the Viper to retain control. A powerslam gets a two count. Sleeper hold! Cena tries to counter with a suplex, but Orton counters that with a side headlock takeover. Eventually the champ is able to power out of that, and backs his foe into the corner. This triggers the Cena sequence, culminating in the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He tries for the F-U, but the challenger elbows out and lands the Orton Backbreaker. Hangmanís DDT! One, two, but not quite three! RKO-no! Cena pushes Orton off him and charges at his nemesis, but Randy ducks and Cenaís momentum takes him to the floor, where heís whipped hard into the steel steps. Back in the ring the cover only gets two though, Once again, John fights back, dropping Orton with a flying neckbreaker. He gingerly heads to the top rope, but the challenger meets him there. Cena wins that battle and shoves Randy to the mat, where he gets hit with the Guillotine Legdrop! Again the champ attempts the F-U, but Orton slips out the backdoor and snaps Cenaís jaw across the top rope. He swings at him with the Punt Kick, but John ducks under, snags Ortonís leg, and grabs the STFU! Itís just a little too close to the ropes though, and Orton is able to get the break. Cena takes a second to compose himself... but then walks straight into a beautiful RKO! The crowd erupt! The cover! One, two, thr-no! Still Cena kicks out! Orton tries to drag his opponent back to his feet, but now itís Cena turn to surprise, hoisting Orton onto his shoulders for the F-U! And he gets all of it! Again the cover! And it gets three! *** ½ A really exciting encounter. Orton gave a superb performance here, looking driven and dangerous throughout the match, and methodically wearing Cena down bit by bit. Even when the champ got back into the match he couldnít keep control, as Ortonís razor sharp instincts allowed him to dodge key manoeuvres and even land an RKO out of nowhere. Once again though, Cenaís never say die attitude was irrepressible. There were occasional moments when both guys recovered a little easily from high-impact moves, and Ortonís trademark chinlocks were detrimental to the flow and pace of the bout, but on the whole this was better than expected, and good enough that Cena and Orton would clash with each other on and off for the next two years.
We see the conclusion of the 2008 Royal Rumble, where John Cena was the number 30 entrant in the Royal Rumble despite supposedly being out with injury until Summerslam. He received a tremendous reaction from a stunned Madison Square Garden, and won the Rumble in dominant fashion.
JOHN CENA VS TRIPLE H FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS 2008
Cena comes into the match as challenger for a change, and, with Triple H taking the belt to Smackdown should he win, isnít quite his usual jovial self with the pressure well and truly on.
Predictably, Hunter gets the better of the early mat wrestling exchanges. He takes Cena off his feet with a hip toss and adds a crotch chop for good measure. However, when Hunter tries again for the move, John seamlessly counters with a vicious clothesline, then fires off a flurry of punches at the grounded Hunter. A vertical suplex gets a two count for the challenger. Cena tries to run through his finishing sequence, but gets cut off early as HHH ducks a flying shoulder block. The champ then slowly wears down his opponent, targeting the lower back effectively. The challenger threatens a comeback by meeting a rare top rope move by Triple H with a boot to the face and then landing his spinning back suplex. He tries for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Hunter meets him with a boot and nearly decapitates him with a high knee. Pedigree? No! Cena wriggles free and drops HHH with a Throwback before heading to the top rope himself. Guillotine Leg Drop! STF? No! Triple H is able to kick his way free. He canít prevent another spinning back suplex though. Cena once again attempts the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but the Cerebral Assassin meets him with another high knee, and follows up with a Spinebuster. Will we now see the Pedigree? The answer is again no. Cena once again struggles free and whips ĎThe Gameí all the way out to the floor. Helmsley lands awkwardly on his right knee, and the usually happy go lucky Cena shows a ruthless streak by taking HHHís knee out from underneath him on the floor with a chop block. He also bounces the knee off the ring steps and post. Now Cena feels he can hook the STF, but Triple H desperately resists it and just about makes the ropes. Instead, he tries for the Attitude Adjustment, but Hunter slips out the backdoor and garners a flash Pedigree! Cover! One, two, not three! Both men struggle back to their feet, with Triple Hís injured leg hindering him. Once theyíre both there itís Cena that takes the initiative, immediately nailing an Attitude Adjustment! But the cover only gets two! A slugfest ignites as the crowd decide to really get behind Triple H. However, itís the fan favourite that first misses a punch, allowing Cena to nail yet another spinning back suplex! This time the Five Knuckle Shuffle does connect! Attitude Adjustment...countered into Pedigree...countered into STF! Itís locked in tight, but Triple H battles through the agony admirably until heís able to get his fingertips to the ropes. Cena drags him back to the middle of the ring, but HHH counters with a Crossface! It looks like the challenger might fade, but with one last huge effort he gets back to his feet with Hunter on his shoulders! It looks like the Attitude Adjustment might be on the way, but Triple H elbows his way free and successfully lands the Pedigree! Cover! Three count! Hunter retains! **** ¼ A really, really, really good main event. The two worked a simple but hugely interesting match long storyline into proceedings with their repeated failings to hit their finishers, and Triple Hís leg injury added another facet to proceedings and allowed Cena to show some rare, unfiltered ruthless aggression. The pace was slower than your usual main event, perhaps too slow during the early stages of the match, but it heightened the drama for the finishing stretch as things picked up. It would have nice to see the teased back injury to Cena make more of a difference, but you canít have everything. This was still a terrific encounter, one which Iíd argue was better than their Wrestlemania 22 match.
