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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: There's no doubt about Cena's Undying Loyalty to the WWE, or the fact he dislikes The Rock for coming back to promote his web accounts and shill his movies rather than doing it for the fans. However, does he criticize Rocky's outside success because it takes away from the industry he claims loyalty to, or is it because Johnson's actually been more successful outside of wrestling than him?
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced:
    • For some, John Cena's forced joining of The Nexus after Hell in a Cell 2010.
    • Dropping the title to a(n apparently departing) CM Punk.
    • For some, his feud with Kane, since he's starting to show flashes of the more aggressive, tweener-ish persona that turned him into a fan favorite.
    • Definitely this: March 12, 2012: The return of the Dr. of Thuganomics. That Is All.
  • Badass Decay: After dropping the "Dr. of Thuganomics" gimmick.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Some kids and women love him, some males hate him. Lampshaded by Cena himself at his "farewell" in 2010, when he insisted on one last set of "Let's go Cena!" "Cena sucks!" dueling chants from the appropriate sections of the audience.
    • This has become a part of his character in that he really likes the fact he's a Base Breaker because he gets a reaction from most of the audience, whether it's good or bad.
    • The fact that he knows that there will be a lot of people who'll boo him no matter what he does.
    • In 2011, WWE finally realised they could make more money from Cena's base-breaking nature, and has made this shirt, accordingly.
  • Critical Backlash:
    • While Cena's move set is certainly limited and his matches can be formulaic, he's nowhere near as bad as a lot of his detractors will have you believe (at least in comparison with most other WWE main eventers with similar schedules). On the flip side, when he has a good opponent to work with, his psychology and understanding of story can lead to classics such as his Money in the Bank match against CM Punk. When you've pulled off the first 5-star WWE match in fifteen years, you have to have at least some talent, no matter how much the other guy is carrying the match.
    • It varies depending on who's giving out the stars. More liberal sources already gave him one for his Ironman match with Randy Orton.
  • Designated Hero / Jerk Sue: Arguably pops up every now and then. His recent treatment of Otunga came off as unnecessarily bullying seeing as how he'd already beaten him and wasn't even proving a point to The Nexus, who clearly didn't care about what he was doing. Then again, as Otunga had massive amounts of X Pac Heat at the time, there weren't that many people that had a problem with seeing him get beat down. He even F-U'ed Teddy Long on Smack Down! once as a babyface, again for no real reason - although Cena's persona was much more of a tweener back then as opposed to the white-meat babyface he's portrayed as nowadays. Then there's his history with women who've been associated with Edge.
    1. He used to hit Lita with the F-U during his original feud with Edge (though she was interfering with his matches and the live audience didn't seem to care), as well as insinuate in crude jokes that she somehow had any number of sexually transmitted diseases despite the fact that she had only ever been with Matt Hardy, Kane (Kayfabe only), and Edge, none of whom have given any indication they've contracted an STD to this day. His first such rib at Lita occurred before their feud even began, in which he claimed she gave him gonorrhea by shaking his hand.
    2. Vickie Guerrero, both during and after her "marriage" to Edge, cannot be seen in the ring with Cena without enduring trollish fat jokes. Consider the fact that any excess weight on her person was probably picked up while mourning over Eddie in 2005.
    3. Eve Torres, who, while not linked to Edge romantically in or our of character, has made media appearances with Edge in outside events. One week after they kissed seemingly in the heat of the moment after he saved her from Kane for the 30th time right in front of Zack Ryder, Cena overheard her out herself to the Bella Twins as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. In the process of flatly telling her off in the ring when she tried to "explain" it away, he not only went straight back to the disease card after she tried to kiss him again, he used the situation to throw an early punchline at the Rock.
