YMMV: John Cena

  • Badass Decay
    • After dropping the "Dr. of Thuganomics" gimmick.
    • Hell In A Cell was suppose to be a gimmick match that laid feuds to rest, but John Cena refused to take a break from pursuing Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio after losing to them in the Cell, killing off some of its appeal.
  • 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.
    • 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. note 
  • Counterpart Comparison: He's been called his generation's Hulk Hogan. This description, like everything else about him, is controversial to say the least.
  • 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.
  • Designated Hero/Jerk Sue: He's booked as the top face and centerpiece of a promotion which relies on a family-friendly image, has the gimmick to match, and is routinely shilled as the poster boy for every charity effort the WWE undertakes, but with some feuds he can come across as worse than the heel with his antics, including excessive retaliation towards slights, claiming to stand up for the boys in the back while using his status to get handed title matches, blatant contradiction of his positions from one storyline to the next or even from one point to the next within the same storyline, etc.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • From late '03 to late '04. (Basically, during his U.S. Title reign.)
    • Surpisingly enough, he's also this in Total Divas, where he's the Only Sane Man to his girlfriend Nikki Bella.
  • 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 general pro-wrestling fandom, 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 started attacking other wrestlers- the real-life men, not just the characters- and their fans in real-life.
  • Fan Nickname: Superman Cena, or more often just SuperCena, due to his propensity to effortlessly win a feud barring outside interference, injuries, and his own lapse of judgment- with the third factor often being more reliable than the other two- and to outright no-sell most feuds that he is in.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Misblamed:
    • While certain criticisms laid towards him are pretty firmly Cena's fault, his fans insist that he is not to blame for burying guys on the roster, based on the fact that storylines involving him tend to portray him as a big supporter of guys like Daniel Bryan, Evan Bourne, and CM Punk as well as the lack of concrete evidence that John Cena actually politicked against others (the closest thing to an evidence is his admission before WrestleMania 29 that he does have enough creative control to avoid turning heel).
    • John Cena can usually be blamed for the bad spots in his matches, such as the asinine finish to the Nexus elimination match: however, while Cena is responsible for demolishing Nexus as a credible faction by delivering an ending that made them look very weak, the idea to go over Nexus in the first place was not John Cena's idea, and that part of the blame probably still lies 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 wanted Barrett to get pushed, the Nexus was losing one way or another by that point).
      • Most people will point out that it isn't the real-life persona of Cena they hate, it's the IDEA of Cena. John is an OK wrestler, but he is pushed so astoundingly hard compared to other people who should be on his level. The only people to even manage to claw with their fingertips at Cena's rung on the ladder are CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, and even with those 2, they've been kicked back down after a few months.
      • This was the first of several bullet points (almost spoken verbatim) in CM Punk's now infamous Worked Shoot promo in the summer of 2011.
      Punk: I don't hate you, John. I don't even dislike you. I do like you. I like you a hell of a lot more than I like most of the people in the back. I hate this idea that you're the best.
  • 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.
    • John Cena has elevated Bray Wyatt, Damien Sandow, Wade Barrett, The Miz, Zack Ryder, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, etc.
  • 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: 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. His detractors have no problem separating his character and booking from him as a person.
    • 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.
    • 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. The phase where WWE started having every passing legend tell Punk that he needed to fight Cena for the umpteenth time to validate his existence as champion unfortunately dulled this.
    • 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. His Fan Dumb, in response, would accuse Cena's opponents and partners of similar incompetence. Cue the flame war.
    • 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—and even the ones aimed at Cena the man, including the "frequently documented" aspect in regards to Cena's charitable waysnote , will most frequently pin much of the blame on Vince McMahon for trying to use Cena the man to protect Cena the character.
  • 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.
    • Strange thing is, WWE seems to recognize that people feel this way and has worked it into at least three different feuds involving Cena.
    • Most opponents built up to face John Cena subsequently are relegated back down the card after they serve their purpose. Wade Barrets been a jobber for up and comers and his brief resurgence to the main event was still focused on Cena. 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 (luckily people will likely forget the details in seven years and just remember he had a long reign); Daniel Bryan managed to stay popular despite being repeatedly and ultimately defeated by Randy Orton while Big Show stole his feud and catch phrase. R-Truth faded back into near irrelevance, Ryback became a cry baby even lower than R-Truth. The Shield went from unstoppable when altogether going over the Brothers Of Destruction/Hell No to not being able to beat John Cena with a three to one advantage and then losing the random pairing of The Usos and Christian. Damien Sandow has been on a nonstop losing streak that's seen his "intellectual" character degenerate into dressing like Magneto.
