When Cena's time as being the top talent in WWE finally comes to a close, he'll be heavily praised for what he's accomplished in and outside of the ring. The list is extensive. It's impressive and it stacks up against some of the all-time greats.
Cena is a 15-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, 5-time U.S Champion and 4-time World and Tag Team Champion. In total he's held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for an impressive, if not exhausting, 1,240 days. That's 4th behind only Bob Buckland (2,138 days), Hulk Hogan (2,185 days), and Bruno Sammartino (4,040 days). Cena has also won the Royal Rumble twice and competed at 12 straight Wrestlemania's.
Outside of the ring, Cena has also done more than most wrestlers. He's ranked first in current WWE merchandise sales, has granted over 500 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is really every child's hero.
So, why all the hate toward Cena? While Cena has helped the WWE, he's hurt it. Over the past few years, many have criticized the company for not being able to produce the next big star (i.e., John Cena). While McMahon and his Creative minions are responsible for part of that, John Cena should also take blame.
While he's put on stellar matches over the past couple of years--letting NXT rookies gain some incredible exposure during the John Cena U.S. Open Challenge--he's done more to kill or help hinder the careers of many budding stars, including those who stood in his way during that Open Challenge. And although "The Face That Runs the Place" will never admit he's committed harm, the following list of stars overshadowed by Cena will further prove that he's hurt the company just as much as he's helped it.
14 Kenn Doane
Doane, also known as Kenny Dykstra, never made a big splash in the WWE, and it's not just because he was a member of The Spirit Squad.
In 2008 Doane and WWE wrestler Mickie James were engaged. However, things between the two eventually collapsed when he found out James had been cheating on him with Cena. "She was Googling Mickie James and John Cena dating," said Doane of James. "[When] I asked why, she broke down crying. Then I heard more from others. She was checking to see if it was on the net yet."
Because of Cena's relationship with James, Doane was transferred to SmackDown while Cena remained on WWE's flagship program. However, not long after the transfer, the WWE released Doane.
13 The Miz
The Miz has said time and again that feuding with Cena helped propel his career. "John Cena made me realize what I had to do to get ahead in this business," said Miz to Australia's Herald Sun newspaper. "You have to make your own way to the top because no one's going to give the spot to you."
However, that fame was really short lived if you look at The Miz's career after his feud with Cena. On a late April 2009 edition of RAW, The Miz called Cena out for the first time and challenged him to a match. However, because Cena was out of action, he couldn't face The Miz. Eventually, when the two squared off, it wasn't much of a contest. The Miz lost two matches in a row, once at The Bash and another on RAW.
In 2011 The Miz would start another feud with Cena, but this time come out on top, beating the leader of the "Cenation" at WrestleMania XXVII while the WWE Championship was on the line. While it was a career accomplishment for The Miz, his push didn't last long. He would lose the title the following Pay-Per-View to none other than Cena in an "I Quit" match.
The Miz is now, at best, a jobber who hosts the poor man's version of Piper's Pit called Miz TV.
12 Mickie James
Cena took down two stars at once in Kenn Doane and Mickie James. We already talked about Doane in a previous segment, so we'll delve into Jame's subsequent relationship with Cena after she broke off her engagement with Doane.
Following the breakup, she and Cena became more serious. However, the "Leader of Cenation" eventually broke it off with her and, as reports indicate, the WWE transferred her to SmackDown because she was unable to cope with her loss. Not long after her fall out with Cena, the WWE released her.
11 Ken Anderson
Mr. Anderson, also known as Mr. Kennedy, had his share of problems with the WWE, and interestingly cited John Cena as one of them.
In an interview with The Void in 2012, Anderson spoke out about his time in WWE, backstage politics, and how Creative works. Part way through the interview, he spoke at length about how many WWE wrestlers "come across as hokey" and "phony" because they memorize scripts for their promos while others, like CM Punk and R-Truth, wing it. The difference shows in how the wrestlers come across. Guys like Punk come across as more natural while scripted wrestlers appear more stiff.