    • As far as other situations go there's the afforementioned Eve kissing incident where he blatantly reciprocated despite the fact she was (seemingly at the time) the girlfriend/object of desire of his best friend Zack Ryder... right in front of Ryder. When Big Show was fired by John Laurinaitis he was nowhere to be seen as Big Show literally begged for his job, degrading himself in the process, while later that night Cena came out and spent the better part of 20 minutes acting like a buffoon and Adult Child towards Laurinaitis (this would later be the exact reason for Show's most recent heel turn... and who could blame him?). After getting fired during the Nexus angle he got involved in a parking lot brawl with the group while other wrestlers came to his aid. He was subsequently re-hired and in retaliation the Nexus began targetting the wrestlers who helped Cena... while Cena never repaid them by coming to THEIR aid. As someone in Punchsport Pagoda put it: John Cena is a horrible friend.
    • In regards to Big Show, even Michael Cole confronted Cena about this face-to-face.
  • Designated Protagonist Syndrome: Seems to be a victim of this.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: From late '03 to late '04. (Basically, during his U.S. Title reign.)
  • Fan Community Nickname: The Cenation, formerly the Chain Gang.
  • Fan Dumb:
    • Some of the more zealous Cena fanboys out there insist that management "holds him back" in his matches, claiming that they "restrict" him by telling him exactly what moves to do in which order. This has never been proven, with the only "evidence" of it being claims that he had a far more varied move set back in his developmental days in OVW.
    • Portions of the Fan Dumb have claimed that any time Cena cuts a good promo it's his own freestyling while any bad promos are the result of the writers' scripts.
    • While he obviously was a far more varied worker early in his Smack Down! run it could just as easily be attributed to coasting upon guaranteed main event status than any kind of backstage interference. Both of these are equally as likely and have just as much evidence supporting them.
    • It's also possible that, like many wrestlers in the past, (including Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Mick Foley) Cena had a pretty varied move set, but wear and tear on the body combined with serious injuries and a lack of healing time (this IS a man noted for returning from injuries in half the time expected) has cut it down considerably. Supporting this: he has stopped using the guillotine legdrop and the Throwback, the most acrobatic moves in his past arsenal.
    • He's recently added the guillotine back into his move set.
    • Or perhaps a combination of both. After all, it wouldn't do the 'E well at all if their top face and money draw were to suffer a legit long-term injury, even if he has a tendency to heal in a fraction of the time of most superstars.
  • Fan Hater: A lot of Cena's more rabid supporters will get this in the IWC.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Cena is insanely popular in South African townships - to the point where small children will greet any white male by waving their hands in front of their faces and screaming, "You can't see me!"
  • Growing the Beard: Cena's feud with Edge in 2006. Edge was the first heel challenger to Cena since JBL to consistently get enough heat to put the crowd on Cena's side; at the same time, Cena's in-ring execution improved tremendously. He continued to get mixed reactions afterward, but that feud (along with a concurrent side-feud with Rob Van Dam) convinced many fans that Cena deserved respect, if not cheers.
  • Hate Dumb:
    • There are many possible reasons for wrestling fans to dislike Cena - his perpetual push, his bland Face gimmick and his tendency to No Sell his opponents' moves all qualify. However, having a limited signature move set is not the same as not knowing how to wrestle. Worse some people mistake Five Moves of Doom as only having five moves, when that's clearly not the case.
    • Then there are the people who believe that if Cena wins a match, it's automatically terrible.
    • And every good match he's ever been in is because he was carried by his opponent, never by his own merit.
    • Another common criticism has been that Cena rarely loses cleanly. This criticism ignores the fact that most top faces rarely lose cleanly.
      • And in turn, that ignores the fact that Cena has a win/loss record of Hogan & Warrior proportions, with his contemporaries like Batista & Randy Orton not even being comparatively close.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Steve Austin giving Cena a stunner at the 2003 Christmas in Iraq show. Only with time did it gain more significance.
    • "You gonna find out that John Cena is bigger than Brock Lesnar! You gonna find out John Cena is bigger than these people! You gonna find out that John Cena is bigger than the WWE title!" In 2012, Cena was a way bigger star than Lesnar ever was, he was hated by the crowd but was still promoted as the star of the company and, more specially, John Cena main-evented Wrestlemania instead of the two WWE world titles against The Rock and in fact, kept getting main events over the WWE title after that even if he's in what is basically a mid-card feud with John Laurinatis until Cena himself entered the title picture. Cena's words to Lesnar were about Backlash 2003, but gain an entirely new meaning to people who were not around back then.
