John Cena will always be defined as the most polarizing star in WWE history. Fans naturally reacting to Cena as the top guy created a culture change in the business. Instead of fans cheering the face and hating the heels, Cena split the fans all in regards to their feelings about him. The style of Cena was unlike anyone else and it caused a bit of resentment. Not only did many fans express a disdain for him, but wrestlers started to speak out against Cena. The love outweighs the hate, but it is a shocking mix for such a high profile performer.
Wrestlers generally respect Cena but not everyone has a strong affection towards him. A few talents have been able to grow close to the biggest star in the promotion and develop a fondness for him. His in-ring work and backstage personality both provide the polarizing results. Some wrestlers claim he is selfish and tries to sabotage the careers of others he views as a threat to his position. We’ll take a glimpse at both sides of Cena’s reputation and the reason for it. These are the top eight wrestlers that absolutely love John Cena and another seven that despise him.
15 Love: Kevin Owens
No one would have predicted Kevin Owens and John Cena would eventually become good friends just a few years ago. Both men appeared to be polar opposites that would never cross paths, but the changes in the WWE made it happen. Owens debut on the main roster came in a tremendous feud against Cena. In fact, Cena lost to Owens clean in their first match and made him look like an absolute Superstar ready for the big time.
Owens made reference to Cena being a stand-up guy on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast. Cena bonded with Kevin’s young son Owen because he’s a huge Cena fan like most kids his age. The memories made Owens state it was among his crowning accomplishments as a father. Owens also goes out of his way to discuss how great Cena is to work against and the two actually sit together and watch the shows every once in a while. The unlikely friendship sparked a bigger respect for Cena out of Owens.
14 Hate: Chavo Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero had great battles against John Cena, but his nephew Chavo Guerrero wasn’t impressed. Cena’s work style is hit or miss depending on what you want out of a wrestler. Many criticize him and feel he shouldn’t have been given the opportunities he's been given. Chavo had harsh words for Cena as a wrestler and believed he couldn’t work. The resentment seemed more towards WWE for pushing someone less technically sound than him, but he took it out on Cena.
Guerrero currently works for Lucha Underground on and off screen, as well as serving as the trainer for the actors on the Netflix G.L.O.W. series and Chavo likely has no chances of returning to WWE after his comments about Cena. Most of the comments were about his talent rather than his personality. Still, you have to believe there was personal animosity at some point to cause such a backlash against the face that runs the place.
13 Love: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho has supported John Cena from his first day on the main roster. The veteran saw something special in Cena before anyone else realized he would become the biggest star in the industry. Jericho wanted to work with Cena and help him learn the tools that were missing to get to the next level. Most of the stars in the WWE at the time disliked Cena for his unique skill set not following the typical mold in WWE history.
Jericho's respect for Cena only grew throughout the years as Jericho worked with him on numerous occasions. Cena did a rare podcast appearance on Jericho’s show to give us an insight into their friendship. Both men hold each other among the better talents they’ve worked against. Cena may not have accomplished the success he did without the confidence Jericho showed in him from the beginning. The rest is history and Jericho still holds a fondness for the career of Cena.
12 Hate: Batista
The rivalry between Batista and John Cena delivered a couple of memorable matches. They were pushed at the exact same time in WWE’s youth movement of creating new stars. Cena and Batista were ruled as the faces of Raw and SmackDown for a couple of years and had a healthy competitive nature. The problem is both men had very different philosophies on what pro wrestling should be. Cena shined in the company’s changes of appeasing to families under a PG-rating.
Batista strongly dislikes the change to PG and believes it has ruined wrestling. One of the many reasons for his departure from the WWE was not having fun in the new landscape of the business. Resentment against Cena has been built up in Batista and he claims Cena is the one to kill the “hardcore” and “edgy” wrestling product that made it more compelling. Lots of fans share the same sentiment of Batista and give Cena a hard time for taking away their beloved Attitude Era style of wrestling.
11 Love: Seth Rollins
One of the new top stars in the WWE has embraced the leadership and friendship of John Cena. Everyone loves watching Seth Rollins deliver greatness in the ring, but very few realize just how much work goes into it in the gym. Rollins has been seen working out with Cena on multiple occasions and the two have created a bit of a bond over the years. They complement the accomplishments of each other on social media when one posts a video of a work-out goal.
