Andy: The champ is HERE
Nick: RANDY ORTON’S HERE? HE’S SO HANDSOME!
Andy: No, no. The “even when he’s not really the champ he’s the champion” champion.
Nick: Oh… JOHN CENA’S HERE? HE’S SO HANDSOME!
Andy: There we go.
Nick: But, seriously, as the world’s biggest John Cena fan/defender, if he were actually here, I might legitimately mark out. InternetWrestlingWriting world’s*. I’m sure there are people out there who are bigger John Cena fans than I am.
Andy: Most of them are 7, though.
Nick: Yeah. But I’m okay with that. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just too simpleminded.
But then I watch what he’s done over the last three years, and I’ve realized something. I don’t think that people hate Cena for Cena as much as they hate him because they feel like he was taken away from them.
Andy: I can buy that. Cena’s initial rise to stardom was pretty organic… almost like D-Bry.
Nick: They cheered LOUDLY for him at WrestleMania XX when he won. They loved him during that entire feud with JBL, in fact.
Andy: That was before it became cool to hate Cena for being Cena.
Nick: Which is part of what makes this whole Yes Movement so funny to me. Like, what are the chances that the crowd continues to love Daniel Bryan after he becomes Captain Sarcastic, Avenger of the Downtrodden?
Andy: I can already hear the “5 moves of doom” complaints starting.
Andy: Complaints about his look, knocks against his promos, knocks against his caliber of opponents… we’ve been down this road, many times before.
Nick: Is it just inevitable?
Andy: To an extent, yes. People need something to rally behind and/or complain about. They’ll probably boo Bryan, and start demanding a Cesaro push. And god help us all if people can’t be happy with Cesaro-Bryan main events.
Nick: I guess the counter would be that Bryan is a signficantly better worker than Cena, but having watched nearly all of his PPV matches, I have to say: sure, but the gap isn’t nearly as big as people assume it is.
Andy: I think the people who slam Cena as a “bad wrestler” are looking at the way he executes moves, more than an actual inability to perform well.
Nick: You mean his complete refusal to cinch up the STF properly? Stuff like that?
Andy: Especially that. The Rock has a lousy sharpshooter and oversold the stunner, though, and doesn’t get nearly the same grief.
Nick: Yeah, if we are judging Cena by Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, there’s clearly a little bit left to be desired. But for guys like post-neck Austin, Hogan, Warrior, Batista and the Rock, Cena’s better than all of them. Do you think that hatred goes back to how organic their love was for him originally?
Andy: I think it’s the way WWE took what he was, and turned him into what they thought he should be. Which, by the way, WORKED, and made a lot of people A LOT of money.
Nick: Do you think this reaction was intentional, though? Literally his entire career, he’s been called “controversial”. Initially it seems like it was because, well, he was controversial kind of.
Andy: I don’t know. It could be that, or it could be that Cena isn’t going ANYWHERE – so the haters have a perpetual target.
Nick: So, you think it might be the Hulk Hogan syndrome, essentially? “We hate what Cena represents” even if that is, you know, hustle loyalty and respect.
Andy: To a degree, yes. But the people who hate on him in real life need to…respect him outside the ring, for really living the gimmick. Even if he was a terrible wrestler, I’d forgive him based on his Make-A-Wish work alone.
Nick: Yeah, and that’s part of what endears me to him. He’s not Hogan. He’s probably never going to be in a sex tape, and he doesn’t really seem to hold people down(, brother)
Andy: I’m not as Cena-obsessed as you are. I grow tired of him sometimes… mostly when he’s made to be an obnoxious dweeb. But to me, he’s Derek Jeter to Hogan’s A-Rod. He’s kept himself out of trouble, despite being as- good or better than Hogan, while Hogan continues to advertise what a train wreck he is in reality.
Nick: Yeah, I think Cena’s biggest legacy actually has very little to do with what he’s done in the ring.
Andy: His legacy, to me, is one of a legitimate role model. A real-life superhero. In the ring and out. He’s someone everyone watching can look at and go “I want to be like John Cena” and not have it sound ridiculous.
Nick: I also think he made things like “college graduate” important. For decades, it was basically just a neverending parade of carnies or big dudes who went into wrestling because they had no other options. Cena was the first performer of the Hogan generation, who saw him perform on TV and say “I want to do that”. Now, while there are exceptions, almost everyone on the roster has at the very least, a college background of someone sort in something. From Big E., the Iowa Hawkeye to Roman Reigns, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket. And every Oklahoma Sooner and Kent State Eagle in between. Being savvy and polished has now become a prerequisite in the business that it wasn’t for much of its existence. John Cena is the face of the corporatization of professional wrestling.
Andy: And some people just can’t stomach that.
Nick: Does that make them bad fans?
Andy: I don’t think it makes them bad fans. They don’t have to love him, but they should still be able to respect him, while also enjoying Ziggler, or Bryan, or whoever the Internet loves this month.
Nick: But, they’ll just have to deal with the fact that for the foreseeable future, the Champ is Here. Or, you know, over there with Bray Wyatt.
Andy: Wrestling’s biggest star, making the next big star.
Nick: And then he just waits around to get his Hall of Fame ring, and his induction speech from Nikki Bella.
Andy: Then the haters will rejoice, when he spits out once last “You can’t see me!,” drops the mic, and walks off stage.