This morning I woke up to this bit of awesomeness from the good folks at OSW Review (seriously, if you haven't seen any of their stuff, you owe yourself a couple hours to watch one of their shows. Any one, it doesn't matter.): ten reasons to love and hate John Cena. Some compelling points made and all, but I could -- and probably should -- make a counterpoint to just about every single point.
Or at least confirm the bad ones.
So, for the benefit of Cagesiders everywhere, here's my case to like -- but more likely hate -- your current WWE World Heavyweight Champion based on the list of points made in their short video.
First off, the way he's holding the belts in this picture. Pretty sure that is not good for your neck long-term. Just saying.
Sorry, I digress. On to the points.
1. Nice guy. Well, I agree. By all accounts, he's good people away from the camera.
2. Company man (does what he's told). You know, most of us call that...I dunno...doing your job. That's just me. No credit for doing what you're supposed to do.
3. Charismatic. If you're a newer fan of WWE and you don't like Cena, you may disagree, and I can't blame you. I would suggest you check out his work from earlier in the decade, as John Cena, Doctor of Thuganomics.
4. Hard-working. I know, I know, you're rolling your eyes, and I get it. The man's been practically handed everything for the better part of his main event run. But he absolutely puts in the work to keep his spot because your favorite guy who deserves a top spot isn't doing enough.
5. Dramatic-in ring storytelling. I could pick this apart all day, but I'll save it for later. His series of matches with CM Punk is easily the best case in favor of this, and not just the Money in the Bank 2011 bout for the WWE title. Check out the main event from the RAW after Elimination Chamber 2013. There was no mystery as to who would win, but there was just enough of a sliver of doubt to make you wonder.
6. Can have great matches with bad wrestlers. Umaga I don't think was considered a bad wrestler, but that last man standing match was absolutely boss. But, as ReverendKain pointed out in the Open Thread, he had two good matches with The Great Khali. And no one disputes Khali is awful. Or his bout against Bobby Lashley. Or the one from Money in the Bank 2013 against Mark Henry.
7. Capable of cutting great promos. Oh, I see you're already rolling your eyes. I get it. Cena's promos sound can range from childish to condescending. Watch the first ten or fifteen minutes of the RAW after Wrestlemania 29 and tell me he doesn't have a great promo in him.
8. Positive influence outside WWE (i.e. Make-a-Wish, role model). When you're a top guy, you're probably gonna grant a lot of wishes. But if you grant more than double the wishes of the next guy ever (the count for Cena is over 400), you're probably doing something right. Us smarks don't like him, but the kids do.
9. Dedicated (doesn't do non-WWE outside projects). Not entirely true. Cena is filming a new movie, "The Nest", that will open next December, and it's got quite the cast. You may know a few of these people: James Brolin, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph. Oh, and apparently, Cena's a villain. Maybe it's me, and maybe I'm nitpicking, but not doing non-WWE projects more often is probably keeping him from having a bigger footprint in the mainstream. I could be wrong.
10. Doesn't politic. Really now? If you believe Cena doesn't politic, I'm afraid I've got some bad news. I know a couple of Canadians and a Brit that would strongly disagree. And don't think for a second Barrett is the only victim. Politics in wrestling have existed as long as wrestling. And politics for that matter. Every top guy does it to some degree. After all, if you're at the top of the card, if you say you're gonna give up your spot without a fight or stepping on some toes if necessary, I'm sorry, but you got rocks in your head.
1. Stale character. Stale, quite frankly, is being nice about it. Bread drenched in water and left on the counter to dry for a month would be fresher than John Cena's character. It will need a major makeover for it to be considered fresh in any way ever again. But don't expect it to change because quite honestly, why change something that prints money?
2. Terrible kindergarten promos. Kindergarten students would be insulted by this comparison. Hell, I'm also pretty sure a kindergartener can cut a better promo if given like 20 minutes to practice. But yeah, the worst of Cena's promos are TERRIBLE.
