The Company Man

Yesterday, April 29th, was World Wish Day.  It’s a day that celebrates the legacy of the Make-a-Wish Foundation “with wishes being granted worldwide.  It’s a day to think about how wishing makes our world better.”

Those are the words of John Cena, WWE Superstar, and the man who has granted more wishes (over 250 now) than anyone in the history of the charity.  He is the man who eschews the more self-aggrandizing or nonsensical slogans of his counterparts in favor of positive mantras like “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect,” “Never Give Up,” or “Rise Above Hate.”  And he out-sells all of his colleagues with those messages.

But he is also the same man who has spent the better part of five years being booed by half of the audience members who pay to see him perform.

Yesterday was also the date of WWE’s “Extreme Rules” pay-per-view.  The climactic match saw an already banged-up Cena battered and beaten at the hands of a seemingly-reckless Brock Lesnar.  Cena ultimately “won” the match—his first meaningful win in some time—but he was legitimately injured in the process.  Whether those injuries were limited to lacerations and bruises remains to be seen.  This was all in service of making sure that the returning Lesnar looked like a dominant force of nature.

Once again, it was up to Cena to make that possible.  Once again, the WWE left another Superstar’s career fortunes in the hands of the company’s most trusted performer.  Once again, that performer delivered.

In other words, it was just another day at the office for John Cena.

His recent history is littered with evidence that the unbeatable “Super Cena” character that so offended “smart” fans is but a distant memory.  To review:

Following a year-long feud in which he (correctly) pointed out that an absentee Dwayne Johnson was primarily using the WWE to bolster his movie career, Cena dutifully lost at WrestleMania 28.  This defeat came despite Cena never having ceded the moral high ground in his conflict with the Rock.  Cena was defeated, but he was also, in a word, right.  Cena also had to carry this all-important feud, since other commitments would allow the Rock to appear live (or at all) only a handful of weeks.

An uncharacteristic shakiness marked the Rock’s occasional appearances on television, particularly as WrestleMania approached.  Despite Cena having the better of the argument, and despite his more impressive face-to-face performances on the mic, crowds throughout the country chose to side with Cena’s opponent more often than not.

And, so, the night after WrestleMania—the night after Cena, as always, was the hard-working loyalist and consummate professional—he addressed the “WWE Universe” as to the previous night’s events.[1]

Cena took that opportunity on RAW to attempt to discuss in honest terms what had been a difficult year.  Here are some of the things he said to the crowd in attendance and at home.  Look closely at the content of his message:

– (Pauses to allow crowd to boo)  I never thought of losing.  But, now that it’s happened, the only thing to do is to do it right.  That is the obligation to those who believe in me.  (Crowd boos)

– I’ve talked so much that anybody else in my shoes right now would be making excuses, backtracking, saying that it wasn’t their fault.  That is not me, that will never be me.  I meant every single thing that I said. (Crowd boos)

– I meant it then, I mean it now.  There is not one second in the year-long buildup to WrestleMania that I ever thought that I was going to lose.  Because, if you think like that, then, my friend, you have already lost.

– But no one goes undefeated in life.  And a true champion retains the will to win, even through their most disappointing loss.  Now, with that being said, there was a lot of speculation on how I would react to all of this. (Crowd boos, soon chants “YOU’RE…A…LOSER”)

– I am a man.  I was beaten.  So, as a man, I will own up and admit defeat.  Last night, at WrestleMania, I lost to the Rock.  (Crowd cheers, then chants “YES! YES! YES!”)

– If I have let [my fans] down tonight, I truly apologize.  The only thing I can do to make amends is wipe the slate clean, work my ass off, and try to be the best that I can be. (Mixed response from crowd, light “Cena Sucks” chant)

– I am not here to call out the Rock.  Because, when you call someone out, you want to fight.  The Rock and I have been calling each other out for a year, and we settled it last night.  (Crowd begins to boo, then shifts to a “WE WANT LESNAR!” chant.  Cena looks mildly irritated, but half-smiles and continues)

– I say we have one more moment of celebration for Miami, Florida’s own Dwayne Johnson right in the middle of this ring.  And, Dwayne, on a personal note, and I know you’re watching, this past year has been exhausting.  We let it all out on the line physically, and, often times, way over the line verbally.  (“WE WANT LESNAR” chant begins again.  Cena looks sad and legitimately, justifiably disappointed in the crowd)

