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Wrestling / John Cena

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The champ is here! AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!

For Cena's acting career, see this page.

Your time is up, my time is now!
You can't see me! My time is now!



Jonathan Felix Anthony Cena Jr. (born April 23, 1977) is an American professional wrestler currently working for the WWE. With a career spanning 20 years, he rose through the pits of the midcard to become a legitimate success story, and is widely regarded as one of the biggest superstars to ever grace WWE, if not the biggest, and the 21st-century equivalent of Hulk Hogan.

Before he made his name in WWE, he wrestled in Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW) and Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) with a gimmick based around his old career as a bodybuilder: "The Prototype" or "Mr. P". He made his official WWE debut on June 27, 2002 after accepting an open challenge from Kurt Angle. After impressing Stephanie McMahon with his freestyle rapping on the WWE tour bus, she convinced the higher-ups to give him a push. Batista was the one tapped to be the new Hogan, but Cena got over with his rap gimmick which was essentially a last-ditch ploy before they released him: "The Doctor of Thuganomics." He would go on to beat John "Bradshaw" Layfield at WrestleMania 21, where he would win his first WWE Championship and first world title overall. In 2006, he was promoted to an All-American Face with the release of The Marine.

Unusual for a career babyface, Cena maintained his top spot for an unprecedented 10 years, through no fault of his own: Jeff Hardy's merchandise outsold Cena's for three months straight, but WWE had to dump him after the Junk Squad raided his house. CM Punk surpassed him in late 2011 and early 2012, but had to turn heel and drop the title to The Rock, somehow never made it back into the main event picture even after turning face again, and finally quit the night after Royal Rumble 2014. After fighting against it, the company finally gave Daniel Bryan a push... just in time for his forced retirement. Three contenders for the crown, and WWE has been burned three times. As a consequence, Cena is one of the most polarizing Superstars in WWE history, as older fans have grown tired of him always winning. But he has also raised a child army of new fans, triggering a weekly shouting war of "LET'S GO, CENA!" and "CENA SUCKS!"

Now in his forties, he is starting to look his age, but Cena matches still pull bigger audiences than non-Cena shows, and he sells five times more merchandise than other stars (cunningly, WWE has begun selling "CENA SUCKS" t-shirts to double their profits). He will continue to plod along with his wholesome, kid-friendly hero and—as long as he can still go—the company will always bet on a record like Cena’s.

It goes without saying that the Cenation holds claim to a lot of titles. To put into context: Ric Flair had a career that spanned over thirty years; in that span of time, he won 16 world titles (or a few more depending on who you're asking). By comparison, Cena has matched Flair's record, yet has only been active for about a third of Flair's career. He's also a one time Money in the Bank winner, in which he became known as the first person to unsuccessfully cash in. (Through no fault of his own, however. The Big Show interfered in the match, so Cena won the match, but not the title. Coincidentally, Cena would later be responsible for causing Damien Sandow and Baron Corbin to lose the match after cashing in, another first.)

Additionally, he has also dabbled in rap music (including releasing a full album, You Can't See Me) and has become something of an action/comedy film star in his own right. For more on his non-wrestling ventures, see his creator page.


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  • 10-Minute Retirement: In the autumn of 2010. It lasted a little longer than ten minutes, and he was never really gone per se since he still lingered in the crowd and jumped members of Nexus backstage at random, but it still applied.
  • The Ace: In-Kayfabe 2005 onward, who somehow manages to "win" even when he loses. Which he rarely does.
    • His 2015 renaissance showed he has it in him to be one for real as well, putting on quality matches with just about anyone he wrestled.
  • Action Genre Hero Guy: When he wears his hair short he fits the look (which goes in hand with his lead role in The Marine, which is about an Action Genre Hero Guy).
  • Affectionate Parody: His video for "Bad Bad Man" is this of The A-Team.
  • All-American Face: (Part of) Cena's current persona.
  • Always Someone Better: The Undertaker, the first of the WWE Superstars Cena met at the start of his career. While Cena did beat Brock Lesnar in two PPV events, he sees The Undertaker as this due to not getting a clean win in all of his matches against the Deadman, just like what Lesnar thinks of Goldberg prior to WrestleMania 33.
  • Anti-Hero: Even though he turned face in late-2003, he was still The Doctor of Thuganomics. So he still busted raps on people, hit people with his chain, but this time he did it to people who deserved it. Though he stopped hitting people with his chain and rapping in 2005, he still had some of his roots. But he turned full on face in 2008.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Even when they're both faces, it's clear Cena and Randy Orton can't stand each other. Which is Older than You Think, as they haven't liked each other since their days in OVW, dating back to when John Cena was still The Prototype. Watch here. Their animosity is so personal that even though their feud officially ended in late 2009, they always seem to be on the verge of starting it up again no matter their alignments. This was especially evident in 2010 when they were stuck on a collision course due to Wade Barrett and The Nexus, and in 2013 prior to the unification match (four years after the infamous iron man match that ended their rivalry).
    • Then of course there's Brock Lesnar whom he had a feud with in 2003 and in 2012.
    • His long-running blood feud with Edge began in 2006 and persisted throughout the years, up until Edge's final face run in 2010 and subsequent retirement. Cena's feud with Edge was arguably even more personal than his feud with Orton; whereas Orton was ultimately just a psychopath who was sick of Cena constantly getting in his way, Edge flat-out admitted to hating everything about Cena.
    • What began as a rivalry born out of respect with CM Punk got much nastier, especially since Punk is the one guy who's consistently gotten the better of Cena. General agreement is that despite the company's original attempts to portray Cena's feud with Orton as his greatest rivalry, Punk was Cena's actual greatest rival, with Edge the only real competition. On top of their characters being perfect foils to each other, they had insane chemistry on both the mic and especially in the ring, to the point that some of the greatest matches in WWE history have been between them. This includes WWE's first five-star match since 1997, which is also arguably the best match of Cena's career.
    • Then there's Batista, whom he briefly feuded with in 2008 and came full swing in 2010. Both became world champions at WrestleMania 21 and were the faces of their respective brands (Raw for Cena, SmackDown for Batista). Both men respect each other and teamed up on occasions (even briefly becoming World Tag Team Champions), but Batista became the Rival Turned Evil as he grew jealous of Cena being the face of the company as a whole instead of him. Cena had never beaten Batista until finally doing so at WrestleMania XXVI and would go on to beat him two more times at the following pay-per-views, with their "I Quit" match at Over the Limit ending their feud. The three straight pay-per-views losses (with new Raw General Manager Bret Hart showing No Sympathy towards his injuries from his third loss serving as the last straw) would result in Batista frustratingly quitting the company for nearly four years.
    • Then there is The Rock, with whom he had a year long feud after they decided they should wrestle at WrestleMania 28, though this had never been a very heated feud but was more about mutual respect and a "big match" feeling than a fiery rivalry... at least that was the interpretation of WM 28 until the rematch came along.
    • For the first four years of his WWE career, Cena had several on-and-off feuds with Kurt Angle, including his very first match. This only ended once Angle left WWE.
    • After his return from injury, he started a feud with his TNA counterpart from 2002 to 2014, AJ Styles. Cena and Styles were both positioned as the faces of their respective companies and it seemed to be very impossible for them to stand together in the same ring. That all changed in 20 "freaking" 16 when not only did they put on some classic matches, but for the first time ever Cena has not won a singles match against his rival.... until Royal Rumble 2017, where Cena finally pinned him for his sixteenth world title.
    • In a notable aversion of this trope, he's actually one of the only top babyfaces to never have any major rivalries with Vince McMahon. This is perhaps because there was business incentive for Vince not to stir trouble with his last big draw, and known company man Cena had respect for his boss. note  This being said, Cena has also admitted to hating Vince like everyone else; during CM Punk's (in)famous live contract negotiation, which Cena interrupted, he outright stated that there's not a day that goes by where he doesn't think about "rip[ping] [Vince's] face off with [his] bare hands". He then proceeded to describe all the things he would like to do Vince's theoretical ripped-off face, right to the man's actual, disbelieving face.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Homeboy once claimed Lita gave him gonorrhea by shaking his hand. And that was in 2005. Once the actual Cena-Edge feud got going in '06, he got even worse about this. The point he was trying to make was this: Lita is so disease-ridden that you can catch something just by being in the same room. He was deliberately trying to shame Lita.
    • Several years later, he'd accuse Eve of trying to give him an STD by attempting to hug and kiss him. Same motivation: deliberately trying to shame Eve. Although he may have been implying that she wanted things to go further and he didn't want any part of that.
  • Ascended Meme:
  • Badbutt: The company pushes him as the face because he's badass enough to appeal to kids but his relatively squeaky clean image appeases the Moral Guardians who might otherwise not approve of their kids watching wrestling. It works, but leaves him coming off as incredibly boring by comparison with a lot of other superstars on the roster. And compared to Cena himself back when he was "The Doctor of Thuganomics" for that matter.
  • Battle of the Bands: Was supposed to be in one against Chris Jericho's Heavy Metal band Fozzy on the July 25, 2005 Raw, but Jericho refused to play because the fans were biased against him.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game:
    • Attempted to do this to The Rock at WrestleMania 28, by trying to use the People's Elbow to finish Rock off, only for it to backfire & cost Cena the match. Humorously, this was something Rock himself did somewhat frequently in his career.
    • Averted next at WrestleMania 29, Cena went for the The People's Elbow again against The Rock. When Rock popped up like he did last year, Cena grabbed the ropes to stop himself. This was either an "I'm stupid, but not that stupid" moment from Cena, or Cena playing games with The Rock. And possibly us.
    • Also at WM 29 Cena used the Rock Bottom on The Rock.
    • At Royal Rumble 2014, after Randy Orton used the STF and Attitude Adjustment on him, he in turn used the RKO on Orton.
    • Invoked against him by Dean Ambrose the RAW after Wrestlemania XXXI when he locked Cena in the STF.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In the lead up to WrestleMania 34 Cena decided he wanted a shot at The Undertaker, despite the Deadman supposedly having been retired the year before by Roman Reigns (possibly because this was something Roman had taunted Cena about during their 2017 feud). For weeks he had called Taker out, often quite insultingly, and received only dead air in response (apart from one week when Kane came out and chokeslammed him). At the event itself, however, Taker did suddenly show up (after an initial fake-out by Elias) to give Cena what he'd been after all this time... and flattened him in less than three minutes. Of course, this was all part of the WWE's plan in real life, as their actual goal is to have Cena make preparations for The Undertaker's surprise comeback, and restore the mystique after supposedly getting "retired" by Reigns the year prior, and after Lesnar broke his undefeated streak four years earlier. Cena was well-aware of what will happen in that match, as he asked the fans if they wanted Undertaker "to Tombstone him in front of 75,000 fans" at said PPV event and they cheered for it.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Never compare him to the New York Yankees in his hometown (he's from West Newbury, Massachusetts, which is relatively close to Boston, the home of the Yankees' most heated rivals the Boston Red Sox).
    • NEVER insult the American troops. Or insult America itself in any way.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's the guy that you see whenever the WWE utters the word "charity" and has turned the Make a Wish foundation into a hobby, or the guy who will beat you up mercilessly either with his fists or with his words.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Seems to be this to Zack Ryder. Much like Ryder, Cena started out as something of a comic relief heel - until he gained such a fan following that the WWE turned him face and put the WWE United States Heavyweight Championship on him. If one does a bit of research, one will also find out that WWE brass weren't particularly high on Cena up until the start of the 'Doctor of Thuganomics' gimmick, and if not for said gimmick, there was a chance Cena would have gotten fired as well.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Whenever someone is in trouble in the ring, Cena will be there charging into the ring and helping them out.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Often plays with this trope to try to press his rivals' berserk buttons.
    • When asked by Booker T why he thinks he can beat The Rock, Cena gives the unusually short, terse answer "that he has to." Both the audience and The Rock call him on it, the latter wanting the REAL answer.
    • While his "Reason You Suck" Speech promo duel against Roman Reigns was largely a Curb-Stomp Battle in his favour, quite a few people criticized the part where he dismissed Roman's accusations that he had a "golden shovel" by saying "they (pointing at crowd) hold the keys, they always have, they always will". Considering this was John Cena saying this to Roman Reigns, the general response from people who pay any attention to WWE booking since 2005 was "Are you serious?!"
  • Bleached Underpants: His album, You Can't See Me, came in two versions, one with a warning sticker, the other without one.
  • Bluegrass: After he and Batista won the WWE World Tag Team Titles on the August 4, 2008 Raw, which was held in Knoxville, TN, and the show had gone off the air, Cena entertained the crowd with a rendition of "Rocky Top", which can be heard here.
  • Blood Knight: Most prevalent during his run as US Champion in 2015, defending the title every single week he had it on Raw.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Some WWE superstars would have the gall to steal or mock some of his Catchphrases:
    • Bryan's "The Beard is Here" shirt is a parody of Cena's "The Champ is Here" shirt.
    • Rollins would later take a page from Bryan's book in 2015 with his "Never Shuts Up" shirt as a mockery of Cena's "Never Give Up" 2013 shirt.
    • Prior WrestleMania 33, The Miz says "We can't see you" to Cena.
    • Triple H takes the cake at the Greatest Royal Rumble for going DX on Cena by doing the "You Can't See Me!" taunt followed by a Five Knuckle Shuffle to his face.
    • John himself borrowed one for his appearance in the Gillette Young Guns commercial for the Fusion Power Phenom razor (he had been one of the finalists of a Young Guns-associated competition that took place beforehand, which lent some clips to the commercial in question): "NEWMAN!!"
  • Bragging Theme Tune: His old theme song.
  • Brass Balls: Cena has had a couple of these moments, but a recent one that really stands out is walking to the middle of the ring and slapping Brock Lesnar right across the face.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • During every entrance, Cena says something straight into the camera. Actually, he breaks the fourth wall fairly often. If somebody in a promo says something completely insane, expect him to turn to the hard camera and give it a "WTF?" expression. Or this exchange (paraphrased):
      Cena: [regarding the 2012 Money In The Bank match, in which he had just announced his participation] ...I'm gonna win the whole fudgin' thing.
      Chris Jericho: ...fudgin'?!
      Cena: It's a PG show, that's the best I could do.
      Jericho: What are you, nine?
      Cena: Most of our viewers are around that age.
    • A lot of frustrations harbored by the audience toward John Cena come from his first response to almost every attempt by his feuding opponents to build up a serious or competitive mood being a smirk on his face, thereby ruining any momentum a given storyline has. As if the audience need to be reminded that professional wrestling is about drama and entertainment, much less that it's all a joke.
  • Bring It: His phrase "You Want Some, Come Get Some!"

