Burying the Nexus. Super Cena. Five moves of doom. Hogging the limelight. Selling out the WWE. They’re usually some of the terms you hear when somebody tries to justify the reasons they dislike John Cena while some will downright refuse the notion that Cena belongs in the same bracket as guys like Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, to name a few.
Although, there are those that have been sour on Cena in the past and over the years, they’ve grown to have much more appreciation of a man that has helped take WWE to new heights.
ONE OF THE GREATS
There’s a reason why he’s referred to as the most polarising star in WWE history. Cena has faced an incredible amount of cheers in his career that helped cement his place at the top of the company, while the toxic atmosphere that the boos bring didn’t deter the WWE one bit. If anything, the negative reaction has helped him stay in that spot and it’s been welcomed by the man himself; orchestrating the infamous ‘John Cena sucks’ on the stage during his theme music.
With Cena’s WWE career clearly winding down, here are five reasons why the 16-time world champion deserves to be called an all-time great.
ARGUABLY THE MOST MARKETABLE STAR IN HISTORY
Cena is literally a walking billboard for the WWE, regardless of whether he’s donning a suit or one of the many bright coloured shirts the company has released for him over the years. Everything Cena does ties back to the WWE, whether that’s appearing on popular American talk shows or transitioning into Hollywood; the fact that he’s almost never involved in controversy makes him the perfect company man and the face the WWE wants to represent them.
It doesn’t even matter if he’s considered a ‘part-timer’ now. When WWE comes knocking for another stint on the main roster or a handful of live events, he’s there and he puts fans in seats. He’s the mainstream media juggernaut that helps excels in gauging more interest in the WWE and he’s done all of this while remaining at the top of the WWE, and it’s no secret why he’s a god-like figure in the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
WWE has needed a bonafide crossover star since the days of Hulk Hogan, and it’s easier said than done.
HE MAKES HIS OPPONENTS BETTER
Some of the biggest criticisms Cena has faced are that he buries his opponents, and that he can’t do much inside of the ring. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, certainly over the latter stages of his career as he is far better than fans and detractors give him credit for.
Take out Kevin Owens’ time as Steen on the independent scene and the moments you instantly associate with him are his feuds and match with Cena. That helped Owens become the star he is today as Cena was more than happy to have somewhat of a newcomer in the WWE make the biggest impact possible.
Most recently, though, who would have thought Elias would have been able to hold his own and look incredible opposite Cena? Sure, Nexus, Rusev and Bray Wyatt didn’t exactly work out, but that’s not to say Cena has continued to borrow Triple H’s famous shovel time and time again when you look at his work alongside the likes of Brock Lesnar, Bryan, Styles, Orton, Sheamus, CM Punk and more.
The Doctor of Thuganomics debuted all the way back in 2002, meaning he’s one of the very few that has witnessed the WWE heading into new eras and has watched plenty of stars walk in and out of the doors. As those years have passed, superstars become more and more developed and talented which can make it more difficult for the ‘older’ stars to keep up - unless you’re Cena.
He’s retained his position on top of WWE quite comfortably and you have to commend him on the fact that even though he draws a mixed reaction, he’s been able to remain relevant for 16 years and counting, something which is almost unheard of.
Of course, it takes great opponents to have great matches, so that’s why matches against the likes of Shawn Michaels in an epic 55-minute encounter, AJ Styles on several occasions, amazing battles with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam have been called classics, but Cena has played an important role in them and has continued to show improvement and the willingness to continue adapting.
You only need to take a look at his United States Open Challenge to get an idea of not only how talented he really is in the ring, but how - at this stage of his career - he’s still able to adapt his arsenal of moves to continue adding to his repertoire, despite being unfairly targeted as having a limited scope as a top star in the company.
It’s not only the work inside of the ring that matters, but the emotion that stars are able to convey to tell a brilliant story, and nobody does that better than big match John.
COMPELLING MICROPHONE WORK
You can call it cheesy or corny or cringe-worthy at times, but standing face to face with Cena in the middle of the ring and trying to win a promo battle is easier said than done. Just ask Roman Reigns when he tried to knock Cena down a peg or two ahead of their match at No Mercy, while Cena also gave Reigns’ cousin a run for his money during the build-up to their two matches at WrestleMania 28 and 29.
He was good when he was portraying a rapper, and he’s only become better and better despite being considered a veteran. His battles are always entertaining on the microphone and it’s near-impossible to find someone who can easily manipulate the crowd like he did in the build-up to his impromptu contest against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 34.
He gets you hyped up for matches that you usually aren’t looking forward to, and that’s quite a difficult trait to possess and maintain through a very long career at the top.
Will John Cena go down as one of the greatest WWE superstars of all time? Have YOUR say in the comments section below.