– I understand the excitement in the air, but I put my heart and soul into last night (crowd boos yet again) . . . and, to be quite honest, I came up short, and the Rock was the better man. (Crowd chants “YES!” and Cena actually joins in)

– All kidding aside, I just want one second to publicly acknowledge that the Rock was the better man at WrestleMania, and I would really like to congratulate him on his victory.  (Cena turns toward the entrance, and silently waits for a few seconds until Brock Lesnar’s music plays.  The crowd explodes, and Lesnar slowly walks out.  Lesnar does his entrance routine, then saunters to the ring to interact with Cena, who applauds Lesnar.  Lesnar extends his hand for a handshake, but, instead, hits Cena with his signature “F-5” finishing move.  The crowd pops again.  Off the air, the crowd chants “F**K YOU, CENA” at him as he lies in the ring.)

So, summing up: John Cena owned up to his defeat, congratulated his opponent, and said many honorable things.  For this, the crowd booed him.  For this, the crowd mocked him.  For this, the crowd cursed him.  When he was beaten down and punked down by Brock Lesnar (just as the Rock did to Cena at Survivor Series), the crowd cheered.

Why do they hate him?  Because he champions values they deem to be cheesy throwbacks to a time they see as less-sophisticated.  The WWE spent the better part of a decade establishing a new paradigm in which the anti-hero was king, and it did so quite well.  Transcendent performers like Steve Austin and the Rock facilitated that.  The crowd had become enamored with the idea of booing Hogan-style faces (even Hulk had turned heel by this point).  There was also the undercurrent of anti-traditionalism fomented by groundbreaking promotion ECW that began to bubble up to the mainstream by the mid-1990’s.

The WWE made a lot of money off of “edgy,” renegade characters the fans loved to cheer.  When the business cycle ran its course, and the massive ratings of the late 90’s and early 2000’s declined (and Linda McMahon decided to run for Senate), the company interjected some more traditional ideas into the mix.

Cena stopped rapping about his opponents’ genitalia.  His “F-U” finisher became the “Attitude Adjustment.”  The “STFU” dropped the last letter.  His was the flagship character in the company, and, like the company it represented, it became far more kid-friendly again in the wake of the end of TV-14 programming.  There was a decided effort to revert back to pre-Attitude-Era norms in certain respects.

The WWE has found that this is a very difficult bell to unring.

But there was another “1980’s Hulk Hogan” quality Cena possessed that made him unpalatable to fans of a certain vintage: Perpetual winning.

But is that even fair?  There was a time when the perception of an unbeatable Cena matched reality.  Is it still the case now?  As I mentioned at the top, that doesn’t seem to be valid in 2012.

Cena’s performance at major shows over the past year-plus, prior to last night:

2011 Royal Rumble: LOST; Eliminated by The Miz.
WrestleMania 27: LOST WWE Title match to champion The Miz via pinfall.
Money in the Bank: LOST WWE Title to C. M. Punk via pinfall.[2]
SummerSlam: LOST WWE Title match to champion C. M. Punk via pinfall.[3]
Survivor Series: Won tag match, but partner (The Rock) made him look very weak.
2012 Royal Rumble: Undercard match vs. Kane ended in a double count-out.
WrestleMania 28: LOST main event vs. The Rock via pinfall.

Cena also lost WWE Title matches at two other, lesser PPVs in 2011: Hell in a Cell and Vengeance, and, for the first time in memory, did not appear on a PPV card (Tables, Ladders, and Chairs) when healthy.

For a guy who has been derided as “Super Cena” in the past, the booking at the biggest shows of the year no longer support that label.

More troubling to Cena fans is the most recent trend.  Cena lost to the Rock cleanly at WrestleMania 28.  Brock Lesnar took Cena out with ease the following night on RAW.  The next week, Lesnar again got the better of Cena, taking him down and legitimately bloodying his mouth.  The week after that, Cena got pinned by “Lord Tensai,” previously known as Albert (or “A-Train”) in his first WWE stint.  While Cena technically won at Extreme Rules, the match unfolded in such a way creatively as to make sure that the audience understood that Lesnar dominated Cena.

What that means is that Cena has been beaten down by not one, not two, but three guys who have been absent from WWE for eight, seven, and eight years, respectively.[4]

One of the chief criticisms lobbed by the anti-Cena crowd is that, from either the “smart” or “mark” perspective, the wrestlers of the prior era are superior to the current crop, of which Cena is the standard-bearer.  Lesnar has explicitly stated as much in his promos since returning, saying that Cena is only on top because he left.  Lesnar adds that his presence “legitimizes” the WWE again.

