John Morrison: Rock Star (DVD Review)
In a first for The Arena, I'm doing a full-fledged DVD review! The Prince of Parkour, the Guru of Greatness, the Shaman of Sexy, John Morrison, recently made his return to WWE. Many moons ago, I picked up John Morrison: Rock Star, going cheap for $10. I was going to hold off this DVD review for a couple more weeks, closer to the Royal Rumble, where we all thought that Morrison would make his return. Then Johnny went and screwed it all up by returning of Smackdown the other week. In the most unassuming way ever, I might add, just popping out of a locker room door when Charly Caruso was looking for The Miz, but ah well. He's back. And he makes his in-ring return in a few days, going one-on-one with Big E on Smackdown.
This DVD, for the most part, deals with a time period that I'm not overly familiar with. Most of the matches are from the year Morrison explodes into superstardom, 2009. 2009 happens to be the year I dropped out of watching WWE, after Wrestlemania 25, with the exception of the CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy feud, I was out. In a happy coincidence, this compilation features matches where John Morrison faces both Jeff Hardy and CM Punk. I really enjoyed John Morrison as a talent, from his days in MNM, to his run as ECW Champion, to teaming with The Miz... and I didn't see a whole lot of his WWE career after that. So, if nothing else, "Rock Star" should do a good job filling in a gap in my John Morrison knowledge.
Let's do this.
John Morrison: Rock Star DVD
A quick scroll through the DVD menus reveals only one special feature, simply titled:
-John Morrison Is Born- ECW- July 17, 2007
So, it looks like we're completely ignoring his Johnny Nitro days. Shame, he had some great matches teaming with Joey Mercury in MNM, especially with Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. Anyway, this is the promo/segment where he re-brands himself as John Morrison. It's set-up as a press conference, with a press agent in the ring telling the crowd that they will ""never see Johnny Nitro again". Morrison comes out to an instrumental version of his "Ain't No Make Believe" theme (he's still using that theme in his WWE return, FYI). John says he was born as "John Morrison", and that he was always exceptional, able to walk and run at just a few months old, skipping 3rd grade, and being elected student body president- but he didn't even run for president. He ponders what CM Punk's name means- Chases Men? Cookie Monster? Common Man? This brings out Punk, who is set to challenge Morrison for the ECW Championship at the Great American Bash. Morrison asks him what his name means, then clocks him with the microphone. He follows up with the presently unnamed Moonlight Drive (corkscrew neckbreaker). His music plays as Tazz touts him as "the real deal" on commentary.
It was a decent promo that got Morrison's new character across- he looked every bit a rock star in his new white suit, and showed his ego in talking about how exceptional he had been his whole life. I liked the almost poetic promo style Morrison would adopt after this, that helped spawn the monikers I listed at the outset of this review.
Back to the main menu!
We begin with a Morrison highlight reel, with commentary soundbites over big moves and moment. JR calls him "a future mega-star", Matt Striker calls him "seductive and controversial". Okay, Matt...
Morrison is standing on a beach. He says, "Hello, WWE Universe" in a very awkward and robotic way. He then tells us that this beach is 5 miles from where he grew up, just outside Los Angeles. He always had a dream of being a WWE Superstar (his Tough Enough audition exposes that as a lie). Let's have a look at some of the wrestling.
Match 1: ECW Championship- CM Punk def. John Morrison (ECW 4th Sep 2007)
Thoughts: Odd to start the matches off with one he lost. I mean, as far as match quality, it's this or the 15 Minutes of Fame matches that were the best of the Punk/Morrison series, but if I was picking matches for my own DVD, I'd go for matches I won. Just saying. Anyway, it's a hard-hitting, technical but dramatic match. Morrison works on Punk's neck, Punk goes for the big comeback, Morrison cuts him off with a big Pele Kick. Morrison then goes for the Chuck Kick (Cody's Disaster Kick) but misses. The opening allows Punk to hit the GTS and finally win ECW gold! Really good match. Like I've often said, people would have been way more receptive to WWE's ECW if they just didn't call it ECW, It was a good wrestling show that had little in common with Paul Heyman's vision. (***1/2)
We move to footage of Morrison on the Dirt Sheet. It was pretty funny actually. Morrison basically stole Chuck Norris facts, but said them all about himself. Both Morrison and The Miz did some hilarious impressions of various superstars over the years, including Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Which brings us to...
