Arbitrary Numbers: Top # Reasons John Cena is (was) Already Wrestling's Biggest Heel

I love lists.  The internet loves lists.  Lists work.  But I never feel like having to shoehorn in an extra thing to fit my top 10.  Or take out a really cool thing to make it to top 5.  So I’m instituting a new article/review: ARBITRARY NUMBERS!  Now I can have lists of whatever size with impunity.  I’m the best!

Arbitrary Numbers:  Top # Reasons John Cena is already a heel

Not too long ago, I wrote an article I really enjoyedwriting, wondering and theorizing how the WWE could capitalize on John Cena by turning him heel.  I take no pains to admit that I do not care for John Cena as a wrestler.  But I feel it necessary to state this right now.  John Cena, the man, from (almost) everything I’ve heard, is a legitimately good guy.  He does so much charity work, he is kind to folks he meets for Kid’s Choice and Fred films and WWE Studios films and on set of Total Divas.  Sure, he’s a man, and some things he does are going to be flawed and unlikable, just like with any man.  But overall, I think he in real life is a good dude.

I say all that, because in wrestling, he is the worst thing I’ve seen in the main event of any PPV, at all, other than Khali.  And not because of his strength, which is impressive.  Or his physique, which is steroidy and muscular (ok, maybe not steroidy, but looking at him through the years, there is a SURPRISING amount of growth).  And not because of all his matches, because some are 5-star wonderful.  No, it is in the way he is portrayed in matches.

The general conceit of wrestling comes down to acting + sports/athleticism.  This is shown through offense and “selling.”  The idea of selling is making those mostly fake punches, kicks, and suplexes really look like they hurt.  There are two elements to selling: immediate and extended.  Immediate selling is showing that you just got punched in the face.  Extended is about showing how the effects of everything in the match so far have built up, like getting punched in the face.  It builds to a climax.  John Cena is TERRIBLE at extended selling.  He will pop up at the end of a grueling match, a match where he has been doing all the immediate selling, and then just be all smiles and jokes and not even pretend in the slightest like he was DDTed on the concrete or smashed with approximately 100 chair shots.

Not only that, but John Cena, the man who as of April 2nd, 2014, has won the top titles of the WWE 14 times, the tag titles 4 times, one of the mid-card titles 3 times, AND won the Royal Rumble twice.  And yet, in every single match, we are supposed to believe that he is the underdog going up against unstoppable odds.  He is a man who never quits, never gives up.  And yet we are supposed to believe that he is beatable, huh?  Ok, sure.

Pictured: Underdog, supposedly

All that made me realize that John Cena, the man of “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect,” the good guy that all the little kiddies cheer for and the older men boo … he’s already the perfect heel.  He is a man who lies through his teeth during every match, who ignores his principles constantly, and who purposefully and willfully does some of the most terrible things to other wrestlers I’ve ever seen perpetrated by a wrestler.

So I decided to write this nice long article about it.  Let’s get going:

1) John Cena COMPLETELY IGNORES a 20-minute torture marathon

Over the Limit 2011.  The Miz and his protégé v. John Cena in an I Quit match.  “Fun” fact, since 2004, John Cena has not tapped out a single time.  Think about that.  In ten years, over ten years at the point that I am writing this actually, John Cena has not tapped out a single time. That is at least one television show a week, at least one PPV a month, for ten years.  But not only that, he’s been in the most I Quit matches of any wrestler in the WWE, 4.  An I Quit match, just so you know, is a match where the only way to win is to make the other person give up verbally.  How do you do that?  Well, through pain.  Through weapons and submission moves to rip people’s arms and legs off.  You make them give up, or tap out.  But no, no, no, never John Cena. 

This match is pain.  It isn’t a match, but a brutal beating, as two men use everything at their disposal in a PG-violence wrestling show to all but murder John Cena, who doesn’t get a lick of offense in for around 20 minutes …

Cena making elephant noises.

Then suddenly, he’s up.  He’s Super Cena.  And he destroys both of them.  In like … 3 or 4 minutes. 
A guy who was already one of the worst champs, the Miz, in looking like he deserved to be there beyond just being a pretty face that was good with the press, gets absolutely destroyed.  Alex Riley, a guy saddled with the unfortunate gimmick of being the flunky to a guy who is pointless as a bad guy, and just ends up a whipping boy, gets buried to never EVER make it that high on the charts … probably for the rest of his career now that he does announcing at NXT.  All to make sure John Cena looks like a badass.  And of COURSE John Cena doesn’t look in pain at all at the end.  Just smiling and being Cena.

At least all he did was beat them up.  He didn’t try to murder them, at least.

2) John Cena ATTEMPTS MURDER on a man who has already given up.

"Why deny it?  U can't see me anyway."