If the WWE’s goal is to defecate on the last half-decade of its own product, then let me be the first to say: Mission accomplished.

The message sent regarding John Cena is troubling.  No one questions his work ethic or his devotion to the business.  Yet, the company, in an effort to accommodate the portion of the crowd that hates him, have rewarded his dedication by having him appear weak over and over during the last year-plus.

He is, by all relevant accounts, the genuine article.  He perpetually adheres to his onscreen principles, even in—especially in—the face of adversity.  Off-screen, he moves more merchandise than anyone else.  He has never had a wellness issue or a run-in with law enforcement.  He is a dedicated supporter of the military and various charities.  He relishes the opportunity to be a role model.  By any objective measure, he is a massive success.

And, still, they boo.

Cena will announce tonight that he’s taking some time off to heal the wounds suffered at the hands of Brock Lesnar, who, thanks in part to Cena, is now positioned to become the next WWE Champion.  In reality, Cena will also be filming the next installment of The Marine during this hiatus.[5]  Even his “time off” from WWE is in service to the company, however, as the movie will be another WWE Films production.

There will come a time some indeterminate number of years from now when John Cena’s departure from wrestling won’t be temporary.  Part of me believes that only Cena’s eventual retirement will be enough to make his most strident critics respect his contributions to the business, even if they didn’t happen to like the presentation of his character.

Whenever that day comes, I think the perspective necessary to appreciate John Cena fully will come with it.  People will realize that he was right about a great many things.  They’ll understand the significance of the fact that the first item he addressed when he arrived at the WrestleMania 28 press conference podium was the Make-a-Wish pizza party he was hosting that weekend.

Maybe Cena is the flipside of “Superstar” Billy Graham.  Perhaps Cena’s career retrospective could be titled “Twenty Years Too Late.”  Even if he is, and even if he was, his critics may someday realize that the character Hulk Hogan portrayed so adeptly was little more than who John Cena is in real life.  They might realize all of this.

And then they’ll miss him.


[1] Mind you, this came after the Rock more or less announced that we wouldn’t be seeing him for a while, which was precisely what Cena predicted months earlier.  Oh, but the Rock did make it known that he would show up long enough to win the WWE Championship.  So, we can look forward to that.
[2] This would not normally be a “major” show, but, given the much-talked-about build-up to that PPV, I’m counting it.
[3] Technically, Cena was also the WWE Champion entering this match due to the Punk storyline following MitB.  In any event, Punk beat him a second time.
[4] And, again, one of these was Lord Tensai.
[5] Although conflicting reports have The Miz starring in the third installment, so it’s not entirely clear which is the case.
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25 Responses to The Company Man

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  5. Tom Garrett says:

    Reblogged this on The Axis of Ego and commented:

    It seems like a good day to reblog this. One of my favorite signs last night was “IF CENA WINS, WE COMPLAIN ONLINE” (I might be paraphrasing). I think people who hate the guy for things that happened in 2005-2007 should probably try to take a more measured view of who Cena is and what he’s done. Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s a little preachy. It’s early.

    In any event, I like and respect the guy, and I make no apologies for that. And I’m glad he’s not a (conventional) heel. Too easy, and, to be honest, I’m not sure I know what a Cena heel turn would even look like at this point. The crowd boos him already. If he “turned heel” in the traditional sense, they would cheer him.

    So, as we get ready to see where WWE will take us creatively over the next year, here are some thoughts from about a year ago to keep in mind.

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  11. August says:

    It used to be that the “hardcore fans”, those fans who were just “too smart” then everyone else, booed Cena- it was the hip, and cool thing to do. But honestly, I think the paradigm has flipped, Booing Cena is now the trendy thing to do. In fact, one might even say that the real ” rebels” are the Cena fans- go figure.

    I remember when all the beer drinking smarks used to scoff at my old CM Punk shirt- now he’s more mainstream then Cena- he gets a full fledged baby face reaction!

    I never would have expected it a year ago, but being a Cena fan in public is more “against the grain” then any other wrestler. It is what it is. So next time your chanting “Cena sucks” with the other 70 % of fans, just realize you are now following the pack, kind of like those Hulkamaniacs back in the day (did I say that?)