  • Call-Back: The 4/23/12 RAW with Edge returning to pretty much give Cena a verbal smackdown for letting Brock Lesnar push him around. Edge made a thinly veiled suggestion that Cena goes back to his old self. At the contract signing for his match with Brock at the end of the show. Cena appeared to be wearing the same attire as he always did. Except that, instead of the 'dog tag' necklace, he was wearing a chain...
  • Canon Discontinuity: Even though he's occasionally (read: once or twice) dipped back into his Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick, WWE no longer says much, if anything, about his rap album - probably because it wasn't exactly family-friendly...
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Word Life."
    • "THE CHAMP IS HERE!" (This one is from one of his trainers, Samoa Joe)
    • "You Can't See Me!"
    • "My Time Is Now!"
    • "Hustle Loyalty Respect", although that is more of a Tagline on T-shirts and other merchandise.
    • "You Want Some, Come Get Some!"
    • In the latter part of his career, he’d look to the camera while at the entrance and say “Let’s go to work!” before running down to the ring.
    • "Fine speech!" in response to a promo, usually before he launches with a scathing counter-argument.
  • Celebrity Resemblance:
    • Marky Mark!
    • And he dressed as Vanilla Ice for Halloween, which kicked off the Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick.
  • Chained by Fashion: During his Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower
    • By his own admission, he's not the greatest wrestler, but he's strong enough to carry multiple wrestlers on his shoulders with ease.
    • He dragged The Big Show back into the cage at No Way Out 2012. By his leg.
    • He's hit the FU/Attitude Adjustment on Big Show, the Great Khali AND on VISCERA!
    • By far the biggest example came about at the end of his match at Wrestlemania 25, where he lifted both Edge and Big Show onto his shoulders at the same time.
    • Big Show himself has stated that Cena is one of the three strongest wrestlers he's ever worked with, the other two being Kane and Mark Henry.
      • He’s also explicitly noted that while other wrestlers like Brock Lesnar or Bill Goldberg can be stronger from an explosive point of view, Cena has an unmatched stability save for Henry and Kane, that when Cena picks up Show’s 500-lb frame, Show knows he’s completely safe with Cena for as long as Cena has him up.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: What his "Mexican cousin" Juan Cena alias looked to be before it was canned.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In a late 2014-early 2015 storyline, Cena was named, by Vince McMahon, the only person who had the power to bring The Authority (really just Stephanie and Triple H) back to WWE. Obviously, their most hated, bitter rival wasn't going to do so out of the goodness of his heart, but there had to be a reason the creative team came up with that stipulation. Apparently, it was so Seth Rollins could hold Edge hostage and threaten to break his surgically-repaired neck with a Curbstomp unless Cena brought back The Authority. It worked.
  • The Chew Toy:
    • 2012 was not a good year for Cena. He was terrorized by Kane for the first part of the year, being forced to helplessly watch his best bud Zack Ryder be made an example of, then he lost his WrestleMania match with The Rock due to him trying to beat Rocky at his own game when he could have won the match otherwise, then the next night on RAW, when calling out The Rock to congratulate him for his victory he was laid out by a returning Brock Lesnar.
    • And after his hellacious match with Lesnar, the next night he comes out with his arm in a cast, saying his arm was severely strained but not broken. Laurinitis comes out, saying he'll announce who Cena's opponent is at the next PPV. Cue Lord Tensai's music. When Tensai and his mook surround Cena, John Laurinaitis brains him from behind with the microphone. He announces that he'll be his opponent and then the three proceed to slaughter him, including wrapping his injured arm around a post and slamming it between a chair and the steps.
    • And then when he finally does get his hands on Laurinaitis, he loses that match because of The Big Show's betrayal, and gets knocked unconscious that night and the night after.
    • Then, when he finally finds some success with winning the Money in the Bank contract, he challenges CM Punk outright, as expected ... only to have Big Show attack him, thus be credited as the only MitB winner not to win the championship despite winning the match by DQ.
    • Has another incredible match with CM Punk, and finally manages to put him down with a top rope German Suplex. However, maybe due to having never done the move before, he doesn't do a complete bridge during pin, and thus is counted down as well, resulting in a draw and the championship remaining with Punk.
    • He's given another shot at a MitB briefcase in a ladder match vs. Dolph Ziggler... only to have AJ turn on him and cost him the match.
    • Extends to his personal life. Especially for a man known for his durability and recovery time, he's been injured frequently, including spraining his ankle so that it swelled to twice it size and an elbow injury that made him unable to compete at Hell in the Cell. Add to that a costly and drawn-out home renovation leading to some marital strife, and... Yeah, the guy's having a rough year.
    • He even admits that "2012 was not his year" in one of his last promos before the year ended. But he promised to make 2013 his year, and it got off to a good start, being the Royal Rumble Winner, and he did beat The Rock for the WWE Championship at WM 29. But then he got Triple-Powerbombed by The Shield... so maybe not.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Cena sticks up for just about everyone against the forces of evil. Anything that goes unchecked is simply because he's one man who can only deal with a single problem at a time. Also his initials.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: His jorts and his many arm- and wristbands.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: His Rap song called "Don't Wanna Fuck With Us"
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • He beat Batista in a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules 2010 with duct tape. He also beat Umaga at Royal Rumble 2007 with a broken ring rope.
    • An even cleverer finish would be back when he had first won the WWE Championship and was defending against JBL in a WrestleMania "I Quit" rematch: playing on JBL's obvious cowardice, he threatened to viciously maim him with a pipe in order to goad JBL into quitting. He did it anyways.
    • Hell, he had this in spades as the DoT. He won his first championship (the US title) against The Big Show this way. After dropping Show with an F-U (to which the crowd promptly lost it) and having Show kick out, Cena went over to his corner and grabbed his trademark chain. The ref, naturally, tried to stop him, so Cena threw the chain to the other side of the ring (forcing the ref to turn his back)...then popped up with brass knuckles, punched Big Show in the face, and gave him a second F-U for the win.
    • He won a 3-on-1 handicap match by pinning Seth Rollins while Rollins was distracted by Sting making a surprise appearance.
  • Composite Character: John Cena's entire character can be described as the ultimate blend of the blue collar grit and never-say-die attitude of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and the trash talking, smart aleck wit of The Rock.
  • Consummate Professional: Jim Cornette of all people has praised Cena for never being late, never no-showing a date, never "screwing up", and considers him one of the most trustworthy and reliable men in the business.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Cena's "Firefly Funhouse" match against Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 36 took him on a Mind Screw trip back through his entire career, from his initial debut against Kurt Angle to his Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick to his controversial match against Bray at WrestleMania 30.
  • Corrupt the Cutie:
    • His feud against Kane, where the Big Red Monster was determined to make the pure-hearted Cena "embrace the hate". After multiple attacks on Zack Ryder, including a chokeslam that ended up sending Ryder through the stage and to the hospital with a broken back, he seemed to had succeeded. Cena nearly gave Swagger a one man Con-chair-to with steel steps and the 1/30/12 beat down he gave to Kane is showing that there is something that's happening to him.
    • Note that during his beatdown of Kane that he seemed unnaturally happy, along with the somewhat random "We're gonna party up in here!" during it.
    • On the 2/13/12 RAW it seemed like he was just about to clock Ryder in the face after Ryder saw John accidentally kissing his girlfriend Eve due to John trying to save her from Kane.
    • Given that Cena decidedly beat Kane in an Ambulance Match at Elimination Chamber, perhaps he may have finally risen above the hatred.
  • Crowd Chant: "Let's go, Cena! / Cena sucks!" It worked quite well when he was feuding with Kane. It was even nominated for a Slammy in 2013. Eventually, it got to the point that many in the crowd chant both the "let's go Cena" and "Cena sucks" portions.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: His match with John Laurinaitis at Over The Limit 2012.
  • Cyborg: This was his gimmick as the Prototype. At River City Wrestling in 2006, he went back to The Prototype gimmick for his single night there.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Cena's tactic in drawing The Undertaker out of retirement for one final battle at Wrestlemania 34.
    Cena: You are NOT too old, you are NOT washed up, and you are NOT broken down!
  • Darker and Edgier: When he was The Doctor of Thuganomics.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable:
    • He is responsible for ending the undefeated streak of many wrestlers including Muhammad Hassan, Tensai, Bray Wyatt and Rusev. He also handed Edge his first loss in a TLC match at Unforgiven 2006.
    • While both men became main event superstars at the same time, Cena had never beaten Batista, which the latter would remind him during their feud in 2010. Cena would finally do so at [WrestleMania] XXVI, even repeating it twice at the following PPVs, which frustrated Batista enough to quit the WWE after his third-straight loss.
    • In Cena's eyes, CM Punk. Every encounter they've had, Punk had always come out on top. So for him to kick start his Road to WrestleMania, he accepted Punk's challenge for his Main Event spot on an episode of Raw. What followed was a near 30 minute match where Cena kicked out of, among other things, a piledriver, a move banned in WWE, and then finally defeated Punk.
    • Due to Cena's place within the WWE, defeating him can be seen as defeating the undefeatable.
    • History repeated in the form of AJ Styles. 2016 saw them go head to head and have Styles maintain a clean slate against his rival, until Cena finally defeated him at the 2017 Rumble.
  • Determinator:
    • As part of his gimmick, but also arguably just the man himself. When John Cena suffers a major injury, expect him to come back from it in half the amount of time it would take anyone else. This was played up in his comeback from a triceps tear. Originally he was going to be out for four-six months, but came back after two months. All throughout his match against Alberto Del Rio the commentators was discussing whether or not Cena was coming back too soon. It also led to widespread suspicion that the triceps tear is kayfabe.
    • This trope is how the booking justifies Cena being on the top of the food chain. He's admitted he isn't the best wrestler or the strongest (although, pound for pound, he's darn close to one of the strongest) but he never, ever quits while he's still conscious.
    • Lampshaded during the December 2, 2013 episode of RAW when tearing down Randy Orton.
      Cena: I'm not an Apex Predator. I'm just John Cena.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: From his Do It Yourself Theme Song "Basic Thuganomics": "No Deadman Inc. and we're about to make you famous"note 
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: He used his trademark "Word life" brass knuckles to defeat UPW Light heavyweight Champion Frankie Kazarian but when the referee raised John Cena's hand in victory, he found one of them, reversing the decision.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: After he took his rapper gimmick, building on his freestyle skills, he has provided his own theme music twice ("Basic Thuganomics" then "The Time Is Now", a theme Cena is still using to this day ten years on, even though said gimmick has been dropped) in collaboration with his cousin, Tha Trademarc.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • His first run in WWE, dubbed his "Ruthless Aggression" run after his debut promo, saw him play a rather generic bodybuilder-turned-wrestler in a main-event run that quickly fizzled out. That lasted from June to October of 2002, when he picked up the Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick and fully established himself as one of WWE's top stars.
    • His "Never Give Up" motto is reinforced by his absolute refusal to tap out in any match. That rule wasn't present very early in his WWE career, in which he did tap out against Kurt Angle at No Mercy 2003, and on television against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
    • Before he settled into his wholesome babyface image, some of his promos in the mid-2000s can qualify as this. For example, in his promo the night after New Year's Revolution 2005, he told the fans who didn't like him to "kiss his ass", something the John Cena we all know now would never say.
  • Enemies Equals Greatness: This seems to be a case with Cena today. According to the WWE, it doesn't matter whether Cena is cheered or booed; what matters is that he gets the biggest crowd reaction in all of WWE. Not to mention that selling all of the "Cena Sucks" T-shirts for his haters helped boost his merchandise.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • During his late 2003 Heel run, while he and Lesnar made it clear that they still don't like each other, they teamed up to get their Revenge on The Undertaker and Kurt Angle. Then Cena indirectly ditches Lesnar after pinning Angle, which ends with Lesnar being chokeslammed through the announce table by the Undertaker.
    • He's had several short reigns as a Tag champion, and most of them have been like this. His runs with The Miz and David Otunga played it pretty straight. (Neither reign lasted more than a day, and coincidentally, he lost both titles to the same team - also from The Nexus.)
    • Subverted with his team-up with Batista. The two obviously couldn't stand each other and their inability to work together cost them the titles a week after winning them. His reign with Shawn Michaels was a rocky one, and while it was the longest one he had as a tag champ, with 63 days, the two were set to compete for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Cena knew that Shawn had a tendency to kick the people he was teaming/allying with, in the face. They made it past WrestleMania, with Cena retaining his WWE Championship, then, well, kick to the face.
    • Also subverted with The Rock. They teamed against Awesome Truth and won...but the match ended up becoming a junk-measuring contest between the two, and ended with Cena catching a Rock Bottom.
  • Epic Fail:
    • He was on the receiving end of Mick Foley's own Epic Fail: a "This Is Your Life" segment. "This Is Your Life" with the Rock is the highest rated segment in RAW historynote  "This Is Your Life" with John Cena is so painfully (yet hilariously) bad that if anything, it will make you pity him.
    • The episode where he made the Money in the Bank briefcase useless by losing to CM Punk.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His first match with the WWE- going the distance against the previously unstoppable Kurt Angle, almost winning, refusing to give up and offering to shake Angle's hand after losing.
  • Exact Words
    • How he kept Barrett from winning the Championship. Barrett had told Cena, who was the guest-ref in the WWE Championship match against Randy Orton that if he were to lose, Cena would be fired. Barrett won... through Cena disqualifying Orton, which kept the gold in the Viper's hands.
    • On the 4/8/13 episode of Raw, Cena finally gave us a heel literally turning his right heel.
  • Expy:
    • Although the usual comparison to Cena is Hulk Hogan, Cena is also very similar to early 90s Sting. Both have similar body types, hairstyles, and wrestling styles (a speedy yet still power-based moveset).
    • A "blue-chipper" face who turned heel, lashed out at fans and other wrestlers over a lack of respect, gains the respect of fans through his "witty" insults and competitive nature, becomes something of an Anti-Hero by directing his insults towards Heel wrestlers and authority figures, and eventually becomes a full-fledged Face and very integral part of the WWE, not to mention a movie star...Where have we seen this before?
    • He also somewhat resembles his trainer Tom Howard, sharing his military gimmick tones (marine in Cena and green beret in Howard), allrounder wrestling style, body type and athleticism.
  • Extreme Doormat: To Wade Barrett, unwillingly.
  • Face:
    • This should be obvious, with his current Good Guy gimmick and whatnot.
    • Cena's a notable case in that he hasn't turned in almost a decade, practically unheard of these days. Only Rey Mysterio beats him out for the title of this generation's Ricky Steamboat (he's only ever been heel once in his entire career, and WWE ignores the fact that it ever happened since it was WCW), which is why he's called the "Modern Day Hulk Hogan", who has actually played a heel for noticeable amount of time.

  • Failure Is the Only Option: Cena's current situation essentially. Being basically both officially the biggest Face and virtually the biggest Heel, the only thing Cena can do that won't be hated by half the audience is to not appear on the show at all. If he sticks to his 'Hustle-Loyalty-Respect' persona, there are usually responses to that. However, if he tries to show some edge or attitude... well, you can just look at Critical Backlash and Designated Hero to see how well that has been accepted.
  • Finishing Move: The Attitude Adjustment (formerly the "F-U", a shot at the "F-5" finishing maneuver of Brock Lesnar who he was feuding with at the time, because both moves start by lifting the target into a fireman's carry); the STF (formerly the "STF-U"). The Protobomb as The Prototype.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: In real life, Cena and Orton became buddies between their time in OVW and WWE, hence the reason why they had a legendary long-lasting in-ring rivalry.
  • Five Moves of Doom: Here's his current sequence: Shoulder tackle x 2, Blue Thunder Powerbombnote , Five Knuckle Shuffle, Attitude Adjustment. Most of the time, the STF is added as a sixth move.
    • He's been subverting it frequently as of late and pulling out a lot of new moves out of the bag when you least expect it. Absolutely no one expected him to do a freaking Canadian Destroyer to Kevin Owens or a Sunset Flip Powerbomb on AJ Styles. It could be argued that since both Owens and Styles are two of the absolute best workers in professional wrestling, Cena feels more confident in pulling off moves he never usually performs when wrestling with either of them.
    • Played for Laughs with his hyped up "Sixth Move Of Doom". It's just him punching someone in the face.
  • Flung Clothing:
    • Does this whenever he wants to kick some ass, with his hat and his T-shirt.
    • He tossed his shirt into the crowd at ECW One Night Stand 2006. The crowd promptly threw it back. At least twice.
    • This happened again on Raw's August 22, 2011 episode, when he had a match against CM Punk, twice.
  • Foreshadowing: During Cena's "The Reason You Suck" Speech over The Undertaker not getting over with his loss to Reigns back at WrestleMania 33, he asked the fans if they wanted to see The Undertaker at WrestleMania 34, kicking his ass and then delivering a Tombstone Piledriver on him in front of 75,000 people. The Undertaker did just that to Cena three weeks later.
  • For Great Justice: For the troops/kids!
  • Friend to All Children: Cena has granted 500 wishes and counting for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, more than any other celebrity to date.
  • Fun Personified: At the end of the day, John Cena is a children's TV character. He is designed with this in mind. Teenagers have Orton and slightly darker, more edgy guys. Adults can have their Owens, Ambrose and other ex-Indie stars with an ever-changing move set and slightly more intricate characters, because we can appreciate that. Cena isn't the IWC's wrestler, and for the most part they have accepted this.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: His knee injury in 2004, his torn pec muscle in 2007, his neck injury in 2008, his elbow injury in 2012 and his torn triceps in 2013.
  • Genre Savvy: Cena wasn't joking when he said that should The Undertaker show up at WrestleMani 34, he'll get his ass whooped.
  • Gentle Giant: Outside the ring, you couldn't meet a nicer, friendlier, and kinder man.
  • Good Is Not Soft: A consistent trait of his persona is that he openly welcomes any challenge for any reason. ("If you want some, come get some"). He will accept and he will fight you with just as much effort and motivation as if you are The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels (the 'Respect' part of Hustle. Loyalty. Respect). And if you do manage to beat him, he will sincerely congratulate you, and even go to bat for you if needed. However, if you misjudged yourself or him and you're not up to task, he will have no mercy or hesitation about steamrolling you. Now, this would be perfectly acceptable ... except this aspect of his gimmick is downplayed if not outright ignored. So, he is often cast as fighting morally even when he doesn't have that. This leads to the multiple narrative disconnects in his feuds, when simply going with this trope and SinkOrSwimMentor would be easier to take, even fresh and novel.
  • Healing Factor: Damn near; John Cena's ability to recover from injury or surgery in about half the projected time is practically supernatural. It really does verge on an actual no-joke superpower
  • Heel: He was heel as the Doctor Of Thugamomics for most of 2003 until he Turned Face and eventually became the Cena we know today.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Cena's first heel run as Doctor of Thuganomics saw him cutting raps on everyone and insulting them in a very humorous manner, which led the fans to cheer for him more and more, which led to his Face turn, and eventually becoming the face of the company.
  • Heel Realization: At the climax of Cena's harrowing Firefly Funhouse match at WrestleMania 36, Cena (who had ended up in the role of "Hollywood" John Cena in nWo colours) had Bray down on the mat and was brutally whaling on him, only to suddenly find himself beating up Huskus the Pig Boy, the most childlike and innocent of Bray's cadre of creepy puppets, and a look of shocked horror appeared on his face as he realised what he'd been doing. But by that stage, he'd already let The Fiend in...
  • The Hero: Of the Ruthless Aggression and PG Eras, though he started out as a Villain Protagonist until late 2003. He would later play the role of a Supporting Protagonist in the Reality and New Eras.
  • Hero Antagonist: At times against HHH.
  • Heroic BSoD: He opens Raw on April 28th, 2014, questioning why why the WWE universe turned their back on him and had him fight all three of the Wyatts note , and then stating that Bray isn't the man the audience thinks he is. Then the arena goes dark and the lights come back on to reveal of choir of children chanting Bray's signature "The Whole World in His hands" mantra, culminating in the entire arena joining in. By the end of the promo, Cena is very visibly shaken by the event.
    • The Firefly Funhouse Match at Wrestlemania 36 was just Bray Wyatt brutally tearing Cena apart psychologically in order to force this on John Cena.
  • Heroic Build: He's not exceptionally tall, (although at 6'1" he's certainly tall enough), but he's really ripped and large for his height, and every bit as strong as he looks. Hilariously, on the 1000th episode of Raw, when he offered one of his armbands for the Rock to throw while doing the People's Elbow, it was comically oversized. For the Rock, who is in his own right, a very large and muscular man.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Push John Cena hard enough and you will be (rudely) reminded that ultimately, he is a thug at heart and he always will be. Cena has no issue snapping back to "Ruthless Aggression" and becoming the good Doctor of Thuganomics again if he's in a bad enough mood.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Invoked during his recent feud with Kane.
  • Hidden Depths/Genius Bruiser: He has a degree in Exercise Physiology.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • How he didn't win against The Rock at WrestleMania 28 - Cena had Rock set-up for the 5-Knuckle Shuffle, but instead decided to beat him with the People's Elbow... only for Rock to get-up & hit Cena with a Rock Bottom as he comes off the ropes for the second time. Cena put emphasis on this on the last RAW before WrestleMania 29 as part of his promo about how as far as he (and by extension the WWE booking) is concerned, the Rock did NOT beat him in WM 28.
    • Also how he didn't win the WWE Championship at Night Of Champions 2012 - Cena hit Punk with a German Suplex but didn't lift his shoulders.
  • Honor Before Reason: Cena is often like this when it comes to the integrity of the WWE Championship. He refused to help Wade Barrett cheat to win said championship during the Nexus angle and prevented Vince McMahon from re-enacting the Montreal Screwjob in his Money in the Bank match against CM Punk, even though the former led to his being fired (for a while) and the latter almost did, as well as it leading to him losing the title.
  • Hot-Blooded: Some of Cena's (better) promos fall into this territory.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: Ever since he turned face, any time Cena is in a gimmick match this will invariably happen to him.
  • Humble Hero: Ever since the Money in the Bank debacle, Cena has summed up his philosophy as "titles come and titles go." There is now very little separation between Cena the wrestler and Cena the man: he wrestles to put smiles on childrens' faces.
    • Does not like any excessive promotion of his charity work. He might be the celebrity most involved with Make-A-Wish, but to him it's not by any means for publicity.
    • Subverted in that he still gets by far the most focus in WWE's charity promotions and even used Make-a-Wish as a point defending himself in a promo at one point.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: During his feud with The Rock, Cena attacked Rock for being a Hollywood bigshot who didn't care about wrestling and was only focused on being an actor. Later on, as Cena left wrestling full-time in gradual steps and became a Hollywood actor himself, he's since acknowledged in public interviews that he was hypocritical in how he once attacked The Rock.

  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Seems to be what Cena's inner conflict during his feud with Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania XXX was intended to be.
    • Bray Wyatt tries this again against Cena at Wrestlemania 36. He succeeds.
  • I Let You Win: Cena's responses to WrestleMania 28 and SummerSlam 2014 are essentially this.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness:
    • Multiple heels have persuaded him to forgo his code, with some even arguing that it's become little more than pandering at this point. While he usually does develop more of a mean streak during the programs this takes place in, he always refuses the Face–Heel Turn out of respect for the fans who support him for who he is.
      • This was finally deconstructed along with Cena's entire career in the Firefly Funhouse match. At one point, Bray brought Cena back to their infamous WrestleMania 30 match, where he'd tried to tempt Cena to hit him with a chair, and this time Cena went for it, swinging the chair at Bray- who simply vanished. Throughout the match, Bray repeatedly made the point that Cena may never have turned heel, despite this being what the fans wanted, but he was still a bully who kept others down while claiming to be the good guy.
    • He's also this to an improbable extent in real life; despite being hated by tons of fans and remaining a controversial figure for almost a decade, he never shows ill will towards his detractors (compare Randy Orton, who couldn't help but give the fans the finger out of frustration when he was booed for one match). Additionally, he's squeaky clean outside the ring, never gets involved with legal troubles or tumultuous relationships, lives for charities (he's literally a record-breaking Make-a-Wish Foundation contributor, having granted more wishes for the organization than anyone since its founding), and is a consummate professional at pretty much all times. He's the definition of what a company wants from their poster boy, which may explain why he's been on top of WWE for so long.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • During the Viewers' Choice Raw match with CM Punk (prior to The Nexus's debut riot), fans started up a "You can't wrestle!" chant. Cena promptly performed a slick series of chain wrestling reversals that silenced the audience. This also happened during the infamous One Night Stand match. The Mutants kept yelling "YOU CAN'T WRESTLE", before Cena performed a sequence of wrestling holds and submissions, at which point they started chanting "SAME OLD SHIT!"... until Cena jumped from the top rope to RVD outside the ring. The ECW Mutants shot back with "YOU STILL SUCK!".
    • Happened again to CM Punk when he aired a promo from the Rock making fun of Cena for his Broken Base, Punk himself doing the same thing. See Lampshade Hanging below and you can probably figure out how Cena responded.
    • This happened on a post-Survivor Series Raw when Awesome Truth (The Miz and R-Truth) decided to mock Cena for having the Madison Square Garden fans all booing him the night before, and cheering The Rock. Of course, Cena turned the attempted insult right around into a brilliant "The Reason You Suck" Speech so magnificent that he broke up Awesome Truth without even laying a finger on Miz or Truth.
  • Ironic Echo: At the end of the Firefly Funhouse match against Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 36, Cena is on the mat, fading in The Fiend's Mandible Claw, and we hear Cena's own voice repeating what he said during a (borderline heel) promo he'd cut on Bray before the match:
  • Irony:
    • Cena, much in the vein of Edge never becoming a (first-generation) Grand Slam Champion while his less successful tag team partner Christian did, is not a Triple Crown Champion. This is because Cena has been almost exclusively connected to the United States Championship for all of his WWE career. While the US title is technically a secondary title on par with the Intercontinental title, the WWE has never acknowledged it as such by making it an alternative title for the Triple Crown. Thus, Cena, who has never won the Intercontinental title, has not achieved a status that has been achieved by several other, less successful WWE superstars, despite being the biggest superstar in the business. And at this point in his career, it's unlikely he ever will.
    • Despite being the most successful wrestler in modern-day wrestling, Cena did the worst against The Undertaker at WrestleMania out of just about all of 'Taker's opponents. Every single one of his rivals who faced off against Taker at 'Mania (Randy Orton, Batista, Edge, CM Punk, etc.) came within inches of ending the Streak before it was finally broken by Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX and he was temporarily retired by Roman Reigns at 33. Cena, when he wrestled 'Taker at 34, suffered a Curb-Stomp Battle and flat-out got his ass kicked by the Deadman, never getting to have a classic match with him like everyone else did.
  • It's Personal:
    • His feud with Randy Orton is easily the most personal feud in years, to the point that Cena's father got involved. Their last match for the feud, the infamous Bragging Rights sixty-minute iron man match, had Orton try to blow Cena up with pyrotechnics. And even after the feud has long since ended, it's obvious that the two still can't stand each other, even when they're both faces.
    • In his Miracle on 34th Street Fight match with Alberto Del Rio, who "accidentally" ran St. Nick over with his car when entering the stage.
      Cena: FOR SANTAAAAA!!
  • Jerkass: When he was heel.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cena is this in real life. He may be an ass sometimes (just ask The Rock), but make no mistake, he's a Friend to All Children, a charity guy, and a devoted WWE Superstar to boot.
  • Kid-Appeal Character:
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Some people may think Cena attacking Edge in a hotel may be bad, even throwing Edge in the Long Island Sound, but he had plenty of reasons to be mad.

