Any WWE fan should be familiar with the chants now. “Let’s go Cena!” followed by “CENA SUCKS!”.
But why? Why such volatile hate from the older members of the crowd? In order to understand why Cena sucks, we need to do some reverse-research and remember how John Cena became popular in the first place.
Note: My wrestling memory is slightly fuzzy, and I may have gotten some facts wrong. I also do not have access to any of the appropriate videos of that time (yet). If anyone spots any factual errors, or knows of any video links, or where to search for gangster Cena videos on the WWE Network (I’m a subscriber), please leave a comment below. Thanks in advance.
I remember it was back during early 2003. It was the period of Brock Lesnar’s rise to stardom, supported by the managerial expertise of Paul Heyman. This was after Lesnar’s incredibly successful 2002 year where Lesnar defeated The Rock for the WWE title, and also defeated other high-profile stars such as Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, and The Big Show.
John Cena, in the early part of 2003 at that time, was still a relatively fresh, unknown wrestler in the locker room. He was F5-ed into the steel steps by Lesnar when the latter flew into a frustrated fit of rage. Cena came back from his (kayfabe) injury a month later, and challenged Lesnar to a revenge match. This was when Cena first debuted his finishing move, known as the FU back then, intended to be a parody of Lesnar’s F5.
In wrestling terminology, Lesnar’s F5 is also called the Spinning Rack Pancake, where the wrestler spins the opponent face-down to the mat off a fireman’s carry. Cena’s FU also starts from a fireman’s carry, but he throws his opponent supine so that they land on their backs. Almost the complete opposite of the F5.
I have been told by a friend that the FU is actually a legit judo throw, but the entire action is performed much faster within a second. Cena would later add the STF (Stepover Toehold Facelock) submission move into his repertoire, calling it the STFU instead (Shut The F*** Up).
I loved it back then. I loved the STFU pun, and I enjoyed Cena’s gangster rapper gimmick. I am not the biggest fan of rap, but I appreciated the effort that he made to entertain the crowd with his rhyming monologues in the ring. He called himself “The Doctor of Thugonomics”, and allied himself with other like-minded gangsters like Cryme Tyme (back when they were still fairly popular). He spanked Stephanie McMahon on SmackDown. SPANKED!
This was a decently unique gimmick back then. White rappers in the music industry (apart from the very famous Eminem and Vanilla Ice) are rare, and Cena himself was reported to be an aspiring rap artist. This was John Cena being himself, doing what he enjoyed through his wrestling persona. The fans liked it because it felt genuine and real, they could emphathise with gangster Cena.
And then Linda McMahon decided to run for government office in 2009, and all of a sudden, in order to promote a good image for her husband’s company, WWE had to become family-friendly. This meant no more FUs (it was renamed to the boring Attitude Adjustment), no more STFUs, and it spelled the death of Cena the gangster.
Instead, they had to replace Cena’s gimmick with that of a goody-two-shoes Superman, a patriotic American who supports the armed forces. A bastion idol of lawful good, loved by kids everywhere. It was dull, unoriginal, and it wasn’t John Cena.
Look at all of the past “faces” of the WWE. They all had a special, unique “X-factor” that sold their appeal to the crowd. Hogan’s overpowering tenacity and borderline madness, which would be surpassed by Ultimate Warrior’s absolute insanity and intensity. Bret Hart’s technical mastery in the ring and his super-rockstar persona. Stone Cold’s badass disrespect for authority and his hell-raising attitude. The Rock’s charismatic confidence and his mesmerising public-speaking skills.
What the hell does Superman Cena have? “NEVER EVER GIVE UP!!” Listening to a promo about the current Cena, is an absolute test of your mental limits as a human being. Or worse, listening to any speech in the ring from Cena. It’s always the same rhetorical garbage of “NEVER GIVE UP”. It doesn’t feel sincere at all, and the older fans are frustrated by it.
Therefore when Heyman was confronting Cena in the ring a week ago on how to beat Brock Lesnar, on how Cena needed to tap into his darker side to win, it struck a chord with me. Heyman was referring to the old gangster Cena, the thugonomics persona of yesteryear, the 2003-Cena that almost defeated Lesnar with a shock win over a decade ago.
That’s exactly the Cena that we want to see. Not boring Superman Cena. Because he sucks. Only time will tell whether Triple H and the creative team will allow their beloved company idol to turn heel.
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