JOHN CENA VS SHAWN MICHAELS, RAW 26th JANUARY 2009
If Shawn Michaels wins this match, JBL qualifies for the Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out, as this was during the storyline that saw Shawn Michaels lose all his money somehow and decide that becoming Bradshawís slave was the most viable money making option. It wasnít a great angle. You can also mark this as the point at which Iím really getting sick of seeing John Cena on this DVD, which isnít too bad all things considering.
Technical wrestling is eschewed in favour of a slugfest to start things off. Naturally Cena gets the better of that and decides to try for an early Attitude Adjustment, but Michaels slips out the backdoor and down to the floor. We head to a commercial break, and return with HBK clamping a Figure-Four Leglock on his opponent. John battles his way out and nails a belly to belly suplex for two. Baaaaaaaaaaaaack Body Drop! Michaels fights back with some chops and takes Cena off his feet with his trademark flying forearm. Kip-up! Inverted Atomic Drop! Bodyslam! Shawn tries to head up top but gets intercepted on the apron. Back in, Cena hits his shoulder blocks and spinning back suplex. Five Knuckle Shuffle is attempted, but Michaels grabs his arm and cinches in a Crossface! Cena refuses to tap out but appears to be fading out of consciousness. With one last herculean effort though heís able to power back to his feet with Michaels in position for an AA! HBK escapes, but gets tripped and locked in the STF! The Hall of Famer shows his famed resilience by dragging himself to the ropes. Attitude Adjustment countered into a Sunset Flip for two! A clothesline from Shawn takes both men off his feet. Michaels doesnít have the energy for a kip-up, but he is able to drag himself to the top rope. JBL demands a Sweet Chin Music, but his advice is ignored. Layfield hops onto the apron to remonstrate with his lackey, only for the opportunistic Cena to shove him into the Heart-Break Kid! Michaels flops to the mat, and ĎThe Champí polishes him off with the Attitude Adjustment! *** These two have had three classic one on one matches together, with one of them taking place just two weeks prior to this particular bout. Sadly, this meeting couldnít live up to that high standard. They simply didnít have enough time, and wrestled it like a standard Raw main event rather than aspiring for anything greater. It was still a very watchable encounter though, with some smooth sequences and a tense finishing stretch. Reasonable.
JOHN CENA VS JACK SWAGGER, RAW 13th APRIL 2009
This is World Heavyweight Champion vs. ECW Champion with two 2009 WWE Draft Picks on the line.
Swagger impresses with his amateur wrestling ability early on. Cena decides to change the tone of the match with a punch to the face. He knocks the ECW Champion out to the floor with a shoulder block, and takes him off his feet while heís there with a clothesline. Swagger retakes control in the ring though, applying a tight full nelson. Smart move, considering the neck injury Cena had suffered just a few months prior. The World Heavyweight Champion is able to break free though, and immediately runs through his usual, culminating in the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He tries for the Attitude Adjustment, but Swagger scrapes free and hits a big boot for two. Cena gets hurled into the ring post as we go to a commercial break. We return as simultaneous clotheslines are hit. Jack lands a very sloppy Tornado DDT for two. I think Cena was at fault for that. Powerslam gets another two. Swagger tries for the Swagger Bomb, but as he flies through the air ĎThe Champí pops up and catches him on his shoulders! Attitude Adjustment! STF! Tap out! ** I donít I understand why this match was included. It was a pretty decent Raw match, but nothing special. The match built well and the finishing sequence was very smooth, but the Tornado DDT went badly wrong, yet tellingly was probably the most memorable moment of the match.
