To many fans, John Cena is the Superman of the WWE. No matter how many times he gets knocked down, Cena is able to get back up, perform his five moves of doom, and walk out with a victory. Even though John Cena may seem like an invincible superhero in the WWE, many people that have stepped into the squared circle with him may feel like he is their Kryptonite.
After wrestling in the WWE for ten plus years, Cena has gone through his fair share of opponents. Some of his rivals like Randy Orton, A.J. Styles or Kevin Owens have thrived from their feuds and went on to have successful careers. Others quickly stalled or saw their push come to an abrupt halt. For the following fifteen characters and wrestlers, a feud with John Cena is the sole reason for their demise and fall from the WWE ladder. From his early days as a freestyling rapper, his time as a Superstar solider and even now as the “face that runs the place,” it is hard to avoid his career-killing wrath. Relive these memorable feuds and storylines to see how the curse of John Cena’s Superman persona can cause pro-wrestlers to get buried among the roster.
15 Wade Barrett
The Nexus could have completely changed the WWE. The faction was created with the whole first season of the WWE show NXT and was led by NXT Season 1 winner Wade Barrett. One of the group’s first targets was John Cena. While this created several memorable moments where Cena was attacked, there was no way you could keep him down. One of the feud highlights was a 7-on-7 elimination match at the 2010 SummerSlam. John Cena was the only one left on Team WWE when he suddenly overcame all of the obstacles to eliminate the final two members of The Nexus, including Wade Barrett.
A lot of The Nexus momentum was stopped at that main event, but Barrett continued to feud with Cena. Too bad the whole time it felt like a one-sided affair. Getting three different opportunities to win the WWE Championship, Barrett fell short each time and Cena finally put the last nail in the coffin by annihilating Barrett in a Chairs Match during the TLC PPV. Barrett remained on the WWE roster, but his career would never recover, shifting through various mid-card character changes (who remembers King Barrett?) and eventually leaving the WWE.
The Samoan monster known as Umaga had a memorable debut in the WWE. After destroying Ric Flair and starting an impressive undefeated streak, Umaga would have to put everything on the line against John Cena. Their first singles match was a WWE Title match at the 2007 New Year’s Revolution PPV event. John Cena got the relatively easy victory and was the first person to pin Umaga. using a roll-up.
Things didn’t get much better for Umaga as John Cena defeated him again just weeks later during a Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble. The unstoppable force of Umaga was now merely a whimper. Umaga would move down to mid-level status and did not have any more memorable feuds. He would go on to lose in matches against Jeff Hardy and CM Punk before he was fired from the WWE in 2009.
13 Bull Buchanan
As John Cena’s rapping heel character grew in popularity on the SmackDown roster, the creative team decided to pair him with a sidesick. Their choice: Bull Buchanan, the former Right to Censor member was repackaged as B-2, the freestyling sidekick of Cena. Fans quickly saw through this lame act as B-2 was mocked on air every week.
Cena quickly disposed of B-2 as his sidekick and the only repackaging that Bull Buchanan would receive was a severance one. Cena quickly replaced B-2 with another failed sidekick known as Redd Dogg, but he was too irrelevant to even make the list.
B-2 was fired from the WWE less than six months after teaming with Cena. He only returned in 2011 for a special segment where he blamed John Cena for ending his career in the WWE and having to deal with that awful gimmick.
12 Big Show
Big Show should always be a dominant monster in the ring, but after wrestling for so long, your character is bound to get watered down after some time. His dominance would get tested time and time again by John Cena and for some reason Cena always prevailed as the David that would ALWAYS take down the Goliath.
You can look at just their WrestleMania matches together to see how Cena crushed the Big Show and diluted his character. Cena defeated Big Show at WrestleMania XX in convincing style. He did the same thing again at WrestleMania XXV in a triple threat match that also involved Edge. At the 2012 SummerSlam main event, John Cena and CM Punk made the Big Show tap out at the same time. The match was restarted and Big Show lost again after John Cena delivered the Attitude Adjustment and CM Punk covered him for the win.
