Let Go, Cena
I missed SummerSlam.
I’ve only watched the first eight minutes of last Monday’s Raw.
Therefore I have about as much authority to speak about the events of those two programs as anyone else.
“How could someone who didn’t even watch the two most significant title changes in over two years possibly comment on them having so little first-hand knowledge,” you ask?
Simple. Because the replays aired at the beginning of Raw and John Cena’s opening promo told me everything I needed to know for what I’m about to write.
During the show, retired wrestler Lance Storm tweeted the following:
“@LanceStorm: How about a “Thank You Cena” chant for working his ass off and putting Bryan over clean as a sheet. #RAW”
To which my response would be, “Fuck off, Lance.”
The crowd in Anaheim, CA wasn’t chanting “Cena Sucks” because they didn’t RESPECT John Cena. They were chanting “Cena Sucks” because they don’t LIKE John Cena.
It seems like for as many detractors as Cena has, he has as many admirers. I readily acknowledge that.
What I refuse to acknowledge is that the “Cena Sucks” chant that occurs so often in so many different places where the WWE appears, has anything to do with respect.
That’s not the issue. I think the most staunch John Cena haters respect the man. They respect his charity work, his commitment to the company, his commitment to the fans, his willingness to wrestle hurt, his support of America’s armed forces. All of these things make John Cena deserving of even the most jaded fan’s respect.
That doesn’t mean they have to LIKE him.
Why does someone chant “Cena Sucks?” Especially someone who paid $70 to attend a show where they knew they were most likely going to see him? I haven’t the foggiest fucking idea.
But I know why I would chant “Cena Sucks.” I would do it for the following reasons:
-He usually wrestles like shit. I know he is capable of having a good match when he wants to. But he usually wrestles like shit and that’s not acceptable to me as a wrestling fan.
-I’ve never liked the unbeatable superman routine.
-I hate the way he kisses ass and is constantly sucking up to the “WWE Universe” (which I also hate).
-I’m sick of everyone else getting opportunities only so John Cena can swoop in at the end and ultimately be the one to cash in on them.
That last one is the one I’d like to expound upon a little. But before I do, can we not all agree that these are all perfectly valid points and plenty justification for a fan to chant “Cena Sucks” regardless of what the man does or who he puts over?
I thought so. So Lance, stick that in your butter tart, eh?
Remember this guy?
If not, here’s some reminders:
-First got attention as the guy on that terrible WWECW show with the epic entrance theme.
-Gained a cult following by producing his own YouTube show COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT OF WWE.
-Backstage cameo appearances with John Cena put him over the top to the point that fans were chanting “We Want Ryder” during shows on which he wasn’t even booked.
Is it starting to come back to you now? Remember how Zack Ryder’s career really took off after all this and how John Cena put him over and he cashed in on all his hard work and became a breakout star and won the WWE title in a tremendous Cinderella type success story?
No? Wait…what do you mean, That didn’t happen? How could it not after all that?? I mean, this guy was certainly destined for success, right?
Actually, it ended up more like this:
Poor guy. Looks like he fell victim to the Big Red Monster, Kane. But no worry. I’m sure he got his revenge in a great storyline that involved Zack overcoming the odds and beating the ruthless monster, right?
Well, I’m sure Zack got something out of all this, right?
Gee, I guess trying to make something of yourself doesn’t always pay off in the “WWE Universe” huh?
I’m sure this is just an isolated incident though. I mean, there are other Superstars who are too talented to hold back who Cena couldn’t possibly steal the spotlight from.
Like this guy:
Remember him? The guy who dared to outsell the Almighty John Cena at the merchandise stand? Surely he went on to become the new face of the company, right? After all, isn’t success in the wrestling business all about who can draw the most money and move the most merch? I’m guessing by now CM Punk’s gotta have at least two or three clean wins over Cena, right?
But I seem to recall Punk having a hot feud with John Laurenitis, the dastardly authority figure. It must’ve been so great to see him finally get his revenge on that dirty scoundrel and run him out of the company.
Well, anyway. I do know that Punk enjoyed one of the longest WWE title reigns in history and even though he lost the belt to The Rock, I’m sure with him being so popular and whatnot, it would make sense to headline WrestleMania with an epic rematch between the two of them with Punk regaining the championship, right?
I know, I’m beating a dead horse. But the point I’m trying to make is, when wrestlers make something of themselves in WWE through hard work and innovation, you would expect those wrestlers to be given every opportunity to “cash in” on that success. One of the great aspects of storytelling is the struggle of the protagonist overcome adversity and achieve at a higher level than ever before. That makes sense to me. It’s logical.
What does not make sense to me nor seem logical at all is to have a protagonist, a hero, whom the audience can get behind struggle to reach the top of the mountain, only to have someone else, someone who hadn’t faced the same specific adversity, swoop in at the last minute and claim the prize. I would think that would not only fail to make the audience like such a spotlight stealer, but in fact, downright hate that person!
Not coincidentally, there are a lot of people who hate John Cena for these very reasons.
If this is how things played out in every movie you paid to see or every book you bought, I think sooner or later you might verbally express your frustration. And it would probably sound something like this: “This sucks!”
Guess what a good percentage of wrestling fans have been saying for the past ten years? Ten fucking years!!
So stop with the comments about respect. We’re past that point already. That’s not the issue anymore.
The issue is John Cena has taken everything we love about wrestling and has held it hostage for the past decade, allowing us to see glimpses of its majesty and beauty then quickly locking it away again. Those aren’t the actions of a hero. I don’t care what else he’s done for the benefit of others. When you strip all that other stuff away, you get to the heart of the matter.
John Cena is the biggest villain in all of wrestling.
Daniel Bryan’s title win at SummerSlam was one of those glimpses. It was a sample of how great wrestling is capable of being. Even the swerve ending was okay. In a perfect world, we would see our champion, who overcame what appeared to be the greatest obstacle of toppling the Almighty Cena, dig even deeper and prove that it wasn’t a fluke and overcome the odds once again by finding a way to wrest the title away from the corrupt Establishment and make a good story into a great story.
But WWE isn’t a perfect world. And that’s not what’s going to happen. How do I know? Because I remember Zack Ryder. I remember CM Punk. More importantly, I remember the moments they should’ve had. Moments that you will never see because they’re locked in that tower, held hostage by the villain who desperately wants fans to love him the way they love wrestling.
So all of you silver lining seekers who want to point out how “great” SummerSlam was or how good this storyline will be for Daniel Bryan, go watch the first eight minutes of Raw again and tell me that John Cena isn’t setting himself up to be the eventual “hero” in this drama. And if you still can’t see it, then not only are you blind to the obvious, you’re willfully ignoring the lessons of history.
Perhaps you read this and your response is, “Just relax and enjoy the show, man. It’s only wrestling.” To which my response would be, no it’s not.
Wrestling is the greatest form of entertainment in the world when done right. It should never be looked at as “only wrestling.” And its greatness has always been suppressed by people who thought they knew what was “best for business.”
I realize it’s not all John Cena’s fault. But he is the physical embodiment of what’s wrong with World Wrestling Entertainment and professional wrestling in general. And frankly, I’m tired of having the thing I love held hostage. So if I may offer a new twist on another chant, I’d like to say, “Let Go, Cena!”
[“Handsome” Dan Lopez, @DansLastWord on Twitter, is a horribly infrequent contributor to the Ring Wars Facebook page, and is mentioned regularly on his favorite wrestling shows which can all be found at swn.shiningwizards.com]