He's the face of WWE, the big draw in pro-wrestling and the Anti-Christ of the IWC. He is, of course, John Cena.
The bright orange shirts, the Fruity Pebbles, the Five Knuckle Shuffle and his now famous catchphrase, “You can't see me!”
He is loved by the new generation of WWE fans, the small children who pack stadiums and shift merchandise for the WWE, but loathed by those who enjoyed wrestling during the attitude era.
For this article I am going to tread the top-rope like The Undertaker in his prime, and defend John Cena. I'm not his biggest fan, but he deserves more credit than he is getting.
I expect to be bashed and sent to the locker room by the Cena haters after this, but when all is said and done, I'll be eating my Fruity Pebbles and saying, “You can't see me.”
It seems there are three main reasons for all the Cena hate:
He attracts a child audience.
He uses the same predictable moves.
His gimmick has gone stale.
Are kids a bad thing for WWE?
So lets first look at part one of the Cena hate trilogy. WWE was recently in Belfast for its annual show in the UK and as usual they put on a great show. What struck me, though, did not happen on the night of the event but the day after.
As I made my way to work through the train station I was greeted by wave after wave of kids dressed in the unmistakable Cena merchandise. I have been following wrestling for around 14 years now and don't ever remember seeing so many kids cling to a superstars or mimic his image.
This is no bad thing. Wrestling is a business meant to bring enjoyment to us, and Cena delivers week in, week out to the kids who pay his wages. He makes them smile and that cannot be a bad thing.
His feud with The Rock has highlighted the divide that now exists in the WWE audience between those that stuck around after the attitude era and those that started watching after the attitude era. This feud may actually hurt WWE.
If The Rock gets the win when he meets Cena at WrestleMania 28, Cena will be squashed and the kids won't like that. If Cena wins, then the older generation might finally throw in the towel.
For this feud to work, we need them to wrestle for at least an hour at Mania! Cena is not responsible for the PG rating—he is the face of it, but he didn't invent it.
He is just doing his job and doing it very well. He is portraying his character given to him by creative. So in essence, don't blame Cena, blame creative.
Now we move on to the predictable move set.
To a certain extent, every wrestler's move set is predictable. Hogan had the body slam and leg drop. That was of course after he pumped up and went crazy. The Rock had the spinebuster and People's Elbow. Cena has his signature too.
The main difference here is time. WWE matches are generally very short at present. Even at PPV's we see matches ending in under five minutes. How can a wrestler mix things up with such a short amount of time?
Sure, when Austin and The Rock were wrestling for 25 minutes at a time they had to mix it up a little. Surprisingly I feel there are a lot more actual "wrestling" moves in the current product as opposed to the "free for all brawl" during the attitude era.
Cena is doing what he can; creative want him to get beat down and recover to win the match. A hero is only a hero if he looks like he is going to lose.
Cena can wrestle, he is a strong athlete, and if he didn't have the rap gimmick and signature minimal impact moves, I think a lot more people would respect him.
I'd rather watch Cena than the Ultimate Warrior any day. At least he sells other guy's moves.
Finally...I mean finally...we come back to the gimmick!
A white guy doing rap seldom works, unless you're named after an irresistible chocolate snack. It worked at the start, however. I loved the Cena vs. Angle feud.
Here you had a real American hero and Olympic Gold medalist Kurt Angle being put down by a young upstart. Speaking to Angle in rap only heightened the tension. Then Cena turned face, dropped the rap gimmick and became a superhero.
He could not be beaten clean and was the face of the company as WWE champion. His new gimmick stinks; his old one was not great but it was better than the current purple Fruity Pebble.
Creative have a tough decision to make, turn Cena heel and risk loosing the kids or keep him the same and risk losing the original fanbase.
Basically, his future is in the hands of creative and that can be a dangerous thing, just ask Mae Young.
So there, I have done it. Defended John Cena...let the hate begin!