Analyzing the Ludicrous Booking of John Cena
John Cena, WWE megastar, is presented so often as invincible with "Superman" booking that it tears away the believability of his matches and becomes maddening.
The former WWE champ isn't the only wrestler who has kicked out of his opponent's finishers, but at the frequency that it occurs it's difficult to be absorbed by the narrative being told in the ring.
This is reason numero uno why fans chant "Cena sucks!"
His juvenile humor and goofy demeanor play their part, but it's the fact that his invulnerability makes other wrestlers look weak and spoils matches that divides the WWE Universe on him.
Of course, that's more WWE's fault than his.
WWE decides who wins, who loses and how it all goes down. If the company wants Ricardo Rodriguez to beat Big Show with a backhand slap, it has the power to do so. WWE does, though, have to maintain an air of realism with its matches or they become hard to invest in.
John Cena can be written as resilient, as a warrior, as a guy who refuses to quit, but only to a point. He still has to lose cleanly more often.
Even during their 72-win season, the 1995-1996 Bulls lost 10 times.
Dolph Ziggler Owns No Kryptonite
Cena's frustrating state of super-tenacity has been even more apparent in his feud with Dolph Ziggler.
In their cage match on the 20th Anniversary of Raw, it felt like short of hitting Cena over the head with a cinder block, Ziggler couldn't do anything to beat him.
Ziggler hit his finisher, the Zig Zag. Cena kicked out.
Moments later, Ziggler drove Cena's head into the ground with a DDT from the top rope. One, two and a kick out.
Even harder to stomach than Cena kicking out of Ziggler's best moves was the situation of that match itself.
Dolph Ziggler, no scrub mind you, had the benefit of a chair-swinging Big E Langston and an interfering AJ Lee. Cena took everything Ziggler and his crew had and came out on top.
Worse than that, Cena popped back up on his feet and looked about as worn down as someone who'd just taken a jog.
That's where fans can fault Cena himself and not the WWE writing team. It's Cena who doesn't sell the beating he took, shaking it off and slipping on a smile.
What It Takes To Take Him Down
2012 didn't add a lot of wins to Cena's record, but it felt like every loss wasn't a true one. WWE appears at times afraid of letting Cena lose without interference or through some fluke to anyone not named The Rock.
Ziggler defeated Cena at TLC 2012. He needed AJ's interference to do so.
CM Punk lasted through several title matches involving Cena, but didn't beat him without the benefit of fluke circumstances.
At SummerSlam, Punk threw Cena out of the ring and pinned Big Show. Punk and Cena fought to a draw at Night of Champions. Punk survived again with the help of Ryback and The Shield at Survivor Series.
CM Punk is the WWE Champion and has been so for over 400 days.
Shouldn't he be able to beat Cena one-on-one a few times at least? This kind of booking gives fans the impression that Cena is far and away the best wrestler on the roster with no close second.
Of course, Cena should be made to look better than the mid-carders, but he can't be booked to be so superior to all his peers.
A more level playing field is far more interesting.
Hulk Hogan tearing through WWE's list of villains got old. Cena has been in that territory for some time now.
When you book a wrestler to defeat the then-tag team champs on his own, it only serves to make everyone else look like minor leaguers.
Chinks in the Armor Are Welcomed
People like their heroes fallible.
Batman lost to Bane. Rocky lost to Apollo Creed.
There is far more of an emotional payoff for wins when they follow hardships. Cena is expected to win (or lose if there are enough shenanigans involved) so his victories aren't marked by glorious triumph.
The danger of Cena defeating all the odds all the time is that it quickly gets stagnant.
At their best, WWE matches have fans forgetting how scripted the action is, have them sucked into a narrative of violence and emotion. It's as if they can become hypnotized by the action, becoming entranced by the unpredictable nature of the result.
Cena's booking disturbs that trance.
As many times as Cena has kicked out of the Go To Sleep, it looks like a less formidable move. As many times as Cena has owned Ziggler in recent weeks, it makes him look like less of a legitimate threat.
John Cena can still be WWE's top guy with a few more losses under his belt, with a far more human response to big moves. In fact, it will likely have fans rally around him even more.
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