Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / John Cena

Go To

  • Arc Fatigue: His neverending feud with Randy Orton. While they generally have great matches together, there's a general belief that the two don't really have chemistry when it comes to feud-building other than one being a goody two-shoes and the other being a psycho. That doesn't stop the company from trying to make them feud as if they were Stone Cold and the Rock. It doesn't really help either that neither guy has done much to evolve his character in years.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Cena's character is a face to kids... and a heel to everyone else. 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. 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.
    • 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 XXX. 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. note  A year later, and the same thing happened with Rusev.
    • Advertisement:
    • His 2015 US Title run. Never mind the people that don't appreciate his going over Rusev at WM31 (see above), but he's been holding an 'open challenge' weekly on Raw since he won the belt. Some people believe that the whole point is to establish a new precedent for the US Title (perhaps as more of a 'television' title that sees the bulk of its defenses on TV programming moreso than the other titles) and restore some of its prestige and visibility. Others think it's just an excuse to have Cena steamroll a bunch of up-and-comers. The thing is, these two opinions wouldn't be mutually exclusive, either. Eventually subverted, the US Open Challenges have been the best thing to happen to Cena in years. Now that Cena is working in the midcard, he's having PPV-quality matches nearly every week on RAW against the likes of Cesaro, Neville and Sami Zayn. His in-ring ability has been a renaissance in 2015, and he's even won over some smarky fans who were getting tired of him.
    • Advertisement:
    • The few times he loses clean, with no cheating or bad officiating or outside tomfoolery involved, tend to become this as well. On the one hand, John Cena losing clean almost never happens, so whenever it does it should be a massive boost to the character that beats him. On the other hand, Cena has a tendency to come back in promos after the fact by either subtly highlighting some injurynote  or circumstancenote  or outright excusing the loss,note  often without the other guy ever getting to retort to this—which in many's eyes reduces the impact of the victory just to protect Cena's image as the #1 guy. The Kevin Owens incident is particularly controversial, as it also included some peppering of the issue with how WWE treats Cena's charity as special. Some saw Cena as being a class act through putting over Owens one night, then having a great moment with a cancer survivor the next, while others saw Cena taking a clean loss to get attention for the Network only to come back and cut down Owens by taking credit for inspiring not only the young cancer survivor, but Owens himself, with the girl's happiness at the moment put forth as a shield to shame detractors.
  • "Common Knowledge": Despite his use of imagery like dogtags, saluted and camoflauge, and his Memetic Mutation stating that he was, John Cena was never actually in the United States Military, but those who know him for his out of wrestling endeavours seem to think he was
  • 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.
  • Creator Backlash: Very, very downplayed, but Cena is a little rueful of the fact that he became known under his real name instead of a flashy and colorful stage name like he wanted.
  • Creator's Pet: Cena's character largely attracts the hate that it does because of his overbooking, with him getting belts and matches that he hasn't earned and never taking a "clean" loss, as well as his highly generic and formulaic matches. Almost nobody has a problem with the performer, who's widely respected as a wrestler and a man, but his character is seen as irrevocably tainted.
  • Critical Backlash: While Cena's moveset 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). In fact, 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: 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 Dark Horse:
    • 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.
  • Epileptic Trees: Spoony once jokingly theorised that Cena was the result of genetic experiment to create the perfect wrestler, meaning his character in OVW was literally a "Prototype"- the original iteration of John Cena. He also suggested that there is a cloning lab beneath WWE headquarters containing dozens of John Cenas at various stages of development from fetus to adult, and whenever a John Cena is injured, they simply kill the current clone and activate a new one, explaining Cena's miraculous on- and offscreen healing abilities.
  • Evil Is Cool: Invoked when he was the Dr. of Thuganomics. Fans agree.
  • 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!"
    • To demonstrate this further: one of South Africa's rising superstars in music and performing has a domestic and international hit called "John Cena." It has gotten so popular that it was featured on both Ellen and The Kelly Clarkson Show, the latter also being a heartwarming moment since he actually surprises her during her live performance of the song.
    • In India as well. Cena is about as over as The Rock whenever he visits there.
  • 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.
    • The US Open Challenge has been the best thing to happen to Cena in years. After winning the US Title at WrestleMania 31, Cena has evolved into a workhorse fighting champion, putting on PPV-quality matches nearly every week on RAW against the likes of Cesaro, Neville and Sami Zayn. His in-ring ability has been a renaissance in 2015, and he's even won over some smarky fans who were getting tired of him.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: John capping off their feud against The Miz and Maryse by proposing to Nikki in front of the live crowd at WrestleMania was a Heartwarming Moment at the time because of how badly Nikki wanted to get married and have kids but had to compromise because John didn't (having had a nasty divorce before and burned off marriage, and not having enough time to devote to raising kids) and they still wanted to be together. They announced their break up in April 2018, three weeks before the wedding, which retroactively makes that segment, the feud, and John's and Nikki's storylines together on Total Divas and Total Bellas, much harder to watch in hindsight - especially as accounts suggest that they were still very much in love but had finally accepted their priorities in life were too different to be truly happy together.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: During his feud with Randy Orton, at Night of Champions 2009, John pulled Daniel Bryan to the stage as an example of "hard work", claiming that John gave DBD his only title shot in the year "AND HE WON!", later shaking his hand while looking forward to a rematch. Fast forward to 2017, and they became brothers-in-law due to each of them marrying a Bella twin (Daniel married Brie and John is engaged and soon married to Nikki).