Over the Limit PPV again, but the year prior.  And boy-howdy, is this one a doosey.  So Batista and John Cena are feuding.  There’s a lot of backstory to it, but let’s just say that Batista has not looked like a threat in the slightest in this feud.  Cena has beaten him handily at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules.  But Batista gets one more chance, in an I Quit match.  I don’t know who in their right mind would participate in an I Quit match with Cena, but oh well. 

They beat each other up all over the place, it is fairly back and forth, and is a decently fine spotfest.  It culminates with Batista almost running over John Cena using a prop car they had stationed up near the entrance ramp.  Batista is a bad guy.  That is way over the top, yeah, but because it was, there was no suspension of disbelief.  You didn’t see Cena about to get hit, you didn’t SEE anything except for the car hitting the lights.  You in no way thought Cena was gonna get hit by that car.  Then … Cena  Super-Cenas and picks Batista up, finisher on the hood of the car.  Batista, will you quit?  “No.”

Then Cena goes smiley.  Cena ignores all the damage, all the pain, all the almost-run-over-by-a-car, doesn’t even look sweaty, puts on that damned smile, and then picks up Batista and climbs to the top of the car, where he will then give Batista his finisher OFF the top of the car onto the platform.  Batista doesn’t want to risk injury like that, and starts screaming, INTO THE MICROPHONE, “I quit!  I quit!”

Cena looks disappointed.  And then puts on that smile and DOES IT ANYWAY!  And the move CRASHES BATISTA THROUGH THE STAGING TO THE FLOOR!  But that’s not the worst part, the fact that he chucked him to his doom.  No, the worst part, is that Cena doesn’t even look down to make sure he’s ok.  He just throws up his hands, the big ole BRAPPADDOOOOO plays for his music, and he is all smiles, the conquering hero beat the bad guy …

"It's only murder if someone cares."

The man who is about HUSTLE, LOYALTY, and RESPECT just threw a man who had already quit to his own death, and then smiles and doesn’t even look to see if he got blood on his shoes.  And I’m not exaggerating about the damage.  The next night on Raw, Batista came out with blood and bruises, in a wheelchair, cast and sling.  He was damaged beyond all wrestling capability.  The storyline KNEW he was super injured.  Respect indeed, huh John Cena.  But hey, Batista had a long career.  He wasn’t completely ruined of all momentum by this attempted murder, or “buried” as the wrestling lingo indicates …

3)  John Cena LITERALLY BURIES a wrestler in chairs

“Burying” means to take a guy and to devalue him so drastically that he’ll never get anywhere again within the industry.  Zack Ryder was buried for going to the internet and making himself a star without the company, by them taking his show, then forcing him into a terrible storyline just to have John Cena have some sympathy.  And no, we aren’t talking about that storyline for why Cena is so much of a terror to wrestling currently.  But I did wanna through that out there.

"Wah wah wah, I'm a trombone."

We are going to talk about the Nexus.  The Nexus was a group that made a huge statement: they showed up all at once, a group of nobodies unless you were big wrestling geeks who watched a little stupid reality competition wrestling show NXT, they showed up, and demolished not only John Cena, but all of Raw.  They tore down the announce tables, choked out the ring announcer, destroyed the ring, and absolutely and brutally destroyed John Cena.  It was one of the craziest things I had ever seen live on wrestling.

Where is Nexus now?  Oh, John Cena buried them.  Absolutely ruined all their momentum.  Sure, they tried to work again, and then they became the Korre, and then CM Punk took over, but really, they never were anything any longer after they lost everything to Cena.

It started with an elimination match.  The match featured a bunch of stars, new and old, captained by Cena, versus the Nexus.  The original plan, from two veteran sources who were in the match, was to have the Nexus go over in the end, making a big name for its leader, Wade Barrett.  But somehow, Cena changed it.  This is all on record, by the way.  Why did Cena change it?  Who knows.  But it gets worse.

For the rest of the year, Nexus and Cena kept butting heads, with Cena being inserted into everything, even Barrett’s title shot, where Cena got fired as the culmination.  What happened with fired Cena?  Oh, he was still on tv every week.  And now assaulting members of the Nexus constantly.  Making all of them look weak, and making Barrett a chump who cannot take advantage of a 6-on-1 advantage!

"I whip my head back and forth I whip my head back and worth"

It gets worse!  We move to TLC, a PPV that saw John Cena v. Wade Barrett as the last part of their feud.  A feud already dominated by Cena.  But it is the end of a feud, the Nexus was neutered, Barrett never  was able to come out the door looking like a main eventer, and now the good guy goes over.  Nothing wrong with that, necessarily, it is the nature of storytelling.  This match in particular was a chair match.  It just meant that there were chairs everywhere.  And a spot that has become familiar to Cena matches happened: Cena tied up and tortured by the bad guy with a chair.  Hundreds of chair shots, over and over.  Oh, time to end the match?  Ok, smiley Cena makes his comeback, beats Barrett, that’s the end. 