  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Have you seen the chin on this man?
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • In Cena's goodbye speech, he does this to his fanbase, by having "all the girls and little kids say "Let's Go Cena" and all the dudes over 18 say "Cena sucks".
    • Is very aware of the mixed reaction he gets from the fans and references it almost weekly.
  • Large Ham:
    • At this point, it's possible that fans tune into Raw just to see how much scenery he will chew.
    • Talking quietly to convey seriousness AND THEN YELLING LOUDLY TO CONVEY INTENSITY!!!
    • You know the scary part? Age has mellowed him. Watch him doing "Five Questions with The Champ/with John Cena," they give him five questions from fans, turn on a camera, and let it roll, and Cena usually like an over-caffeinated squirrel the entire time. Many of them are on Youtube, enjoy.
  • Leitmotif: "Basic Thuganomics" and "The Time is Now", both of which Cena recorded himself.
  • Lesser of Two Evils:
    • This was the reason he gave for not participating in the Raw walk out. Whereas many of the strikers were relatively new and had only known Raw with Triple H as GM, Cena as a long-runner had experienced the management styles of Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff (who had it out for him in 2005), Vickie Guerrero and "56 celebrity General Managers". In comparison to all of that, he decided Triple H wasn't so bad, despite his personal dislike for Trips.
    • Defended his decision to bring back The Authority by claiming that he was not willing to gamble with a man's life, not just acknowledging that bringing The Authority back was the lesser of the two evils, but also claiming that he would make the same decision every time if he had to do it over again.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Leader of "The Cenation" as compared to "The Doctor of Thuganomics."
    • 2012 was a hazy period in WWE history. "Summer of Punk" had come and gone, with Punk still champ but Cena in every main event. It really seemed like there were two different shows going on at the same time: There was the actual wrestling show starring Punk and Daniel Bryan, and then there was the Cena and Johnny Ace comedy variety hour.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • See Combat Pragmatist. Ain't no rule that says you can't duct-tape your opponent's legs behind the ringpost to ensure he can't make it to his feet in a Last Man Standing match.
    • This worked both for and against Cena at TLC 2013: Ain't no rule saying Randy Orton can't handcuff Cena to the ring ropes while Orton climbs the ladder to victory, and nothing stopped Cena from unscrewing the rope from the corner post in a last-ditch effort to stop him.
  • Lovable Rogue: As the Doctor of Thuganomics.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Arguably in Real Life, but definitely booked this way - sometimes to nonsensical levels. He is the idol of millions of children and his #1 catch phrase is "Never give up". The very idea of having little kids see their hero give up and tap out because of too much pain? What kind of message would it send to the kids if the man who never quits and never gives up is beaten by a heel? That evil prevails? Can't have that. (Also, he sells a shit-ton of merch that says "NEVER GIVE UP". That's a consideration, too.) If a submission hold is directly responsible for Cena losing, it's because he passed out a la Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13.
    • He's taken a DDT on concrete and gone on to recover minutes later and win the match, he was out for only a week (although clearly weakened) after Big Show chokeslammed him from the stage and into an industrial-sized searchlight, and JBL at one point ran his vehicle full-speed at Cena, whose back was literally against a wall. Oh yeah, and he got stabbed in a night club and recovered pretty quickly. With no visible scars.
    • Dented Iron: To put it simply, John Cena, circa 2012. He got his ass kicked by anything that's not nailed down, but it almost always required outside interference, and injury that occurred before the match, or (in case of WrestleMania 28) a lapse of judgment on his part for him to lose a match. Some wrestling fans have joked that this man can kick out of getting nuked.
  • Manchild: Cena has been criticized for cutting "Childish" promos in recent memory. But when Cena gets serious, prepare to be attacked with words.
  • Montreal Screwjob: Invoked and defied in his Money in the Bank 2011 match against CM Punk. Michael Cole mentioned that Bret Hart tried to leave the (then) WWF with the title, leading to the screwjob, then Vince McMahoncame in and tried to end the match without Punk tapping while Punk was in the STS. Cena stopped the hold and came out and told Vince that the match would end fair and square.
  • Moral Myopia
    • WWE portrays everything Cena does as just and everything that anybody who opposes him as unjust: a glaring example is his feud with Ryback where he's vilified for attacking Cena from behind. A few years back when Cena did the exact same thing to The Rock it was perfectly A-OK. This does the absolute opposite of quelling his hatedom.
    • Played With on the April 22, 2013 edition of RAW. It looked like Cena was going to do the exact same thing Ryback did to him the week before (leave him to The Shield). Instead, he rushes the ring and saves Ryback from the Shield. He then gives Ryback an Attitude Adjustment himself.
  • Morton's Fork: The smarks are utterly sick of Cena for being an incorruptible pure-white babyface forever and never changing. A heel turn would probably do his wrestling cred no end of good, and if he was pretty much any other wrestler, that's probably what he'd do. But he is THE #1 childrens' idol in wrestling history, particularly the sick kids he helps for Make-A-Wish, so having him turn heel would be nothing short of cruel, if not outright inhumane. He'd be damned if he did, so he continues to be damned for not doing it, doing his best to tune out the endless torrents of hate he gets from the people he knows he just can't please.
  • Mr. Exposition: Often begins his promo with an infodump of the angle he's involved in, recounting everything that's happened recently.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He's a blue-eyed, square-jawed, well-built All-American Boy who has a hilarious sense of humor and likes working with Make-A-Wish kids. It's not just little kids that are cheering for Cena.
  • Nice Guy: If there was a list for "Nicest Men", he would be really high on that list. It's almost scary how squeaky clean Cena is outside of the ring. He never gets in trouble with the law, with WWE policies, he shows up to perform as often as humanly possible, and hasn't had any squabbles with WWE at all that might lead to his quitting the company.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: He had a business dinner with A.J. Lee, which, all in all, wouldn't really have been that much of a problem... except that he'd asked her out on a date before hand. On Raw. Vickie Guerrero took advantage of this, said AJ was fraternizing and subsequently, AJ lost her job as the GM.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Usually takes a moment to greet the cameraman when he enters the arena.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Cena's been involved in a few of these, including his Extreme Rules match with Rob Van Dam at ECW One Night Stand 2006 and his No-DQ Iron Man Match with Randy Orton at Bragging Rights in 2009.
    • Gives one to Kane in revenge for what Kane had done to Zack Ryder.
    • He got absolutely destroyed by Lesnar for most of their Extreme Rules match. Don't believe me? The ref had to to stop the match twice in 5 minutes because Lesnar busted him open the hard way, twice.
    • Any match that's a gimmick match, be it a Last Man Standing Match or and Iron Man match, Cena will for the majority of it get his ass handed to him.
    • Was subjected to a long horrifying one by Bray Wyatt in their Firefly Funhouse Match at Wrestlemania 36.
  • No-Sell: Cena has been criticized for doing this quite a bit since his rise to the main event.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: His "Doctor of Thuganomics" Red Baron has led to some female online fans calling themselves the "Nurse of Thuganomics."
  • Not Wearing Tights: Really the only time Cena has worn tights in WWE was the first few months when he debuted in 2002.