  • 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.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Or rather, He Really Can Wrestle. He's had people react this way to his better matches. For his tendency towards formulaic matches and Five Moves of Doom, he pulls out the stops in PPVs. This sentiment started popping up around 2009-2010, though Cena still got the occasional "You can't wrestle!" chant. Then his famous match with CM Punk happened, a match so good that some people to this day argue it as the best match in WWE history, and the chants died away completely. Nowadays the complaints are only about his character — his wrestling ability has gone from maligned to well-respected. 2015 in particular, as mentioned on this page, was considered his best year in terms of in-ring performance. Check out the awesome page for a whole list of examples.
    • Cena has also applied this trope to his resurgent movie career thanks to a scene-stealing performance in Amy Schumer's Trainwreck.
    • Cena's role as Baron Draxum in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was shown to be all right, and then he shows off his singing ability in the "Warring Warrior Scientist" song which had fans absolutely in awe.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • "Stone Cold" 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 #1 contender to the WWE Championship match between Kurt Angle and The Big Show at No Way Out. 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 temporarily replaced the Flintstones as the Mascot of Fruity Pebbles cereal? He also went on to meet the Flintstones in The Flintstones Stone Age Smackdown.
    • The fact that he did the introductory speech for Kurt Angle during his 2017 Hall of Fame induction counts as this, since both men have had derogatory Crowd Songs to the tune of their entrance themes (the "You Suck" chants on Angle, to the infamous "John Cena Sucks!" Chants). May also double as Heartwarming in Hindsight since Cena's debut match was with Angle.
    • His recent feud with Roman Reigns also has shades of this, as it strongly mirrors his previous feud with The Rock of all people, for a couple of reasons: one, Cena's current status as a part-timer is exactly the same as The Rock's during their feud; and two, Cena is facing off with the guy being groomed as his successor to be the face of the company, who ironically is also Rock's cousin.
    • His feud with John Laurinaitis, considering that Johnny Ace's fiancee is the mother of his soon-to-be-wife Nikki Bella.
  • "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, but 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.
    • August 1st 2017 on Smackdon has him fight Shinsuke Nakamura of all wrestlers and he actually delivers a hell of a match against him.
  • Humble Hero: In-character, but also in Real Life, Cena admits that he is nowhere near the most technically skilled performer in the WWE.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: Years ago fans were clamoring for Cena to be pushed, because he was clearly the future. Not even a few months into his first title reign and smarks turned on him. This is similar to what happened with Triple H. The consensus was that Triple H was the best wrestler and deserved the title. Within months of his first title reign and people were sick of him and said he was overrated. Now that Cena is halfway out the door people are starting to change their tune.
  • 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.
      • Subverted in 2016 when they restarted the brand extension. Cena was drafted to WWE SmackDown, most likely to both give legitimacy to the brand and to acknowledge his gradually reduced role in the main event picture. He wasn't even SD's first or second pick (that would be the then-current WWE Champion Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles respectively).
    • 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.
    • "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 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 a 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.
    • So in conclusion: do we turn him heel, or do we not turn him heel? At a certain point, you have to ask yourself: At what cost?
  • 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.
    • "fine speech....."
    • The pronunciation of his name by Justin Roberts,note  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.
    • "Brappledo" and "apple dough," based on mishearings of the sound bite at the beginning of his theme song. It's actually saying "Amadou," and it's sampled from this song.
    • There's a very special little meme I'd like to bring attention to...AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA! note 
    • Cena has enjoyed a huge surge in memes recently. Seems like he is filling the memetic void left by Hulk Hogan after his racist tirade and becoming an Un-person by the WWE. Cena himself has become a meme - or at least his appearance in unexpected and sometimes inappropriate places.note 
    • Expect many commentaries related to his "You can't see me!" catchphrase in every YouTube video featuring him, mentioning his status as a memetic invisible man.
    • "Are you sure about that?" note 
    • And, of course, the John Cena MIDI.
    • "Cena sucks!" "Let's go Cena!" "Cena sucks!" "Let's go Cena!"note 
    • "Riveting..."Explanation 
    • Him running backstage at WrestleMania 34 has become this.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • 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).
    • A big part of the backlash Cena suffered was also the WWE's obsession with having all fans (not just his own fanbase) accepting Cena as their undisputed hero. From having more popular wrestlers endorse him, to having the announce team flat out lecture the fans on why they "should" cheer Cena. Notice that once they eased up on this(mostly due to moving on to do the same to Roman Reigns), the backlash started to wane as well.
    • 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 those two were 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.
  • Narm: Oh , the angry face Cena made during the January 23, 2012 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".
  • Older Than They Think: The "AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!" meme actually dates way back to a 2004 episode of WWE SmackDown, where Eddie Guerrero announces him as the final member of his team for the Survivor Series pay-per-view that same year.note  Hell, Eddie even quotes it ad verbatim, then gestures Cena's "You Can't See Me" hand wave to the opposing team.
