John CenaBy Jamie Kennedy · · 8 Comments
John Cena is splashed across the cover-page of the popular, UK-based wrestling publication “Fighting Spirit Magazine” this month, complete with a caption reading “Have We Cena ‘Nuff?”.
FSM, as it’s more commonly known, is perhaps the biggest selling wrestling magazine in Britain and covers the local scene extensively, whilst also detailing the latest goings on from the world of Mixed Martial Arts and what’s going down within WWE, TNA, ROH etc. Along with “Powerslam”, it’s one of the “Big Two” in terms of professional wrestling print here on this little island.
Having been a buyer of both Powerslam and FSM for many, many years (my first issue of the former was April 2001), I have quite a lot of experience when it comes to what type of articles feature and which kind of wrestling fan they captivate and cater to. Obviously, both magazines are aimed more towards the fan who wants to know more than who is feuding with whom and which cards are coming up in the near future. There’s a decided “backstage” element to the writing, which clearly presumes that those reading already have an extensive knowledge of this unique form of entertainment and use the internet on occasion.
Of course, this comes with its own problems and leads me merrily into the meat of the subject which prompted me to pen this little diatribe; John Cena.
Now now, settle down and don’t you worry your sexy little head about anything, I’m not going to go all ‘keyboard warrior’ on those and such as those who happen to be pro wrestling fans and use the world wide web. I’m simply making the point that almost everyone who isn’t a casual wrestling fan and watches World Wrestling Entertainment seems to have some unbelievable vendetta against Mr. Cena.
Sure, his punches maybe aren’t the most convincing around and the lines he’s fed by the creative team do make him come across like the biggest dork this side of Michael Cole but, is he really quite as bad as most make him out to be? Being a character quite plainly aimed towards children and the younger market, Cena simply cannot be a hard-edged anti-hero such as Steve Austin or even a mildly-offensive cool member of the roster such as The Rock. The landscape of WWE has simply changed since both those men were tearing up arena’s and selling Pay-Per-Views en masse. John Cena has a much, much different role to play – one that’s actually closer to home than most wrestling fans realise.
If there are any children who grew up watching wrestling in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s who didn’t idolise Hulk Hogan then please let yourselves be known. Hulk was, for lack of a wittier phrase, the man during that time-frame and most kids were in awe of the guy. Similarly, most younger members of the wrestling audience are in awe of John Cena today and admire his never say die attitude and ability to always overcome the odds. One thing I do not really hear the writers of the aforementioned magazines saying is how ridiculous Hogans “Hulk-Up” routine or continued defying-the-odds type of wins were killing fan interest or bad for business. Sure, Hogan presided over a much more lucrative time for professional wrestling but that would be ignoring the point – WWE are giving their predominant market exactly what they want.
It’s not hard to draw comparisons between “Word Life” and “Hulkamania”. Both are innocently portrayed as upstanding characters who would help an elderly lady across the street or take the time to teach a wrongdoing youngster the value of honesty and integrity. The pair are undoubtedly linked through their relationship with a generation of grapple-loving children and ability to shift t-shirts, wristbands and other assorted merchandise items like hot cakes. There’s even the not-so-small matter of them both having superhero-like comebacks during almost every one of their matches. The comparisons are pretty endless, right down to having an anthemic piece of music to accompany their grand entrance to the ring.
Yours truly can recall a time when Cena was perceived as “cool” by many grown-ups who so wanted him to be catapulted to the top of the cards. The reaction to his United States Title win over The Big Show at “Wrestlemania XX” in the year of 2004 is concrete evidence of this. At that time, John Cena was viewed as one of the most cutting edge superstars for a number of years and was definitely being pushed towards main events with a combination of his own skills and the audiences connection with him. There were definite parallels with other men who went on to become major players in the company following a sustained period in the mid-card, such as Triple H and even Shawn Michaels. It was THAT kind of reaction. The one which told Vince McMahon that he had a ready-made star in his midst.
So what went wrong? What has led us to this point in time where Mr. Cena can seemingly do no right? Is the era of Parental Guidance to blame for the watered-down receptions to this particular head-liner? What is really the reason for such hostile booing aimed at the master of the “Attitude Adjustment” regardless of what actions he takes?
This is the part of the show where I hand it over you to, dear reader. I’d love to know YOUR opinions about none other than John Cena. Whether you agree with me or not, I’d like to hear from each and every one of you on this topic – one which is sure to spark debate! Just like John Cena always does! You can send all correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to it! TAKE IT HOME!
