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YMMV: John Cena
  • Badass Decay: After dropping the "Dr. of Thuganomics" gimmick.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Some kids and women love him, some males hate him. Lampshaded by Cena himself at his "farewell" in 2010, when he insisted on one last set of "Let's go Cena!" "Cena sucks!" dueling chants from the appropriate sections of the audience.
    • This has become a part of his character in that he really likes the fact he's a Base Breaker because he gets a reaction from most of the audience, whether it's good or bad.
    • The fact that he knows that there will be a lot of people who'll boo him no matter what he does.
    • In 2011, WWE finally realized they could make more money from Cena's base-breaking nature, and has made this shirt, accordingly.
    • And it's returned with a vengeance post-Wrestlemania 30. Was him defeating Bray Wyatt a logical transition point in their feud? Or was this yet another incidence of Cena coming out on top to the benefit of absolutely no one but himself? Go ahead and ask this question online. We'll wait.
  • Chosen One: Cena is the WWE's flagship Face and will remain so as long as he sells merchandise by the cartload and draws a reaction good or bad. For better or worse he's the poster boy of the PG-era and the WWE will keep milking his character unless he either suffers a career-ending injury or runs Triple H over with his car. (It should be noted Jeff Hardy and CM Punk did manage to sell more when they were in the company but Jeff had drug issues and Punk didn't stick around as long)
  • Critical Backlash:
    • While Cena's move set is certainly limited and his matches can be formulaic, he's nowhere near as bad as a lot of his detractors will have you believe (at least in comparison with most other WWE main eventers with similar schedules). On the flip side, when he has a good opponent to work with, his psychology and understanding of story can lead to classics such as his Money in the Bank match against CM Punk. When you've pulled off the first five-star WWE match in fifteen years, you have to have at least some talent, no matter how much the other guy is carrying the match.
    • It varies depending on who's giving out the stars. More liberal sources already gave him one for his Iron Man match with Randy Orton.
      • The reason why the five-star rating is such a big deal is because the guy who gave it is Dave Meltzer, the premier writer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which is cited as "The Bible" of professional wrestling. The last time Dave Meltzer gave a WWE match a five-star rating was indeed fifteen years ago, and it just so happened to be the first Hell in a Cell match, which was between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, the two top performers in WWE history. That match was one of the three five-star rated matches that Shawn Michaels has ever gotten from Dave Meltzer, and the only one The Undertaker has ever managed. In fact, the total amount of five-star ratings Dave Meltzer has given the WWE, including MITB 2011, is five. Additionally, CM Punk's time limit draw against Samoa Joe in Ring of Honor was the first match in the entire United States to get five stars from Meltzer in over a decade. The fact that Cena managed to get such a rating for one of his matches from Dave Meltzer indicates that he does have some amount of talent.
  • Designated Hero/Jerk Sue: He's booked as the top Face, but with some fueds he can come across as worse than the heel with his antics, excessive retaliation towards slights, claiming to stand up for the boys in the back while using his status to get handed title matches.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: From late '03 to late '04. (Basically, during his U.S. Title reign.)
  • Evil Is Cool: Invoked when he was the Dr. of Thuganomics. Fans agree.
  • Fan Hater: A lot of Cena's more rabid supporters will get this in the IWC, mainly because they took Cena's promos (which, after his face turn, more often than not involve him failing to stay in-character while taking shots at his opponents) far too seriously and consequently lost their grips on reality as opposed to kayfabe.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Cena is insanely popular in South African townships - to the point where small children will greet any white male by waving their hands in front of their faces and screaming, "You can't see me!"
  • Growing the Beard: Cena's feud with Edge in 2006. Edge was the first heel challenger to Cena since JBL to consistently get enough heat to put the crowd on Cena's side; at the same time, Cena's in-ring execution improved tremendously. He continued to get mixed reactions afterward, but that feud (along with a concurrent side-feud with Rob Van Dam) convinced many fans that Cena deserved respect, if not cheers.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks: Inverted, lots of internet favorites became a little less so (Kurt Angle, Jim Cornette, The Iron Sheik) for their praise of John Cena while others people were kind of apathetic to (Chavo Guerrero Jr.) became more liked because they do bash John Cena.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Steve Austin giving Cena a stunner at the 2003 Christmas in Iraq show. Only with time did it gain more significance.
    • On the February 5, 2004 Smackdown, which was held in Cleveland, OH, Cena did a rap about Paul Heyman excluding him from the Number One Contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Title match between Kurt Angle and The Big Show at the No Way Out PPV. Cena said, "Yo! You see, leavin' Cena outta this match is completely insane/That's like cutting (then-Cleveland Cavaliers basketball sensation) Lebron James from The All Star Game." 6 years later, on July 28, 2010, ESPN aired an overblown TV special called The Decision where James announced that he would be leaving Cleveland to join the Miami Heat, drawing very negative reactions from Cleveland fans, who likely would not have minded if James was left out of any future All-Star Games.