Wait, what?  That’s not?  Ok, so Cena chases Barrett, who is leaving in disgrace, up the ramp, beats him with a chair more … then he gets that big ole “I’m a huge douchebag that ruins careers” smile on his face.  And he drags Barrett over to the set dressing, which featured a whole bunch of chairs and ladders and tables (Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, TLC, get it?) from fishing line, floor to ceiling.  Cena puts Barrett under some chairs, and then yanks the chairs down.  He actually, quite literally, buries Wade Barrett, a man whose career he ruined at Summerslam and at every instance he could in every match and promo, quite LITERALLY buried him beneath chairs.  Awesome.

"See, it's clever because it is both a metaphor AND I ruined Barrett's career all by myself!"

With all of those actions happening, all those storylines, at least we can take comfort in knowing that Cena was just another story and not taking all the spotlight from EVERY other wrestler … right?

 4) John Cena MAIN EVENTED without the big belt for four years

Ok.  The central conceit of professional wrestling is that it is, like boxing or UFC, professional.  And that the biggest thing going is the main titles.  That is the conceit of sports programming.  The most important thing for sports is the BIG thing.  Superbowl rings, Stanley Cups, the main title belt.  It is the piece of fiction that makes all of it work and gives weight to everything. 

Sometimes in professional wrestling you can have a bad champion that makes the title look weak.  Sometimes, you can have storylines that are hotter than the belt.  Those things happen.  As long as they are one off or every now and again, no one bats an eye.


Ok, let’s go over some statistics.  You can double check them if you like, it is all well documented online.  For purposes of this, “main event” means last match on the card, or last series of matches in the case of Wrestlemania which has multiple main events.  And we are just going to look at the last 50 PPVs.
In the last 50 PPVs, John Cena main evented 34 of them.  Over half.  For some perspective, only 29 of those main events were for the big title.  9 main events featured Cena and NOT the title.  The main title was defended on those PPVs, but on those 9, just fighting Cena at all was more important.  That doesn’t even include the Nexus stuff where while there was a title match involved, it was REALLY about Cena’s involvement on the outside.   That means in the past 4 years, approximately 9 MONTHS were about how important it is to fight Cena, and not the main belt.  Throw in the few other “more important than the belt” matches that involved Triple H and Lesnar, and you have a FULL YEAR (not continuous) where the title was not important.  That is 25% of the past PPVs!  That is a HUGE number.

The WWE has made it very clear that wrestling John Cena is more important than the big belt.  That, or Cena needs to have the main title or be in contention for it.

"WHAT ... is wrong with that?"

And some of these stats are screwed from a Cena-was-injured aspect as well, as he sat our 4 PPVs because of injury.  That means that of the 46 PPVs Cena COULD have main evented, he did 34 of them!!  That is two shy from 75%.

Cena’s presence is unescapable.  He is everywhere, and more important to wrestling than the fake titles that we are supposed to fake believe are the most important things at all. 

And even worse, his stupid smile and “I am a good guy, you guuuuyyyys” schtick just continues.  Continues as he takes spots from other wrestlers, as he buries guys, as he has terrible matches for the majority of what he does because of his “style” of Super-Cena-ing his way out of any believability, as he ruins gimmicks, as he insults people out of one side of his mouth by calling them gay or terrible or ugly and out of the other side of his mouth tells people to not bully, as he shillys merchandise and gets a new shirt and hat and sweatbands and necklace packet every few months … he does all this as the top of the company.  As the goodest of good guys. 

Pictured: Goodest of good guys ... ugh.

All of those things, all of them, would get people to boo him if he wasn’t presented as a good guy doing them.  In fact, most older fans DO boo him now.  And that’s the end.  He is a heel, to wrestling, to his product, and in general.  And it will not matter.  He is the ultimate heel, in that he has the company and lots of little kids thinking that these things are good guy things, and all the older guys who LIKE heels cannot stand him.

I’m done.  I am depressed as all heck, and am incredibly happy to see a bright light in a brand new looking storyline for Wrestlemania.  In fairness, since the last half of last year, things have been changing.  A long story has been brewing that's culminating at 'Mania this year.  New stars are rising, like the Shield, and the Wyatts.  Cena faces the Wyatts at Mania, in the middle of the card, in what could be a show-stealer.  There may be a new champion potentially getting a chance.  A man everyone is behind as he fights and scraps his way to the top.  A new face of the company.  Change finally happening, new stars finally being forged!

Maybe.  We’ll see.

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