JOHN CENA VS THE BIG SHOW, JUDGMENT DAY 2009
Iím not looking forward to this one bit. I do like that Cena looks pretty subdued as he sizes up the challenge ahead of him. Heís suffering from injury going into this after the beating he took from Edge in last monthís Last Man Standing match.
Cena seems reluctant to engage with the Big Show, rolling out the way of his lunges. He tries to use his feet to keep the big man at bay, but receives a hard punch to the kidneys. The flying shoulder block injures Cena more than it does itís recipient. Not a good start for the fan favourite. Side slam gets a two count for the Big Show. The beating spills to the floor, where Show drives his foe ribs first into the ring post. John shows some fight by wriggling free of a Camel Clutch attempt, but the Big Show simply swats away his attempt at a bulldog. Big chop in the corner! Cena gets locked in a prolonger bearhug. Every match that has ever featured a prolonged bearhug has been dreadful. The comments section will probably embarrass me by reeling off examples of great matches with prominent bearhugs, but for now Iím sticking to that point. Eventually Show misses a body splash in the corner, giving Cena an opening for a comeback. He nails a chop block and Throwback, priming Big Show for the Five Knuckle Shuffle! The offensive flurry almost ends with a Chokeslam, but itís countered into a DDT. Cena tries for the STF, but he canít lock it in, and the time taken to try and get it allows the big man to recover. Show takes his opponent down hard with a clothesline, then drags him over to the turnbuckles. Are we about to see the fabled Ďlarge man sits on hero from great heightí move? We are! But it only gets two! Unfathomable! Another attempt misses and Cena quickly tries for another STF. Show kicks him off and through the ropes though. Ever resourceful, John heads to the top rope and nails an impressive Guillotine Legdrop! But again the STF wonít work! And Show dumps Cena with a vicious Alley-oop! KO Blow? No! Cena ducks and hoists Show up for the AA! Cover! Three count! * ½ This wasnít as bad as I feared it would be, but it still wasnít exactly a thrillride. They had a decent story to tell, with Show dominated Cena but falling victim to his resilience and intelligence, but it was done better in the Cena-Khali series from two years prior. It seemed slightly silly to insist that the Attitude Adjustment was impossible considering Cena had performed it on Show numerous times in the past, and his injuries were never sold as seriously enough for it to ever seem truly out of the question. This wasnít enough to render the match a disaster, and credit is deserved for their attempts at making something out of this, but it still wasnít really worth viewing.
JOHN CENA VS THE MIZ, RAW 29th JUNE 2009
In this feud, The Miz claimed that he had beaten John Cena numerous times when in fact he hadnít; for example, citing an instance when Cena hadnít answered one of his open challenges as a count-out win. Then, when he did eventually get in the ring with Cena, he was repeatedly humiliated. It wasnít a brilliant rivalry. In fairness, this match does a fairly decent job of making Miz look somewhere near the level of his opponent, with a spot in which counters a John Cena bulldog by pushing him away in mid-move coming off very well. He lands a spinning neckbreaker, but only gets two. Hard clothesline gets the same. The Miz opts to head to the top rope, but Cena meets him there and attempts a Super AA. Miz slips out the backdoor though, and drops ĎThe Champí with an electric chair drop for two. He impressively resists a flash STF attempt, and locks in a sleeper hold. Cena actually seems to be fading away, but typically he uses his fighting spirit to recover and back Miz into the corner. This triggers the Cena sequence, finishing as usual with the five-knuckle shuffle. Throwback connects, and then John ascends to the top rope for his ever impressive Guillotine Legdrop. STF is locked in, and Miz taps out quickly. * For a while, this was actually looked like it might become a really decent match, with the Miz controlling the middle portion of the match with convincing aggression and Cena appearing genuinely shocked by his opponentís in ring ability. As the bout wore on though it became apparent that they were building for a triumphant Cena comeback, and once he had launched into his usual finishing sequence the good work of the middle portion of the match in establishing Miz as a credible threat was undone. Miz didnít even come close to countering any of Cenaís trademark moves, and tapped all too quickly to the STF. I guess as a stand-alone match this was alright, but taken within context it was another disappointing entry in a disappointing feud.