  12. Juan says:

    I’m absolutely tired of everyone and their “give him a break, he works hard” nonsense. I am in full agreement with Josh and Mike, Cena’s personal characteristics are not the ones people are boo’ing. and to say he doesn’t get respect is absurd, the guy gets all the respect from his peers and his target demographic, there’s no need for this “let’s cut Cena’s some slack” crusade you and others have been on lately. I’ve met the guy, very nice man but that is not who we are boo’ing, although that is probably not entirely his fault.

    • Tom Garrett says:

      You’re free to keep hating him. My point is that the primary reasons people seem to hate him (he wins all the time, he’s not cool enough) are inaccurate and kind of silly, respectively. Just my opinion. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and he continues to be successful by just about any measure.

      • MonsterRain says:

        Cena has lost MORE in the last year or so, but a vast majority of the losses are dirty. Of the ones you named, the only 100% clean loss was to Rock, and at the end of both the Miz and Kane fueds, he won. So, a dirty loss in a fued that really isn’t that major isn’t exactly the biggest deal to most fans. I get that Cena’s lost more, but it’s not to the point that the years he went beating everyone can quite be forgotten yet. Still, though, I will admit you have a valid point when it comes it his losses as of late. But, what’s silly about not liking someone’s gimmick, or promos? I think that Cena, in at least the last 2-4 years, has only been in two fueds where I was impressed with his mic work, and that was against Punk and The Rock. Probably two of the greatest mic workers of all time, so of course he was going to step his game up. Other than that, most of his stuff has been very uninspired and uninteresting. Plus, in the same way, the way him and his matches are booked is often, and for the longest time, almost always was, similar. The entire gimmick of a guy who acts like an underdog, yet constantly ends up on top, doesn’t work to a lot of people. I just don’t get what’s “silly” about that opinion. As far as his success, yes, he’s a good draw, but I do feel like the way he’s been booked over the years has hurt the WWE in a lot of ways.

        • Tom Garrett says:

          It’s like I said in the article: He’s booked like a latter-day 80’s / early 90’s Hulk Hogan, except the people who were little when Hogan was on top see that form of booking as “kid’s stuff,” and revolt against it. What perplexes me isn’t that aspect. It’s that IWC darlings like Punk and Bryan are so successful, but that isn’t enough for them. In other words, it’s not enough that they’re getting to see those guys wrestle each other for the WWE title on a PPV, these folks *also* need Cena to go away.

          Ironically, this strikes me as childish. It’s like they’re annoyed by Cena’s presence so much that they treat everything like an all-or-nothing game: Even if ROH-style guys get pushed, Cena also has to disappear.

          I’ll put it this way: Cena is spaghetti. The IWC hates spaghetti. They hate the idea that they can either eat spaghetti or stave. But, then, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan come along. They’re grilled chicken (or possibly a vegan alternative in Bryan’s case). Finally, the smarts have something they can enjoy. Now, Raw is a buffet with a lot of different types of food (styles of character / booking), but the smarts are greedy. They want the spaghetti to stop being served altogether.

          This shows an indifference to the fact that the WWE needs to cater to kids and parents, not just the cynical 18-to-30-year-old males in-between.

          • MonsterRain says:

            The thing about superhero booking, like with Hogan, is that it was the staple in wrestling for ages, but after the Attitude Era, it’s seen as outdated by alot of fans. The fans are too desensitized nowadays to simply cheer someone for being a good guy and winning alot. It’s the same way that if a Raw episode today looked like the wrestling TV of 20+ years ago, the fans would hate it. Even the “old school” ones. The problem is that Cena’s character is so forced into an era where fans don’t want it. It’s like if Stone Cold showed up with his gimmick in the Hogan era, he couldn’t be a face. The idea of a badass, rebel, anti-hero worked and happened naturally, because of the time period it was in. Also, you’re really generalizing the people who complain about Cena. I don’t have any problem with how Punk and Bryan have been booked, for the most part. I understand the feeling that Punk is more than ready to be fully embraced as the new face of the WWE. However, I’m willing to give it some time, as he’s being made out to look very well. But, whether or not I like how the WWE is using Punk and Bryan, that doesn’t mean that the negatives that I feel Cena brings are dismissed. If someone was saying “The WWE sucks right now thanks to Cena.”, you’d have a point, but if someone’s problem is strictly with Cena, that’s different. Besides, it’s not as if, even with Cena out of the title picture, that he’s not still being used to an irritating amount. Every one of his fueds has still been the primary focus of Raw. His fued with Kane, which was AWFUL, was all over Raw. His fued with Johnny Ace is almost certainly going to be a bigger focus that Punk-Bryan. It’s not as if it’s IMPOSSIBLE for Cena to have a change in character, either. And the IWC would LOVE him if he did so. We’ve got chicken, we’ve always had chicken, and now we have a bit more of it, but they’re still putting spaghetti all over our plate. We can’t hate our plate entirely now, but we’re still overfed with spagetti. I get that Cena’s over with the kids, and that’s a target audience, but there’s never really any need to “cater” to the young audience. They’ll take whatever you give them. As long as you don’t go all out with swearing and violence and sexuality, you have no problem in the family market. If the WWE saw itself listening to the older demographic more than the younger (without getting rid of the PG), they’d be fine. You don’t need to bend over backwards to please them. It’s not like the Attitude Era had less young fans than today, they probably had more, they just ALSO had plenty of 18-35 year olds. Usually, if you get older or more hardcore fans (not just super smarks, either) to like something, the kids will as well. Punk and Orton are two examples of guys who appeal to both (although, yes, Orton has his detractors, not nearly enough for it to matter).

            • Tom Garrett says:

              That’s the thing, though: There are a LOT of fans who like Cena. They just tend not to be the ones who write for websites. Again, the sales figures don’t lie. As long as Cena is still moving merchandise and helping to sell PPV, he’ll be one of the top guys.

              What it comes down to for me is that there seems to be an almost arrogance by some of the anti-Cena folks along the lines of “Only fans like me should count. The people who like him are idiots and should be disregarded.” We see this kind of mentality in politics all the time, where ideologues on both sides of an issue discount the opposing position by saying that those opinions shouldn’t count, because they’re stupid or ignorant.

              The WWE is in the business of making money. They’ve been darn good at it for quite some time. They’re not perfect, to be sure, and I take issue with some of their creative decisions from time to time. But, over the long haul, I trust them to know what they’re doing. Expecting them to bury the guy who’s their top-seller for the sake of pushing edgier wrestlers that the IWC finds to be “cool” isn’t realistic or fair.

              Keep in mind I say all of this as someone who didn’t like Cena’s character a few years ago. But that had to do with the predictability of it. As you (or someone said), he was stale. But I don’t know how that argument can be made now, given what’s happened to him over the last couple of years. I think those people have just made up their minds about him, and, even when reality changes, they still hold on to their years-old notions about him.

              • MonsterRain says:

                Yes, I do agree that there is plenty of people that like Cena… but not as many as there should be. For a guy in his position, a guy that the WWE has invested SO much time and money into, 50% of the audience isn’t very good. If anyone had been pushed to the level that Cena has been, for 7+ years, and was even LESS popular, they’d have to be TERRIBLE! As much as I believe superman booking hurts the quality of the product, it obviously still works for alot of fans. Just… not enough anymore, at least in Cena’s case. There’s never been a face at the level of Cena that has been disliked by so much of the audience for so long. Because usually when that happens they get depushed or turn heel. I realize the WWE is in the business of making money, and I trust that they will keep making money, but that doesn’t mean that they’re concerned with doing what’s best for the product itself. In the last 10 years, the WWE has become less and less prone the taking risks when it comes to the product, and more and more stubbornly and lazily going with what they’ve already got. I’m not asking WWE to do everything to please the IWC, I’m not saying to make Dolph Ziggler the face of the WWE, and a year ago, when Bryan wasn’t over worth shit, I would’ve told you he wasn’t close to world title material, he’s changed since then, but you get my point. But, when you DO have guys nowadays, that are VERY close to the level of Cena, that do appeal to pretty much everyone, I think that’s a better choice than a guy who polarizes a staggering amount of your audience. I’m not saying the WWE should bury him, I’m just saying that UNLESS they’re going to give him a character change, that his time on the top has long overstayed it’s welcome. You say that over the last few years, Cena has lost his predictability, but I’d have to disagree. Since the boos and the outcry from the fans against Cena got to the point where they couldn’t ignore it anymore, instead of actually listening to them, they’ve just constantly teased a change in character in various storylines. This always gets alot of fans interested (which is more evidence as to how many fans are tired of him), but EVERY time, in the end, we just end up with the same old Cena. He never ACTUALLY changes. And, not only that, but besides the Rock and Punk fueds, it’s not even like he shows any different sides of himself. Just the circumstances around him make us think that he’ll soon “crack”. The whole storyline of Cena being in a “rut” that the WWE planted seeds for, they pretty much threw it all away by making Cena do the classic Cena comeback against Lesnar. A storyline that seemed to be working perfectly. The crowd was (and still is, to be fair) growing more and more in his favor every week since Wrestlemania, something that the WWE hasn’t been able to do for YEARS. Now that he beat Lesnar, and is put into a match next PPV that he will almost surely win, I don’t think it’s an insane prediction that he’ll lose that sympathy he was building. Of course, I’m jumping the gun in this example, and maybe they will turn it around, but I could name ya’ several other storylines where they did the exact same thing. So, I don’t think I’m crazy for speaking too soon.

