"Hester Prynne received public damnation while wearing a scarlet letter. Lebron James received mountains of hate while wearing a smile and championship ring. Tiger Woods received giant wagging, scolding fingers of public shame while wearing different women. The Yankees received outcries of hatred while wearing pinstripes, and John Cena received copious amounts of jeers while wearing a goofy, cartoonish green outfit."
It's only natural that society, for better or worse, tends to dissent against those who, whether through their own actions or not, go against the grain of public opinion, morals and unwritten code, or achieve more than others deem them worthy of.
It's a stigma in society that is bred from the inner darkness of the human soul consisting of a potent mixture of jealousy, hate, envy and misguided opinions. It is topped off with a cherry of mob like mentality that forms when misinformed, unopinionated and unintelligent people begin to listen to the whispers of others.
These whisperers, these conjurers of rumors, lies, hate and self-proclaimed "voices of public opinion" spread like a disease throughout the masses, infecting the opinions and thoughts of society that they eventually become the reality rather than the truth.
Should the perception and public opinion of talented, motivated and self assured individuals be allowed to be altered or swayed by those who house the darkness of jealousy and self righteousness?
What exactly has John Cena done to deserve this unadulterated hatred from those who claim to be fans of the industry he helped not only build, but once stood alone, strong and proud with the entire WWE kingdom resting on his shoulders?
Unless a true crime against humanity has been committed by an individual, is it not a foolish, high-horse, soap-box act to condemn the actions of anybody? Are we such a compilation of perfect people, thoughts and actions that anyone who steps beyond the lines of society's mainstream view is instantly a wide-open target to berate, belittle and condemn?
While having an opinion is a fundamental human right by nature, doesn't society tend more often than not to be nasty, evil and overly self-righteous with this given right?
And those who have suffered the angst of false rumors, false realities and have become the victim of bullies and thieves; do these same people not then turn around and victimize others by conforming to or spreading the opinions of others whether they believe in them or not? Is there a difference when someone is a public figure open to the national swirl of media, jealousy and hate?
This disease that spreads through society, has no name. This contamination of the human mind has no known "patient-X" pathogen. However, this non-tangible creation within society does have a name within the realm of professional wrestling...
Welcome to the John Cena Syndrome.
Theories on the Origin of the Syndrome
There's no way to pin point the exact moment in history where John Cena and this syndrome began the infecting turn to him becoming the most polarizing WWE superstar of all time. Ask any John Cena dissenter to elaborate on their reasons for why they hate John Cena and more often than not you'll receive the following answers/rant:
"Are you serious, bro? The man has the personality of an eight-year-old, but that's to be expected when you're primarily used as a marketing tool to bring in all those "snot-nosed" kids who don't know anything about professional wrestling.
He's almost worse than Hogan based on the fact that he hasn't made wrestling reach the height of popularity Hogan did for the industry. All Cena has done is infect the WWE universe with a simplistic, child-like mentality that has done nothing but sell some merchandise while poisoning the foundation with a boring, predictable, placating, intelligent and insulting approach to entertainment that will one day cause the foundation to collapse.
The man has to do nothing, but show up to work and he's instantly labeled "the main event". Overshadowing the company's champion, hard-working mid-carders and up and coming stars while laughing in the faces of those who boo him on a nightly basis. We all see the growing smugness of John Cena's character; an untouchable behemoth of a company bounded to the almighty dollar and handcuffed to the investors who claim stake in their stock.
John Cena rises above hate? More like I have to rise above the pure monkey crap the WWE shoves down my throat every week. Here's how a typical Cena match goes: a couple offensive moves by Cena in the beginning to set the pace, he then gets destroyed for the entire second part of the match, then he some how finds a way to get a couple shoulder blocks in and it's the same old ending night after night. That's not wrestling. That's boring.
I don't care that kids love it. I care about the overall product, and its currently being suffocated by a man who's become too big for the company's own good.
This isn't the 1980's anymore! I think we should have already developed, or at least adopted a new form of "company face" and how they should be presented. I understand we gotta keep the "circle of life" moving by bringing in younger kids as fans, but at what cost to the overall quality of the product?"
It's an understood fact that when we talk about John Cena, we aren't talking about the actual man, but the wrestling character he plays on television. While there are definite similarities between the man and the character, it's the character that comes into question more often than not.
John Cena, the man, is a highly likeable, goodwill ambassador for the WWE; a good-humored, hard-working model character for society to embrace. With over 300 Make-A-Wish appearances, numerous trips overseas to visit American troops and a passion and dedication to his craft, John Cena is the perfect man to represent a company that usually only shows up in the public spotlight with something negative attached.
An often over-the-top, placating, lame-joke-spewing super hero, John Cena's character has become something that goes beyond the real life societal stigma of jealousy and has become an atom bomb that's exploded, leaving the WWE Universe split into two islands.
