I’m about to type the most polarizing sentence ever. . .
This sentence is going to cause a primal response in a lot of people, and that response is more than likely going to be a negative one. Now, if you’ve been a follower of my work in the past, this is not necessarily a new thing. I’ve defended The Miz and Bo Dallas before, and I might just be the biggest Bull Dempsey fan who isn’t a blood relative, so I’m used to people disagreeing with me. Violently.
However, this sentence is about to take the proverbial cake.
I respect John Cena, and you should, too.
Still with me? I know your blood pressure has risen and your heart is pumping faster and stronger than before, but I appreciate the fact that you haven’t thrown anything at the computer screen. Take a breath, trust The Teacher, and hear me out.
I respect John Cena. Do I like his character right now? Heavens, no! Well. . . I mean. . . Not really. There’s definitely parts of it that I take issue with. Though he can be really funny. . . And he has been cutting some excellent promos lately. . . But yeah, I guess I don’t like the John Cena character. . . Sometimes. . .
Muscles clenched? Eyes narrowing? Losing yourself to imaginations of the excruciating torment you’d like to put people in for such a ridiculous comment? I don’t blame you – honestly, I don’t. In fact, let’s get some truths we can all agree on out of the way.
- Cena almost never loses clean. In fact, I did a little bit of research a few weeks ago, and “almost never” is a bit of an understatement. In the last 5 years (60 months), John Cena has lost cleanly (meaning no outside interference or other shenanigans) 3 times.
3 times. 60 months. I don’t normally teach fractions, but even I can do the math on that one. Cena loses cleanly only every year and a half or so. That’s insane, and it has had a negative impact on the product as a whole. There is no arguing that fact.
- Cena’s “gimmick” has not changed in equally as long a time. Nobody is counting the rainbow of T-shirt colors or the new slogans, though more on those later. Cena’s character, to many of us, personifies the word “stale”. At this point, any slight change would be a welcome reprieve. Keep that in mind.
- According to numerous backstage reports, Cena is a master backstage politician and has sweet-talked, back-stabbed and otherwise hoodwinked himself into his current position. As a certain wild-haired Caribbean once said, “That’s not cool.”
So there are definite downsides to Cena; nobody denies that. One can make a very easy argument that WWE would be in a very different place if he weren’t around, or if he had continued down the “getting young guys over” role he seemed to be in at the beginning of this year. But John Cena also gets a bad rap. . . Pun absolutely intended.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Internet Wrestling Community, but Cena isn’t a very popular guy around here. In fact, I’m not sure there has been a more despised character (or man, if some of the more emphatic of you are to be believed) in wrestling history, and its really not fair.
So, in order to be the clarion voice of reason (and plus I can never get enough hate mail), I humbly submit to you 8 reasons why John Cena deserves our respect.
- To quote Mr. Snitsky, It Wasn’t His Fault!
Travel back in time a few short months, and the landscape of WWE was very different. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk were the biggest stars in the company and getting more popular by the day. The future of WWE looked bright behind these two blossoming mega-stars. Where was Cena? Oh, he was around of course, but he wasn’t THE guy anymore. In fact, he had lost cleanly to Daniel Bryan at Summer Slam 2013 and over the course of several years of on-again, off-again feuds with Punk had done his part to make him a top talent, and was looking to do the same with one Bray Wyatt.
But Punk left. And Daniel Bryan got hurt. Suddenly, the two biggest stars (and faces) in WWE were nowhere to be seen, and as has been documented by just about everybody, the company was scrambling to recover.
Looking at the landscape of WWE at the time, Cena was the only logical choice. Now, I can hear many of you screaming about guys like Ziggler, Cesaro and the like, but face facts, friends. None of them were anywhere near the level of Punk or Bryan and wouldn’t have been successful filling their boots. So Vince turned to John Cena, as he should have because. . .
- Cena is reliable.
One of the reasons it feels like every wrestling Twitter fan despises John is because he’s always around. That’s, to quote WWE era DDP, a good thing! (I wonder how many of these slogans I can fit in. . . ) While I absolutely detested the way Cena was booked post-Summer Slam (he should have been out until Survivor Series at the earliest), you can’t fault a guy for being healthy and in great enough shape to wrestle night-after-night for over a decade.
