With SummerSlam right around the corner and approaching fast, the WWE Universe is both excited as well as concerned about the matches that are set to take place. One of the most talked about matches on the bill is, of course, John Cena's match against AJ Styles. There is a large group of people who think AJ will take the win, but just as large of a group is betting on Cena. Although there are no titles on the line, nor are there any stipulations about one having to quit if the other wins, it seems as if this is the match that has the most on the line. Whatever it is that WWE has planned for us could have a major impact on the futures of both Superstars. So we are left uninformed, unsure, and very very nervous.
When it comes to Cena, the WWE Universe finds themselves in a constant divide that is emphasized with the "Let's go Cena! Cena sucks!" chants that ring out every time he appears on TV. Those who are wholeheartedly cheering their superhero on don't understand why he gets the hate he does, while the anti-Cena brigade cannot fathom why he is so loved. This misunderstanding has set the stage for one of the biggest debates between WWE fans, with neither side taking the time to really hear the other out. It's understandable considering the fact that both arguments hold valid points as well as points that are reaching, at best. It makes it difficult to get down to the nitty gritty of whether or not Cena is someone we should worship or someone we should dismiss. Therefore, in order to come to a logical conclusion, we have to look at the arguments that hold the most water. This list takes a peek at those arguments and although it may not change your position in the Cena debate, it might at least offer some clarity and understanding about the other side.
16 Love - Doctor of Thuganomics
This gimmick is one of the best things that John Cena has ever given the WWE Universe. It was original, hilarious, and it is actually something that most of the Cena haters will, to this day, talk about with smiles on their faces. Cena accomplished a lot with this gimmick by bringing pop culture into the show in a way that no one else had ever been able to do. He stood out to us and even when we were supposed to hate him, we loved him. We were drawn to his shocking freestyles that had us laughing so hard that our stomachs hurt.
Quite a few of us (maybe it's just me) even felt the need to go buy some jerseys and throwback hats because he made it work so well. The best part about that is we occasionally are reminded of this gimmick when Cena gets on a mic. Although it isn't anywhere near the level it was back in the good ol' days, it reminds us what he is capable of and why we fell in love with him in the first place.
15 Hate - Super (Boring) Cena
Even though we get these momentary reminders of who he used to be, the bottom line is that Cena's current character isn't The Doctor of Thuganomics that we used to know. 'Word life' is a thing of the past and it has been replaced by a stale superhero knock off who rarely offers us anything new and refreshing. While we are all very aware that just about every WWE Superstar has a '5 moves of doom' combination, Cena's can be underwhelming and we're tired of seeing it at times. Some of his matches have become predictable and what is the point in investing time and energy into something when we already know the outcome? Even in the case that we aren't 100% sure who is going to win the match, we know that Cena isn't going to lose clean.
Take his match against Styles at Money in the Bank, for example. Cena had it won, save for the fact that Styles had kicked the referee and knocked him out cold by accident. Out came Anderson and Gallows, who delivered a Magic Killer on Cena before throwing Styles on top of him for the win. We knew Styles wouldn't win clean, just like we know just about everyone Cena faces isn't going to win clean either. His promos have even gotten boring. He's the same character that he has been for over ten years, with the only difference being the color and design on the merchandise that WWE is shoving down our throats. It's bland and we are over it.
14 Love - Has Put Other Wrestlers Over
Cena may not lose clean very often, but on the rare occasion that he does, we're usually thrilled about it. A few examples are the triple threat match at the 2008 Royal Rumble against Randy Orton and Triple H, when he faced CM Punk at Money in the Bank in 2011, the "once in a lifetime" (which was a lie) match against The Rock at WrestleMania 28, Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam 2013, Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam in 2014, and Kevin Owens at Elimination Chamber 2015.
All of these matches ended in clean losses for Cena with most of them including a title on the line. Although his opponents for these particular matches were already well established and popular Superstars, it was nice to see that Cena wasn't entirely this superhuman wrestler who could overcome any and all odds and was undefeatable without the use of outside forces.
13 Hate - Plague To Other Wrestlers' Careers
Is it enough for Cena to only put over one wrestler per year when he's buried the careers of just as many? Damien Sandow lost to Cena when he was not only beaten brutally, but with one arm that wasn't in working condition. Sandow's career as a singles competitor was destroyed after that. Bray Wyatt has found himself stuck in the mid-card ever since he went against (and lost to) Cena at WrestleMania XXX. SummerSlam 2010 featured Cena having his head driven in concrete multiple times, yet he overcame it to defeat The Nexus, who were the strongest force in WWE at the time.