  13. MonsterRain says:

    First off, to say that Cena is “right” about The Rock as if it’s fact is ridiculous to start. That’s pure speculation. Especially when, logically, it makes absolutely NO sense as to why, if he was back to help his career, he’d be back now when his career is better than it’s ever been, and not years ago when his movies were struggling, and could’ve used the promotion. People didn’t see Fast Five because Rock hosted Mania 27, and no one’s seeing GI Joe because he wrestled at 28. Secondly, Cena in no way took the “moral highground”. He broke kayfabe and personally attacked Rock. That is certainly not the moral highground. He didn’t “carry” the fued, either. Because, besides one week, when Rock wasn’t there, their fued wasn’t what Cena’s TV time was focused on. Whichever one was better on the mic in the fued is opinion, so I’m not going to get too into that. But, then, you act like fans should like Cena for praising The Rock and the fans after Mania, when in reality, that was just another example of Cena not listening to them, so OF COURSE they would boo. The whole, boyscout, does what is right all the time thing is something the fans have made SO clear that they’re tired of. Cena knows that. The fans thought, after losing to Rock, Cena might finally make a change in his character, he even teased that he would, the fans CHEERED THAT, the one thing they actually cheered that night, and he said “Nope. That’s what you want? Sorry, nope.” You can’t even claim, as people often do about Cena, that he was “speaking from the heart” in that promo, because you know he wasn’t. He was just giving the generic “Rise above hate” speech. The same speech, telling the fans that, no, their opinion doesn’t matter, and he’ll keep doing the stuff that they don’t like. And, if he is going to do that, ya’ know what? Maybe he should lose more. With guys like Punk, Orton, and (albeit part time) Lesnar, who are on the same level of drawing power as Cena, and who, in Punk and Orton’s cases, are faces who don’t have nearly the amount of backlash from fans, he’s not as needed as “the guy”. They have more stars now. Give them a time to shine and see if the WWE REALLY needs Cena to be Superman. Now, I’m sure alot of people would say that since Cena is such a hard worker, and since he’s such a good guy, that he “deserves better”. And that the fans shouldn’t boo him, and should be more respectful. The thing is, though, I do respect Cena. I respect Cena for working hard, but I don’t respect him anymore than any of the other hard working guys in the back. The Dolph Ziggler’s, the Kofi Kingston’s, the Mark Henry’s, the guys who also busted their ass, and stayed out of trouble, yet aren’t given nearly the amount of credit Cena is. Guys that don’t get the special treatment Cena gets not only now, but has gotten for ALOT of his career. The dude’s always been a favorite of the higher ups in the WWE. So, no, I’m not going to cheer Cena or support him being on top all the time because he’s a nice guy that works hard, because I don’t know him. I’m not going to pretend to know him. I only care about what goes on my TV. And, I, along with SO MANY of WWE fans, don’t like what Cena brings. So, you know what I do? I boo. I boo, not to say that Cena is a horrible person, but just to say that I’m not enjoying what he’s giving me. And what he’s supposed to do, and what most do, when that happens, is find something the fans like. Cena hasn’t done that for years. And maybe it’s not his fault, maybe he just wants to do what WWE tells him to. If so, then the anti Cena message is even more for WWE than Cena. Cena’s been doing this schtick for so long, that it’s gotten to the point where people defend him by saying that by not liking him, you dislike someone for working hard. Which, is simply not true. WWE is entertainment, Cena is an entertainer. The fans want to judge him on whether or not he entertains them. I’m not judging him as a person, good or bad. That’s also why I cheer guys like Brock Lesnar, or Randy Orton, or even Triple H, who have had the dirt sheets all claim that, they’re this kind of person, or like this backstage. They’re all still entertaining as all hell to me on TV. If I had to guess, I’d say Lesnar doesn’t give a damn about the business or the fans, but that doesn’t mean he still isn’t damn good at this business. So, I’m a fan of his. So, I’m not a Cena fan. Not to say that Cena’s BAD at the business per say, just what he chooses to do doesn’t please me. He does usually put on a good match when he really has to, though.