JOHN CENA VS SHAWN MICHAELS VS TRIPLE H IN A TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP, WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 2009
The start to this match is fantastic. In the run up to the match, Michaels and Triple H had promised they would stick together in this match, that they didnít mind who won as long as the title came home to DX, and that Cena wouldnít be walking out the WWE Champion. They came down to the ring together in DX livery, threw their glowsticks out to the crowd... then, the bell rung, and HBK instantaneously hits Hunter with Sweet Chin Music. The crowd erupt, Cena looks on in shock, and suddenly the match is really, really intriguing. Shawn continues his hot start by schooling the champion in the ring. Cena rallies with a bulldog and vertical suplex for a two count. He looks for the AA, but Michaels counters in mid-air into a DDT for two. He then opts to target the knee, taking Cena off his feet with a chop block and locking in the figure four. Cena toughs it out, then tries to build some momentum with a flying shoulder block. Shawn simply ducks though, sending the champion out to the floor, whereís he met by a slingshot crossbody. HBKís dismantling the announce table! But he takes too long to do so, and Cena recovers to hoist him up for the AA! Surprisingly, Triple H makes the save, and they team up to hurl Cena into the crowd. Of course, that union was not going to last long. Hunter seizes his supposed best friend, and smashes him through the announce table with a spinebuster! So now we have HHH and Cena going one on one. Theyíre doing a fantastic job of disguising the rotation of the wrestlers in the match. Weíve essentially just had two singles matches so far, but it doesnít feel that way. Anyway, Triple H controls the champion in the ring, wearing him down with punches and kicks. Neckbreaker gets two. Pedigree? No! Cena sweeps the legs and slingshots the Game into the turnbuckles, but HHH roars back with a clothesline for two. A slugfest erupts! Cena wins it and starts to run through his usual, culminating in the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He tries for the AA, but Shawn Michaels returns to disrupt it and hurl Cena into the ring post and out to the floor. So now we have HBK and HHH one on one! Michaels gets the better of it with a flying forearm. He kips-up... right into a Spinebuster! Pedigree is countered with a back body drop. Shawn heads up top, but Cena intercepts him and crotches him on the top rope. He then heads to the adjacent top turnbuckle and tries for the Guillotine Leg Drop, but HHH gets out the way. HBK compounds things with the elbow drop. Hunter dumps Shawn to the floor, but Cena trips him up and locks in a flash STF! Michaels returns to break things up with a Crossface to Cena! And then Cena counters into the STF! HBK just makes the ropes. This match is rather good. Both men stagger up to their feet, where Shawn delivers Sweet Chin Music to Cena! And Sweet Chin Music to HHH before slumping through the ropes and out to the floor! And HHH falls on Cena! The referee doesnít notice though, and by the time he does Cena has recovered enough to kick out at two. They both pull themselves up, and Cena takes control with the AA! Michaels returns to the ring at this point, and with both Shawn and John worn out it becomes a slow, crawling race to the cover. Both men make it at the same time, simultaneously draping an arm across, but HHH kicks out at two, saving us from some difficult questions. All three men nearly get their finishers in a sequence far too slick and quick for me to keep up with, but it concludes with Shawn landing Sweet Chin Music on his partner, then Cena landing the AA on Michaels, and making the cover for the dramatic three count! **** ¼ There was as much invention and creativity in this match as any WWE bout in recent history; every minute seemed to bring a new thrilling, fluid sequence, and that spawned a match that gripped you tightly from the first minute and never let go. There were a few noticeable gaps in selling and logic, with some moves being sold too much, some being sold too little, and some moves being broken up for no apparent reason. But when the actual body of the match was so exciting, I can forgive that. A commendable main event that legitimately felt like something that would grace a supposed big four PPV.
The 411: I think I've made my feelings on the first disc clear, but the action on the remaining two serves as a fantastic riposte to the tiresome 'Cena can't wrestle' brigade. There are three matches on the set that are as good as you'll find in modern day WWE, and while it isn't exactly hard to have good matches against the likes of Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels and Triple H, it's not like Cena needed to be spoonfed in any of them. Throw into the mix entertaining contests with sluggish in ring competitors like Lashley and the Great Khali, and you have a fairly convincing video argument in favour of John Cena. As a DVD set it's far from essential, especially considering the poor quality of the first disc and the fact that the best matches are already available on other DVDs. However, staunch Cena supporters will find it handy to have some of his crowning achievements chronicled in one box-set, and those looking for some choice wrestling from modern day WWE will also find plenty to enjoy here if they haven't seen the truly excellent bouts before. I can't give this a wholehearted recommendation thanks to it's aforementioned flaws, but if you can find it for a low price it's worth a glance.