The WWE 24 special showcasing Rollins’ recovery from injury featured a scene with Cena there for one of Rollins’ workouts in getting back to speak shape. Rollins has gone out of his way to put over the work Cena does and believes their matches together helped make him the star he is today. An unfortunate moment in one of their matches saw Rollins shatter Cena's nose. Bret Hart still criticizes Rollins for it but Cena shows no hostility. He knows Rollins has love for him and would never try to injure his nose.
10 Hate: Tyler Reks
Retired wrestler Tyler Reks had one of the most forgettable wrestling careers in the WWE. The mysterious enhancement talent rarely received the spotlight. Most recall his days in a tag team with Curt Hawkins as his most successful time in the promotion. Reks left the company by choice to spend more time with his family and actually get the time to raise his daughter. One thing Reks has been outspoken about when it comes to WWE is his hatred of John Cena.
Reks delivered harsh words about Cena’s role backstage. The former WWE talent stated Cena wasn’t a good person and went out of his way to hold down other talents he viewed as competition. Reks went as far to use the word “prick” as a description of Cena. The hatred stemmed from Cena requesting Reks change his finisher due to it looking too similar to the Attitude Adjustment. If Reks is telling the truth, he has more valid reasons to dislike Cena than the majority of the list.
9 Love: Cesaro
Similar to the relationship with Seth Rollins, John Cena has grown a fondness for Cesaro for similar passions. Both men love pro wrestling and the work that comes along with the path of the industry. Cesaro and Cena work out together often and apparently like to push each other to get the best results. The only thing Cena loves as much as wrestling is working hard in the gym. Cesaro follows the same mold and has developed a closeness with the face that runs the place.
Cena has spoken out in various interviews stating he believes WWE needs to push Cesaro more and give him a bigger role in the company. The love has been reciprocated and photos revealed that Cesaro actually showed up for Cena’s surgery earlier this year. Cesaro showed support by talking with Cena before and after the operation. There are quite a few unlikely friendships in the WWE and Cesaro’s bond with Cena is among them.
8 Hate: Ken Doane
The majority of people on the list that hate John Cena are lower card acts that flopped and believe he is reason for the failures. Ken Doane has that mindset, but it is more personal than the others. Most known for his days as the leader of The Spirit Squad, Doane had the potential to become one of the top stars in the company. The powers that be in the WWE felt Doane had the special “it factor” to get to the top, but his push ended rather abruptly leading to him becoming irrelevant and released.
Doane has unleashed tirades against Cena, claiming that the influential Superstar ruined his career. Mickie James was the love interest of Doane until she left him for Cena. The ugly love triangle coincided with Doane’s stock falling dramatically in the company. Doane revealed various stories of Cena trying to land taken women in the WWE and states he showed no respect, professionally or personally.
7 Love: Ric Flair
Ric Flair’s WWE return in 2001 led to him becoming part of the family for a long time. The highly respected veteran continued to compete and developed friendships with many stars on the roster. John Cena would become one of Flair’s favorites to work with. Flair often shares the story of how Cena refused to drink alcohol until Flair convinced him to embrace the partying ways after the show. The two allegedly had great fun after shows, but it never harmed Cena’s performance in the ring.
Flair thanked Cena in his retirement speeches and Cena was present for the celebration as well. Cena's position makes it important for him to get along with many of the top names in the business. On his current podcast project dubbed The Ric Flair Show, Flair puts over Cena like a million bucks. Cena would be on the short list with Triple H and Shawn Michaels as the favorites of Flair in his second WWE run.
6 Hate: Alex Riley
Alex Riley's WWE career ended in an absolute disappointing manner. Riley had huge potential and received a big push early in his career as a singles star breaking away from The Miz. Following Miz’s WrestleMania XXVII program with John Cena, Cena's next program was with Riley as the WWE wanted the latter to become a popular face. His lack of in-ring talent or personality hindered him from taking the steps needed to evolve into a relevant performer.
