It has been an incredible fifteen years since we were first introduced to John Cena. Before all his World Championships and accomplishments he was simply a young man with ruthless aggression who answered the open challenge of Kurt Angle. Since then Cena has really seen and done it all. A sixteen time World Champion, headlined WrestleMania with the likes of Triple H, The Rock, and Shawn Michaels, plus all the ventures he is currently involved in outside of WWE. Everything John Cena has and does now has stemmed from the last fifteen years in the business and it really does feel like just yesterday that we didn't even know who he was.
Like anyone in any walk of life, especially a pro wrestler, it hasn't exactly been plain sailing for John. Nowadays it really does seem like Cena has the perfect life with his in ring stuff and his movie career and his fiance, yet like everybody else there are times that he, and more specifically WWE, wants you to forget. To return to the brighter side of Cena's career though, he has truly done enough to be considered one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots. Countless numbers of championships and rivalries with almost everyone a young Cena probably ever dreamed of, he really has done it all. John Cena has had such a long and jam packed career that this list could probably be 100 entries long, but we've narrowed it down to eight things about Big Match John that WWE does want you to remember and seven they'd like you to forget.
15 Want: Feuding With AJ Styles
John Cena has had a number of foes and adversaries throughout his 15 year career. You would think by now he's wrestled just about anyone and everyone that there is to go up against. That may have very well been the case until AJ Styles arrived. The former TNA man showed up in the Royal Rumble in 2016 and between now and then has done a lot of memorable things. The most memorable rivalry he has had in WWE to date though is his one with John Cena. The pair of them have been in the ring together time and time again since both being drafted to SmackDown Live, and every single time the match steals the show. Here's hoping that we haven't seen the last of these two going one on one.
14 Don't Want: The Prototype
For those of you that have been WWE fans for the entirety of John Cena's career, when you're asked what his previous gimmick was like you would probably start talking about his time as the Doctor of Thuganomics, and you would be correct. Well before Cena was spitting rhymes as the doctor, he was portrayed as somebody else that was not quite as successful. Now in all fairness it was back when he was training in OVW with the likes of Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, but there is evidence of it out there nonetheless. The Prototype. It was a far cry from the colorful and charismatic John Cena we know today, and was basically just a guy who, because of his impressive look, was simply just a generic wrestler and the minds at OVW managed to make a gimmick out of it.
13 Want: First WrestleMania Match
John Cena's real arrival on the big stage was at WrestleMania XX. It was his first match on the Grandest Stage Of Them All and it came against Big Show for the United States Championship, with Show's title on the line. It's a match that gets recalled and replayed often because of its historic significance in Cena's career, and the fact that it marked the day that John won his first major championship in WWE. There is another reason WWE are such big fans of it though. The match came to a close when Cena used his super human strength to deliver an AA, then known as the FU and we'll get to that, to finish off the 500 pounder. A pretty incredible visual to this day.
12 Don't Want: Actual WrestleMania Debut
What WWE doesn't want us to remember is that Cena's milestone match against Big Show at the 20th show of shows wasn't actually his first WrestleMania appearance. A year prior John may not have had a match, but he did have a short and sweet segment on WrestleMania XIX. He was already the Doctor of Thuganomics by this point and the plan was for him to have a battle rap against a couple of big stars, but those stars didn't show. Instead Cena made his way out onto the stage along with cardboard cut outs of Jay-Z and Fabolous. Seemingly they were the rappers that had been invited, and Cena's whole schtick that evening revolved around him tearing them apart for being too scared to face him in a rap battle.
11 Want: First Pick of the Draft
John Cena has oddly always sort of been associated with SmackDown Live. Even as recently as the latest draft in 2016 Big Match John was hand picked to represent and hold up the blue brand. Well in 2005 one of the biggest draft picks ever was John Cena, and it was quite the contrary to what I just said. In a clip that is repeated via WWE Top Tens very often, Chris Jericho ran an edition of the Highlight Reel, yes it's been around that long, on Raw to announce and welcome the first pick of that year's WWE Draft. It was of course John Cena, and the then WWE Champion made his way to the ring to the backing of a raucous crowd, along with Jim Ross supplying his signature over the top commentary for the whole epic moment.
10 Don't Want: The FU
I did promise earlier in this list that I would address the fact that John Cena's finishing manoeuvre underwent a name change mid way through his career. As displayed in his one man battle rap at WrestleMania XIX, Cena wasn't always the child friendly face of the company that he is today. While the glorified Fireman's Carry that he uses to finish off opponents may be called the Attitude Adjustment, or the AA, nowadays, when Cena had rougher edges it was called something not so PG. Yes John's signature move was once called the FU, and I'm sure I don't need to walk you through what that stands for . Not only that but the STF that he still uses today once had a U thrown on the end of that, just for the hell of it and again, to fit in with John's more edgy persona at the time.
9 Want: U.S. Title Open Challenge
One thing WWE suffers from at the moment is making its secondary titles actually mean something. You shouldn't have to rack your brain to think of who the Intercontinental and United States Champions are. When John Cena held the United States Championship recently that was not the case, in fact it was quite the opposite. Cena would hold an open challenge for his title most weeks on Raw and honestly it was one of the highlights on Monday nights. He even helped build stars like Sami Zayn and most notably Kevin Owens as their feud extended on beyond KO emerging for the challenge. It was so popular that WWE still hint at it to this day with current US Champion Owens staging a heel version of the open challenge himself from time to time on SmackDown Live.