  • Obvious Rule Patch: "Babyface must join the heel faction" angles usually have the rather glaring Plot Hole that the babyface doesn't really need to stay in the group and do as he's told. Raw's anonymous GM fixed that up by declaring that Cena would be fired unless he did as Wade Barrett commanded. (Cena still openly defied him anyway.)
  • Odd Friendship: While Cena doesn't have an on-screen feud with Samoa Joe yet, they do had a good time in real life. Some fans must be wondering if Joe's "failure" speech to Reigns is almost identical to Cena's.
  • Oh, Crap!: Cena had a great one at the 2018 Royal Rumble when he came in to a massive ovation, played to the crowd, charged down the ramp, slid into the ring and stood up... only to find all five of the guys already in (Finn Bálor, Elias, Andrade "Cien" Almas, Shinsuke Nakamura and Seth Rollins) not fighting each other, but standing around in a semicircle, waiting for him. Commence Dog Pile of Doom.
    • He got an even more hilarious one at WrestleMania the same year when he finally got his wish of a match against The Undertaker. After knocking the Deadman down and going for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, Taker's iconic Sit Up spot startled him so badly he stumbled back and fell on his ass.
    • Cena arguably gave his biggest "Oh Crap" reaction of all during Wrestlemania 36 when he realizes that he's been beating up Huskus the Pig and NOT Bray Wyatt. Then Bray Wyatt appears behind him in his Fiend persona...
  • One-Hit Kill: His FU in most of his Non-PPV matches.
  • Once per Episode: His Five Moves of Doom.
    • During most of his solo entrances, he'll turn and say a slogan directly to the camera filming him.
  • Parts Unknown: (As the Prototype in OVW) "Classified," later Area 51.
  • Pec Flex: While he dosen't really do it, there are some instances where one of his pecs would flex. But you have to pay close attention.
  • Pixellation: When WWE turned PG in 2008, they changed Cena's TitanTron, But they blurred the "Ruck Fules" on Cena's cap.
  • Popularity Power:
    • Just one of the reasons Cena's pushed as WWE's current-day Hulk Hogan. He's still the face on the top-selling merchandise.
    • He used this to force Vince McMahon to let Punk come back to get the match he'd earned.
  • Power Stable:
    • (As the Prototype in OVW): Bolin Services
    • Unwillingly, the Nexus.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    • Does this a lot. One example was his 2012 Squash Match with Michael Cole.
      John Cena: We're gonna remember you as the guy tonight who got his ASS kicked!
    • Another one in 2013 against Ryback.
      John Cena: I think this Sunday for one of us, Payback's a BITCH!
  • Precision F-Strike
    • For all the criticism he receives for being overtly pandering towards children, he is one of the biggest pottymouths on WWE television:
    • The 10/25/10 edition of RAW saw Cena slipping in a "damn" into his rant against Wade Barrett. In PG-WWE, where swear words are just not used, this was used to show that things have gotten serious, to great effect.
    • He said on the 1/10/11 edition that he would kick CM Punk's ass.
    • Hit Eve Torres with a pretty strong one on an episode of Raw. Comparing her to The Rock, Cena rounds off his promo with "You're perfect for each other! You're both scandalous bitches.'"
    • On the 6/10/13 edition of RAW, he hit Ryback with a strong one.
      Cena: I think this Sunday, for one of us, payback's a bitch.
    • What's likely the most glaring example of Cena's entire career was on the March 28, 2017 episode of SmackDown Live, to The Miz:
      Cena: In ten years here at the WWE, you still haven't got the one rule that we live by: You wanna talk tough, you better be tough, and you a pussy.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: As the Doctor Of Thuganomics. Lampshaded when he tries Battle Rapping against Kurt Angle.
    Kurt Angle: Wow, John... I didn't think it was possible... but I think I finally found somebody in the company who's whiter than I am.
  • Product Placement: From his theme song "My Time Is Now":
    Cena: I brush your mouth like Colgate.
  • Put on a Bus: Whenever an injury is severe enough to warrant surgery and time off. He's notorious for working through any injury he has and coming back sooner then expected. The only time he's been gone any length of time was when he tore his pec in 2007 and was expected to be out up till 8 months only to come back after nearly 4 months. The other times he's been gone is due to kayfabe injuries earlier in his career.

