John Cena, quite simply, is a beast. He is unlike any top star in WWE history, as his otherwise simplistic babyface booking is constantly met with controversy, vocal detractors and partisan resentment.
Steve Austin, the Rock, and (for the most part) Hulk Hogan, all of whom were top babyfaces like Cena, never received any reaction as hostile as the those John tends to receive.
Everywhere John Cena goes he elicits an opinion. Those who have become disillusioned with his seemingly standard, "Never Give Up" role-model act have long since insisted that the consummate posterboy of the WWE turn heel, thus freshening up his character.
Throw a water balloon at the oft-jaded and, at times, delusional Internet wrestling community and a generous handful of articles and editorials calling for a John Cena heel-turn will get wet.
Those who crave a John Cena heel-turn (I call them heelers. You know? Like the similarly wacky truthers and birthers?) need to take note of the passion and energy in which his presence incites amongst fans for better or worse. When people boo John Cena, it's not because they're supposed to, it is because they want to.
Those boos are real.
Because of that realism, there's an added level of excitement and electricity to a John Cena reaction, thereby acting as a catalyst for some of the hottest and most hostile crowds that WWE live events have ever seen.
Jim Ross put it best when Jerry Lawler made mention of the polarizing reception for Cena. In response, the Oklahoman WWE Hall of Famer plainly said "Well, the seats are full."
WWE has strategically booked John Cena feuds to culminate in hostile territory, where they know there will be an abundance of male, jaded, "road" fans who hate John Cena's guts. Treat yourself to the spectacle of deafening boos that reigned down from the Allstate arena in Chicago at the recent Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
Now name one "heel" on that card who got a reaction even remotely resembling that of Cena's.
Maybe John Cena is heel. He is certainly whatever you want him to be, whether it be a real-life superhero or a malodorous goat. One thing is for sure, if WWE toys with its successful heat-seeking formula for Cena, they'll certainly be devoid of some of the most electrifying and hostile environments that this generation of wrestling has ever had the unique pleasure of witnessing.
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Cena's match against Sheamus at a house show in Ireland was of the the lower profile variety of match, but what it didn't have in notoriety it more than made up for in spectacle.
The Irish are known for their rambunctious behavior and affinity for the drink. In spite of the O2 Arena packed with aggressive males who despise Cena just as much as they love their hometown hero—the first ever Irish born WWE Champion—John Cena battled through a chorus of boos and anti-Cena chants to defeat the upstart Sheamus in his own backyard.
Following the victory, and likely to prevent a riot, Cena crowned Sheamus as a temporary WWE Champion and turned the spotlight over to him, allowing him to address his hometown crowd.
At Unforgiven in 2006, John Cena took on two of his biggest rivals—Edge, and the country of Canada.
This incarnation of John Cena has never been well received by Canada's rabid fanbase, and that negative reaction was intensified when Cena was pit against the Canadian WWE Champion Edge.
The Air Canada Centre was fully behind Edge as John Cena battled for his career. The stipulation of the Tables, Laddres, and Chairs match (Edge's specialty) was that if John Cena lost he would have to go to SmackDown. Accordingly, Cena was booked as a desperate man with his back firmly against the wall.
Cena defeated Edge with an impressive Attitude Adjustment through two tables from atop a ladder, regaining the WWE Championship and retaining his place as the top star on RAW.
Triple H hails from Greenwich, Connecticut, yet you would have thought he was from Chicago as he was heavily cheered despite being a heel.
The old school wrestling crowd was hot to see John Cena drop his WWE Championship as the champ was in the midst of a long reign and the impassioned Chicago faithful had grown tired of it.
The unmistakable boos directed at Cena forced WWE announcer Jim Ross to describe Cena's WrestleMania match as a "road match."
With this particular anti-Cena reaction coming before the PG era, Cena was subject to the most vulgar chants he had ever heard to date. It can be argued that this night signified the inception of the heavily "mixed" reaction that Cena continues to receive to this day.
Cena defeated Triple H with the STF, thereby retaining his WWE Championship in Chicago. However, in a future WWE Championship match to be held in that same arena, Cena wouldn't be so lucky.
Cena and CM Punk's epic clash at the Allstate Arena in Chicago immediately went down in history as one of the most emotionally charged contests in the history of WWE.
With an almost unanimously negative reception for John Cena, Cena walked into a buzz saw and worked an instantly classic 35-minute match with a man who many believe to be the best in the world.
After thwarting a Chicago screw job attempt by Vince McMahon, Cena walked into a second Go To Sleep finisher from CM Punk, leading to Punk's first WWE Championship win in what was then presumed to be his final match in the WWE.
As scary as it is to be reviled by a stadium filled with tens of thousands of fans, nothing can be more intimidating than to walk into a hole-in-the-wall ballroom packed from wall to wall with 2,500 vile, feral males who want nothing more than to witness your downfall.
That's exactly what John Cena faced in the main event of the memorable ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view of 2006. With the live crowd relishing in the anything-goes nature of the cult phenomenon that was ECW, they pulled no punches in directing the foulest chants they could think of at Cena.
Rob Van Dam, a beloved ECW original, was welcomed with open arms after he opted to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase at his old stomping grounds.
After prolonged cheers for RVD, the Hammerstein Ballroom of New York devoured Cena, rejecting multiple offers for a free Cena souvenir and verbally dissecting the polarizing champion with taunts that could only come from a pre-PG era ECW crowd.
This was also the very arena that gave birth to the now commonplace hostile sign that reads: "If Cena Wins, we Riot."
With WWE booking accordingly, RVD went over Cena to win his first ever WWE Championship.
Cena has always handled these hostile environments well. Instead of pandering too much to the fans, he lightly acknowledges his vocal antagonists and goes about his business, which only seems to facilitate an even more negative reaction.
WWE almost never misses an opportunity to capitalize on their traveling lightning rod's polarizing ability, as they often stick him in an environment where he will be eaten alive. The resulting receptions are always cause for goosebumps.
With WWE's tour of Mexico on the horizon in October, it's almost a formality that Cena will be booked against Mexican star Alberto Del Rio. The hot Mexican crowd will surely treat Cena—who is supposed to be the "good guy"—like raw meat set to be grilled in a Carne Asada burrito.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
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