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Thread: The Fall of John Cena

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    The Fall of John Cena

    I've been going back and watching Cena stuff from 2005 to relive the crowd turning on him. I'm up to the Jericho match from Summerslam 2005. He definitely gets some boos during his entrance, the crowd is 50/50 during the match. They're not chanting "Cena Sucks" yet, but it's "Let's Go Cena" vs. "Let's Go Jericho."

    Who has memories of this time and their feelings as it was going on? There doesn't seem to be one particular moment when the crowd turned on Cena, more of a gradual slide. He got an absolutely gigantic pop when he was drafted from Smackdown. They put him against Christian and Jericho, who were both smart fan favorites. Christian in particular was really hot at the time. They also put him in a feud against Bischoff that was a total rehash of Austin vs. McMahon.

    I think they would have been fine if his post-Jericho feud had been better but he ended up in an absolutely terrible program against Angle, who was another smart favorite and having an amazing run of matches. And they kept making the Cena/Angle matches ridiculous stipulations where Cena would still manage to win. That's when the boos really and "Cena Sucks" chants really started.

    What does everyone else think about why the crowd turned on Cena?

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    ... Beer-Belly's Avatar
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    If I remember correctly, it started to get rough for Cena in terms of crowd reaction when he started to feud with Kurt Angle in the late summer of 2005. People loved Angle as the bad ass wrestling machine and couldn't buy into Cena being on his level. Plus, Cena had completely ceased doing the rapping schtick by that point. He'd become this pseudo Marine character that wasn't nearly as edgy and older fans weren't digging it.

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    christian was super hot when cena got drafted over to RAW and had a lot of hardcore fan support as a guy who deserved a major main event run. people got really excited when christian interrupted cena and then really disappointed when jericho got shoehorned into the feud and christian didn't get any chance to shine. a lot of hardcore fan discontent got shifted onto cena at this time i think.

    during his big push on smackdown between wrestlemanias 20 and 21 hardcore fans progressively soured on him, though he was still over with the general smackdown audience. his ring work was largely criticized at this time. people especially HATED the standing FU.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beer-Belly View Post
    If I remember correctly, it started to get rough for Cena in terms of crowd reaction when he started to feud with Kurt Angle in the late summer of 2005. People loved Angle as the bad ass wrestling machine and couldn't buy into Cena being on his level. Plus, Cena had completely ceased doing the rapping schtick by that point. He'd become this pseudo Marine character that wasn't nearly as edgy and older fans weren't digging it.
    Yes. I remember the Angle feud being a huge turning point. They weren't just having Cena go over but they were having him go over using submission finishers. It was clear that they sensed that the smart fans were getting a little bit tired of Cena so the response was "Let's prove to them hes actually a better technical wrestler than the best technical wrestler! That'll win Cena universal audience approval! ".

    If you didn't watch at the time or simply can't remember you don't have to go back and watch. Our good friend Wile E. Coyote will now, in gif form, demonstrate how well this plan went for WWE.

    Take it away Mr. Coyote.



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    He dropped everything that made him popular and adopted Hulk Hogan's gimmick.

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    FBI Warning VHS's Avatar
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    I just remember Cena suddenly becoming OP as frick and then WWE just never nerfed his power level. He mowed over everybody with a smile on his face and that got old fast. Those days were just the absolute worst.

    One feud in particular that just irked me to high heaven was when he beat after his fake retirement. Henry was just so so good, but then he lost. He definitely should have gone over.

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    aka Dixon Cox chrisrandolph1985's Avatar
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    The Thinking Man's Idiot Simmo Fortyone's Avatar
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    When he adopted the whole marine thing. I think it was right after he was in the movie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hammer View Post
    He dropped everything that made him popular and adopted Hulk Hogan's gimmick.
    Pretty much this. He dropped Thuganomics way too soon and his first title run was way too long.

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    E-Bow The Poster Rancid_Planet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simmo Fortyone View Post
    When he adopted the whole marine thing. I think it was right after he was in the movie.
    It was. I can remember expecting it to end once the movie was over. But he just kept doing it.

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    GO ON LAD Fanny Batter's Avatar
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    He wasn't performing at a high enough level to be seen as good enough to be on top during such a golden era of wrestlers. Michaels, Angle, Benoit, Jericho, Edge, Christian, Eddie and Rey all at their peaks doing career work, and Cena couldn't hang. By the time he could, he was legitimately one of the best around in 2007, the dye had already been cast. I think the fans expected something more from him in-ring based on his performances in 2003, but as a babyface he took a while to find his feet. He had a pretty poor 2004 in ring but his character was over so they pushed him hard, then took away his character, and that left a rapidly improving but not ready main event act.