    • A bit of a double whammy. During the peak of the online Cena hatred, it wasn't uncommon to hear the mantra that "The only thing Cena sells is merchandise. During his feud with the Rock in 2012, the Rock called him Fruity Pebbles to insult his colorful T-Shirt. Guess who is the new Mascot of Fruity Pebbles cereal?
  • Holy Shit Quotient:
    • Anytime Cena shows just how physically strong he really is, expect people's jaws to drop. First instance: when he FU'ed the Big Show in Survivor Series 2003 and later in WrestleMania XX.
    • What probably caused the biggest jaw drops is when Cena was about to FU Big Show AND Edge at the same time, having them both on his back. To be clear on how jaw dropping that is, Cena had about 700 pounds on his back and didn't drop either of them.
  • Humble Hero: In-character, but also in Real Life, Cena admits that he is nowhere near the most technically skilled performer in the WWE, and doesn't want the top spot that he is usually placed in.
  • Hypocrite: Does the cavalcade of events that have been mentioned and thought of in associating Cena's character with the Designated Hero and Jerk Sue tropes match up with his constantly shilled message of "Hustle, Loyalty, Respect", "Rise Above Hate", and even "Be a Star", since he's the guy wearing it on his shirts?
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • Yeah, WWE, as if you're going to fire your #1 merchandise mover and top babyface because of the whims of a heel who previously wanted to destroy the company.
    • Like WWE would ever actually draft Cena to Smackdown. During the 2011 draft Cena was drafted to Smackdown at the beginning of the episode, but drafted back to Raw at the end.
    • Like WWE would ever really let Cena legitimately drop the title in an 'I Quit' match - a.k.a. Cena's signature match - of all things. Especially so soon after winning the title in the first place.
    • "If Cena wins, we riot" - Other than the initial appearance of this sign at ECW One Night Stand 2006, no-one actually thought the fans would riot in the event of Cena winning; and they never did. Hell, at one point, Cena even took one of these signs and paraded it around the ring after winning his match.
    • Subverted with the recent CM Punk angle. Mr. McMahon really was going to fire Cena. In fact, it was the fact that he was going to fire Cena, along with quite a few other things, most of which probably included about half the demands that Punk laid out, that caused the board of directors to give a vote of no-confidence and force him to step down as chairman, consequently saving Cena's job.
    • For a lot of people, the title match itself as well. The way WWE tends to book Cena as well as treat departing Superstars, there were a lot of people that didn't think there was any way Cena would be booked to lose the Championship clean to a departing CM Punk (especially when Vince threw in the stipulation that Cena would be fired if he did). Then Cena actually lost the match, and it can be said that the WWE, in and out of Kayfabe, hasn't really been the same since.
    • Like WWE would really have Cena "embrace the hate" as a result of his feud with Kane, just one month before his match with The Rock, and especially when he's the face of the WWE's Make-A-Wish efforts.
      • He can do charity work and still be a heel! The Big Bossman did it. So has 'Taker.
  • Misblamed:
    • While certain criticisms laid towards him, such as his no selling and such, are pretty firmly Cena's fault, he is not to blame for burying guys on the roster, and is in fact a big supporter of guys like Daniel Bryan, Evan Bourne, and CM Punk.
    • And that support - for those three guys in particular - might finally be paying off: as of August 2011, Evan Bourne's currently one-half of the Tag Team Champions, Punk has had a WWE title reign to his credit (making him a Triple Crown Champion - only 18 other guys in the WWE's history have done this) and carries the secondary feud on RAW, and Daniel Bryan (after many had him pegged as one of those guys doomed to languish in the midcard despite his immense talent, because of WWE's apparent bias toward indy standouts) won the Smackdown MITB Match, and has since gone on to form Team Hell No with Kane, easily one of the hottest, next to the Shield, and most entertaining tag team acts not only in WWE right now but in YEARS.
    • Not to mention he's been going above and beyond the call of duty in trying to get Zack Ryder more followers on Twitter.
    • Most if not all of them, however, were built up to face John Cena and would subsequently be relegated back to midcard status after they served their purpose. CM Punk ended up booked in one of the least significant title reigns in professional wrestling history as a cowardly heel champion relying on outside interference to keep his title, and it wasn't until the return of the Rock that he got his tough-guy credential back; Daniel Bryan got himself over despite being stuck in a comedy act well past its shelf-life and then hastily thrown into a match against the Wyatt Family. Many others had their kayfabe personas demolished to such a point of non-legitimacy after Cena was done with them that they required repackaging before they could wrestle again- if they wrestled again.