So, what does this have to do with Cena burying Anderson? The discussion took an interesting turn when the interviewer followed up by asking Anderson, "Do you class John Cena under that category [of being phony]?" Anderson answered by saying, "I'm not a huge fan." The interviewer pushed the subject and asked, "Why not?" Kennedy responded by saying, "Besides some personal burials that have taken place...I'm just not a huge fan."
With all the baggage Anderson carried around with him, we'll take a leap and assume that Cena played some sort of role in Anderson's dismissal.
10 Alex Riley
Riley had a promising young career before he faced the wrath of Cena. He signed with Florida Championship Wrestling in 2007 and worked his way up through developmental until becoming The Miz's apprentice on the second season of NXT.
Riley is best known for his work with The Miz in NXT and on RAW and SmackDown where he'd help The Miz win matches by distracting the opponent. Riley would also job for The Miz when the latter chose not to wrestle.
Riley's career, however, hit a speed bump when he confronted Cena backstage in a non-scripted incident one evening. Reports indicate Cena ribbed Riley in front of his peers. When Riley angrily responded back, Cena and others saw Riley as "breaking the code of the locker-room."
When was the last time we've seen Riley on a major WWE program? Exactly. Never again.
When Umaga arrived in WWE, he was given a massive push. Throughout 2006 he defeated some of the top superstars in the business including guys like Triple H, John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Jeff Hardy, Kane and Ric Flair. In fact, he even defeated Cena, Michaels and Triple H in a one month span.
Umaga's victories earned him a shot at Cena's WWE Championship in 2007 at New Year's Revolution. His first defeat, unsurprisingly, would come to Cena. He'd earn a rematch in a Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble but again lost. That was as close as Umaga got to being world champion.
Ryback has had numerous pushes throughout his WWE career, most recently as Intercontinental Champion. Yet none may have been as big as the one he received when Cena went down with an injury in 2012 and again in the spring of 2013.
After being openly endorsed by Cena, Ryback would face and lose to CM Punk in a WWE Championship showdown at Hell in a Cell. He'd then lose to Cena the following spring for the same title.
We can blame part of Ryback's demise on Creative because they turned him heel and forced him to vacate his signature "feed me more" chant so the audience wouldn't repeat along. However, as a heel, Ryback wasn't the same character. He was a shell of his former self.
On the flip side, we can blame some of Ryback's downfall on Cena because he became just another victim during the latter's many title reigns. When Ryback returned to being a face, he did become popular again, but he also fell back to mid-card status.
7 Alberto Del Rio
Cena didn't crush Del Rio's career much like he did others--Del Rio beat Cena for the U.S. Title at the 2015 Hell in a Cell--but he certainly slowed it's progress.
When Del Rio first entered the WWE in 2010, he beat Rey Mysterio on SmackDown. It was a statement victory and one that helped his career get off to a fast start. Del Rio would later win the 40-man Royal Rumble and be in and out of the championship picture for the next year or so before finally cashing in his Money in the Bank contract and winning the WWE Championship.
Del Rio's stay at the top was eventually toppled by Cena when the latter took the title at the 2011 Night of Champions. Since then, Del Rio has failed to regain the same type of dominant momentum.
6 Damien Sandow
Sandow's biggest push in the company came when he was holding the Money in the Bank briefcase. Creative's idea on how Sandow should cash in was brilliant. He waited for Cena to fight Alberto Del Rio in a brutal match at Hell in a Cell before confronting the former the next night on RAW. The following evening, Sandow faked like he was cashing in but stopped and pretended to walk out of the ring. Moments later he attacked Cena who was nursing an injured arm sustained in his fight against Del Rio. After Cena was down, Sandow cashed in.
It would have made all the sense for Sandow to win given how much momentum he had going into the match, but Creative thought otherwise. With basically one arm, Cena somehow gave Sandow the Attitude Adjustment and retained the belt.
Since then, Sandow has hovered in the mid-card and hasn't taken part in a major storyline since he was The Miz's assistant in early 2015.