    • For someone who claimed to "fight for all the boys in the back", he had no problem undercutting CM Punk's WWE Championship reign at Money in the Bank. Cena had got to main event over Punk and the WWE title for every pay-per-view in 2012; the first few times facing masked Kane, the Rock, and Brock Lesnar, all marquee opponents of some sort, with the Rock match being a central thread, then later battling to get John Laurinaitis fired (and succeeding in two tries, though the quality of opposition leaves his main eventing those two shows highly suspect). Then came Money in the Bank. Cena had a "historic announcement" to make. That he was entering the Money in the Bank ladder match. This only stuck because the Board of Directors wanted the WWE Championship MITB to be a match of former champions, but the result was the same; Cena main eventing instead of Punk's defense of his WWE title just because. Consider the World Heavyweight title's Money in the Bank match had four first-time contestant and none of them even got close to being treated as notable for it. It was only notable when it was Cena. At every previous Money in the Bank PPV, the Money in the Bank matches were not actually the main event; this was even a plot point at one event where Kane one Money in the Bank and cashed it in later that evening. WWE broke tradition to give Cena the Main Event spotlight over Punk. It seemed like Laser-Guided Karma that Big Show cost him his cash-in match. After all, he did say he wanted to make history. Now he's the first guy to cash in and fail to win a title.
    • February 18, 2013. When Punk interrupts Cena's promo time to challenge him for his WrestleMania title shot that he won at the Rumble, Cena utters the line during his counter-address that "For once, it's not about CM Punk." Cena's about to main event his sixth WrestleMania, Punk was never in the main event of WrestleMania'', and Cena, as well documented above, has been the guy main eventing on pay-per-view for most of 2012 despite Punk being champion the entire year.
    • He did it again in 2014, as after his feud with Bray Wyatt came to an end, Cena wound up standing against The Authority as the angle reached the year mark, with the IWC accusing WWE of doing this just so Cena could be the guy who finally defeated them, and in the process wound up getting in the middle of the popular Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose feud. This was lampshaded after Team Cena/Team Authority was announced for Survivor Series 2014 with the stipulation that if Team Cena won, the Authority would be removed from power, as Triple H pointed out that no matter who potentially got the win, Cena would get the credit for ridding the WWE of the Authority. It was ultimately subverted at Survivor Series, as Cena was the third eliminated from his team & without an elimination to his name, and it was in fact Dolph Ziggler who won the match by overcoming 3-on-1 odds.
  • 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.)
    • 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.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: John Cena's tenure has seen him as "the face of the company" for decade, through a combination of unfortunate circumstances (most guys able to draw more money than him have left due to injuries, felonies or better paying interests) or plain old favoritism (by the fact John Cena can be booed out of as many arenas as there are in existence and the only time WWE will acknowledge maybe this guy isn't as popular as they claim is when it is an "ECW" show). See, John Cena got popular because he would tell his opponent they had small balls and would then try to feed them to him. He insulted everyone without pretense, he was cocky, he took orders from no one, he made no illusions to it, he wore two chains and brass knuckles and wasn't afraid to use them. Rules, Ruck Fules! But then he increasingly stopped beating people up and instead just got beat around just to win with his finishing sequence after an unlikely counter. Instead of being a "thug" he was suddenly this supposed to be this class act, yet he'd simply switched from blatantly trash talking his rivals to pressing their berserk buttons with Blatant Lies. In essence, everything about him that made him popular went in the toilet and over a decade he has changed minimally, to the point "I won't change" is the only thing distinctive about Cena aside from his abnormal size, strength and his tendency to get whipped like a school boy until he remembers he's supposed to be strong and stops selling.
  • 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 pushed to the sidelines through a combination of John Cena, Del Rio, Triple H and John Lauranitis but Cena was a little more over for awhile.
    • A number of fans were more willing to give Cena a break during his feud with the Wyatt family, in part because Cena at least occasionally tried to drop some of his indestructible facade and treat them as an actual threat.
  • X-Pac Heat: Unlike the Trope Namer, this is directed by part of the fanbase at the way Cena is booked rather than at the man himself and many who cite this claim they would like him more if he turned heel or left the main event. (But make no mistake, there are plenty of people who really do hate him, Cena sucks chants have even shown up in promotions he's never worked for) But because his fanbase keep buying tickets to shows he's heavily advertised on and his merchandise sells more than any other superstarnote  the WWE won't risk killing their biggest cash cow and continue the same booking that gives him this.