As the face of the WWE, John Cena is immensely popular, but he is very much ripe for criticism as well. While some of that criticism is warranted, it isn't fair to point to Cena's backstage pull as a reason why former superstars like Tyler Reks never got over.
Reks, who now goes by his real name of Gabe Tuft, caused a bit of a stir this week when he called out Cena on Twitter. Reks asked for his WWE release several months ago so he could be with his newborn daughter, and while he would seem to be on good terms with the company, he obviously isn't with its top star.
Reks fired off several vitriolic tweets on Sunday, painting Cena as an insecure guy who used his lofty position with the WWE to prevent Reks from using his Burning Hammer finisher.
He also accused Cena of stealing a storyline that he and Curt Hawkins supposedly came up with. Reks claimed that it was their idea to do an angle where they get fired, use social media to gain attention and then return to the company in an invasion-esque manner. He believes that Cena convinced the WWE brass to give that gimmick to The Miz and R-Truth instead.
Everything Reks said sounds feasible, but he knew that he was preaching to a crowd that would believe him. The Internet wrestling community is generally very anti-Cena and its members are constantly looking for reasons to blast him. Reks gave them a license to do so and his accusations have ballooned over the past couple of days.
For Reks to bring all of this up now doesn't make much sense, though. He left the WWE on his own terms and made a personal decision to step away from the spotlight. Apparently Reks misses the attention, however, because nobody asked him to badmouth Cena. He brought it up out of the blue and that fact reeks of bitterness.
Reks claims that he isn't bitter, but we went on to say that had the WWE assisted him in getting his nose fixed after he broke it in a match with MVP in Turkey, then he might have kept things to himself. If that isn't the definition of bitterness, then I'm not sure what is.
When push comes to shove, Reks should look in the mirror if he wants to blame someone for not getting over in the WWE. I actually liked Reks and felt like he had some potential, but whether or not Cena told him to change his finishing move is irrelevant. Reks didn't reach Cena's level because he didn't connect with the general audience, not because Cena held him back.
Not surprisingly, Reks received some support from another disenchanted, ex-WWE employee in the form of Kenn Doane. While in the WWE, Doane worked as Kenny Dykstra and was considered a rising star in the business. He was never able to elevate himself past the mid-card, however, and he ultimately flamed out before being released in 2008.
Apparently Dykstra harbors ill will toward Cena as well because he made sure to jump on him during a time when Cena was quite vulnerable. Cena went through a publicized divorce several months ago, and Dykstra viewed that as an opportunity to relive his 15 minutes of fame.
According to 411mania.com, Dykstra accused Cena of having extramarital affairs. Whether or not Dykstra was telling the truth is irrelevant. He shouldn't be the one to publicize such private information, and the fact that he did proves that he too blames Cena for his failures in some roundabout way.
Dykstra also chimed in on Twitter regarding Reks' stories about Cena. He and Reks were labeled as bitter by a fan (which was an astute observation), but Dykstra denied that and said that Cena held back Reks because he viewed him as a threat.
That point is laughable to me because Cena has been the unquestioned face of the WWE for years and nobody is going to take that away from him, especially a guy like Reks who worked primarily on superstars. I'm not going to pretend like Reks didn't have talent, but he was nowhere near being a threat to Cena's position within the company.
Reks also blamed Cena for the premature end to Alex Riley's push last year. When asked for his thoughts on Riley, Reks said that he was talented and would be extremely over if not for "someone" holding him back. Reks didn't mention Cena by name, but his passive-aggressive comment was obviously alluding to Cena based on what he said previously.
Several months ago, a report surfaced that a backstage encounter between Cena and Riley might have resulted in Riley being put on the back burner. According to PWInsider.com (via WrestlingInc.com), Cena ribbed Riley backstage, but Riley reacted negatively and this led to him losing his spot as a rising star.
Riley was much closer to breaking through than Reks or Dykstra ever were as he feuded with The Miz and was receiving a favorable crowd reaction. I have a hard time believing that Cena was the reason for his lost push, though. Riley is far from perfect and he had several missteps around that time that could have given the WWE pause.
He sandbagged Jack Swagger's gutwrench powerbomb during a match on Raw, he suffered an injury that kept him out for a couple of months, and even before that Riley was cited for a DUI back in late 2010, according to TMZ.com. There were plenty of strikes against him, so I'm more inclined to believe that the WWE brass didn't think it could trust him.
I've made it clear in the past that while I respect Cena as a performer and for what he does outside the ring, I'm not a fan of his. Even so, I have an extremely hard time blaming him for the shortcomings of others. Maybe Cena has used his backstage clout in the past, but it's unrealistic to think that he used it against guys who would never be a true threat to him, such as Reks, Dykstra and Riley.
Sour grapes are common among guys who never reached the level they aspired to occupy while in the WWE, and the easy way to explain it is by blaming the top guy. I doubt that Cena is the perfect choirboy that he is often portrayed as, but he certainly isn't the monster that Reks and Dykstra have made him out to be either.