  • Poison Oak Epileptic Trees: After Cena took some time off towards the end of 2015 so he could host his new TV show, the terrible booking of the main roster became more and more apparent, culminating in Survivor Series 2015, the ending of which was publicly lambasted by almost all of the Internet, including one Mick Foley, who made a post on Facebook echoing the thoughts of practically every fan even remotely privy to how things work in the company (which might as well just be every fan at this point), after the equally horrible Raw the night after. After that fiasco, many began to admit that they actually missed Cena, leading to some theorizing (half-jokingly, half-not) that this is all some elaborate plot of Vince McMahon's to get Cena over with the smark crowd again.
    • It's not as poison oak as you might think. This is exactly what Hulk Hogan used to do in WCW - coincide his absences with special events (like NBA finals on TNT and the Westminster Dog Show on USA) to make it seem like ratings changes were entirely due to him being there or not being there.
  • 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.
    • Following Wrestlemania 31, he's won over a number of his detractors with his United States Title open challenge.
    • At WrestleMania 32, he had one of the biggest pops of the night, and that was from a predominantly smarky crowd of 100,000 people. Cena's more-or-less a smark favorite these days and fans genuinely missed him when he was gone.
    • As of mid-2016 and at age 39, Cena is firmly into the "crusty part-time veteran" stage of his career, and the smark hatred has significantly died down. Now that he's moved out of the main event picture and taking frequent breaks to do movies/TV shows, fans are excited to see him come back and deliver a great match every now and then. In fact, he's built up enough goodwill that when he made his declaration to pursue his sixteenth World Championship win[[note]]Ric Flair is a 22x World Champion (10x NWA, 8x WCW, 2x WWE and 2x "WCW International" in Philadelphia (one of the smarkiest cities in the US and historically very Anti-Cena) he was cheered for it by the fans.
      • When he finally did achieve that historic sixteenth reign at the 2017 Royal Rumble, beating the massively over AJ Styles, the match was so well regarded by both fans and critics that Cena actually got cheered by the live crowd.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • According to detractors, 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 fans, 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 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—much of the blame is pinned on Vince McMahon for trying to use Cena the man to protect Cena the character.
  • Rooting for the Empire: It had to take a wrestler with nuclear X-Pac Heat to cause the crowd to root for Cena over his opponent but it has happened. During the height of his feud with Roman Reigns there were more people that cheered Cena over Reigns.
  • They Changed It, Now It 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!
      • Lampshaded ruthlessly by CM Punk on commentary, pointing out that he was on the show more since being fired than he was when he was employed.
    • 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 the way it has been almost always used - 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.
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • His feud with CM Punk 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. Punk would end up having a 434-day reign with the WWE Championship, while Cena was a little more over for awhile.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • The US Open Challenge. Considering the lack luster quality of Raw the past year and Cena's improved ring work, it's one of the few things that makes post-WrestleMania season worth watching, partially from the excitement of wondering who's going to answer the challenge next.
    • Leading up to his Summerslam match with AJ Styles, many fans were afraid that Cena would "bury" him as he did with other wrestlers, especially since Cena hadn't won a Summerslam match for a while and some thought management felt it was time for him to do so. This was especially important to them because many felt Styles NEEDED a push in the WWE (he had already built up a fanbase due to his accomplishments in other wrestling units). When the match actually came around, Styles won, satisfying the fans who thought he needed a push, but some people were even impressed by Cena during the match, as he gave Styles a hard fought fight, with both men pulling out moves they don't normally use, and the match certainly not being a case of one man "burying" the other. Some even say it's the best they've seen Cena wrestle since his debut fight with Kurt Angle.
  • Vindicated by History: After Cena took time off in late 2015, the quality of Raw tanked as Roman Reigns became the focus of the show. By Survivor Series 2015, several smarks stated that they actively missed Cena, and many began to look at his rise to the top more objectively. Unlike Reigns, whose entire push has been manufactured since his debut with the rest of The Shield, Cena actually got over organically. Of the famous OVW class that debuted in the company in 2002 (Orton, Batista, Lesnar, and Cena), Cena had the least amount of help from the company — Orton and Batista were both placed in Evolution with Triple H, while Lesnar got Heyman and was hotshotted to the main event within his first four months with the company. Cena floundered, and stood the chance of getting fired if Stephanie McMahon hadn't heard him rapping and helped him develop the "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick. After that, he got so popular that the company had no choice but to push him, especially as two others from his class didn't have their pushes pan out well (Lesnar left for eight years; Orton got the title way too early and ended up losing it to Triple H himself, and had to wait another three years before he got it again; and Batista was briefly more over than Cena for a while but he got moved to SmackDown to carry that show). It was the booking of his character after the title that ruined him for the fans (along with the company's outright refusal to turn him heel), but to Cena's credit, he at least tried to make the gimmick bearable and improved his wrestling to the point where he was considered one of the best workers in the company. When he left and the much more green Reigns had the spotlight, many began to realize that Cena was a much better performer than the fans ever gave him credit for.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: