As certain as you are that they’ll be death and taxes is as certain as you can be that they’ll be “Let’s go Cena, Cena sucks” chants that follow one another across nearly every wrestling arena that the WWE’s poster boy John Cena sets foot in.
It goes without saying that every single member of The WWE Universe--and various other wrestling marks across the globe, for that matter-- are entitled to their own feelings and opinions.
But, with the above-mentioned said--passionately love him or vehemently hate him--there’s no denying that John Cena’s story-booked 13-year career has been anything short of spectacular, to say the least. If Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were the standard bar-setters for the WWE’s Attitude Era (1997-2002), then John Cena has--without a shadow of a doubt--been that very embodiment for both the PG Era (2008-2013) and the one that followed it, the Reality Era (2014 - present).
However, the latter time period--which has blurred the lines between real-life and storylines--can be summed up in one word: transparency. The term itself--one that comes with the social media territory--has served as somewhat of a catch-22 for John Cena in regards to his popularity. While his maximal exposure across multiple platforms has continued to bring the WWE increasing revenues, it has also allowed fans to be more expressive in regards to their dislike for the Cenation leader. The respective predicament has resulted in a lot of unpredictability.
Nonetheless, I’m here to tell you that the man is not only the face of the WWE, but also the poster boy of respect.
Whether it’s the most recent prestige he’s brought back to the U.S. title, or his astounding 12 reigns as World Heavyweight strap-holder (can we talk about his spinner belts?), Cena wouldn’t be given the greenlight by WWE upper brass to nab titles at the rate he does if there weren’t optimal faith in him.
As it pertains to the heavyweight belt, when the main event picture is in doubt, there only appears to be one man in mind for the save (okay, maybe two in Brock Lesnar)--and that man is John Cena; especially with historic feuds under his belt (pun not intended) that include big names such as Kurt Angle, Edge and The Rock.
Speaking of The Rock and his multi-platform status as an fan favorite, Cena got to go “one on one with The Great One, in not one, but two WrestleManias--quite the accomplishment, considering all of Johnson’s TV and big screen obligations and limited appearances. The Grandest Stage of Them All” aside, making these matches more of a feat is the fact that Cena was entrusted to keep CAA’s $100-plus million dollar investment safe from any Hollywood career-threatening injuries.
Alright, so maybe hip-hop isn’t your cup of tea, but it wasn’t Cena’s focal point, yet he was still able to move 143,000 worth of copies of “You Can’t See Me” off U.S. shelves during its initial release week. To top that off, it was certified Platinum by RIAA with over 1.3 million units sold as of October 2010. Clearly, Cena’s character has evolved from a then padlock-on-a-chain wearing newbie, but never forget his hit rap album--did I mention Columbia Records backed it as well?
Sure Cena has seemingly won titles over and over again since his inception 13 years ago--but let’s give credit where credit is due: he’s also made it a periodic routine to step away from the upper card picture and let others have their time to shine.
Whether it was jobbing cleanly to Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam, or allowing a red-hot Rusev to continue his undefeated streak (at least early on), Cena has proven time and time again--unlike several other big draws--that he’s willing to put over a new crop of talent and sacrifice his momentum for the future of the company.
We already went over Cena’s old school ability to spit a rhyme or two, but any true wrestling mark--whether you love or hate him--would attest that he could rock a promo better than 90% of others (give or take). Hell, the physical specimen formerly known in UPW as Prototype also hasn’t been too shabby going off script to successfully combat audience hate. Admittedly, most of us get all warm and fuzzy at the thought of the WWE turning him heel--but for the sake of his merchandise sales and the company’s ongoing refusal, Cena still makes it work as a babyface.
Okay, so Cena can’t do a Flaming Arrow like Neville, or dive through the ropes like Seth Rollins. However, he still gives it his all in the squared circle and isn’t near being at the bottom echelon as a worker.
Switching gears to outside the ring, Cena is constantly doing promotions for the company. If he’s not throwing out the first pitch at a MLB game, he’s thrusting Amy Schumer in Trainwreck, if he’s doing none of the above, he’s gracing the covers of Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness and Flex--Tack on some appearances on SNL, some Tribute to the Troops specials, and even a guest spot on Miley Cyrus’s Hannah Montana before she started misbehaving, I mean became… Miley.
Originating from West Newbury, Mass, Cena came from humble beginnings prior to being given the WWE’s franchise player tag. He made the trek out to L.A. with a mere $500 in his pocket, only to start out freshening up bathrooms and towels over at the famous Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA. To make matters worse, he was living out of his “91” Lincoln Continental with only two duffel bags in his possession at the time.