5 Dolph Ziggler
Despite losing to Cena, Ziggler's addition on this list can certainly be argued because, as of 2015, he still remains in the upper-mid card. However, The Showoff has always struggled to keep his head above water after squaring off with Cena at the 2012 TLC Pay-Per-View.
After Ziggler beat Cena at TLC, he should have moved on to even greater things. The victory gave Ziggler momentum, but Creative squandered it by forcing him to face off against Cena in a number of rematches. After his TLC win, Ziggler lost the next seven single and tag matches against Cena before the year ended.
It also doesn't help that Ziggler once dated Nikki Bella, Cena's current girlfriend.
4 Kevin Owens
Other than Seth Rollins, Owens quickly became the company's top heel in 2015 because of his ruthless style of wrestling and sharp tongue on the microphone. He kind of accepted John Cena's US Open Challenge on the May 18th edition of RAW by confronting Cena, exchanging words and putting the US champ down with his patented Pop Up Powerbomb. Only a couple of weeks later, Owens even defeated Cena at Elimination Chamber.
But after his win, that was about it for Owens. He lost the next two matches against Cena, including the rubber match at Battleground when he tapped out of Cena's STF submission hold. Thereafter, his feuds with other superstars were lackluster, and he quickly dropped down the card. While he does currently hold the Intercontinental Title, Owens has a long way to go to regain the momentum he lost.
3 The Nexus
In 2010 The Nexus were one of the hottest acts in WWE. The band of misfits--disgruntled wrestlers from the first season of NXT--rolled through much of the main roster throughout the year. They viciously attacked stars like Bret Hart, Ricky Steamboat, Randy Orton and The Undertaker.
Yet, they could never quite conquer John Cena who formed his own group of WWE stars to take down the rookies. Naturally they did, and the members of The Nexus became just another one of John Cena's victims.
Charlotte may have won her first Divas Championship much earlier than she did had it not been for John Cena. Months before Charlotte did win at the 2015 Night of Champions, she debuted in WWE as part of the "Divas Revolution" alongside two other NXT women call-ups. According to reports, Creative's plan was for Charlotte to win the title almost immediately from Nikki Bella upon joining the main roster. After defeating Bella, the NXT women would have truly taken over by absolutely crushing the other divas.
However, Bella, Cena's girlfriend, had been rapidly approaching AJ Lee's 295 day championship record. Lee is the wife of malcontent CM Punk and both had left the company on poor terms. Reports have it that Cena went to Vince McMahon and squashed Charlotte's push, possibly using Lee and Punk's awful standing with the company as a supporting argument.
2. Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt has been one of the WWE's top heels even if the company continuously fails to capitalize on it.
In 2014 Wyatt engaged in his first round of feuds with "The Face That Runs the Place." The two fought for months, but looked to finally end their long-running drama in a Last Man Standing match at the Payback Pay-Per-View. For weeks leading up to the event, Wyatt promised to bring out the dark side of Cena. A win could have catapulted Wyatt to the top of the card.
Yet, all was for not when Wyatt lost the match. With the win, Cena, once again, elevated himself, leaving Wyatt crawling around for leftover scraps under the dinner table. Wyatt also failed to take down Cena in 2015, going 0-3 in single matches and 0-6 in tag matches.
Similar to Kevin Owens, Rusev got a major push when the company first called him up from NXT to the main roster. The difference between Owens and Rusev's start was The Bulgarian Brute went on to defeat a string of wrestlers. He showcased his strength by pummeling his competition and leaving their remains in the middle of the ring.
Yet, despite his best efforts to rise to the top of the card, he floundered when he ran straight into the John Cena buzz saw. While he defeated Cena at Fastlane he--like Owens--promptly dropped the next two matches to Cena, once at Extreme Rules and then the rubber match at Payback.
Since then, Rusev has had a horrible string of luck. In 2015 he was out of action after injuring his ankle, and then, upon his return, Creative threw him into a meaningless degrading love war with Dolph Ziggler, Lana and Summer Rae. Unlike Owens, who recovered by winning the Intercontinental Championship, Rusev still has failed to regain the momentum he lost.