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I had this same conversation with my friend Arthur. There is no question that John Cena is the Hulk Hogan of this generation, for all of the reasons you spelled out. John Cena the man is a fantastic human being, by all accounts. John Cena the wrestler simply bores me to tears, probably because I am not the target demographic being given exactly what it wants. When I was young, I never liked Hogan. No one believes that, but it's true. Both my brother and I loved the guys who FOUGHT with Hogan, the Pipers and the Savages and so on. Every hero is only as good as his villain, and I think one of my problems with Super Cena is that, until recently with Wade Barrett, he hasn't really had a credible villain to oppose him and actually get anywhere. Some of it is purely aesthetics. Arthur summed it up thusly: "I'd just rather watch someone like Alex Shelley wrestle than watch someone like John Cena wrestle." Cena, like Hogan, is a sports entertainer of epic proportions. Some people, mostly people too old to fit the WWE's new target audience, want more than that. Sports entertainment seems all sizzle and no steak, as it were. Actual wrestling is missing from the picture, and they know it.
And some people are just obnoxious haters who have to make sure that the world knows how much they hate anything that a majority perceives as cool or entertaining. There are some of those.
Very good points made there!
I think I'm one of the few who would love to see an Alex Shelley match followed by a John Cena bout. Both styles really appeal to me. The high-octane, more wrestling focused Shelley matches and the sports entertainment, more drama than technician style Cena affairs. This is perhaps another article for another day but I really do feel that there is room for both in promotions such as WWE. This is where TNA really frustrate me. They have the wrestlers at their disposal who could keep me glued to the screen for over an hour, just with their mat skills. Instead they try so hard to be WWE that it hurts and ignore the things which could actually make them an alternative.
Ok, maybe that's more than one future column..
You make some good sense. It's a funny thing in how similar the Hogan/Cena roles are, and indeed they fill a niche for the audience. Being an old smark male, I am quite guilty of being a boo-bird. In some ways, I think Cena polarizing the audience is a great thing for both the show and the wrestler himself. Cena has the best of both worlds, he is super over as both a face and a heel, but without getting a "tweener" label slapped on him. In this regard, he is almost bulletproof. The guy is without a doubt going to get a reaction, and as a result, make the show better. The last thing you want from matches/etc is a silent arena.
It's funny that we tend to focus on Cena's division of the audience, yet dismiss that he is not the only polarizing element of the show… just the most obvious. Comic relief characters tend to have this effect with the current roles of Santino or Hornswoggle. Accordingly, the role of women in wrestling is clearly an objectification of them towards an teen or adult male audience. Sure, female fans get to see male wrestlers carry on without shirts, so one could counter-argue. What I am getting at here is that if the WWE is serious about going PG and creating a new generation of fans, perhaps they need to scrap most of the Diva's in favor of more character based females who can actually wrestle? Let's be realistic here, how many 12 year olds are tuning in for sexual innuendo anyways?
Wow, I went on a bit of a tangent. But that's what happens when I read an f'n good article.
Thanks for the compliments regarding the article Gee Hall! Very much appreciated and entertaining folks like your fine self is a major reason why I love writing so much!
You make an awesome point with the Divas. Nobody could be fooled into thinking that WWE or Vince McMahon will ever seen female performers as anything more than eye candy or a short diversion in between the main storylines. In saying this however, it would be nice to see some more original characters adorn our TV sets. I'm actually loving the entire "Laycool" business, for one reason and one reason only – these girls have had time invested into their TV appearances, making them seem like important characters on the show. They really don't come across as throwaway talents whatsoever, which only lends a sense of "Man, I'll watch this as something cool is likely to happen".
Talk about tangents! We've went from John Cena to Laycool! This is why I love wrestling and its fans. Haha.
Thanks again. 🙂
In answer to the original question; I say look at the ones doing the hating.
I think the tide is starting to turn in Cena's favor, at least here at Bored Wrestling Fan. With this article here and mine a couple of weeks ago praising his work as of late, John Cena is definitely making believers out of former haters. Hell, I even broke out the old "Word Life" shirt the other day.
Watching "Bragging Rights" earlier, I thought of something that I said a long time ago as the fans were dueling with "Let's Go Cena" and "Cena Sucks" chants. I once said that love him or hate him, you care enough about him to vocalize your feelings. That means he's doing his job. I wonder if we'll ever get a full blown Cena heel turn – maybe after taking an RKO at the end of the WWE Championship match at Bragging Rights for no particular reason…
Simply put, I'd LOVE a Cena heel turn. His descent into a lot of fans hating him seems to be partly due to the PG direction WWE have taken over the past few years. Having just watched "New Years Revolution" from 2007, his promo and general appearance on the titantron garnered a HUGE response. He was a little bit more unscripted and comes across as a real bad-ass. Perhaps many adults are simply turned off by his 'milk and cookies' innocence these days?
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