Match 2: DX (Triple H & Shawn Michaels) def. John Morrison & The Miz (Raw 3rd Nov 2008)
Thoughts: Another one where JoMo loses! But at least in this one, they're losing to bonafide legends in DX. Shawn Michaels cleans house early, but a Morrison distraction allows Miz to take advantage with a massive clothesline, and they take turns beating down HBK until a desperation enziguri allows Michaels to tag The Game. HHH runs through Miz and Morrison off the hot tag, but then Morrison hits the flying forearm with a nip up, ripping off HBK. He follows up with Sweet Chin Music, and Morrison and Miz stand over The Game, mocking them with a "Suck It" crotch chop. Miz tries to hit HHH with his own Pedigree, but it is reversed. DX hits Miz with the Sweet Chin/Pedigree combo for the win! The inclusion of this one actually makes more sense. Miz and Morrison, still on the ECW brand, held their own with two of the best in WWE, with plenty of moments for Morrison. And hey, Miz got pinned, not Morrison. Good stuff. (**1/2)
"Palace of Wisdom" segment, where John answers fan questions. From Liv, "If you weren't a WWE Superstar, what would your occupation be?" John answers, "An Olympic, the President, the second coming of Jesus, or Chuck Norris. Or all 4 put together." He answers a few more in his cocky and humourous way.
Match 3: John Morrison def. Evan Bourne (ECW 14th April 2009)
Thoughts: Finally, Morrison gets a win! This happened right after Miz split from Morrison in the 2009 WWE Draft. We have a battle of two high fliers, but JoMo uses his size to try and grind Bourne down a little. At one point he hits a vicious looking knee while Evan is draped in the ropes, knocking him to the outside. From there, Morrison locks Bourne in a painful bow and arrow looking submission, and eventually Bourne counters with a hurricanrana. Cool spot where Morrison dodges a Bourne kick and hits his own Capoeira kick in essentially the same motion. Wicked athleticism. Morrison tries to fly high but Evan springs up and catches him in a top rope rana. Near fall. Bourne hits a Meteora. Near fall. Goes up top again but Morrison cuts him off. With Bourne draped on the ropes, Morrison hits the Moonlight Drive for the win. High quality action. (***1/2)
John Morrison does parkour. This DVD came out in late 2009, so parkour wasn't as popular as it is today, we get a definition of the art kindly provided on the screen. Morrison and his trainer explain that it constitutes a full body workout through the various movements and techniques, versus a guy that goes to the gym and does a bench press. Morrison is hella impressive here, looking like an action movie star as he leaps and flips through the obstacle course.
Match 4: Chris Jericho def. John Morrison (WWE Superstars 11th June 2009)
Thoughts: This was back at the beginning when Superstars didn't consist of C-level wrestlers like Titus O'Neil and Mojo Rawley (Main Event was similar at its inception). Jericho was coming off beating Rey Mysterio at Extreme Rules for the IC title, but Morrison took him to the limit, popping the crowd early with a beautiful corkscrew dive. Jericho fires back with his patented springboard dropkick, and arrogantly lounges on the corner after delivering it. Morrison's closest moment comes after he avoids the Lionsault and nails the Chuck Kick for a very convincing near fall. Another close moment when Morrison reverses a Walls of Jericho attempt into a roll-up, but Jericho, ever the veteran, reverses the roll-up and pulls the tights for the win. Man, Morrison is seriously taking a ton of Ls in his highlight reel. Great match though. (***3/4)
More parkour goodness as Morrison flips through an empty arena before an episode of Smackdown. He names each move and performs them, with freeze frames and labels. Say what you want about Morrison's grasp on the "entertainment" side of sports-entertainment, but his crazy athletic ability is super fun to watch.
Match 5: Edge def. John Morrison (Smackdown 19th June 2009)
Thoughts: Edge does a promo pre-match and gets interrupted by JoMo. John mocks Edge for his Canadian accent. Not the greatest promo, eh. But the match is fantastic. Great psychology with Edge attacking the mid-section of the six-pack-sporting Morrison, and JR and Grisham do a nice job explaining how the core is the main part of Morrison's offence. Morrison fights back and hits a backbreaker. The Chuck Kick is attempted, but misses, and he winds up in the Sharpshooter. Damn Canadians. Morrison shows heart and makes the ropes. Awesome finishing sequence kicks in here- Morrison goes for the Moonlight Drive, but gets crotched. Edge puts him in the tree of woe and charges- maybe for an upside down Spear?- but Morrison sits up, forcing Edge to go shoulder to post. Roll up for a great near fall. Morrison goes for the Moonlight Drive, but Edge counters into the Edge-acution for another excellent near fall. Morrison hits a huge tornado DDT for another 2.75 count. Morrison goes for Starship Pain, Edge moves, Morrison lands on his feet but takes a massive Spear! It's over, but that's the best match on the disc so far. (****)
After a warning from the Guru of Greatness to not try this at home, we get another highlight reel, specifically on his high flying moves, Starship Pain and the Chuck Kick. He goes into how he named the moves- shockingly, he's a Chuck Norris fan.