8 Don't Want: Vince Called Him WHAT?!
This one is a lot more relevant than I expected it to be with what happened on Raw recently. For those that don't know, WWE's Monday night flagship staged a segment with guest stars Lavar Ball and his sons. Well one of his sons got a little over excited and actually uttered the word n***a not once, but twice. WWE of course released a statement distancing themselves from the Ball family and the use of the word. However did you know Vince McMahon once thought it was a good idea to use it himself when talking to John Cena? Backstage Vince was filmed, as part of a segment and not secretly I can't stress that enough, saying 'what's up, my n***a?' to Cena and then walking past a clearly shocked and appalled Booker T.
7 Want: Sixteen Time World Champion
Those people who saw John Cena as the Doctor of Thuganomics, and especially those who witnessed him as The Prototype, could not have possibly imagined what the young man would become. Even when Cena isn't around WWE never tires of telling us that he is a sixteen time World Champion, and can you really blame them? Only one other man in the entire history of professional wrestling has ever achieved that feat before and that's the great Ric Flair, another fact that WWE make sure they hammer home. I'm sure many fans would argue that John is nowhere near the level of The Nature Boy, especially with the polarizing effect Cena has on audiences, but it's hard to argue when the man has been World Champion sixteen times and counting.
6 Don't Want: Sixteenth Reign Was Two Weeks Long
What does take away from some of those sixteen world title reigns is the length of them. The sixteenth one in particular, which you would expect to be accompanied by fireworks and a parade, seemed to arrive and end with a bit of a whimper. Cena was stuck on fifteen reigns for a fair while and it was assumed that WWE were holding on for a big event and moment to crown him for that sixteenth time. Turns out they did not do that. Cena did have a big match with AJ Styles to win his sixteenth title at Royal Rumble 2017, but two weeks later that reign was over and normal service was resumed. Being champion for a fortnight is not exactly something to brag about and let's just hope the inevitable seventeenth reigns is the one that comes with all the pomp and circumstance.
5 Want: Royal Rumble Return
You may be surprised to hear that John Cena hasn't been booed by half the crowd for the whole of his career. In fact Big Match John actually used to get quite warm receptions. The warmest of all was a shock return the sixteen time champ made at Madison Square Garden back in 2008, and what a place to make a return. Cena had been out injured since October of the previous year with a torn pectoral muscle and told that he would be out for up to a year. Fast forward less than four months and John surprised us all by entering the Royal Rumble match at number 30. If you've seen the match and the moment you'll know how incredible it was, and why WWE like to remind us of it. Even Triple H in the ring looked shocked to see Cena back so soon.
4 Don't Want: Being Destroyed By Brock At SummerSlam
John Cena's match with Brock Lesnar feels like a lifetime ago now, despite it only taking place in 2014, and that's largely because WWE wants us to think of it as being as far in the past as possible. While the Brock side of the match is something I'm sure they don't mind us reminiscing about, I'd almost guarantee that they would rather we forget who exactly The Beast Incarnate dominated on that summer night almost three years ago. It was a beating like John Cena has never suffered before or since, and while it made Brock look like a monster it certainly did not do wonders for Cena. John was taken to Suplex City and tossed around like a rag doll in what was a shocking display of dominance from the man who ended The Streak.
3 Want: More Make A Wishes Than Anyone
Not everything WWE wants you to remember from John Cena's fifteen year reign atop the company is necessarily from inside the ring. In fact a lot of what makes Cena so great is the incredible amount of charity work he does away from WWE. There's a reason that the persistent calls for John to turn heel fall on deaf ears, and this is it. Not only do children around the world love him, but he has granted wishes for the Make A Wish foundation for an enormous number of those children. As a matter of fact he has granted more wishes for the foundation than anyone else in their history. It's a pretty incredible achievement for someone who is already extraordinarily busy and no matter what you think of him within the realms of WWE, you have to admire him for it.
2 Don't Want: Affair With Mickie James
One of the take home moments from WrestleMania 33 earlier this year was not John Cena's match, but rather what happened following it. It was widely speculated that after John and Nikki Bella defeated The Miz and Maryse that Cena would finally pop the question to his then girlfriend. He did of course, and now Nikki is his fiance. Bella isn't the first co worker that John has been romantically involved with however, and Cena actually had an affair with Mickie James. It was pretty big news at the time as John was married and Micke was engaged to Kenny from the Spirit Squad so yeah, not good. Mickie is back with the company now of course and as much as WWE likes to play on the 'real' aspect of things, I can't imagine James and John's relationship will ever be something they bring up on television.
1 Want: Debut Against Kurt Angle
Fifteen years on and still no John Cena clip gets played more often by WWE than the night he debuted as a nobody all the way back in 2002. Kurt Angle needed an opponent on SmackDown and Cena stepped up to the plate, citing that he had the ruthless aggression Vince McMahon had said the roster needed more of just the night before. John didn't win of course, but he showed the world there and then that he meant business. He put on a great first match with someone who was at the top of the company, and the rest of the evening revolved around different Superstars congratulating John backstage on how well he had done, the highlight of those interactions being his handshake with The Undertaker.
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