Word through the grapevine is that his father--John Cena Sr.--told him that he wouldn’t survive life away from Beantown. Clearly, his father has changed his tune. As luck would have it, he ended up meeting Rick Bassman (SoCal wrestling promoter), who asked him if he were interested in pursuing pro wrestling. While he probably could’ve resorted to his exercise physiology degree, he ultimately ended up taking his energies into a wrestling ring which undoubtedly paid off.
Although his daily schedule is ram-packed full due to his stature as the face of the WWE, that hasn’t prevented him from utilizing his fame in order to put smiles on the faces of underprivileged children across the globe--so much so that no one else has come close to the 450 Make-A-Wishes-and-counting he’s granted thus far. Wondering who’s in second on that list-- a distant runner-up by over 200? It’s none other than Justin Bieber (over 200 as of 2013).
Although it’s also on the WWE’s accord for worldwide connections, Cena (as of 2013) has worked with an Indianapolis training center to brush up on learning new languages. Recently, he’s been devouring Mandarin, but he’s also worked at French, among other dialects and phrases from other countries.
Undoubtedly, Cena isn’t just fearless when he’s attacking the iron-filled racks at gyms, but also has no qualms about doing the heavy lifting with his mind.
When Cena debuted in 2002, he wasn’t exactly handled with kid gloves and gently worked into the main roster. He was put in a match with the very best in the biz: Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle.
It was the June, 27, 2002 edition of Smackdown when a greener and leaner John Cena came out--to a less than catchy entrance theme--to answer Angle’s open challenge with “ruthless aggression” via a slap across the superstar’s face. In a well-paced match with arguably the greatest in-ring grappler, Cena did the job to Angle, but was unsuccessful in having him agree to his “glad to be here” handshake.
Alright, so Cena isn’t the first person to hoist The Big Show and most certainly not the last--unless he finally retires that is. But, the simple fact that he along with only a select few WWE superstars--less than 5%--are able to do this to a 450 pound monster counts for a helluva lot. What counts for even more is that he’s done it on more than four occasions. Cena has also been able to lift The Great Khali on his shoulders, who isn't as heavy as Show, but it had to be more awkward, lifting a guy over seven feet.
In case you haven’t figured it out already, John Cena is a workhorse who will stop at nearly nothing to do the thing that he loves--wrasslin’.
While doctors told him that it was imperative that his 2013 SummerSlam match with Daniel Bryan be canceled, he refused and continued to work through it--the buildup of fluid in his left elbow (bursitis) was so severe that it appeared he had a baseball inside it. Fortunately, he had world-renowned sports doctor James Andrews performing the surgery, and soon returned without any hiccups.
If dealing with elbow bursitis wasn’t enough--among several other injuries--Cena is--at the time of this piece--dealing with the aftermath of a severely broken nose. During the opening of his July 27 Raw match with Seth Rollins, he was blasted in the nose by the latter’s knee in a spot that went terribly wrong.
More impressively was the fact that Cena resumed the match for 10 more minutes after regaining his bloodied composure from the ground.
John Cena fell to the ground and winced in pain. However, a couple minutes and blood streaming down his nose and onto the ring apron, he was back up continuing the match. Disfigured face or not, he followed through with the planned outcome to beat Rollins--staying true to his character’s “Never Give Up” moniker. He even needed emergency surgery. Coincidentally, this injury could have prevented him from competing in this year’s four-hour SummerSlam. But, it appears he’s set to take on Rollins again in a title for title matchup.
If you’ve watched WWE programming lately, you’d know we are in the midst of a Divas Revolution--the women’s division is stacked with real wrestling talent like never before. Although the bra and panties action seems to be a distant memory for the company, it evidently isn’t for Cena when it comes to real-life romance Nikki Bella. As Divas champion and a star on E!’s Total Divas, and... oh yeah, her striking beauty, Cena is one lucky guy.
Cena not only cuts a mean promo (as mentioned above), but can now incorporates his lack of support into them as well--encouraging fans to cheer who they want to cheer and boo him if they wish. Truth be told, the fans, especially the hardcore wrestling marks, are constantly seeking change and promotion of under-appreciated talent. Hence, when Cena is given the brass ring time and time again, it gets them pretty upset. Regardless, he has an innate ability of taking lemons and turning them into lemonade.