  • Holy Shit Quotient: Anytime Cena shows just how physically strong he really is, expect people's jaws to drop.
  • Hype Backlash: On both ends of the spectrum. Let's just leave it at that.
  • Hypocrite: Does the cavalcade of events that have been mentioned and thought of in associating Cena's character with the Designated Hero and Jerk Sue tropes match up with his constantly shilled message of "Hustle, Loyalty, Respect", "Rise Above Hate", and even "Be a Star", since he's the guy wearing it on his shirts?
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • Yeah, WWE, as if you're going to fire your #1 merchandise mover and top babyface because of the whims of a heel who previously wanted to destroy the company.
    • Like WWE would ever actually draft Cena to Smackdown. During the 2011 draft Cena was drafted to Smackdown at the beginning of the episode, but drafted back to Raw at the end.
    • Like WWE would ever really let Cena legitimately drop the title in an 'I Quit' match - a.k.a. Cena's signature match - of all things. Especially so soon after winning the title in the first place.
    • "If Cena wins, we riot" - Other than the initial appearance of this sign at ECW One Night Stand 2006, no-one actually thought the fans would riot in the event of Cena winning; and they never did. Hell, at one point, Cena even took one of these signs and paraded it around the ring after winning his match.
    • Subverted with the recent CM Punk angle. Mr. McMahon really was going to fire Cena. In fact, it was the fact that he was going to fire Cena, along with quite a few other things, most of which probably included about half the demands that Punk laid out, that caused the board of director's to give a vote of no-confidence and force him to step down as chairman, consequently saving Cena's job.
    • For a lot of people, the title match itself as well. The way WWE tends to book Cena as well as treat departing Superstars, there were a lot of people that didn't think there was any way Cena would be booked to lose the Championship clean to a departing CM Punk (especially when Vince threw in the stipulation that Cena would be fired if he did.) Then Cena actually lost the match, and it can be said that the WWE, in and out of Kayfabe, hasn't really been the same since.
    • Like WWE would really have Cena "embrace the hate" as a result of his feud with Kane, just one month before his match with The Rock, and especially when he's the face of the WWE's Make-A-Wish efforts.
  • Mis Blamed:
    • While certain criticisms laid towards him, such as his no selling and such, are pretty firmly Cena's fault, he is not to blame for burying guys on the roster, and is in fact a big supporter of guys like Daniel Bryan, Evan Bourne, and CM Punk.
    • And that support - for those three guys in particular - might finally be paying off: as of August 2011, Evan Bourne's currently one-half of the Tag Team Champions, Punk has had a WWE title reign to his credit (making him a Triple Crown Champion - only 18 other guys in the WWE's history have done this) and carries the secondary feud on RAW, and Daniel Bryan (after many had him pegged as one of those guys doomed to languish in the midcard despite his immense talent, because of WWE's apparent bias toward indy standouts) won the Smackdown MITB Match.
    • Not to mention he's been going above and beyond the call of duty in trying to get Zack Ryder more followers on Twitter.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The infamous "IF CENA WINS, WE RIOT" sign at ECW One Night Stand 2006.
    • The pronunciation of his name by Justin Roberts[1], which apparently gets longer and longer every week.
    • Spoiler: Cena wins., which is apparently the outcome of most of his matches.
  • Narm: Oh god, the angry face Cena made during the 1-23-12 RAW.
  • Rescued From the Scrappy Heap:
    • Again, see Determinator. Even the fans who don't like the character and the booking respect Cena the person.
    • The Nexus angle has been helping with this as well. Cena hasn't gotten a vicious booing since it started.
    • Really, 2010 as a whole was a massive Scrappy Heap Rescue year for Cena, as, outside of the Summerslam match, his Boring 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 Barret, Dolph Ziggler, and others.
    • Except now he's back to exactly how he was beforehand, with the "Firing" angle in December being pure concentrate of the problems with his character.
