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Does John Cena deserve to be called an all-time great?

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In an upcoming episode of RAW several all-time greats are being advertised to appear in the absence of John Cena.

These instances always draw comparisons from fans between their favourite eras, rivalries, and wrestlers. 

The idea of a Mt. Rushmore of wrestling is one that is debated frequently amongst fans with many different perspectives. Everyone has their favourites in the whacky world of wrestling, but it's always difficult to narrow it down to four.

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It's even more difficult to narrow it down to one. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Bruno Sammartino, Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George... and many in between.

One name that doesn't crop up all that often; and is usually met with snorts of derision when it does, is John Cena. There is a vocal majority who feel that Cena is stale as a character, too goofy, selfish in the ring and even bad at wrestling.

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Maybe one or two of those sentiments are true to an extent, but they have been blown out of proportion when it comes to the most polarizing man in WWE history.

You could argue that Stone Cold never really changed his character up much once he left the Ringmaster behind.

Some might think The Rock is too goofy at times. Hulk Hogan certainly has had reason in his career to be labelled selfish, and though he could control a crowd like few others, he was hardly Ricky Steamboat between the ropes.

The idea of John Cena being an all-time great is a growing notion now that he is certainly closer to the end of his main event career than the start. Objectively speaking, here are the reasons why that's not such a crazy idea.

Longevity

So, he may not have wrestled in as many decades as Ric Flair, but he is already level with Hogan for Wrestlemania appearances, and has won more titles. Steve Austin was on top of the wrestling business for about four years. Cena will likely triple that time frame at the least.

The wear and tear on his body is well documented, and yet he keeps returning from injury early, and he is still working a phenomenal pace. No one has had a run on the top so constantly demanding as John Cena, and that alone deserves recognition.

Decorations

Before you ask, yes I am aware that results and title changes are pre-determined, but anyone in the business will tell you that wins and losses do matter. To stay on top you need to win more than you lose, and Cena certainly has done that.

He is second only to Flair in terms of World Titles and US Titles, but he has also won Tag Titles, Money in the Bank and two Royal Rumbles. It's a pretty impressive list.

Match Portfolio

If you look at the number of classics they've had in their respective careers, John Cena has a portfolio that can match almost anybody's.

Most of his great matches have come with great opposition: CM Punk, Shawn Michaels, Daniel Bryan; but to take away all the credit is absurd.

It takes two to tango, and the fact that he is repeatedly stealing the show with a variety of performers cannot be by chance.

In 2015, he is having minor classics on a weekly basis, so expect this list to grow to HBK-esque proportions.

Promo Work

There may be occasions, more regularly than anyone would like, where John Cena references the Vince McMahon play book of wrestling humour, but when he is switched on, he is a rare talent on the microphone.

He has a wide range of tones that he can access to change the mood and bring the crowd with him at the drop of a hat.

The frequency with which he enters a hostile environment and manages to manipulate the crowd onto his side is astonishing. If you're an editor looking for a sound bite, or a producer needing someone to take the show in a certain direction, look no further than John Cena.

Versatility

Everyone has their favourite rivalries in wrestling. Throughout the ages, we have seen Hogan and Andre, Michaels and Hart, The Rock and Steve Austin. Many older fans don't consider John Cena to be part of that quality list, but if that's true he has made up for it with quantity.

Names like CM Punk, Randy Orton, Batista, Edge have had most of their best moments with John Cena. Every name from the last decade has one common denominator in their greatest hits.

Perhaps only The Undertaker can match Cena for different main event level feuds. That shows a remarkable level of flexibility in order to work so well with so many different styles.

Work Rate

If there's one thing that no-one can refute it is the work rate of the man. Wrestling is a business full of hard workers, and yet Cena continues to inspire awe from his contemporaries for his packed schedule.

Media appearances, interviews, charity work, TV, movies, training. Say all you want about politicking or ass-kissing, work rate gets rewarded. Until someone comes along who can match Cena in this department he is likely to stay at the top of the tree.

At the end of the day, there is no doubt that he loves the business and everything that goes along with it. That is the only way a man can continue to apply the hours he does.

Ambassadorship

Speaking of his schedule, the reason it's so hectic is because he does such a good job. If WWE wants someone represent the business and change its perception in the mainstream John Cena is the undoubtedly the best.

He gives everyone his time and attention, and is a class act every single time. He is popular figure in the world of entertainment and that in itself goes a long way.

Self Awareness

He may not be everyone's cup of tea, but at least he knows it. He also may not be famed for changing up his character like The Undertaker per se, but it is false to say he hasn't adapted. He is always aware of his role and value to the company and performs accordingly.

He is not like Hulk Hogan, over-estimating his worth and refusing to put over young talent. Fans are too quick to berate him for burying talent, but you can see it in his matches when he is all in on putting someone over.

It's not his fault if a talent doesn't push on after facing him. But as I mentioned earlier, he is responsible for taking a Hall of Fame list of superstars from obscurity into the main event.

He has put over guys like Edge, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, even Brock Lesnar. How many top stars would allow themselves to lose in the fashion he did against Lesnar at SummerSlam?

And in his best year ever with the company, he is using his United States Open Challenge to sell for guys up and down the roster. He has made Kevin Owens, Neville, Sami Zayn all look better than they were before he faced them. And that is a sign of great talent.

Respect

The word "respect" isn't just something he has printed on his merchandise. It is something he clearly lives by.

So many people have called him out for being a fake, but no one can do it for so long, so consistently. Just ask Jon Jones. His respect for the fans and for the business is palpable, and that is why so many of his colleagues respect him.

Just about all the great names I have mentioned in this article have articulated their respect for John Cena. Why? Because he is a once in a lifetime performer who deserves to be recognised as one of the all time greats.

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Topics:
John Cena
WWE

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