WWE has spent years building up John Cena in the Hulk Hogan image from the 1980s as a wholesome good guy who can overcome any obstacle thrown in his way by acting like Superman, so it's only appropriate that the Hulkster would declare Cena the greatest WWE champion ever.
Hogan made this declaration during an appearance on Friday's episode of the Busted Open radio show, via ProWrestling.net, hyping the Cena vs. Brock Lesnar main event at SummerSlam:
He loves being on the road, he’s got wrestling in his blood. And for him to be so graceful when he’s tired and there’s no sleep, no food and these Make-A-Wish kids come to him even for five minutes, he’ll spend a whole day with them. His priorities are in order. No matter what whether he wins or loses he’s still the man. To me, I’ve been around for a long time and I’ve done a lot to help this business, but it fails in comparison to what John Cena has done. In my opinion, John Cena is the greatest WWE champion of all time.
That Hogan is pumping up Cena in such a profound way shouldn't be surprising, even though it's going to cause a lot of anger from older wrestling fans who just don't like Cena. Remember, though, Hogan works for WWE right now and is trying to help the company sell a pay-per-view event.
If Hogan went on the radio and said Cena was OK as a champion, who would want to see that match? In the annals of WWE history, of course there have been better champions than Cena.
Regardless of what your criteria are, Cena isn't close to being the best WWE champion. If wrestling and in-ring ability are your criteria, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Bret Hart, Randy Savage and Ric Flair are all infinitely better.
If you are talking about selling merchandise and tickets, Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, via Bebo.com, compiled a list in 2010 of the best-drawing stars in WWE history and the years they drew the most money. Cena was 10th for 2007 and 2009, with Steve Austin, Hogan and The Rock in the top three spots.
No one denies that Cena has ability on the microphone and is a charismatic champion who deserves to be the face of WWE right now. Austin has always praised his work, including as recently as last Monday's Raw in a promo firing back at Paul Heyman:
It's unfortunate that Cena so often gets put in this vacuum by company men and fans, because he's far from the worst thing about wrestling today. Hogan is correct to call him a great ambassador for WWE, citing the positive image he generates by doing so much charity work.
However, when fans hear Cena called the greatest anything, it lights a fire in them for one reason or another. Perhaps they are tired of seeing him in main events over more talented wrestlers, or maybe they hate when he plays the "aww, shucks" role. They might just really want to see him turn heel.
Whatever the reasons for the Cena backlash, Hogan's comments aren't going to quiet that. If anything, they will just make it louder.
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