Their last big singles match-up was a steel cage match at the 2012 No Way Out. Big Show had just turned heel (again!) and had a chance to reclaim his dominance in the squared circle. John Cena fought off the monster and ruined the possibility for another main event run. Now the Big Show is seen as mostly a jobber that can help new talent rise in the company.
11 John Laurinaitis
At the same No Way Out event where Big Show’s new heel would get squashed, the WWE Universe saw the end of People Power and John Laurinaitis. Sure, he had a strange voice and could be annoying at times, but his work as General Manager and promotion of People Power was a great gimmick that gave fans a nice break from the constant McMahon power struggle.
Laurinaitis was riding strong after a Team Raw WrestleMania victory, but his success and reign as GM would come to an end thanks to John Cena. After defeating Big Show in the steel cage match, Cena proceeded to grab Laurinaitis and slam him through an announcer’s table using an Attitude Adjustment. Vince McMahon screamed the words “You’re Fired” and the People Power was no more. Once again, Super Cena prevailed and another character quickly disappeared from WWE programming.
10 The Great Khali
Another monster and another repetitive story. The Great Khali was a huge force in the ring that took on the likes of Batista, The Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels. While Khali would notch victories over those formidable opponents, it would be a whole different story with John Cena.
In their first headlining match together, the dominant giant did not get counted out, pinned, or end the match in disqualification. Instead, Khali tapped in the ring mercilessly as Cena applied his STF submission finisher. One month later, Cena would defeat Khali again in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Khali never got a chance to truly get one over on Cena and his credibility as a main event performed quickly dwindled. Khali would move over to the SmackDown brand where he saw mild success, but the momentum from his debut was indefinitely stalled because of the one-sided feud against Cena.
Some may refer to him as Goldberg 2.0, but Ryback had the look and vicious ring style to have success in the WWE. After making a heel turn and attacking Cena, the two embarked on a feud against each other. Their first big match saw a little bit of promise, as their Last Man Standing Match ended in a “No Contest” at the 2013 Extreme Rules. For future matches, it would actually be no contest on who the true victor was.
One month later, Ryback would take Cena on in a three Stages of Hell match for the WWE Championship. After an early pinfall for Ryback, Cena easily dominated the rest of the match by sending Ryback through a table and then slamming him through the roof of an ambulance. It was a fitting end as Ryback’s main event status was reaching a flatline thanks to the dominance of John Cena.
8 Cryme Tyme
Cryme Tyme was a fun and exciting tag team that was slowly rising in the ranks of the WWE. They would prank other wrestlers, get involved with fun storylines, and had the potential to become WWE Tag Team champions. This completely changed when the duo was paired with John Cena. They quickly became watered-down PG goofballs known as “Cryme Tyme Cenation.” They lost all of their edge and the ability to entertain as a separate tag team. Instead of a modern team with a fun gimmick, they felt more like your grandma saying “Bling-Bling” at Thanksgiving.
While John Cena quickly moved on from this collaboration, Cryme Tyme faded out until they were no more and JTG became a living urban legend for how long he managed to hold on to a WWE contract.
Carlito started out in the WWE with an interesting gimmick (he spits apples!) and pretty good wrestling ability, but he fell upon the John Cena curse less than a year after he debuted. During his first match in the WWE, Carlito shocked audiences by defeating Cena and becoming the United States Champion. He would keep the title for over a month as Cena went to go and film The Marine.
When Cena came back, he decided to go after the United States championship again instead of moving on to bigger and better things. He easily beat Carlito for the championship and took him out of the title picture. Cena would continue to bury Carlito, including an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Title where Cena beat the odds by defeating Carlito and Chris Masters in a two-on-one attack. Carlito slowly faded down the WWE roster and left the company in 2010.
6 Michael Tarver
Michael Tarver is another Nexus victim for John Cena, but this one was a little more personal. During a pay-per-view match, Tarver’s arm was placed in a chair and stomped on, which ended up breaking a bone in real life. Tarver lashed on social media, essentially blamed Cena for doing it on purpose and accusing him of laughing in his face about the incident backstage. It was rare to hear of Cena acting like this backstage and Tarver still often talks about the incident today.
