Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 186 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 19 2004
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when John Cena was the coolest cat in WWE with adult fans, particularly males, lapping up his every word. Yes, in 2003 and 2004, Cena was cooler than the other side of the pillow (Family Guy reference) and a real rising star, which is why WWE released this DVD of Cena prior to his permanent main event ascension.
Unlike most profile DVDs of the era, though, Word Life is based solely on showcasing Cena’s rap promos. They would generally involve insults towards whomever is the target of Cena’s wrath, a fair amount of swearing (Cena would usually allow the crowd to finish raps with a particularly naughty word) and some sort of references which wouldn’t be acceptable in 2016 (although they shouldn’t have been then either, if you think about it). In between are some in-character clips of Cena hanging out with friends and discussing aspects of what, admittedly, was a fairly short career at that point.
I’m not going to judge each rap one-by-one, because that would be silly. What I would say is that the content of Cena’s raps would usually generate a big reaction from the fans, especially when the lyrics were a bit risqué, but to watch 15-20 or more in a row does mean that they lose their impact from a viewer’s point of view. Certain people hated this DVD at the time for that very reason, and it does become repetitive, but there’s no denying that if Cena were to go back down this direction in the modern WWE, fans would love it (as they did during his brief “throwback” raps in 2011 and 2012 when feuding with The Rock).
There are five matches included as DVD extras, which is the opposite to the usual WWE formula of a match-based DVD with bonus segments (of which there are some on this release, actually). Those scraps all come from 2003, meaning that Cena wasn’t the polished performer that he would later become, but they are still entertaining on the whole. The biggest matches here see Cena face a pre-UFC Brock Lesnar at Backlash in a fairly disappointing battle and Kurt Angle in a great match from No Mercy. Of the other bouts, all from SmackDown, we see Cena take on Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and The Undertaker; surprisingly, the clash with Taker is probably the least entertaining of the three television matches, although I’m confident that if Cena and Undertaker do battle at WrestleMania next year, it will be a far better and more exciting affair.
Whether you enjoy this DVD or not depends on how much you like watching John Cena, or more accurately the “rapper” version of Cena. If you don’t care for Cena then you’ll obviously hate this release, but even die-hard Cena fans will have preferred a match-and-promo running order, because the main feature being based entirely on promos becomes a bit boring after a while, regardless of the occasionally controversial comments made on the mic by Cena. If you find it cheap somewhere, it’s a decent watch, so long as you avoid the embarrassing and out-of-character promo Cena has to cut on Stephanie McMahon which makes him look like a goof, in an early sign of how shows would be booked to undermine talent in order for Stephanie to shine.
But as alluded to earlier, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the DVD is that, at the time, Cena was as hot as any WWE star and was often the reason why a lot of older fans wanted to watch WWE television. How times would change. If you want to relive a time when Cena had a cool and relatable gimmick, you may wish to watch this DVD, but it is definitely far from a classic release from the Ruthless Aggression era.
Overall Rating: 5/10 – Average