Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker may sit at the top of WWE fans’ most adored list, with Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio scampering just beneath that hallowed pair. They are men who are revered due to their constant aspiration to please and perform. Yet there is one other figure whose debt to the WWE is not always appreciated, John Cena. He divides opinion like no other. Many love to hate the Chain Gang Soldier, many more idolise him but while others may be more popular, none are more industrious and none have fought harder to prove their worth.
When Cena plied his trade in development and subsequently was promoted to the main roster, few would have expected him to achieve the level of success he has. While he admirably battled Kurt Angle on his Smackdown debut, the list of accolades Cena has garnered – Multiple time world champion, Wrestlemania headliner, the WWE go-to-guy and face of a generation – has surprised a lot of critics.
Some still feel the man from Massachusetts’ triumphs are undeserved and Cena has readily admitted that he is not the purest or most talented wrestler that grappling supporters have witnessed. Yet, the Doctor of Thuganomics may be doing himself a disservice. He is the go-to-guy for a reason. His in-ring abilities have been mocked but looking beyond the snipes, Cena’s bouts more often than not deliver. He has had stunning matches over the years with Michaels and Triple H, bouts that still swirl around the mind as ones to remember. And it is not just established main-event stars that Cena has combated so well.
The respective growths of Randy Orton and Edge have a lot to do with the presence of the 5-time world champ. The long-locked Canadian won his first world title at Cena’s expense and his battles with the man he defeated have helped to transfer Edge from a mid-card, former tag team supremo to one of WWE’s leading lights. The same applies to the Legend Killer. The premier championship had been grasped by Orton before he and Cena engaged in a rivalry but the Legacy leader developed his sadistic heel persona and upped his wrestling ability in his feud with one of his Night of Champions opponents. He has increased that further with Triple H – forever intertwined in his business – by his side but Cena definitely played his part in Orton’s rise to stardom.
Cena has still not abandoned that role as his recent battle with the Miz has proved. The Mohawk-haired loudmouth has become one of Raw’s major assets, due in large part to the man he has such disdain for. Miz may not have gained that elusive victory but he is now a force to be reckoned with. Through an array of opponents, Cena has proved himself to be one of the best in the business and not the lumbering muscleman many would have you believe.
But more than that, Cena tells a story in the ring. He may not have the finesse of Michaels or the technical aptitude of the man who must not be named Chris Benoit, yet his encounters produce a narrative and mean something – a trait that many of the talent-filled WWE starlets could learn from.
Cena’s promos have also come under scrutiny but much like his wrestling ability, they have developed over time. He has always had the gift of the gab but as his WWE tenure has extended, the crude rhetoric has been replaced my passionate words of wisdom and substance. A quick quip may still be heard emanating from Cena’ mouth every now and again but when he delivers intense, heartfelt oratory as he has done recently towards Edge and the Miz, there are few more captivating men to listen to in the world of wrestling, including the sublimely gifted Chris Jericho.
Cena has been booed, ridiculed and told he has no right to grace the wrestling business but he has never given in. He has continued to improve, determined to thrive in an industry that he is obviously so passionate about. Whether Cena is Vince McMahon’s pet project or not, that is not the reason he is the main man in WWE. Cena has reached that apex because of always-developing talent and the desire to learn, charisma and most importantly hard graft, with it becoming one of the most inspirational wrestlers in the business today.