No doubt some of you are wondering why anyone would need to write a column to defend John Cena. After all, this guy is over. You can’t browse the frozen dinner aisle at Wal-Mart without seeing a stinky kid wearing his signature orange shirt and wristbands. Vince McMahon could program an entire two-hour episode of Raw with Cena fighting a handicap match against The Great Khali and Raja Lion, and it would crush TNA in the ratings. Hell, his first film (The Marine) made more money in theaters than Academy Award Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker.
He’s a millionaire, he’s in the prime of his life, he’s reached the pinnacle of his profession, and I imagine that women throw themselves at him like they’ve got malaria and his dick is made of chloroquine. The last thing John Cena needs is a random guy on the Internet telling you that you should appreciate him a little more.
And yet… you clicked on this article anyway. Because somehow, even as John Cena is the most popular man in wrestling today, he’s also the least popular man in wrestling. The next time you’re watching Raw and his intro music plays, try to ignore all the women and children in the arena screaming in ecstasy. There it is — an undercurrent of angry boos. Occasionally there’s a full-fledged backlash against the eight-time World Champion: a whole cottage industry of YouTube videos has sprung up to detail such instances.
I’ve been guilty of it myself. Just last week, I pointed at John Cena and declared him to be one of the reasons TNA can potentially compete with WWE. I’ve gotten some feedback from a couple of angry Cena fans who rightly pointed out that I was being myopic. Cena is, after all, the biggest draw in the industry right now, and Eric Bischoff has stated publicly that Cena (along with Randy Orton and Chris Jericho) is one of the first guys he’d steal for TNA’s roster if he had the chance.
Truth be told, I’ve disliked John Cena for as long as I can remember. I can’t just blame it on his current gimmick, although being pious and nearly invincible hasn’t helped matters. I didn’t like him when he was doing freestyle raps, I didn’t like him in goofy half-camouflage, and I certainly didn’t like his Spinner Belt. I despise that the first time I saw him, he kicked out of the Angle Slam. It annoys me that he seems to take such pleasure in his baseball slide into the ring. It bothers me when he salutes before he walked to the ring, despite the fact he has no real connection to any branch of the military. It even irks me that he sings his own entrance music (though I find it endearing when Shawn Michaels does the same).
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about professional wrestling, it’s that I’m always the mark. I don’t actually know anything. How much of what I hate is John Cena the person, and how much is John Cena the WWE Superstar? Once I took a step back and examined some of my biases, I realized that I’ve been far too harsh in my judgment. Here are some of the criticisms I’ve leveled against Cena over the years, along with some rational responses.
John Cena only knows two moves: the Attitude Adjustment and the F.U. Okay, okay… first and foremost, we all recognize that Cena has a rather limited set of moves. This isn’t, in and of itself, a dealbreaker. There was a time when WWE had a few more Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko types: guys who had the capacity to wrestle disparate styles of matches with entirely different spots in consecutive weeks. Cena is reviled for his FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, but what headliner has more than five moves nowadays? Some of the biggest names in the game (to include, coincidentally, Triple H) have equally repetitive matches, but for whatever reason aren’t nearly as criticized for it.
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