The Champ Is Here…

by Kevin D’Hooge
As wrestling fans, I think we have a knack for dwelling on the bad. We always complain of the dry segments on Raw, the stale characters that aren’t panning out, the pushes that aren’t warranted, and of course #CenaWinsLOL.
As a change of pace this week I’ll commend WWE for doing something right. I’ll be the first to admit that this past week’s Raw was below average, but I will praise WWE in booking an outstanding main event. More importantly, John Cena needs to be congratulated on having one of the bravest on air performances in recent memory.
Cena infamously had his nose broken live on Monday Night Raw courtesy of a flying knee from Seth Rollins. It made a large-scale match feel even bigger.
Cena is no stranger to violence and injury during matches. This is the same man who lost seemingly gallons of blood, thanks to a botched blade job, in a match with JBL (the same guy that called Monday’s match) at Judgment Day 2005. He also continued to wrestle through a torn triceps for several months in 2013. I don’t know how he got through the match with JBL, but hopefully Ray Lewis shared some deer antler spray for the triceps injury.
All kidding aside, Cena continuing through the match with a broken nose was a revelation, especially during the PG-era. The inadvertent blood was shocking. The injury was grotesque. Real life drama was created as our collective breath was held each time Cena took a bump. The guy could have easily thrown in the towel, but he didn’t. It could have been covered up by having the medic call a “TKO” of sorts in order to finish with a no decision. Not to be corny, but Cena never gives up. Literally.
Cena-Rollins was the exclamation point to Cena’s career year. The fact that he is arguably having his best year ever in year 14 is saying something. Mind you, he hasn’t even held the WWE WHC this year. Cena has been a workhorse on weekly shows, has been involved with probably 5 of the top 10 matches of 2015, has single-handedly turned the United States championship into the most competitive title in the company, has added many new moves to his repertoire, continues to be a lively presence on the mic, and is active with charity work.
Cena is now at the ripe age of 38. He really doesn’t look it. He’s barely aged since his debut, essentially keeping the same look. While we might not want to admit it, he is a once in a lifetime superstar. John Cenas aren’t born every day.
Whether you love him, love to hate him, or just hate him, his work needs to be treasured. Who knows how much he has left in the tank? He seems nearly indestructible, but on Monday he showed that he too is human by suffering the grisly injury.
For many members of the WWE Universe, John Cena is taken for granted. There is not as much of a sure thing in the ring as John Cena. There is nobody on the roster with more passion either. Fans tend to focus on the things he isn’t doing rather than the things he is doing.
On Talk is Jericho, Cena was asked about a potential heel turn. Cena said he nearly turned a few times over the years and he did have a few ideas planned out. Obviously, at the end of the day he couldn’t turn his back on the kids that look up to him. However, Cena smartly stated that technically he is a heel; there is a schism in WWE audiences. Most adults and smarks boo him in arenas and to them Cena is already a heel.
Clearly there are fans out there who do want a true heel turn eventually, myself included. Perhaps this craving is driven by a secret desire to root for Cena and to see him set free from his do-good ways. Regardless, I think deep down smart marks everywhere see the potential in him and quietly acknowledge Cena’s greatness.
Booking is another factor in his sour reputation, but that’s out of Cena’s control. The guy’s job is to cut promos and wrestle matches and he’s damn good. Say what you will about Cena. You can cheer or boo, but at the end of the day he has to be recognized as a pioneer for sports entertainment and recognized as a passionate superstar that future talent should aspire to be like.
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