You know, there are several moments in wrestling that I will always remember. I remember watching Goldberg beat Hulk Hogan on Nitro for the world title. I could tell you every thing about that moment. I was in my room, sat at the end of my bed, cheering on Goldberg. I had my window open because it was warm, so I could hear my family in the garden all laughing and joking. I could tell you where all my furniture was, I could tell you the way my room smelt, every little detail, I can remember it. I can remember the day The Radicalz joined the WWF, sat in the front row waiting to jump in. I instantly knew who they were and had to spend 10 minutes explaining to my friends who they were, as they didn’t watch WCW. I’m sure we all have moments like that in our lives when it comes to wrestling.
I can’t really remember when I started hating John Cena. I remember him retaining the world title at Judgement Day and I remember wanting him to win, but after that I don’t remember much. I remember being really happy when Edge took the world title from him at New Years Revolution because I disliked Cena that much, so it must have been somewhere between there, but I can’t put my finger on it. The other thing I can’t remember is why. I look at Cena now and I don’t know what it was that turned me against him or what the catalyst was. I was never into rap that much, so his gimmick hardly endeared itself to me, but there has to be more than that. Cena is the only Face in wrestling that gets booed by most of the crowd most of the time, and there has to be a reason for it, but over the last few weeks, I haven’t really been able to find a definitive reason. So, today, I want to ask one question: Why do we hate Cena?
I think part of the puzzle comes from the fact that from 2004 onwards, he has been the chosen one in the WWE. Even as US champion, he was on his way to the top. His fast track rise to the top of the food chain turned the WWE product from the edgy crash TV we knew and loved to the PG era that we know and tolerate (sometimes love). He quickly dominated his story lines, sweeping The Big Show, Rene Dupree, and Carlito out of the way in his US title reign. He lost the belt to Orlando Jordan while in his World Title winning feud with JBL, something which irked most people, including me. Since that point, Cena has been on top of the WWE consistently until around the middle of 2010, when he went outside the WWE title picture, in part due to several other stars becoming main event talent. However, the thing that bothers me more is how Cena has been used. I can’t think of anybody else that has been made due to Cena’s star power. I think of how HHH made Sheamus or how Mysterio made Del Rio. I think of how Big Show is currently making Cody Rhodes, but I can’t find anybody John built up. Wade Barrett is still a midcard talent due to Cena never looking weak and Carlito never made it out of his shadow. Umaga was built up as a monster, only to fall to Cena, and The Great Khali while not the best wrestler, ended up being cannon fodder to Cena too. I think of guys like Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and Ted DiBiase, even going as far back as Chris Masters, Shelton Benjamin and Mr Anderson/Kennedy who could and possibly should have benefited from Cena and his status a long time ago and now those chances are gone. I remember Orton going on a rampage, kicking just about everybody he could find in the head, putting superstars on the shelf, non wrestlers in hospital and showing no fear. Cena took a punt to the head and was up within 10 minutes, leaving Orton to run away. Cena is the exception to the rule, never looking weak enough to help somebody no matter the situation. Only recently have people started to get the better of him. I said months ago that Zack Ryder would be used to help Cena win the crowd back and here we stand. Ryder has been destroyed week in and week out both physically and mentally, jobbing out recently on Raw in a match I don’t even remember.
But that can’t be all of it. HHH dominated the world title scene in 2001-2004 just like Cena has recently, but we came to love HHH again. Most people point to his in ring ability as a problem, but I watched him against Punk at Summerslam. I watched him against The Miz (another guy who gained nothing from Cena) and I watched him against Kane. Every time, he wrestled in a different style and every time he was solid and entertaining in the ring. Sure, he has the same move set in each match, but who doesn’t? I could tell you right now that no matter the match, AJ Styles will hit the drop down dropkick combo, his springboard forearm, the Pele kick and a moonsault DDT. I can tell you what Jay Lethal is going to do in his matches: Hip toss dropkick, diving elbow, handspring back elbow. All wrestlers have a moveset. Some more limited than others but all repeated in every match. People can pass judgment about the ‘five moves doom’ as much as they please, but in terms of in ring ability, Cena is better than most. I suppose that gives me something like an answer as to why Cena didn’t build guys like Orlando Jordan or Khali, people who’s in ring talent were not on par with his. His mic ability, while annoying at times, is top quality as well. Sure, we know he will open with a joke and slowly get louder and louder until he shouts. It’s hardly ground breaking, but he is consistent on the microphone, something guys like Benjamin were not. WWE is it’s own beast and if you are a good at both, you will make it at the expense of somebody who is great at one but average at the other.
His supposed gimmick seems to work people up a lot too. He’s really nothing more than a company man in shorts. Against CM Punk, he stood for the WWE, even if he was against Vince. Before that, he has always been about WWE even when most people didn’t like the things WWE had done. People don’t often acknowledge it, but in the last 15 years, WWE have taken two of our most loved promotions (WCW and ECW) and turned them to dust, then rebuilt one into something that had some good and plenty of bad. During their time as the only wrestling company on the map, they provided us with some of the worst wrestlers, the most horrible stories and some of the biggest disappointments we have had in wrestling. There are reasons to enjoy the WWE product and still be able to hate the WWE. When a guy like John tells you he loves the WWE, he doesn’t make the separation between the good and the bad. Putting John against guys like CM Punk and trying to make Cena a face is a bonehead move because Punk is the people now. Putting Cena up against The Rock as a face is a bonehead move because The Rock is an icon to this business. People have said that we have grown past the need for Heels and Faces and that people should just be themselves and the fans can make up their own minds. That claim is at best misguided and at worst wrong. Heels and Faces are always going to be a part of wrestling and trying to escape that is simply going to force us into situations like we have now, where The Rock and Cena take jabs at each other for weeks on end, neither breaking a deadlock. If one of them were a heel, it would have made things so much easier to build. Flip it over though, and it’s easy to see why John can’t go heel. Too many eggs have been put in his basket that if he were to turn heel, WWE would lose more than they gain. Monetarily, they would lose a fortune in merchandise, something with people can’t lose sight of. WWE is firstly a business and having them turn Cena, a big money maker, without somebody in place to pick up the slack would be a bad move. Product wise, it would simply push Cena further into the limelight, which would cost several of the other talented superstars on the roster their time on TV to accommodate the biggest heel turn since Hulk Hogan, something which WWE can’t afford to do right now as they have finally gotten so many of their midcard stars on the verge of a breakout.
So, honestly, I don’t know why I hate him. I know I do and that it is unlikely to change. I know that I don’t want to hate him for no reason. I do think that if he turned heel I would be able to hate him while appreciating him, but I understand why it won’t happen. I can remember Steve Austin being run over. I can remember Royal Rumble 1999 from top to bottom. I can’t remember why I started hating Cena, but I know nothing is going to change that for me. Now comes the part where I plug my Twitter (@NoHopeForSome) and tell you guys to like the WrestlingTruth Facebook page and Twitter site (@wrestlingnews) as well to keep up with all the news and opinions from us. Have your say in the comments below and let us know what your opinion on the whole Cena situation is.
Category: Columns and Editorials |