The biggest (and most anger-inducing) example of Cena acting as a plague to other careers is Zack Ryder. Ryder got popular on his own, as there was no push from WWE. However, the second that he was paired up with Cena, his woo, woo, woo's were quickly replaced with boo hoo hoo's as he began slipping and fading away from existence within the company. This is one of the biggest worries that AJ Styles' fans face as SummerSlam approaches. Will this match stall Styles' momentum? As much as we want to believe it isn't, this is a possibility.
12 Love - Passionate And Hard-Working
If there is one thing we know about John Cena, it is the fact that he works harder than probably anyone in the WWE. He's booked on so many shows for the company and that takes up so much of his time, but even with all of this work, Cena lives, eats, and breathes for WWE.
He works out constantly, he does every single meet and greet, every single appearance, and every single commercial that he possibly can without actually altering time. He is driven and dedicated, and to say that he has a great work ethic is one of the biggest understatements that can be made in regards to this Superstar. His passion is something that a lot of us wish we could have and it is definitely something to admire.
11 Hate - Sets Unreasonable Standards For The Rest Of the Wrestlers
While being driven towards success is a great quality to have, there is a limit that should be had as well. For example, when you have to have surgery due to a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery and a seven month to one year rehab time, coming back three months later is an awful idea. This moment is something that he is actively praised for, but think about what it does. It gives WWE this idea that if John Cena can recover after three months when it was expected he'd be out for up to a year, then everyone else should be able to do the same thing.
It's unrealistic and honestly unfair. It's also extremely unsafe for Cena himself, as he's not giving his body the time to fully recover the way it should. This is not the only time this has happened. In August of 2013, Cena announced he needed surgery for his left elbow and that he'd be out for four to six months, but two months later he was back. He had a herniated disk in his neck in 2008, in 2012 he required surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow, he suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon in 2013, and just seven months ago he had surgery on his shoulder.
Every single time he came back far before he was expected to. What he (and WWE) needs to remember is that John Cena is not actually Superman and all that this is doing is running his body down and setting unrealistic standards for the rest of the wrestlers who suffer an injury.
10 Love - He's Humble
Anyone who has seen John Cena come down to the ring within the past decade can see that he gets an almost unrealistic amount of hate. Where anyone else would eventually let it get to them (Roman Reings), Cena takes it stride. He doesn't act like he's an all important person who deserves to be loved, but rather preaches that he respects the opinions of those who are constantly booing him and telling him that they hate him. Now, that's part of his gimmick in the ring, but in interviews outside the ring, where he can express frustration, he refuses to do so.
This is something else to admire because it shows us that he's not the kind of person whose ego is so inflated that he feels he's better than our opinions. Not a lot of people are grounded enough to take all this hate the way John Cena has. It's amazing and inspiring.
9 Hate - Nothing More Than A Big Ol' Babyface
Aside from the literal heel turn that Cena gave us on an episode of Raw, we will never see John Cena play the role of a heel in the near future. That is not something that sits well with the majority of the older WWE Universe, who love a good swerve and a darker character.
It makes things interesting and keeps us on our toes. While this could be argued as a flaw within WWE as a company, it is a big reason why fans tend to roll their eyes every time Cena makes an appearance. If there is so much faith in the fact that Cena is the reason why this company is so successful, he should be able to turn heel without losing fans. As we've seen a lot lately, just because you're a face, it doesn't mean you're cheered and just because you're a heel, doesn't mean you'll get booed. A lot of us adore Seth Rollins, but he's one of the biggest heels on the show right now.
8 Love - Great Talker
In the 16 years since John has been wrestling for the WWE (starting with his time spent in OVW), he has cut some seriously impressive promos. The hilarity of them are typically what we love the most. Head over to YouTube and type in "John Cena best promo" and you'll likely find video upon video of pure gold that will have you rolling on the floor, laughing your butt off.
However, he has also shown us that he can cut a serious promo that is just as thrilling and attention grabbing. If you don't believe that, go have a look at the promo he cut when Vince McMahon was going to fire him. Watch how he isn't showing signs of an actor reading lines from a script, but instead as a person who is letting it all out when he's been holding it in for so long (the threat to head over to TNA was the icing on the cake). The man can talk. He can cut a promo of any kind and leave the audience wanting more.
7 Hate - He's Gotten Lazy
As great as he is at cutting promos, there have been plenty of times more recently that Cena's mic skills have been mediocre at best. Of course, it can't be easy to go out week after week and cut these promos like Cena does, but over the past few years it seems as if he just isn't trying as hard as he used to during his Doctor of Thuganomics days.
Take, for instance, the promo he did on Raw before the Royal Rumble in 2013. Even the WWE knows how bad it was because finding a copy of it is extremely difficult. It was awful. He babbled on and on and spent a good chunk of time roasting members of the audience for no reason whatsoever. This was promo was so bad that Cena allegedly got heat for it backstage. While most of his less than great promos were nowhere near as bad as this one, there have been plenty that have left us wondering if maybe he's all talked out.