A terrible relationship with John Cena likely closed his window of time to improve on the job. Cena allegedly went out of his way to sabotage Riley’s chances of succeeding in the company. Tyler Reks and JTG revealed stories of Cena berating Riley backstage and referring to him as “numb nuts” constantly. Riley lost all of his television time and never could get back to the show. With his later years of consisting of broadcasting work and a horrendous NXT run, Riley’s WWE career is over and many believe he holds Cena responsible for his biggest opportunity crashing down.
5 Love: Michael Cole
A friendship no one would predict on the surface sees Michael Cole and John Cena being quite close in real life. Similar to the relationship between Jim Ross and Steve Austin in The Attitude Era, Cole is one of Cena's best friends, leading to the play-by-play man once again sharing a relationship with the top star in the company. Cena once tried to sell an angle that saw him “fired” from WWE by hugging Cole at the commentary table. Everyone was shocked due to Cole being a heel at the time, but it did help make it seem real.
Cole and Cena were travel partners for a few years in the early part of Cena’s elevation in the WWE landscape. It always looks suspicious when someone buddies up to one of the more influential stars in the company, but Cole has appreciated Cena long before that. Some pundits actually believe Cena will one day select Cole as the person to induct him when he eventually enters the WWE Hall of Fame.
4 Hate: Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett has never technically talked about his hatred of John Cena, but others do it on his behalf. It all stems up from Barrett leading The Nexus in a feud with Cena. Nexus was one of the top storylines of the era and fans bought into them as elite heels similar to the days of the New World Order. This made Barrett a valued commodity within the WWE. All of this came crashing down thanks to Cena.
The result of the big SummerSlam 2010 main event featured Cena overcoming the odds in an elimination match by making Barrett tap out to win the match. Chris Jericho and Edge discussed on a podcast how they felt it was the wrong call and one that Cena refused to change. Barrett noted in an interview that he and Cena definitely aren’t friends. Barrett's WWE career failing to live up to expectations in the WWE was partly due to Cena doing him wrong.
3 Love: Randy Orton
Randy Orton and John Cena have spent their entire WWE careers together from basically day one. Both men were among the standouts in the Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental class and made their way to the WWE roster shortly after the original draft split. WWE viewed them as special stars that could lead them into the future and that assumption was correct. Cena and Orton hit it off right away with a friendship making them tight from the early days.
Orton had a history of failing to get along with others and quite frankly, most viewed him as a troublemaker backstage. The fact that Cena was actually a friend of Orton proved how much Orton respected Cena and still does. Both men have survived the long road and are still top stars in the WWE on the SmackDown roster. Orton and Cena basically represent the top stars of their era and it is fitting they are still together on the same show.
2 Hate: Mr. Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy instantly connected with the WWE Universe when debuting to a big push. The popular heel scored wins over the likes of The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero in his first year. Everyone assumed he would be a World Champion within a few years, but his career turned into a depressing stretch of bad luck. Injuries and suspensions coming at the worst time possible saw Kennedy lose his standing in the company.
With the negative luck, some peers of Kennedy rallied against him. Randy Orton and John Cena specifically disliked working with him and had no problem sharing that sentiment backstage. Kennedy claims Cena complained to Vince McMahon about Kennedy’s in-ring style being reckless and dangerous. Following his WWE release, Kennedy ranted about Cena as both a wrestler and a human being. The disdain was legitimate and Kennedy definitely proved to be one of the people in the wrestling business to legitimately hate Cena.
1 Love: Vince McMahon
His relationship with John Cena is one of the closest friendships Vince McMahon has had with a wrestler. Cena represents everything McMahon wanted in a top star. Unlike Hulk Hogan, Cena never tried to use his power to take advantage of the WWE. Unlike Steve Austin, Cena didn’t question the booking plans and tried to make everything work. Unlike The Rock, Cena remained loyal to the business and shows no signs of leaving any time soon.
Cena is a workhorse and did everything asked of him from the company. The work of Cena was rewarded with a massive contract. The relationship works both ways and their friendship adds even more personal respect between the two. Cena tries to defend McMahon from criticism in interviews about wrestling. The likelihood of a promoter and top star getting along to such a strong extent is rare. McMahon will continue to appreciate and support Cena to thank him for all he’s done for the WWE brand.