Let me make one thing clear off the bat: I am referring to the character John Cena portrays on TV. The real-life John Cena is a good guy who works hard, loves his profession and does excellent things for charities like The Make a Wish Foundation.
That being said, "The Champ" is not a role model for kids. A couple of years ago I supported John Cena and what he brought to the table for children, but no longer. He has changed, and not for the better. I don't see how anyone can hail his character as a hero, regardless of what his new t-shirt says.
One segment that comes mind (I wish I had a link to it), is when Cena walked down the hallway before a match and passed a guy talking on his cell phone. For no reason at all, Cena grabbed the phone from him, said "I'll call you back" to the person on the other line, and then hung up.
I was really surprised when the next day, the segment wasn't major news on Bleacher Report or on some dirt sheet. Was Cena trying to be cool and show that he owned the place? I don't know, but I couldn't believe that the top baby-face of the company would do something like that.
I don't even think any heel has ever done something like that. It would have been more understandable to grab a guy and beat the hell out of him. Hanging up someone's phone for no reason is childish and stupid.
Cena's treatment of Vickie Guerrero also comes to mind. I could understand an anti-hero like Rock, Austin or Orton calling her fat, but John Cena is supposed to be setting an example for kids. Cena's fat jokes weren't even funny. He was just trying to be cool by jumping on the Vickie Guerrero name-calling bandwagon.
What bothers me the most about his character is his attitude towards being booed. He constantly feels the need to justify himself by saying "I don't care if you boo me or cheer me....I am who I am...blah blah blah."
No human being alive would ignore the kind of abuse he gets day in, day out. Quite frankly, the boo's are getting worse every week. If you constantly have to tell people that you don't care what other people think, then chances are you care way too much.
In reality, Cena's assumptions about what people think of him are wrong. People don't really hate John Cena, they're just annoyed by him. Wearing a t-shirt like "Rise Above Hate" teaches kids the wrong lesson about the real world.
If people don't like you, you can't always respond by playing nice and spouting off empty slogans. You either ignore the "hate" (if it's really not bothering you) or you strike back against the "haters." Don't whine about it and play the victim if you yourself haven't been an angel.
Another thing I've noticed about Cena is that he picks on the weak and sucks up to the strong. Years ago he FU'd Todd Grisham for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In 2011, he's shown no reluctance to attack figures like Michael Cole, David Otunga and John Laurinitis.
But when confronted by guys like The Rock, Kane and CM Punk, he goes out of his way to figure out why they dislike him before doing anything. The Rock cost him the main event at Wrestlemania, and the next day he was teaming up with him against The Corre. In short, Cena shows no backbone when it counts.
I hope that Cena's recent encounters with Mick Foley, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Kane represent the start of something different. John Cena's character is completely unrealistic in his reaction to audience members. In the past, he would get about a 50/50 reaction from the crowd. Now it's about 80/20 against him.
Even if he doesn't turn heel, he needs to show more dimension to his personality. Simply put, no one would ever react to "hate" like Cena would in the real world. WWE fans want to see a human, not a superman. But so far, John Cena has only shown anti-hero characteristics against the weakest of the weak.