In the history of the WWE is it possible to find a Superstar who splits the audience more so than ‘the champ’ John Cena? It would be hard to imagine any wrestler that gets such reactions and gets such emotion out of the live event crowds – both in positives and negatives. He’s in a unique position of where a section of the audience give him support no matter what and love him, his ‘CeNation’, the people who regularly chant “Let’s Go Cena!” every Monday Night on RAW, and Sunday on a pay-per-view.
While on the other side there is the section of fans that have a hate for Cena that runs to their spine, and chant “Cena Sucks!”, as well as “ You Can’t Wrestle”. Most of these fans are those that go on the internet and know the ins and outs of the wrestling world, the “smart” fans. Really though, are these fans smart? Is John Cena a bad wrestler?
Around a week ago, Mick Foley made various tweets about John Cena, giving his support to his talent. Foley said on Twitter that Cena is a workhouse and that he “hasn’t been in a bad PPV (that I’ve seen) in a long time. He CAN wrestle!” I think it would be hard to find truer words on the Twitter world. Praising the wrestling ability of Cena is probably a controversial one, especially on the internet, where a bunch of misinformed angry people are just waiting to jump at you for having a varying opinion. Look at the archive of pay-per-view matches from the year 2005 onwards, where Cena was given true opportunities to showcase what he can do in the ring, and he has had a endless list of fantastic matches, it would be extremely hard to find an awful match on pay-per-view.
This past July he featured in a match rated five stars by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter with CM Punk, the first match in the WWE to be granted such rating since the original (and in my opinion best) Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker in 1997. Now, depending on how important you think the view of one man is in determining the rating of a match, you still have to see it as some importance considering the amount of matches and wrestlers that haven’t been given a five star match. Although the main star behind the storyline was CM Punk, John Cena played an important role, on the microphone with story telling as well as holding his own in the ring, matching Punk hold-for-hold.
I’d assume that some people might still be negative with everything that Cena does and claim that he got lucky. After all of those main event matches, with all of those great wrestlers one was due to strike gold sooner or later like the monkey/typewriter/shakespeare theory. That he came across CM Punk at a high point in his career, that if anyone else had been in the match it would have been just as good – five star worthy, that Cena was “carried”.
Time after time, month after month his matches have struck gold, against an all star list of wrestlers, of different styles and different attitudes. Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton, of course CM Punk and even Bobby Lashley during his rather short lived and ill fated term in the World Wrestling Entertainment. The list could go on, and it ranges a number of years, from 2005 to 2011, six years of solid to great matches each month, how many other people could make such a claim – only the best, the Bret Hart’s, the Steve Austin’s of the wrestling world. And Cena matches up with the best in number of matches with true quality. It would be rare for someone to put Cena in a category with such names.
Possibly because he isn’t technically a great wrestler, but were Stone Cold Steve Austin, or The Rock? No – but both were universally loved. Although Austin was a notably good wrestler during his day, before his neck and knee injuries took their toll, even during the Austin 3:16 era he still was able to put on great matches. While The Rock was mostly known for his charisma, while in the ring he wasn’t fantastic, he wasn’t awful too. Maybe its because because once Rocky hit the big time in 1998 he was a heel and then turned face sometime during ’99 and then leaving in ’02, before turning heel again in ’03 briefly. Maybe its possible that The Rock left for the Hollywood red carpet before the fans could turn against him. Austin on the other hand was around long enough for that to happen but his character had all around appeal being the anti-hero, the badass that hated his boss and did everything his own way. While Cena is the opposite, he isn’t the anti-hero, he’s the good guy, he’s happy he has his fans and loves them.
Internet readings indicate that Cena is a genuinely nice guy. WWE’s website reported back in April that he had granted his 200th Make-A-Wish Foundation wish, something that he obviously enjoys doing. For these children, Cena is their hero and he knows this, if he was to turn into a heel, a bad guy these children wouldn’t have a hero, he wouldn’t be able to do any work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, this is something that has to be taken into account when people want Cena to change his character, he enjoys being the hero. Even these past two weeks on RAW, there has been some character development to his always happy character, a much more serious tone – which has been interesting and a change. Yet the internet still have a negative attitude towards Cena, despite the change.
It could be his moveset, his well known “five moves of doom”. The internet likes to complain at his moveset, his signature moves are the only ones he knows. Yet every single wrestler has a signature move set, all the biggest names Hogan, Michaels, Undertaker – they all use a set of moves to finish the match off in a lot of cases. It might be one move in particular, the Five Knuckle Shuffle, possibly it looks too stupid or fake. Is it any different from the People’s Elbow? The similarities between the two are endless, the only difference is an elbow pad is thrown into the crowd and the difference between an elbow and a fist drop. The Rock was never given huge amounts of hate because of this, Cena should be no different.
The Rock himself said via his Facebook that Cena’s fans were nothing but women and children, that any man would know Cena isn’t real, that men can see through his “bullshit”. This isn’t completely true, while the majority of Cena’s fanbase is arguably the demographics which Rocky described, if you scan through the crowds on RAW and at live events, you will see an amount of men wearing his t-shirts and cheering him. It could be Cena be that Rock is trying to appeal to the fans that love to hate Cena with his videos and tweets, as it seems that being anti-Cena is a cool thing now and has been since 2005, for some unknown reason.
I’m not a super fan of John Cena, I don’t have a red t-shirt of his, or a purple, not even orange – I don’t own one of his DVDs, or follow him on Twitter (and that’s free!) But I can respect him for the amount of work he puts in and I can respect that he can put on a number of good matches. In the future once Cena hangs up the shorts and the Jordans and retires from the ring, maybe all the fans will recognise just how good he is.
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This article was first posted on August 26, 2011