A lot of wrestling fans have squawked about the fact that John Morrison, a relative newcomer to the world of professional wrestling when compared to some of the old guard who have paid their dues, has received his own WWE DVD after such a short period of time. There are two reasons for it, however - the first? Well, he's hot right now and the WWE wants to cash in on that while the can. It's good business sense. The second reason is a bit more legitimate, however - the guy is really good at what he does. He takes the bravura and showmanship of someone like Ric Flair and combines it with his parkour training and generally winds up giving fans a pretty entertaining show. This DVD compiles a few of his matches, most of which are generally very good.
The matches on the disc go in chronological order and start when he was in the ECW. He'd been wrestling prior to that, though he debuted as Eric Bischoff's manager under the name Johnny Nitro. The Nitro moniker stuck with him as he started actually competing first in the WNW and then in the ECW league, where in 2007 he'd enter the ring and announce to the fans that he was no longer using the name Johnny Nitro and that he was going to use the name that was given to him at birth, John Morrison (ironically his birth name is John Hannigan but hey, if I bore a resemblance to Jim Morrison I'd probably want to work that angle too). Here we saw him develop his rock star persona which would suit him well over the next few years as he graduated from ECW to WWE RAW and then moved on from RAW to WWE Smackdown.
The eight matches on this disc, which run two hours and forty-nine minutes, chronicle his rise from an ECW upstart to a WWE champion. Interspersed between the matches are interview clips with Morrison who proves that, yes, he very definitely has a sense of humor about himself and about what he does. Strolling down a California beach we hear from him on his training, his exercise routines, his drive, his ambitions and his love for surfing. We're also treated to some hilarious clips from The Dirty Sheet, which was a goofy commentary show he did when he was tag team partners with The Miz and some insight from Morrison with a collection of question and answer bits dubbed The Palace Of Wisdom. He milks the 'rock star' thing for all its worth and he does do a pretty good job of it, but really, it's the wrestling that counts here. Had Morrison been just another hunky guy in far better shape than I'll ever be in, it'd be one thing but there's more to him than that - there's some seriously good wrestling ability hidden underneath the fur and the rhinestones.
September 4, 2007 - ECW: John Morrison vs. CM Punk - In this match, these two long time rivals were competing for John's ECW Championship belt. It's a good match that starts with a bang and keeps up the pace throughout. Morrison is starting to come into his own here and his trash talking skills are starting to really shine.
November 3, 2008 - RAW: The Miz And John Morrison vs. D-Generation X - This ECW vs. RAW tag team match was held to celebrate the eight hundredth episode of RAW and it's a good one. It's a pretty rough match with Morrison's stand out moment occurring when he brilliantly mimics Shawn Michael's 'Sweet Chin Music' kick against his opponent. He and Miz, who looks ridiculous here with this Mohawk, made for a good tag team.
April 14, 2009 - ECW: John Morrison vs. Evan Bourne - This took place the night before The Miz moved up to RAW and just before Morrison moved up to Smackdown. It's the weakest match on the disc as there just isn't as much energy here as there is in the other bouts. Bourne's a fine combatant and all but there isn't much drama or excitement generated here.
June 11, 2009 - Superstars: John Morrison vs. Chris Jericho - In this match, Morrison was after a shot at Chris Jericho's Intercontinental Championship but you just know that Chris isn't going to let it go without a fight. Another very strong match, this one lets two of the biggest egos in WWE history throw down in the ring and the match more or less speaks for itself. Lots of good moves, good energy and good action in this one.
June 19, 2009 - WWE Smackdown: John Morrison vs. Edge - This match starts with a pretty funny trash talking session in which the two men, standing in the ring face to face, hurl all sorts of insults at one another before throwing down. It's a solid match but far from the best on the disc. Edge does alright here as does John and the crowd starts to get into it, which seems to help fuel it towards the end. Not a bad match by any stretch, but not really a classic either.
June 26, 2009 - WWE Smackdown: John Morrison vs. CM Punk - At this point in time, the obnoxious and self righteous CM Punk held the World Heavyweight Championship but this wasn't a title match. Regardless, the rivalry between these two remains strong and it results in a good fight with both men giving their all. Those of you who saw it on Smackdown when it aired may remember that there was more to this after the match, but that aftermath isn't shown on this DVD.
July 31, 2009 - WWE Smackdown: John Morrison vs. Jeff Hardy - This was a World Heavyweight Championship title match so you know that both of these guys are bringing their A-game to the ring. There's a lot of good rope work here and Morrions, by this point, is really starting to get a few really solid signature moves down pat which he puts to good use here.
September 4, 2009 - WWE Smackdown: John Morrison vs. Rey Mysterio - This match put Rey's Mysterious Intercontinental Championship Belt on the line and you can tell as he gets in the ring that Morrison wants it and that Mysterio isn't going to let it go if he can help it. The raw ambition and emotion in this match makes it a huge stand out on the disc. It moves at a ridiculously good pace and it features some absolutely fantastic work both inside and outside of the ring. It's really everything that a good wrestling match should be, it's tense, exciting, violent and very, very surprising. The respect that these two show for one another is also quite a nice touch, and while this reviewer was personally disappointed in the outcome, that doesn't change the fact that it really was a fantastic bout and the perfect way to end the DVD.
Much of the footage here was broadcast in anamorphic 1.78.1 widescreen which makes it puzzling to see it all shown in 1.33.1 fullframe. Aside from the fact that picture is interlaced, the quality is pretty decent. There aren't any annoying compression artifacts during any of the matches and there's only some minor shimmering in certain scenes to complain about. Color reproduction looks alright and skin tones are fine but the black levels can sometimes be a little less than perfectly defined.
WWE: John Morrison - Rock Star has a strong Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. There are no alternate language dubs, subtitles or closed captioning options. The audio here is fine, there aren't any obvious problems to report. The dialogue is always easy enough to understand and there are no issues with hiss or distortion worth complaining about. The 2.0 track sounds nice and full, with some nice crowd noise coming from the left and right channels. There's nothing reference quality here, but the sound is good.
The only extra on the disc, aside from the menu and chapter stops, is a brief eight minute clip from the July 17, 2007 episode of ECW where Johnny Nitro officially announces that he is now John Morrison. It's not much, but it does have some historical significance and is amusing enough in its own way. There are a few promos that play before the main menu, all of which you can skip through except for the obnoxious Army recruiting ads that the WWE insists on putting on their discs and insists on forcing you to watch every time you load one of their titles. Enough already.
The transfer won't floor you even if it is sufficient and the extras are fairly light but if you're a John Morrison fan, you can consider this disc recommended. Yes, it's probably a little early for him to get a spotlight release but what's on this disc is good enough to speak for itself and John Morrison - Rock Star comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.