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Examining John Cena's Legacy Among WWE's Top WrestleMania Performers

Credit: WWE.com
Sharon GlencrossContributor IDecember 30, 2016

Can you truly compare the in-ring work of John Cena at WrestleMania to that of legends like The Undertaker or Shawn Michaels?

The answer is yes...and no.

Cena has a decent if somewhat inconsistent track record at the company's biggest show of the year.

He can't really match up to the enormous success of someone like The Undertaker or Shawn Michaels (then again, who can?), but no one can say he doesn't usually churn out great matches at the event.

Cena carried The Rock to two decent matches at WrestleManias 28 and 29.
Cena carried The Rock to two decent matches at WrestleManias 28 and 29.Credit: WWE.com

Of course, many fans—many of whom are just looking to criticize Cena for something—will choose to dwell on the bad.

His horrendous opening bout with Big Show at WrestleMania 20 for the United States title stands out.

His match against JBL the following year to earn his first-ever world title was also pretty abysmal and a total anti-climax—although personally I’d pin more of the blame for that one on JBL, who’s a far better announcer than he is wrestler.

His main event bout against The Miz at WrestleMania 27 wasn't exactly awful, but it was rather dull and forgettable and obviously hampered by Miz suffering a severe concussion towards the end.

Aside from those missteps, though, his contributions have usually been more than worthwhile.

Rock vs. Cena at WrestleManias 28 and 29 weren't in-ring classics by any means, but Cena did do a remarkable job of carrying the ageing, musclebound and lethargic Rock to two perfectly fine wrestling matches.

Edge, Big Show and Cena clash at WrestleMania.
Edge, Big Show and Cena clash at WrestleMania.Credit: WWE.com

Honestly, prior to returning, Rock probably should have dropped some of that muscle to ensure he could move around better. That he didn’t meant he inevitably came off like a shell of his former self in the ring, so Cena had to have his working boots on when they squared off.

His performance in WrestleMania 25's Triple Threat match against Edge and Big Show was also very good, even if the accompanying storyline was laughably bad. Per the angle, Cena had blackmailed his way into the bout after procuring raunchy backstage footage of Vickie Guerrero passionately making out with the irresistible Big Show behind her then-husband Edge's back. So, yeah.

One major singles match in which Cena truly shined was his WrestleMania 22 bout with Triple H, a gripping, dramatic contest that was easily one of the best WWE bouts of the year.

And it was almost good enough to forgive Triple H’s belittling, semi-worked and counterproductive remarks to the rising star in the run-up to the event.

Honestly, this may be Cena’s true strength: He makes even the most terrible material seem at least somewhat bearable.

Cena's phenomenal bout against Shawn Michaels the following year at WrestleMania 23 is also another highlight of his resume.

And it wasn’t like the star had to be carried in the bout—he more than held his own.

He may not be the smoothest or most co-ordinated wrestler around, but his work ethic and willingness to take the necessary bumps ensures he remains one of the most solid and reliable workers on the roster.

If anything he tries too hard, considering he's the company's biggest full-time star. Just think how much better physical shape he would be in if he phoned it in more often.

That some fans can chant “You can’t wrestle!” at Cena with an amazingly straight face after all these splendid WrestleMania matches is truly baffling.

He’s not The Undertaker, Steve Austin or Shawn Michaels, but he is very, very good at what he does.

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