One island is known as Cenation; a family-friendly society that worships and cheers John Cena as if the real life man was playing himself in the ring. A hard-working, passionate, loyal individual who stands for all that is good in the world. A man who rises above the unmitigated hate of others. They see John Cena for the entire package he represents. The good over evil, and the ability to fend off enemies as well as the contempt of the darkness lurking in society.
The other island has no name, but is more or less the underground, rebel faction led by a much older coalition of professional wrestling fans. Those who grew up with a gritty, unpredictable and cool WWE landscape. The ones who look at the product's quality by the number of great matches, different stars and story concepts rather than ratings, pay-per-view buys and merchandise sales. While they might have loved Cena upon his initial arrival, they have seen him grow into an incurable cancer that has contaminated the foundation of the WWE.
Is it cool to hate John Cena? Or is it cool to like John Cena? Depending on your age, view of the product and preference of entertainment, that answer will most likely vary. It's not where your loyalty lies that matters, but that you made that decision on your own merits and not by following the whispers of contempt from others, or strictly liking something because it's popular.
The John Cena syndrome mostly encompasses society's negative aspects of hate, jealousy and a knack for discounting individuals who reach the pinnacle of their profession and a need to knock others off their higher pedestals. But the syndrome has another, smaller side to it that can easily be transmitted and passed around.
Perhaps that's the WWE's master plan. Playing off the sheep mentality of children. Those little ones who show up to an event, see all their peers in green, red, purple and orange and demand from their parents a t-shirt so they can be accepted as one of the cool kids. This side of the syndrome can easily manifest itself in anyone who is just trying to fit in. It results in a plethora of merchandise sales that may give the illusion that John Cena is more popular in the WWE then he really is.
John Cena might be a bi-product of the current state of the wrestling industry. An industry in need of another big name after the likes of Rock, Austin, Hart, Hogan, Macho Man and Flair have all gone away. Cena may have just been in the right place at the right time. Becoming not necessarily what the loyal fans of the industry wanted, but what the industry needed for a very long time.
The Cure for the Syndrome
This John Cena Syndrome. This wildly, feverish social experiment. Is there a cure that will one day rise up and extinguish this disease that's currently ravaging the body of the WWE universe?
Do we even need a cure? Not to mention that curing the disease has a different definition depending on who you ask. How can we find a cure when nobody knows how to precisely fix the problem? Half of the universe sees no contamination problem, while the other half is slowly drowning in the waste left behind from this maddening storm.
However, there is a simple cure for the syndrome that currently exists... time. Time truly does heal everything; even the John Cena syndrome.
As much as some may claim the WWE will slowly run itself into the ground, it's just not true. It's a flamboyant, over-the-top way of proclaiming the company is struggling, but the WWE will never be WCW. It's the pillar and foundation of the wrestling industry, an industry that will never die. It may suffer setbacks and a roller coaster ride of popularity, but to claim that the WWE will eventually fold is like saying the NBA, NFL or MLB organizations will also fold.
Eventually, due to the aging process and longevity of WWE careers, time will alter the landscape of professional wrestling. Within twenty years, John Cena will be out of the spotlight while other young wrestlers vie to either follow in his shoes or alter the way the game is played. This generation of wrestling fan will have the memories of Cena and everything he stood for—in and out of the ring—negative or positive.
Those who enjoy Cena and his cartoonish antics, bright colors, passion, hustle, loyalty and respect will continue to serve the proud island of Cenation until the day comes when either Cena is too old to continue carrying the banner for the WWE, or he shockingly turns his back on all of them by embracing the growing hatred for him. Either way the lifespan of John Cena has a long time left to play out.
For those who cry afoul of the WWE and their use of talent, the way they always placate to a younger audience while isolating the older fanbase, and continually "shoving Cena down their throat", there will eventually be a concession. Some may abandon the product, some may still watch with feverish anticipation for the day the landscape once again changes, but most will sit idly by and complain about the painful transition process the company finds itself in at the moment and place it all at the feet of John Cena.
It's not particularly fair, but life in general isn't always fair either.
Some claim that CM Punk is the antidote to the epidemic. A hard-working professional who made a name for himself by scrapping and clawing his way up the ladder of the industry. A relateable, flawed individual who has a propensity for undermining authority figures. But even Punk is not completely immune from falling sick with the syndrome. His time will eventually come when the universe splits against him as well.
Society loves a winner, but once that winner wins a little too much in the perceived eyes of society, they grow tired and bored, clamoring for a new winner to replace the old winner that everyone now despises and hopes loses.
Over the course of time, the stories of John Cena and the way the universe split into two factions about him will become nothing but a blip on the company's history report. His legend will be as big as those he envied as a little kid. The stories will become nothing more than folk lore about a war that raged within the confines of the WWE universe.
And one day when a little boy, who once sat in the seats of a sold out arena watching his idol overcome the odds, grows up to become a famous WWE superstar, those who sit in the stands booing next to those who cheer will once again give birth to the syndrome that dissipated decades earlier.
Perhaps it's not so much the "John Cena Syndrome", but "Society's Syndrome".