Remember Heyman’s promo from a month or so back, describing how Cena’s run at the top is unprecedented? It’s absolutely true. Off the top of my head, I can think of one major injury for Cena, and even that was something he came back from much earlier than expected. (Hence the total surprise when he returned at the Rumble) Cesaro may have Switzerland and most of Europe covered, but John Cena, love him or hate him, is America’s Superman.
- He puts WWE first. . . No, seriously, he does!
Everything John Cena does, every waking moment (and likely many of his dreams) of his life is spent focused on wrestling and the WWE. I’m almost positive I’ve read things about how he’s one of the first guys in the building and the last to leave.
Plus, go back and look at that beating he took from Lesnar at Summer Slam. How many “top guys” would be willing to look THAT bad on such a grand stage? Precious few, that’s how many. Hell, Austin QUIT because he didn’t want to lose to Brock Lesnar. And don’t even bother writing me your vitriol about how that was a different set of circumstances, I know the story. The fact is, he took his ball and went home rather than take a kick to the cred, but Cena did it (seemingly) without complaint.
That’s Best for Business.
Plus, while Cena’s movies have generally tanked, he could have parlayed them into a legit movie career a la The Rock. He didn’t. Gotta respect that.
- He is the ambassador for WWE.
Name one other person who can be the public face of WWE and isn’t named McMahon. Was Dean Ambrose going to sit down on the Today Show and talk about fighting breast cancer? Would you have wanted him to? Come on, be honest. . . No, you wouldn’t have.
You need a guy like Cena who can do those sorts of appearances so the rest of the guys can focus on being the best talents they can be. When they tried putting Diesel out in public, it didn’t work too well, so they went back to Bret Hart. Cena is synonymous with WWE in a way that hasn’t been seen since. . .
- John Cena is the Hulk Hogan for the 21st century.
There’s no arguing this point, though some will make a solid case that it’s not a positive. Nobody has been more recognized than Cena and nobody has done more to promote WWE than these two. They also had extensive careers and stale gimmicks that resulted in losing the “grown-up fan” and will turn heel to much applause at some point in their twilight years. That’s OK, though. Why
- You’re not supposed to like John Cena.
Take a second and look objectively at the John Cena character. Colorful attire. Uber-positive slogans. Always overcoming the odds. Being an overall good guy.
Does that sound like a wrestler meant for the 18-34 demographic? No! No! No!
Much like his predecessor The Hulkster, the John Cena construct is specifically designed to attract the younger audience. He’s the Disney movie you sit through at the drive-in with your kids so that when they fall asleep during intermission, you can watch the action movie in relative peace.
John Cena is not supposed to be liked by those of us who make up the largest portion of the IWC, so in reality, he’s doing his job right. In fact. . .
- He’s already the biggest heel you could ask for.
Outside of the train wreck that was Kathie Lee and Hoda (I had the sound off and even then it was hard to watch), who got the biggest negative reaction from the Brooklyn crowd? John Cena. Who almost always gets the most boos in a given event? John Cena. If you ask 100 average wrestling fans who they hate the most, who will get the top spot? Likely John Cena.
In other words, John Cena as he is currently constituted is already as big a heel as anyone can be. If he did anything remotely villainous, what happens? Children cry but everybody else begins to start cheering for him. What does that mean?
- You want to cheer for John Cena.
You seriously do. If you have ever said “I wish Cena would just turn heel already” or “John Cena just needs to do something different”, that means you want to like him.
If Cena was revealed to be a secret member of The Authority, you’d stand and cheer. If he interrupted a Paige and AJ match and put both of them through a table, you’d jump up and down. If he went through a 6 month span where every talent on the roster pinned him cleanly, you’d actually consider buying John Cena merchandise.
Deep down, inside your heart of hearts, you have some small part of you that likes John Cena, no matter how many times he seemingly weasels his way into the main event picture. So take 15 seconds off from your Cena-bashing and tip your cap to the man for services rendered, because he deserves it.
Unless, of course, he squashes Ambrose at Hell in a Cell, in which case, he’s a total jerk.