Over his seventeen-year career WWE have put out plenty of home video releases focused on John Cena, and given that for the majority of that time he was the top star within the company it is hardly surprising. However, it has been a few years since the last one, and even on his part-time schedule “big match John” has had some corking encounters, so it is great to see WWE putting out something new to focus on arguably the most consistent performer in company history.
John Cena: Hustle, Loyalty, Respect is basically a collection of matches from the past four years featuring John Cena taking on a variety of the biggest stars on the main roster. The first disc focuses mainly on Cena’s last full time run in 2015 and the sterling matches he had as part of his US Title Open Challenge. For those who don’t know, Cena would come out on Raw every week and wrestle whoever wanted to challenge him for the title, putting on absolute classics with everyone he faced, elevating them and the championship in the process. This includes the matches on this set with Stardust (AKA Cody Rhodes), Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler, as well as his memorable Wrestlemania 31 match with Rusev. While Cena may have had more high profile runs in his career, in terms of match quality these are easily up there with the best encounters he had during his lengthy WWE tenure.
The second disc features the handful of matches Cena has had over the past couple of years, as injuries and a busy filming schedule have limited his time in the ring. However, few are as capable as Cena when it comes to elevating other performers and that is chiefly how he has been used in this period,(and rightly so). His matches with Roman Reigns, Finn Balor (as part of a four way which also featured Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin) and Shinsuke Nakamura felt like moments where he attempted to pass the torch with varying degrees of success, but all three yielded excellent contests and further legitimised Cena’s opponents by beating him. His bout against Triple H was a nice throwback to a very different time, while his matches with Kane and Elias are both inoffensive filler on this release. However, the crowning moment of this whole DVD set comes on the second disc with Cena taking on AJ Styles at the 2017 Royal Rumble. Styles and Cena produced an early contender for match of the year (even more impressive considering it was only weeks after the legendary first outing between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega), and it still holds up very well a couple of years later.
In 2019 a DVD set featuring matches from John Cena during the network era is probably not going to be for everyone. It feels very much like something that is more aimed at completionists than the average fan. However, if you are a fan of John Cena and want to see some of the best matches of the latter part of his career collected in one place, you could do far worse than pick up a copy of John Cena: Hustle, Loyalty, Respect.