    • Tom Garrett says:

      I’m not going to respond to all of the above, but suffice it to say that we’ll have to agree to disagree. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your response.

  14. Joshua says:

    One of the best articles I have read in some time.And may I say right on target.When someone is on top we love to tare them down, I guess it is in human nature. But the only thing we love more is someone who makes a come back or someone who is steadfast .I think Cena is the latter .And a all around good human.

  15. Something is only truly missed when it’s gone.

  16. I get it, but you’re missing the point of what the “smart” fans are booing Cena for. I’d wager that more people don’t dislike Cena, and actually respect him. What they hate is what Cena stands for: the status quo. Let’s not forget something even more meaningful in the last year, which was CM Punk’s “shoot heard round the world.”

    THAT is what’s crucial. What matters isn’t what Cena’s mottos say or mean. Cena rules, but it’s depressing that in terms of air-time, pay-per-views, and generally how the WWE operates, Cena trumps all. Doesn’t matter if he loses the big matches, he is the face of the company. He takes away time from people like CM Punk (far and away the best in the business, in my opinion).

    So the fundamental problem in this entire post is that you assume the fans boo him for who he is and not what he represents. He represents the terrible aspects of a Vince McMahon-led WWE. Vince, with his awkward obsession with big muscular guys. Vince, with his hatred for anything the WWE didn’t create themselves, or for the diehard wrestling fans that tune in. He’ll continue to force someone, that by all rights is an excellent human and even a character to look up to, down the throats of the audience while choking out storylines and keeping the ceilings low for wrestling talent like Dolph Ziggler, Punk, or Daniel Bryan (the latter finally getting even an ounce of what they deserve).

    And then we come to the fact that Cena bores the living hell out of the audience. He oversells sometimes. He isn’t perfect (GLAAD was all over Cena for homophobic remarks, remember?). He’s corny on the mic sometimes. I honestly think he’s gotten better, but he’s stale. Stale isn’t good. Stale is stale.

    Couldn’t respect the guy more, but if I go to an event, I’m booing the product, not the person.

    • Tom Garrett says:

      This goes without saying, but everyone is certainly entitled to boo whomever they wish, and I get where you’re coming from. Having said that, I’ve never fully understood the “Cena shouldn’t be the face of the company” argument. It’s tough to make an objective argument that CM Punk is more *marketable* than John Cena. This is like music guys making arguments about, say, Bon Jovi (just as an example) being ridiculously overrated because they’ve sold more albums than nearly any other American band. No one is doubting that Punk is the better pure wrestler, or even better on the mic in many respects. But more marketable?

      The WWE didn’t become the biggest wrestling company in the world by pushing the guys with the most in-ring proficiency or credibility among aficionados. They did it by pushing the guys they felt would sell the most tickets, PPVs, and merchandise. Sometimes, there’s overlap (e.g. Bret Hart). More often, there isn’t (e.g. Hulk Hogan). Punk was red-hot last year, and I really like and respect him, but I don’t fault WWE at all for having Cena be the standard-bearer. And I think Punk fans have to be pretty happy with what’s happened to his career of late.

      I agree with your assessment of why some of the older, “smart” fans boo Cena. It’s the same reason music fans get upset when mindless (or soulless) pop outsells their favorite singer/songwriter. But sales are sales, and the WWE is trying to sell. I wrote a very positive piece on Punk last summer (The Artisan) saying much the same about Punk and his war against the idea that Cena is the best. But Hulk Hogan was never the “best” viewed through that lens, either. So, I can’t fault the company for backing him. He works hard. He has no issues. He’s imminently marketable in a way that I don’t think a rough-around-the-(straight)edges, tatted-up, often angry guy will be. That doesn’t mean Punk can’t be “the best” to smarts – he already is, more or less. It doesn’t mean he can’t be the top guy in terms of carrying the belt – he is. But what it does mean is that he’ll probably never be the proverbial tip of the spear.

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