3. Doesn't use clout to improve character. This goes back to #1. Even a little tweaking could get more people invested in it. Not even a full heel turn, or any heel turn for that matter. He's often compared to Superman, but even the Man of Steel shows vulnerability once in a while. You don't get that with Cena. Not even a little bit.
4. Laughs off opponents and losses. This annoys me to no end, and probably annoys you too. When Daniel Bryan lost the WWE title last summer (twice), he was pissed. He was not taking any of the Authority's shit. When Austin or The Rock or Triple H or CM Punk or Edge or Ric Flair or (your favorite wrestler here) lost the world title, they were not happy-go-lucky, life goes on kind of guys. They were pissed, whether rightfully so or not. When John Cena loses the title, the WWE production people may treat it as a national tragedy, but Cena doesn't. That's a problem. Also a problem, going to your library of 2nd grade insults to degrade your opposition. There's a way to put people down AND put them over at the same time. I'm not sure if that's in Cena's toolbox.
5. Basic wrestling skills are still poor. Is it too much to ask to sell the heat of battle? One of my favorite end-of-match sells comes at the end of the submission match at Wrestlemania 13. Hart, though he was victorious, looked both pissed and exhausted. Yeah, he got the win, but not the win he wanted. He didn't get the satisfaction of Austin giving up, so what does he do? He goes back to work on the leg before Ken Shamrock took him down. Hart walks back to a sea of boos looking like he'd just aged 10 years in 20 minutes. Austin, after spending a couple of minutes dead to the world (you know, from losing blood and shit), stunned the first guy he sees and hobbles back to the locker room, selling the scars and pain from battle the entire time. John Cena at the end of Battleground when he pins Kane after a grueling fatal four way match, what does he do? He jumps for joy as if the last 20 or so minutes meant nothing. God that annoyed me. And for the love of God, please tighten up that STF. The Rock's Sharpshooter thinks your technique is ridiculous.
6. Difficult for new stars to be made.
8. Doesn't make new stars. I'm going to pair up 6 and 8 here. While Cena does get part of the blame, Creative has to share some of the blame too. While WWE has a diverse range of stars with a diverse range of styles, usually the ones at the top are patterned after a common style. Or, here's a much simpler explanation: Vince McMahon's always had something of a hard-on for big men. Anyone that doesn't fit the 6'4", 240 lbs, bulging muscles within muscles everywhere profile has a much lesser chance of being the face of the company, even as WWE has been MUCH cleaner than before. That's not entirely John's fault. HOWEVAH, since John-John has as much clout backstage as any top guy ever, how about he put it to some good use so that we're not stuck in a situation we're in now. Case in point: off the top of my head, only four "faces of the company" were made since John Cena (and Batista) in 2005: Edge, Jeff Hardy, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan. Three of the four are gone (one to forced retirement, one to self-imposed retirement, one to TNA) and the other is on the disabled list indefinitely. The lack of fresh blood at the top is VERY noticeable. Granted, the future is bright, but that takes time to build.
7. Buddies up with midcard faces to their detriment. If you can name one midcard face that has benefitted from hanging with John Cena for an extended period of time, I'll give you a cookie.
9. Favorite wrestler is Vince McMahon. A cursory research through not one, but three wrestling databases suggest one thing: Vince McMahon is probably not the best choice for favorite wrestler. He's had about 60 matches TOTAL. EVER. Favorite wrestling character? Perfectly valid. He's easily the greatest heel authority figure in the history of the business. But favorite wrestler? Come on, now. Not only it makes John look like a total kiss-ass, it makes him a bit clueless about the business.
10. Will never turn heel. Well, this is obvious. Us smarks will wish for it until the end of time, but we all know the truth: WWE will NEVER do it. Simple reason, really: money. Plus, WWE's main fanbase, the kids, love him.
Chances are everything you read up there hasn't changed your opinion on John Cena. Probably not one iota. But maybe a closer study of the good and bad points made you think...just a little.
So, Cagesiders, how do you REALLY feel about John Cena?