  • Raging Stiffie: Cena has gotten a boner multiple times. here's one of them.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: At Night of Champions 2012, Cena started wearing a pink "Rise Above Cancer" shirt, armbands and cap as part of the 'E's partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. He also invoked this on the 9/24/12 episode of RAW, right after kicking CM Punk's ass for dissing his hat and shirt.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The man is so good at it, he has his own page.
  • Red Baron: The "Doctor of Thuganomics" in his original gimmick. Doesn't usually use a Red Baron on TV nowadays, although vignettes and extra media will occasionally stick a "The Incomparable" before his name or refer to him as "The Franchise."
  • Reformed Criminal: In kayfabe. Given that the Doctor of Thuganomics is a delinquent Anti-Hero, he could be seen as this at the time.
  • Ricky Morton: Despite his boring invincible hero status, Cena played the part of the weaker, beat about wrestler on Raw in the UK in November 2012. His tag partner? The monster Ryback.
  • The Rival:
    • Batista ever since the 2005 Royal Rumble until Big Dave's Face–Heel Turn in late 2009. By the time of their WrestleMania 26 encounter, Batista is portrayed as the Rival Turned Evil.
    • He and CM Punk have had a very steady rivalry (as in, all of Cena's title matches have been against him) since "The Promo" in mid-2011. And in late 2012, CM Punk went heel as well.
    • He and Randy Orton have had a very long rivalry dating back to 2007 when Orton Punt Kicked Cena's dad to get a title shot. They have been feuding sense then and the rivalry ended in late-2009 when Cena beat Orton in a 60-Minute Iron Man match, but their rivalry reignited once again in late-2013 with what Cena called to be "The end of this rivalry" but it could reignite at any moment.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • After being 'fired' from The Nexus, Cena's backstage sneak attacks on Nexus members.
    • He went on another against Kane for what Kane had done to Zack Ryder.
  • Rogues Gallery: He has managed attract a lot of foes over the years: Edge, Randy Orton, Kurt Angle, The Nexus, Brock Lesnar, JBL, The Big Show, The Miz, Batista, Kane, CM Punk, The Rock, Dolph Ziggler (AJ Lee may or may not qualify).
  • Running Gag: During the brief period CM Punk joined the RAW commentary team in late 2010, whenever Cena got into a fight near the announcers table, he would end up spilling Punk's diet soda. To the point that Cena initially assumed their feud in early-2011 was because Punk was still pissed about the soda.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: While it was an honorable notion to welcome "Naitch" back with his "Superstar of the Year" Slammy, you can't help but feel like the NUCLEAR heat he was getting from the Philly crowd was the real reason Cena booked it and handed things off to Ric.
  • Self-Deprecation: Cena isn't afraid to poke fun at himself, such as during his retirement speech and during some of his promos concerning The Rock.
    Cena: It sounds unbelievable... but The Rock got shook up by a prep-school thug with no balls that dresses like a Wonder Woman transvestite. I mean, seriously, take a look, head to toe, drink this in... [gestures to himself] I look ridiculous! I'm wearing orange and silver shoes with black socks! That ain't even the worst part! I came out to talk to you people tonight and I'm wearing knee pads! Knee pads to talk to you, there's ten thousand jokes right there.
  • Semper Fi: As mentioned he played a Marine in... well, The Marine. This had ebbed over into his wrestling gimmick and even been used for his SmackDown Vs Raw storyline.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: He fought hard to get The Authority out of power and his team eventually succeeded in doing so at Survivor Series...only to bring them back a month later on the final Raw of 2014 when Seth Rollins called his hand when he threatened to paralyze(and even murder) Edge when the latter was a guest host.
  • Shout-Out: The FU is a Take That! to rival Brock Lesnar's F5 while the Attitude Adjustment is a shout out to Heat jobber and Raw Hillary Clinton impersonator Lexie Fyfe's Attitude Adjusternote . They also start as standing fireman's carries. The move itself is pretty much identical to Christopher Daniels's pole arm, as 'Prototype' got some pointers from him in UPW.
    • His infamous 8-bit T-shirt introduced in 2008 is actually a parody of the cover of Pro Wrestling, a game from the NES.
  • Showy Invincible Hero: You can torture him, mangle him, even outright beat him to a pulp. But Cena WILL come back. Good luck if you didn't bring any backup.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • Delivered an epic one to Randy Orton on the December 2, 2013 edition of Raw, followed by a huge "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
      Randy Orton: C'mon, John, c'mon John, we have history, remember? I kicked your father in the head a few years ago. And since then, I've been making a hell of a career for myself, destroying the hopes and dreams of others and turning them into nightmares, which is exactly what I'm going to do to you at TLC. There's a reason they call me the Apex Predator, and despite all your accomplishments, all your achievements...the only reason you were put on God's green Earth is to lose the biggest match of your—
      John Cena: Would you just shut up!? Honestly, these people are tired and you sound ridiculous! "I turn dreams into nightmares!" Where the hell did you get that one, a fortune cookie!?
    • He also gives one to Stephanie McMahon on 6/2/14 about her rant against Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella.
  • Sigil Spam: Shirts, wristbands, titantron, stage graphics, his hand sign is visible nearly everywhere.
  • Significant Monogram: Not intentional, Or is it?
  • Slave to PR:
    • His real life association with the Make-A-Wish Foundation is the true reason Cena has been a perpetual babyface since 2006. But he definitely does not do it for the good PR. He genuinely enjoys it and wants no part of receiving credit or recognition for it.
    • Cena never gives up because if he did that would send a bad message to terminally ill kids. Just process that for a minute. In theory, Cena's loss (or retirement) could be the last thing those kids ever see. That's why he works through pain. Returns to work far sooner than he should. And appears in nearly every show. (Basically the same reason Pre-Hollywood Hogan would always win, but with less politicking.)
  • Small Name, Big Ego: During his Doctor of Thuganomics heel run.
  • Smug Super: Whenever Cena has to deal with his detractors, he will do it with the smuggest, shit-eating grin possible and rub it in everyone's face. His feuds with the Rock, CM Punk, and AJ Styles have made for a lot of examples, not only from said grin, but from a frustratingly excessive amount of the things he's said to them in promos.
  • Spectacular Spinning: His spinner championships.
  • Spoonerism:
    • Ruck Fules!
    • Go Puck Yourself!
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad:
    • From 2005-2011, Cena competed in one of the World Championship matches in every WrestleMania and only lost twice.
    • Since 2006 his title matches at WrestleMania were always at the main event or higher in the card despite his challenger or he himself didn't won the Royal Rumble. Subverted in 2008, ironically, when he won the Rumble, but his title match wasn't in the main event. And in 2009, where the actual Rumble winner challenged the champion in that year's WM main event.
  • Squash Match: The Undertaker put him down in less than three minutes at WrestleMania 34.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: There's a small but growing number of Smarks that are honestly getting tired of the endless Cena bashing. It's not that they like him, it's just that after five years, it's obvious that WWE aren't going to change anything and have basically come to accept that Cena's just something they have to deal with. Now they just feel like it would be a much better use of time and effort to critique the other aspects of WWE that piss them off.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: He once lifted The Big Show and Edge at the same time. Yet, he has been portrayed as unable to lift Umaga (during their 2007 feud) and Kane (at Royal Rumble 2012). The Kane example was really strange since Cena had lifted him several times before.
  • Take That!: Kayfabe example. During his feud with Brock Lesnar in early 2003, he named his finishing move "The F-U" as a dig at Lesnar, whose finishing move was "The F-5." He has since renamed the move "Attitude Adjustment," falling more in line with the PG direction the WWE was heading towards, and possibly as a dig at the fans who fondly recall the Attitude Era and harbor resentment towards Cena for representing the company's shift away from it,
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • There was a group of Anti-Cena fans sitting in the front row at WrestleMania XXVI. After winning the match, Cena responded by posing in front of them.
    • This promo the day after Edge cashed in money in the bank to beat Cena for the WWE Championship in 2006. Cena had something to say to the audience:
      Cena: For those 10 million people drinkin' haterade... hell, y'all all can kiss my ass!
    • From his theme song "My Time Is Now":
      If they hate let em hate
      I'll drop your whole clan
      Lay yo ass down for the 3-second tan
    • The anti-Cena line of merchandise. WWE must be pissing down their pants upon witnessing how well they managed to turn the anti-Cena sentiment, a great deal of which is based on legitimate disdain toward Cena's kayfabe characterization, into contributions to Cena's paycheque.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: To Vickie Guerrero in his handicap match against her and Dolph Ziggler.
  • Theatrics of Pain: A notably odd case as there are moves he's notably poor at selling while there are moves he sells extremely well. For instance, it's generally a bad idea to whip him in a turnbuckle, forward or backward. Alternately, he takes elbows and knees to the jaw unprotected, and makes a DDT look like his head was jammed through the ring.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: A talent of his is to give a look like this to the hard camera such as the debut of the Nexus and the return of Brock Lesnar. Recently, when he came out to receive the fan-voted 'Superstar of the Year' despite his extremely bad year, the look on his face was a mixture of this and Oh, Crap!, only aided by the fact that show was in Philadelphia.
  • Three Month Rule: Surprisingly, Cena tends to subvert this a lot. His kayfabe-dislike for Randy Orton is unaffected by the rule, even when they're both faces. Similar situations have happened with Punk ever since their 2011 feud as well.
  • Toilet Humour: A lot of Cena's new promos do this.
  • Token Good Teammate: Of the Nexus.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Fruity Pebbles. You can actually thank (or blame) The Rock for that one.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
  • Tranquil Fury: In some of his earlier promos when he was mad, he seemed calm, but then halfway through he exploded. Nowadays he simply smirks all the way through.

