For as long as John Cena maintains his spot at the top of the WWE hierarchy, he'll be a source of great debate. For all those who feel he deserves his place at the top of the ladder, just as many feel the exact opposite.
He's a good wrestler but great? He's a good promo but great? He's a good performer but great?
In a recent interview with WWE.com to promote the WWE '13 video game, Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the greatest of all time, stumbled across an interesting answer when asked if Cena could make it in the "Attitude Era."
"John Cena in The Attitude Era. Man, that's a good question. Yeah, had he been placed in it, and been dealt with accordingly, the John Cena you see now - the face of the franchise, the leader of the pack? Not so much. But I guarantee if you'd have gotten him face to face with 'Stone Cold' in an interview, and you know John cuts a good interview himself, if I slapped the s*** out of that son of a b****, I think we're off and running to make a lot of money. All he needs is to be poked and prodded in the right way. I think John Cena has a hell of a lot of fire and he needs to be in the ring with the right opponent, or the right cat, to bring that out. So in the current environment, you really don't see that in him. Place [Cena] back 10 years in the ring with 'Stone Cold'? You'd have rung the cash register, big time."
Cena's best feuds over the past few years have come against The Rock, who brought the very best out of him, and CM Punk, who has mostly done the same. To that end, Austin's point rings absolutely true. If Cena had the right talent around him, he would be a much bigger star because he would have the talent around him to make it all work.
That said, how responsible is Cena for the lack of top tier talent? Punk's rise has come while Cena's been on top and even though he's been champion for over 400 days in a row, he still hasn't been able to knock Cena off his perch. Not even close, actually.
It's quite the quandary. Cena would be better with bigger stars but because of his status, it's almost impossible to make bigger stars.