6 Love - He's a Draw
The PG Era is not something that many WWE fans are particularly fond of (we will cover that in a minute), but it definitely expanded WWE's audience. John Cena has attracted many new fans and the more popular the show is, the more the show will give us. It's also really nice to be able to walk into stores and see WWE merchandise all over the place. As fans, I'm sure we can all agree that we have gotten our fair share of teasing for being a fan of the show, but with this new found popularity, it gives us a chance to be proud of it because it has actually become a widely accepted "thing".
Although Cena was a big part of what ultimately allowed the WWE to expand on this level, we see the faces of other Superstars on these shirts, pillows, and backpacks as well. It's a good feeling to see something we love so much start to become more of a common thing. It's nice to be able to walk into quite a few stores and see the show being represented on these items and to be able to buy them without having to shop online. We appreciate that.
5 Hate - Represents Everything Wrong With The WWE
As wonderful as it is that Cena brought a new crowd into the WWE, what wasn't so great is the way WWE reacted to it. The younger crowds were catered to and WWE suddenly slipped into the PG Era. Blood and cursing became a thing of the past and, as a result, a lot of the older fans were not too thrilled about it.
Although this is another example where the company itself made these decisions, John Cena stood as the reason our interest in WWE started dwindling. We had become so used to the excitement of blood and chair shots as well as the controversial promos filled with words that weren't made for the ears of the younger audience members. To have it all taken away from us really ticked us off we naturally needed a scapegoat, so we obviously look to John Cena, the face of this era.
4 Love - Charity Work
John Cena has granted over 500 Make-A-Wishes. He has participated in 10 of the 13 Tribute to the Troops shows that the WWE has put on. His rise above hate shirts actively promote WWE's "Be a Star" anti-bullying campaign. This man is one of the most charitable celebrities in the world. He uses his popularity to support those who need it the most and regardless of how anyone may feel about him, it is hard to deny that he does great things in an otherwise ugly world.
What's even more amazing is the fact that he isn't rubbing his good deeds in our faces. The only reason we know how much he does for these groups is because the charities and campaigns actively brag about his contribution. All he has ever done is remind us how important it is to support the less fortunate, support the people who fight for our freedom, and to avoid bullying. He stands for great things and if there is no other reason, this is the one that will likely keep you from ever fully hating the man.
3 Hate - WWE Created Robot
We can admire the charity work as much as we want, but it can be difficult to get behind Cena anyway. The reason for that is because Cena is a walking brand more than he is a man. He's kind of like a robot that WWE has created and everything he says and does outside of the ring is very obviously nothing more than a promo for "John Cena." Everything he says and does is for the WWE, even in out-of-character interviews. He's constantly covered head to toe in his own product. He speaks corporate lines that are trained and embedded into his brain, solidifying the fact that John Cena (outside of the ring and outside of the show) can be considered nothing more than a WWE-created robot.
2 Love - The Man Is A Great Role Model
We've already talked about his charity work and the fact that he supports our troops as well as the message of anti-bullying. We have also mentioned (not so happily) that he appeals to children in his promos and although they aren't as funny to the older audience, kids eat this stuff up. He's shown us how dedicated he is to his work and he's constantly encouraging people to never give up, no matter what it is that they're aiming to do.
With that in mind, it's clear Cena is a great role model to kids all over the world. Having someone who puts on a show all about fighting may not seem like the greatest guy for your children to look up to, but he highlights all the good he stands for more than he does the fact that he fights a bunch of guys night after night. He preaches respect. He preaches loyalty. He encourages people to hustle in the sense of keeping busy when shooting for your goals. These are all wonderful messages that he actively encourages both on the screen and off. This is the kind of guy that we are proud to have as a role model for the kids in this generation.
1 Hate - The Character is Arguably Horrible Role Model
On the other side of the argument, WWE is targeting children when their entire existence revolves around fighting. This isn't something we should be teaching children, regardless of whether or not the actual fighting is scripted. Looking past that, the way Cena's character reacts to situations is something that should not happen if the WWE is going to continue targeting children in his fan base as the primary audience. How many times has he referred to women as a derogatory comment because he didn't like them?
On the January 29th, 2015 episode of SmackDown, Cena called Lana "Ho-sie O'Donnell." This is a female manager who has never had any sort of slut-like gimmick and because he's angry about what Rusev said, he referred to Lana as a ho. Let us also not forget that one time on a Raw that took place on December 20th, 2010 when John Cena and Jerry Lawler went back and forth doing nothing but referring to Vickie Guerrero as fat. He's also called Eve Torres a skank, a "hoeski", a bi***, then hinted at the fact that she had sexually transmitted diseases all in one segment. So much for that "respect" thing that he preaches so often. How is this okay coming from someone that kids look up to?