John Cena is possibly the most divisive man in professional wrestling.
He is both idolised and despised, loved, yet loathed and able to split almost any audience in any arena across the world.
If you’re a follower of WWE, then chances are that you have a fairly strong opinion regarding the face of the company.
I, for one, am not his biggest fan.
While I appreciate his sentiments in “always doing the right thing,” it’s the way in which he practises this creed that really irks me. Rather than emerging as the heroic proponent of morality, Cena has a rather unfortunate tendency to come across as an insufferable goody-two-shoes—the teacher’s pet of the WWE.
Add to that his basic moveset, his out of the ordinary wrestling attire, his unrelenting presence in the main event and the result is a persona that I have always struggled to identify with.
But enough with the Cena-bashing, because I have a confession to make.
I’m starting to like Cena. Kind of.
While I still find his basic character somewhat intolerable, I believe we have seen a new side to Cena over the last few months; a more stubborn, attitudinal, and straight-talking side.
Demonstrations of such characteristics may have been few and far between, but the fact that they have been shown at all is something of a departure from the norm for the leader of the Cenation.
In feuding with The Rock before WrestleMania, Cena was more personal, more direct, and simply more entertaining in his promos, even briefly going back to his “Dr. Of Thuganomics” roots.
And after the defeat of Lesnar at Extreme Rules, we saw a more down-to-earth Cena, breaking kayfabe in an intriguing, if slightly out-of-place, after-show promo.
Such digressions from his usual persona have continued in his current rivalry with CM Punk. It must be said that Cena got the better of Punk a few weeks ago on Raw, explaining why he should be the No. 1 contender and how Punk was in fact showing no respect to the WWE Championship himself.
And once more on Raw this past week, Cena was in fine form on the mic. He was again more direct in his words, his dabbling in the tongue of Montreal was a great feature and his moderately foul-mouthed tirade really put Punk in his place.
It is this Cena that appeals to me: an edgier, more exciting, more interesting and simply more entertaining John Cena.
But will these traits remain?
I see no reason why not. He can continue to perform as the face of the company, signings autographs for the kids and being a fantastic ambassador to the Make-A-Wish foundation, but this direct and passionate Cena is more appealing to the show’s older fanbase as well.
Thus, a greater audience is engaged and satisfied.
It is far more logical and possible to see this slight character adjustment become permanent, rather than witness the heel turn that many of his critics once called for, as the marginal change will create a scenario that keeps everyone happy.
Perhaps there are more factors that have made Cena more bearable in my eyes, such as his absence from the WWE title picture or the damaging loss to The Rock and his unsuccessful cash-in of the Money in the Bank contract.
But either way, we are seeing glimpses of a more accessible and likeable John Cena; so much so that I found myself briefly switching allegiances on Raw this week, as Cena delivered a fine and cutting promo, while CM Punk resorted to trying to gain cheap heat by taunting the Montreal crowd’s French-speaking tradition.
Of course, this doesn’t mean he’s become my favourite wrestler all of a sudden, not by any stretch of the imagination. He has, however, become much less annoying. It makes the show more watchable, which can only be a good thing.
Besides, a face should not be irritating.
But what do you guys think? Has John Cena adapted himself in recent months? Is he more tolerable now? And should these characteristics become a more regular part of his persona?
Comment below with your thoughts on this matter.