    It's one of those things though - babyfaces aren't going to improve unless they wrestle quality wrestlers, yet when they do they're going to get booed in this era as their perceived as inferior by the crowd. That's an irreversible crowd trend for me, and has done tremendous harm to the flow of the product. So either they have shit/bland matches (Cena going against Dupree, Show, Booker and Jesus in 2004) and stay popular by virtue of not being at fault to the crowd, or they have good matches (Reigns against Bryan and Lesnar in 2015) and they get booed as it's seen as a carry job. I don't know if there's a bridge to avoid that.

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    Hey at least he can still go home to Nicki Bella at night.

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    I think it was him adopting the tired, retread Hulk gimmick, 5 moves of doom, that made him uninteresting. The poop jokes didn't help.

    When he did finally improve in the ring, and he learned how to work with the crowd reactions (something he does better than anyone else on the roster except maybe Miz), it was well beyond the point where his character could have turned heel and become interesting. His Make-a-wish stuff prevented any possibility of a heel turn so his character became stale. He was allowed to run long on promos, while the only other guy they let do that is the Rock.

    The guy has worked his tail off and earned the respect of the haters. But along the way, he was pushed more than anyone else, so we can still resent a boring storyline.

    And then a lot of us blame Cena for the fact that CM Punk was mis-used (even while Champ) and eventually soured on the business so much that he ran away.

    To top it off, we understand the politics. It was his relationship with Nikki Bella that led to her far too long reign as the women's/Divas champ, when she was horrible on the mic, and even though she got better in the ring toward the end of her run, she was nowhere as good as some of the other ladies.

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    Wolfpac Nash Diesel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beer-Belly View Post
    If I remember correctly, it started to get rough for Cena in terms of crowd reaction when he started to feud with Kurt Angle in the late summer of 2005. People loved Angle as the bad ass wrestling machine and couldn't buy into Cena being on his level. Plus, Cena had completely ceased doing the rapping schtick by that point. He'd become this pseudo Marine character that wasn't nearly as edgy and older fans weren't digging it.
    Fucking spot on Beer-Belly. He was gradually pulling away from what brought him to the dance and turning into the Marine. And he hasn't looked back since.

    Any other wrestler they would have gone with the flow eventually. Especially after Edge cashed in on him. That was really a moment where you could start to go, I think the WWE found the guy they're going to manufacture as the next Rock-Austin. Good luck.

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    النهاية قادمة .. OD50's Avatar
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    I remember being really fucking pissed when Benoit came over to Raw just to job to Cena in like five minutes, I think he even tapped him out with that awful STFU thing. As far as I can remember it was the Angle stuff that really turned the fans against him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid_Planet View Post
    Yes. I remember the Angle feud being a huge turning point. They weren't just having Cena go over but they were having him go over using submission finishers. It was clear that they sensed that the smart fans were getting a little bit tired of Cena so the response was "Let's prove to them hes actually a better technical wrestler than the best technical wrestler! That'll win Cena universal audience approval! ".
    Remember when Austin started wrestling again and Benoit challenged him to a match on TV? (I think this was early 2001) The Announcers kept putting over how Austin wouldn't stand a chance against a master technician like Benoit. Well, Austin went back to the style he worked earlier in his career and caught everyone by surprise. He basically out wrestled Benoit and it was completely believable. It helped that Austin was still super over and could do no wrong while Benoit was a mid-carder that had only been in the company for about a year.

    Compare this with Cena out wrestling Angle. There was no way fans were going to buy it. Angle was the baddest mofo in the company at that point and John just hadn't established himself enough to make it believable.

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    If Cena was as good as he was 5 years ago when he first won the belt I think he would have been able to maintain that popularity to an extent. I still think the Superman Hogan booking did him in no favors in that era. But again, if he had the experience he had after wrestling the likes of Angle, HBK, Triple H, fast forward to CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro type opponents....I think the fans would have been more accepting back in 2005-2006.

    I mean, when the guy does that STF, he makes the Rock's sharpshooter look like Bret doing it. Horrible.

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    I dunno about that. The STFU was crap but Rock looked liked he was trying to squeeze a shit out in the Sharpshooter.

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    The first few months of 2006 did Cena no favours either. They had him end Edgeís first world title reign just weeks after it began and then along comes Triple H completely ripping on Cena in the lead-up to Mania. He was really thrown into the lionís den with ECW - the poor guy busted out a few new moves in that ONS match with RVD and the crowd told him that he still sucked. They had him prevail against Edge again later in the year.

    The thing that bothered me back then was that he turned it on for PPV matches against certain opponents, but his TV matches were often phoned-in - just completely samey and repetitive. But that might have been mitigated had the booking been better. They made him the first guy to break Umagaís streak, the first guy to make Khali submit and pin him in a singles match, etc.

    There were no real stakes and he wasnít given a character that you could root for because he was just a generic do-gooder who always fought hard enough to win. He was standing still next to characters like Edge and Jericho and didnít have the built-in affection that HBK and Taker garnered. While I got sick of him pretty quick, even I had a smile when he made that huge Rumble return in 2008. What a moment. I dread to think how they would have used him, had he not been on the sidelines with injury on a few occasions.

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    E-Bow The Poster Rancid_Planet's Avatar
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    Now something I'd love to go back and look at is that program with Edge. I think I remember Edge getting a lot of boos because he was so on fire being a heel. But I bet the reaction was more mixed than I'm recalling.

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    Main Eventer chatty's Avatar
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    Cena's basically a casualty of the Attitude Era and in that I mean in terms of crowd reaction.

    The AE pushed for fans to be more vocal, not to accept the dongooder baby-face vanilla merch machines - that was pretty much the crux of 97-01 with Austin/Rock, they were anti-heroes and that's better than the fake Hogan types so just to create another Hogan types straight after wasn't going to fly with fans.

    WWE didn't really help themselves with the booking either, Cena was amassively over as a heel but it seemed like his shift from prick rapper to Hogan lite was overnight.

    Then throwing him in with every fan favourite and have him win them all with relative ease didn't help either.

    I think a lot of people just saw the too swift a turn from thuganomics gimmick which had gotten over naturally to push Marine superman down your throat and turned.

    Similarly and to a much higher extent with Reigns, I think a lot of fans like the guys to naturally move to the top the card without it feeling like a corporate sales job. Sometimes it needs a bit of air and neither got that fully. Cena did to an extent as a heel and that's at least why he had half the crowd, Reigns got none and that's why he has like 10% of the crowd max.

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    FBI Warning VHS's Avatar
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    I'd say Cena is more of a victim of lazy booking. For years the fans wanted something different, but were force fed the same schlock for nearly a decade. There were times where it felt like Cena was on the verge of changing, but he never did. The ECW feud... The Rock... CM Punk... screwing over Rey Mysterio... and they never turned him. He's been the exact same ever since. There have been instances where people were all "Oh, this is the John Cena we've been waiting for!" but not really. He'll just ramp up the intensity a little bit.

    Cena's era was a time where I felt like the most frustrated as a fan. I love Cena as a person, but his character is like nails on a chalkboard.

  23. #23
    Wolfpac Nash Diesel's Avatar
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    @chatty Great points dude. I tend to agree. The John Cena we all came to really support came up during a time where they were pushing the envelope sometimes 100x harder than they did in the Attitude Era. Then one day the WWE decided they wanted to take it back to the Rock N Wrestling era and unfortunately wound up only getting as far as back as the Lex Express era lol. The WWE for the last 10+ years is like watching all your favorite HBO shows on ABC @ 3:30pm. They try to get a little mature with some of their stuff but they know for the most part they want the majority of the show to be so open to all demographics they can't risk it.

    Take it back to Cena v. The Rock 1. Probably the first time since the Jericho feud back in 2006 that the fans were really really digging him universally. Not just the casuals who root for whoever wins the most, but all fans. Because he was delivering at his full potential. The guy everyone loved wasn't this do gooder Hulk Hogan 1984 wrestler. We don't want the love child of Bob Backlund and Hogan. We want the guy who, for good reason, came across as someone who could actually be a Rock-type or had that DX vibe to him with the dick jokes. Just a newer version.

    Instead....we got the ultimate yes man, the guy who Vince could completely control and not worry that he might one day leave for Hollywood or another promotion before Vince could get every last drop of Cena. Trust me, Vince was definitely cool with losing Austin when he did than losing The Rock when he did. If Cena was broken down by 35 we would have been ok. But naw, dude is a fuckin' Wolverine type.

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    Unfortunately in this day of playing to the investors they gon' play it safe w/ Cena. As for Reigns, I think he would've been accepted better had he been heel upon The Shield splitting.

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    The thing that frustrates me most is Cena is genuinely an entertaining and funny guy if they let him. His out-of-ring stuff even small things like that "Five Questions" show he used to do on wwe.com. I know it's a bit cliched how people are restricted and have to stick to the scripts instead of ad-libbing, but I think it's especially clear in Cena's case.

    Saying that, despite his flaws and the fact his character is a bit "Marine-like", there is rarely a harder working company man better ambassador for the business like his "Make-a-Wish" work. That alone is why he cannot go heel really.

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    The Lass Sasori's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid_Planet View Post
    Now something I'd love to go back and look at is that program with Edge. I think I remember Edge getting a lot of boos because he was so on fire being a heel. But I bet the reaction was more mixed than I'm recalling.
    About a year and a half ago, I watched all the TV leading up to Elimination Chamber when Edge cashed in on Cena. Edge was absolutely hated for it. I can't understand why they would put the belt back on Cena after only 3 weeks when they spent so much time putting Edge over as the top heel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasori View Post
    About a year and a half ago, I watched all the TV leading up to Elimination Chamber when Edge cashed in on Cena. Edge was absolutely hated for it. I can't understand why they would put the belt back on Cena after only 3 weeks when they spent so much time putting Edge over as the top heel.
    I had the same thought during Kane/Austin in 19988. Kane was willing to set himself on fire if he could not beat Austin but he did. Austin demands a title shot the next night on Raw then gets it back.

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