John Cena's reputation is as polarizing among wrestlers as it is among wrestling fans. We hear the sounds of "Let’s Go Cena" and "Cena Sucks" chants from the WWE Universe every time he steps foot inside of a ring. Splitting fan reaction has helped the career of Cena as someone the fans both love to cheer and boo causing an emotional investment from both parties. The same can be said for the locker room. Stories to leak through the years have provided proof to both sides of Cena being a great guy helping out certain wrestlers and as a jerk hurting the careers of some others.
Wrestlers to benefit from Cena’s help have gone on to achieve great success for the most part. Many of today’s top stars have been endorsed by Cena through matches together or through public word. Some at the bottom of the food chain or outside of the WWE have witnessed it all go up in smokes following the wrath of Cena. We'll look at both perceptions surrounding the biggest WWE star in recent history. These are eight wrestlers that John Cena has gone out of his way to help and seven that he has tried to sabotage.
15 Helped: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens' debut on the WWE main roster was the best introduction any wrestler could only dream of. Owens cleanly defeated John Cena in his first match to make a statement that he was there to be a major player. Keep in mind that the number of wrestlers to get a clean win over Cena during his reign as a top star could be counted on one hand. Cena saw something special in Owens to allow him such a victory.
Owens revealed on the Talk is Jericho podcast that Cena actually went out of his way to write a letter expressing gratitude before meeting Kevin’s young son and huge Cena fan, Owen. Cena has publicly praised Owens and definitely views him a special performer. The feud between the two set the tone for Owens becoming a huge star in the WWE.
14 Sabotaged: Ryback
A shocking rant recently saw Ryback put John Cena on blast for their past relationship in the company. It was obvious that Vince McMahon wanted Ryback to become a future main event star. However, his momentum started to flounder during his feud with both Cena and CM Punk. Ryback claimed Cena sabotaged him behind the scenes and tried to diminish his chances of creating competition for the top spot.
The complaints of Ryback saw him go far enough to refer to Cena as "a cancer to professional wrestling." Ryback believes Cena attempts to hold down the majority of rising stars with a chance to make it to the top of the mountain. There is definitely a personal hatred on Ryback’s end due to the fact he holds Cena partly responsible for his career falling apart.
13 Helped: Big E
John Cena tried to help get Big E a noteworthy role on television when he made his move from NXT to the main roster. Fans may recall Big E having a singles push following his split from Dolph Ziggler that didn’t last very long. The high point saw Big E team with mega stars Cena and CM Punk in a six-man tag on Raw once. Big E also managed to win the Intercontinental Championship for a short period of time.
This was definitely helped from Cena’s influence, as he and Big E are good friends and Cena believes in him. There were rumors in 2014 that Cena wanted to enter a long term feud with Big E and eventually put him over. Unfortunately, Big E's momentum stalled and the WWE abandoned his singles career aspirations. The New Day proved everything worked out for the best, but Cena did his best to help Big E from day one.
12 Sabotaged: Ken Doane
Ken Doane's potential made it obvious that he could have been a huge star if he improved enough and the WWE pushed him, as Doane was the standout star of The Spirit Squad group. Following the breakup, Doane was the only member to remain on the main roster and continued working with names like Ric Flair, D-Generation X and Rated RKO.
It appeared WWE just randomly gave up on him. His singles push just ended out of the blue. Doane claimed John Cena was the reason why. Mickie James broke up with Doane to enter a romantic relationship with Cena after cheating on Ken behind his back. As the biggest star in the company, Cena allegedly used his power to hold down Doane until the WWE released him.
11 Helped: Nikki Bella
Nikki Bella's career has definitely been helped by her romantic relationship with John Cena outside of the ring. Both of The Bella Twins returned to the WWE after some time away to be the stars of Total Divas. WWE initially wanted the show to revolve around the relationship of Nikki and Cena in real life. It also merged over to the television product with a huge push for Nikki.
WWE booked Nikki into the top role for quite some time. Many fans are still upset about the fact that Nikki broke AJ Lee’s record to become the longest reigning Divas Champion of all-time. Rumors circulated that Nikki used Cena’s power backstage to ensure she held the title long enough to reach the moment. Cena has also helped Nikki with wrestling training, proving he can do more than politic backstage.
10 Sabotaged: Tyler Reks
Very few fans have any fond memories of Tyler Reks from his short time period on WWE television. Reks was primarily known as an enhancement talent, typically appearing on shows like Superstars and Main Event. The respectable reason for him quitting the company was his desire to spend time at home instead of missing his child grow up.
However, Reks has harsh opinions towards John Cena for their interactions in the WWE. According to Reks, Cena was an absolute jerk towards him on numerous occasions backstage. Cena prevented Reks from using The Burning Hammer finisher due to it looking too similar to the Attitude Adjustment. Reks did not shy away from stating his beliefs that Cena tried to hurt his career. The forgotten wrestler will always hold Cena partly responsible for his WWE career flopping.
9 Helped: Seth Rollins
One young star that John Cena did develop a positive relationship with right away was Seth Rollins. The two hit it off by training together before Rollins even made his move to the main roster. WWE cameras showed Rollins and Cena working out together when Cena was preparing for his big WrestleMania XXVIII showdown with The Rock. Cena took a liking to Rollins from day one and that carried over to the main roster.
Rollins became a huge star for the WWE with the popularity of The Shield. WWE made the decision to have him win the WWE World Championship at WrestleMania 31 and one of his major feuds as "The Man" was against Cena. They had a few classic matches which were a testament to how the two of them were on the same page. Cena has gone out of his way to praise Rollins in numerous interviews, naming him as the top star of the new era.
8 Sabotaged: Mr. Kennedy
The disappointing ending to Mr. Kennedy’s tenure in the WWE saw his potential become completely wasted. At one point, Kennedy was the hottest prospect in the company and appeared to be an obvious choice to become a future World Champion. Injuries and poor decisions would ruin every single push he received which would have taken him to the next level as a major player.
Kennedy’s stock went down dramatically, but his career in the WWE ended due to two people. Randy Orton and John Cena both complained about Kennedy to management. They believed he was an unsafe worker which spelled the end of time with the company. Kennedy getting thrown under the bus by the two biggest names in the WWE saw him get released. The rest of his career would be spent wallowing away in obscurity with TNA.
7 Helped: CM Punk
CM Punk's rise in 2011 saw him become the hottest star in the company for a short time period. Punk’s elevation would have never happened if not for John Cena. The masterpiece of a match between Punk and Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 ended with Punk getting the stunning victory over Cena to become the top guy.
Cena and Punk share very little in common, but they're both hugely passionate about the wrestling industry. Punk's momentum saw Cena step aside by allowing him to have a run as the lead face on the show. Both Punk and Cena have admitted that they developed mutual respect for each other by working together during that feud. Cena putting over Punk led to the WWE having one of its most interesting time periods in recent memory.
6 Sabotaged: Alex Riley
John Cena strongly disliked one wrestler with intensity. Alex Riley somehow found a way to become the enemy of the biggest star in the industry. WWE wanted to push Riley hard due to the fact that he had the prototypical look they desired in their talent. JTG, Ryback and a few other wrestlers have revealed that Cena would constantly berate Riley for a long time.
Cena's tirades would come both to Riley’s face and behind his back in the locker room. One theory is that Riley constantly made mistakes in the ring and accidentally eliminated himself in the Royal Rumble match before contributing to a huge moment that was to set up the Cena and Miz WrestleMania match. Regardless, Riley’s push went up in smoke and he found his way on the unemployed list.
5 Helped: Sheamus
Sheamus was one of the most heavily pushed new stars to make waves on the WWE roster. Faith in Sheamus was shown from his early days on Raw, as he entered a program with John Cena right away. Sheamus defeated Cena in a Tables Match in his first singles PPV match to win the WWE Championship. Cena didn’t actually take the pin, but the win was still a massive title change.
Cena tried to help elevate Sheamus to the top level in hopes of creating another main eventer. Sheamus said he learned a lot from working with Cena on the house show loops every night. The knowledge that comes from someone with the talent, track record and knowledge of Cena is immeasurable. Sheamus is still a heavily featured member of the WWE roster and Cena’s help likely played a role.
4 Sabotaged: Mickie James
As mentioned earlier, John Cena was seeing Mickie James at one point. The top star dating a fellow wrestler was huge news. Things can get explosive when a powerful person in the company is involved with another member of the wrestler. This was proved when the relationship between Cena and James ended. Mickie saw her push end and she actually would get placed in terrible storylines.
The most memorable incident featured the 'Piggy James' angle where Michelle McCool and Layla mocked the physical appearance of James. There’s a theory that Cena was behind this as a way to make his ex-girlfriend miserable. WWE would release James shortly after out of nowhere. Cena definitely had to play a role in the valuable asset no longer being needed by the WWE.
3 Helped: Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan's success in the main event picture saw his peak moment come in the main event of WrestleMania XXX. An underrated memory along the ride of Bryan’s year as the hottest star in the WWE featured him cleanly defeating John Cena at SummerSlam 2013 to win the WWE Championship. Sadly, the moment would be forgotten due to Triple H turning heel and Randy Orton cashing in his MITB.
Cena putting over Bryan was a massive shift. The biggest star in the WWE believed in Bryan joining him at the top of the card. Cena tried his best to help out Bryan at other points during the journey. The two would become closer as they each date sisters Nikki and Brie Bella. Cena and Bryan have a friendship that still goes on today with Cena doing his best to help elevate Bryan.
2 Sabotaged: Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett was the biggest potential star that saw his momentum get squashed by John Cena. WWE did a tremendous job pushing Barrett as the leader of The Nexus faction. Fans showed interest in the heel group becoming a force on the show. Barrett shined as the talented leader with a world of potential to move into the main event picture.
Edge and Chris Jericho revealed on a podcast that Cena refused to lose in a huge match at SummerSlam 2010. Instead of The Nexus getting the big win to be truly established, Cena scored the comeback win for his team by defeating Barrett. The momentum of Barrett continued to decline with many losses to Cena before he turned into a complete joke. If Cena put over Barrett, WWE may have had another top tier star still on the roster today.
1 Helped: A.J. Styles
Many fans would name A.J. Styles as the best thing in the WWE right now. In just one year, Styles has gone from a free agent to the WWE World Champion and the face of the SmackDown Live brand. It's easy to forget that Styles had some issues during the first few months of his WWE career. Styles actually lost his WrestleMania 32 match against Chris Jericho and rumors were floating around that Vince McMahon wasn’t sold on him.
A feud with John Cena completely changed everything. Styles and Cena had an outstanding rivalry through the summer of 2016 that proved A.J. could hang with the best of the best on the biggest stage. Cena lost twice and put over Styles clean at SummerSlam in a star making moment. Following that moment, Styles won the WWE World Championship from Dean Ambrose and has been among the most valuable assets in the WWE. Cena doing such a tremendous job putting over Styles gave the WWE a new top star that has benefited everyone.