John Cena's WWE career has seen him deliver some captivating performances with a microphone.
The divisive star has had two distinct sides of him. He began as The Doctor of Thuganomics, an angry, rapping rebel. He has since transformed into a far tamer character. His current good-guy role and boy-scout shtick can certainly be irritating, but Cena has had great performances during this era as well.
As great as Cena can be on the mic, he can also be inconsistent.
There are times you wonder if he's taking big moments seriously enough or if he's out of touch with WWE fans. During the following promos, however, he shows us what he can do when he is at his best.
His most powerful, most entertaining work is ranked here—those performances which best sold his matches or elevated his feuds.
Kurt Angle is the real star of this segment, but it’s John Cena's gimmick that provides that provides the impetus for it. Cena's style contrasts with Angle's to make for a hilarious segment.
Cena begins with a few solid lines including comparing Angle to a Legally Blonde sequel and telling him, "You can bite my white south."
Angle then attempts to out-rap Cena, resulting in awkwardness and goofiness that forces laughs out of the audience.
The best promos border on the truth. John Cena does that here by knocking The Rock for his part-time status and questioning his commitment to WWE.
Before their WrestleMania 28 match, Cena talks about how The Rock has morphed into Dwayne, from pro wrestler to Hollywood star.
Cena doesn't resort to goofiness as much he normally he does here and, instead, comes off as genuine. His approach is steady and focused.
Making fun of his own movies is a nice self-effacing touch.
After Money in the Bank 2011 and after John Cena lost to CM Punk, Mr. McMahon prepared to fire him as promised.
Cena then delivered a powerful speech about integrity and about how much he loves WWE. He said that he wouldn't screw CM Punk a la the Montreal Screwjob.
His anger and intensity is subtle here. It doesn't come off as an acting performance as many modern wrestling promos do, but instead a man spilling his guts out in front of the crowd.
The thinly veiled threat to jump to TNA puts this on an even higher level.
Some of John Cena’s most intense and angry raps came in his feud against Brock Lesnar.
In this one, he expands his vocal target to hip-hop and to his detractors. It's one of his most smooth raps, the lines almost fusing together.
His lyrics aren't exactly Mos Def-quality here, but his passion emanates on the screen, building excitement for his and Lesnar's inevitable clash.
Before his Vengeance 2003 match with Undertaker, The Doctor of Thuganomics threw down on the mic.
He attacked Undertaker with precision. The short rap served as an ideal table-setter for their match, an anger-inducing tirade with a few creative lines.
His pre-match rap against Big Show is more famous, but this series of jabs at Undertaker is more powerful. It had Undertaker fans salivating at the thought of the big man getting his immediate revenge.
Regardless of how one felt about the déjà vu feel that was the WrestleMania 29 main event, this performance by John Cena and The Rock gave the match a sense of importance.
Cena talked about how The Rock had never failed and about how losing at WrestleMania 28 sent his life into a tailspin. The story going into their rematch was about redemption and Cena told that story masterfully here.
This was him at his focused, intense best.
Every sloppy, meandering performance on the mic he has is even more frustrating when fans know he's capable of something as moving as this.
Cena did well to make this feel like more than a WWE title match. It became a legacy-defining bout.
Their pre-Money in the Bank 2011 work will get more attention because it led to such a classic match, but CM Punk and John Cena outdid themselves before their clash at Night of Champions 2012.
Cena called CM Punk's title reign irrelevant. He broke down the champ's motivations and said to him, "You don't even know who CM Punk is."
This is the most poetic and moving performance Cena has had to date. If anyone was disinterested in these seeing these two go at it, this promo changed that. Suddenly, their match felt more compelling and more important.
Punk's vocal prowess seems to have Cena bring his best, just as Punk elevates Cena's ring work. Two worthy opponents pushed each other here and made for the kind of TV that has fans sliding toward the edge of their chairs.