By Victor Parenza (ParenzaBooks)
(Photo courtesy of geekendgladiators.com)
After watching John Cena tear the house down at Summerslam with AJ Styles I couldn’t help but think, “Man I love a big-time Cena match.” This wasn’t a revelation for me by any means. After his tremendous year of 2015, Cena had completely won me over. He had amazing matches with fresh new opponents and shockingly came out on the losing end of some them just like he did at Summerslam.
Prior to this, I was the most ardent of Cena-bashers. My wife still makes fun of me to this day, when once upon a time we were at a mall and I noticed a cardboard cutout of Cena, which I proceeded to flip off. I was sick of his dumb music, lame catchphrases, and most of all, crappy-looking offense consisting of ONLY five moves. That is an unforgiveable sin in the eyes of a smark.
I didn’t always think he was lame though. I loved the Dr. of Thuganomics at the time. It doesn’t hold up well now, but that shit was cool in 2003. Now if you’re wondering why I tolerated his limited offensive arsenal then, the answer is simple: he made me laugh. That sounds like a ridiculous reason, but think about it, we all love the New Day. They are hilarious. But tell me what your favorite New Day match is? I know I couldn’t do it. Once the New Day stops being the New Day I really doubt I will have any interest in those guys.
Once Dr. Cena stopped being Dr. Cena around WrestleMania 21, (and debuted his awful music that he still uses today) I started to lose interest. Once he was drafted to Raw and started feuding with Y2J and Christian (who I adored at the time) I started to see shortcomings in his offense compared to his much more talented Canadian opponents. Not just his lack of moves, but his execution was awful. His punches looked like ass, his hip-toss was pure garbage, his shoulder tackle looked like he had a rod stuck up his butt. Then finally when he called Jericho “Y2-Cheap” and tried to get it to stick as a catchphrase, I threw up my hands. To hell with this guy.
All that being said, I would freely admit that when Cena was serious in his promos, he was one of the best ever. Nobody remembers it, but Johnny Boy held his own against CM Punk, it just didn’t seem as outlandish and memorable as Punk’s insults were. We were too caught up in the fact that Punk was getting away with saying the things we all thought, to notice Cena having rebuttals that made perfect sense, even if we didn’t entirely agree with them.
I also grudgingly admitted that Cena had a handful of great matches during those years against: Edge, RVD, HBK, and eventually Punk. But I also was more than willing to chalk it up to his opponents as the main reason for such.
Then came Summerslam 2013. Cena vs. Bryan for the WWE title. Right or wrong, I felt like Cena helped to get Bryan that spot. I just couldn’t picture Vince saying, “John I think for your big Summerslam match, I want you to drop the title to Daniel Bryan- CLEAN.”
It definitely seemed to me like Cena went to bat for Bryan. Regardless of whether that actually happened is irrelevant because Cena and Bryan tore the house down at a time when Cena’s elbow looked like it had a softball on the end of it. Do you remember that? His tricep had torn and the fluid built up in his elbow and it was nasty. Cena scored some points with me on that day for toughing that out; and doing so in spectacular fashion. I still hated the guy, but the ice was starting to thaw.
Like I mentioned earlier, at some point during his US Open Challenges in 2015 it dawned on me that Cena was the highlight of Raw for me every week. He had the best match on Raw guaranteed at that point. His match with Cesaro on July 6th is probably one of my favorite Raw matches ever. Damn was it hard to jump off that anti-Cena bandwagon though.
I still hate his theme song. And unless he brings out “Serious Cena” I would prefer he doesn’t talk at all, but I am genuinely excited if I know he is in a high-end program with someone like Styles, or just having a one-off match against someone like Cesaro on Raw. So if you’re one of the “smart marks” who are chanting “you can’t wrestle” at Cena, please stop. Yes his offense is goofy-looking, but it works for him. He’s had way too many awesome matches at this point to give the credit to the other guy(s) in the match. I know I did that for 10 years, but you have to face facts. Of my personal top 10 WWE matches from last year, Cena was in five of them. Five! As in HALF! John Cena being in half of the best matches of the year list? Seemed impossible once upon a time, now it’s pretty much par for the course.