    • John Cena can usually be blamed for the bad spots in his matches, such as the finish to the Nexus elimination match however there is rarely proof that idea to go over Nexus in the first place was John Cena's idea and probably still remains with creative.(Edge says he did not care at that point since he was out of the match, implying that even though he and Jericho pushed for Barret getting a push, Nexus was losing one way or another by that point)
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The infamous "IF CENA WINS, WE RIOT" sign at ECW One Night Stand 2006. Became an Ascended Meme for CM Punk where fans brought signs (seen in promotion for WWE 13) threatening to riot if he lost. Some fans went further at WrestleMania, hanging a huge banner off a building: If Cena wins we jump.
    • The pronunciation of his name by Justin Robertsnote , which apparently gets longer and longer every week.
    • Spoiler: Cena wins., which is the outcome of most of his matches.
  • Narm: Oh god, the angry face Cena made during the 1-23-12 RAW... especially because Cena's proven more than capable of making a convincing angry face... this was less angry and more 'constipated'...
  • Narm Charm: The happy face Cena made after winning the 2012 Money in the Bank for the WWE Championship.
  • Nostalgia Filter: And how! He is either bashed like "he sucks compared to past wrestlers" or/and "he sucks compared to his old self".
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Again, see Determinator. Even the fans who don't like the character and the booking respect Cena the person.
    • The Nexus angle has been helping with this as well. Cena hasn't gotten a vicious booing since it started.
    • Really, 2010 as a whole was a massive Scrappy Heap Rescue year for Cena, as, outside of the Summerslam match, his Invincible Hero nature was toned down, he stayed out of the title scene for most of the year, and he helped put over new talent in some damn good matches against the likes of Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, and others.
    • Except now he's back to exactly how he was beforehand, with the "Firing" angle in December being pure concentrate of the problems with his character.
    • His feud with CM Punk has had this effect for him as well. It's both because Cena treats Punk like a Worthy Opponent and respects him and because Punk is just that good at attracting heat from the crowd. It also helps that he and Punk had an absolutely epic match at 2011 Money In The Bank.
    • Everytime he comes out as the "Dr. of Thuganomics", as seen in WrestleMania 25 (entrance at least) and the March 2012 edition of Raw.
    • His match against Brock Lesnar in Extreme Rules. For reference, the Chicago crowd was firmly Anti-Cena during the start of the match, but even they could not bear to see Lesnar go to town on Cena. End result? Cena is cheered loudly by the end of the night.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • According to the Hate Dumb, all the good matches involving Cena is solely carry jobs by his opponent, regardless if said opponent had a history of having bad matches. All the bad matches involving him is Cena's fault, again regardless if said opponent had a history of having bad matches.
    • Taking to hilarious levels on 2-14-2011's edition of Raw. Just earlier in the night, the crowd in Anaheim cheered for Cena. Cue The Rock's return and he starts dissing Cena, the ENTIRE crowd turned on Cena at the drop of a hat.
    • John Cena is sometimes accused of being a Designated Hero and a Jerk Sue as well as a Smug Super despite his complete loyalty to the WWE product, his frequently documented charity actions including granting 400 wishes to terminally ill children in the Make-A-Wish foundation, and overall an extremely altruistic straight up Nice Guy who is always willing to donate much of his free time helping underprivileged people.
      • It should also be noted there that those criticisms are by and large aimed at John Cena the character, not John Cena the man.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad:
    • Is accused by many detractors of hogging the main event scene. His case isn't helped by the fact that the match involving him always closes out a PPV, even in favor over the two main-event titles. This is especially glaring when a match like CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title is second on the card to Cena vs. John Laurinaitis or the hundredth case of Cena vs. Big Show.
    • There's a radio interview of Chris Jericho and Edge discussing Cena's victory over Wade Barrett and the Nexus, and though they don't really go into specifics…it's pretty clear they think that Cena evoked some sway into ending the match in a way that made him look especially good. At the expense of Barrett's push.
    • Strange thing is, WWE seems to recognize that people feel this way and has worked it into at least three different feuds involving Cena.