The backstage beef with Cena may have led to his ultimate demise as Tarver was released from his contract in the summer of 2011. After The Nexus was defeated and dismantled, Tarver was one of the only members not to return to the WWE for singles career. If he did, who knows if Cena would have just buried him anyway.
R-Truth hung around mid-card status for several years until he finally got his shot at the main event. At the first and only Capitol Punishment pay per view, R-Truth went one-on-one match against John Cena for the WWE Title. The match felt more like a WWE SmackDown main event than a pay per view extravaganza. R-Truth was talking to his invisible friend Little Jimmy and eventually lost due to a crowd member throwing a drink in his face.
The match was basically a transition to the CM Punk and John Cena feud for the upcoming Money in the Bank pay-per-view event. R-Truth lost all of his main event credibility and now you can see the star hunting Pokemon with Goldust instead of getting anywhere John Cena in the ring.
4 Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder was a self-made superstar. He was low-level status in the WWE until he made his own YouTube show, garnered millions of fans, and created a cult following. The rise of Zack Ryder culminated with a US Title victory over Dolph Ziggler. The rise of Zack Ryder was followed by a quick fall, mostly thanks to John Cena.
When Ryder got involved in a bitter rivalry with Kane, it wasn’t Ryder who had the epic comeback and defeated The Big Red Machine. It was John Cena who had to constantly save the day for Ryder. John Cena fought in a match against Kane while Ryder was relegated to a wheelchair. While all of this was happening, John Cena was caught kissing Ryder’s on-screen girlfriend, making Ryder look even more pathetic in the process. As Cena headed to WrestleMania for a main event match against The Rock, Ryder was in a multi-man tag match where he was left stranded in the ring after getting kicked in the Bro-nuts.
Ryder’s career couldn’t recover after that as he was relegated to mostly matches on WWE Superstars and Main Event. Even after a shocking Intercontinental Title win at WrestleMania 32, Ryder lost the title the next night and was sent back to barley mid-card status.
3 Demon Kane
Zack Ryder career doom was actually a part of a two-for-one special with Demon Kane. The maskless Kane was growing stale in the WWE and fans desperately wanted him to see him don the mask again. After weeks of teasing, The Demon Kane returned with his mask and appeared as an unstoppable force. He was reinvigorated and on a roll until he clashed with John Cena. Cena was basically a lame duck waiting months before his anticipated encounter with the Rock. To help build that match up, Cena defeated Kane on numerous occasions and made The Demon look like a clown.
Putting the mask back on now seemed pointless and fans would never get to enjoy the same unstoppable Kane that first premiered back in 1997.
2 Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt has had so much wasted potential. His creepy persona and stable should have been atop the WWE roster, but too many losses have taken away his potential for a main event spot. Among all of the losses, one of the most significant was during his feud with John Cena. Without a title on the line, Wyatt got a chance to face Cena at WrestleMania XXX. This was Wyatt’s perfect chance to cement himself among other supernatural Superstars like Mankind and The Undertaker. But in typical fashion, Cena won cleanly against Wyatt and sent him packing to the mid-card Twilight Zone.
Now Wyatt’s feuds on WWE SmackDown do not have the same allure as they once had. While he may have a chance to shine again, his feud with Cena has sent The Wyatts into Boogeyman territory.
1 Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio had an illustrious career in the WWE. He overcame many obstacles, won the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 22, and is a sure thing for the WWE Hall of Fame. As his career in the WWE dwindled down, fans still saw potential in the Mexican star. They got their chance to see Rey Mysterio on the top of the roster again when CM Punk stole the WWE title and it was officially vacated.
On July 25th, 2011, Mysterio took on The Miz in the finals of a tournament to crown a new WWE Champion. Mysterio shocked the WWE Universe when he won the match and was declared the champion. Even though he celebrated backstage, his night was not over. Mysterio would have to defend his title that night against John Cena. Cena won the match and Mysterio’s main event status was no more. He teamed up with Sin Cara for a bit until he was plagued by injuries and eventually let go of his contract. Another title run would have been great, even it was just for a week or two. Taking it away on the same night was just cruel and a terrible way to end his singles career in the WWE.