Barring a minor miracle, John Cena will defeat The Rock to win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 29.
It’s an outcome that we’ve been prepared for essentially since WrestleMania 28, and, naturally, it’s an outcome that has caused an uproar among wrestling fans across the world.
Anytime you hear the words “Cena” and “win” in the same sentence, chances are you know that a huge debate is soon to follow. Things are no different this time around.
Because it’s almost a given that Cena will leave WrestleMania as the new WWE Champion, fans are already starting to bombard wrestling sites with anti-Cena articles about why “The Champ” shouldn’t actually be one.
But if and when Cena becomes the WWE Champion in less than a month, it will be for no reason other than the simple fact that he deserves it.
Although many pro wrestling journalists, bloggers and those infamous commenters you see on wrestling sites everywhere will tell you that Cena doesn’t deserve another WWE title reign anytime soon, Cena’s patience and unselfishness say otherwise.
Say what you want about Cena main-eventing too many pay-per-views or “taking up too much of the spotlight.” But everyone knows it’s not Cena who decides to do that. Nor is Cena the real reason behind his character’s staleness.
Despite being the WWE’s top star, he isn’t the one who’s booking the company’s TV shows and PPVs. No, he’s the man who, when it comes to the World title picture, has taken a backseat for much of the last year-and-a-half—without getting any real credit for it.
The ever-so-popular criticism of Cena is to say that he “never leaves the World title scene” or things of that nature. In reality, however, Cena hasn’t been a real factor in the WWE Championship picture since dropping that title at Hell in a Cell way back in October 2011.
Although he’s popped up in the title picture here and there, he hasn’t been the focal point for quite some time. CM Punk, of course, has been the centerpiece of the WWE title scene for the entire time that Cena’s been away from it.
What’s rather hypocritical is that Punk doesn’t get criticized for his constant involvement in the WWE Championship picture despite the concrete fact that he’s had a consistent presence in it since the summer of 2011.
When Cena’s had long stretches as the WWE title’s main man in the past, he gets blasted for being selfish, stale and hogging the spotlight. When Punk does it, however, it’s instead deemed a great accomplishment.
This isn’t meant to bash Punk, who indeed brought some much-needed prestige back to the WWE Championship. Rather, it’s pointing out the way that, depending upon the person, wrestling fans can spin a story the way they want to in order to benefit their beliefs.
I know, I know—in a way, I’m doing it too with this article. The point of this column, though, is to stress that Cena should no longer be blasted for being a selfish star who hogs the spotlight and never leaves the World title scene.
In many ways, Cena has actually taken a backseat in the World title picture essentially since the end of 2011, and it’s for that simple reason that the WWE’s top star is more than deserving of not only getting back into the WWE Championship mix but winning the title as well.
After all, Cena hasn’t exactly been the dominant superstar over the last year that many have labeled him to be. Just take a look at what he did in PPV (and big TV) matches throughout the course of 2012:
- Royal Rumble (2012): Cena vs. Kane ends in a double countout
- Elimination Chamber (2012): Cena defeats Kane in Ambulance Match
- WrestleMania 28: Cena loses to The Rock in the show’s main event
- Extreme Rules (2012): Cena gets dominated by Lesnar but pulls out the victory
- Over the Limit (2012): Cena loses to John Laurinaitis after interference from Big Show
- No Way Out (2012): Cena defeats Big Show in a Steel Cage Match
- Money in the Bank (2012): Cena wins WWE Championship contract Money in the Bank match
- Raw 1000 (July 23, 2012): Cena becomes the first superstar to fail to win a title during his MITB cash-in match
- SummerSlam (2012): Cena loses Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship match against Big Show and Punk (winner)
- Night of Champions (2012): Cena vs. Punk ends in a draw
- Survivor Series (2012): Cena loses a Triple Threat WWE title match against Punk (winner) and Ryback
- WWE TLC (2012): Cena loses a Ladder Match against Dolph Ziggler for Ziggler’s Money in the Bank briefcase
Yeah, Cena did win some pretty big matches last year. But he also failed to pick up clean victories in most of the major matches he participated in. Perhaps that’s why Cena even cut a promo a few months back in which he labeled 2012 as “the worst year of his career.”
That might be a bit of a stretch, but calling 2012 the worst year of Cena’s career since he became the WWE’s top guy probably wouldn’t be. He went from being a top guy who almost always won to someone who failed more often than he succeeded.
But Cena didn’t moan or complain, and he didn’t politick his way into being the man who ended Punk’s historic 443-day title reign. Rather, he sat back and patiently bided his time until what he always knew was coming finally came: a rematch with The Rock.
While Cena was put somewhat on the back burner last year, Punk was able to rise up and become the WWE’s “1b” babyface before he transitioned into a role as the company’s clear-cut top heel. Cena’s time away from the title picture also allowed for the rise of guys like Ryback, who stepped up to become a huge babyface by the end of the year.
Although Cena has held the WWE Championship so many times that he doesn’t necessarily need another title reign, his time away from the title picture makes him more than deserving of one.
After all, it’s rather funny that everyone is up in arms about how Randy Orton hasn’t been involved in the World title picture for over a year now, while no one is really mentioning the fact that “The Viper” has already had nine World title reigns, too.
When Orton and Punk aren’t involved in the World title scene, the reaction is, “What the hell? I can’t believe they’re lost in the midcard.” When Cena isn’t involved in the World title picture, the reaction is, “It’s about damn time.”
It’s a shame that Cena gets that type of treatment after all he’s done for the company. But hey, at least it will be fun to see the Internet implode when he wins the WWE title at WrestleMania 29.
He more than deserves it, but odds are, he’ll get criticized for becoming WWE Champion when almost no one else would.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!