Match 6: John Morrison def. CM Punk (Smackdown 26th June 2009)
Thoughts: June 2009 was a big month for John Morrison. Three matches in one month make his "Best Of" collection? Damn son. Anyway, CM Punk had just become World Heavyweight Champion, but this was a non-title match, naturally because poor Morrison can't win a match to save his life. This was really good on both sides, with some nice chain wrestling and stiff kicks on both sides. The Shaman of Sexy busts out the Capoeira counter from the Evan Bourne match. Punk hits his patented running knee/bulldog combo for a near fall. He goes for the GTS, JoMo fights out, so he hits a solid German suplex instead for a long 2 count. Morrison goes for Starship Pain, Punk cuts him off and hits a reverse superplex for a CLOSE near fall. They exchange rapid fire pin attempts and Morrison gets the 3! Really unique way to pin, actually, almost like a tiger suplex bridge but he stacks Punk right up. The new world champ is in disbelief, but takes it well, and Morrison is elated. Very good match between 2 guys who were very familiar with each other, but held different spots in the Smackdown pecking order in 2009. (***1/2)
JoMo visits a surf shop, and we get a mini-tutorial on how surfboards are made. Not sure how relevant this really is to John himself, feels a bit like a cheap plug for the shop honestly.
Match 7: World Heavyweight Championship- Jeff Hardy def. John Morrison (Smackdown 31st July 2009)
Thoughts: So, if nothing else, Smackdown had some awesome matches in 2009. The PG direction of the company was killing me, along with 3 hour Raws and the guest hosts, but maybe if I had just stuck with Smackdown during this era, I could have kept my wrestling fandom going. Morrison gets the early upper hand beating Hardy down, and when it goes to the outside he hits a nice Asai moonsault. Back in the ring, Jeff hits Whisper In The Wind for a near fall. Man, these guys had great chemistry. I remember when Jeff first returned to WWE in 2006, his first feud was with Johnny Nitro, and they had a good thing going for months. Jeff hits Poetry In Motion on the outside, but used the steel stairs in place of Matt. Back in the ring, Morrison crotches Hardy on the top rope and nails the Chuck Kick in a close call. Jeff regains the advantage with a sit-out Gordbuster. He goes up top, hits the Swanton Bomb... and Morrison kicks out! JR says he can't recall anyone ever kicking out of it- I'm sure it's happened though. Jeff goes for Hardiac Arrest but JoMo gets the feet up to launch him across the ring. Morrison goes for Starship Pain but Hardy gets the knees up at the last moment! Twist of Fate, Swanton, the champ retains. Lots of fun. (***1/4)
Back at the beach, Morrison and his surf shop mate take on the waves. Morrison explains what a barrel in surfing is- seriously, who doesn't know that? He says that while Mother Nature can give him a beating out there, it's not as bad as sports-entertainment. Yeah, he said sports-entertainment. No, it didn't sound natural at all.
Match 8: Intercontinental Championship- John Morrison def. Rey Mysterio (Smackdown 4th Sep 2009)
Thoughts: They actually saved the best for last. As this run of matches indicates, Morrison was really hitting his stride as a singles performer around this time. As for the legendary Rey Mysterio, he was also in one of the best runs of his career, coming off a great feud with Chris Jericho- after reading Jericho's books, I checked out the Mysterio vs. Jericho matches. Phenomenal. So, we have two uber-exciting wrestlers, in the form of their careers. The result was a high octane sprint where they kept up with each other move for move. One of the most spectacular spots came from Rey, who did a tilt-a-whirl headscissors... but he went around Morrison's body twice! Also, quick note- at the start of this match, there were loud "Let's go Morrison" chants. Quite the achievement to get positive chants opposite perennial babyface Mysterio. Morrison tries to ground Rey, but the master of the 619 finds ways to fight out. Both men trade advantage and near falls as the crowd chants "this is awesome" (much rarer in 2009 than it is in 2019/2020). The finish comes when Rey goes for a poison rana off the top rope, but Morrison holds on and he crashes and burns. Starship Pain connects and we have a new Intercontinental Champion! (****1/2)
As far as match quality, I can't really fault it. Not one bad outing from Morrison over the 2.5 hours of runtime. However, as a career retrospective and "Best Of", it's definitely lacking. I understand it's trickier to do for someone whose career was relatively short at the time, but they could have fleshed it out with a little early career stuff, like Tough Enough, and even some personal early life stuff, like most WWE DVDs that have a little documentary section. It definitely should have included his Johnny Nitro work, both in MNM and as a solo guy on Raw- I mean, he won the Intercontinental Championship as Nitro as well. I think WWE rushed out this DVD release because Morrison was hot at the time and they wanted to strike at the right time. Not a bad collection of matches though and it definitely whet the appetite for seeing John Morrison return to the WWE ring this week on Smackdown.
Until next time, take care,