  • Unexplained Recovery: During his feud with Carlito, Cena was apparently "stabbed" in the back by Carlito's lackey at a night club. He never showed any ill effects. Eddie Guerrero even hung a lampshade on it later on, mentioning that his (non-existent) scar had healed up pretty well.
  • Unknown Rival:
    • He has his in The Miz, who has despised John Cena since the beginning of his WWE run and has continued to despise him ever since, John Cena... used him as batting practice for his actual feud with Batista, and has never even cut a promo against him.
    • Miz eventually took enough levels in Badass to become a legitimate Arch-Enemy to Cena. Cena even gave him his props.
  • Unnecessary Roughness:
    • Probably as far as PG-WWE goes, his Attitude Adjustment to Justin Gabriel onto (and almost through) the windshield of a car on the 11-29-10 episode of RAW probably counts as this.
    • Dropping, according to Cena, 22 steel chairs onto Wade Barrett after decisively defeating him at the 2010 WWE TLC pay-per-view likely counts.
    • He was certainly going for this when he beat the crap out of Jack Swagger...and almost succeeded. The Context  Let's put it this way. Before Kane's promo stopped him, Cena was about to give Swagger a one-man Con-chair-to...with steel steps.
    • The Monday Night Raw after the 2012 Royal Rumble made Cena finally beat down Kane for all the abuse and crap he gave to Ryder. The only thing that remains is whether Cena will do as Kane says and embrace the hatred.
    • His match with John Laurinaitis in No Way Out was to such an extreme that if done to a Face it would have amounted to classic Bond Villain Stupidity. He gleefully drags the match out as long as possible to beat down and humiliate Laurinaitis in every possible way, even teasing and passing down pins and submissions. Sure Laurinaitis had it coming, but if Cena had just laid him out and pinned him quick, the Big Show wouldn't have had time to interfere, he'd have won and Laurinaitis would have been fired anyway.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Randy Orton found out the hard way that attacking a family member of Cena's (in this case, his father) can incur this from Cena.
  • Uranus Is Showing: From his "Basic Thuganomics" theme:
    Cena: Taking over Earth and still kicking in Uranus.
  • Victory Pose: At the end of a match, it used to be his Word Life pose until 2009 when it became his Cenation pose.
  • Visual Pun: On occasion, for the sake of a double entendre.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With The Rock in real life, following WrestleMania 29.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Proposed to Nikki Bella after their match at Wrestlemania 33 where they handily defeated The Miz and Maryse. She said yes.
  • Wham Episode: During Cena's no DQ match against Kane in the 3/26/18 edition of RAW, not only he does the Undertaker's signature sit-up and taunting gesture, but also used a chokeslam on Kane, which is something that not even Lesnar or Triple H can do.
    • The Firefly Funhouse Match against Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania 36.
  • Wham Line: In the 2/12/18 episode of Raw, Cena drops an interesting line during his Road to WrestleMania speech:
    Cena: WrestleMania can bring a legend Back from the Dead.
    • Right as Fiend Bray Wyatt pins Cena for the win, the words that John Cena said to Bray echoes back to him.
  • Wham Shot: After defeating Goldust in the 3/5/18 edition of RAW, Cena and does a subtle variation of The Undertaker's Victory Pose while staring at the WrestleMania sign.
    • John Cena's broken and beaten body fading out of existence after getting beaten by Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania 36.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In his '06 feud with Edge, Cena would often beat up Lita (usually with reason but not always a good one), not to mention accuse her of carrying various sexually transmitted diseases around the locker room without anything remotely resembling biological proof or common sense.
    • His late 2010-early 2011 feud with CM Punk was initiated by Punk getting tired of Cena's supposedly "unheroic" actions, and particularly set off by his reaction to Cena dropping 22 chairs from the WWE TLC set onto Nexus leader Wade Barrett. Perhaps fittingly, Punk switched targets rather quickly - to Randy Orton, who, if anything, gets more of the Designated Hero treatment than Cena does.
    • Zack Ryder recently caught Cena kissing Zack's love interest Eve Torres after saving her from Kane. Needless to say, Ryder was none to pleased to see Cena supposedly macking it off with Eve, as he even slapped Cena in the face when confronting him.
    • Even if Eve Torres had taken a ''serious'' level in Jerkass, one does have to wonder whether the tongue-lashing he gave Eve, leaving her a sobbing wreck in the ring to the point where officials had to help her out, wasn't a bit excessive.
    • Edge gives a special birthday lecture on letting Brock Lesnar push him around.
    • Gave one to The Big Show for selling out and helping John Laurinaitis win at Over The Limit. Cena was ticked off.
    • The Firefly Funhouse Match at Wrestlemania 36 was Bray Wyatt subjecting Cena to a long horrifying one.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Cena has won various matches with the FU or STFU, even a First Blood Match.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The Prototype was originally billed from "Classified". CHIKARA's Soldier Ant was also billed from "there" for a time.
  • The Worf Effect
    • Gets soundly beaten by Lesnar in SummerSlam 2014 just to introduce Lesnar's newly-made "Suplex City".
    • Cena would end up being pulverized again, this time by The Undertaker at WrestleMania 34 not only as part of the Phenom's successful attempt to redeem himself over his disastrous match against Reigns last year, but also to show the end result of putting his body back into its best shape. To Cena's credit though, he fully expected The Undertaker to do that beforehand.
    • Cena is broken both mentally and physically by Bray Wyatt in their Firefly Funhouse Match at Wrestlemania 36 to further prove the point that The Fiend is an unstoppable force of evil.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • CM Punk has been the one guy to consistently get the better of Cena, both on the mic and in the ring, particularly their epic match at Money in the Bank 2011. They're a perfect contrast of personalities and wrestling style, all of which meshes really well in the ring, and they've increasingly found themselves chafing equally at the outside meddling of the likes of Triple H, Vince McMahon, and John Laurinaitis. Also, both have shown some degree of respect for one another, CM Punk admitting he does have respect for Cena and Cena outright congratulating Punk for a great match even though Cena was the loser. Cena even went out of his way to ensure Punk got a fair match that he deserved.
    • Daniel Bryan. He handpicked the guy as his SummerSlam opponent, because he saw the potential in him and knew he could get a great match with him.
    • He has on record stated that Chris Masters is the physically strongest opponent he has ever faced. Masters is the only competitor who has legitimately rendered Cena unconscious, and he has done so three times.
    • Brock Lesnar became from 2012 onwards to the point that one would have to wonder if Cena was a worthy opponent for Lesnar. As was repeated many times, Lesnar defeated Cena first in Backlash, and later in SummerSlam (as "the most lopsided championship match in WWE history", ignoring all the "joke matches" that have taken place where a champion squashes a jobber just because he can). In turn, Cena defeated Lesnar in Extreme Rules, and later in Night of Champions by disqualification. He even expected Lesnar to win against Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in a real life interview because Lesnar is the "the most athletically gifted individual" he'd ever faced.
    • Cesaro has quickly become this in 2015 with two outstanding matches where he took Cena to the limit, with Cena openly acknowledging this after the second match.
    • Despite losing to him in the end, Cena showed Shinsuke Nakamura total respect after their match on WWE Smackdown and absolutely put Nakamura over like a man.
  • You Are What You Hate: Punk stated this, explaining how Cena (and moreover his hometown of Boston) was no longer an underdog, but now the face of the industry. The Boston Red Sox? More like the New York Yankees. Keep in mind that this speech was said in Boston pretty much insulting Cena in front of his hometown fans, and the fact that just saying "New York Yankees" on the mic could probably produce a significant chorus of boos in pretty much any area of Massachusetts.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: When Kane praised him for inadvertently ruining Zack Ryder and Eve Torres' relationship, declaring that he had finally embraced the hate.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Indirectly pulls this on Lesnar when he does a Screw This, I'm Outta Here stunt after pinning Angle back in SmackDown!. This gives The Undertaker the opportunity to chokeslam Lesnar through the announce table.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!:
    • JOHN CENA HAS DEFEATED WADE BARRETT AND THE NEXUS! Oh wait, CM Punk's Berserk Button was finally bit by a What the Hell, Hero? moment? He's gone on to become the leader of Nexus in Barrett's place? Enjoy!
    • Also goes down in history as the very first victim of a Money In The Bank cash-in, courtesy, of course, of Edge.



Video Example(s):


Cena's sequence

A typical John Cena sequence. Two flying shoulder blocks, side-release spinout powerbomb, Five Knuckle Shuffle, and finally an Attitude Adjustment before pinning his opponent.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / FiveMovesOfDoom

Media sources: