John Cena has had his share of critics throughout his whole career. While his character is extremely stale, no one can deny what he means to the WWE. He's constantly been their top merchandise seller year after year and he's the kind of person any company would want to represent them.
His critics tend to be those in the young adult demographic. Among the many criticisms of Cena are that his matches and moveset are repetitive, with a common phrase being his 'five moves of doom'. Cena has had an amazing 2015, possibly the best year of his career from an in-ring standpoint.
While his feuds don't quite equate to those with CM Punk, Edge or The Rock, his three match series with Kevin Owens and his U.S Title open challenge has resulted in Cena facing fresh opponents. He's faced the likes of Cesaro, Sami Zayn, Neville and Rusev. He also engaged in a late summer feud with Seth Rollins. You can name a good five Cena matches this year that could easily be WWE's match of the year.
However, through his long run on top, Cena has had plenty of duds. When you basically play the same character for 10 years, odds are there will be some misses. Cena was constantly booked as an underdog and kept being paired with bigger opponents to make him seem like it. While some of those feuds were successful, like Umaga, not all worked out and thus produced some poor matches. Here are Cena's 15 worst matches of his WWE career. His match with Kevin Federline on RAW is not included, as that can't even be considered a match.
15 Vs. The Big Show - Judgment Day 2009
14 Vs. JBL - WrestleMania 21
13 Vs. Big Show - Extreme Rules 2009
12 Vs. Brock Lesnar - Backlash 2003
Many people probably forgot that Cena and Lesnar faced off long before their 2012 Extreme Rules tilt. Their first encounter in a WWE ring took place at Backlash 2003, back when both were still rookies in the company, albeit Lesnar had already headlined WrestleMania and dominated the landscape. Cena was pitted as his no.1 contender and it was probably before Cena was ready for the main event scene. The match included Cena, as a heel, using dirty tactics to sneak a win. When trying to use his signature chain, the ref confiscated it, allowing Lesnar to hit the F-5 for the win. The match was given a 1.25 star rating by the Wrestling Observer.
11 Vs. JBL - Great American Bash 2008
10 Vs. R-Truth - Capitol Punishment 2011
9 Vs. Randy Orton - SummerSlam 2009
You can't blame WWE for wanting to book a John Cena/Randy Orton feud. Their careers are perfect parallels of one another. Both men went through developmental around the same time and one emerged as the top face, while the other as a top heel. However they were simply booked in too many matches and they were bound to whiff on a few.
8 Vs. The Miz - The Bash 2009
7 Vs. Bray Wyatt - Extreme Rules 2014
By far the worst of Cena and Bray Wyatt's three match series last year, their Extreme Rules tilt in the steel cage was named the Worst Worked Match of the Year by The Wrestling Observer. The match included a lot of interference from the Wyatt Family, constantly thwarting Cena's escape attempts. Eventually Luke Harper and Eric Rowan entered the cage, but Cena fought off the whole family and made his way to the door.
6 Vs. Randy Orton - Unforgiven 2007
This may not have been Cena's worst match ever, but it sure is according to the critics. The Observer gave this a negative-1 star rating. That's right, negative. The buildup to the match included Orton attacking Cena's father to goad John into a rematch from their SummerSlam 2007 tilt. The match began with Cena uncontrollably attacking Orton. Cena refused to stop striking Orton when told by the referee and was disqualified, losing the match but retaining his title.
5 Vs. Wade Barrett - TLC 2010
4 Vs. The Miz - WreslteMania XXVII
This match not only belongs on a John Cena list, but on a list of the worst WrestleMania main events of all time. The Miz despite being champion, was the third wheel in a feud between Cena and The Rock, which was the only thing that made this match anticipated. People were just lying in wait for The Rock to do his thing. Both men had an off night as the pace was slow and tedious. Miz was horribly miscast as a heel that was supposed to pose a threat to Cena, but Miz's offense isn't dynamic enough for a man lacking size. As a main eventer, he essentially tried to be the big monster without the big part, or the monster part.
Granted, Miz eventually suffered a concussion in this match, but the bout was already a mess before that took place. After Miz took a clothesline over the rail, both men were counted out. The Rock would finally emerge and as the host of the show, restarted the match. Now we thought, okay here comes the big action; The Rock's going to do something to take the title, Cena's going to turn heel now, etc... Nope. All that happened was The Rock hitting a Rock Bottom to Cena, allowing Miz to get the pin.
3 Vs. The Great Khali - One Night Stand 2007
2 Vs. John Laurinaitis - Over The Limit 2012
We knew this match was going to be bad, but we also figured the WWE would keep it to a short squash match, right? And surely it wouldn't main event Over The Limit over a CM Punk/Daniel Bryan title match, right? No, dammit! They needed Cena main eventing everything!
1 Vs. The Miz - Over The Limit 2011
Why is this ahead of Cena/Big Johnny? Well, that's because no one expected that match to be good. Being that the year before, Cena and Miz were trying to redeem themselves for a subpar WrestleMania main event, with the I Quit stipulation, you figured they'd be extra motivated to steal the show. Unfortunately, what was booked was just about the worst possibly booking one could do in a match. This was Super Cena on steroids and where all those IWC fans that sound whiny all the time had every right to complain about this one.
Alex Riley accompanied Miz to the ring and the two proceeded to make the entire affair an unofficial handicap match. Cena was tied up and beaten with everything from kendo sticks, to steel chairs, to leather belts. The amount of torture Cena took was ridiculous, although it wasn't as much torture as the paying fans had to go through.
After over 20 minutes of this, a tape recording played of Cena saying "I Quit". The referee figured out it was a recording and the match was restarted. All of a sudden Cena regained ALL his strength, chasing Miz up the ramp, whipping him with a belt. He caught Miz in the STF on the stage and just like that, Miz screamed "I quit!" ending the match in a heap. Cena was beaten for over 20 minutes, yet Miz couldn't take 30 seconds of offense?
What an embarrassing display of "entertainment" this was.
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