    • His feud with CM Punk has had this effect for him as well. It's both because Cena treats Punk like a Worthy Opponent and respects him and because Punk is just that good at attracting heat from the crowd. It also helps that he and Punk had an absolutely epic match at 2011 Money In The Bank.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • According to the Hate Dumb, all the good matches involving Cena is solely carry jobs by his opponent, regardless if said opponent had a history of having bad matches. All the bad matches involving him is Cena's fault, again regardless if said opponent had a history of having bad matches.
    • Taking to hilarious levels on 2-14-2011's edition of Raw. Just earlier in the night, the crowd in Anaheim cheered for Cena. Cue The Rock's return and he starts dissing Cena, the ENTIRE crowd turned on Cena at the drop of a hat.
  • They Changed Him Now He Sucks: Cena started to build a fanbase in 2003, well before his rise to main-event status and back when he was technically still supposed to be a heel. When he was playing the "wigger" rapper, fans adored him either for his "don't-take-no-guff-from-nobody" (including Kurt Angle and The Undertaker) attitude or for his Narm-y "white-boy" rhymes, which were originally intended for comedy but were eventually embraced by the fans. Then, beginning in 2005 and culminating in 2006 with the release of his first movie, The Marine, Cena transitioned from a rebellious thug to a by-the-book armed-forces recruit who wore paramilitary gear and saluted the audience. Not only did we already get this gimmick with Sergeant 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.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Is accused by many detractors of hogging the main event scene. His case isn't helped by the fact that the match involving him always closes out a PPV, even in favor over the two main-event titles. This is especially glaring when a match like CM Punk/Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title is second on the card to Cena vs. John Laurinaitis.
  • Tear Jerker: Cena's farewell promo the Raw after Survivor Series, when he was "fired", which ended in him starting a Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks chant.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: John Cena is now a member of The Nexus and is the guest referee for a WWE Championship match between Wade Barrett and Randy Orton with the stipulation that if Barrett does not win the WWE Championship, Cena will be fired! Instead of pulling the trigger on Barrett and letting him win the WWE Championship, with all of the storyline possibilities that would entail... Orton retains and Cena is "fired" with Survivor Series 2010 closing out on a forced attempt at making a "moment". The entire "Cena is Fired" angle counts as this too, as the only difference between him being fired and rehired was that he didn't wrestle on TV: WWE still played his theme music to close out RAW!
    • This pretty much happens every time Cena teases a heel turn: The above Nexus angle, the angle with Kane. Hell, even the Wrestlemania 28 build with Rock and his subsequent loss.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back:
    • There are many fans who are still hoping he'll go back to his "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick.
    • Even without the "Doctor of Thuganomics" gimmick, most people think that he needs to turn heel or alter his gimmick at some point to breathe some fresh air into his character. (He's been playing essentially the same character since The Marine was released in 2006, with the only real change being he's dropped some (but not all) of the military overtones. Since wrestling operates on the Fleeting Demographic Rule, having the same gimmick for six years is quite a long time.)
    • This has just been made worse. On the 2-21-11 episode of Raw, while engaged in a weekly Ham-to-Ham Combat with The Rock, for one night, he reverted back to his "Doctor of Thuganomics" and delivered a Battle Rap Beatdown to Rock, and it was awesome.
    • He may well be the heel in his upcoming feud with The Rock, since there's no way The Rock is going to be made a heel in the Rock's hometown at Wrestlemania 28.
    • WWE's basically promoting the match as the Spiritual Successor to Rock vs Hogan. As such, don't be surprised if his heel turn for the feud lasts about as long as the match does as a call back, as Rock did pretty much the same thing.
      • This didn't really happen. WWE just sort of threw face/heel alignments out of the window, which might have been a good thing - they were probably well aware that some people were going to side with Cena and others with Rock no matter what happened. One could argue that the fact that it fell strictly into "Dream Matchup" territory prevented them from having to think up a convoluted storyline reason for the match to happen (although, technically speaking, Rock did cost Cena the WWE title at Wrestlemania 27, which is how most feuds tend to start.)
  • Win Back the Crowd: A lot of his detractors have 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).
  • X Pac Heat: He gets his share of disdain due to being perceived by some as being so panderingly goody-two shoes and seriously stale.