  • They Changed Him, Now He Sucks:
    • Cena started to build a fanbase in 2003, well before his rise to main-event status and back when he was technically still supposed to be a heel. When he was playing the "wigger" rapper, fans adored him either for his "don't-take-no-guff-from-nobody" (including Kurt Angle and The Undertaker) attitude or for his Narm-y "white-boy" rhymes, which were originally intended for comedy but were eventually embraced by the fans. Then, beginning in 2005 and culminating in 2006 with the release of his first movie, The Marine, Cena transitioned from a rebellious thug to a by-the-book armed-forces recruit who wore paramilitary gear and saluted the audience. Not only did we already get this gimmick with Sgt Slaughter (not to mention Hulk Hogan and other top faces throughout WWE's history), but Cena lost almost all of the "underdog" aura that had up until then sustained much of his popularity.
    • CM Punk lampshaded this to hell and back during his feud with Cena, comparing Cena to the perennial contender New York Yankees. Obviously, as the show where he did this was in Boston (Cena's de facto 'hometown' arena since he's a Massachusetts native), it was a creative way to draw heat. But the Reality Subtext was obvious, and it's very likely that same statement would have gotten him cheers of agreement anywhere else.
  • Tear Jerker: Cena's farewell promo the Raw after Survivor Series, when he was "fired", which ended in him starting a Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks chant.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • John Cena is now a member of The Nexus and is the guest referee for a WWE Championship match between Wade Barrett and Randy Orton with the stipulation that if Barrett does not win the WWE Championship, Cena will be fired! Instead of pulling the trigger on Barrett and letting him win the WWE Championship, with all of the storyline possibilities that would entail... Orton retains and Cena is "fired" with Survivor Series 2010 closing out on a forced attempt at making a "moment". The entire "Cena is Fired" angle counts as this too, as the only difference between him being fired and rehired was that he didn't wrestle on TV: WWE still played his theme music to close out RAW!
    • This pretty much happens every time Cena teases a heel turn: The above Nexus angle, the angle with Kane. Hell, even the Wrestlemania 28 build with Rock and his subsequent loss.
    • His 2012 Money In The Bank win was very obviously just so WWE could say he's won it. He didn't even use the briefcase correctly - announcing when he was going to cash in, first off (although he's not the first person to do that. Usually when a face wins the match while there's a face champion, that can either mean that the current champion is dropping the belt, or the contract winner is going to turn heel. Neither one of those happened. Add the fact that the MITB contract has historically been used as a way to elevate younger superstars that haven't gotten their big break yet (in a straighter example of that, Dolph Ziggler won the contract on the Smackdown side), and it's not hard to understand why the entire angle wasn't very well received.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back:
    • There are many fans who are still hoping he'll go back to his "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick.
    • Even without the "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick, most people think that he needs to turn heel or alter his gimmick at some point to breathe some fresh air into his character. (He's been playing essentially the same character since The Marine was released in 2006, with the only real change being he's dropped some (but not all) of the military overtones. Since wrestling operates on the Fleeting Demographic Rule, having the same gimmick for seven years is quite a long time.)
      • Except that the man himself has said that he doesn't actually have a gimmick, that the way people see him on TV is the way he really is.
    • This has just been made worse. On the 2-21-11 episode of Raw, while engaged in a weekly Ham-to-Ham Combat with The Rock, for one night, he reverted back to his "Doctor of Thuganomics" and delivered a Battle Rap Beatdown to Rock, and it was awesome.
    • He may well be the heel in his upcoming feud with The Rock, since there's no way The Rock is going to be made a heel in the Rock's hometown at Wrestlemania 28.
    • WWE's basically promoting the match as the Spiritual Successor to Rock vs Hogan. As such, don't be surprised if his heel turn for the feud lasts about as long as the match does as a call back, as Rock did pretty much the same thing.
      • This didn't really happen. WWE just sort of threw face/heel alignments out of the window, which might have been a good thing - they were probably well aware that some people were going to side with Cena and others with Rock no matter what happened. One could argue that the fact that it fell strictly into "Dream Matchup" territory prevented them from having to think up a convoluted storyline reason for the match to happen (although, technically speaking, Rock did cost Cena the WWE title at Wrestlemania 27, which is how most feuds tend to start).
      • Interestingly, despite there being no alignment change, Cena still ''wrestled' the match as if he were the heel, with his aggression, use of environment, his oversellous reactions, and of course the use of the People's Elbow that lead to his loss.
  • Win Back the Crowd: A lot of his detractors had been giving him a lot more credit after his absolutely brutal match with Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules, due to the legit punishment he took (such as being busted open hardway (without blading) by Lesnar's elbows and being put in a Kimura lock).
    • His feud with CM Punk the previous year also helped Cena in the long run, as it became one of the best feuds of the decade and included in what was arguably the greatest match of Cena's career, along with helping launch Punk into superstardom. Temporarily anyway, Punk would end up Demoted to Extra through a combination of John Cena, Del Rio, Triple H and John Lauranitis but Cena was a little more over for awhile.

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