How John Cena's Make-a-Wish Foundation Work Has Defined His Character

Tom ClarkFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2012

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“He took the time to give my child the memories he took to heaven with him.”

Sometimes, it’s not about the wrestling.  It’s not about the high spots, the finishers, the main events, or the grand spectacle of the WWE attraction.

It’s not about the drama, or the storylines, the angles or the promos.  Sometimes it’s not about WWE at all.

Sometimes, it’s about the men and women behind the characters.

I know what you’re probably thinking and to just to confirm your suspicions, yes, this is a column about John Cena.

As if the headline and pic just didn’t totally give it away.

But for those of you who hate the guy yet clicked on the column out of interest, I will not waste any time telling you why Cena deserves your respect.  We have all been down this road before and believe me, there is just no convincing any fan of anything when it comes to John.

Basically, your mind is already made up, one way or the other.

And I will not make any effort to tell you why Cena is the perfect choice to lead WWE in this PG era. Once again, another road well traveled and another road that leads to nowhere.  

This is about John Cena the man.  And that man deserves a second look.

As the top Superstar in WWE, Cena is expected to shake hands and kiss babies.  He has more stroke with the employees of WWE and fans of the company than a Washington politician has with bureaucrats and voters.  He is supposed to be the good guy, the ambassador for WWE to the rest of the world.  

And he is very good at being that guy.

He’s also supposed to be very understated, come across as very humble, and take all of the criticism, hate, contempt, on the chin as if he never felt it.  He is supposed to be very professional in every aspect of the business and despite the good and bad that’s said about him, he is expected to take it all with a smile on his face.

And he does.  Every day.

I have written about John Cena many times in the past.  Let’s face it, there is never a shortage of material when it comes to John and no matter how often we read about him, we just can’t get enough of him and the controversy that always seems to follow him.

But no matter what our opinions of him are as a performer and the face of WWE, I keep coming back to the opening line of this piece, and the weight that it holds for John himself.

Last week, on the Nov. 19 edition of Monday Night Raw, we saw a video package on the Make-a-Wish-Foundation, and the incredible work that Cena has done with them.

I say “incredible” because John has fulfilled 300 wishes, more than anyone who has ever worked with the organization.  The earlier statement came from Judy Harrison, whose son Justin was a John Cena fan and wanted only to meet his favorite WWE Superstar before he passed away.

First off, let’s be honest here.  WWE wants us to know that it’s a big deal.  They are a publicly traded company, who has had some serious image issues in the past, and any positive publicity they can get inside and especially outside the company is priceless.  

Showcasing their top Superstar working with sick children puts them in a very favorable light and even the company’s biggest critics have to applaud them for their affiliation with Make-a-Wish.

Second, and more importantly for me, this is a huge statement in regards to John Cena’s personal character.  

Yes, Cena is expected to be the big-hearted, all-around good guy of WWE.  And yes, he as a result of that, he is likely expected to go along with whatever is in the company’s best interests.

But John doesn’t just show up for this, he is totally embracing it.  

Every time he talks about working with the Foundation, there is no character there, no promo being cut.  John comes across as very sincere when he talks about what it means to him to grant these wishes.  

Peel away all the layers of WWE that he wears everyday, and John Cena is just a man who is obviously being impacted by these children who only want to meet their favorite Superstar, at least once.

He is not doing good work here, he is doing great work and for those kids who love him, there is no controversy about him whatsoever.  

They don’t care about his infamous limited move-set.  All the debates about his character growing stale and in desperate need of a change, does not affect them at all.  And the constant criticism of John that paints him as his generation’s Hulk Hogan likely does not concern them in the slightest.

All they want is to meet their hero.  All they want is to believe.  And John Cena is the man who makes that possible.

Is he hated?  Yes.  Is he the most polarizing WWE Superstar in recent memory?  Absolutely.  Does any of that matter to those children who hug him and thank him for taking the time to visit with them?

Not at all.  Maybe that’s what matters the most.